the Wanderling

"(My) father was fascinated with the Lost Dutchman Mine, primarily because he had spent a great deal of time as a gold prospector in his youth. Sometime prior to or during the Depression my father along with a man with the first name of 'King' and another man by the name of Walt Bickel, had gone to the gold fields of the Sierras to pan for gold, eventually setting up a full-fledged claim with sluice boxes and all."

THE WANDERLING AS FOUND IN: Franklin Merrell-Wolff

"My older brother was born at Big Bear Lake and graduated from high school there, although in between he was all over the map. In 1936 a movie titled 'Trail of the Lonesome Pine' was released. Most of it was filmed in Big Bear and my dad worked on it. With his supply of gold nuggets and dust running low and my mother not wanting him to go back to the gold fields and needing a more steady or stable income he, my mother and infant brother moved down the hill, first taking a job with Firestone Tire and Rubber, then moving to a job at the Terminal Island shipyards helping to build Liberty ships as part of the war effort. "

William Lindsay Gresham and the Wanderling's Father

My dad left home some years prior to the Great Depression at age 16, hitting the road as a bindlestiff, riding the rails, and never going back. He spent a good portion of his travels with the Hagenbeck and Wallace Circus as a roustabout, carny, and barker as well as several years working the gold fields in the High Sierras before settling down and marrying my mom 10 years later.

His prospecting got him really close to being rich, that is until a partner ran off with most of the gold, only to die trying to bury it. If my dad hadn't caught him in the process it could have ended up being one of those infamous lost treasure stories of the old west that you always hear about The thing is, my dad, close to being trapped in the same oncoming snow storm, because of the weight of the gold and facing the same circumstances as his partner, had to bury it somewhere along his route trying to get up to the Tioga Pass road. The road itself was a notorious and onetime dangerous cut through route over the rugged High Sierras out of Yosemite to the vast open desert and the Great Basin on the east side. Later, considering what he and his other partner got for the amount of gold he was able to carry out compared with what was left behind, the left behind gold would be worth around $7,000,000 in todays market. Far as I know it's still there. He never drew a treasure map and other than his stories over our campfires at night that I heard most of my growing up life --- along with the following limerick that I learned about more-or-less in my adult years, that's about it:

A Tioga miner hiking south of the pass
owned a crusty old mule with nothing but sass.
four hundred times two
a donkey barbecue
marked trees, gold and a piece of ass.

THE DECODER: How I Got There (Part II)

A few years before the stock market crashed in 1929 my father and a friend named King Barton along with another friend of my dad, Walt Bickel, who he had met in the gold fields of the Sierras panning for gold, eventually set up a full-fledged claim with sluice boxes and all. Although in the end the results would be bigger Bickel wasn't a fan of the slow process of building and working sluice boxes, preferring the quicker results of panning. After a short time Bickel moved on eventually turning to dry placer mining in the desert. With Bickel no longer in the picture my dad and Barton brought in another man whose name I don't recall that they met panning for gold along the river who was more than willing to move up to sluices for his fair share.

My dad never did pinpoint of give a specific location as to where in the High Sierras he and his partners set up the main core of their efforts. I do know in the process not only did they work virgin stretches of the river they absorbed abandoned claims and/or bought out other miner's rights as they continued to build a growing array of sluice boxes. Eventually they ended some distance from camp as they continued to seek more and better places to find gold. How the three worked it was, two would go to the sluices all day while one remained in camp fixing all the meals and cleaning up with each of three alternating every third day.

It was getting late into fall of their second year with winter about to set in with the first snow of any amount due any day. They had spent two years working the sluices, holing up in the Sierras during the winter between the two and weren't going to do it again. The three of them had expectations of packing up everything, splitting the gold evenly between themselves, then all going their separate ways. Early in the morning on one of those last days my dad and King Barton went up river to the sluices leaving the third man back in camp. When he didn't show up with mid day grub Barton went down to check what was going on. Reaching camp he discovered the third partner had packed up everything including all the gold and took off. My dad was in camp within a few minutes after Barton fired off three consecutive rifle shots.

