Bruno Hicklin, Old-timer,
Bruno Frederick Hicklin died Thursday,
December 21, 2000, at his home in Reseda. Mr. Hicklin was
born March 9, 1920 in San Diego, California. He was an Army
veteran who served in Europe during World War II. He participated
in the D-Day Invasion, fought in the Battle of the Bulge,
and helped to liberate Germany.
He moved to Topanga soon after release from the army where
he bought a small parcel of land off Topanga Canyon Boulevard.
In 1951 he bought a house on North Oakwood Drive, where he
lived until 1998. Many Topanga residents will remember Bruno
from his days as a lifeguard at Stewart's Pool at Camp Wildwood
in the late 1950's. He worked for the Beverly Hills Fire Department
until he retired in 1975 after 27 years of service. Following
his retirement Mr. Hicklin spent a good deal of time traveling
the United States, mostly by bicycle, including a journey
with friend Bill McGray, also a Topanga resident, traveling
from the Canadian border to the Mexican border, along the
Bruno is survived by his sister Francis Carr Downing, a former
Topanga resident now living in Waterford, California, his
four children, Suzan Hicklin-Northstar, F. Mallory Hicklin,
Pamela Hicklin (Carson Rogers-Jansen), Reynold F. Hicklin,
and his five grandchildren, Paige, Jeremey, Mercedes, Lara
and Cameron. A private service will be held in the near future.
In lieu of flowers please send a gift to the charity of your
choice in his name.
Bait Shop Friend
Wylie stands in the bait shop he and Ginny ran for almost
By Penny Taylor
Bob and Ginny have run Wylie's Bait Shop
on PCH for almost 50 years, befriending and serving three
generations of customers. So it was a blow to everyone when
Bob passed away on December 15th, suffering heart failure
after a short battle with cancer.
Born in Missouri in 1927, Bob's family also lived in Oklahoma
before crossing the plains when he was 8 or 9 and settling
in Culver City.
He served in the Navy in World War II and came to the bait
shop shortly thereafter in 1946. The bait shop became his
A fisherman's day begins early so Bob had to be there even
earlier. He'd often stand on Topanga Beach and watch dawn
awakening over the ocean he loved so much before opening the
bait shop at 5 a.m., 7 days a week.
Grandfathers brought their grandchildren and the grandchildren,
now grown, brought their children.
There is a comfortable steadfastness to be found there among
the fishing pictures on the wall, the tackle and lures, the
bait freezer and funny, buck-toothed coconut heads hanging
from the ceiling.
He was an institution. The crusty, straight-forward man who
took guff from no man and showed the patience of Job if a
young child was willing to learn. He taught many a young person
to tie their hooks and said, "You have to have an educated
Status and fame weren't measuring sticks in his book. He served
the Malibu/Hollywood elite the same as a poor man out fishing
for his dinner. Everyone got a big chuckle when he refused
to take a check from Goldie Hawn. He had no idea who she wasand
he just didn't take checks.
Bob loved the desert as much as he did the ocean and would
go out rock collecting and panning for gold. His other get
away place was Alaska. He made two fishing trips up north
with Bill Rhodes and friends. On one trip they stayed at a
duck camp. The area was marshy and they had to cross a small,
deep creek and be extremely careful about where they walked.
Bill's eyes twinkled with laughter as he told about how they
heard a splash and turned around to see Bob. Only his eyes
and the top of his head were still showing in the muck.
But even when he was away, he was always thinking about the
store. It's the only bait shop that has survived along the
coast between Santa Monica and Ventura. Gone are the days
when they could go out and dig clams right off Topanga Beach.
Memorial services were held on Saturday, January 6. Bob will
be greatly missed and probably had no idea how many lives
he touched. Ginny still runs the store and there are still
echoes of Bob amidst the netting, old wood floors and fishermen
who will swap tales of Bob in the years to come.
By Michele Johnson
Frank Sass, 62, an auto body "artist"
and Topanga resident for most of the last 30 years, recently
died of natural causes. He moved here from New Jersey in the
1960s, and though he died at his residence in Glendora, his
friend Rick Provisor said he spent more than half the time
living on Provisor's property in Topanga. "He was a sweet,
crotchety old guy," Provisor said.
His life wasn't always easy. An only child, his parents died
when he was young, and he was raised by his grandparents.
Frank was born with a spinal problem, aggravated by a later
bicycle accident that, after a series of surgeries, left him
After settling in Topanga, he opened a car restoration business
below the American Legion post (now Froggy's). His old friend
Rose Wiley, who chuckled and called him "independent,
irascible," said that he numbered the rich and famous
among his clients, and was even once brought to Hawaii to
restore a boat. Ron Denend found him "cantankerous,"
but "a wonderful guy. He had lots of friends."
