Fillmore Anecdotes - Excerpted from “An Anecdotal History of Fillmore, California” by Ken Fine Part 2
Lawrence and Mildred Hinckley in the Artists' Barn
Excerpted from “An Anecdotal History of Fillmore, California” compiled by Ken Fine. Copies are available at the Museum Gift Shop.
The “Artists’ Barn” was actually a converted barn. After Mildred and Lawrence Hinckley moved in, they discovered they weren’t the only inhabitants. Night time was time for the rats to play. After trying traps, poison and every home remedy suggested, the final solution was arrived at. Lawrence had been taught at an early age to shoot a 22 rifle by his father, Ira Hinckley, He turned into an excellent shot but never a hunter as killing wasn’t his game. This was an emergency though, so out came the 22. One of the most successful wasn’t the time he shot a rat and it fell out of the attic, blood and all, around Mildred’s neck. We heard they weren’t speaking for a little while.
Fillmore's first air strip c 1930
Fillmore had its share of flying pioneers. The first airfield (early 1930s) was on Sespe Land and Water Co. property behind what is now the El Dorado Mobile Park. Marion McKeen, with his own plane, started the field. Peyt Burkey was the first local to have a plane. The local oil companies donated the oil for the landing strip and a hanger was built. It was quite successful with more locals taking part.
In 1945 an airfield was built on the Basolo Ranch on the east side of Chambersburg Road past the Bardsdale Bridge. At its peak, 8 local planes and 6 planes owned by Los Angeles people were parked there. The field closed in 1950 because they couldn’t get a permit from the County to build hangers. Our own county supervisor voted against granting the permits.
A couple of disasters in air travel happened near Fillmore. Marion McKeen lost a passenger out of his plane between Santa Paula and Fillmore. He was a Santa Barbara business man on a survey trip for an oil man named Casey. Peyt Burkey and his neighbor, Harry Hastings, crashed and were killed near the Sespe Bridge. Burkey owned a garage and Hastings was a building contractor in Fillmore.
Shiells Oil Field
The first producing well brought in on the Shiells property (known as Montebello) up Shiells Canyon was in 1911.
[In the early 1930s] Gus Colouris ran a fruit and vegetable truck throughout the city. I got 25₵ and old vegetables for helping carry vegetables to the houses for the women.
In 1934, C. C. Elkins got me a job (as you couldn’t just hire out) picking lemons. The wages were 17 1/2₵ an hour plus a bonus of 10 cents a box, which only the fastest picker could reach. After two weeks being low man in number of boxes, you were replaced.
Good money was made in the tomato packing shed (across the tracks from the present lemon house) in the middle 1930’s. You got $2 a day plus bonus for labeling boxes and loading box cars.
I first worked in the oil fields in 1940 on a promotion well on Elkins’ property. It paid $8.80 a day and carpenters were getting $4.50 a day.
In 1915 gasoline sold for 16₵ a gallon. In1916 it rose to 21₵ a gallon.
We put an ice card in the window for our ice. It had 25-50-75 in the corners and the number on top in the window was the amount the ice man brought in. Our box would hold 50 lbs., if partly chipped. The floor got mopped often when you forgot to empty the drain pan. The card didn’t take care of the booze, another of their services. That had to be ordered by phone or word of mouth during prohibition.
Bungalow Inn c 1925
Elmer Booth started the Bungalow Inn on the southeast corner of Fillmore and Santa Clara streets. He expected to serve meals, but never did, so the hardwood floor dining room was used for dances until it was done away with to make more rooms. Each room had an outside entrance and was nice for that period. It wasn’t a huge success and he sold it and Elmer Booth went in the manure business with grandson Bull Manning. Manure was a very lucrative business in those days before liquid fertilizer.
Sunnyside Rooms, northeast corner of Central and Ventura, rented rooms and had a few cabins, served meals that were all you could eat for 25 cents. It was run by two sisters.
Rist Rooms were above Dunn’s hardware, northwest corner of Fillmore and Main. “Rist” was sometimes confused with “rest”, which caused some problems. In the early 1920’s my brother, Westley, and wife Lula managed these rooms. Our house had no bathtub, so I carried clean clothes up there and Lula gave me my bath. Then the fun started as she taught me to play all kinds of cards, poker, solitaire, etc.
The Fillmore Inn [on] Central Avenue had a porch on both floors and on nice summer evenings they would be full with not only tenants but squiring couple from town.
Cottage Inn owned by E. B. Turner. Turner was Fillmore's first postmaster. The "post office" was located in the front room of the hotel.
The Cottage Inn on the same location was the first in town. Mose Fine and his family stayed there in the 1890’s waiting for their homestead papers to be approved.
Ken Fine, 1988