The Early Years

If you browse through the Mehan family album you'll find a collection of photographs of a 1916 Studebaker Touring Car. By appearances, the car is loaded for serious traveling. Bulging canvas bags slouch in the recess of a front fender. Tool boxes and milk cans are tied to the running boards, and a canvas duffel dangles over the side, rendering the comical impression she needs counter-weights to hold her down. The milk cans presumably bear vital fluids, water and fuel needed to fulfill the driver's aspirations of coaxing the old jalopy from Philadelphia to Los Angeles.

Several days before the Studebaker photos were taken, a man by the name of Doug Dorse pulled out of Piqua, Ohio with three of his four sisters. They also were California bound, traveling in a 1920 Buick Touring Car they affectionately referred to as, "the machine". Going was rough for Doug and his sibling entourage and about halfway to California the Buick broke down.

The three men from Philadelphia happened upon young Doug Dorse with three attractive women gathered around the stricken machine. An axle had broken. The owner of the Studebaker drove back to the nearest town and returned with parts for the Buick. Then, sending his two impatient traveling companions on ahead, he stayed behind to help Doug with repairs.

Instead of waiting for the owner of the Studebaker to catch up as planned, the two men sold the car in the next town. The Good Samaritan it turned out was no pushover. He tracked the scoundrels down and after some gunplay, a mistake, on the part of the thieves, and a good cuffing, deliberate, on the part of the up-to-now good natured Philadelphian, he recovered his money and hitched a ride on to California with the Dorse family.

Though he had lost his car, fate has a way of altering our lives in unexpected ways. One of the sisters, Winifred, became fast friends with the good hearted newest member of their troupe. Philip Augustus Mehan, Sr. and Winifred Catherine Dorse, my Father and Mother, would spend the rest of their lives together. Soon after arriving in California my parents were married and settled in Gardena.

I was born September 19, 1924, at the Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles. About that time, my father took a job with The Edison Company working on the Big Creek Project in Sierra National Forest. Soon after I was born, we moved to the Big Creek area where we lived until I was twelve. During our years in the mountains, my sister Lucille and my brother Ralph were born. In 1936, we returned to Gardena, where, several years later the family was complete with the addition of my youngest sister Patricia.

I was truly blessed in the early years of my life with a wonderful family. My mother was a spirited woman up to the day she died. Though stricken with ovarian cancer when around seventy years of age, she continued to be active until she passed away in 1980. My father, a carpenter by trade and a dedicated family man, worked very hard most his life. He never remarried and was 90-years old when he passed away in 1986.

Stories of Philip A. Mehan - Written by Scott Dawes © 2005-2009