Vintage Auburn

Drowsy driver, cemetery rededication, pre-dawn raid, elevator

By: Tessa Marguerite, Reporter/Page Designer
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Editor’s note: The following news articles have been taken from the Auburn Journal archives with light editing. To comment on Vintage Auburn, contact staff writer Tessa Marguerite at

10 years ago

Drowsy driver hits work van

June 17, 2008

Three female minimum security inmates and a Placer County correctional officer suffered minor injuries Monday after a driver who fell asleep at the wheel crashed into their work van on eastbound Interstate 80 at Blue Canyon, according to California Highway Patrol officials.

The 50-year-old female driver, whose name was not released by Monday afternoon, and her 15-year-old female passenger, who was asleep at the time, also suffered minor injuries and were sent to Sutter Roseville for evaluation, CHP officials said.

The inmate workers were leaning up debris and trash alongside Interstate 80 when the van was struck, said Rich Ruiz, spokesman for the California Highway Patrol

The Placer County correctional officer was sitting in the driver seat at the time of the crash.

“The driver fell asleep and the car went onto the shoulder where it first struck a (portable restroom) trailer behind the van and then the van,” Ruiz said.

Three of the seven inmate workers were hurt while diving for cover, as was the officer, said Lt. Jeff Ausnow, spokesman for the Placer County Sheriff’s Department.

“Some of the inmates dove for cover to prevent themselves from being hit,” Ausnow said.

30 years ago

City’s old Chinese cemetery to be rededicated Saturday

June 17, 1988

Native Songs of the Golden West, Auburn Parlor Number 59, will rededicate one of Auburn’s pioneer cemeteries Saturday in a 1 p.m. ceremony at the Old Chinese Cemetery on Highway 49.

Cleaned up and mown for the occasion, the cemetery is located between Joe Chevreaux’s sand, and gravel plant and the Bass Brothers welding shop.

“The location was considered to be way out of town in the old days when it was first established,” according to the parlor’s historian Joe Buel. “The need for such a cemetery was brought about by the custom of those times which did not permit Chinese to be buried at the same location as Caucasians.”

Frank Kee, owner of Alpine Market and Richard Yue who with his brother owns the Shanghai Restaurant and Saloon are two of the trustees for the cemetery and have helped the parlor in maintaining the cemetery and researching its history, said Buel.

Sailors were the first Chinese to come to California, said Buel. They were soon followed in large numbers by the Chinese who were hired to build the railroads.

But the Caucasians were very cruel to the Chinese, said Buel. They wouldn’t let them vote or own property and insisted they be buried in separate cemeteries. City authorities allocated and deeded them property for these cemeteries but they were generally outside of town.

Auburn’s Chinese Cemetery is typical. When it was created it was a mile or more outside of town beside the dusty track to Grass Valley. Today it is next to the noise and motion of busy Highway 49.

Many of the Chinese originally buried there have been disinterred, their bones polished and shipped back to China in accordance with a worldwide Chinese custom which amounts almost to a law, said Buel.

The cemetery was built in the 1850s and the last burial there was in 1936.

50 years ago

Pre-dawn raids net 29 narcotics suspects

June 13, 1968

They said it couldn’t happen here — in the wholesome atmosphere of the Auburn area, “a nice place to raise kids” — but it did.

The handsome middle-aged woman, her eyes reddened from the sting of tears, sat in the lobby of the sheriff’s office here and said the whole thing must be a mistake. Certainly her son, not yet 21, could never be a suspected dope pusher.

The young man’s father, a professional man, kept shaking his head and wondering aloud, “Where did we go wrong with him?”

“What are we going to do now?” he asked a reporter he knew.

“You’d better get him a good lawyer and then get yourselves some sleep,” the newsman replied.

These were only a few of the reactions — shock, dismay and disappointment — which raced through the Auburn area earlier this week when 29 persons, 10 of them juveniles, were booked on a variety of narcotics charges by a posse of more than 100 officers form the sheriff’s departments of Placer and Butte counties and the police departments of Auburn, Roseville, Colfax, Oroville and Gridley.

Last month a group of Placer officers assisted Butte authorities in a roundup of narcotics sellers and users, largely on information supplied by Auburn Policeman Ralph Clay, who had infiltrated the dope crowd there.

Last weekend’s sweep in this area — the largest of its type ever accomplished in Placer County — was the climax of an eight week investigation inaugurated by Sheriff William A. Scott, Auburn Police Chief Herschel L. Young and Sheriff’s Lt. Richard Wightman and Auburn Detective Sgt. Bert de la Montanya of the county intelligence unit.

The probe was deftly and dangerously carried on by a team of undercover agents headed by Sgt. Benjamin Jiminez of the Butte County narcotics squad. The operatives included an attractive young mother from Reno, Nev.

Only a few persons — policemen, district attorney’s representatives and some newspapermen — were aware of the time-consuming, often frustrating work which began to gather momentum last Thursday and Friday when Assistant District Attorneys Keith F. Sparks and Daniel J. Wallace brought the informants before the grand jury which issued secret indictments against the suspects whose tastes allegedly ran from the sale and/or use of marijuana, psychedelic drugs like LSD and STP, methedrine (“speed”) and heroin.

70 years ago

Livingston Building has elevator

June 17, 1948

70 years ago

The first elevator to be placed in a privately owned building in the City of Auburn was placed in operation in the Livingston Building this past week. Mervyn Doolittle, Auburn Journal photographer, snapped the above picture as A.C. Bequette, former Auburn Mayor, steps from the elevator after enjoying his first ride while Leroy Weller has preceded Bequette from the elevator and Burt Parsons remains behind Bequette. Weller and Parsons are occupants of establishments doing business on the second floor of the Livingston building.

90 years ago

Throw no matches from automobile

June 14, 1928

The Division of Motor Vehicles today begin enforcing the law with officers immediately to begin enforcing the law prohibiting the throwing of burning cigars, cigarettes and matches from moving vehicles.

Aroused by recent heavy losses from fire in grain fields and forests, Frank G. Snook, chief of the division, issued a bulletin to the officers instructing them to arrest every person caught throwing burning matter from cars.

The officers were likewise instructed to cooperate with state and federal forest rangers in the apprehension of similar offenders in forested areas.

“Pay particular attention to persons throwing such matter from cars along roads where a burning cigarette or cigar may ignite a grain field,” the order read.

“California is faced with the serious problem of protecting its fields and forests from fire. This problem is aggravated by the fact that the State is the please ground for thousands of motorists from other states. And it is a problem that will become more acute as the season progresses.”

The Division urges smokers to avoid arrest and the danger of a serious conflagration by carrying a metal container in their automobiles for burning tobacco and matches. This, said the bulletin, only costs a few cents and may save losses amounting to thousands of dollars.