Milepost #967

March 19, 2020

This week’s column is based upon an article written in the late 2000’s by noted local historian Jim Huff. Those familiar with The Great Mountain War of 1939 know that Crestline cityhood is not exactly a new idea. In 1939 Crestline citizens had decided it was time to become a city and to elect their own ruling officers. Twenty-one candidates threw their hats in the ring, vying for offices ranging from mayor to councilman to city attorney. The mayoral race was the most hotly contested. Harvey Edwards campaigned for mayor on the promise that he would import an orchestra from San Bernardino upon his victory along with ample cases of beer. Sam Campbell was thrust into the mayor race but eventually threw his support to Lucy Hilbig, wife of the popular Crestline druggist. Lucy’s platform included a plan to charge tourists an additional two percent luxury tax. The owner of The Crash Inn, Chet Beehler, was opposing George Johnson for first district councilman. The top contenders for second district were Lyle Seccombe and  Weber, with Iner Jenson and Ralph Hilbig jousting for third. The remainder of the offices included treasurer and city attorney. For the latter, neither candidate had any experience but “they were sure they knew as much about it as anyone else.” In the meantime the Blue Jayites were rattling their sabers and making statements such as, “When the smoke clears we will be the real winners of the campaign,” and, “It’s easier to buy a Crestline mayor after an election, than before.” On election day Crestline voters turned up en masse to find that the ballot contained only the current five propositions and no candidates. Sabotage by the Blue Jayites was suspected. Threats of reprisal were hurled in the town watering holes, including the Town Hall Café, this week’s image. Cooler heads prevailed but the legend lives on, how the Blue Jayites prevented the Crestline Hillbillies from becoming a city. By Ken Brafman, Image from Russ Keller Collection.

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