January 20, 2022

11. Michael Cregar, Circulation


When I arrived in Topanga, the paper was pretty much a going concern. I think it was Colin Penno that brought me into the group. He was doing the photography for the paper as well as developing the negatives, and together we would take them to the printer in my truck that had a small oil leak that got worse. One day, Colin and I were in the truck sitting at a stop light when we noticed the pedestrian crossing in front of us had a horrified look on his face. He then yelled, “Your truck is on fire!” The exhaust manifold had ignited the oil and burst into flames. Needless to say, we got out of there pronto! Fortunately, the flames died down and we continued without further incident.

It was a week-to-week struggle to get the paper out, yet we had a ball! The Center with its lunacy, the town with its divergent views, contributed words and pictures, but most of all, it was our mutual love for that magical place called Topanga. There was nothing about the town we were not involved in—builders, politicians, police, real estate agents, the Woman’s Club, Jan Moore (remember Jan Moore?), the road, the school, the Theater (Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum, when Will was still alive and playing Grandpa Walton on TV). The ’60s were over. Oh, God, I wish they would have stayed! Nevertheless, time marches on, as we all did.

Our publisher, Ian Brodie, worked for the London Daily Telegraph when I met him. He provided an infusion of much-needed funds, leadership, intelligence and journalistic experience that made our little paper world class. He also brought an overwhelmingly generous heart. I’ll never forget the editorial meetings where we would exchange views on some of the most important issues of the day. We would go back and forth trying to get as close to the truth as possible. It was a fabulous experience for me.

Colin was a wonderful, creative guy. (He still is, even though he defected to Oregon.) His photographs were very inspirational, always interesting. His British humor was only surpassed by Ian’s.

As I reflect on those wonderful days, the thing I feel most grateful for is the privilege of having spent quality time with the Messenger staff and related friends in that unique place, Topanga.

Michael Cregar, aka Topanga Construction Co., is alive and well and living in northeast San Diego County. He reads every issue of the Messenger cover to cover with great joy and wants everyone to know that “the Messenger is a great newspaper.”