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A Cockamamie Way to Run Beverly Hills

I’m sure this story is not an urban folk tale. It comes to me from a woman I know, and who happens to be a principal in it. It is not a story she heard from some third person, who heard it from someone else.

It concerns, mainly, a Beverly Hills rooster--or a rooster that lived in Beverly Hills. It was the pet rooster of a 12-year-old boy named Josh.

The story begins in glitzy Beverly Hills, which happens to have local ordinances against continuous squawking, crying, howling and barking within its city limits. I remember that years ago, at least, there used to be a sign on Wilshire Boulevard as you approached the city limits saying “Quiet: You Are Entering Beverly Hills.”

Possibly the civic thinking is that people who have lots of money and drive Mercedeses and have maids and butlers ought not to have the serenity of their lives disturbed by loud noises. Of course not everyone in Beverly Hills sleeps until noon. I have read that Michael Milken, the junk bonds king, is always in his office at 4:30 a.m. I have not heard of a more zealous application of Benjamin Franklin’s wise advice.

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In any case, Josh’s rooster disturbed other residents of the neighborhood and the police cracked down. It is a rooster’s nature, of course, to crow at first light, or at any other time he feels like it. Josh tried putting the rooster in the maid’s room overnight, but the darkness did not stop him from crowing early in the morning. I am not told how the maid reacted to having the rooster domiciled in her room.

I have this story, by the way, from Evelyn Weidner, proprietor of Weidner’s Begonia Gardens in Leucadia. I know her because my wife and I have stopped in at the gardens several times on our way back from our house in Baja. Weidner also sent me a clipping from the local Citizen, telling the story with a picture, in color, of Weidner and the rooster. The rooster is a Rhode Island red and he looks ferocious.

Evidently Josh’s parents knew Weidner too, for their solution was to drive the rooster down to Leucadia, in their Mercedes, and place him in her care. The Weidner Gardens is famous for its farm-like atmosphere and abundant animal life. Josh’s rooster now lives on the banks of a big pond with several ducks.

According to Carol Masciola, the local reporter, Weidner said, “It’s kind of nice to see that we’re not as bad as Beverly Hills. We’re still a city that welcomes roosters.”

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And Josh is quoted as having said, “Goodby, I love you.”

But the story has a rather macabre end concerning two other roosters that lived at the gardens before the arrival of Josh’s bird. A few nights later, the two fought a mortal battle. Their bodies were found in the barnyard next morning.

Weidner did not want to blame Josh’s rooster. “I doubt if he had anything to do with it.”

She pointed out that perhaps he had flown into a tree and got above the combat. “Roosters can fly, you know.”

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I phoned the gardens to talk to Weidner but she was gone. I asked the man who answered the phone how Josh’s rooster was doing.

“He’s pretty cocky,” he said.

Just what a rooster ought to be.

Evidently there is no connection between this story and one that appeared at about the same time in The Times. A resident of Santa Ana, one Jose Sanchez, was charged with violating a local ordinance by keeping a rooster named Travis.

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The only moral I can glean from these two stories is that we have possibly become too urbanized when we can no longer abide the sound of a rooster crowing at break of day.

Hundreds of thousands of children are growing up in this metropolis without ever having heard that wonderfully reassuring sound, nature’s clarion call of another sunrise.

For that matter, how many of them have ever heard a cow moo, or a duck quack, or a donkey bray, or a horse whinny or a pig grunt or a crow caw?

Or heard a sheep go baaa ?

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