An except from part of Chapter 1 of HorrorScope— “The Sign of the Crimes” by Gian J. Quasar. I set the in place the times and seasons. . .
History moved on. Events came and went. The clock ticks slowly and we come forward. The Summer of Love was long over by the end of 1968.
Rural East Bay area hamlets were still mainstream. Hippies weren’t in large numbers here. Though they had been exiting the Haight for country communing and impromptu ashrams, Vallejo, an industrial, shipbuilding town was not an expected destination for them. Some of the locals may have begun to morph, but it was only appearances. These were known as “hippie types” because their hair was sprouting or they had a peace symbol necklace or some such other paraphernalia that middleclass youth adapted as fashionable. The average youth still looked like pre-antiestablishment teens. Guys had short hair. Their slacks were nicely fitting, their shirts had button-down collars. Some had long sideburns. Some had Beatle haircuts. Elaborate coiffures adorned mainstream gals; cat-eye glasses, miniskirts of bright colors— the full monty of 1966 was still vogue in 1968.
The Haight was only an hour away, if that, and Vallejo teens could sample the “far out” when they wanted. But pure hippie veneer was still too extreme for the mainstream, especially for high school kids with their sense of peer pressure. High schools forbade the extreme looks anyway. PTAs would not bend. Yet the new morality could be sampled behind any veneer. It didn’t require morphing into a hippie. Pot was smoked. Sex was free. Both could be sampled easiest at the lovers’ lanes.
Columbus Parkway was a significant northeast Bay Area road, even if your average metropolitan Bay Area resident didn’t know it. It was the first exit off Highway 80, the main highway coming to the Bay Area from Sacramento. It was just before Vallejo. It skirted the town by wending along the grassy foothills. But it wasn’t a dead end country road. It connected with Lake Herman Road. This was also a main country road. It connected this rural area with Highway 680 to the east of Vallejo. Coincidently, Lake Herman Road was likewise the first cutoff coming from Sacramento on Highway 680, on the outskirts of Benicia. These two highways formed a huge fork around Vallejo and Benicia, each coming from Sacramento to the Bay Area. They came together again at Highway 780 along the Carquinez Strait. Short of 780, these backroads were the quickest and easiest ways between these two highways.
Easy access made these roads perfect for lovers’ lanes; remote at night, dark, with turnouts and entrances to unattended ranchland in the rolling hills. Paradoxically, despite the convenience these roads offered they were not heavily trafficked. Most traffic along Lake Herman Road went to Lake Herman and the recreation areas. Most traffic on Columbus Parkway was for going to Blue Rock Springs Park or to the new golf course. This was Vallejo’s famous and beautiful country park situated in the foothills. While locals more than metros knew how these roads connected, tens of thousands who used the lake or visited the parkland would have learned over time how they were a major convenience.
From the peak of Lake Herman Road, at night, the only light was the distant and the bloodless halogen lights of the new Humble Oil Refinery on the outskirts of Benicia. They gave a faint indigo glow to the inky veil hanging over the Carquinez Strait. During the daytime this veil was a thin, milky haze, turning the silhouette of Mount Diablo far to the south into a transparent shade. Devil’s Mountain was like the island volcano rising high from the jungles. Every mountain range in the Contra Costa corridor cringed at its feet. Mt. Diablo was visible from every angle of the Bay Area, from San Francisco across the bay, looming over the Berkeley Hills as they genuflected on their knees before it. A particularly nice vantage point is at the end of Lake Herman Road, where it meets Highway 680. Here a special viewing area exists.
I do not belabor these points without reason. This area is indeed an integral part of the sign of the crimes. Not only was a time and season in history being assaulted, so was a place . . . but most of all a type of victim.
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Since 1990 Gian J. Quasar has investigated a broad range of mysterious subjects, from strange disappearances to serial murders, earning in that time the unique distinction of being likened to “the real life Kolchak.” However, he is much more at home with being called The Quester or Q Man. “He’s bloody eccentric, an historian with no qualifications who sticks his nose into affairs and gets results.” He is the author of several books, one of which inspired a Resolution in Congress.