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spawn the jets and missiles of the Space Age. Naturally, related and unrelated businesses, too, mushroomed around the aircraft and airframe companies, keeping pace, pushing outward from Los Angeles city into San Fernando Valley, southward through the bean-patches and celery fields to El Segundo and Inglewood, westward to Santa Monica and eastward to the very rim of the Mojave Desert.
When you really think about it, this kind of growth was inevitable. It shouldn't be so surprising,
L. A. County Population, 1939-1959 5.850.736 I [ I I I I | I I I I | I I I I I I I Ml*
except that by 1951 Los Angeles County was beginning to run out of great sweeps of land, the kind of land industry needs to grow on.
The demand for land threatened to outstrip the most extravagant hopes and dreams of those earlier pioneers, the bean-eaters who had bought raw land and held it against the time to sell or build.
My own son was caught up in this demand for land. He was a security technician at Northrop Aviation, working out of Hawthorne. With new missile contracts from the government and new jet planes due for testing, Northrop had to find more land for another factory, for more people.
My son was led to believe that he would be transferred to the new facility—near Edwards Air Force Base in Lancaster, California.
This was in 1954.
I had heard of Lancaster and Palmdale,, and I had driven through there, but without any particular interest. For more than 30 years I had been dealing in property. Little by little, as big hunks of land grew scarcer, I had turned my attention to pyramiding the holdings of my very successful clients. I had learned to turn million-dollar office buildings into $2 million shopping centers, to buy two buildings on speculation, hold one and sell one, and use the profits to buy an apartment house.
With two offices and 27 salesmen in the Beverly Hills area, I had somehow lost track of the "little guy" I had once been and all the other "little guys" for that matter, even my own son. I had just sort of forgotten that the same opportunities which exist for the "big men" also exist for the "little guy."
Driving the new highway to Lancaster I suddenly remembered a lot of things. For the first time in years, I began to get excited. Here was land, great big sweeps of it. It was there for the buying. Lockheed arid Northrop were already there sitting on hundreds of acres. Other factories would have to follow. Houses would have to be built. Businesses would grow up—markets, banks and department stores.
Even in Los Angeles County, there was another frontier, another tremendous opportunity for the "little guy," the ordinary man, the fellow with the lunch pail.
I drove around all day, bumping over flat land, not really seeing it, looking up at the gentle slope of hills, breathing the smog-free air. In my mind's eye, I built houses and apartments, markets, banks, schools and churches.
It was only as I started home again that I really began to think. How could land like this be made available to people like my son, people who didn't have much money to start with?