Chapter 11 Golf & Travels Page IV of IV
With all the recent interest in sharks, I think often of a fishing trip that Ted Blue, Herb Askins and I took off the coast of San Diego a few years ago. We were in a 28-foot Criss Craft fishing around the Coronado Islands, which lie in Mexican waters some twenty miles south of San Diego.
We reached the island waters about 7 a. m. and soon were involved with the denizens of the deep. I hooked a bonita of about eight pounds and, just as I was about to pull it aboard, a giant hammerhead shark followed it right up the side of the boat, it' s ugly head within about three feet of Ted and me. Ted yelled to drop the bonita back in the water and perhaps the hammerhead would take it and I might hook the big fish. I don't know what I would have done if he had taken my hook, what with my 20-pound test line!
The hammerhead did take the bonita, and I let him run with it. Then I "set" the hook with a sharp tug with my pole. For a second I could feel the shark on the line, and then nothing. I reeled in my line to find the head of the bonita securely hooked but severed from its body as though it had been done by a butcher with a meat cleaver. The hammerhead had what he wanted -- all the fish but the head.
Later that morning we spotted a fin, the fin of a marlin. Ted had brought a couple of frozen flying fish, the favorite feed of marlin and the bait generally used for fishing them off Southern California. He quickly rigged his heavy pole and line, put one of the flying fish on the hook and threw the bait in the water to the stern of the boat as we circled to drag it in front of the marlin.
The marlin took the bait. Ted let him run with it as that is the proper technique for fishing marlin. Ted set the hook and had the marlin on his line. But the leader on the line near the hook was not the right type and the fish soon snapped the line .
Ted had brought a steel leader along and told me to get it for him, and also to get the other flying fish ready to be used for bait. We could see the marlin a hundred yards away and Ted wanted to get another pop at him. I threw him the fish and the steel leader. He unwound the leader and put the flying fish on the hook. Herb had circled the fish. It was just off our stern. Ted threw the bait and the leader in the water towards the marlin which moved forward towards the bait.
There was only one thing wrong. Ted had forgotten to tie the leader to the line. To make matters worse, the marlin took the bait and swam off without even thanking Ted for his free meal. The leader would soon disintegrate in the salt water. Of course, we didn't allow Ted to forget about his great booboo.
About noon I caught another bonita, which are a member of the tuna family but not very good to eat. We usually threw them back without injuring them. Ted asked me to hand him this one, which he placed on a large hook with a heavy line, 90 pound test nylon, and lowered it some 150 feet to the bottom where Ted hoped he might pick up a large black bass, also known as a jew fish. We went on fishing for yellow tail, not paying any attention to the heavy line with the bonita on the bottom.
Soon the heavy reel started singing that lovely song when line is being stripped from the reel. Ted grabbed it, tightened the drag and soon realized that he couldn't stop the fish. He yelled to Herb to start the boat and follow the fish. I pulled in our other lines, and we started following the direction of the line on the end of which was some kind of big fish.
We fished the monster for over two hours before we got him to the surface so we could see what we had on the line. We had a book aboard which had pictures of hundreds of fish and the details about their weight and size. The fish was a giant lemon shark. We got the fish alongside the boat, or perhaps we got the boat alongside the fish, and I marked the distance on the boat from his tail which was even with the stern of the boat. We later measured the distance to be seventeen feet.
We had only a small hand-gaff aboard which would be of little or no use in landing this big baby. We usually carried a breakaway spear-gaff with a steel cable, and with it we might have been able to land the huge shark.
However, we continued to work the fish, with Ted doing most of the fishing. We took turns on the pole during the six hour period we had him on our line. We felt that he was weakening a bit, but when they put the harness on me connecting me to that po le, line and fish, I realized that he could have pulled me over the rail into the water if he made a sudden run. I insisted that they wrap a rope around my waist which Herb held as he sat on the deck. I still didn't feel too comfortable.
We got the fish up alongside the boat on numerous occasions. Ted tried to throw a rope around his tail, hoping that if he could secure it to one of the davits on the boat we might drag him backwards and perhaps drown him. But it was "mission impossible."
It began to get dark and we had no radio aboard to notify our wives what we were up to. We decided to tighten the drag completely and hope for the best, but I suddenly felt the line give way. Our hopes of catching the beast, which must have weighed 2,500 pounds, came to an end.
