Is there treasure buried beneath the Hollywood Bowl? Could be!

It’s Hollywood Bowl season. I’ve been pouring over the schedule for weeks now. As soon as the brochure arrived in the mail I began circling all of the artists and concerts I know I would enjoy. That presented a little bit of a problem, however. There weren’t any I wouldn’t enjoy.

Hollywood Bowl Marquee

We visited the box office–saving additional handling fees by purchasing tickets on-site rather on-line!  The trip across town also gave me an opportunity to walk around the beautiful Bowl property without the crush of people on a concert night–up to 18,000 people. Really!

Nestled in the Hollywood Hills, the Bowl is quite a treasure. I’ve written about some of its illustrious history in a previous post, but there is another story of a treasure associated with the Bowl that maybe you don’t know.

Hollywood Sign is visible from inside the Bowl.
Hollywood Sign is visible from inside the Bowl.

It helps to remember that long before the first Los Angeles Philharmonic performance at the Bowl on Easter, 1921, the Hollywood Hills were beautifully open and uninhabited.

And it also needs to be remembered that gangs and violence in early Los Angeles were part of the lawlessness of a very transitional era. As the Gold Rush ushered in thousands of miners into a county with the absence of much of a legal system, Los Angeles was known as the most lawless city west of Santa Fe.

Hollywood Hills

So the story goes that in 1861 three Mexican government agents traveled north strapped with $200,000 in gold, silver and jewelry, expecting to purchase guns for the democracy struggle of Benito Juarez. Fearing for their safety, they buried the wealth in the hills of San Mateo.

A shepherd named Diego Moreno witnessed the burial and dug up six packages, fled south to Los Angeles, and supposedly buried the loot in six different holes under an ash tree near the Cahuenga Pass.

View of Hollywood Bowl from Mulholland Drive
View of Hollywood Bowl from Mulholland Drive

Moreno took ill and went to the home of his friend, Jesus Martinez, where he was treated kindly during his illness, and shared the secret of the buried treasure with his good friend.

After Moreno died, Martinez, accompanied by his stepson, Gumisindo Correa, set off to find the treasure. As soon as Martinez approached the tree where it was believed to be buried, he dropped dead–and Correa ran away, believing the treasure was cursed!

View of Mulholland Drive from inside the Bowl
View of Mulholland Drive from inside the Bowl

Twenty five years later a shepherd unearthed a package with gold coins and jewels, and delighted with his bounty set sail for Spain. Unfortunately, his story also ends badly. As the ship docked, he fell into the sea and drowned–the weight of the coins and jewels sewn into his clothing, held him down and the curse continued.

Hollywood Bowl Shell Hollywood Hills

Remember the stepson Gumisindo Correa? He became a respected Los Angeles lawman and later decided to look for the treasure again. That also didn’t go too well. Before he found anything he was shot down in the streets of Los Angeles.

Seating at Hollywood Bowl

I love the lore of this story, but I’m greatly amused that it persisted as possibility long into the 20th century. Enough so that in 1939 special arrangements were made to dig up portions of the Hollywood Bowl parking lot, believed to be the site of the buried treasure.

No treasure was found.

Too bad, but it’s a great story. Stirs the imagination a bit, doesn’t it? The believers are still out there, but the county won’t be issuing any more permits to mining engineers anytime too soon.

And what tickets did we purchase? Well, if I told you that now, it might spoil future posts. I will get back to you with that.

But if you live in Southern California, it is just about the perfect time to get to the box office–save yourself the added Ticketmaster fees, and enjoy one of the best summer bargains in outdoor musical entertainment.

Seating the Hollywood Bowl upper deck

Travelers to the Los Angeles area would certainly enjoy this iconic location for some of the best in classical, jazz and pop performances. There’s something for everyone.

Take a look at the schedule HERE, and tell me which tickets you’d like to purchase. Maybe we can get a price break from group sales?

Following the circuitous trail of the illustrious Patton’s

It’s been more of a challenge to tell the local story of General George S. Patton than I had previously thought. I think it would be easier if I had one of those enormous war room strategy maps to plot out the Patton family history. Sometimes I have trouble keeping all the characters straight. It doesn’t help that some of the history books hold contradictory information.

I started my original questioning with a trip to the San Gabriel Cemetery. 

I’m not intending to add much color to the General’s illustrious life, at least in terms of his military career. A general call “Old Blood and Guts”–a nickname he hated but his men loved, is a biographer’s dream. There is much written. Known for his explosive temper and shall-we-say colorful language, he was a leader for which myths and truth have mingled and persisted despite his death 67 years ago.

But there was a reason I decided to finally read a personal history of the Patton family. General Patton and his wife are buried in Luxembourg, but his grandparents, parents, sister and a few other family members I haven’t yet researched are buried half a mile from my home. When growing up I had always heard that Patton was born in neighboring Alhambra. In recent years, the city of San Marino has claimed him as their native son.

I assumed a kernel of truth was contained in each story.

Let’s start with the name.

The first George Smith Patton, the General’s grandfather, was a colonel in the Confederate States Army, killed at the Battle of Opequon. His son, born George William Patton, changed his name to George Smith Patton in honor of his father. Though given the name Junior, General George S. Patton was actually the third George Smith Patton.

