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By Don Ray
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About

"The Spy of Shadow Hills -- Rumors or Reality" is true story about a German-born man named August Furst and his wife and two sons who arrived in the rural canyon now called Shadow Hills in Los Angeles in 1936.

The family purchased an orange grove and the hill behind it and built The Old Vienna Restaurant and Gardens. Within a month or two, rumors were abounding that he was a Nazi sympathizer -- a spy for Germany -- a member of the German-American Bund and a Fifth Columnist.

August Furst, his wife and sons have all died, but the rumors live on to this day. Investigative journalist/author/producer Don Ray heard the rumors when he was a kid in the 1950s. When he heard them again 30 years later, he decided to find the truth and write a story for a national magazine.

He obtained historical documents including the FBI's investigative files into the man, his wife and The Old Vienna Gardens. That was in 1985.

The magazine folded that year and Don Ray's research sat on the shelf for 30 years. This year, when his friends remodeled the old stone and wooden restaurant and cleaned up the once lush gardens, he decided it was time to update his research and get to the bottom of the story.

Was it true? Partly true? Or was it hysteria.

It was clearly a job for the non-profit he founded -- The Endangered History Project, Inc. He and some associates volunteered their time and resources to re-investigate the allegations using the modern resources that the Internet, social media and archives provide.

Before long, they were uncovering even more disturbing clues that involved not only August Furst and the restaurant, but neighbors and others as well. What was the involvement of people running the asylum next door? Who put up the giant cross that was painted red on the top of the hill? And who were the Ku Klux Klan members who frequented their "KKK Cross?"

For every fact that the team nailed down, more suspicious people showed up in the records -- and the investigation widened.

It all took place with the backdrop of the international, national and local events, fears, actions and hysteria of the 1930s.

And ironically, what the team has learned has astonishing parallels to what's happening in the world and in the United States today. Don Ray and his fellow volunteers have ventured back in time -- a time that few people alive today learned about in school.

The bigger story involves "the usual suspects" of the time -- the Japanese-Americans, German-Americans, African-Americans, Mexican-Americans, Dust Bowl refugees who all assembled in Southern California at a time the country was still struggling in the quicksand of The Great Depression and, at the same time, preparing for what seemed like an inevitable war.

And as the Communists, the Fascists and the Nazis were positioning themselves for the coming war in Europe, their agents were, indeed, trying to win the hearts and minds of the frightened citizens of the United States.

A lot of it played out in Los Angeles. It became a destination for defense plants workers, military personnel and others pouring in from everywhere to Los Angeles, the land of second chances.

Despite what people may have told you, it was not at all a melting pot.

August Furst and his family arrived at a time when people were scared -- and at a time they had every right to be suspicious.

Risks and challenges

The most obvious risk is the health and welfare of the author, Don Ray. He's healthy, but if lightening should strike in some fashion, the others associated with The Endangered History Project, would have the responsibility of either completing the project on their own or returning the money to the donors.
The other risk is that the project could be delayed. Someone famous once said that every writer needs to have two little people with hammers nearby -- one to beat you over the head to get you to start writing -- and the other to pound on you to make you stop.
The team is very aware of this dilemma and the members have hammers.
There are some Freedom of Information Act request still out, and nobody can predict when the FBI and other agencies will reply. We'll certainly have a date in mind when we proceed without the results -- fodder for a future edition.
There could be delays with the people who will print the book. We're already shopping for the best printer. Printers will tell you that there are three elements to a printing job -- price, quality and speed. The rule is that you can only have two of the three. We're first focusing on price and quality, but we'll be sure to monitor the speed.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    Golly, I just want to pitch in.

    Satisfaction. That's what you'll get. Plus, you'll get an email from the lead author, Don Ray.
    And you'll sleep better knowing that you helped us reach our goal.
    And that's priceless.

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    The book -- "The Spy of Shadow Hills"

    You'll receive one copy of "The Spy of Shadow Hills -- Rumors or Reality."

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    A signed copy of the book

    You'll receive one copy of "The Spy of Shadow Hills -- Rumors or Reality" signed by the author, Don Ray

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    Two copies of the book

    You'll receive two copies of "The Spy of Shadow Hills -- Rumors or Reality." And you'll save money on shipping.

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    2 signed copies of the book

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    Four copies of "The Spy of Shadow Hills"

    You'll receive four copies of "The Spy of Shadow Hills -- Rumors or Reality." And you'll save money on shipping.

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    4 signed copies of the book

    You'll receive four autographed copies of "The Spy of Shadow Hills -- Rumors or Reality." And you'll save money on shipping.

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    Lunch Tour of the old restaurant

    You'll get the signed book, lunch at Villa Terraza Restaurant and a personal, behind-the-scenes tour of the grounds of what was once The Old Vienna Gardens Restaurant that spy suspect August Furst built.

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    Public Records Tour of Los Angeles

    A day-long public records tour of Los Angeles Civic Center and the Norwalk offices of the L.A. County Clerk/Recorder/Registrar.
    Investigative reporter is known as the Dean of Californa Public Records, and has trained tens of thousands of journalists, private investigators, law enforcement agents and genealogists over the past 40 years. On this hands-on walking tour, Don Ray will take you into the very offices where the most valuable records, files and documents are kept -- documents that tell the stories of people's lives. You find your way to Downtown Los Angeles and then to Norwalk, and Don Ray will do the rest. It includes a copy of his "Diggin' up Gold on the Old Paper Trail; A Workbook for Investigatin's Folks."
    You'll have to schedule the tour when at least five other people are coming.

