Sunday, November 10, 2002

Lookout History

I received a phone call several weeks ago from Avice Nolan. She was
excited to have seen the newspaper article in the Tribune about Hi
Mountain Lookout, telling me that her stepfather and mother had staffed
the lookout station in 1942, and she had found some old photos of Hi
Mountain lookout and the surrounding viewpoints in her photo album (they
are probably from the 1970’s, because Lopez Lake is in one of the
photographs- I will be making copies of the photos).
Yesterday, 11/9, I stopped by Avice’s trailor park residence in SLO to
talk with her about her recollections. She is a vibrant, talkative 80
year old woman with flaming red hair, raised five children, and is the
keeper of memories for her family, with numerous photographs framed and
in photo albums at her home. She was pleased to be able to tell me more
of what she knew about the lookout history and to show me the photos.
Avice has an interesting history herself…she was originally an Indiana
farmgirl, danced with the soldiers from Camp San Luis during the war at
the USO in SLO, was married twice to military men who both died in
aircraft crashes, and for a period of time lived on a turkey ranch at
Pozo in the early 1950’s.
Avice’s stepfather and mother Elmer and Goldie Thornton apparently
staffed the lookout during World War ||, sometime around 1941-42, as a
vantage point to watch the coast for possible enemy submarines and
aircraft. Although I was somewhat unsure at first if it was really the
Hi Mountain site, she says it had to be a lookout with a view of the
coast and remembers the access was out of Pozo.
Elmer was a foreman of Peerless Bakery in SLO on Higuera St., having
arrived from Indiana in Jan., 1941. Avice’s mother once became very ill
while stationed at the lookout and was brought down by horseback to get
her to medical care (maybe the road at times got bad for vehicles back
then too!). Anyway, this was interesting history and perhaps we can find
out more…records on file somewhere from the war years? I would
appreciate more help from anyone interested in uncovering more early
history of Hi Mountain Lookout. There must be more folks out there who
could be interviewed and records somewhere in storage, waiting to be
Steve Schubert