About Halley Dale Smith
Halley "Dale" Smith was born May 28, 1910, in Prairie Center, Lexington, Johnson County, Kansas, to Isaac Randall Smith of Indiana and Mattie Estella Scott Smith of Kansas. Isaac Randall was the son of William Jesse Smith and Catherine Howell, and Mattie was daughter of Thomas Benton Scott and Eugena or Euzena Elmina Couch Scott. The little village of Prairie Center, Kansas, no longer exists because it was eliminated when the Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant took up a very large amount of the homes and farms there during the 1940's. Many families were displaced when that happened including the Smith's, the Scott's, the Couch and Osborne families as well as others. However, by that time, Halley Dale Smith was already living at Venice Beach, California.
Halley "Dale" Smith was named after Halley's Comet which was visible from Earth the year he was born in 1910, just as it is every 75 years. Halley always went by his middle name, Dale. Ten years before he was born, in the 1900 U.S. Federal Census for Lexington, Johnson County, Kansas, the family was listed as follows: Isaac R. Smith, 27, Estella Mattie Smith, 26, Bertle Haze Smith, 4, Thomas Benton Scott, 54 (Mattie's widowed father), Milo W. Richardson, 18, and Della A. Richardson. Isaac was renting his farm, probably from his father-in-law, Thomas B. Scott, who was listed as a "land lord" in the census record. Tom's wife, Lugena or Luzena Elmina Couch Scott, had passed away two years earlier in 1898 at the relatively young age of just 52 years old. Isaac was working as a farmer. Milo and Della Richardson were servants, Milo working as a farm laborer and Della was working as a dressmaker. Isaac and Mattie had been married for 5 years, so were married in 1894 or 1895 in Kansas.
Living nearby was Mattie's brother, John C. Scott, 32, and his wife Mary Elizabeth Hale Scott, 27, and their two children Wyatt L., 7, and Zena Belle, 2 years old. John was also working as a farmer. Next door to John and his family was Thomas Steed, 53, and his wife, Emma, 46, and their twin sons, Carl, and Earl, 15 years old. Emma was Mattie's aunt, Sarah Emeline "Emma" Couch Steed, the sister of Mattie's mother, Elmina. Thomas Steed was also working as a farmer. Living next door to the Steed's was Mary Leamer, a 56-year old widow, and her son Harry, 27, who would soon become the husband of Mattie's aunt, Roseann Carson Couch, another sister of Elmina Couch. Living with the Leamer's was a servant, John Monday, 24, who was working as a farm laborer for Mary and Harry who were also farming. Also living nearby was Claude W. Steed, 24, and his wife, Dora, 23, and their servant, James A. Ellis, 24. Claude was the son of Thomas and Emma Steed. Claude was farming and James was working as a farm laborer. So there were a lot of extended family members living near the Smith family in those days.
By the 1910 U.S. Census for Lexington, Johnson, Kansas, the Smith family was listed as I.R. (Isaac Randall) Smith, 37, M.E. (Mattie Estella) Smith, 36, Bertle Haze, 14, Merton Dee, 7, Lawrence Benton, 5, and a hired man M.C. Hockett. Isaac was still farming and he and Mattie had been married for 15 years. Mattie's father, Thomas Benton Scott, had remarried in 1903 to a woman named Sarah A. Nixon, who was 5 years older than Thomas, so Thomas was no longer living with Isaac and Mattie. However, the census record showed that Isaac was still renting his farm, so this may have been the farm originally owned by Isaac's father-in-law, Thomas Benton Scott.
Living two doors down was Mattie's aunt, Mary Ada Couch Gordon, another sister of Elmina Couch Scott, and Mary was listed with her husband and children: John Frank Gordon, 50, Mary A., 50, Orliff C., 27, Verna, 21, Estella, 18, and Harold, 11. They also had a couple of "hired men" living with them, Ross Robinson, 20, and Andrew Burnell, 43, and his wife, Sarah, 37, and daughter Florence M., 2 years old.
Also living nearby was John C. Scott, Mattie's brother, 42, and his wife, Mary Elizabeth, 37, and their children, Wyatt L., 16, Zena elle., 11, and Juanita F., 7 years old. John and Mary had been married 20 years, and John was still farming. Living next door to John and Mary were Thomas A. Steed, 64, and wife, Emma, 56, (Mattie's aunt) and next door to them was their son Earl R., 25, and his wife, Myrtle, 23, and their son, John T., 2. Earl was also working as a farmer.
