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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Pioneer Shares Childhood on the Local Frontier in the 1950s


The text below is part history of Malibu and part the remembrances of a kid that grew up here in this paradise.
When my sister, Linda and I arrived here in Malibu, it was in the summer of 1949.   I was 10 years old and Linda was 7.
Our dad, Jimmy Haynes, was then the resident California Highway Patrolman here in Malibu and we lived in one of the old ’40s court-styled houses, which were located just off of Malibu Road and across the street from the Malibu Movie Colony.  The entrance to the Colony in those days is where the County Fire Station is now.  The old Malibu Inn building on Malibu Road was in front of our house and there was a small real estate office in between. Today the location of our house probably would have been located in the parking lot directly behind Ralph's market.
My parents had divorced in 1946, right after World War II, and dad remarried a woman named Ann Pascal who was now our step mother.  At the time, she was working as a waitress at the Las Flores Inn, which later on was known as the Sea Lion, and now is Duke’s.
Living across the road from the Malibu Colony and playing with the very well to do kids that lived there was a real eye opener for my sister and me. Here we have the rag tag highway patrolman's kids having lunches and sometimes dinners with the children of very well known actors and their kids such as James Dunn, Academy Award Winner for “a Tree Grows in Brooklyn.” Their adopted son Billy Pick and I were very good friends and played together almost every day that summer.
Another noted actor of those days that lived in the Colony was Brian Donlevy who was mostly known in films as the bad guy. He played in numerous western films as the one outside the law and completely dressed in black. Even his horse and saddle were black.  His daughter Judy would invite me and some other kids inside their house to play and have lunch on occasion. I remember Mr. Donlevy was very kind and friendly towards all of us kids.
Prior to our arrival here in Malibu, Linda and I lived with my real Mom and her husband in Glendale.
Keep in mind, being city kids, and having no idea what it was like to go to the beach, go fishing off the pier and numerous other fun things that Malibu had to offer.
Linda and I would hang out at Surfrider’s Beach and be more or less a pain to most of the then well known surfers there.  I can't tell you how many times I heard “why don’t you kids go play somewhere else,” and “don’t you have a home?”
When Linda and I were down at the beach we didn't dare get out into the water too far as neither of us could swim.  All the time living in the city, we never had a swimming lesson.
I remember Bob Goddard who, at the time, owned the Chevron Service Station on the old road.  One day he saw Linda and me heading down to the beach and he said “ how would you kids like to have a couple of inter tubes to take with you?” We thanked Bob and took the tubes down to the water near the pier.  We then placed the tubes in the water and decided to sit inside them. We would use our hands to row the tubes backwards and before we knew it we were in water well over our heads. The next thing I realized we had paddled well outside the pier.  We were kids just having fun and never mind the risk of drowning or some other mishap that could have occurred. We still didn’t know how to swim!
Later that summer Linda and I were still using those tubes and I remember it became rather hot for a few days.  We were paddling around and I decided to cool off by getting out of the tube and hang in the water.  It was then I started kicking my feet and moving the tube forward. I then pushed the tube ahead of me and let go of it. I proceeded to kind of dog paddle towards the tube and grabbed it. I continued to repeat that action over and over until I could push the tube as far as ten and then fifteen feet away.
Then I realized that I could stay in one place by moving my hands and feet thus treading water. I then proceeded to instruct my seven-year-old sister to do the very thing that I had experienced and by the end of that summer we both could dog paddle and tread water.
I still can’t believe that 10 and 7-year-olds would come up with a self-taught method of survival.
During that same summer I would try my hand at fishing off the pier. Using a hand line I would catch a perch and once in awhile a tom cod, which thrilled me no end. I believe that experience started me into fishing and at that young age I couldn’t get enough of it.
Bill Huber was the owner of the pier.  He would drive and park his expensive cars out onto the pier each day.
Another noted individual at the pier was the manager, Johnny Radar. Johnny was a Filipino and he would be later known as Uncle Johnny to my sister and me.
John, his wife Nelly and daughter Marsha lived in one of the towers at the end of the pier.
There was very little space in that tower, however they made do. Many a time Linda and I would eat dinner with them. My sister to this day can’t get over the thought of seeing fish eyeballs in Uncle Johnny’s fish head soup.
My dad and John were very good friends and both loved to tip a few after working hours.
Many times Johnny would come over to our house and have dinner, get drunk, and pass out on our couch. He would snore so loudly that at one time to get away from the noise I went out and slept in our car.
On day I was fishing with my hand line off the pier and the owner Bill Huber came up to me.  “ Since you spend so much time here messing around, why don’t you come and work for us.”  “I want you to sweep up the pier every few hours and work in the bait shop.”
I was getting $5 a day and boy, I thought I had died and gone to heaven. 
In those days there were three boats running out of the pier.  The Linbrooke was skippered by Jack Ward, the CoBiDo was skippered by Tom Hernage and the GeeBee was skippered by Bruce Barns.
When those boats would come along side the pier to off load their passengers I would be there looking down from the pier and wondering what it would be like to fish on one of those boats.
In 1949 there were no glass fishing rods like there are today. Uncle Johnny was very good at making Calcutta rods that he would put together and sell to people.  I asked him to make me one and he did. 
With my new Penn reel and my beautiful rod I began to practice casting off of the pier. I became so good at casting, I could at age 10 cast further than most adults that were there at the time, including Johnny and my dad.
During the time I worked at the pier I got to go fishing with Jack Ward on the half day boat Lenbrooke.  However, I never got the opportunity to fish on the all day boat CoBiDo skippered by Tom Hernage.
One night Uncle Johnny was at our house for dinner.  He and my dad starting drinking and before anyone knew it Johnny was soused.  Uncle Johnny always called me “Peettrow.”
While he was still awake and in a giving mood I asked him, “Uncle Johnny can I go on the all day boat tomorrow”?  He said “Peettrow’ yes you can go.”
After hearing that I could go on the all day boat I really didn’t get much sleep that night.
I was up very early the next morning and made my way down to the pier.  The boat leaves at 7 a.m. and I was there at around 6:30 a.m. with my new rod and reel and my lunch.
Johnny was selling tickets for the boat and finally he looked up and saw me.  “Peettrow what are you doing here”?  “Uncle Johnny you said I could go on the all day boat today.”
He said “oh no you can’t go today, maybe some other time.”
When I heard that I burst into tears and was crying so hard that he finally gave in.  “Hurry up and get on the boat before it leaves.”  
I jumped on the boat and I noticed skipper Tom looking my way.  As we left the pier on our way north bound skipper Tom told me to come to the bridge. He told me that if some day I was going to be a skipper on a boat then I would have to be able to steer one. 
He had me steering the 65 foot CoBiDo while standing on a milk crate.  It took me some time to adjust to the wake so it would stay in a straight line.  However, I finally got it.
It seems that Skipper Tom loved to play poker down in the galley and he needed someone to steer.  He would say, “let me know when we get to Point Dume and I’ll come and drive around the rocks”
That experience and more like it was the beginning of my fishing career and I did skipper one of those boats later in life, the Linbrooke.

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