Brea Old and New: Tick-Tock, History Isn't So Boring After All™ ~ Charlie the Clock

A Brea Christmas Fable

4 years ago by in ( Culture/Arts , Old/New , Uncategorized , Welcome to Brea )

This is a Christmas fable. A story about something that, maybe in another world or another time, could be true.  We may never know the truth behind the myth...


many Christmases ago, when the Gabrielino Indians and Spanish settlers were calling the La Habra Valley home, the Gabrielinos told stories of a star that fell from the night sky and bathed the Valley in a soft glow. Few Spanish settlers had actually witnessed the event, and those that did rarely spoke of it, lest they would endure the taunts of disbelief from their neighbors and friends.

Many Christmases passed and the story became legend...the legend became lore...and just as the lore was turning to myth, the hills above the valley were once again bathed in a luminous light. The Basque shepherds, who had since claimed the hillsides for their sheep, were the first to see the glowing arc. Farmers in the valley, who were out late tending their fields, could only gaze in awe at the receding glitter of the path in the sky.

They watched it fall; farmers and shepherds alike. Hearing it land somewhere in the hills with an imaginary softness they only heard in their minds. Surely something so radiant, so beautiful could make only a hushed sound that would barely disturb the slumber of hare or deer.

The hills glowed throughout the night, and the next morning dawned a clear and crisp Christmas Day. Some of the shepherds and farmers who had witnessed the event trudged to the area they had seen glow. Either daylight camouflaged the unearthly light, or it had dissipated overnight, but neither shepherd nor farmer could find the place where the piece of star had landed. Later, the families in the valley gathered to celebrate the Christmas holiday, but nary a thought nor word did not refer, somehow, to the marvel that had streaked over the sky the night before.

Many more Christmases passed, while more settlers moved into the La Habra Valley. The hills presided over the homesteads at Petrolia, Olinda, Puente Wells, Randolph, and finally, Brea. Shepherds and farmers gave way to orchards and oilfields. The town became a city and Brea became a thriving home for families of citrus growers and oil workers.

The riggers were working late one Christmas Eve; the derricks like giant monoliths against the velvet darkness of the night sky. Suddenly, shouts went up from the men as the valley was lit from above by a brilliant light streaking across the sky. Some of the riggers had heard stories of stars falling from the heavens and setting the hills aglow. Could this be happening again?

Weary eyes became bright with wonder as they watched, following a necklace of starlight as it silently drew its dividing line in the sky.

Someone shouted, "It's coming down!", and they watched as it came closer. Some of the men began scrambling down from the derricks, ready to run to where it landed...or from it. Then, the valley heard a muffled clatter. A curious noise that it hadn't heard before. The riggers began the race towards the glow in the hills, to where the clatter occurred. The first to reach it could scarcely believe their eyes. The jackhouse above Olinda was softly glowing from the inside. And a bright column of light erupted from the roof, where the piece of star had crashed through. Stunned, the old wildcatters stood and watched as the piercing light became less intense, and then slowly began to fade until, finally, the darkness was complete again and the wondrous sight began to become a memory.

The following morning, in the light of Christmas Day, some of the more courageous went up to the jackhouse to survey the damage or maybe just to see if what they had witnessed was real. What happened was clear. Even today, the jackhouse still bears its own memory of that night, so many Christmases ago, when the valley heard a clatter and witnessed a glow in the sky.

This is a fable, based only on conjecture and imagination. But, no one knows how the hole in the roof of the jackhouse happened...

Author :

  • Kathy Cannon

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