In the 1915 Kansas State Census for Lexington, Johnson County, Kansas, the family was listed as follows: I.R. (Isaac Randall) Smith, 43, (Mattie) Estella, 41, their four sons, Bertle Haze, 20, Merton Dee, 11, Lawrence Benton, 9, Halley Dale, 5, and daughter Eeva Delight, 3 years old. They were still renting their farm, probably from Mattie's father, Thomas Benton Scott. Thomas had come to Kansas from North Carolina with his wife, Lugena or Luzena Elmina Couch Smith, in about 1868 after the birth of their first child, John, who was born in Guilford County, North Carolina in 1867. Both Mattie and her sister, Lelia, were born in Kansas, Lelia in 1870 and Mattie in 1873. Sadly, Lelia passed away in 1883 before her 13th birthday.
Halley Dale Smith's father, Isaac Randall Smith had probably come to Kansas from Indiana sometime between 1890 and 1894, and then married Mattie Estella Scott. Isaac was born in Indiana to William Jesse Smith and Catherine Howell Smith, who passed away in 1876 when little Isaac was just about 4 years old. His mother died in November and two of his sisters died the month before in October. Isaac's father probably sent him to live with his nephew, Robert L. Smith, who married his wife Arrena Price in early 1877. Isaac was found living in their household in the 1880 census. Isaac's brother, Milton, who was 15 years older than Isaac, moved to Lawrence, Kansas, and perhaps Isaac moved there with him when he was old enough to go out on his own. Having been born in June of 1872, Isaac would have been about 21 or 22 years old in 1894.
In the 1920 U.S. Federal Census for Lexington, Johnson County, Kansas, Halley Dale Smith was 8 years old, living with his parents and siblings listed as follows in the census record: Isaac R., 45, Mattie E., 44, Merton Dee, 17, Lawrence B., 14, and Halley Dale, 8, (listed incorrectly as Hollis Smith), and sister Eeva Delight Smith, 7 years old. Isaac was still working as a farmer and they were still renting their home. Isaac's son, Dee, was working as a laborer on the family farm. Per the census record, Isaac was born in Indiana, and his parents in Ohio; Mattie was born in Kansas and her parents in North Carolina, and all their children were born in Kansas.
According to a card in my mother's scrap book, my dad 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 good grades for his work. Dad received his Junior High School Diploma from Venice Union Junior High School, located in Venice, California, on the 25th of June, 1926, and he attended four years of high school as well, according to the 1940 census record. The Smith family left Kansas for Venice Beach, California, sometime after 1922 because my grandfather, Isaac Randall Smith, had asthma and could not tolerate the "dust bowl days" of Kansas at the time, or so my father told me. They may have left shortly after Mattie's father, Thomas Benton Scott, passed away in 1921, and Halley Dale graduated from elementary school in 1922.
Sadly, my grandfather, Isaac Randall Smith, passed away August 1, 1928, when he was just 56 years old, and my dad was just 18 years old. 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 in 1928. The Great Depression which started in 1929 probably did not make things any easier for their family. Isaac had been working as a Realtor at the time of his death in Venice, California.
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 family owned garage.
In the 1930 census he was working as a transfer driver, and in the 1940 census he was working as 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. I bet he would have made a very good one. He could have also been an inventor because of his creative and mechanical abilities.
In the 1930 census for Los Angeles, California, my dad was 20 years old and was living at 728 Nowita Place in the Venice section of Los Angeles with his older brother, Bertle Haze, 34, and his mother, Mattie Estella, 54, and his sister Eeva, 17. They owned their own home which was valued at $5,000 and they had a radio in their home. Uncle Bert was working as an oil company refiner for Standard Oil Company, and was listed as the head of the household. My dad's other two older brothers, Merton Dee and his wife, Alpha Cox Smith, and Lawrence Benton, and his wife Flossie Carrie Everley (known as Dot), were living just a couple of blocks away, and Dee was working as an auto mechanic and Larry as a house painter.
My dad married my mother, Frances Amelia Eubank, July 3, 1932, in Yuma, Arizona, and drove their Model-T Ford coupe 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 the Ford, fill it with groceries and their camping gear, and drive to Yosemite for their honeymoon trip. Frances was the daughter of Dortha Evelyn Rollins of Arizona, and Stephen James Eubank of Missouri. He had moved to California in about 1883 with his parents, James Joseph Eubank and Elsie Jane Rouser.
Where my parents lived in Inglewood when they were first married uncertain, although I do remember my mother telling me that the first house they owned was on Fairview Avenue, which is in Inglewood, not far from where her mother and grandmother were living at the time. Mom and Dad worked very hard on that home and had a beautiful vegetable and flower garden there. I have a photo 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 the Lennox section of Inglewood, in Los Angeles county, a home they were renting for $18.00 per month. My dad was 29 years old and my mom 28, and previously they had also been living in Inglewood during the year 1935. Dad had a 4-year high school education, and my mom had one year of high school and technical school training as a cosmetologist. My dad was working as a bus driver for the city transportation department. For the 50 weeks he worked at 43 hours per week in 1939 his income was $1,500 which equaled about 70 cents per hour! It sounds like such a little amount today, but at that time, it was a pretty good income.