Knowing how much gas was in the truck when the man left, and guessing he went south on Highway 395 because of an impending storm coming in up and behind them from the northwest, they were able to determine how far he could get before he had to stop for gas. Checking the far-and-few-between gas stations on 395 south they hit pay dirt in the town of Lee Vining. One of the men at one of the gas stations remembered the truck and the man driving it. The gas station attendant said the man left after filling up and asking about the least expensive motel in town. My dad and Barton asked about their partner at the motel and sure enough he had checked in but wasn't there. He had asked if there was someplace in town he could rent a mule for a couple days and after being told about a couple of places he left. The motel proprietor identified the partner as using a different name than what either my dad or King Barton knew him by. He used the same assumed name when he rented the mule. He also changed the license plates of the truck, but where the other plates came from was a mystery.

Some distance south of town on the 395 where a stream came down out of the higher mountains they found the truck parked with their partner, mule, and gold gone. I was never privileged to how my dad or Barton arrived at their conclusions, but knowing the man all indications appeared as though he went upstream taking the gold with him apparently in an attempt to stash it. My dad, after rendering the truck inoperative by removing the wire from the coil to the distributor started by foot upstream in the dark in an attempt to catch him. Barton circled around up Tioga Pass incase he attempted to exit along the Tioga Pass road.

In the end their conclusions figured right. When my dad caught up with the man he had dropped the rope to the mule he was trundling up behind him and was kneeling down along the creek bed. Hearing my dad he turned pulling a gun on my unarmed father, unleashing two shots at close range, both missing. How my dad told it the huge sack the third prospector had tied to the mule's back somehow came loose at the top with two of the glass Mason jars falling, breaking open spilling one full of dust into the creek the other scattering gold nuggets all along the edge. Seemingly exhausted and surprised by my dad in the dark, as he reached for his pistol and taking two shots the man got kicked by the mule, his foot caught in the rope pulling him hard into the ice cold stream and rocks breaking his neck. With the snow coming down harder my dad untangled the rope from the man's legs, picked up all the nuggets he could find, secured the bag closed and started leading the mule to the first tributary he came to heading up toward the Poole Power Plant Road, just south of the Tioga Pass Road. Although steeper, he felt it would be shorter and quicker to the road than heading back down all the way to 395. My dad said only his hunch about the distance was right, the rest turned out to be not only a bad idea but a stupid idea. The tributary bed continued to get steeper as he got closer to the road with the mule having a harder and harder time.

My dad, having a fairly good working knowledge regarding the lay of the land, and figuring he was about 800 foot shy of reaching Poole Road, he took the bag and harness off the mule and let him loose. With that he picked a suitable place to stash most of the the gold except for two jars of dust, one jar of nuggets, and pockets stuffed full of nuggets made up all of the available ones he was able to scrounge along the river and all taken together including the jars weighing around 150 pounds. He then headed up the now much steeper tributary toward the road. By the time he reached the top he was practically frozen to death, his hands cold and raw from crawling and pulling himself up the rocks. After reaching the road he scraped up what he could to start a small fire and not long after that King Barton pulled up. The two of them put the gold my dad hauled up into the back of the truck with my dad getting into the cab on the shotgun side thawing out the best he could from the heater. While my dad thawed out Barton carved four one above the other horizontal trail blaze marks into the trunks of two trees, one on either side of the creek and carved such so they couldn't be seen from an approach from the road. They drove back to 395, put the correct plates on the other truck and headed south.

