After 10 years of effort, the Topanga Historical Society (THS) announces the long-anticipated arrival of the expanded second edition of The Topanga Story in May, 2012.
After 10 years of effort, the Topanga Historical Society (THS) announces the long-anticipated arrival of the expanded second edition of The Topanga Story in May.
THS members get first crack at reserving a copy of the book, a 400-page beauty featuring dozens of new photos and articles contributed to by several residents. The book was edited by Michele Johnson and designed by award-winning graphic artist Amy Inouye.
Non-members can become THS members for $15, single, or $25, family, a year, which gives them the privilege of pre-ordering the book.
The first edition, edited by Louise Armstrong York, was a gem of a book, so popular among Topanga history buffs that it sold out. In 2002, rather than just reprint the original, the THS decided it was time for an update.
Since York was sidelined by illness, Michele Johnson, an experienced writer and former Topanga Messenger editor, was asked to tackle the project. The long-time Topangan discovered a wealth of new material had been donated to the THS library organized by Ami Kirby, who became photo editor of the expanded edition. The update quickly became a major expansion.
Every chapter has been revised. Respected scientists added new information to the early chapters focusing on the natural canyon and Topangas early inhabitants. Articles such as The Early Rock Scene about Canyon geology and Studying our Critters, written in the unique voice of Topanga biologist Rosi Dagit, add immeasurably to those subjects. Gorgeous new photos punctuate the text with David Blattels iconic Grandmother Oak, Herbert Petermanns photo of lupine growing in Summit Valley and Katie Dalsemers shot of Cheese Rock in Old Topanga.
It was hard to improve upon Louises lively and well-researched stories of Topangas early pioneers. But new information on rare and gritty women homesteaders was uncovered and the colorful life of early denizens of Lower Canyon, remembered with affection and fun by a little lady who grew up there, add punch to the new edition as do the additional historic photos.
The later history of the Canyon was widely expanded and features photos from the pages of the Topanga Messenger. Post-War Pioneers who moved here after World War II, like Harriet Swenson, tell their colorful, first-hand stories.
Johnson puts a spotlight on the bohemians of the fifties, including those who hung at the Theatricum, attempting to escape the horrors of McCarthyism. After the Beatnik era, Topanga became a hippie haven, sheltering artists, rockers and, for a time, the notorious Charles Manson.
PHOTO MICHAEL OCHS ARCHIVES, COURTESY THS
“The Arts” chapter of Topanga Story doubled in size, fattened by an amazing wealth of material on famous artists and musicians such as Neil Young (above) and Linda Ronstadt.
the 70s, Topanga remained a latter-day hippie oasis. Pulitzer-winning Al Martinez, whose letters are now being celebrated at the Huntington Library, wrote an LA Times piece in 1975, detailing the life of the Canyon with his accustomed wit and heart. It is reprinted in The Topanga Story, as is an excerpt from celebrated Topanga novelist Carolyn Sees Golden Days, a novel not so loosely based in the Topanga of the time.
An all-new chapter, After 1980: Into the New Millennium, brings us up to date, exploring the activism that saved Summit Valley and brought us T-CEP, and the forces of change that offer Topanga both threat and opportunity.
Expanding within Yorks blueprint, there are new calamities detailed in the Disasters chapter, especially the fire of 1993 and earthquake of 1994.
The Arts chapter doubled in size, fattened primarily by an amazing wealth of material on famous artists and musicians
PHOTO MICHAEL OCHS ARCHIVES, COURTESY THS
Linda Ronstadt, Topanga..
from Linda Ronstadt and Neil Young to Wallace Berman and Woody Guthrie who made Topanga their home. The anecdotes in that chapter are part of the reason that Johnson considers the history of Topanga endlessly interesting.
THS Members pre-order now
Those who are interested in purchasing The Topanga Story The Expanded Edition, should act soon, as it is expected to sell out quickly.
All proceeds go to the programs of the THS for the benefit of all Topangans.
Choose from the standard edition at $65, plus tax, S&H, or a linen-bound, slip-cased limited edition (100 copies only are available for this printing) for $300, plus tax, S&H. To save on shipping costs, books can be picked-up at the THS office.
After the official publication, planned for mid-May, The Topanga Story will be available for purchase by non-members through the website, in person at the THS office, or at Topanga Homegrown.
An advance copy of The Topanga Story is available for viewing at the Topanga Historical Society office, 120 S. Topanga Canyon Blvd., Suite 206, Topanga, CA, open Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., or at the Topanga Public Library.