Paul William Liles

He didn't tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it.

Paul William Liles, Paul's Father

Dad has been gone since November 1970 and to this day I miss him especially around the holidays. Dad was some kind of guy, a mix between John Wayne and Ward Cleaver.  One must remember that Mom and Dad were married almost twenty years before I became a gleam in their eyes or a tarnish on their plans.

Its my understanding that Dad enjoyed the drink and played poker on a fairly regular basis until I came upon the scene at which time he imbibed twice a year, July 4th and Christmas Eve.  Other that those two days, it was rare to see him ever take a drink.  If it was, it was a highball at Knute's house while playing poker and that was Saturday afternoons only.

Cars when Paul Liles was born

Dad came into a poor family relatively speaking in 1906 in McRae, Arkansas.  He had rubella as a child leaving him with one leg shorter than the other.  He went on through the 7th grade at which time he went to work full time to assist the family.  He left home at 16 to see the world and ended up in Oklahoma were he met Mom.  The ran a diner in Oklahoma for a while, then went off the California in 1933 because conditions were do bad in the South.

Dad did odd jobs for a while and ended up taking on a job at dressing windows for a nice Jewish man named Ralph David Lebowitz who has two dime stores, one in downtown LA and one in Long Beach.  Dad stayed with Ralphs until his retirement  in 1968.

Dad and I 1946
Circa 1945

Me, Dad, and Mom at Comery Avenue

He Was Born In McRae Arkansas

McRae Arkansas Circa 2006
McRae Arkansas (Click to expand)

Paul and Gerogia Liles 1954

My Grandparents / Dad's Parents

Susie Kathryn Cook (1881 - 1957) - Born on 13 Jan 1881. Susie Kathryn married Charles Essig and had 5 children. Susie Kathryn married Grover Clifton Liles . She passed away on 27 Mar 1957 in White, Arkansas, USA.

Grover Clifton Liles (1884 - 1927) - Born in White, Arkansas, USA on 24 Sep 1884 to Joseph Liles and Martha Caldonia Howard . Grover Clifton married Susie Kathryn Cook . He passed away on 27 Jan 1927 in White, Arkansas, USA

Susie got remarried to - Charles Essig (1891 - 1970)

  • Helen Essig
  • Clarence Earl Essig

Great Grandparents/Grover Clifton's Side

Joseph Liles - (1847 - 1905) Born in Arkansas, USA on 1847 to Amaziah M Liles and Jane Price . Joseph married Martha Caldonia Howard and had 10 children. He passed away on 25 Mar 1905 in White, Arkansas, USA.

Amaziah M Liles (1812 - 1866) - Born in North Carolina, USA on 1812. Amaziah M married Eliza Jane Simmons and had 3 children. Amaziah M married Jane Price and had 6 children. He passed away on 8 Aug 1866 in White, Arkansas, USA.

Jane Price (1814 - 1837) - Born in Spartansburg, South Carolina, USA on 1814 to Russell Price and Mary Sarah Turner . Jane married Amaziah M Liles and had 6 children. She passed away on 20 Nov 1837 in Beebe, Arkansas, USA.

Martha Caldonia Howard (1844 - 1916) - Born in North Carolina, USA on 1812. Amaziah M married Eliza Jane Simmons and had 3 children. Amaziah M married Jane Price and had 6 children. He passed away on 8 Aug 1866 in White, Arkansas, USA.

Martha's parents are unknown, She had ten childfren.

Great Grandparents/Susie Cook's Side

Susie's family is still unknown but being worked on.