How do I know there was a treasure? First, at least for me, my dad provided substantial proof before he passed on, although I never had any reason to doubt his word. Secondly, bourgeois opulence. After my dad divided the amount of gold or weight he was able carry up and out of the creek bed with his partner, my dad, with his half, and a single guy, lived a pretty good life during the early part of the Depression. When he met my mother-to-be he was driving a Series 5 Mercer Raceabout like pictured below, that retailed new for $4,675.00, a pretty pricy amount for an automobile in those days, especially when compared to, say, a Ford Model T which brand new cost only around $300 bucks. The Raceabout played a huge role in my mom and dad getting married.[1]

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Twenty years went by. Then, one day during the summer of 1949 when I was around 11 years old, I was traveling with my dad heading eastbound across the Sierras using Tioga Pass. We were on our way to our camp along Robinson Creek just below the Twin Lakes not far from the little east side of the Sierras town of Bridgeport. I remember a few things about the trip because for one thing it was the second of only two trips I ever made with my dad traveling for any extended period of time alone, and especially so without my brothers, both of whom were already at the camp. Another thing I remember is he stopped to fish for trout along the way and when we did I took the fish out of the mesh float bag he put them in allowing them to swim away before they became our dinner. He was livid. The other thing, and what is relevant here, is that somewhere along Tioga Pass Road my dad got on a roughshod road off the Tioga that if it even had a name then I have since learned is called, or has been given the name, Poole Power Plant Road and stopped a couple of times looking for something. His second stop he found what he was looking for. He found two trees that had trail blaze marks about eye level on their trunks and refreshed them, four lines each on the backside of the trees as you approached them from the road. He told me he had put the original marks there the first time before he ever met my mother and had been back once since, just like now, to ensure the marks remained visible. It was then, during our trip from Tioga Pass and Lee Vining to our camp along Robinson Creek that my dad told me the whole story, in depth start to finish, more than I had ever heard before and more than he had ever told my two brothers.

After my mom graduated from high school my mom and dad married, quickly settling down in Big Bear Lake, the farthest east of all of the major mountain resorts from Los Angeles. My older brother was born there and graduated from high school there, although in between, like me, he was all over the map. My dad, now a family man soon found his supply of gold nuggets and dust running low. With my mother not wanting him to go back to the gold fields and needing a more steady or stable income he just happened to meet a carpenter come contractor that everybody called "Pop." Pop was able to give my dad a more stable job like my mom wanted (although my dad didn't), basically saving their marriage and my mother and father from going without food and being without a home during the later part of the Depression --- something my father never forgot. In 1936 a movie titled "Trail of the Lonesome Pine" was released. Most of it was filmed in and around Big Bear and my dad moved from working for Pop reducing the number of days he was away to working on the movie. Finishing the movie my dad, mother and infant brother moved down the hill, first taking a job with Firestone Tire and Rubber, then, after the war broke out, moving to a job at the Terminal Island shipyards helping to build Liberty ships as part of the war effort. It was during that period my mother became ill, and then, after many months in an around the clock care facility, dying of an inoperable brain tumor. Right on the heels of her death, and for me even before, our family disintegrated with my brothers and I split up and being sent off to a variety of relatives, shirttail relatives, and foster parents, my father disappearing heavy into alcohol.

Even in his drunken stupor stage he knew it had to be paid for. With the end of the war and no more need for Liberty ships his job at the shipyard soon ended, so unbeknown to any of us knowing where he was or what he was doing, using his carpentry skills and tenuous but still viable connections having worked on The Trail of the Lonesome Pine he was able to scrounge up a number of jobs working for Hollywood studios building sets on their back lots and stages. About that same time 20th Century Fox had started making a film called Nightmare Alley which circulated around a circus midway and the denizens therein that inhabited it. Setting aside a whole ten acres on their back lot Fox built an actual 100% fully working and fully operational circus sideshow and midway, with performers and all to lend, they said, realism to the movie. The thing is the sideshow folk had their own rules and way of doing things. Soon their antics got so out of hand it began impacting film schedules and costs so much that Fox, already facing overruns, thought they might have to cease production. That's when my dad was brought to the attention of higher ups and his connection to midways and sideshows as a barker. Although a longshot and not wholly realistic in a lot of ways they took the chance and brought him in as a liaison. In doing so it worked out way beyond anybody's expectations. For my dad it was a perfect fit and just what he needed, a sense of responsibility and being deemed worthy. For the studios they relished the smoothness his presence provided between their filming and movie needs and the performers cooperation. For my dad though, it was a one shot opportunity and he knew it.

