Music, art, and the magic of the Mojave 

Hartley Elsworth Beeks was born on May 9th, 1935 and raised in El Monte, CA. He lost his dad when he was only 14. His dad was riding a bike while on patrol as an air raid warden when he had a heart attack.

Hart was 19 when he was drafted into the army. His only tough time was when the troop carrier over turned. Once it was up righted they were ordered back on, he refused, which earned him 2 months of KP. The rest of the tour of duty was spent wandering around in Italy, France and Germany.

Hart was discharged in 1956 and he used his mustering out pay to buy a 1957 Ford convertible which caught my attention at “Bill’s Drive In” in El Monte. I was in my ‘49 Chevy convertible with Lori riding shotgun in her car seat. A few weeks later I ran into him at a party (I was stalking him). We danced and flirted all night. I gave him my number and the honest man you all know he was said “I’m not working and have no money for dating”. I was working at May Co in L.A. in the traffic department which handled all truck and rail merchandise. My boss got him a job loading and unloading trucks. So we got to date! Then a friend of Yaya and Papa’s got him a better paying job loading gasoline tanker trucks for Standard Oil. Both of these jobs were hard and dangerous. In the meantime, we were seeing each other as much as possible. I almost forgot his job as a bartender! White shirt, bow tie and quick to reach across the bar with his zippo lighter when a gal pulled out a cigarette.

Finally, in 1958 a good buddy of his who worked for TPL Jet Propulsion Lab got him into Autonetics in Anaheim, a supplier of air craft parts. With no college degree he became an engineer. So now with a job in 1959 he asked me to marry him. This man not only took on a wife but a young daughter who he treated as his very own and soon after legally adopted. Soon to follow was a son. We bought a home in Rolling Heights. Life was perfect. Hart wanted a better place to raise his family so we sold and bought a place in Norco “Cowtown USA”. Kids in 4H,  Butch in baseball, Lori running barrels on her hourse. Hart became his son’s cheerleader as he pitched games in little league. Hart became active in 4H. In the middle of all this, a surprise! A baby girl. Once again, life is perfect.

Lay offs started and Hart lost his job. We reluctantly sold our home in Norco and moved across the river to Mira Loma. At a little league game Hart met a fellow who owned a dry wall company and offered Hart a job running a spray rig. The boss loved Hart and his work ethic. We remodeled the new home with a new kitchen and turned the carport into a room for Butch. Hart built fences for Cathryn’s horse and put in a pool. Life was back to being great. In the 80’s construction took a nose dive and since we had bought 10 acres in the Kings Canyon area of Lancaster, we again sold and began developing that property.  Hart was looking for work but times were hard. He put a resume in at Rockwell in Palmdale and a long lost manager at Autonetcis who was now a big shot hired Hart with full benefits, as Autonetics was bought out by Rockwell. Many of his peers were so glad to see him. He and his brother in law Carl Munz put in a 9 hole golf course and we had lots of parties and fun times living in such a beautiful place. Again, life was good. In 1988 hart suffered a heart attack. We thought we’d lost him. Lots of bumps in the road health wise but this guy took it all in stride. Soon after he retired he and Carl had many crazy projects. A bird aviary that took months and many laughs. Then a flag pole installation on our property which almost broke my leg when they told me “just hold the rope and pull when we tell you”.

So our life went on. Of course by then it was just the 2 of us. Hart said the 10 acres was too much so we uprooted again and moved here to Lucerne Valley. Hart worked like a mad man. Rail road ties, planting trees, putting in water lines. So many projects and he loved every minute of it. He was always at my side helping me with some of my crazy ideas.

In 2007 he began having heart rhythm problems so he had an ICD implant and like the energizer bunny, he was good to go once again. On the first day of Spring 2014, Hart had a stroke. Days in the hospital and days in rehab. Again he came thru it with a little loss of things that were once so easy for him. He never got angry when his memory failed him. He took it all in stride.

This man loved and worried about his family. Loved parties with you all. Just like this one. So be sure and play “get rid of your cards” just like he was here. He is looking in on all of us right now and saying “I went out just like Sinatra. I did it my way.”

Written and read by Carole Beeks in June 2021

Hartley Elsworth Beeks  5/9/1935 – 12/12/19