So far as I can ascertain, there never has been that big a fish landed with pole and line. Ted and I have mentioned the incident many times and wish that we had stayed with the task, even if the Coast Guard would have been looking for us before the night was over.
San Diego and its delightful village of La Jolla have long been favorite vacation spots for Arizonans trying to escape from the scorching summer weather. In July and August, it is a toss up whether you see more Arizona or California cars on the streets of La Jolla and Mission Beach, both of which are part of San Diego.
The Del E. Webb Company built a 28 unit apartment complex right on the bay in Mission Beach in the late '50's and it immediately became infested with Phoenicians, and a few families from other parts of Arizona and Sonora, Mexico. My family and I moved in the day it was completed and kept an apartment, which also served as an office since I was active in real estate developments in the area for many years.
During the peak summer period, the place was a bee hive of beach picnics, bridge games, and day long cocktail parties. Everyone seemed to have kids. At times, there would be twenty to thirty kids from one to sixteen running in and out of each other's apartments. Chris Jacobson, wife of the then president of the Webb company, L. C., aptly dubbed the place "Spawn Row. "
The adults did their share of partying, and it was a sad evening if there weren't at least two cocktail parties going on. I've heard of floating crap games, but up until these Tierra Palmilla apartments were built, I had never known what a "floating cocktail party" was. The only requirement was that you had to bring your own glass since none of the places had enough glasses for a large group.
One evening as dusk was settling in, Bob and Mazie Johnson, he's now president and chairman of the Webb company, and who were staying at another Mission Beach apartment, drove their 18 foot speed boat to our complex to have a drink or two and check the action at the bridge tables.
Since there was no dock near our apartments, he beached his boat and joined the group on the second floor balcony which faced the bay.
Soon after arriving, he looked down where he left his boat and he noticed that it had started floating away from the shore. The tide had risen and the wind from the west was pushing his craft farther out by the minute.
Bob was wearing only a pair of shorts, no shirt, or sandals, and he ran down the stairs, out across the sand about 200 feet to the water's edge, and since it was almost dark, he dropped his shorts and in his birthday suit started swimming after his boat, which by this time was three or four hundred feet away.
It wasn't long before he realized that he was in a losing race, although he had been swimming his hardest to overtake his boat. Soon he was "done in" and decided he had better turn back and head for shore. He was completely worn out and feared he couldn't make it. He started yelling for help. Luckily for him, there were a couple of teen age girls in a small sailing boat, a sabot, which is not much larger than a surf board, who heard him and sailed over to him.
He knew he couldn't get on their boat for two reasons, he was naked as a jay bird and it wasn't large enough anyway. He asked them to let him hang on while they took him to his motor boat a hundred yards or so away.
When he got there, he swam around to the other side, got aboard his boat, and then realized he didn't have his keys to start the engine. Wouldn't they go up to the apartment where the light was on and ask Mrs. Johnson to give them the keys to bring to him? Sure they would, and they wouldn't accept his offer of a $10.00 reward for saving his life and his boat.
When they reached the shore, they were met by Mazie Johnson and two of the men from the party who had become alarmed when Bob was gone so long. The fellows were Ted Blue and Joe Ashton, both long time Phoenicians and friends of the Johnsons.
They were dressed in suits and ties, which meant that they were going out to dinner because no one, but no one, ever put a tie on around the beach. That didn't keep them from offering to take the keys to Bob, if the young ladies would loan them their sail boat.
Joe noticed that the seat at the end of the boat he was going to occupy was damp. He saw Bob's shorts laying on the sand and used them to sit on. After all, he didn't want to get wet, at least not as wet on the outside as he and Ted were on the inside. The martini patch had been invaded by them while playing bridge.
Since neither was able to handle a sail boat, they were paddling their way with their hands and making pretty good progress when Joe yelled, "Hey, I'm getting wet!" Blue was in the same boat and was getting wet too. In fact, in about a minute the sabot went under from the excess weight. They were now swimmers. The sabot had capsized and they hung on to it as they continued their trip to Bob and his boat.
They climbed aboard Bob's craft, gave him the keys, shook themselves off and soon were back on the beach in front of the apartments.
Bob looked for his shorts and of course couldn't find them. They had gone to the bottom of the bay when the sabot capsized. And to make matters worse, Bob's wallet with a couple of hundred bucks in it was in the shorts as were the keys to his car whi ch he had driven down from Los Angeles.
