I was saddened to learn of the death this week of Manuel “Vic” Victoria Jr. He was among the first persons I met when I arrived in Fillmore 22 years ago. He had his shoe shop in the Masonic Lodge building next to the Gazette, at the corner of Central and Sespe Avenues. The Northridge quake which destroyed that landmark building devastated his business which he later moved to his residence. Vic lost a great many treasured artifacts and things he had collected over the years when his shop was destroyed.

Vic was a very congenial and interesting man. He was also a true “mountain man”, someone who knew the terrain of Ventura County like very few others. For decades he led hikes into the back country. I was fortunate to participate in an overnight hike up Pine Creek many years ago. His knowledge of nature and its creatures was acquired during a lifetime of exploring the wilderness. I vividly recall his strength as a hiker. It was hard to keep up with the unrelenting pace he set. Vic was also a skilled mason who built the home he lived in for decades.

Vic introduced many city folks to the wonder of the outdoors.

Rest in peace Vic. You will remain a rich part of Fillmore history.


Publishing a small weekly community newspaper is like no other work. It is a strange sort of undertaking. More than 25 years in this business has impressed that fact deep into my psyche. If you’re a person in need of many friends you would be unhappy in this job. If you are thin-skinned, with an aversion to religious and political controversy, this work would quickly wear you down, especially in a small town environment. You are uniquely on your own.

You learn a lot about humanity in this job, and humility as well when you absorb the social atmosphere peculiar to the town. You learn that very few residents really contribute to community success in a meaningful, dependable way. Most just attach themselves, and go along for the ride until the carrier dies out. You learn that the town is a true microcosm of the nation, with all its good and bad, weakness and strength. You grow to deeply respect the opportunity to freely state your opinion, sometimes in the face of withering dissent, as nowhere else in the world.

Among the hard lessons I’ve learned is, what appears to be deep is often shallow, and some things, at first appearing to be bad, have merit. Trust is rare, achieved only with time and trial. Over the years I’ve learned that energetic amicability is often untrustworthy, a sort of friendly usury for political, social, or professional profit. Maybe this is a universal truth. “All that glitters is not gold.”

If it’s true that the quality of your work can be assessed by the greatness of your enemies, with the Katzenjammers in mind I feel like an abject failure. However, with the inclusion of a false friend or two, I feel like a winner, because a treacherous “friend” is the supreme enemy. These are the obsequious, glad-handing Pharisees that poison society. The residue of such an experience is pure contempt, on both sides, and a sense of relief that one didn’t get to know the other person well. But, they can enhance the feeling of professional success if added to the enemies list, after wiping away the disgust. This is another factor driving me to comment on controversial public affairs.

This business can provide a broad understanding of small societies. I think, having published weekly newspapers in three states and five counties, I would someday like to put my findings into a book. Maybe, someday. The big question is: should I identify the players? I recall the immortal words of mankind’s greatest genius: “The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones.” Maybe that should not be so.