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    Lunch Tour for 2 of the old restaurant

    You'll get 2 signed books, 2 lunches at Villa Terraza Restaurant and a personal, behind-the-scenes tour for 2 of the grounds of what was once The Old Vienna Gardens Restaurant that spy suspect August Furst built.

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    Your name credit inside the book

    You'll receive a signed copy of the book and you'll find your name listed in print as one of the supporters of the book project.

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    Lunch Tour for 4 of the old restaurant

    You'll get 4 signed books, 4 lunches at Villa Terraza Restaurant and a personal, behind-the-scenes tour for 4 of the grounds of what was once The Old Vienna Gardens Restaurant that spy suspect August Furst built.

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    Lunch or dinner with Don Ray, Author

    You'll get a signed copy of the book, "The Spy of Shadow Hills," and a lunch or dinner with the Don Ray (and maybe other team members) at Villa Terraza Restaurant (formerly The Old Vienna Gardens). Plus, Don Ray will give you a personalized, behind-the-scenes tour of the historic restaurant and grounds. Pick any item on the menu, one drink and dessert.

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    Lunch or dinner for 2 with Don Ray

    You'll get 2 signed copies of the book, "The Spy of Shadow Hills," and a lunch or dinner for you and a friend with the Don Ray (and maybe other team members) at Villa Terraza Restaurant (formerly The Old Vienna Gardens). Plus, Don Ray will give you a personalized, behind-the-scenes tour of the historic restaurant and grounds. Pick any item on the menu, one drink and dessert.

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    Group presentation by Don Ray

    Don Ray and at least one other team member will put on a multimedia presentation for your group at your location anywhere within 60 miles of Downtown Los Angeles.
    Your group or organization will be enthralled with the dramatic readings of the FBI files that are projected so that everyone can read along.

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    Lunch or dinner for 4 with Don Ray

    You'll get 4 signed copies of the book, "The Spy of Shadow Hills," and a lunch or dinner for you and 3 friends with the Don Ray (and maybe other team members) at Villa Terraza Restaurant (formerly The Old Vienna Gardens). Plus, Don Ray will give you a personalized, behind-the-scenes tour of the historic restaurant and grounds. Pick any item on the menu, one drink and dessert.

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    An Oral History of Your Loved One

    Over the past 40 years, Don Ray has conducted hundreds of hours of audio and video interviews -- including witnesses to World War I, servicemen and women who served during WWII, Korea and Vietnam, Holocaust survivors, prisoners of war and the people who kept the fires burning at home.
    This reward entitles you to a high definition video oral history of anyone you choose.
    The interview could last as long as an entire day and could take place in the person's home or other nearby location. It includes transportation to anywhere within 75 miles of Shadow HIlls. You will get a 2 DVDs of the raw interview. Check with Don Ray for more details. For a sample of his work, please visit https://youtu.be/s1aBQKnT8SI where you will see and edited sample of interviews Don Ray did in 1991.
    For an edited production with photos and film or video, see the bigger package reward below.

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    Don Ray's "Dazzle Tour of L.A."

    You and up to four of your friends will take Don Ray's famous Dazzle Tour of Los Angeles. He's been giving this all-night tour for more than 40 years. Truth be told, there's no dazzle involved because he's going to take you to places that you've either never heard about or have never known the real stories behind the locations. You'll learn about the history of "City that should never been," and how it defied the odds.
    You'll see things and hear things that will bring tears to your eyes. It starts at about 10 p.m. and ends after the sun rises. People who have lived here their entire lives are amazed at what they experience on this personal tour.

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    Your name on the back cover of the book

    Your name will appear on the back cover of the book as one of a small number of people who assisted in the research, editing or publishing of the book.

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    Pledge $2,000 or more About $2,000

    The book will be dedicated to you.

    Yes, Don Ray will dedicate the book only to you. It will include a thankful message for your support.

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    Pledge $2,500 or more About $2,500

    Oral History Production of Loved One

    Veteran oral historian Don Ray will conduct a high-definition video oral history of your loved one and turn it into a video production on DVD.
    It will include edited highlights of the interview plus family photos, family films or videos, royalty free music and titles.
    The length of the edited video will not exceed 90 minutes in length. Includes transportation within 200 miles of Shadow Hills.
    For a sample, please visit https://youtu.be/KRJy_5nYqsM.
    Why should you claim this reward?
    A famous oral historian said it best.
    "It's like being in a library that's burning down -- you have to move fast."
    It's something your great-grandchildren's great-grandchildren will thank you for.

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    The Golden Angel Designations

    It's the "Darn it, I don't want to see all this effort wasted" gift.
    You'll get any combination of book, tours, meals, back cover credit and any tours, classes or the simple video oral history session.

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    Pledge $4,000 or more About $4,000

    Take us over the top.

    You'll get a signed copy of "The Spy of Shadow Hills -- Rumors or Reality?" plus a dinner for four and a private tour of what was once "The Old Vienna Gardens, a personalized version of "Don Ray's Dazzle Tour of Los Angeles, daylong public records tour of your county's government offices in California.

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    Your name on the front cover of the book

    Your name will be on the front cover of the book under author Don Ray's name preceded by the words, "With (your name). Inside, Don Ray will acknowledge you as a publisher.

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    The family history delux package

    You will receive a custom documentary of a loved one -- or of a couple in your family. It will include broadcast-quality oral history interviews of up to 12 hours of video, complete transcriptions of the interviews, scans of photos, films or videotape digitized and a PBS style documentary of up to two hours in length composed of the video, film and video clips from the family, still photographs, audio recordings and other kinds of graphics. You will also get four DVD sets of the documentary as well as the raw footage. Good for anywhere in California, Nevada or Arizona. Others states in the U.S. require travel expenses.

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Funding period

- (30 days)