Leaving Lake Riverside, Chapter 4: Lake Riverside Estates

This is the next chapter of my book, entitled Leaving Lake Riverside. To read the previous chapter, CLICK THIS LINK. For the next chapter, CLICK THIS LINK. To start at the beginning, CLICK THIS LINK. Thanks for reading!

Lake Riverside Estates

Back in the 1960s and 70s, real estate scams were picking the pockets of the gullible throughout our country. They were suckering unsuspecting saps who wanted to invest their hard-earned cash into the tangible asset of land. If you’ve ever flown over West Texas and New Mexico, you may have noticed relics of these scams.

30,000 feet below your airline window seat, you may have observed the tracings of ghost communities. Looking down, you may have detected an array of scribblings. Of many roads that seemed to lead nowhere, as if nuclear warfare had wiped away all traces of civilization, except the pathways where vehicles may have once navigated to residential homes now long gone.

These tracings are networks of old dirt roads, leading to nowhere. They were lineated and bulldozed by land scam artists posing as legitimate developers. These promoters flattened a reticulum of dirt avenues, then would drive potential customers over the bumpy roads, while boasting that soon they would be paved, and a shopping mall would be built here, and a bank there, and a school there, and so forth.

They warned these potential investors that they’d better buy land soon. This was the sunbelt, after all, and people were migrating to the sunbelt in ever-increasing numbers. Soon all this real estate would be snatched up, and the price for a plot of dirt would rise astronomically. So this was their golden opportunity to get in on the ground floor.

This is called a land banking scam. This sort of fraud has been around for a long time. Back then, the scam artists would purchase vast tracts of land from ranchers, for a few dollars on the acre. Then they would subdivide it and clear cheap roads. They’d sell small, residential plots to their victims for thousands an acre, all the while promising big returns on their investment.

But usually the communities they promised to develop went undeveloped. The land would sit vacant, hosting nothing more than tumbleweeds and cacti. And the value of the property would plummet to a fraction of what the investors had put into it.

Beaumont & Associates came from this same breed of wolves. Mr. Beaumont had a talent for hype, and a skill at running dog and pony shows. From what my mother could figure out about him, it seemed he’d already scammed investors in the California Sierras, including the Lake Tahoe area.

Now his attention was on attracting suckers to this remote, desiccated chunk of old farm and ranch land, and convince them to get in on the ground floor of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Beaumont changed the name from Parks Valley to Lake Riverside Estates, to emphasize that body of water, which he believed would attract investors. He then subdivided this valley into lots that averaged about 2.5 acres each. I can’t remember what any of the lots were priced at exactly, and of course it varied from lot to lot, depending upon the location and condition of each lot. But I do remember it was in the thousands per acre, and I feel safe in estimating a price of at least $5,000 for a typical, 2.5 acre lot.

$5,000 was a hell of a lot of money in 1970. That equates to about $35,000 in 2022, when accounting for inflation. And this was for empty, undeveloped desert land. Such undeveloped desert land, way out in the middle of nowhere, might have sold for the fair price of about $500 for 2.5 acres, under the market conditions of 1970. If the seller was lucky. So Beaumont was probably asking for at least 10 times the fair market value.

There was no electricity anywhere near most of the lots, nor was there any water service, sewer service, natural gas lines, telephone lines, or any other utility nearby. But Beaumont advertised Lake Riverside Estates as the site of a future modern city, complete with all the amenities of cosmopolitan life, in the sunny, warm climate of Southern California.

I find it amazing how gullible real estate investors were, back then. Many purchased remote land, sight unseen. And some literally bought swampland in Florida. I know, because my father was one of those suckers. If you’d like to do some additional reading, here are a few links to stories about real estate scams that took place decades ago:

Wikipedia: Swampland in Florida

Wikipedia: Land Banking

Land Banking Scams (foreign real estate)

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Dolly Lollipalooza

This is me, hiding behind my new mother’s shoe. Which I hope to be chewing into tiny pieces, soon.

Woof! I mean, hi! I’m Dolly Lollipalooza Gnu, the cutest wiener dog anyone ever knew. I’m the latest edition to the Gnu family. Yep, the Gnu monsters came over to my house, yanked me from my mother’s tit, shelled out some funny looking green paper stuff, then dragged me over to their house. So now I guess I’m a Gnu.

They don’t know it yet, but the Gnu household is about to undergo a big, gigantic, transformation. I may look cute, but I’m hell on wheels. Before you know it, I’ll be chewing up their furniture and anything else I can sink my sharp little teeth into. And I’ll be chasing their cat, and shitting and pissing all over their nice floors.