It was there on the backlots of the studios he re-met the woman who would become the person I call my Stepmother in all of my writings.[2] They got married, he called the family back together, and a certain level of stability reentered his life as well as mine. It was during those few years my dad began finding time to take my two brothers and me camping in the desert and into the Sierras, holding us in awe around our camp fire at night as he regaled with his youthful adventures and stories in the gold fields. However, when push came to shove, it wasn't until the trip with my dad alone over the Tioga Pass to Lee Vining and on to our camp along Robinson Creek that I caught wind of the whole story, in depth start to finish, more than I had ever heard before and more than he had ever told my two brothers.

The key to the whole thing and the location of the treasure specifically, is in the five-line limerick intended as a mnemonic for both my dad and King Barton to have a mental map where the gold was stashed without having a physical map that anybody could understand. Although the limerick was intended to have meaning only between the two, my dad not only explained the meaning of the words of the limerick to me, he also showed me where the general physical starting point along the Tioga Pass was, something only he and King Barton knew. That stretch starts somewhere west of Lee Vining before the ranger station on the Tioga Pass Road onto the Poole Electric Plant Road to the hydroelectric plant at the far west end where the road ends. However, and I hate to interject this for all you serious treasure hunters out there, but during the solo trip with my dad across the Tioga I was only around ten years old and didn't hang on to every word, often just looking out the window and goofing off. My dad did check several places along the way and all of them may not have been specifically located on the power plant road.

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Now to the nuts-and-bolts, that is, the meaning behind the limerick. "A Tioga miner hiking south of the pass" means either my dad or the partner who swiped the gold. The partner took off with the gold and headed up the canyon south of the Tioga with my dad in hot pursuit. "Owned a crusty old mule with nothing but sass" means the mule the partner used to carry the gold that got so rambunctious part way up the canyon as it got steeper and the weather began to get worse, it got to the point the mule actually kicked him. "Four hundred times two" means the two trees with the four marks on each one times two with the tributary between them. Each mark equals 100 feet with four on each tree times two equaling 800 feet, the approximate distance from the top to where the gold was stashed. It could also mean, and this wasn't clear to me from my dad as he changed it back and forth a couple of times, two trees, eight marks plus or minus two, or two trees, eight marks times two, which would make it 1600 feet below the rim. "A donkey barbecue" meant a good time after finding or retrieving the gold, like a party albeit tying it in with the last line to create a joke (i.e., donkey barbecue, piece of ass). "Marked trees, gold and a piece of ass" with the marked trees and the gold encompassing the whole of the limerick, but the piece of ass being the secret to the whole thing. My dad, in his crawl-climb toward the rim with the weather getting increasingly fierce and colder, the climb getting more and more into a steeper incline, and the weight of the gold getting too much to bear, he had to stash it. The piece of ass refers to the rocks he stashed the gold. It was two rounded boulders curved together in the center creating what looked like a butt, in other words, an ass. At the base where the bottom part of the butt cleavage tucked under into the soil or lesser rocks (the asshole portion) my dad was able to carve out a space large enough to put all the gold then cover it over as though nothing had been disturbed. Climbing from the top, at around the 800 foot below the rim, plus of minus 200 feet, you start looking for the butt or ass shaped boulders of a person bending over down to 1600 feet if need be. As I recall my dad telling it, the boulders were on his right, i.e.. more or less east, as he climbed toward the road. It wasn't totally clear if the ass shaped boulders were two placed snuggly next to each other appearing as one or if it was one large boulder with the cleavage carved or indented some how. In either case it was still ass or butt looking, at least to him in the dark and the midst of a snowstorm. As to the use of the word tributary, up high on such steep slopes they are not necessarily clearly defined. The snow melt and water shed patterns, although dendritic, gather the runoff more sheet-like then feed the tributaries.