Mazie borrowed some shorts from one of the other fellows and Bob went back to the party for a drink which he badly needed now. He called his son in L.A. and told him he'd have to drive down the next day with the other set of keys for his car.
Joe and Ted changed their clothes of course. Joe noticed that Ted had taken his paper money and cards, etc. from his wallet and placed them in the oven to dry. When Ted retrieved his valuables from the oven, Joe put four $100 bills and some other bills and papers in the oven to dry.
Unfortunately, Joe got back in the martini patch and forgot about the drying-out job he was engaged in. You're right, when he went to get them they were a nice little pile of ashes at the bottom of the oven! He scraped them together, hoping he could convince a sympathetic bank teller the next day that he had indeed had a misfortune befall him.
It truly was a sad event, and all because a guy didn't secure his boat when he came calling!
Hi Corbett and I not only went to many World Series together but we also followed our University of Arizona Wildcat football team to many of its out-of-town games.
Perhaps one of the most eventful trips was one to Chicago and Milwaukee in the late 40's to watch them play Marquette University in Milwaukee. We scheduled the trip so we could spend some time in the Windy City both going and coming.
We both had friends in Chicago. My favorite at the time was Irving Phillips, a vice president of the Northern Trust Company, a large bank. Irving had grown up in Tucson. Together, we worked as ushers in my dad's Opera House, the local movie palace, while going to high school. Irv was born with only one and a half arms. His left one ended just below the elbow, but with the aid of a "wooden arm," he got by very well. He learned to write and drink with his good one, and these were two of his favorite activities, especially the latter.
Hi's friend was a fellow named Frank Quigley, a part time bank robber and a permanent parolee. He had gotten acquainted with Frank when he was paroled to Hi from the state pen at Joliet. Hi was, at the time, a Republican National Committeeman for Arizona. Frank developed tuberculosis and, between his doctor and his attorney, he convinced his keepers that he should be sent to a dry climate to spare his life. Tucson was selected, but he had to be paroled to someone, and since Hi was well known by the then Illinois Republican bosses, he was appointed as Frank's keeper in Arizona.
Frank Quigley and a buddy of his of several years before were the subject of a long article that appeared in the Saturday Evening Post about two famous bank robbers who had spent more of their lives in jail than out. That's how we found out what Frank 's principal claim to fame stemmed from. He was a very affable sort of guy who didn't mind talking about some of his escapades and encounters with the law.
So when we got to Chicago, we had things to do and people to do them with. There were several Tucsonans who decided to make the trip also. We stayed at the old Sherman Hotel in the heart of Chicago. I knew Ernie Byfield, who was one of the owners of the Sherman. He arranged for us to have a nice suite and ample bedrooms on the top floor, which didn't please Hi at all. He never liked being above the third floor in any building or even sitting in the upper deck of a grandstand, but he went along, un comfortable every bit of the time he was in the suite.
Quigley and Phillips became permanent members of our group and helped guide us around the town. Quigley took several of the men to the race track one afternoon while Hi, Irv and I took in a stage show in the Loop.
We got back to the hotel about four in the afternoon and were having a drink when we heard the usual sirens always prevalent in America's big cities. The La Salle Hotel fire had occurred a few months before and was fresh on our minds, what with the death toll reaching into the forties. Hi made no bones about feeling damned uncomfortable at the moment.
The noise of the sirens kept increasing by the minute. Hi started pacing the floor and settled down only when Irv suggested we all have another drink. He explained that sirens were constantly heard in the Loop and not to worry.
However, the sound increased to the point that it was quite apparent that there was a whole gaggle of police and/or fire vehicles right below us. Finally the sound subsided and we were relaxing with our new drinks, when three helmeted firemen burst in to our suite to announce that, "This hotel is on fire!"
Naturally, they got our attention. Hi jumped up and started throwing clothes into a suitcase, not necessarily his own clothes or even his suitcase.
We went out into the hall towards the elevators from which smoke was pouring. We went back towards our rooms and saw an "exit" sign over a hall window which we promptly opened. Hi was carrying the suitcase but would not think of stepping out onto the fire escape. Irv and I did, but we couldn't persuade Hi to follow us.
