This fascinating post is a result of my putting the above picture on Facebook. My long-time Facebook friend, Linda Coil, commented, saying, "They were the best of friends. When they died they were cremated and their ashes were both spread at the same location in the desert so they could be together as well. Wally was also one of my dad's best friends and Wally was in fact with us at the beach the day my dad died."
Wally Cox, the star of my favorite TV show of all time, Mister Peepers! And it was the father of my friend Linda. She's the author of the most enjoyable book I've read on Bigfoot, Who's Watching You? It's because of our mutual interest in the Sasquatch (I had what I believe to be a Bigfoot encounter in the early 1970's), and the fact that we have a mutual friend in Bellingham, Washington, that Linda Coil and I became Facebook friends.
Linda then sent me more stories of the lives of her and her family in emails, and I wondered how she could have kept these experiences under her hat all this time. For sure I couldn't, and so Linda was gracious enough to let me tell you about them here.
She added some detail about the ashes of Wally Cox and Marlon Brando. "Wally Cox died in 1973, and his ashes were saved until Marlon died in 2004. Then both their ashes were spread at the same spot in Death Valley. Not sure why they chose that spot, something between the two of them they must have decided to do one day for their own personal reasons." And she sent me a picture of her dad, Albert Coil, in the Navy at Pearl Harbor in the late 1950's. In front of Albert is a pile of hats, and next to him sits his friend, Wally Cox. The two of them met in the Navy, and here were celebrating the birth of Albert Coil's daughter, Linda.
John Dillinger. Dillinger became more notorious than even Bonnie and Clyde, and it was because of him that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was founded. Linda writes, "My grandma, when young, was friends with John Dillinger. They met when she was walking the ten miles to school. He came along in a car, stopped and asked if she needed a ride. This was back in the days when people with bad intentions were rare. It was also rare to own a car, and most people who did offered rides to others who needed one, because it was just the thing to do. She and Dillinger talked for a bit, and she decided she could trust him for some reason and took the ride. At the school he told her he would be coming this way around this time every day for a while, so would look for her again. And just as promised, for weeks he came down that road every day and gave her a ride to school. She said he was a very nice man, well mannered and funny. They became friends. She knew his name as John Dillinger, but had not heard about his history until the day he was shot and killed. Regardless of his reputation, she, for one, cried. She always had good thoughts and things to say about him."
About her mom and this same grandmother, Linda writes, "Those two women may have singlehandedly begun and encouraged the illegal smuggling and crossing of Mexicans into this country. After my father died we were very strapped for money to survive. There was no social services to go to for help, nor was it easy for a woman to find a job in those days, when all a woman could really hope for was to become a nurse, a secretary or a waitress. Grandma got some seasonal work in fish and vegetable canneries, and my mom babysat or they both took in other people's laundry to iron. But it was never really enough for rent in California and for food. So to supplement, at least once a month they would drive the old convertible down to Mexico and, for $40 a head, stuff as many Mexicans as they could, sometimes as many as five or six, into that big trunk. Then they'd drive through the border, flirting with the border patrol men as they were both extremely attractive women, and slip right through. They'd drive out to the desert and set the Mexicans free in America.
"One time they fit as many as they could in the trunk, with one left over. He begged and begged not to be left behind, so they had him crawl under the car and somehow tied him up to the undercarriage and told him to hang on. He survived the trip. Another time they had a bad exhaust leak in the car. When finally crossing the border and arriving at their drop off spot, they opened the trunk and all five Mexicans inside were unconscious! They almost killed them all! But in the end they all lived.
"In those days rent was around $40 a month, so they'd make the rent money, plus. Most the Mexicans were picked up later and taken by bus back to Mexico, where Mom and Grandma would find them again next time and for another forty bucks bring them back again.
"One time Grandma needed a cesspool dug and couldn't afford to hire anyone, so they made another trip down to Mexico and offered to bring three men over in exchange for them digging the pool. They took the men home to stay with them, letting them stay in the barn until the job was done. While at it, the men did other fix-it jobs around the place in exchange for Grandma's good cooking before they moved on.
"There are many more stories of the things they did to survive; a whole book in itself could be written about the adventures of these two women. They were like your Thelma & Louise, or Laverne & Shirley, depending on how you looked at them."
