Mountain Views News, Sierra Madre Edition [Pasadena] Saturday, August 25, 2018

MVNews this week:  Page A:3


Mountain View News Saturday, August 25, 2018 

WALKING SIERRA MADRE... The Social Side By Deanne Davis

KATIE Tse..........This and That


OK, it’s hot, you’re tired of being hot, nothing tastes 
good, even chocolate, and you’re sick of nothing 
good to watch on TV. So! How about a rip-roaring 
true adventure tale. This story was written by my 
Dad, Kim Weed, pictured here in his Navy uniform 
about 1943; about his brother Harold, and this 
really happened, friends and neighbors! 

The Rattlesnake Bite

“In 1927, when my dad was just six, a farm laborer 
clearing brush out there in the wilds of Imperial 
Valley, was bitten by a diamondback rattlesnake. 
He was lying near death in the Holtville Hospital 
as staff members looked on helplessly, except for 
one doctor who was frantically telephoning every 
hospital in Imperial Valley, trying to locate some 
anti-venom, or Toxin-Anti-Toxin, as it was called 
in those days. There was none. The nearest vial was 
at the San Diego Zoo, more than a hundred miles 

 Obtaining a vial of anti-venom would be a piece of 
cake in this age of freeways, planes and helicopters, 
but this was 1927. No airplanes were available and 
the two-lane road from Holtville to San Diego was 
bad and downright dangerous along the fifty or so 
miles where it crossed the mountains, with long 
sections washed out, unimproved, graveled, and 
cut out of cliffs bottoming into canyons hundreds 
of feet below; little changed since stagecoaches 
crossed it two decades or so earlier with teams of 
eight and sometimes ten horses. This road was 
never attempted at night!

 Harold Weed, my dad’s big brother, was sixteen 
and a junior at Holtville High School. As the 
laborer grew weaker, it looked like just another day 
for Harold with late season football practice to look 
forward to, a string of cows to milk and the rest of 
his farm chores before he settled down to tackle his 
homework. But, plans were afoot to put another 
of Harold’s talents to use. He was also a hotshot 
motorcycle rider and had the fastest, according to 
him, motorcycle in all of Imperial Valley. He had 
salvaged a World War I vintage Harley-Davidson 
from a junk yard, lovingly tinkered and tuned it 
to near perfection, mechanically, though it was 
described as something of an eyesore otherwise. 
But, hey! When your engine purrs, who needs 

 Late that afternoon, desperate hospital officials 
went to Holtville High, pulled Harold out of his 
last class, grabbed this kid by the shoulder and said, 
“Harold, get on that motorcycle and ride like the 
wind. You’ve got to get to San Diego and pick up the 
serum. A man is dying and his life is in your hands!”

 Harold, burning with that thrill of high 
adventure ahead, and, being a true romantic, took 
the challenge! He listened to a few directions, after 
all, he hadn’t been to San Diego since he was five, 
kicked that Harley into life, rocked forward on the 
clutch and took off, burning rubber out of the high 
school parking lot!

 He stopped at the Weed Ranch for just a few 
minutes to tell his parents where he was going, 
topped off his tanks, threw a few tools and a tire 
pump into one saddle bag and a can of gasoline 
with a potato plugging the spout into the other, and 
took off in a cloud of dust. But in his haste, he left 
his leather jacket with gloves in the pocket hanging 
on the limb of a tree. A significant oversight.

 From there, Harold was on his own, full throttle 
through El Centro, on into the desert, past Coyote 
Falls, climbing through Devil’s Canyon with a red-
hot exhaust pipe, on through treacherous winding 
grades high into the mountains, then down the 
long descent into San Diego where the curator of 
reptiles for the zoo was anxiously awaiting him, vial 
in hand.

 Harold slowed down just long enough to secure 
the vial and started back, giving the smoking engine 
all it could take, but more than a little frightened 
now as it was getting cold and he had to cross those 
cursed mountains again, this time in the dark as his 
beloved Harley, alas, had no lights.

 It was deep dusk when he descended the 
treacherous Via Viajos Grade, but didn’t become 
dark until he was on the desert straight-away. There 
was no moon, but Harold managed to stay on the 
ribbon of narrow road, trusting to starlight as he 
pushed along at eighty where the road was paved.

 Bad luck struck before he reached El Centro, 
running over a piece of barbed wire, puncturing 
his rear tire. From there he had to stop every few 
minutes to pump up the tire but it soon became 
hopeless and the last few miles were run on the flat. 
Finally, he arrived at the hospital where everyone 
was anxiously awaiting him, having heard the 
roaring of his burnt-out muffler for miles. The tire 
was in shreds and Harold, in just shirtsleeves, was 
nearly frozen, having made the fastest trip ever 
recorded between the Imperial Valley and San 
Diego, a little under four hours!

