About Halley Dale Smith
Memories of my Father, by Della Dale Smith
Halley "Dale" Smith was born May 28, 1910, in Prairie Center Kansas. He was named after Halley's Comet which came to Earth that year. Halley went by his middle name, Dale. According to a card in my mother's scrap book, Dale received his elementary school Diploma of Examination (statement of grades) on May 20, 1922 in Olathe, Kansas, which was signed by Lucile Ewing, the County Superintendent.
He received his Junior High School Diploma from Venice Union Junior High School on the 25th of June, 1926, and he attended four years of high school as well, according to the 1940 U.S. Census Record. Dale was the fourth son of Isaac Randall Smith and Mattie Estella Scott. They came to California sometime around 1925 because my grandfather, Isaac Randall Smith, had asthma and could not tolerate the "dust bowl days" of Kansas at that time, or so my father told me. Unfortunately, my grandfather passed away sometime around 1925 because he was in the 1920 U.S. Census, living with the family in Lexington, Johnson County, Kansas, but was not with the family in the 1930 U.S. Census in Los Angeles, California. I'm sure my dad and his three brothers had to work hard to support themselves, their mother and sister after their father passed away.
There are pictures in my parents photo album of the Smith Brothers Garage, which was located at the corner of Washington and Lincoln Boulevards in Venice. I would imagine that is how my father and his brothers made their living back in those days. My dad was always a very good mechanic and could fix, take apart and put back together, or build anything. So I'm sure he excelled at his work at the Smith Brothers Garage. In the 1930 U.S. Census he is listed as a transfer driver, and in the 1940 U.S. Census, he is shown to be a Bus Driver for the City of Los Angeles. I remember he was a very good driver, he serviced all of his own cars and trucks, and he was very good at it. He was also the best person in the world to teach me to drive, since my mother never learned to drive until several years after my father passed away. My dad always said he would have liked to have been a professional race car driver!
My parents were married on July 3, 1932, in Yuma, Arizona, and went to Yosemite National Park in Northern California for their honeymoon. I remember my mother telling me that it cost $5.00 for them to gas up their Model T Ford, fill it with groceries and their camping gear and drive to Yosemite for their honeymoon trip.
Where they lived in Inglewood is not certain, although I do remember my mother telling me that the first house they owned was on Fairview Avenue, which is in Inglewood, California. They worked very hard on that home and had a beautiful vegetable and flower garden there. I have a picture of them near the garden with their dog Tee, who was a gorgeous German Shepherd.
In the 1940 census my parents were living at 11160 Firmona Avenue in Los Angeles in a home they were renting for $18.00 per month. My dad was 29 years old and my mom 28, and previously they were living in Inglewood during 1935. For the 50 weeks my dad worked at 43 hours per week in 1939 his income was $1,500 which equaled about 70 cents per hour!
The next door neighbors at 11158 Firmona were their friends, Daniel W. and Lea R. Iler, who were renting their home for $15.00 per month. Dan was 29 years old and his wife Lea 39 years old. He was from Illinois and Lea from Oklahoma. They had been living in the same place in 1935. Dan had a high school diploma and Lea one year of high school, and Dan was working as a fireman for County Engine Company No. 8, and for the 52 weeks he worked at 70 hours per week in 1939 his income was $1,820. which equaled about 52 cents per hour.
Next door to my parents at 11150 and 11152 Firmona, were Carl Pearson, 44, and his wife May, 43, and May's mother, Mary A. Iler, 70, who was probably Dan Iler's mother. They owned their home which was valued at $2,500. In 1935 they were also living in Inglewood. Carl was working as the County Deputy Sheriff for Los Angeles County, and for the 40 weeks he worked at 48 hours per week in 1939, his income was $2,200 which equaled about $1.15 per hour.
Next door to them was Edward F. Pierson, 52. who was probably Carl Pearson's brother, (even though the names were spelled slightly differently, because both Carl and Ed were born in Illinois), and his wife, Pearl G., 47. Ed was working as a paper hanger for the movie studios and his income in 1939 for the 38 weeks he worked was $1,900. Mary A. Iler, Carl and Lea's mother, was born in Sweden. She was not working at the time.
By 1950 my parents were living in rural Whittier on Sunshine Avenue. I came along the next year on June 27, 1951. My earliest memories of my dad were when I was about two years old. Daddy would come home from work and pull into the driveway of our home, and hand me his black metal lunch pail. There was always a little something inside which I believed he brought home just for me. Usually it was nothing more than some avocados, oranges or lemons from a friend's tree, but it always seemed special that he brought me a special little treat nearly every day when he returned from work.
When I was about three or four years old, daddy built me a big swing-set and a slide, and I loved to play on that thing! One day when we were playing ball in the yard, somehow I broke my leg, and all I remember was my dad picking me up and taking me to the doctor or the hospital and then coming home later with a big cast on my leg from my toes up to my knee. My parents got me a wheel chair to get around with when I couldn't walk because of the broken leg.
