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The Early Years – Sheriffs Posse, Los Angeles County
In the early days of Los Angeles, the Sheriff had a group of men he could call upon him to help him in capturing highwaymen, murderers, and desperados. The men of the posse were all mounted because the bandits would escape to the outlying country and had to be caught by men on horseback.
By 1940, the Sheriff’s Posse was primarily a social organization. It was composed of a group of expert horsemen – you’ve seen them ride many times in the Tournament of Roses Parade.
The Sheriffs Posse probably reached the height of its prestige in 1930-1940 under Sheriff Eugene W. Biscaluiz. It was a large group of men, and occasionally they would go to some of the large ranchos around Southern California for rides. All of it was for fun – they would trailer their horses to the rancho headquarters that they were going to, and saddle up their favorite horse with a western work saddle, equipped with lariat, etc., and go off for a ride of miles and miles, and end up having a barbecue and then going home.
Just after the hay was harvested, in the late summer of 1940, the Palos Verdes Corporation invited the Sheriff’s Posse to come to Rolling Hills and ride over our 12,000 acres, and be the guests of the Palos Verdes Corporation, and enjoy themselves.
They all assembled at Ken Buggy’s Rolling Hills Riding Stables, unloaded their horses and saddled up with western saddles and equipment. From the assembly point, they rode across fields until they came to Rancho Elastico. It was a beautiful, clear, sparkling Autumn day – and dry. So, by the time they got to my ranchito they were all ready for a drink.
I had arranged to have a bar set up on a pickup truck. It was all equipped with liquid refreshments that a Sheriff’s Posse would like. After a round of drinks, the children’s ringtail monkey, who was a great household pet and who really ruled the roost, showed up. He had been in the habit, when we had guests, of stealing a sip from the Old Fashioned glasses – and here was his golden opportunity.
The riders thought it was funny as heck that a monkey would like liquor. After a drink or two, Adolph, which the children thought was a fine name for a monkey, climbed to the top of the tallest eucalyptus and then would leap high in the air to the neighboring black acacia tree – but he rapidly got to the point where, on account of being a little the worse for liquor, he would miss the upper limbs of the tree and come tumbling down and just barely catch himself. He did this over and over. That monkey really had a head by the time the Posse rode on to the next stop.
From Rancho Elastico the Posse rode down the Long Valley until they came to a stack of straw. This year we had threshed the barley rather than baling it, and where the Peninsula Center is at the present time was a huge stack of fluffy, loose, barley straw. They were all feeling pretty good – it was a nice, warm day. They got to riding around and around and around the stack of straw. Then every once in awhile, one of the riders would get very hilarious and he would his horse straight into the straw, which was very loose, and the horse would stumble and fall down, and the rider would fall off – and the only way the could get the rider and horse back onto firm ground again would be to lasso them and drag them out. And that is one version of what you might call “horsing around”
By 1:00 pm everybody was starving, and ready for a good meal, and they had a good meal. We had employed caterers to barbecue the food. They barbecued a steer, and it was ready by the time the boys got there. There were all kinds of Mexican dishes – lots of frijoles, tamales, and green salad — anything they wanted. There was plenty of beer, plenty of coffee, and plenty of fun.
From there the Posse rode down Georgeff Canyon back to the Rolling Hills Riding Stables, where they unsaddled, put their horses in the trailers, and returned to their homes.
Excerpt from: Rolling Hills: The Early Years by A.E. Hanson