And, he agreed, "He was an excellent artist. He could
do the most incredible paint job." He eventually closed
his Topanga shop, and began working out of a series of body
shops. In recent years, he worked for Richard Sherman, restoring
his old trucks. Still a very sociable guy, he'd often drop
by Mark and Becky Nygard's place in Topanga to talk. "He
was really sweet," remembered Becky.
Frank was an avid reader, recently most interested in Native
American history and culture and Tony Hillerman novels. He
loved '50s and '60s rock 'n' roll, and though he couldn't
dance, was a follower of the scene at the old Corral rock
club in Topanga. He'd recently been having chest pains, but
had refused to go to the doctor, Rose believes, because "he
related doctors to more pain." His friends see his passing
as yet another sad loss of a "middle old-timer,"
John Espey: 1913-2000
By Clara Sturak
John Espey, novelist, scholar, professor
of English, long-time Topangan, has died. Born in Shanghai
in 1913 of missionary parents, he journeyed to California
at the age of 18, graduated from Occidental College, and became
a Rhodes Scholar (Merton College, Oxford, class of 1935).
John Espey full of joie
de vivre--and his companion Carolyn See's daughter Clara
He returned to Los Angeles during the
depression to teach at Occidental, and early realized that
his true literary material was his quirky childhood. He turned
the clash of American and Chinese cultures into a series of
witty, affectionate, sometimes scathing reminiscences of his
own youth, printed first in The New Yorker, and later collected
in three anthologies, Minor Heresies, Tales Out of School,
and The Other City. He went on to write two classic
California novels, The Anniversaries and An Observer.
He became, as well, a ground-breaking scholar of the works
of Ezra Pound, publishing the first academic work on Pound's
In the '40s, Espey left Occidental to teach at UCLA. He was
the very antithesis of the "suffering artist of the twentieth
century," delighting, in teaching his students to sing
"Green Grow the Rushes, Oh!," collapsing them in
improbable gales of laughter as he taught the most arcane
facts about Eliot, Pound, and especially Yates. He was an
academic father to his students, often lending them money,
buying them chocolates and champagne to cheer them along their
hard academic paths.
He was a true man of letters. His later years were given over
to an astonishing array of learned projects. He collected
and annotated (with his friend Charles Gullans) the decorated
cloth bindings of artist Margaret Armstrong, and was working
on a bibliography of American publishers Stone & Kimball
at the time of his death.
While living in Topanga, he wrote a series of satiric haiku,
complete with faux academic commentary-"The Empty Box
Haiku"-which was later studied with perfect Germanic
seriousness in European doctoral dissertations. He collaborated
with Carolyn See and Lisa See under the name "Monica
Highland," writing several historical novels (which they
fondly thought of as "airplane literature for smart people").
He also published two early, darker works-which he had worried
might offend his earnest Protestant parents-Strong Drink,
Strong Language, and Winter Return. Stories from
his first books were re-released in 1994 as Minor Heresies,
John lived in Topanga for 25 years. He loved the place, and
especially the people in it. He could be seen almost daily
at the post office catching up on news and gossip, driving
locals home or to the beach, and dining on minestrone soup
at Rocco's. He always had an ear and a kind word for his friends
in the Canyon, and could be counted on to help out whenever
help was needed. Over the years excerpts of many of his works
were printed in the fiction issues of the Messenger.
He was pleased to be part of the Topanga writing community.
Mostly, though, he was proud to be a Topangan, and to be a
good neighbor. Although he and Carolyn moved to the Palisades
two years ago, his heart remained in the canyon, where he
will be remembered by all who knew him as a kind, charming,
and witty man who was as at home clearing brush as he was
John's interests were wide, his mind amazing. But what made
him unique was his giddy love of life, which approached heedlessness
at times, and the high esteem in which he was held by his
family, friends and students.
He is survived by his companion of 27 years, Carolyn See,
his daughters Susan and Alice Espey, his son-in-law Ralph
Heidsiek, See's daughters Lisa See and Clara Sturak and their
families, and a grandson, Jordan Espey.
In Lieu of flowers, contributions may be sent to The UCLA
Foundation: John Espey Fund, c/o Victoria Steele, Department
of Special Collections, Charles E. Young Library, UCLA, 415
Hilgard Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90095.
Remembering John Espey:
A Poem by Scott Wannberg
The heart is a dancefloor of words
and music, the heart is
a country of imagination, where
possibility is the tune that
we find ourselves moving our feet
to. John Espey created light and
tossed it whimsically across open mouthed
darkness. He broke bread with
Ezra Pound and sang bass with
poets of love. John Espey is
a verb and ongoing is the word that
drives us toward recuperation and
feeling. John played all the
instruments of now, built cities of
metaphor and called them
good morning and hello.