The house where my parents lived when I was born was located at 13259 Sunshine Avenue in rural Whittier, near Shoemaker Avenue and Imperial Highway, and we lived there until I was about 4 years old. At the time there were not very many homes in that area, but through the 1950's and 60's the neighborhood got quite built up.
After about 1955, we moved to the Santa Susana Mountains in Simi Valley, California, where my great-aunt Thelma and uncle Steve had a big old house on lots of acreage with a guest house. They let us to live in their guest house for about a year, while my father looked for work and finally got established at a company called ConRock, or Consolidated Rock Products Company, which was located in San Fernando, California. For the first few years of his employment, he worked the night shift, from about 10 PM to 6 AM, so I had to be very quiet during the day so he could sleep.
The next year, about 1956, my parents bought a house in Kagel Canyon, which is between Sunland and Sylmar in the San Fernando Valley. It was really just an old log cabin, built about 1920, and my dad stripped off all the logs and finished the house with redwood siding, which was beautiful and smelled really good. The house had a big stone fireplace in the living room and lovely hardwood floors throughout and a large dining room. During holiday meals we would add leaves to the table to make it long enough to accommodate all of our visiting friends and family members.
One of the best parts of the house was the cellar, which was very cool during the hot summers, and fun to play in when I was a child. Also the back yard was very nice, and it had built-in rock walls and concrete seats. When it snowed once in about 1957, we scooped snow off those seats and daddy made "snow ice cream" by adding cream and sugar to the snow. I still remember how it tasted--very yummy!
There was a creek running in back of the house, and when it rained a lot, you could hear the boulders crashing against each other in the creek from the heavy flow of water. When I heard the crashing boulders and thunder, I always cried for my dad. He would come and get me and let me sleep in the big king sized bed in my parents bedroom so I would not be afraid of the noise. Shortly after we moved there, I remember having an ear infection, and daddy took me into my parents bed and he blew warm cigar smoke into my ear to make it feel better. He always tried to make me feel as comfortable as possible, and never wanted to see me in pain or suffering. He was the best dad anyone ever had!
My dad loved to travel and we would go on terrific vacations in the various campers and trailers my parents owned over the years. By the time I was twelve years old, we had traveled to all the contiguous thirteen western United States. Friends of my parents, the Mothersbaugh family, lived in Riverton, Wyoming, and we used to go visit them each fall. While the men were off deer hunting with bows and arrows, my mom, my dad's friend's wife, I and their children would stay back at the ranch and ride the Appaloosa horses they raised, which was a lot of fun. Daddy would always come back with one deer, which would be "dressed", wrapped, packaged, frozen and shipped to us at home, and we would have lots of good meals featuring venison for the rest of the year and into the next. I always felt a little bit guilty about eating "Bambi" though!
Some of the things I remember we did in our travels was to go to The Grand Canyon, Zion National Park, Bryce and Oak Creek Canyons in Arizona and Utah, Yellowstone National Park, The Grand Tetons, and Thermopolis Hot Springs in Wyoming and Montana, San Francisco, Big Sur and Monterrey in Northern California, and many places in the Pacific Northwest as well as Yosemite, where my parents had their honeymoon in 1932. I also fondly remember a great trip to Catalina in 1960 on the Big White Steamship that went from San Pedro to the town of Avalon. From that trip, I have a picture of my dad in a flower "lei" they gave you when you boarded or left the ship. He didn't look very amused about having to wear this flower necklace while I took his picture!
We also used to go to the nearby mountains and deserts, including Big Bear, Lake Arrowhead, Joshua Tree National Park, and Palm Springs in southern California, and Reno and Lake Tahoe in the north. And we would go to Carpenteria and Refugio State Beaches for skin diving and fish fries with my dad's company, and to Santa Barbara to visit my great-aunt and uncle, Thelma and Stephan Riess. In about 1957, they purchased a guest home on the ground of what was once the Fleishman's Yeast Mansion in Santa Barbara and moved there from the Simi Valley near San Fernando, California. I loved going to Santa Barbara to visit with them because their house was a beautiful old Spanish style hacienda with one foot thick adobe walls and a red tile roof. There was a court yard in the middle of the u-shaped home which had orange and lemon trees and lovely flowers growing there. My aunt Thelma turned the Olympic sized swimming pool into a fish pond. She was quite the animal lover and later had thousands of birds in custom-built aviaries when she and uncle Steve moved to Ojai, California, from Santa Barbara in the middle 1960's.
We also went to Las Vegas when I was about 9 or 10 years old, and I remember the town being very small compared to what it is today. Another memorable trip was to San Francisco, and I loved seeing the Golden Gate Bridge, Lombard Street and Fisherman's Wharf, plus all the old Victorian houses and going to the top of the seven of the "hills" of San Francisco. Many years later I had the pleasure of living on the San Francisco Bay peninsula, and really enjoyed living there.