 Yes, the man was saved, Harold was the town 
celebrity for a day, the Holtville Tribune gave him 
a front page write-up and the hospital staff were 
most appreciative and thankful. With gratitude in 
their hearts, they persuaded the high school to give 
Harold the following day off school as a reward for 
his heroism, saving a man’s life at considerable risk 
to his own. Harold later confided to his little brother, 
Kim, “I’ll tell ya, Kim, I thought I was gonna freeze 
to death! And if I didn’t freeze, I’d sure as hell ride 
right over a cliff and never get home again!”

 It’s going to cool off sometime, folks, I’m sure of 
it! If you want to read more of my Dad’s adventures, 
look on my book page.

 My book page: Deanne Davis 

Kindle books of all sorts and hardcover “Tablespoon 
of Love” are on there,

 as is “Star of Wonder.”

Star of Wonder the CD is now on TuneCore! Take 
a look!


 Follow me on Twitter, too!

I love writing for the paper! It’s 
a creative outlet that challenges 
me to come up with two written 
pages and an accompanying 
picture every week. There are 
weeks when ideas spill from my mind like water 
from a bucket! My fingers blaze over the keyboard 
in a thrilling burst of enthusiasm! 

 But this wasn’t one of those weeks. This was one 
of those weeks that I plied my husband and parents 
with the same nagging question they’ve grown 
accustomed to hearing. “Do you have any burning 
ideas for an article?” Sometimes they give me a 
great topic, but usually they pause before replying, 
“Nope.” It’s times like these when I turn to my one 
reliable source of unusual anecdotes --Phil.

 Phil is my dad’s cousin (I’ve never known what that 
makes me in relationship to him). You’ve seen the 
“Dos Equis” 
But in real 
life, Phil is 
“the most 
man in the 
world!” Phil 
never ceases to 
amaze me. In 
two deft moves, 
he can parallel 
park his whale 
of a Lincoln in 
a space barely 
big enough for 
a Mini Cooper. 
He’s a retired 
who paints, 
reproduced a 
Peruvian tapestry using wire mesh, and achieved 
proficiency in a second language in less than a 
month. He can join any conversation on any topic. 
When my family and I are pooped after four hours 
of eating and talking, Phil is just getting warmed 

 Of course, Phil’s had 80 years to grow into the 
diversely talented, charismatic individual that he is. 
However, those two conditions are usually mutually 
exclusive. You can either be charismatic or 80, but 
rarely is anyone both at the same time.

 One of my favorite Phil stories is his account of 
the kinkajou. (Bonus points for you if you know 
what a kinkajou is before reading further!) Phil and 
his wife lived in South Pasadena for many years. 
Over that time, they had many neighbors who 
owned exotic and unusual pets.

 Some pets are technically legal, but domestically 
impossible. Chinchillas, wolves, and boa 
constrictors fall under this category. Kinkajous are 
right up there with them. Somewhere between a 
monkey, bear, and raccoon, the kinkajou is a long, 
furry animal with a “prehensile tail.” (Ha ha! There’s 
a term to drop next time you want to impress 
someone!) This tail is used to grasp branches, gates, 
lamp posts, banisters, etc. One of Phil’s neighbors 
acquired a kinkajou, but sought to get rid of it after 
they became more familiar with its habits.

 Phil first encountered the neighborhood kinkajou 
one night when he felt something heavier than their 
cat walking on their bed. “Don’t move, Honey,” he 
said, “I think there’s something here with us.” It fled 
back out the French doors when Phil turned on the 
light. This went on for several nights. Once, they 
caught it eating cigarettes from his wife’s purse. The 
next night, it chewed a hole through her purse to 
get to her pack of Marlborough’s. 

 Phil finally got a picture of the thing and described 
it to someone from the L.A. Zoo, who confirmed 
that it was a kinkajou. Kinkajous are the original 
party animal, 
literally. They 
love tobacco 
and alcohol. 
They’re only 
active at night, 
and sleep for 
the rest of the 
day. They 
could be in a 

smokes and 
booze, one of 
the kinkajous’ 
staples is ripe 
fruit. This 
might appeal 
to the owner 
who’d rather 
collect stale 
bananas than furnish their pet with Jack Daniels 
and Dunhill Ultras. However, just like the way 
too much fruit can send people dashing for the 
bathroom, kinkajous react in much the same way. 
Let’s just say keeping them is messy at best, and bio-
hazardous at worst.

 The kinkajou lived with Phil for a while. Then a 
10 year-old neighborhood boy showed an interest, 
so they gave it to him. Surprisingly, Phil never got 
a call from the boy’s parents. He must have been a 
very responsible kid.

 The kinkajou lived with the same owner for 
many years, and died at the ripe old age of 40. I 
asked Phil if the owner ever gave him cigarettes 
or beer. He didn’t know, but he said it stayed in 
the garage, which got hosed down every week. 
So we can surmise it ate plenty of bananas. I can 
imagine a “Dos Equis” commercial in which the 
most interesting man in the world says, “I don’t 
always drink beer. But when I do, I share it with my 
kinkajou.” Thus ends another one of Phil’s unusual 
stories. Until next time, “Stay thirsty my friends!”

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