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Edward H. McDaniel 1879 – 1979

The Spirit of Tehachapi

 

February 15, 2020

Pat Gracey

I received a call from my good friend, Del Troy, who was looking for some specific information about a former San Canyon/ Tehachapi resident: Edward H. McDaniel. I had lots of information but did not have the specific facts for which she searched. We had a nice telephone conversation and since it was five years ago that I wrote about Ed, I'd like for you to meet a fine person who passed away some forty one years ago. He was a good man who was instrumental in helping Professor Orris Imhof institute the first High School for Tehachapi (Tehachapi Valley Union High School). Before that if you wanted your child to have an education beyond Eighth Grade the child would board in either Lancaster or Bakersfield to further their education. He still remains, to me, a very interesting bit of local history. –Pat Gracey

Ed McDaniel was a friend of my parents, Chauncey and Maude Davis. He and his family lived in Cameron Canyon for as long as I knew anything about him. I had heard that in his later years he lived somewhere in the Southland with his two daughters, twins, Lucy and Lucille. He lived to be ninty-nine-and-one-half years and I sang at his funeral. I sang, God Be With You 'til We Meet Again as requested by the family. On his tombstone it also says, "...until we meet again." It must have been his favorite song. He also had two sons; Bob and Jack. Bob, the eldest and Jack the youngest. Ed is buried in his own family cemetery in Cameron Canyon, The Whispering Pines Cemetery. He was a good man; different, very knowledgeable, quite frugal and a very kind person.

What a way to start an article! Letting one know the end, before the beginning. But, firstly, I want to add a bit more history to set the scene. I called Jean Lantz, a fellow writer and wife of the legendary retired grade school teacher, Dae Lantz. The Lantzs' , having purchased the old "Flint" ILES property, were next door neighbors to the McDaniels' Cameron Canyon farm.

Jean spoke of Ed as a dear friend and valued advisor. He would tell her of some possible dangers to watch for in country living such as rattle snakes, insects and the sometime sudden flash floods and mud slides. When Jean and Dae's ten year old son died tragically, Ed offered space in his family cemetery so they could be near his grave. A good neighbor.

Ed's wife, also named Lucy, was very burdened with what they called rheumatism. She always walked with a cane and I never once saw her stand straight; always bent over. She was soft spoken and very much a lady. I never saw her wince from pain or complain but she must have hurt. Also, extremely hard of hearing. Ed had learned to pitch his voice in a clear, high tenor-like tone which she could hear. Everyone else had to get very close to make themselves heard. She still held up her end of the farm work and did the canning and cooking.

Always, with an eye to education, Ed was an active member of the Tehachapi School Board, keeping abreast of the current issues in the City of Tehachapi. An interesting bit of information, unfolding from the earlier days tells us that long before the McDaniels came to Cameron Canyon his friend and future neighbor, Flint Iles, was instrumental in forming the Cameron School District in 1893. Electors of that day voted a bond, which was passed, and a school was built for sixteen pupils. Many years later, the school relocated in Oak Creek but closed for lack of pupils. The Cameron School District was suspended in 1930.

My father and Ed had some kind of project going in the early 1930s which involved working on the weekends. Our whole family went to their farm and we enjoyed wading in the year round stream that went past their house. One wide place was deep enough to "sort of" swim. We were always treated to a big mid-day meal eating vegetables and meat grown or raised on the farm. Sometimes he'd talk about certain ways of growing the produce we were eating and it made it so interesting.

I grew up in the era that when adults were talking we did not enter into the conversation but we did sit and listen. I was always amazed that when my father or mother would be engaged in conversation with Ed, he gave them his complete attention. Occasionally, he'd add, "Yes, yes," as if to assure them he was listening. When I (rarely) conversed with him, he gave me the same attention. I sure liked that.

Ed also was a traveling salesman, peddling his vegetables in his little Ford pickup and selling his produce on the streets of Tehachapi as well as in Mojave. Sometimes, his wife, Lucy, would accompany him and he'd leave her at our house to visit with my mother. It was on one of these visits that Mrs. McDaniel told Mom that her husband's grocery allowance to her was fourteen dollars per month. Now, this was about 1934; maybe 1935. They raised their meat, and canned their vegetable and fruits so the necessary items were few that were needed from the store, kerosene, flour, peanut butter, and a few other items. One month she bragged to Ed that she had only spent ten dollars that month. The next month, frugal Ed, only gave her ten dollars! She laughed as she told her story and said from then on she needed to spend a little more freely and use the full amount in the future. Ed – a good man – but one who figured if you watched the pennies, the dollars would take care of themselves.

Lucy, of the twins, used to tell me stories and play with me. I loved her "made up" stories. I was about six. She was of high school age and the twins were my sister's friends. Lucille sort of overlooked me but was kind. Later they both went to college and then, during World War II joined the military; Lucy in the Army as an officer and Lucille the Marines, known then as Women's Reserve, also as an officer. I don't know Lucille's specialty but Lucy became a nurse and specialized in Physical Therapy later in civilian life.

Ed was a frugal man and made every penny count, however he saw to it that each of his children went to college. Some years later I mentioned to Jack McDaniel that it was good of his Dad to send them all to college. Jack laughed a little and said, "Yes, he SENT us but we had to work our way through." It worked, for they all attended some college, I don't know how long. In that period of time, if one was a high school graduate, you were considered having accomplished something. Bob McDaniel later taught at Tehachapi High School.

After the kids were grown and out on their own, he and Lucy still lived in Cameron. The old house, that once had served as a Stage Stop in the early days, was finally replaced with another new home.

Ed, as some farmers did, sometimes used Strychnine to poison rodents and squirrels. One time, failing to put it where he usually kept it, he realized he didn't know just where it was. It worried him and he looked for it occasionally to no avail. One evening, after retiring, he experienced some indigestion. Knowing he had some stomach pills in his night stand he didn't bother to light the light and just reached in the bedside table drawer for the pill bottle. They were old pills so he wasn't surprised when the contents were in powder form. He assumed they had crystalized with age. Shaking some of the powder from the bottle he downed it and lay back waiting for it to work.

After experiencing the "first seizure" he told himself, "I've found the Strychnine!" He alerted his wife to go for help at a close by neighbor, a Mrs. Galloway. Ed and Lucy had no phone so she, with her crutches walked all the way in the dark to the Galloway place for help. Mrs. Galloway called her grandson, Ed Bowman who called Dr. Troy. He came to the McDaniels and treated Ed. In the meantime, he ate butter, then drank cooking oil trying to neutralize the contents in his stomach. He survived the ordeal.

Before Lucy had left for Mrs. Galloway's Ed asked her to pray with him, The 23rd Psalm, "The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want..." As I said at the beginning, he died at age ninty-nine-and-one-half years. He was a survivor. His daughter-in-law, Bob's wife, recited the 23rd Psalm at his graveside. The same prayer on the day of his funeral, that he and his wife had said on that fateful night.

As an adult, I used to see him around town still conversing energetically with the folk. I will always remember that highly spirited, slightly eccentric, former Tehachapi Valley resident.

 
 

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