Some Things To Remember, When Dad Was Born:

  • The average life expectancy in the US was 47 years.
  • Only 14% of the homes in the US had a bathtub.
  • Only 8%of the homes had a telephone.
  • A three-minute call from Denver to New York City cost $11.00
  • There were only 8,000 cars in the US, and only 144 miles of paved roads.
  • The maximum speed limit in most cities was 10 mph.
  • Alabama, Mississippi, Iowa, and Tennessee were each more heavily populated than California. With a mere 1.4 million residents, California was only the 21st most populous state in the Union.
  • The tallest structure in the world was the Eiffel Tower.
  • The average wage in the US was 22 cents an hour.
  • The average US worker made between $200 and $400 per year.
  • A competent accountant could expect to earn $2000 per year, a dentist $2,500 per year.
  • A veterinarian between $1,500 and $4,000 per year.
  • A mechanical engineer about $5,000 per year.
  • More than 95 percent of all births in the US took place at home.
  • Ninety % of all US physicians had no college education. Instead, they attended medical schools, many of which were condemned in the press and by the government as "substandard."
  • Sugar cost four cents a pound. Eggs were fourteen cents a dozen.
  • Coffee was fifteen cents a pound.
  • Most women only washed their hair once a month, and used borax or egg yolks for shampoo.
  • Canada passed a law prohibiting poor people from entering the country for any reason.
  • The American flag had 45 stars. Arizona, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Hawaii, and Alaska hadn't been admitted to the Union yet.
  • The population of Las Vegas, Nevada, was 30!
  • Crossword puzzles, canned beer, and iced tea hadn't been invented.
  • There was no Mother's Day or Father's Day.
  • Two of 10 US adults couldn't read or write. Only 6 % of all Americans had graduated high school.
  • Marijuana, heroin, and morphine were all available over the counter at corner drugstores. According to one pharmacist, "Heroin clears the complexion, gives buoyancy to the mind, regulates the stomach and bowels, and is, in fact, a perfect guardian of health." (Shocking!)
  • Eighteen percent of households in the US had at least one full-time servant or domestic.
  • There were only about 230 reported murders in the entire US
  • And I forwarded this from someone else without typing it myself, and sent it to you in a matter of seconds! Try to imagine what it may be like in another 100 years


The Five Leading Causes Of Death In 1906 Was...

  1. Pneumonia and influenza
  2. Tuberculosis
  3. Diarrhea
  4. Heart disease
  5. Stroke

... it staggers the mind.

He Caught A Thief

Dad was always an active person as he was constantly making up for having polio (mild case) as a child.  He was a strong man in character as well as physical strength.

I will always remember him going into one of the dime stores which he managed and not like today when the "big wigs" pretty much ignore the customers, Dad would go wait on people, if some looked like they needed help, he would help them.

One day I was with him and I saw Dad acting strange.  He got quiet, moved slowly around the counter and was starring off.  I asked him "What is going on" and I promptly got a "Shuuussss!" in reply.

Next thing I knew, Dad was off like a flash and this kid started running out the door.  Dad got himself a thief.  Seems the kids was acting suspicious and was pocketing items (I don't even remember what).  The kid was fast but Dad was also and Dad had to be in his late 40's or early 50's.

Dad caught him, drug him back into the store and would not turn loose of him until his mother arrived.  Dad did not call the police but made the kid give up his phone number.

Mom got a piece of him and all I vaguely remember is the kid screaming at the top of his lungs with him mother beating the crap out of him!

Bet he never stole anything again!

Dad Travels To Hawaii On The SS Hawaiian Pilot

It is now 1952 and Dad gets wanderlust trying every trick he knew to get Mom to go on a boat.  Water and Mother did NOT mix.  in fact, Mom finally went on a boat across the English channel in 1975 and that also was a disaster, but that is another story.

Dad always wanted to be on the go and see things.  I guess growing up in Arkansas and seeing little for most of his live left him curious.  Dad was a travel log addict as these shows were extremely popular in the 1950s.

Remember in 1952, just after the war, there were no cruise liners like today.  Dad settled for a freighter.  It was not a tramp steamer - a commercial steamer for hire; one having no regular schedule.  The Hawaiian Pilot was a Los Angeles to Honolulu scheduled freighter.