Hi felt trapped, of course. He was wild eyed but didn't know what the hell to do. Irv and I looked down, and on the fire escape landing immediately below us were a couple of cute gals who seemed to be taking the whole matter in stride. We invited them to come up and join us for a drink while we waited for the fire to either go out or burn the joint to the ground.
About that time the fire ladies returned to announce that the fire was out, that it had been a fire in an elevator shaft caused by sparks, etc. The most relieved guy in town was Hi. And, frankly, we all felt very much better. Furthermore, the girls turned out to be a couple of good fellows who joined us that evening for dinner.
On Friday night, we went to several joints including the famed Chez Paree, where top entertainers, including the biggest names in show business played before large crowds of traveling salesmen, conventioneers and localites. One of the top acts was an old vaudevillian I had known in my theater days. I sent him a note and he joined us to make the fun even greater for a bunch of local yokels from Arizona. We were the butt of several of his jokes in his second show -- in good fun, of course.
On the way back to our hotel, Quigley said, "I've been sponging off you guys for the past three days and nights. On Monday night, when you get back from Milwaukee, you're all going to be my guests. I'm working on a deal that will make me a few bucks and we'll see some new spots on Monday night," he said.
After watching our Wildcats get their annual walloping at Marquette's hand on Saturday, we returned Sunday morning so we could watch the Chicago Bears play Pittsburgh that afternoon in the old Chicago White Sox park, which is even older now and still being used.
After the game, we came out looking for a ride to town. The streetcars were jammed, with people hanging on the steps. That was a hopeless situation, so we looked for a cab. All taken, and many others looking also.
Irving Phillips was a giant of a man, about "six two or three' and with a heavy overcoat looked like Man Mountain Dean without a beard. We were following along behind him and it looked like we'd have to follow him on foot to the Loop. Suddenly, there was a break in the traffic on the street we were on, he stepped in front of the first car that came along, held up his hand and commanded the driver to stop. He was a guy out for a Sunday drive with his old lady. He stopped.
Phillips said we were detectives and had to get to the City Hall at once. The startled guy didn't know what else to do but tell us to pile in the back seat. That's how we got back to the Loop. It's a good thing he didn't drive us to the police stati on, as I'm sure we would have had a free night's lodging, at least!
Monday morning before breakfast, our phone rang and when I answered it, Quigley was on the other end, in the lobby. He asked, "Can I come up. I need a drink right now!" He was there in a couple of minutes and was obviously shook up.
He said he was very embarrassed, that he couldn't take us out to dinner, as he promised, that his deal had fallen through. We assured him it was not important and to forget it, but "what happened, Frank?"
He said he had the worse luck on Sunday. "We've been casing this jewelry store for three weeks and the owner never comes in on Sunday afternoon. We got in through the roof and had the front door off the safe and were about to get into the goodies whe n the guy and his girlfriend stopped in for some damned reason. We mussed him up a bit and had to get the hell out before he set off the burglar alarm." Frank was just a tough luck guy we agreed.
So we had dinner, including Frank, only it was paid for with money we brought with us from Tucson rather than by the earnings from a "deal" that fell through in Chicago. That jeweler never did realize the embarrassment he caused Frank that Sunday afte rnoon, or that he had almost been our host for the evening.
The Caruth family is one of Dallas' pioneer families, represents great wealth, and donated most of the land on which Southern Methodist University is located.
Will Caruth is the contemporary head of the family and is heavily involved in real estate investments and development. His late sister, Mattie, was married to Colonel Harold Byrd, distant relative of Admiral Byrd. There never has been much love lost between Will and his brother-in-law, Harold.
Three or four years ago while attending a meeting of the Urban Land Institute in Vancouver, B.C., I got into an elevator with Will Caruth. Soon it was filled with men and women, most of whom were attending the same meetings.
I asked Will, "Is it true, Will, that a couple of years ago your brother-in-law, Harold Byrd, was attending a football game at which his favorite team, University of Texas, came from behind in the last few minutes to score a couple of touchdowns and turn a sure loss into an unexpected victory. And when the game was about to come to an end, Harold stood up and yelled, 'Everyone within the sound of my voice is invited to come to my home this evening for cocktails and dinner to celebrate this great victory.' And is it true that 600 people showed up?"
Will responded immediately, "that's not true. A thousand people showed up. That loud mouth son-of-a-bitch could be heard farther than that!!"
CONTINUE with A Love Affair With New York City