20 January 2009

Uncle Peter - post from my brother Peter

My brother Peter comments (sent to me via e-mail) - 'Dodo' is my Uncle Joe - more about him in a later post. Quotes from my original in italics; Peter's comments in ordinary type; a couple of comments from me in bold:

Nevertheless, my mother said that she and her brother Kenny were very close, and that when she was in high school, the two of them used to enter - and win, apparently - dance contests. I had never heard of such a thing as a dance contest! How did you win? By finishing your dance sooner than everyone else??!!

Actually, Mom was living in L.A. for a while when she was pretty young, while Kenny and Dodo were in college. Part of their college support $ came from selling newspapers on choice street corners, which they secured by beating the hell out of competitors. They then put Mom in charge of selling the papers while they went off and conquered more choice corners. Mom also “worked for” Dodo, during the days of his acquisition of real estate around L.A. and Palm Springs. Mom told me Dodo would send her off to the County Recorder’s office to check on the tax status of various properties during the 1930’s, find people in trouble, and then come in to buy ‘em out on the cheap. Mom said she would often go finalize the deals with “cash” money which she would pick up from various Safe Deposit Boxes that Dodo had set up all over town to hide money from the IRS!

Kenny was a lawyer. Well, actually he did several things. He was a major stock player and I think made a lot of money that way. And he owned and operated a car wrecking yard. But he was indeed a lawyer. His children - our cousins (mine, my brother's, and sister's) were 'Little Kenny,' Bobby, and Terry.

Kenny was an “attorney” and practiced attornment, not law. Can’t license a common law activity, but the state can license a “public”, protected, privileged activity, such as attornment. As he tired of the practice – his biggest complaint was always the moron and crooked judges – and as he accumulated $ from his corporate attorney business, he bought up thousands of acres of land throughout Kern and adjacent Counties, and eventually the 94-acre Valley Auto and Truck Wrecking yard on old Highway 99. The agricultural land gave him big write-offs against his attorney income, while the wrecking yard made big income, most of which involved cash transactions which could be “laundered” via the stock market and additional land acquisitions.

As have said, I am certain that they - at least our cousins - were Catholics.


Practically speaking perhaps, but can you confirm (or deny?) that they were formally Catholics? I have never been sure of my memory here since Dad told me that he knew nothing of it.

Until we left Bakersfield, in June of 1954, we had much to do in the ordinary way with our cousins - particularly with Bobby and Terry, for Little Kenny was significantly older than I, the oldest in our family. After we moved to Oroville we saw little of them.

However, Bobby did spend three summers in a row living with us in Oroville, during the heyday of the vending business. Those were the summers that he thought that he was as good a ‘hustler’ and gambler as his older brother Kenny, and would go with Jeremiah out to Cadillac Flats to “see and be seen.” He had his clocked cleaned by W.C. and the other boys that ran the “nightclubs” and brothels.

Interesting that I have no memory of this

Both 'Big Kenny' and 'Little Ruth' are dead now. Well, I know 'Big Kenny' is dead because I remember when he died. I think Ruthie is dead. After she was widowed she used to go to Hawai'i and spend time with my mother. I think she and 'Big Ruth' bought a house there at one point. But I think she is gone now.

It wasn’t “Big Ruth” and Little Ruth who bought the house next to Mom on Hilo Bay, but Little Ruth and Cleo – Dodo’s second wife, aka “Queeny.” Queeny sold out to Little Ruth after Mom turned Cleo down on her offer to fly Mom over to Paris on the Concorde out of L.A. to shop with Cleo and Judy! Mom had told Cleo that she wasn’t interested because she couldn’t take her bird – Pinky – with her, and besides there was crap for Mumu selection along the Champs-Elysees!

Bobby is dead, too. He appears to have got drunk one day and decided to dive into the Kern River. Unfortunately there is almost no water left in the Kern River any longer so he hit bottom and broke his neck. Kenny became a fisherman (big time - I think he owned a fleet of fishing boats),

Kenny fished tuna off the California, Mexican and South American Coasts between about 1973 and 1978. His dad, Big Kenny, put up the cash to have the 65-ft big cargo fishing boat built at Wilmington, which Kenny then operated until he go “captured” by government gun boats off the Ecuadorian Coast. Local “customs” were trying to extort money, so they escorted him to an Ecuadorian harbor and held him there for a couple of months. Big Kenny negotiated and finally got him free – don’t know what it cost but I know it cost something. When he got back to San Pedro, Little Kenny settled up with Big Kenny, and then went back to Santa Barbara to the commercial roofing business, where his hustle and hard work earned him pretty good money during the days of booming development through the 1980’s. After Big Kenny died, Kenny took over the wrecking business, which he now leases to some local Hindu guys for about $20,000/month.

Terry a horse and dog trainer. But I have had no contact with them. Peter may have done.

Terry works for a private outfit that contracts with several Counties in southern California, counseling “lost” and otherwise abandoned kids and tries to get them various types of assistance and placed in new homes. She’s about to or has recently retired, in Bakersfield.

1 comment:

Triple J said...

Wow very interesting. Good to see Unc still can't use a computer and still doesn't get the concept of a blog. LOL!!!