Thomas Hale, Our Cousin

God gave us memories that we might have roses in December. ~J.M. Barrie

Cousin Tom Hale (RIP 2018)


Let's see... Mom had a sister named Mary Kathryn. Kaye, as we all called her, had two kids.  Tom Hale, my age, and Gayla, who is several years younger.

Tom and I spent quite a bit of time together specially in later years when he came to live with us in Los Angeles.

During our scool years, Tom and I would always be together in the summer time either in Los Angeles or in Stockton.  Here are just a few of the stories I remember about these days together.

Aunt Kaye

Damned Snake

My grandparents lived in Tracy, California, when I was growing up.  Tracy was still fairly rural in those days as I remember the septic tank was always giving them fits, telephone service was shakey at best, and electricity finally stabalized in the early 1950s.

I would go up to Tracy, usually with my parents, and spend a week playing with my cousin Tom Hale.  We would go at it for the whole time generally terrorizing the animals on Fred's farm and causing havoc around us.

Next door to he gransparents was Fred's farm.  Maybe 100 acres.  It had a big barn, vegetable garden, and all the farm-trimmings. Fred and Adel, his wife, were odd ducks with rumors about them ranging from being an excaped axe murderer to a mental patient.  I think it was all bunk as he was pretty nice most of the time.

Anyway, Tom and I took a long walk across the pasteur over towards the sweet potato factory and on the way back, the animals got even.  We were messing around not paying any attention to where we were going and we derned near stepped on a giant poisionous boy-eating snake about 30 feet long and 5 feet in diameter.

 Not expecting it, we yelled like little school girls and ran like the wind. While we certainly assumed it was a super deadly rattler-viper, in reality, it was a garden snake or some other snake that enjoyed bathing in the sun and scaring the crap out of two city kids.

As I get older, I can vision how Laurel and Hardy may have looked running away ninety miles and hour followed by a trail of dust!


Driving To Louisana

Getting Run Over By A Train At Knotts Berry Farm

We were adventureous and perhaps a bit wild?  Tom and I went to Knott's and for some reason we started walking down the railroad tracks where we should have not been.  Talking and goofing around was primary activities.  All of a sudden Tom yells "I think I hear the train!".  Knowing Tom, I ignored it but sure enough, 200 feet in front of us was the train blowing its whistle saying "Get your happy butts off the track and off the bridge!".

I start running and sure a heck, foot goes between the ties and down I go.  Tom pulled me out with my torn pants and blood streaming down my leg.  The park police found us and were worried to death.  I was sore but mostly embarassed that I made a fool out of myself.

Those were the days when lawyers were NOT called, a fuss was NOT made, and my tiny little rump became as sore as my leg thanks to the swift reaction from my mothers hand!

I'll always remember looking up from the tracks and seeing the old train coming right at me.


Hoppyland! - Yep, there was an amusement park called Hoppyland after William Boyd (Hoppalong Cassidy)!William Boyd opened his "Hoppyland" theme park on May 27, 1951 in Venice, California.

The kiddy park featured a 35 foot high Philadelphia Toboggan Company Junior roller coaster called the Little Dipper, John Kissane's two train, mile long miniature railroad that circled the park, several pony tracks, a lagoon boat ride in motor-driven boats, Zeppelin and Whirlwind aerial rides, a Tilt-a-whirl, Octopus and Scooter rides. In 1951, this was the biggest and scariest things Paul had ever seen! We only lived about 4 miles from Hoppyland then.   Sue wasn't born yet!

Roller Coaster Madness!!! - I can remember my cousin, Tom Hale and I going to Hoppyland and riding the gigantic wooden roller coaster (the 35 foot high Philadelphia Toboggan Company Junior roller coaster called the Little Dipper)... many many times!

Hoppy To The Rescue! - After the Venice Amusement Pier closed in 1946, there was hope that they would rebuild elsewhere in Venice. Plans were announced in May 1947 for a $2.5 million park to be built on a 70 acre tract at Dell Avenue and Washington Street. This Ocean View Amusement Park would include the 30 acre Lake Los Angeles (location of the present Marina del Rey harbor) to be developed as an aquatic sports center. The park would have an elaborate midway, roller coaster, merry-go-round, children's rides, bowling alley and skating rink. A shortage of building materials prevented them from immediately starting construction.

