CALIFORNIA: All's Well that Ends Well

Milfred Yant is a man with a remarkable air of respectability; it is accentuated by his pudgy figure, his middle-aged stoop, his brownish hair and open countenance. Back in 1935, as a result, he had little difficulty in selling acres & acres of steep, arid, brush-covered land in the barren hills above Los Angeles County's Placerita Canyon. The tract looked like a rest home for Gila monsters, but he got $1,950 an acre for it—just $1,900 more than he had paid.

His system was simple. He erected a corrugated-tin "clubhouse" on land (which he leased but did not own) in...

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