By David Mason
August 12, 2005
A hot summer evening,
enchanting dinner beside the
rushing creek spilling into a pond
with the roar of a beautiful
waterfall, can only mean you are
eating at one of Ojai’s newest and
most unusual restaurants.
Bodee’s — an Ojai legacy. Many
of us remember the wonderful
Anne Cromer as she greeted each
person to walk into her place with a
smile and a very warm welcome.
Coming from Galveston, Texas,
Anne with her husband, Hiram
Imboden Cromer, who was called
“Doc Bodee” by those who knew
him, would have an exciting life
together. They had been married in
1934. Anne worked as a retail clerk
along with doing some modeling.
Bodee was a physical therapist.
In response to an ad the young
couple packed up their two dogs
and all of their belongings and
ventured west. The ad was for the
job of running a resort bath house
and therapy area at Wheeler’s Hot
Springs in the mountains above the
town of Ojai.
When they arrived, Wheeler
Blumberg hired the couple
immediately. They enjoyed their life
together, but when World War II
broke out, they felt like most young
people — that they must do their
part. Bodee went to work in the
Long Beach shipyards and Anne
found employment at Douglas
Aircraft. In 1944, Bodee went to
work with The Island Company on
Catalina Island. At night he tended
bar at the original Chi Chi Club in
Avalon. Anne was made famous by
her picture appearing on the front
cover of the popular Life Magazine,
showing her dancing in the Casino
Ballroom in Avalon.
After the war ended, the
Cromers returned to the Ojai Valley
and purchased property on the
Maricopa Highway for the
construction of what would become
the Bodee Ranch. They pitched tents
on the site, one for sleeping and one
The young couple purchased one
of the old army barracks that had
been built on the Ojai Valley Inn
property while it served as a base
during the war. Bodee had it moved
up the Maricopa Highway for their
living quarters. Besides a bar and
kitchen, they included steam baths
and a physical therapy area. They
opened for business in 1947.
Today, the Cromers’
granddaughter, Michele Cromer-
Bentivolio, has re-opened this
landmark establishment with a new
flair and I must add, I thought
everything was perfect.
Among the guests at my table
were Edie Lambert and Nadia
McKelvie. We spent a couple of
hours just relaxing as our table
overlooked the waterfall, pond and
the lush landscape. McKelvie had
just returned from Hawaii a few
days earlier and remarked that it
had the feel of Hawaii more than
any place in Southern California.
At the next table, Ventura
County Chief Executive Officer
Johnny Johnston and his wife,
Kitty Johnston, were certainly
enjoying their evening.
I spotted Jack and Jean Smart
entertaining friends and enjoying
the cool atmosphere on an
otherwise hot night.
The menu says, “committed to
providing you with a most unique
and memorable dining experience.”
Well, I can say for a fact, they did
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