Yep, I’ll be a’rippin’ and a’tearin’!

I’ve already been ripping and tearing at this blanket. And this is only the beginning. Mwahahahaha!

Once in awhile I’ll dash between their legs and make a great escape out the front door. Then the race will be on. They’ll be chasing me up and down the street while hollering, “Dolly Lollipalooza Gnu! Come here!! Get over here, you damned dog!!!” And their neighbors will be laughing their heads off.

I’ll probably bite their house guests. And I’ll whine all night, because I still miss my mother, that wonderful milk-sack-of-a-bitch. She had such lovely, succulent nipples. Or, suckable nipples. But I don’t get that stuff anymore. Now it’s all solid food for me. Oh, for the good ol’ days, when I was just a baby!

My picture gets taken a lot, but I rarely hold still for one. So only about one out of every 57 photos is worthy of saving. But aren’t these just the darndest, cutest pictures of me?!

I have one question. Do you think I’m cute enough to sleep with?

Leaving Lake Riverside, Chapter 3: Parks Valley

This is the next chapter of my book, entitled Leaving Lake Riverside. To read the previous chapter, CLICK THIS LINK. For the next chapter, CLICK THIS LINK. To start at the beginning, CLICK THIS LINK. Thanks for reading!

Parks Valley

Portrait of Captain Anza.

This riding stable that Tom Marcial and my stepfather Britt established, was located way out in the sticks, in the middle of about seven square miles of desert that was once known as Parks Valley. Back in the 1860s, a pioneer named David Parks became the first settler in this area. This was Cahuilla (Ka-WEE-ya) Indian territory, but I guess he figured the Cahuillas wouldn’t mind if he were to carve out a piece of their land and start up a cattle ranch.

Parks wasn’t the first man of European descent to visit this land. That honor went to Captain Juan Bautista de Anza, who overnighted in nearby Anza Valley on March 16, 1774, while leading an exploratory expedition. Thanks to Capitan Anza, this area found its way onto old Spanish maps. However, it was hardly ever visited. It was so remote that the Cahuillas were able to maintain their way of life for another hundred years.

The Butterfield Overland Mail Company stage passed through this area from 1858 to 1861, on its way from Fort Smith, Arkansas to San Francisco. But other than a few stage stops, nobody settled this land until the arrival of David Parks in the late-1860s.

Parks and his family slashed and burned the vegetation that grew in Parks Valley, allowing for the growth of abundant grassland, conducive to raising cows and steers. They also built a ranch house on the swidden they’d created, and from that house they ran cattle for the next 70 years.

In 1883, the author Helen Hunt Jackson stayed with the Parks while researching a book. She studied the Cahuilla Indians, as well some of the more colorful characters in the area. This contributed to her classic novel, Ramona, which was published in 1884.

In the 1940s the Parks family sold their vast ranch. Over the next two decades, the real estate wound up changing hands several times, until the San Jacinto Packing Company (SJP) purchased it.

The SJP planted potatoes and grain crops on the land. They also decided they wanted to raise bovines and buffalo, so around 1962 they had some longhorn cattle and four head of buffalo shipped in from Oklahoma.

Also in 1962, the SJP determined that they needed a water reservoir. There was a low basin in the middle of Parks Valley, near the old Parks ranch house. There they drilled a well which produced a whopping 900 gallons per minute. They used this well water to flood the basin and create a small lake, which they named Lake Riverside. Now that’s a funny name, because there was no river nearby to be at the side of. I’m guessing its name was derived from the name of Riverside County, where Parks Valley was situated.

This manmade lake created two small islands, which were formerly knolls, and on those islands lay the gravesites and remains of several members of the old Parks family. It’s a good thing the Parks buried on high ground because those gravesites are still there, perched safely above the waterline, even to this day.

The SJP farmed and ranched this land throughout the 1960s. During that decade, the buffalo were allowed to roam freely, which must have been very effective at keeping trespassers away. The bison multiplied until they reached 15 head by 1970. But by that same year, the SJP had been experiencing crop failures. This was likely due to depletion of nutrients in the soil.

Because of this, they decided to sell their Lake Riverside land. And they ended up selling it to some scam artists. They may not have realized the buyers were scam artists, but time eventually revealed the character of the new owners. These con men were led by Mr. Beaumont, of Beaumont & Associates. Beaumont & Associates was a den of oily-tongued snakes, affiliated with a larger conglomerate of serpents called World Leisure Time, Inc.

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