The Hawaiian Pilot was one of the Matson Line freighters. Matson Line was formed in 1882 by Captain William Matson to operate the Hawaiian trade. In 1926 the Oceanic Steamship Co. was purchased and became a Matson subsidiary. The company thus extended its sphere to Australia, New Zealand, Pacific Islands and the Far East.

Dad begged Mom. Nope! Mom says "If God wanted me on the water, I'd been born a duck".

So in 1952, Dad sets off to Hawaii on the freighter Hawaiian Pilot. (ex- White Squall. 1947 purchased by Oceanic renamed Sonoma, 1961 traded to Matson renamed Hawaiian Pilot, 1962 sold renamed Smith Pilot.) The Pilot was an 8,200 ton freighter, pretty small by today's standards. 

Mom, Claudia (my cousin) and I saw Dad off that afternoon.  I remember going on the vessel and seeing the cabin and walking around the deck. Dad enjoyed the trip as there were only eleven other passengers, in those days that meant they did not have to carry a doctor.  Plenty of food and the frig was open to the passengers 24x7.

The Revell Model Company even made a plastic model of her which I wished I had bought when it cam out.

Hawaiian Pilot By Revell

On July 14, 1953 the freighter Jacob Luckenbach from SF rammed the Matson freighter Hawaiian Pilot near Point Montara, 17 miles from the Golden Gate. The Luckenbach sank while the Hawaiian Pilot limped to SF. Oil leaked from the Luckenbach later killed numerous birds. Dad joked about this... saying "the Captain of the Luckenbach was looking back".

Dad brought back a lot of pictures, most of them lost to the ravages of time and a 1944 P-51 Mustang that took out our home. I remember pictures of Dad in a bathing suit at the blank sand beaches.

Dad had pictures, black and white of course, of the black sand beaches. In Hawaii the term black sand beach has been used only for beaches dominated by grains of black volcanic glass. Lava flows entering the ocean chill and their glassy rinds shatter. Waves and currents may build a beach from the black grains of glass. There is no black sand beach on Oahu. There aren't even many light-gray beaches on Oahu.  Black sand is only present as distinct beaches on Hawaii (Big Island), at Punaluu (Kau district), at the west and east edges of the new lava delta from the current flank eruption (Puna), and in front of the recent flow that covered most of Kalapana and the famous former black-sand beach at Kaimu (Puna).

He also talked of Diamond Head and I never knew what it was until I went to Hawaii with Riley a few years later. The most famous volcanic crater in the world is Diamond Head, located on the South-east Coast of O'ahu at the end of Waikiki overlooking the Pacific Ocean. It was originally named Laeahi by the ancient Hawaiians. The name meant "brow of the tuna" and looking at the silhouette of the crater from Waikiki, you can see the resemblance. The current name came was given to the crater by British sailors in the 1800's. When they first saw the crater at a great distance, the calcite crystals in the lava rock appeared to glimmer in the sunlight. The sailors mistakenly thought there must be diamonds in the soil. Diamond Head is a crater that has been extinct for 150,000 years. The crater is 3,520 feet in diameter with a 760-foot summit.

We were sure happy to get him home but that set Dad on his other dreams of Europe and Alaska.

Dad Had Polio As A Child

Dad had a form of polio and was often pulled around in a small wooden wagon because he had problems walking.

He soon outgrew that and began his lifelong friendship with Otis Tucker. The Tuckers moved into McRae when Dad was about five so that would take it 1911.

Dad and Otis left Arkansas together in their early teens.

As Otis tells it, they jumped a freight train and several hours out of McRae, the railroad police found them in a box car.  They jumped out opposite sides of the car. Otis headed south and Dad went north.  

Dad ended up on Oklahoma where he met Mom and started a life-long career in the dime store business, .around 1924. 

Otis did not return into Dad's life until about 1936 when everybody was heading toward California!

