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A glimpse into the past – a coaster down De Luz Road

Special to the Village News

When you have lived in a community as long as I have lived in Fallbrook, you accumulate a lot of folklore about it. Some stories are funny and some are tragic and some might be OK to repeat to a friend but not proper to talk about in a publication like this.

I am going to tell you a story today that has been related to me several times over the years by my uncle, Dode Martin. He is older than I am and has lived here even longer. This story is all about him and a group of his school friends who decided to build a coaster they could ride from the top of De Luz Road all the way to the bottom where the road splits.

When I decided to write about this caper I drove to De Luz Road, and wSet featured imagehen I came to the spot where it looked like they may have started I set my odometer on 0. When I reached bottom, it read exactly one mile.

To back track a bit, you need to know that these were kids who grew up during the middle of the depression. They all had chores and other duties to perform at home to keep the family intact, but when they did have some time to themselves they invented their own toys and games to entertain themselves.

I used to watch these teenagers whom I can best describe as Fallbrooks (our gang) play war games in my granddad's lemon orchard using home made wooden rifles. The ammunition was huge rubber bands made out of discarded rubber inner tubes. A spring-loaded clothes pin served as a trigger and at close range those bands could leave a welt on a body.

Back to the story. It was decided to make room for six riders on the coaster for the ride down the grade. For construction they used a long 2x8 to sit on, some short 2x4s for foot rests, and wheels and axles from a disabled hand-pulled wagon. The steering

was a rope that could be used like a Gee Haw.

They figured they might pick up too much speed on the way down so they set a piece of railroad iron on the rear axel secured by a short length of chain and nailed it to the rear axle. The plan was for the driver to yell when he wanted to slow down and the last man would push the rail road iron off the back.

The oldest kid elected himself to be the driver. His name was Murray Hostetter. One of the older boys, Walter Allen, drove an old car to the starting line and it was his job to follow the coaster down the hill and tow it and its riders back up the hill – and maybe get to do it all over again.

Off they went down the crooked road, which is much steeper towards the bottom than it is at the top. Things were going well and they were negotiating the curves OK but they kept picking up speed. At the last and sharpest curve just short of the finish line, the force was so great the coaster refused to respond to any turning motion and the driver yelled out to drop anchor.

When the anchor hit the ground it immediately yanked the nails right out of the chain. The coaster didn't slow down one bit and they crashed into the bank, scattering riders everywhere, ripping up clothes, and skinning up toes, knees, elbows and what ever else hit the dirt as they skidded down the gravel road.

When the dust settled they all were able to get up and there were no broken bones. The coaster was beyond repair and it didn't matter because nobody felt like trying it again anyway.

As a post script to this story, I can't help but think that this portion of De Luz Road has been an irresistible challenge to daring young folks through the years. It has been asphalted now for many years and I can envision skateboards, scooters, bicycles, wagons – anything that rolls and has a braking system better than a railroad iron and a piece of chain.

I just happen to know about this particular adventure because I am related to the person who was chief construction engineer of the stretched-out coaster. In later years, he gained fame for building and racing championship dragster racing vehicles, which landed him in the Dragster Hall of Fame. On the dragsters, however, in place of the original railroad iron design for deceleration, he installed a parachute.

hiSTORIcally yours, Jack


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