John Epsey sailed the jazz
progression and partied
verbally with animals of
hope. Feel his music in
the way the blood tosses its
hair back in the wind. Feel
his language in the attempt
of the Earth to learn
how to relax. Feel his
heart in the next song
that sings you.
Remembering John Epsey
Tony McKissack: A Caring Man
By Penny Taylor
Friends gathered at the Topanga
Christian Fellowship Church in Topanga on Sunday, October
8 for a memorial service for Tony LaVernon McKissack who passed
away from cancer on October 5th.
Tony's battle with cancer was a grueling ordeal, but his companion,
Christine Adkins, says he faced it like a warrior, battling
every step of the way.
Tony was born in Dextor, Missouri on March 20, 1958. His roots
were in Missouri and Alabama and Mimi Smith described him
as a "true Southern Gentleman."
He came to Topanga at the end of 1987 and went to work for
local contractors. Ron Denend said, "He worked his ass
for me." Others he worked for and worked with all remember
him as a hard worker who was always willing to go the extra
A young Amanda recalled his gift of a bike. Murphy told the
story of when he broke his leg on a hillside. When he called
for help Tony was one of those who showed up and got him to
the hospital. The most common image of Tony was as a man who
maintained a positive attitude and never reflected on the
negative in someone. He was always willing to help someone
who needed it and was appreciative of kindnesses people showed
Somewhat shy, it wasn't widely known that
he sang and played the guitar. He had a soft, true, melodious
voice. People also enjoyed his laugh. It was said that when
Tony laughed, the whole room laughed.
Tony is survived by his father Robert Lester, his mother,
Lucille Richardson of Oregon and his brother Bill.
Above all, people wanted Tony to be remembered as a caring
man with a good soul whose warmth and compassion touched their
lives. He will be missed.
Simon Taylor's caricature
captures Tony's essence.
Charlie Edmondson Passes
Charles (Charlie) Arthur Edmondson, 85,
passed away peacefully at his home in Nipomo, California on
Wednesday, September 27, 2000 with loving family members by
his side. He was born in Bradford, Yorkshire, England, July
17, 1915. He emigrated to the United States in 1949 with his
wife Betty (Skirrow) Edmondson (who preceded him in death
in 1968), and three children. Charles became a United States
citizen in 1958. He leaves behind his wife Barbara Ann Edmondson,
two sons, Andrew John (Boulder, Colorado), Paul Robert (Santa
Maria) and two daughters Pamela Mary Lettieri/Brown (California
Valley) and Penny Hanstad (Chino Hills), ten grandchildren
and two great-grandchildren. He has four surviving sisters-Stella
Morgan, Laura Pickels, Minnie Wilson, Margaret Pierce-Carey-and
one brother, George Edmondson all living in England and one
cousin, Jack Robinson (San Diego) as well as nieces and nephews
in England, Australia and Dubai.
He received his Electrical Engineering
degree from the University of Leeds, England, worked for the
British Post Office Telephone Company from 1937 to 1949, General
Telephone Company in Santa Monica from 1949 to 1959, ITT-Kellogg,
FEC/ITT, SAMTO at Vandenberg Air Force Base from 1959 to 1972
where he was directly involved in engineering, design, installation
and implementation of Communication Systems required to support
the needs of the United States Air Force, Western Test Range.
During his time at Vandenberg he received numerous accommodations
for his work. After his departure from Vandenberg he worked
in Spain and Jordan for ITT until 1979, then for The Aerospace
Corporation until 1986. From 1986 to 1990 he was a private
consultant in the communication world. He was never out of
work from 1937 until his retirement in 1990. He and his first
wife Betty owned and operated the Red Viking restaurant in
Buellton from 1962 to 1968.
He served in the Royal Air Force in Great Britain from 1939
to 1941. He was the manager of the Irish National Greyhound
(motorcycle racing) Team in 19 5 1. He was actively involved
with the Boy Scouts of America in Topanga, Ca. from 1953 to
1958. He was Chairman of the North America Rugby Football
League in 1959. He was a Trustee of the PTA in Topanga from
1959 to 1960. He was a member of the Board of Directors for
the Missile Space Recreation Association on Vandenberg AFB
from 1965 to 1970 and also served as President and Vice President
of the MSRA from 1968 to 1970. He owned and operated The Cedars
Lodge in Coffee Creek, California from 1987 to 1996. He was
active in the Central Coast Salmon Enhancement Program in
1990, San Luis Obispo Railroad Centennial in 1990 and the
Dana Adobe Restoration Project in Nipomo from 1999 to 2000.
Charles was a world traveler and to celebrate his final journey,
at 12 noon on October 28, 2000, there will be a Barbecue Celebration
for friends and family at the Los Alamos County Park in Santa
Barbara County. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you
make contributions to your favorite charity in his name. Cremation
was requested with the cremains to be scattered at sea.