My last Memory Lane column highlighted local vehicular heritage. This column concludes this exploration of Napa County’s automotive past.
The closing story of Part 1 was about the 1936 collision between L.J. Houck’s car and a cow. While both the humans and cow were relatively unscathed, the same could not be said of the Houcks’ vehicle as it sustained considerable damage. But the car of this first Part 2 account was in far worse shape after its collision.
A 1919 Napa Daily Journal article reported all the details about this accident involving a former Napa resident: “Chas. G. Loraine, who bears letters showing that at one time he was employed at the Napa State Hospital, was arrested for stealing an automobile, at Martinez recently by Under Sheriff Don Williams of Contra Costa county. It appears that Loraine stole the car at Los Angeles, wrecked it at Martinez and was nabbed trying to dispose of the remains.”
A few years earlier, a reckless driver ruined his own vehicle, the first of several foolish decisions he made that June evening in 1916. The Journal reported, “Henry Cavagnaro, Napa’s agile speed cop, is determined to suppress violators of the speed limit ...James Boyd, a newcomer to Napa county from Oakland, (and), in the company of a man by the name of Allen, was ‘shagging’ along at a high rate (of speed) in a Haynes car that got beyond Boyd’s control and was ditched about a half mile outside the city limits north of town.
“When Cavagnaro arrived on the scene, he asked, ‘Who was the driver?’ Boyd retorted, ‘What’s it to you?’ (While showing his badge) Cavagnaro responded, ‘I’ll show you what it’s to you,’” wrote the Journal. Boyd was arrested following that exchange. At the Courthouse he stood before Napa County Justice Thomas C. Anglim. Boyd plead guilty to the charges of speeding and reckless driving and paid the $40 fine.
While Boyd was uninjured, his passenger named Allen suffered several facial lacerations caused by all the “flying glass from the broken wind shield,” the Journal added. The car also sustained considerable damage. Its severely mangled tires and axle required Hugo Zeller to tow it to the Palace Garage on Third Street in east Napa.
Long after that incident, one of Cavagnaro’s fellow officers had his own serious accident while on the job. The July 1925 Journal reported Napa County motorcycle Traffic Officer Asedo “narrowly escaped serious injury when he was forced in to the ditch on a curve by a driver who cut in ahead of Asedo as he was chasing a speeder.
“As the machine went to the ground, Asedo was thrown against a telephone pole, but escaped with only slight injuries to one leg and hip. The motorcycle was slightly damaged and after making minor repairs, he continued with his work.” By the end of that shift, Asedo had issued the lion’s share of the 49 traffic citations written up that holiday weekend.
Years later, two other local law enforcement officers were involved in a wild chase. The mid-1945 Journal coverage began with the details of the end results of that chase. “Careening at high speed, a truck was finally overturned after having eluded the pursuit of Highway Patrolmen George Burton and Adrian Dillon, this week on the Vallejo Highway.” During that pursuit several gun shots were exchanged between the truck driver and officers. But those bullets did not hit their intended targets or otherwise.
The Journal noted, “Originally, the officers had given chase to the truck to tell the driver to put his lights on. But the driver sped away. Deeming that behavior as suspicious, the patrolmen pursued him.
“It was subsequently discovered that the truck was loaded with stolen beer (taken) from the Washington Service Station on the Napa-Vallejo highway. The truck overturned at Flosden (American Canyon) concluding the chase.” The driver, while dazed, was uninjured and promptly arrested by the officers.
Wishing you safe and happy travels during this holiday season!