Unsupervised Child & the L.A. City Cop

The Menace: Cultipacker Farm Equipment

As farm children, my six siblings and I played with little supervision, and escaped more than a few near-disasters. … I did nearly die—twice—when my father once ran over me. I was four years old. We were on the way home in our old truck when my dad decided to stop in at a neighboring farm to retrieve the cultipacker he had loaned them. A cultipacker is a heavy iron piece of farm equipment that is pulled behind a tractor, to crush dirt clods and smooth the fields for planting seeds. Daddy secured the machinery to the hitch on the truck and we took off.

When we reached the long driveway to the house, we kids asked if we could get off the flatbed of the truck and run behind the vehicles for the rest of the way home. Running behind anything was always great fun. The other kids had climbed down and gotten clear, but my father started to drive off while I was still down in the open space between the truck and the cultipacker, hidden from his view. Fortunately there were potholes in that country road and as the heavy iron spikes caught me up I was pulled around and crushed down into an especially large hole. The spikes punctured the back of my skull, severed my left ear, and embedded chunks of dry earth and gravel into my head and back. The other kids were screaming and yelling. Daddy stopped the truck and jumped out to see what all the commotion was about. Horrified, he pulled me out from under the blades and ran to the house, his entire front becoming drenched in blood. He yelled for my older sister, Lorraine, to get the car, and we three sped to the hospital. … I also had a brain concussion and was not expected to survive.

The first repercussion of this accident surfaced 30 years later when I was dating Jim Witowski, a Los Angeles policeman. After a series of broken dates, when he called again to say, “something has come up,” I drove 20 miles in pouring rain, talked my way into his gated apartment building, and surprised him with another woman. Furious and humiliated, I cried my way back home.

“Jim thinks he’s so hot because he’s a cop. I’ll show him—I’ll become a cop too!”

I passed the Long Beach City written test with a 98% score and, when told I could not become a policewoman with one partially deaf ear, I checked myself into Long Beach Memorial Hospital for surgery to see if my hearing could be restored. After the 4-hour operation the surgeon told me there was bone disintegration going on behind the scar tissue that had grown up around the stitches. That in less than a year, without this operation, I would be dead.

I also changed my mind when I questioned a policeman at a corner while waiting for a traffic light to change. He said, “You look like a nice lady, Patricia. Believe me, you don’t want to become a cop. Dealing with the seamy side of society every day, you’ll soon lose that pretty smile.”

(Excerpted from an upcoming memoir for grandchildren.)


Grandchildren, Grace and Zack, in the bird’s nest sculpture in the garden at the Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History.

My Uncle Ted

Uncle Ted Hamilton on his big tractor.

Uncle Ted Hamilton on his big tractor. His crutch is barely visible on the ledge by his right leg.

My father and his four brothers were big, powerful men, with barrel chests and meaty hands—doing hard, physical labor every day of their lives. They were generally a cheerful lot and there would be lots of slapping-back jokes, raucous laughter, and one-up-man-ship at a big family reunion, usually each 4th of July.

HAMILTON, Ted copyUncle Ted was my favorite. He too had a powerful upper body from hoisting himself up to run the big land leveling tractors we called turnopoles, but his legs were wasted from polio, and he always sat quietly, a little apart, his two wooden crutches crossed on the floor beside him. He listened to the male chest beating with an enigmatic smile that amused me. We got along fine.

At mealtime, I hurried to the table to claim the chair beside him. Uncle Ted had a habit of separating each portion of food on his plate so a helping of fried chicken would not touch the barbecued beans, and neither would infringe on the space occupied by his green beans, nor that of the corn on the cob. I organized the smaller portions accordingly on my plate and we ate in a kind of rhythm. When he ate a spoonful of peas, I ate a spoonful of peas, and so on.

turnopole scraper

Tournapull, made by the R.G LeTourneau Co. 1950s It had an engine in the front and another in the back. Only a few were made for land leveling for farming and highways.

Excerpt from my memoir, to be released Fall of 2015.

Leaving Eden (excerpt from Guided Autobiography)

Patricia Hamilton, age 4.

On the move, somewhere in California, 1950.

“Leaving Eden” – my first story for a Guided Autobiography webinar I started tonight. Joyce Krieg and I are taking it together. I need the class for a kick in the butt to meet my goal of finishing my memoir. We also are incorporating it into Park Place Publications services. It’s an amazing process where you write about your life in different themes. Tonight’s was “A Major Branching Point,” when life took a major turn that changed everything. I only needed two pages but couldn’t stop writing – still unfinished at five pages. Our Instructor, Cheryl Svensson, is a very good teacher and I’m looking forward to seven more classes with her.

Here’s an excerpt and I would greatly appreciate some feedback (professional writers attribute their success to their critique groups!):

Story 1—Branching Points that Changed my Life—Leaving Eden

California was an early Eden for me, an unending life of carefree exploration and discovery, idyllic in nature—I was always happy, always confident, never afraid—as long as I steered clear of discipline, which constricted my mind and spirit, and made me powerless in my physical being to do anything but run away.