Daddy always worked hard to provide for his family. Even before I was born, he didn't want my mom to work because he believed it was the man's responsibility to take care of his family. My mom had been a cosmetologist and did the hair of famous movie stars and their families at the Warner Brothers Studios in Culver City when they were first married. Although my mom actually made more money than my dad in her job as a cosmetologist, he wanted her to quit her job and be a home maker, which she did. She must have been very bored until I was born nineteen years later and she finally had a lot more things to do while taking care of me as a child.
That must have been one of the reasons she grew beautiful fruit and vegetables in their garden, just to have something to do, plus she loved beautiful gardens. Also, the garden was probably planted out of necessity, because those were the days of the Great Depression and WW II. During the war, my dad was classified 4F by the Army because of a back problem, and could not serve in active military duty, so he tested and repaired motorcycles for the U.S. Army during the war. I know that during the war in around 1940 my parents were in a motorcycle club and would go on long rides all over southern California. I have pictures of them on their motorcycle and with their club mates. Some of those photos may have been taken as early as 1932 because they had a border around the photo print which depicted the L.A. Coliseum and the California Bear (official animal of the state), which was to commemorate the 1932 Olympics held at the L.A. Coliseum.
When we moved to the San Fernando Valley area in 1955, that area had already begun to be developed by lots of returning WWII vets who were looking for affordable homes and a good neighborhoods, with good schools for their children. We watched as beautiful and wonderful smelling orange, lemon and avocado groves were removed so that lots of little 2 and 3-bedroom tract homes could be built to accommodate the demand of the veterans. You could buy one of those modest homes which were usually 2 or 3 bedrooms and one bath at about 1,000 square feet in size for around $5,000 back then and today they sell for nearly half a million dollars. Daddy would be rolling over in his grave if he knew how much those homes cost today.
After working for ConRock for about 15 years, daddy retired and my parents moved to their vacation property in Wofford Heights, California, which is a sleepy little resort community of about 2,500 people overlooking Lake Isabella and the Kern River, about 65 miles North East of Bakersfield, California, in The Sequoia National Forest. They had built the place back in the mid 60's and used it as a weekend get-away, and finally moved there permanently when my dad retired in about 1969 or 1970. He could no longer work because he had emphysema, probably caused by cigarette, cigar and pipe-smoking and the environmental pollutants he was exposed to during his time working at ConRock. He had done a lot of welding, which I'm sure didn't help either.
Even with emphysema, my dad still tried to do as much work as he could, building a garage, several porches around their home, and beautiful rock walls and gardens in which my mother planted an amazing assortment of gorgeous rose bushes. Daddy always tried to teach me to do things for myself, like changing the oil in my car and doing my own tune-ups. I told him I'd never make it as a mechanic.
He taught me how to use a bow and arrow, how to shoot a gun, how to bait a hook to fish, how to drive a boat, and so many other things. I remember how he used to drill me in my multiplication tables and made me memorize all the state capitols and the names and dates of all the US Presidents. He encouraged me to learn and to be my best. Daddy was always there to bail me out when I needed his help. When it was time for a divorce from husband number one, of course I called Daddy, and he sent me the money to pay for a divorce!
Although he died in 1976, he did live to see me become successful as an advertising manager in the computer industry in the early and middle 1970's. He died way too soon at age 66, and I miss him terribly every single day! He's been gone from my life for 37 years now, and was with me for only 25 years of my life--I wish I would have had more time with him! He and my mom were married for almost 45 years, and they were very happy together, and they made my childhood very happy as well. I will always be a "daddy's girl" even though he's been gone from my life for many years. There was a brief obituary written in the local newspaper in the town where my parents lived in 1976 that reads as follows:
"Private graveside services were held Monday, September 27, for Halley D. Smith, 66, who died September 23 at Kern Valley Hospital. Born in Kansas, May 28, 1910, he was a retired mechanic with Consolidated Rock Products and an eight-year Wofford Heights resident. He is survived by his wife, Frances; a daughter, Della Smith of Canoga Park; and his sister Eva Wall of West Los Angeles. Arrangements were by Valley Mortuary."
He is buried in the Kern River Valley Cemetery District which is located on a hill overlooking the river and Lake Isabella. His plot is under some nice pine trees, and my mothers ashes were put in his grave in 2003, at her request, about 8 years after her death in 1995 when we were living in New Jersey. The are together forever there under the pines. I miss you both so much Mommy and Daddy! Rest in Peace!
Halley Dale Smith's Timeline
May 28, 1910
September 23, 1976
Wofford Heights, CA, USA
September 26, 1976
Wofford Heights, Kern, CA, USA
Frances Amelia Eubank married Halley Dale Smith on 7/3/1932 in Yuma, AZ