The kiddy park featured a 35 foot high Philadelphia Toboggan Company Junior roller coaster called the Little Dipper, John Kissane's two train, mile long miniature railroad that circled the park, several pony tracks, a lagoon boat ride in motor-driven boats, Zeppelin and Whirlwind aerial rides, a Tilt-a-whirl, Octopus and Skooter rides. The lake featured a water skiing show with a legless skier. Free evening dancing centered around the large turn-of-the-century merry-go-round on the main midway, The Venice Wrangler's furnished western style music.

In 1951, William Boyd, better known as Hoppalong Cassidy, was brought in as a business partner. The new and improved 80 acre park opened as Hoppyland on May 26, 1951 and included picnic grounds, baseball diamonds, horseshoe pitching lanes, and a lake for swimming and boating in addition to nearly twenty thrill rides. There was a special kiddy land area featuring a miniature merry-go-round, Ferris wheel, sleigh ride, airplane, pony cart and auto rides. Velare's Double Ferris Wheel, previously on the Ocean Park Pier, was added to the adult lineup

Making A Hay Bail Fortresses With Tom Hale

Summertime meant going to Grandma and GRandpa Lewis' home in Tracy California.  As you may remember, Fred and Maybel lived next door on a small farm.  Small as it was, it did have a barn and in the barn was bails of hay.  Hay bails, the construction material of champions.

Tom (Thomas Hale, my cousin) and I would head for the barn and begin the days labor of construction a castle of hay bails with secret passages, hallways, large rooms, and whatever else we could think of using these fine materials. Done inside Fred's barn, we would tug and lift these bails of hay high up into the barn stacking them very carefully.  Sometimes I wonder how we survived because it would not have taken to much to make the whole pile fall over burying us alive in hay.

If you disregard the nasty circular bail of hay, this was Fred's barn. Circular bails of hay would have been terrible construction materials! It really looked this bad.  It had never been painted and looked like it was a California original.

If my memory serves me correctly, we could stack hay bails almost 10 high inside the barn so we had many aching muscles at the end of the day.  I also vaguely remember the use of ropes and blocks and tackle which assisted in lifting the bails high into the afternoon air. The passage ways were often just wider than a bail of hay and required us to crawl on our hands and knees through the ediface under construction.

Greatest thing about this activity was it exercised our minds in building bigger and better forts, castles, or whatevers.  It also byt the way certainly execised our bodies. I remember after a day in the barn, we would be itchy and sore but ready for more the next day!

Ol Fred has a lot of machines around the farm once of which was a hay bailer!  This fine dandy machine was the source of all of our fun!

Those were the days. Sometimes when thinking out these memories, I can almost smell the hay.

Mopping The Stores

Off To Louisana

Swapping Cars

Throwing Eggs At The Cows

Here we are in the middle of summer at Fred's farm.  Tom and I found some guinea egg which we prompty decided to toss at the cows.  We thought it quite funny to toss eggs at Fred's cows.  For the life of me I do not know why we did it, all I remember is trying many times and finally we got a bullseye and took off running!

Fred did get a little angry.  Perhaps "little" wasn't exactly the right words?  We apologized and was again allowed on the farm but warned NOT to do something so stupid again!

Tom The Cop Killer

No, he did NOT kill a police officer.  However, he did run into the back of a patrol car on a Friday night at the main drag in Stockton, California in 1961.  The poor officer was thrown to the floor of the cruiser and the police dog went nuts.  Tom, a good guy, ran up to see how the officer was doing and could not even get in the car for fear the dog would take his head off.

Having this happen on the main drag of Stockton California at 9:00 PM on Saturday night was NOT the best conditions for avoiding teasing for the rest of his life!

Walking The Bridge In Knotts Berry Farm

Cousin Tom was down and we all went to Knotts Berry Farm.  Tom and I, being explorers at heart, looked down the main tracks of the Knotts BErry Farm Railroad and we saw a tressle.  Well, one cannot ignore a bridge so off we go!

A few minutes later we are in the middle of the tressle and we hear the train whistle, ug oh!  Tom speeds up and navigates to the end quite successfully.  But me, Mr. Fumble, slip and by leg goes between the wood and I am stuck.  Stuc was not an option right now because a train was coming.  So I jerked by leg out leavig my shoe dangling beneath  the bridge. As I drew my leg out, I tear the pants and desposit a mess of splinters into my leg resulting in a load a blood flowing down my leg.

Am I hurt, No.  Am I embarassed beyond belief, Yes!!


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