50 years ago — The Imperial Valley salutes the cattle industry this week with the Brawley Cattle Call Rodeo and Imperial Valley Rodeo.

“Every resident in the Valley is affected either directly or indirectly by the cattle feeding industry, “according to Burnell Martinson, a Brawley banker.

The industry has grown locally from two feedlots (the Hartman-Williams lot near Calexico and the San Pasqual Land and Cattle Co. near Westmorland) to its present size in 40 years.

Valley feeders fattened 560,000 head of cattle in 1968, adding an average of 460 pounds to each in 175 days. The grain was worth $68,264,000 in 1968.

Most of the money stayed in the Valley and circulated through purchases of feed, farm machinery and the ranch hands’ purchases.

Imperial is the top beef-producing county in the state, which ranks third in the nation, according to Claude Finnell, county agricultural commissioner.

The county produced enough beef in 1968 to furnish 400,000 families with more than 900,000 pounds of beef. It was purchased relatively cheaper according to California Beef Council.

In 1951, one hour’s labor bought 1.7 pounds of beef. In May 1969, one hour’s pay purchased 3.2 pounds of beef, according to the CBC.

Feeder cattle are shipped into the Valley from Texas, Oklahoma, Idaho, Colorado and Mississippi, with an average weight of 400 pounds, the animals will gain an average 2.5 pounds a day.

The California Cattle Feeders Association estimates that 375,000 cattle are being fed in Imperial Valley at this time.


40 years ago — There is a “probability” that some riverside dwellers will at least get their feet wet in the next two or three years as excess Colorado River is released from full dams.

That was the assessment of Eugene Hinds, regional director of the Bureau of Reclamation at Boulder City.

It was a far more conservative prediction than one made in a study presented to the commission of the Californians Thursday at the beginning of a four-day meeting in San Felipe, Mexico.

Luis Alvarez, a water quality specialist, told the commission that unless the packed reservoirs get relief, there is a 90 percent chance of flooding on both sides of the border.

The flooding could extend as far north as Blythe, Alvarez said.

A member of the California Assembly, J. Robert Hayes of Los Angeles, said he will push for emergency legislation.

Hayes attending the meeting said he would ask for a study to see if excess Colorado River water could be stored in three large natural basins east of the Colorado River Indian Reservation.

The trouble is that two wet winters have filled the 22 dams along the Colorado River almost to their brims.

Each of the dams have a built-in capacity to take care of runoff after storms to prevent flooding all along the river. But that capacity must be preserved and water released as it reaches the level to maintain flood reserve capacity.

“This is not a panic situation,” said Hinds. “We are well aware of it and have been working with the U.S. Corps of Engineers.”


30 years ago — In 1958, a Brawley teenager, Lynn Allen, became Imperial Valley’s first-ever Cattle Call queen.

More than 30 years later, the name of Lynn Allen (now Bassler) is in print again locally. But this time, at least figuratively, she is wearing a chef’s hat and artist’s beret instead of a Stetson. And Ginger Snap and Cream Puff are not the names of her horses.

Bassler, who is now a Los Angeles area artist, has teamed up with friend and culinary instructor Fran Raboff to co-author a cookbook with the contradictory title “Virtuous Desserts.” The book, published by The Crossing Press, Freedom, Calif.

Bassler’s mother, Grace Allen, who still lives in Brawley, already has sold around a hundred of the volumes to friends and acquaintances, she said.

Bassler is co-author and illustrator of the book and also helped in its concept, after her husband, Bob, some nine years ago made a pitcher of iced tea for the patio and sweetened it with frozen apple juice, dubbing it “tea juice.”

The alternative sweetener led to experimentation into creating desserts using juice concentrates and fresh and dried fruits. Desserts containing vitamins, minerals and fiber, rather than empty calories of sugar. Apple juice, for example, has only half as many calories as an equal amount of honey and is packed with vitamins and minerals, the book points out.

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