Why did my father never go back and get the gold himself. Two reasons, but mainly because of the Cowboy Code of the West. First, he and King Barton made a vow that one would never go to retrieve the gold without the other, and secondly, my dad never wanted to go there and find the gold gone with King Barton being the only person knowing where it was. He always said he would rather never have the gold than to know Barton took it. Besides he said, if he went to the spot to get the gold in violation of their vow and it was still there, he would be setting himself up to such a terrible dilemma he didn't want to face it.


Although all of the links below may not look like it on the surface because of their titles, don't let that fool you. Everyone, either in their main text, footnotes, or interrelated between themselves together, are all connected through or because of the above discussed lost gold of my father. Each, even though not designed to do so initially, do in fact circulate back somehow as well as adding additional insights that aren't necessarily found in the main text and footnotes on this page.







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As to the subject of donations, for those who may be so interested as it applies to the gratefulness of my works, I invariably suggest any funds be directed toward THE WOUNDED WARRIOR PROJECT and/or THE AMERICAN RED CROSS.


"(My) father was fascinated with the Lost Dutchman Mine, primarily because he had spent a great deal of time as a gold prospector in his youth. Sometime prior to or during the Depression my father along with a man with the first name of 'King' and another man by the name of Walt Bickel, had gone to the gold fields of the Sierras to pan for gold, eventually setting up a full-fledged claim with sluice boxes and all."

THE WANDERLING AS FOUND IN: Franklin Merrell-Wolff

My mother died while I was a very young age. Most of my childhood following her death was spent living with people other than my father. I did, however, starting around age ten years or so spend time with him once in awhile on weekend trips and parts of a couple of summer vacations. Those trips usually circulated around fishing, camping and gold prospecting in his favorite haunts along the eastside of the Sierras and into the desert in and around Death Valley. To facilitate his trips, as long as I could remember he always owned four-wheel drive vehicles. On one of the trips he picked me up in a World War II army ambulance he fixed up like a camper. We were headed north up the 14 from Los Angeles toward the 395 and got as far as Red Rock Canyon when the front U-joint on the rear-drive drive shaft came loose allowing the it to drop to the highway and bending the shaft beyond use. Any other time it would not have been a problem because he could have driven just using the front wheels. However, on this trip, for highway driving, he had removed the front drive shaft. When he went to get it out of the back of the truck he discovered he somehow left it in Los Angeles. He decided to hitchhike back to L.A. and pick up the shaft, but, figuring traveling with a kid might present a hinderance, he left me for a few days at the rather rustic mining camp of a friend of his by the name of Walter Bickel.

Typically he would have stopped in Cantil, a small town just to the east of Red Rock Canyon where the truck broke down, to see a good friend of my stepmother's by the name of Pancho Barnes, the former owner and operator of the one time infamous Happy Bottom Riding Club. However, my dad and stepmother were going into, getting or just got a divorce and he did not want to explain it all to Barnes.

Bickel, who just happened to live in a place called Last Chance Canyon right next to Red Rock Canyon and my dad went way, way back. They were both born in the same year, 1905, and in the same month less that two weeks apart. They met in the goldfields very early on. My dad made it a habit to stop by and see Bickel on a regular basis during his forays into the desert, but, even though my dad and I did not travel all that much together, and I wasn't with him at the time, it was my second visit to the camp.

In an essay written by the past Curator of the Maturango Museum in Ridgecrest, California, the following is found:

"Last Chance Canyon was not the first experience Walt had with mining, but 'it was the first place I panned enough gold to think there might be more.' He prospected for gold and silver all over the upper Mojave Desert, from Jawbone Canyon to Owens Lake and into Nevada and Arizona. He originally saw the Last Chance Canyon area in 1927 while on the way to Nevada with a friend. It apparently made an impression because, in 1933, when he met a man in Mojave who had a mine in Last Chance Canyon, Walt and a friend had enough interest to go with him to see his mine." (source)

The 1927 friend was my father, not so sure about the 1933 friend. Bickel married in 1928 and my dad in 1931. Both started families shortly thereafter interfering with the close contact they had previously. The essay goes on to say:

"Walt placer-mined his claims, using a dry washer. Because a lot of the gold he collected is what he calls a 'fine flour gold,' and to make the most of his time and get the most out of his claims, he modified the current model of the miner's dry washer to retrieve up to 97 percent of the fine gold from the dirt."