Dad Was Born And Raised In Arkansas

He was born in 1906 to Grover Clifton Liles and Susie Kathryn Cook (Liles) of McRae Arkansas.  In the heart of White County.

Dad had three older sisters; Opal, Alma, and Edith!

His father (Grover Clifton Liles) died soon after he was born and Susie married Charles Essig in 1914. Charles (Charlie) was only 19 and Susie was 28! Charlie and Susie had two additional children, Clarence Earl and Helen.

Edith and Helen are alive and doing well today.  In fact Edith Parchman is in her 90's and dances three times a week and is quite active in her social club!

Dad Was Handy, Instant Serious Patio

My father was simply amazing.  He could make, fix, and improve anything! Nothing seemed to be a challenge and in fact in his later years he even started fixing radios and clocks!

One thing that will remain in my memories forever is the time he began the back yard patio! Not just a little patio but a 20x20 screened in room and a 20x20 open area complete with a built-in grill.

It was a Saturday morning, perhaps 1953, and all of a sudden... we were mixing cement and pouring a slab!  No cement mixer, just Dad, Mom and I.  hat was completed on Sunday and all during the week we worked late into the evening building a six-foot block wall.  On top of the wall went three-foot framing for windows... which Dad installed himself.  On went the roof the next weekend and I thought to myself, "This is good, we are done".

Not so fast, we needed a fireplace and grill so off we go to the lumberyard and collect a bazillion bricks.  I didn't know Dad knew how to lay bricks and build a fireplace but he did. Almost around the clock for two weeks and volia... when done... we had a huge patio, built-in oven, pit, and a building!

The next weekend we screened it in and we became the hit of the neighborhood! All that summer, we have the neighbors over and cooked outdoors! Almost every evening we had friends over and cooked happy away into the sunset.

The amazing thing... No plans, it was in his head. That was the original DIY!

Dad's Watch And The Lemon Tree Switch

Respect was always taught in my household.  But Junior High School arrived into my life and I was "All Knowing" and becoming a bit of a smart-ass. Once and only once, I talked back to my mother.

Dad calmly walked over to the lemon tree, picked up a branch, and whacked my butt into next Tuesday.

But as he swung, his "25 Year With The Company Watch" slipped off is wrist and whet bouncing down the sidewalk.

Dad was always in-control but he was so mad, he walked away.

To this day I believe he feared for my life!

Oh Yes!  When Dad passed-on, I have his cherished watch!   Every time I look at it, I remember the day I learned that sassing my other was NOT something I would ever do again nor never did again!

Deep Sea Fishing

Dad liked fishing and used to go on deep sea fishing trips, mainly in Mexico.  These would be two and three day trips... sometimes longer.  I can remember one trip where he was gone for several days and did get a message back to us that things were going well. 

Remember we are talking early 1950's and radios and telephone in Mexico were non-existent.

Dad had the fish he caught shipped to us and we had swordfish for several months... lead free in those days!

I went with dad on the one-day boats ought of San Pedro and Long Beach.  The only time Dad got seasick was the first time I went.  He was probably nervous about me being there I guess/

Generosity Must Have Been His Middle Name

Dad was not man who spends money foolishly, a lesson he learned while growing up.  To my amazement over the years, dad had apparently helped many people out but I never heard a thing about it until years after he passed on and then I only know because I ran across old papers.

Opal and Jimmy lived in the little house in Paramount and oh so wanted a bigger place since they had an adult child living with them.  In 1954 dad loaned them several thousands of dollars so they could get a new house on their property.  The promissory note simply said "We, Georgia and Paul Liles, hereby load Jimmy and Opal Robinson the sum of $x000 to be paid back as they are able".  Thousands of dollars in 1954 was a pile of money.

I found out dad in 1962 loaned his neighbor several thousand dollars to assist in setting up a garage so he could go into business for himself instead of working for the man at the Ford dealer.

In the lat 1950s, he gave a bag of money to another relative who was about to loose their home because of going into to business for themselves at the business floundering.

