All those years ago ... April 11, 1963

By: Anne Papineau,
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From the pages of the Auburn Journal, April 11, 1963

Exploding heater blasts home
An angry hot water heater blew up like a Canaveral missile at the Dave F. Gebhart home, 334 Chamberlain Ave.,  Auburn, early Sunday, causing an estimated $10,000 damage.

Luckily, the house was unoccupied when the blast occurred at 7 a.m. The Gebharts were vacationing in Colorado at the time of the explosion, but were expected back later this week.

Fire Chief Henry Gietzen said the water heater was apparently overheated. Witnesses told him it shot up from the basement of the ranch style home, zooming through eight-inch floor timbers and penetrating the ceiling and the roof.

The flying water heater soared some 75 feet into the air before it crashed back into the house again. The blast tore doors from hinges and caused extensive damage in every room.

For example, the explosion caused a floor-to-ceiling lamp in the living room to be pushed through the ceiling like a knife cutting through butter.

Tax revenue  
City received $51,780 sales tax for final quarter in 1962

Retail customers purchased $5,178,000 worth of taxable merchandise in Auburn during the last three months of 1962 and paid $207,120 in state and county sales tax in doing so, it was announced yesterday by the State Board of Equalization.

Victim of Reno murder was Sierra honor co-ed

Sonja McCaskie – ski star, divorcee, mother and victim of one of the most fiendish murders in the history of the West – spent much of her 24 years in Placer County and was known to many persons in this area. As Reno police concentrated the search for her sadistic killer yesterday, Placer people were still remembering the handsome woman’s days as a student at Sierra College.

… While living in Auburn and attending school, Miss McCaskie lived in much the same manner as she spent her last days in Reno – alone in apartments with occasional dates that including swimming and skiing in the Tahoe City area where her mother now lives. She was a member of the 1960 British Olympic ski team.

Auburn hotel up for sale
The Auburn Hotel, traditionally the hub of the city’s social and fraternal life, is up for sale, it was learned yesterday.

Ruth and Leo Weintraub, principal owners, said they are asking $200,000 for the 70 unit hotel which was built in 1915.

The hotel’s liquor license will be sold for an additional $15,000, they said.

New phone book will contain dialing changes
Like it or not, Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Company will have the last word in digit dialing.

In a folksy letter to subscribers, PT&T has gently reminded us that the upcoming phone book – due out in September – will contain nothing but numbers.

For example, if you think you have a TU rner exchange now, it will be officially christened “88” come September.

City Council ponders police cars – bathrooms
Three-fifths of the Auburn City Council delved into such diverse matters as bathrooms and police cars at a meeting that nearly didn’t come off Tuesday night. Ray Meyers and Robert Norris, the hard-hitting minority bloc of the council, were unable to attend the special session. And had not Dr. Verne Fellows been routed from his sickbed, complete with temperature and running nose, the council would not have had the necessary three members to constitute a quorum.

The result was that the meeting started 32 minutes late.

First off, the abbreviated council approved the purchase of a new police car for Chief Herschel Young’s lawmen. The contract for the sale was awarded to Lemmon Chevrolet-Olds which submitted a low bid of $1,595.

The bulk of the meeting was taken up with problems stemming from the question of how much to charge individuals or firms for sewage hook-ups for their bathroom facilities.

Fire razes Hughes Mill

FORESTHILL, April 11 – The Hughes Brothers Sawmill northeast of Foresthill, was destroyed early Saturday morning in what was estimated as a $500,000 blaze of unknown origin.

The fire, which was discovered by an employee, Al Johnson, was thought to have burned for an hour before being spotted.

The State Division of Forestry was not notified immediately, due to the fire destroying telephone lines, and in the resulting delay, the building was consumed by flames before hastily dispatched fire units could arrive.

Forest officials credited the rain with preventing the blaze from spreading to logs piled nearby.

Police break up fight
Quick action by Auburn policemen nipped violence in the bud as tempers flared and fists flew in the waning moments of the Firemen’s Ball early Sunday.
Patrolman Courtney Arbogast, ably assisted by Officers Cyril Daniels and Galen Reinecke, broke up a lulu of a brawl outside the Home Economics Building at 12:57 a.m. as the band was playing “After The Ball Was Over.”

… Neither participant required medical treatment.

Old Water jug blows cork, injures man
That deafening CRASH outside the supervisors’ chambers in the Court House last Wednesday was not the familiar sonic boom cause by politicians yelling at one another.

It was that old and tired water jar which had received one jostle too many.

Jolly Johnny Peternell, county storekeeper, was about to refill the five gallon glass jar with that famous Placer County water.

But he no sooner touched the ancient jug than it literally blew up, showering Peternell with a spray of wet glass.

Peternell suffered a cut thumb which required four stitches, which wasn’t very funny.

Now court officials are faced with another momentous decision; should they replace the watering trough with another glass jar or a fountain?

Auburn man carries the mail
STATELINE, Lake Tahoe – Randy Steffen of Auburn, last week became the latest rider to complete the Pony Express run in record time, when he made the 100 mile journey from Sacramento to Stateline, bearing correspondence written by Gov. Edmund G. Brown, and destined for Nevada Gov. Grant Sawyer.
Steffen’s time (12 hours, 54 minutes) was made to correspond with that made by the first Pony Express rider 103 years ago. Twenty-three horsemen participated in the reenactment.