Linda's dad was a race car driver living in California, and so met and befriended many famous people along the way. "My mom and dad knew all kinds of stars," writes Linda, "My mom and dad died very young, or I might know many stars now. They did however all know me as a child."
Lenny Bruce. Lenny Bruce was a stand-up comedian, famous for the controversial obscenity in his comedy which more than once got him in trouble with the law. He's author of the 1960's bestselling book, How to Talk Dirty and Influence People, his autobiography. In his obscenity trial which forced him into bankruptcy, Lenny was eventually found not guilty, and this is seen as a landmark trial for freedom of speech. He died at 40 from a drug overdose. Since then there was a popular movie made about his life -- "Lenny," starring Dustin Hoffman.
"I do know that Lenny tried all his jokes out on my dad, and also know Lenny got some of his material from my dad, who was a very funny fellow himself. Lenny and Wally used to tell my dad he needed to go into comedy himself, but no, my dad's dream was to become a homocide detective! He was also working on starting an import-export business. That was his thing, as well as hot rods and racing cars. He was big into that and knew everyone on the California racing circuit. I'm thinking he may have known James Dean, as the name has always been so familiar to me, but I can't say for sure."
|Walt Disney, on the |
opening day of Disneyland
|John Ritter, grown up|
|Tennessee Ernie Ford|
Puff, puff, puff and if you smoke yourself to death
Tell St. Peter at the Golden Gate that you hate to make him wait
But you just gotta have another cigarette.'
She wrote this song when she was around 17, then took it to Tennessee Ernie Ford to show it to him, and he stole it and put it out as his own. It became a huge hit and he made a lot of money off of it. She should have sued, and to this day is still steamed about it. That's another thing I said to him at Town Hall that day. I told him, 'And you stole my Aunt Ginny's song!' His answer was, 'I didn't steal it, she gave it to me!' I said, 'No she didn't! You stole it!' Tennessee Ernie Ford always thought of me as a little brat.
"Wally Cox, also one of my dad's best friends, was with us at the beach the day my dad drowned there while scuba diving. After it happened, Wally came by the house and asked my mom to marry him, as he took it upon himself to take care of his best friend's wife -- the way they thought in those days. My mom turned him down. All the while, I was hiding behind the couch and heard it all. He even got down on one knee. They never did know I was there.
|President Richard Nixon|
"After my mom passed away, my grandma took care of me. She finished raising me. Aunt Ginny's husband got stationed in Washington State with the Coast Guard for a while. They had three kids and needed Grandma to come babysit and help out. That's how we moved to Washington.
|Andre the Giant|
"Growing up in Long Beach near the Pike, I was familiar with sideshows of every kind, and my heart went out to the people on exhibit and the taunting they would receive from many ignorant people. I also knew how hard it was for them to support themselves in that day and age, and why they chose to be put on display.
"I first paid my dollar and went in to see Andre with a bunch of other spectators. He was sitting up in a chair, a huge chair, and was billed as some kind of a giant freak. I remember his face and eyes. He seemed so sad while the barker presented him as some sort of freak. He wasn't at all. I could see the kindness in his eyes, and it bothered me that he was on display like this.
"When the show was over and everyone was gone, including his barker, I went back and peeked in the tent. Andre was lying down and relaxing on a cot. I knocked and asked if I could come in for a minute. He said, 'Yes, yes, come in.' I told him I knew he didn't belong with such a job as this, and knew he was sad having to do this, and knew he must have to do this kind of thing for money, and that I just wanted him to know that I thought he was very handsome and kind and wish I was his friend. He sat right up and asked me to come sit beside him. He had a very strong accent, yet I understood everything he said. He began to tell me where he was from, a small village in France where life was very hard, and that he came to America to find his future, and no he wasn't happy doing what he was doing right now, but he had hopes that one day he could break free from this job and become something more. He thanked me for caring and showing him some kindness, and before I left he hugged me and gave me a present. He took the big, gold band off of his finger and gave it to me. I remember it was so big I could almost put my whole hand through it!