Mom and Dad sent money to their parents for years and years up until the time my grandparents died to assist them in making ends meet.

I know for a fact that Dad assisted his employees at the dime store through their hard times.  This included sales people as well as some of the managers and warehouse workers.

But the amazing thing, given today's times, is that never a word was spoken of these things.  He had a big heart.

He Fixed Cars Too

1962 Chevy Impala

I was in high school and had a new 62' Chevy... in three years it had 150,000 miles on it.. a 283 engine and it began to burn oil!

I never knew dad knew much about cars until one Saturday morning at 7 am he said... "drop the pan" and pull the heads.  We have to replace the rings.

Heck, I didn't know what a pan was! And a ring, I was getting suspicious.

Within a few hours the engine was field stripped, pistons/parts all over the place!

We finished the job by late evening and at 8 PM I was on my way to my date.

This was amazing.. the car worked, no oil burning, and it felt like new!!!

I swear to this day, he did it with an Arkansas tool kit because we never had any automobile tools around the house.  The only thing he had t get, and he borrowed it from across the street, was a torque wrench for the head bolts.  How dad knew the torque order was still to this day a mystery.

The can ran another 100,000 miles before it was ready to be traded and that was because it was just old.

Dad Made A Kite From Newspapers And Flew It Miles

Dad loved to fly kites.  I always wondered why until Mom finally told me.  Growing up in Arkansas, they did not have toys and things we have today.  Dad and his friends made kites out of twigs, wood, newspapers, whatever they could find.


Dad could fly darned near anything.

I remember on windy day after a storm, Dad told me to go to the garage and get some dowels.  He got sting and some newspapers and in 30 minutes he constructed the ugliest box kite you could imagine.  Looked like it was going to fall out of the sky when sitting on the ground.

He told me to take it across the street on Comey avenue.  I remember being embarrassed because other kids had these beauties from the dome store.  Dad yells "Let go!".  I think to myself, "Thanks".

Then like magic, it rises and rises, and rises and goes straight up.  Ten minutes later we run out of string so Dad gives it to me and he takes off for the garage himself.  One minute later, he ties his deep sea fishing rig to the end of the string and we have another 2000 feet played out.  The kite is nearly invisible now and everybody else it just pointing up at this contraption which is flying all over the sky.

Wow!  My chest swollen up and with pride I said "See what my Dad made?"

Dad was something else.  I guess I now understand more about my Dad than I did when he was alive.

Our Tool Set

So I was getting up in years and it was time for a real set of tools. Dad went out at Christmas and bought a fantastic set of tools... Tool that we no longer even see like a brace and bit!

The Buick And The Sand Storm

Lying in the Coachella Valley, Desert Hot Palm Springs is a mix of dirt too dry and devoid of nutrients to be thought of as soil, but too rough to qualify as sand; tumbleweeds; rattlesnakes; an occasional sandstorm whipped by late afternoon winds; and periodic flash floods.   Except for mighty, jaw-dropping 10,000 foot mountains (that look eerily similar to Mt. Sinai in Egypt) surrounding its edges, the desert floor might be considered ugly.

Desert Hot Springs is in the desert area of Southern California, about 112 miles from Los Angeles. It is about 12 miles to the Palm Springs International Airport

Jack Riley is reported to have been the first white man to set foot in what is now Desert Hot Springs somewhere around 1908. Apparently it all started with the Desert Lands Act an Act that allowed Homesteading. And according to Information the first person to actually live here was Hilda M. Gray a woman described as a diminutive, feminine, hard working and rugged pioneer. Her homestead was just south of what is known today as Two Bunch Palms. She was here when Cabot Yerxa arrived in 1913. She homesteaded for 4 years and then moved to Arcadia to resume her career as a legal secretary.  The incorporation date of Desert Hot Springs: September 17, 1963.

