My brother the architect, Bill Hutchason, passed on through a while back at his home in Rancho Mirage, CA. His beautiful daughter the artist, Lesley, was by his side as he peacefully set sail and drifted off. His obit says he was a talented painter, pilot, and yachtsman. Ol’ Handy Hands Hutch put up his own house, using pre-fab materials, after serving in the USNAF during WWII.
When he was a boy his stepdad, Commodore Merrick of the Arrowhead Lake Yacht Club, taught him the ropes of sailing. He delighted in racing fellow daredevil skipper Bill Beedle, aka William Holden.
When I was a wee lad I lived next door to my favorite L.A. eatery, The Tam O’Shanter Inn, est. 1926. Many’s the day I saw Victor McLaglen downing hearty breakfasts there with his motorcycle troupe, after rigorous rideabouts in nearby Griffith Park. Babs and I dine there every visit to La La Land. Great grub, great grog, great garb, by gar. Love the saucy, kilted waitresses, don’t we, Babs? Babs? Oh Babs? Heh, heh. Anyway, Bro’ Bill the architect re-designed the Tam, adding the Bonnie Prince Charlie room and such.
This is fitting and proper, since Bill and I are far-flung members of the McHutchason Clan. Oh, how I miss family Christmas eves at Bill and Polly’s warm home with the big, sparkling tree. Bill wore red Tartan Trousers, and he got the party into high gear pronto, you bet, with his dangerous egg nogs. His secret ingredient? Love. Bill, you had a good, long life. I’m proud of you.
Alas, m’lad! The McHutchason Clan is dwindlin’ to a mournful wail on the bagpipe. We share the same dad, Lowell Hutchason the dentist. We have separate but equal moms. Some folks might call us half-brothers. You’re my half brother, I’m your half brother—two halves make a whole. Bill, you’re my brother.
Another Scotsman, Angus Duncan McIntosh (left), sailed away recently. I’ve written about Angry before. Why Angry? One day after a disastrous 18 holes at Griffith Park, I proclaimed I was leaving him my clubs and giving up the game, and walked home. Angry was a strapping fellow. He could hit the ball a mile. He quietly told me, “Hutch, get in the car, or I’ll knock you out and dump your carcass on your porch. Get in!” I got in. Did you see Tiger Woods bend his four iron around a tree trunk at the Masters? Angry did the same at Griffith Park. After slicing a shot into the woods, he wrapped his Mashie Niblick around the closest tree—looked not unlike an iron pretzel. A gent drove up in a cart. “Hello! May I have that club? I can make an ashtray out of the head.” Angry turned lobster red. He quietly replied, “Gosh, mister, too bad you weren’t here sooner. I could have wrapped the club around your skull.” Oh, the gent got his ashtray. Caw, Caw! That’s how Angry and I greeted each other. Don’t ask me why. We scared a few kids that way, not to mention some crows.
One night he called. “Caw! Caw!” “What’s up?” A bunch of us gathered for a flick outing. We agreed to meet at the theatre. Ooops! We changed our minds and went to another theatre. No cell phones back then. Angry was on his own. Later, he reported, he went to the designated movie house. Not finding us outside, he looked for us inside. He walked up and down the aisles, softly calling Caw! Caw! —Caw! A child cried. A woman gathered her purse. A voice in the dark. “Aw, shaddup, ya drunk!”
Angry played Bing Crosby’s son in a flick. He worked with Elvis in “Stay Away Joe”. I was up for a lead in an epic titled “How To Seduce a Woman”. I didn’t rightly see myself in the role. I told the producer I knew just the fellow he was looking for. Angry Duncan got the part, and the rest is history. On a whim, a couple of days after he died, I dialed his phone number. I heard Angry’s cheery voice telling me he was out and to leave a message. I did. “Angus! We all sure miss you, ya big lug, warts and all. And—oh yeah—Caw!
Another wonderful man I miss is stuntman par excellence Jack Williams. We fought side-by-side in the Philippine jungle in Sam Fuller’s war saga “Merrill’s Marauders”. We fought to make the world safe for Democracy. During the shoot we established a permanent floating Hearts game in the boonies. Very educational. Jack gently relieved me of all my meal money. This was ok, because I played a starving dogface, Chowhound. Jack doubled many actors and died many times. I died but once and was promptly taken off salary. Jack loaned me some bread—only fair.
After our honorable discharges we journeyed to Hong Kong to see what we could see. One night we hired two rickshaws and raced down the main drag. My driver sprained his fetlock, and we lost by half a shaw.
Boyd Magers tells me that after Jack made successful horsefalls, he’d leap up, arms raised, and announce “Never touched me!” Never touched me? Jack Williams, you touched everyone lucky to know you.
New Year’s eves ain’t the same without Guy Lombardo and Nelson Eddy. The New Year’s Rose Parade ain’t the same without Iron Eyes Cody. Year by year ol’ Iron Eyes slumped more and more in his saddle. He looked like “End of the Trail”. Then, he rode a mustang, a Ford Mustang. Babs and I rode with him one night in a limo to the Gene Autry Museum. He brought a long, cylindrical leather carrying bag. We reckoned it was some sort of Tribal drum. He unfurled it. A feathered flag? No. His head dress. He slickered us. Long ago, he reinvented himself. He figured when the legend’s more interesting than the truth, live the legend. I admired his kindly nature. He had time for everyone. You’d ask him a question and sit patiently while he went into his spiel by rote. Sometimes, he’d actually answer your question. Worked with Cody once on a “Sweet Toes”. He gave me his book on Indian sign language. Still have it. Years later, in a scene with Eddie Little Sky, I put some of Iron’s sign language to use. “How’d I do, Eddie?” “Swell! You told me you wanted a medium pepperoni pizza—hold the anchovy.”