My dad originally started prospecting using sluce boxes in the northern Sierras but moved to dry washers in the desert like Bickel in later years. The modified, more efficient, drywasher mentioned above that Bickel used to retrieve 97 percent of the fine gold was actually an inovation originally concocted by my father. Matter of fact, my older brother had one of the modified drywashers my dad built for years. Several years after the man who married my mother's sister committed suicide she tried to raise two kids and remain in her home. After years of struggle she eventually lost everything because of back taxes. A lien was put against her property and what was left behind was put up for auction. Unknown to any of us, over the years, my father had stored some of his things at her place, of which one was one of the drywashers he built. The drywasher ended up in a local antique shop where my brother ran across it and bought it. The first time I saw it I recognized it as being just like the one Bickel used.

After my discharge from the Military it was not unusual for me to visit what my Mentor called his High Mountain Zendo some distance north and into the mountains from Bickel's compound. Two or three times in the mid to late 60s either on the way to or returning from the Zendo, as described in The Letter, I stopped by Bickel's to pay my respects and update him on my dad who was in pretty bad shape, and eventually died within a few years after being caught in a fire while on the job. I was always invited to stay a night or so and on one or two occasions I did. During one of those one or two night stays I was introduced to a man by the name of Alex Apostolides who, at the time just happened to be doing archaeological surveys and field work under the aegis of UCLA. After talking Mayan Ruins for short period of time, in a small talk BS sort of way I dredged up the only other piece of information I thought might be of interest, mentioning I knew a man by the name of Carlos Castaneda who was a student in the department at UCLA at one time and had been, I was told, doing field work in Arizona and New Mexico. Surprisingly enough, Apostolides knew Castaneda. He told me Castaneda was now a graduate student working on his PhD and, although Apostolides was NOT totally familiar with the content of what Castaneda was writing, that he would soon have a book published --- the FIRST I heard of Castaneda being in the process of doing so since hearing about in a roundabout way of an uncompleted nonfiction manuscript Castaneda attempted to write he called "Dial Operator." I told him the last time I saw Castaneda was several years before in a Greyhound bus station in Nogales, Arizona. Of course that bus station encounter, unknown to me at the time and what continued to be so even up to the time I met Apostolides --- and seemingly unimportant to Apostolides as well --- turned out to be Castaneda's infamous Nogales Bus Station Meeting where he claimed to have met the mainstay in all his books, Don Juan Matus.


In the above text I write that being left at Bickel's camp by my father was actually my second visit. The first visit came about because as a very young boy I had, again, as mentioned above, inadvertently stumbled across the suicide of a revered family member. Hours later I was found wandering out in the middle of the desert all alone, dehydrated, mind-numb, and basically out-of-it, by an old, onetime Borax 20 Mule Team mule-skinner. He inturn took me to Bickel's place.

The incredible coincidence to it all, and completely unrelated to me being taken to Bickel's encampment by the onetime mule-skinner, was the discovery by Bickel that his original prospecting partner back in the old days when he first started out was MY father. When I told Bickel my name I don't recall if I gave him both names or not, but in either case, it didn't seem to register one way or the other --- nor in my mind or his was there any reason it should have. But later in conversation, when he asked what I liked to eat and I told him I liked "howdy beans" his jaw fell nearly to the floor. Apparently my dad was known up and down the old mining camps for a concoction he used to cook up called howdy beans. How it was told to me was, while other miners went to work their claims, on a rotating basis, one miner would stay back and cook grub and clean the camp. When it was my dad's turn he invariably made howdy beans because so many miners requested it. The concept of howdy beans was such an inside story that nobody but someone associated with the early mining camps would have known anything about them. When I told him that before my mother died my dad used to make howdy beans whenever we went camping, Bickel put two-and-two together --- I was the son of his old partner. For the full story on that encounter click HERE.