Otis Tucker owned a home in Desert Hot Springs (an unincorporated city in the 1950-1960 period) and Mom, Dad and I used to love to go down there and sit in the hot springs.  Life was quiet there, hot but dry, and I could even drive my red hotrod in the streets.

We actually had a hotel room that we used on the weekends we would go to the desert! One Sunday, on our way home we hit a sand storm and 50% of the paint of our new 1955 Buick was removed. All the glass had to be replaced and we never did get all of the sand out of the interior of the car.  I can remember to this day Mom yelling at Dad "Turn this ^%#$%$ car around Paul" and Dad just kept going.  We could not see in front of us and Dad was afraid to stop for fear of getting an 18 wheeler as a bumper decoration.  Quite a memory.

Dad And I Did A Skylight

The house was little; the house was old; the house was dark!  But Dad decided one morning that a skylight was the answer.  He jumped out of is chair at the breakfast table and said "David, get a brace and bit and a saw".

Most people do not know about "brace and bits".  This is a picture on one!

Brace ad Bit

I got the tools and met Dad on the roof.  How he knew exactly where to drill through the roof was amazing to me but Dad had a God given knack for these things.

Within an hour we had a 2x4 foot hold in the roof and ceiling.  Mom finally got nerve enough to ask, "What now, Paul".  I remember his saying, "I'm going to the hardware store Satchel".  Satchel was Dads term of endearment for Mom.

Sure enough, by the end of the Dad we had a skylight... A thing unheard of in our neighborhood, we were becoming "uppity".

Step Vans Are NOT Tractors As We Learned One Sunday Morning

In the 50's, Chevy had a product called a "Step Van".  As I remember, Dad drove two of them in the years 1956 and 1958.  It was a company car which Dad drove back and forth to work.  Dad thought that 'old truck could do anything!

Ugly Tree

Meanwhile in front of our house we had the ugliest tree you could imagine.  It had bark like paper and leaves like needles.  It drew bees in the summer and was the pride of the city.  Leave it to the government to plant such a crappy tree.

So, Dad wakes up one Sunday morning and pronounces "The tree must go!".  We dug and dug and dug and soaked the ground and dug and dug.  Finally it begins to move a little.  Now visualize this:  the tree was 30+ feet tall!

Dad has had enough of the digging and says I'm getting the chains!  That meant we has going to my stockpile of ropes and chains which I always loved.  Dad fastens one end to the tree and one end to the bumper of the almighty Step Van.  I remember Dad pulling away very slowly and attempting to just pull it out.  But no, the tree is as steady as it was ugly!

Not to be outdone by a silly tree and surely not wanting to be embarrassed that .... da da da da.. da da.... the mighty Step Van was not up to the job, Dad backs up close to the tree ad nudges it with the back bumper.

The engine roars and Dad puts the pedal to the metal.  Excitement begins!  In rapid succession, the following events occur:

a) The Step Van lurches forward accelerating quickly

b) The chain get taunt

c) The bumper comes off the mighty Step Van

d) Dad is thrown forward; Dad is thrown back

e) The brakes are slammed on to keep the mighty Step Van from plowing into the neighbors tree

f) Mom and I fall down laughing

g) Dad invents some new words for the tree never heard of before

And now it is late Sunday night and we are digging digging digging.

The Sun Burnt Arm

When I was growing up, every summer was "go back home" which meant getting in the car and driving 12-14 hours a day to get to Arkansas.

 I still remember having the back seat of the old 49 Chevy al to myself.  We also made it back in a 51 Chevy, 53 Pontiac, 55 Buick, 56 Chevy wagon, 58 Chevy, 61 Chevy and 64 Chevy.  About that time, I grew up and stopped going.

On our way to Arkansas,  circa 1946-1960, I remember the wide open spaces and road rework.  Do you remember, the days without air conditioning?

I remember getting into Arkansas after three had days on the road and dad's arm being do sore he could not hardly touch it. Dad always drove with the window open and his arm resting on the top of the door!