Their 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. 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 on the other side at 11150 Firmona, were Carl Pearson, 44, and his wife May, 43, (Dan Iler's sister), and May's mother, Mary A. Iler, 70. They owned their home which was valued at $2,500. In 1935 they were also living in Inglewood. Carl was working as the 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. Mary A. Iler, May and Dan's mother, was born in Sweden. She was not working at the time.
Next door to Carl and May at 11152 Firmona, was Edward F. Pierson, 52. and his wife, Pearl G., 47. Edward was probably Carl Pearson's brother, even though their last names were spelled slightly differently, because Carl and Edward were both born in Illinois. And both Edward and Carl's wives, sisters, Pearl and May, were born in Nebraska. So two sisters married two brothers! Edward and Pearl were renting their home for $15. per month. 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. Pearl was doing quilting at home for a wholesale house.
By 1950 my parents were living in rural Norwalk at 13259 Sunshine Avenue, and my dad was working as an attendant and mechanic at a Texaco Service Station in South Gate working for a friend of his. I came along the next year on June 27, 1951, arriving at 7:17 p.m. on a Wednesday, at the St. Francis Hospital in Lynwood, California, weighing in at 7 pounds, 7 ounces. That used to be a pretty nice area in those days, but not so much anymore! 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 the lunch pail 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 some sort of little treat nearly every day after work, and I sure looked forward to those little presents from my daddy!
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 a wheel chair for me to get around with when I couldn't walk because of the broken leg. Somewhere I have a photo of me sitting in the wheel chair with a big cast on my leg.
The house where my parents lived when I was born was 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, although I noticed when doing a Google map search of the area, that the vacant lot which was next door to our home, (which my dad bought so no one would build a house next to us), was in fact still vacant, which is truly amazing that it was not developed sometime over the following years.
After about 1955, we moved to the Santa Susana Mountains in Simi Valley, California, where my great-aunt Thelma and uncle Steve Riess had a big house on lots of land with a guest house. They let us live in their guest house for about a year, while my father looked for work and finally got established at a company in San Fernando, called Consolidated Rock Products Company. For the first few years of his employment, he worked the night shift, from about 10 o'clock at night to 6 o'clock in the morning, so I had to be very quiet during the day in order for him to get the sleep he needed.
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 dining room 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. There was a creek that ran alongside our house near the basement. Also the back yard was very nice, and it had built-in rock walls and concrete seats that my dad and mom built. When it snowed once in about 1957, we scooped snow off the seats and daddy made "snow ice cream" by adding cream and sugar to the snow. I still remember how it tasted--very yummy!
Because there was a creek running in back of the house, when it rained a lot you could hear the sounds of boulders crashing against each other in the creek from the heavy flow of water. When I heard the crashing boulders and thunder, it always scared me and I would cry for my dad. He would come and get me and let me sleep in their big king sized bed so I would not be afraid of the noise.
Shortly after we moved to Kagel Canyon, I remember having an ear infection, and daddy would blow 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 be in pain or suffer. I always thought that 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 various 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. We would go to Carpenteria, Pismo 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 grounds 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 mid-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 for about five years.
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 Movie 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 as well as doing all the housework including cooking, cleaning and laundry.
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 World War 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 must have been taken as early as 1932 because they had a border around the photo print which depicted the Los Angeles 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 World War II veterans 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, 1-bath tract homes could be built to accommodate the demand of the veterans and their families. You could buy one of those modest homes which were usually about 1,000 square feet in size, for around $5,000 back then and today they sell for about 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. 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 his lungs 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 a car, 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 U.S. 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 40 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 Eeva Wall of West Los Angeles. Arrangements were by Valley Mortuary."
Daddy was buried in the Kern River Valley Cemetery District which is located on a hill overlooking the Kern 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. They are together forever there under the pines. I miss you both so much Mamma and Daddy! Rest in Peace! I know I will see you both again some day!
Della Dale Smith-Pistelli, edited May 29, 2016.
NOTE: One of my best friends from high school remembers that my dad was a very kind man. I remember him being very kind and gentle, but also a tough guy who could always get the job done, no matter what the task. He had always wanted to be a race car driver, and I'm sure he would have been a very good one. He also could have been an inventor because he was always tinkering with things, repairing things and making them work properly. I remember when I was about 4 or 5 years old I asked him for a bicycle, because I felt I had outgrown my tricycle. Well, rather than buy a new bike, he remodeled my tricycle and made it into a bicycle! He was very inventive and resourceful. Later when I was about 12 or 13 years old, I had bought my own bicycle with money saved, and sadly, parked it inside our garage, but forgot to close the garage door. Someone stole the bicycle out of the garage! Daddy told me I should always remember to close the garage if I didn't want my things to disappear, and boy was he right, as usual!