But to get down to where was Patton born? My research says San Gabriel can claim him! Sort of…

Some of the records indicate he was born in “San Gabriel Township.” That term caught my interest. I’ve never heard that before.

Patton’s maternal grandparents were Benjamin Davis Wilson and his second wife Margaret Hereford. The Wilson name is very well-known in Southern California.

Benjamin Davis Wilson was a California statesman and politician. In 1851, Wilson was the second elected mayor of Los Angeles after California was made a state. Wilson’s name cropped up when I was studying early Los Angeles and the Water Wars, but I hadn’t yet made the connection to Patton.

There are many stories which describe Wilson as another very colorful and adventure-seeking man. He was also known for his kind treatment of the Spanish Native Americans. Don Benito, as he was called, became the first non-Hispanic owner of what was then Rancho San Pascual, which includes today’s towns of Pasadena, Altadena, South Pasadena, Alhambra, San Marino, and San Gabriel.

You’ll have to take it from me that this was a very large Rancho.

I mentioned the Wilson name has a strong recognition factor. Yes, indeed! Mount Wilson, a notable peak in the San Gabriel Mountains is where the majority of television and radio transmission towers for the greater Los Angeles area stands as a monument to the man who took the first white man’s expedition to the peak hoping to harvest timber for making wine vats. The wood was of inferior quality for that purpose, but the Wilson Trail remains one of the most popular hikes to the crest of the San Gabriel Mountains.

I wonder how many Southern Californian’s know that Mount Wilson was named after General George Patton’s grandfather?

I couldn’t help but notice a clear view of Mount Wilson taken from the foot of the Wilson/Patton burial plot.  The large marble obelisk measures almost 25 feet in height and is inscribed with the Wilson name. Looking north from that spot the television and radio transmission towers are easily visible.

Mt. Wilson

Wilson Obelisk

Wilson did live out his days in what is present-day San Gabriel and after that, understanding the property divisions gets complicated. I think it’s safe to say that each of the cities has a reasonable claim on some portion of the Patton family history.

Next to the cemetery, on what was once Wilson land, is one of the prettiest little churches in the area, the Episcopal Church of Our Savior. The General’s family were long time members and benefactors of the church, first built in 1867 with adobe and hand-made nails. It is told that Patton was baptized in this parish.

A beautiful bronze statue of General George S. Patton stands with his side arm in a dedicated space between the cemetery and the church.

But like I said, other cities claim him, too. So next post I’ll share another San Marino bronze and perhaps get a little deeper into the local history. There’s the arroyo which passes under the Rose Bowl and was once called Wilson’s Ditch, bringing water to the valley long before Mulholland and the infamous aqueduct, and I think I’ve figured out where the Patton family home was, right around the corner from the Huntington Library.

Wish me luck. You know I can get in trouble with my camera and private property.

Stay tuned…

Six degrees of General George S. Patton

Do you know what a “Bacon number” is? It’s the number of degrees of separation between any Hollywood personality and Kevin Bacon, based on the films in which each has appeared.

Many years ago a game originated based on the concept of six degrees of separation, which contends than any two people, on average, are separated by no more than six acquaintance links. The Bacon number of an actor is the number of degrees of separation he or she has from Bacon.

Enter the Google boys! I love their quirky social contributions.

Type the phrase “bacon number” –hold the quotes–into the search bar, then type in any actor’s name, hit enter and the clever Google minds will fill in the calculation.

We just saw the movie Lincoln, so I entered Daniel Day-Lewis into the equation. Daniel Day-Lewis and David Strathairn both appeared in Lincoln. David Strathairn and Kevin Bacon appeared in The River Wild. So Daniel Day-Lewis’s Bacon number is 2.

Here’s one more. My current favorite television show is Downton Abbey. So what is Maggie Smith’s Bacon number? Maggie Smith and Sandra Bullock appeared in Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. Sandra Bullock and Kevin Bacon appeared in Loverboy. Consequently, Maggie Smith’s Bacon number is also 2.

One of my relatives had a minor role in the movie, Footloose, so I claim a personal Kevin Bacon degree of separation.

What does this have to do with General George S. Patton? Not much, except it’s my way of saying that if you live in my little quadrant of Southern California you can’t go anywhere without bumping into a name or place or person directly connected  to General Patton’s family. My guess is that very few Southern Californian’s really know the full extent to which the family names populate the history and founding of the region.

For many years I’ve walked past the Patton family plot in the San Gabriel Cemetery. My great-grandparents are buried in this cemetery. Does this then also connect me to General George Patton? (Once you start this game, it’s hard to stop).

In the next few posts I will break down just a few of the stories of how George Patton’s family leaves an indelible imprint on Southern California. As I’ve been reading a personal history of the family authored by General Patton’s grandson, Robert H. Patton, I’ve discovered that just like the “Bacon game” innumerable local landmarks and historical references connect through this illustrious family.

Perhaps it’s just me, but I sadly admit that before I started this little study much of what I knew about General Patton was limited to what I remembered of the 1970 movie, Patton, starring actor George C. Scott.

Which of course made me go back to the Google calculator.

George C. Scott and Sean Penn appeared in the movie Taps. Sean Penn and Kevin Bacon appeared in Mystic River. So…

You’ve got the idea by now.

I’ll be back with a little Patton history, so I hope you’ll travel with me.