My mother was only 17 when she graduated from high school and still in high school at that young age when she and my father met, he being quite a few years older than she. My dad, after leaving home at age 16, was headed west when he got caught up in the Tulsa race riots on May 31 and June 1, 1921. A couple of years later he was traveling with the Hagenbeck and Wallace Circus where, because of my uncle, he met the just a boy at the time and one day to be author of over 100 cowboy and western books, Louis L'Amour, who joined the circus in Phoenix, Arizona. By August 27, 1929 my dad was in Los Angeles at Mines Field, which would become Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), to watch the Graf Zeppelin leave L.A. on the way to Lakehurst, New Jersey after watching it come in the day before from San Francisco and Tokyo. I know because my dad called my uncle in Santa Fe to make a quick trip down to El Paso to watch the Zeppelin come through.(see) Being in Los Angeles and Mines Field specifically in August of 1929 put my dad into a perfect situation to go to the California beach community of Redondo Beach, August being primary beach time. Redondo was located not even seven miles south of Mines Field, with the summer of '29 being the exact same time he met my mother, the Mercer playing a huge role in that meeting.

Both my mother and her sister had beautiful long bright red hair. In that the two were so close together in age and looked so much alike almost everybody mistook them for twins. Although I do not remember much about my mother I remember my aunt very well, and because of their look alikeness I always felt I had a good idea of what my mother looked like. My dad met her and her sister, i.e., my aunt, at the beach one day and after spending the day together offered them a ride home. My one-day-to-be future mother turned him down, telling him that her mother told her under no circumstances was she to ever get into a car with a stranger. If you recall from he photo in the main text the Mercer was an open bodied sports car with huge flat fenders. My dad took the two girls home riding on the fenders, so in essence, even though my dad was a stranger, they never got in the car, only on the fenders. For more please see:



My dad and stepmother met for the first time on the evening of Monday July 19, 1937 long after he married my mother, but before I was born. On that evening a mob affiliated gambler named George Lester "Les" Bruneman was walking arm and arm with two young women along the waterfront business district in Redondo Beach just past the north entrance to the Horseshoe Pier when at least one bullet ripped through his back from several shots fired by two contract hit men. My dad, who had been in a minor disagreement of some sort with my mother that evening, had walked down to the waterfront and only just entered one of the establishments along El Paseo, possibly the Wagon Wheel or Taxi Cafe, when he heard the shots ring out. Stepping back outside he saw two women, quickly joined by a third who got out of the passenger side of a car that had stopped briefly along El Paseo, half carrying, half dragging the bleeding Bruneman north along El Paseo, eventually taking refuge in the lobby of the Fox Theater at the north end of the street.

As my dad was catching up with the women struggling to carry the wounded man he could overhear the newly arrived third woman desperately trying to convince the other two into just leaving Burneman, but was successful in talking only one of them into doing so, she backtracking down El Paseo disappearing in the crowd. As the second woman kneeled down with Bruneman in the lobby the third woman, seeing her pleas were more-or-less falling on deaf ears, began backing off, but before she could clear the theater foyer police arrived and began holding nearby people as potential witnesses, of which my father and the third woman were amongst those held.

The woman told my dad under no circumstances could she afford to get caught up in the situation and would he please claim that the two of them were together. My dad told the police they were together, told them he was a resident of Redondo Beach and saw nothing. The police glanced at his ID and at the woman, and even though there was a clear difference between his working class attire and her being dressed to the nines, they never questioned the woman and just let them go.

Bruneman survived the Redondo Beach shooting. Three months later, on Monday, October 24, 1937 he wasn't so lucky having eight bullets pumped into him by two other mob assailants, this time killing him flat out dead.