First and Only Weekly Online Fanzine Devoted to the Life and Works of Edgar Rice Burroughs
Since 1996 ~ Over 15,000 Web Pages in Archive
Volume 4197
The ERBzine series:
Edgar Rice Burroughs: The War Years
By Ralph Herman
This wood plaque and the artifacts attached to it are from
the original U.S. Army Radio Shack 
-- one of numerous wartime defence structures 
at the Tarzana Ranch Army Camp.
This facility was located on the Ranch property 
from February 1942 through November 1944.
Ralph Herman has created a series of limited edition plaques 
commemorating the involvement of 
Tarzana Ranch in the WWII war effort.

Mr. Herman holds the copyright to 
everything associated with this plaque, 
which he has handcrafted from materials 
he preserved from the Tarzana Ranch complex.



Copyright 2012 - Ralph Herman

The attached wood is from an original piece of the U.S. Army's Radio Shack from the Tarzana Army Camp, which was located in its entirety on the Tarzana Ranch from February 1942 through November 1944. The Camp was the little-known Hqtrs. Coastal Defense Command, which was maintained on "The Hill" (aka "The Knoll"), at 18500 Tarzana Drive. The building that stands today, although highly modified, has buried within its walls the original Garage, Writing Quarters, and Theater that Edgar Rice Burroughs (ERB), author of "Tarzan of the Apes" and many other novels that resulted in motion pictures, personally supervised construction of during 1920.

The Tarzana Army Camp additionally contained many buildings constructed in part from packing crate material -- the first mass recycling during the War years that contained  Search lights, Anti-Aircraft Guns, Ammunition, Equipment, Food and other supplies necessary to operate a camp of this size and nature. One of the primary buildings was the Radio Shack, which was located approximately seventy-five feet east of the ERB-constructed swimming pool that also exists today. The Radio Shack was the primary communication center for the Headquarters, and maintained communications with units on offshore islands and military installations throughout the U.S. There are interesting stories associated with the Radio Shack based on use and discoveries made many years later hidden within its walls., The Radio Shack was photographically documented before dismantling during the 1990s with all useable materials saved and stored.

The Tarzana Army Camp additionally contained a vehicle maintenance facility utilizing the one-hundred and twenty foot long drive-through, solid redwood horse barn, and two-story high hay barn, formerly located where the present day parking lot is for El Caballero Country Club.  Where the current clubhouse buildings stand was the underground food storage facility for fresh vegetables, fruits, and meats. Nearby to the South approximately one-hundred yards was a high security POW and detainment facility with guard towers, lighting and multiple barbed wire fences.  German and Italian POWs were occasionally held over at the facility awaiting transport to the Goleta area where large scale internment facilities existed. To the West of the POW facility was the weapons live firing range with underground target pull facilities, utilizing the side of the hill as a backstop for the bullets where the "Hermano Drive" (formerly "Herman Drive") development exists today.  Further to the South and located within the Historic Olive Grove planted by General Harrison Gray Otis (former publisher of the Los Angeles times and Mirror Newspapers), were the Searchlight and Anti-aircraft Battalions that gained fame during the evening of February 24, 1942. The event was the controversial story of the reported Japanese Reconnaissance Float Plane that flew over the Valley from West to East and headed towards Hollywood.  The plane was observed by hundreds of people including our entire family, watching an outdoor movie at Reseda Park when the Air Raid Warning sounded: all lights went out, the searchlights came on and located the aircraft, and the firing began. The explosions from Anti-Aircraft shells were following the aircraft as it flew out of sight to the East.  Other reports -- and there are conflicting ones -- stated that several people were killed by shell fragments, while others died of heart attacks. At the time, I was six years old, and my brother was 13.  Although I felt  I only got a glimpse of what was an airplane while looking towards the West before all the firing began causing smoke, my brother claims that he saw the wings of an airplane and identified floats on it. It was definitely not a weather balloon and based on our later experiences as pilots, it had to be traveling in excess of one-hundred miles per hour.

Additionally, and under high security, was what we believe was the first Radar installation on the West Coast which was located somewhere between the former sheep pastures South of the knoll and the present day 18th hole of the El Caballero Country Club.  The installation was to protect the Valley and its aviation industry from attack.

The additional artifacts attached to this special numbered memorabilia, are from the following: The portion of copper window screen and frame is from the ERB Writing Quarters, Garage and Theatre building, removed in preparation of remodeling in 1959 by this author. The attached square steel rebar is from what was known as the "Caretakers House" at formerly 4970 Mecca Avenue (South of Tarzana Drive), which was constructed by General Harrison Gray Otis during the 1911-1913 era. This structure no longer exists and the square rebar was salvaged from some of the demolition material.

The above historical information is true and accurate, to the best of my knowledge.

Ralph J. Herman, Sr., Managing General Partner, Herman Properties, (formerly Herman Properties, Inc.) and owners of the majority of the 550 acre Tarzana Ranch, August 1943 to present.

Certified: August 12th, 2012   No. 35    Initialed: RJH (sig)
Ralph J. Herman, Sr.

The following is adapted from an Encino-Tarzana Patch article
that we featured in ERBzine Eclectica 2012.08
Encino-Tarzana Library Celebrates Tarzan Centennial
Local historian Ralph J. Herman, Sr. shared some Tarzana history
in honor of the 100th anniversary of Edgar Rice Burroughs' classic 'Tarzan of the Apes'.

