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LIVING NOSTALGIA RECALLING BYGONE ERA OF SIMPLICITY, PROXIMITY.

Byline: Carol Rock Staff Writer

NEWHALL - You could call her ``the walking woman'' as she makes her way through Newhall on foot, reminiscing about the days when she could easily walk to the variety store, the bank and other businesses.

Melba Fisher, 89, knows the territory like the back of her hand. She was raised in a wood cabin in Placerita Canyon and has lived since 1960 in her 8th Street home, where she and her husband raised four children.

Now, she enjoys visits with relatives and spending time with her pet cat, Pretty Kitty, who curled around the pillars of a glass coffee table as she talked with a recent visitor.

Local history books illustrate the hard work that Fisher and her 11 siblings had to do to keep their homestead running and the family fed.

She herded turkeys and stomped grapes when she was a girl and rode to school in her father's Ford Model T. The children worked to build trails that are still being used in the canyon community and - when she can - Melba returns to the small, historic cabin, now part of the complex at the Placerita Nature Center. Visitors often marvel at how the tiny cabin was once home to 14 people.

``Every chance I get, I visit,'' she said. ``I visualize all the fun we had. There were so many of us, we had our own ball games.''

She remembers each of the children having their own sleeping areas in parts of the cabin that have since been torn down. And she laments the fact that she's outlived a lot of her friends and family.

``What advice would I give to young people? Have respect for the older ones,'' she said, smiling.

A competitive checkers player and amateur gardener, Fisher's kitchen table has a checkerboard at the ready and her den is filled with musical instruments from her days entertaining friends at the nearby senior center. She used to play tambourine and maracas with the Cool Cats, a touring musical group sponsored by the nature center, but even though her touring days may be waning, the music is still in her heart.

Part of Fisher's morning routine is reading the newspaper.

``So I can find out what's going on in the world,'' she said enthusiastically. ``I really look forward to that newspaper every day.''

After reading her newspapers and from a variety of books - her coffee table held copies of local magazines and Zane Grey novels - Fisher walks down the hill to the senior center to socialize with her friends over lunch.

``I like to read pretty much anything,'' she said. ``Mostly I like to read about the old times, the days of horse and buggy, like we used to ride when my dad brought us in to town.''

Carol Rock, (661) 257-5252

carol.rock(at)dailynews.com

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Photo:

An amateur gardener and avid checkers player, Melba Fisher, 89, recalls a childhood in Placerita Canyon when she and her 11 siblings herded turkeys and walked to the variety store.

David Crane/Staff Photographer
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Feb 5, 2006
Words:513
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