50 years ago — Mark Trimble, co-owner with his mother, Mrs. Mary Trimble, of the Shepherd of the Hills Farm near Branson, Mo., has volunteered his services as a consultant to the Imperial Valley committee working on the restoration of the former Harold Bell Wright ranch.

Wright made the White River area near Branson famous with his novel, “The Shepherd of the Hills” in much the same way he immortalized the bringing of water into Imperial Valley with a subsequent novel, “The Winning of Barbara Worth.”

Trimble will visit Imperial Valley the week of Feb. 16, according to present plans, to meet with members of the restoration committee, and hopefully, to help interest state and local officials in the tourist potential of the proposed restoration.

The Trimble family has recreated and restored many of the buildings pertinent to the story told in “The Shepherd of the Hills,” and the facility has become a major tourist attraction in the Branson area.

Wright built the Holtville ranch, “El Tecolote,” after moving to Imperial Valley for his health soon after irrigation water from the Colorado first transformed the desert into an oasis.

The home later was sold to the Abraham Cohen family; and his son, Leonard Cohen of Canoga Park, and daughter, Mrs. Estelle Bermani, have offered the property to the restoration committee as a virtual gift to assist in the restoration of the ranch as an historical site.

 

40 years ago — They’ll be missing her on the Imperial Valley College campus when she retires and moves away.

For 17 years, Mrs. Marie Swann has been an English teacher who discussed the works of Aristotle or Samuel Pepy’s diary with equal ease, who said what she felt should be said, tossing her brown mane sprinkle with grey about as if to tell the world that there were things to be said and done, and who has been delighting students and faculty alike with her sense of humor.

But Mrs. Swann has now celebrated her 65th birthday and, she says, she would like to live where her husband lives, in San Diego.

“We used to commute, especially on weekends,” she said, “but the price of gasoline is just a bit too high, and to take the bus, well, that’s a little rough.”

She was born in Lamar, Mo., on a Saturday early in 1915.

“So I’ve always been a hard worker,” she laughed, “because, you know — Saturday’s child works!”

Lamar is the city in which former President Harry Truman was born. She met him once, she recalls, when he was still a senator.

“Was at a party,” she said, “He was really a great fellow, very good to his mother and his sister. People who get famous don’t act that way too often.”

She attended the University of Oklahoma and got her bachelor’s degree in education.

“Wanted to see the world on fire as a young person,” she said, adding with a chuckle. “Instead, it burned under me.”

She met her future husband, Frank, at a dance. He courted her in what she calls the old fashioned way, bringing her flowers and candy.

This isn’t done any more today,” she commented.

 

30 years ago — A federal court suit filed last week in San Diego alleges that pilot error was responsible for the October 1988 crash of a California National Guard helicopter that killed eight people, including Imperial County Sheriff’s Sgt. Richard Romero.

The suit, which seeks unspecified damages from the federal government, was filed Thursday on behalf of Romero’s three children.

Attorney Christopher Larsen, of the firm Sutherland, Gerber and Larsen, said he filed the federal suit because the plaintiffs are unsure whether the National Guard was operating as a state or federal agency at the time of the accident.

The crash occurred during Operation Border Ranger, a joint drug interdiction operation of Southern California sheriff’s departments and the California National Guard. Five sheriff’s deputies and three National Guardsmen died in the crash.

The suit states that “Geoffrey L. Nett negligently and carelessly piloted the helicopter, in that he failed to maintain a safe altitude, failed to keep a proper lookout, and failed to maintain a safe distance from obstacles in the helicopter’s path.”

However, an Army report on the crash said there was no apparent negligence on the part of the crew, said Marty Tracey, an attorney who works with Larsen’s firm.

The survivors of Chief Warrant Officer Nett and Sgt. Ramon Espinoza, both of whom died, in September filed suit in Imperial County Superior Court alleging that San Diego Gas & Electric Co. was responsible for the crash, which occurred when the helicopter struck a static line strung above a 500-kilovolt transmission line owned by the utility.

Attorneys for three of the five Southern California deputies killed in the crash also filed suit against various defendants last September in Imperial County Superior Court.

 

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