In honor of the 100th anniversary of the publication of Edgar Rice Burroughs' classic Tarzan of the Apes, the Encino-Tarzana Branch Library hosted a screening of the 1932 movie Tarzan of the Apes and a separate presentation by local historian and Tarzana native Ralph J. Herman, Sr.
“I’ve given probably 75 presentations or more over the years: large groups, small groups, etcetera,” Herman said. “For this event, for 100 years of Tarzan of the Apes, I’ve concentrated mainly on a small bit of the history of the Valley.” Herman, whose family moved onto part of the original Tarzana Ranch, worked on the ranch as a teenager. “We had alfalfa, rice, barely and a small flock of sheep on the property,” Herman said.  “During World War II we had the Tarzana army camp on it, which not too many people realized existed.”

During his presentation, Herman detailed the history of the ranch, first owned by General Harrison Gray Otis, the former publisher of the Los Angeles Times who named it Rancho de Cabrillo. After he passed away, Burroughs purchased the ranch and named it Tarzana Ranch, the name of the community later. “Otis bought the land out of the first parcel subdivided of the 47,500 acres. He used it for everything from raising goats to you name it. Edgar Rice Burroughs continued on with everything from a small dairy farm on it and quite a range of additional animals,” Herman said.

At the presentation, Herman also brought in some memorabilia to share with the audience, including a famous plaque that General Otis produced. “The plaque was discovered within the walls of the writing quarters, it was actually Burroughs’,” Herman said. “He found the plaque on site and when he built the writing quarters he stuck it between the plastered walls, we later discovered it when we tore apart the place to rebuid and enlarge it.”

Danton Burroughs holding the famous General Otis plaque - 2002

Herman also brought in an original piece made in honor of Tarzan of the Apes, filmed in 1917 and released in 1918. Herman, who acquired it through auction, said that the gift, oil paintings in lineture, depicts original scenes from the movie. “This was a piece that was presented to the head of the promotional group which promoted film," Herman said.

Herman said he has made it a point to know the history of the Tarzan Ranch because it fascinates him.  “I got involved in what I would call investigative history when I was in high school, I was interested in the history of the ranch,” Herman said. “It’s also personal, it’s part of my life.”

Danton Burroughs and another General Otis Plaque
Danton and plaque
This plaque, held by Danton Burroughs, is the one that General Otis produced as a tribute to his wife, Eliza who had passed away around 1903.  Ralph Herman had repaired this plaque for Danton and in fact, he even recalls having hidden a message beneath the copper plate fastened to the plaque. 

Edgar Rice Burroughs found it hanging in the famed Koon Skin Kabin, which was located on the ranch property. He retained it with his personal items, and it was eventually passed along to grandson Danton. As can be distinguished on the plaque, even from a distance, is prose by some of the world's famous poets. Ralph presumes that Otis included Eliza's to elevate her to stardom.


Photos by Bill and Sue-On Hillman
Tarzana Hall of Fame Photo
Ralph Herman is the leading historian on Tarzana and the San Fernando Valley. His ancestors settled in the Valley many years ago emigrating numerous locations in Canada including home province of Manitoba. 

The Herman family have owned not only Tarzana and Valley properties, but also prime holdings at Hollywood's famed Hollywood and Vine intersection. 

He has written and given many major presentations on Tarzana history -- including a recent one to an overflow audience on the weekend of the unveiling of the ERB/Tarzan Commemorative Stamp in Tarzana.

I first met Ralph at the 2002 Tarzana ECOF Convention which included a visit to Tarzana Ranch. Ralph, who had renovated the Tarzana Ranch building before selling it to ERB, Inc., led a tour of the building: to the second floor with its incredible view of the valley and surrounding mountains and over to ballroom section with its upper storey projection room overlooking the high ceilinged ballroom. Amazingly, this building has survived a succession of owners, the ravages of time, major earthquakes, developers, vandals, taxes, and decades of bureaucratic hassles to rise up again under the Burroughs name. 
Our next meeting was at the Marriott after-show party in New York City where we accompanied Danton Burroughs and the ERB, Inc. staff for the premiere of the Tarzan Musical on Broadway in 2006. The noise from the bands and hundreds of partying guests, including Phil Collins, Angela Lansbury, Lucy Arnaz, et al made conversation difficult but we managed a few chats. 
A special JC showing at the Burroughs Tarzana Ranch: Danton Burroughs, Bill Hillman, Ralph Herman
Ralph Herman Presentation at Tarzana Ranch - 2002
with Danton Burroughs and Bill Hillman

Ralph and lady friend with Bill Hillman - Tarzan Musical
Marriott Premiere Party, Broadway NYC 2006
Danton Burroughs' sudden death in 2008 brought so many of his friends together to attend the Celebration of his Life Tribute held at the Tarzana Community and Cultural Center. Ralph, Danton's longtime friend and advisor, and I, were both asked to give eulogy tributes. We spent the following day sharing our remembrances of Dan as Ralph gave me a grand tour of the valley and Hollywood: historic Tarzana sights, the original Tarzana Ranch land where ERB had taken so many morning horseback rides, a view of Hollywood landmarks from atop the Herman high rise construction project at Hollywood and Vine, visits to friends' homes, a golf car ride all around El Caballero Country Club Golf course (where ERB and Studley had created the original 9-hole course back in the early '20s), followed by a super meal in the El Cab dining room.

Fantastic views from the Hollywood and Vine construction site
followed by a visit to the famous El Caballero Country Club

Tarzana ERB/Tarzan Commemorative Stamp Celebration - 2012

2012 Tarzana Dum-Dum Banquet

Tarzana Ranch / WWII Connection

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Tarzana Hall of Fame

Poster | Web | Card | Thumbnail

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