"The day did finally come for Andre when he got away from the sideshow business and became famous in his own right, and I know lived the rest of his years very happy and successful. I really loved this guy."
|Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant|
Washington State is infamous for its share of serial killers, including Ted Bundy and the Hillside Strangler, Ken Bianchi. I worked at the Bellingham City Hall during some of this time, sharing a break room with the Police Department, and so overheard many gruseome stories about these murderers, even getting to look over shoulders at a videotape of Ted Bundy being interviewed by his psychiatrist. Psychiatrist: "Was she still alive at this time?" Bundy, chuckling, "Oh yes, she was very much alive." So when I read Linda Coil's next story, I shuddered.
the Hillside Strangler
"I first met him one night at the Good Time Charley's nightclub there in Bellingham. We made eye contact from clear across the room, and before I knew it he was at my table asking if he could sit and buy me a drink. He was very charming, and I found myself agreeing to a date one night. He began to call every day, and one night we went out to dinner and dancing. Later we stopped at my friend Kim's house where we partied with Kim and her friends and listened to new music by Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band. My friend Kim was very taken by Kenneth and made me promise that if I found I wasn't interested to please hook her up with him.
"When he took me home that night, he came in for a little bit to say goodnight. We sat across from each other at the kitchen table; for me it was a safe place so I could make sure I didn't give him any other ideas. While talking at the table, somehow we got around to our parents, particularly our mothers. He hadn't seen his for a while or she had died, I forget exactly, but it was during this discussion that he began to change and things got weird. In an instant his whole demeanor changed, as if he had a split personality. He suddenly seemed to become a different person. His eyes became distant and empty, his voice changed, and his speech became slower and serious. He rambled on some things I couldn't really understand; the things I did make out however were weird, things about hating his mother, wishing her dead or being glad she's dead, something to that effect. He complained about the people he worked for who don't understand him, and how he should never have left California, and that a lot of people are going to be sorry he had to. I immediately began to feel the need for him to go, as he instantly began to creep me out. I made an excuse about being really tired all of a sudden and that he really needed to leave now. He asked me why, and just sat there staring at me. This made me get up and go to the door, asking him to please leave now. I remember I wanted him gone now! He finally left with the promise to call me the next day.
"He was just too weird for me. The next day I called my friend Kim and told her about him, but for some reason she was still interested in meeting him again. So when he called me that day, I told him about Kim and her interest in him, and it worked. I gave him her phone number and got out of having to date him again or tell him why I wouldn't. He then hooked up with Kim and they began to date. For Kim this lasted only a few weeks, before she found him too weird as well.
"Months later Kenneth Bianchi was arrested for the murders of the two girls there in Bellingham. I was not really shocked. Then months or weeks afterwards, while his trial was still going on, his current girlfriend somehow got a hold of Kim's number and called her. Somehow she lured Kim to a hotel room in downtown Bellingham. What she said to get her there I no longer recall, but whatever it was worked and Kim showed up. When she did, this girlfriend of Kenneth tried to kill Kim in the same manner the two girls were murdered, to make it look like Kenneth was innocent and the real killer was still loose. It didn't work. Thankfully Kim got away, the woman was caught, and the plan exposed. I've always tended to believe that Kenneth himself came up with this plan, and always thought if not Kim that could have been me. Although I can't believe I would have actually shown up like poor Kim unfortunately did.
"My maternal grandfather, Clarence Grace, and I were very close. We lived with him before and after my dad passed away. He was a longshoreman truck driver in Long Beach, and made a lot of money -- $500 a month, which was a lot! That was back when you could buy a week's worth of groceries for only $5. When other kids would brag about how much money their dads made, I would brag about how much my grandpa made -- always more than their dads.
in her late thirties
Thank you so much, Linda, for sharing these wonderful experience of your life and allowing us to live them with you! As I publish this here for all to read, I imagine with a smile that I hear you say, "There ya go, world, this is for you!"
|Albert Marion Coil, and his daughter Linda|
My good friend, Linda Coil, passed away Saturday morning, October 1, 2016. I like to envision her finally dancing with her daddy again.
For further adventures of Linda Coil, see:
It's for the Orphans - the Story of a Notorious Internationaol Thief
For the complete contents of the Butter Rum Cartoon, click here.