A native Californian, I was born in Cedarville, Surprise Valley, and with my family (four brothers, two sisters) moved frequently—up and down the Central Valley, from Stockton to San Joaquin, with a couple of short stays in the Gold Country. My father worked for wages, mostly on dairy farms. At one time he supervised a crew of inmates to manage the vegetable farm at the California Mental Hospital in Stockton; another time he ran a crew that picked cotton on my Uncle Leo’s 1000-acre farm in Madera. His dream was to have a big family farm like Leo, his oldest brother, with lots of children to help him run it.

I had three little brothers to play with and lead around. When I was seven we moved to the Dixieland section of Madera. Edward was five, Michael was four, and Robert was three. My father didn’t like nicknames and always called us by our full name, so we did the same. When my older cousin David visited, he recalls “a bunch of wild kids running loose.” The four of us were on our own, barely clothed in the heat of the valley, playing in the dirt or splashing in an irrigation ditch. That’s how it was. Mama and my two older sisters, Shirley and Lorraine, were mostly in the house, preparing homegrown food from scratch, washing clothes in the wringer washer to hang outside, ironing and mending by hand, and cleaning up after a passel of children. My mother did have a vegetable garden and she had outdoor cages for her singing canaries and budgies. Daddy, a big man, was always working, sometimes around the farm where we lived, but mostly away, only at home for meals and to read the paper in his big stuffed chair.

It was truly the Garden of Eden for us younger ones. The little boys (that’s how Shirley and I referred to them) and I swung from long ropes tied to the rafters in the hay barns; rode bareback over plowed fields on our horses, Queenie, the small, brown bay, and Trigger, the tall, golden stallion. We played lookout running along the rickety, narrow catwalk high up on the wood slat pump house, and got into as much mischief daily as we could. Shirley joined us in the evenings outside when we would hide behind the car under the yard light in the driveway and sneak up on feral cats trying to catch the moths attracted by the light. If we got lucky we could grab a kitten by the nape of the neck and hold on for a little while until it squirmed loose and scratched the heck out of our arms before fleeing into the shadows. (to be continued)

Journey Into the Past


I’m lying in my bed in Pacific Grove wondering what next week’s journey to Oregon will bring. Before I blow out the candle flickering on my nightstand I breathe deeply, trying to calm the anticipation I feel. This journey promises to be unique on many levels—a combination of people, places, and events that will encompass the whole spectrum of my life, and include all five influences that formed my personality over the past 68 years. When I mentioned my elaborate plan for writing my memoirs for my grandchildren, a psychologist friend said New York Times’ journalist David Brooks had just written that book, using the latest research in the social sciences, including the human genome project, neuroscience, and biopsychology. I bought his book, The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement, to learn how these five magic markers influence the making of my personality. I’ve set up this trip to aid in my search.

  1. DNA— How am I like my ancestors? What traits, tendencies, and skills did I inherit from the preacher, the physician, the slave-owner, and my farmer father; from the teacher, the nurse, the socialite, and my homemaker mother? I’ll be sharing ancestor photos and information with cousin June in Stockton, then meeting a stranger in Corvallis who used a DNA swab to find me and who raises the question of my Hamilton heritage.
  2. My family of origin—How has growing up with each of my siblings influenced my personality? What did I get from our bi-polar Daddy and our sweet Mama? I’ll be attending a gathering in Milwaukie with my four remaining siblings.
  3. The cultures I’ve lived in—How have my experiences in the different places I lived in my first 18 years influenced my life choices? I’ll revisit Molalla, still home to the Buckaroos Rodeo, a farm town of 3,000 where we landed after what we wryly refer to as the “Hamilton Trek,” a three-year period in which we moved ten times.
  4. Education—I’ll be attending my 50th Molalla Union High School reunion at a classmate’s forest home on the Molalla River.
  5. Reflection—I’m booked for three days of silence at A Quiet Place.com, a retreat in the parental farmhouse of Linda Olsen my best friend at MUHS.

This will be my first trip in my newly acquired Ford E150 conversion van, outfitted like my own home in miniature: cushy bed with sateen comforter and plush pillows, kitchen-in-a-box with propane stove on the top, and of course the requisite porta-potty, disguised as extra seating by a crocheted cozy from niece Kathy. I’ll be camping in state parks by myself for six nights.

With David Brooks at the Carmel Authors & Ideas Festival

With David Brooks at the Carmel Authors & Ideas Festival


The Living and the Dead–El Carmelo Cemetery Tour 2013

First Annual El Carmelo Cemetery and Little Chapel Tour 2013

Pacific Grove historian, and my neighbor, Don Beals, with Lavinia Waterhouse self-portrait

Don Beals, Pacific Grove historian and my neighbor, with Lavinia Waterhouse self-portrait and cemetery tour participant.

Although I invited them, no ghostly spirits–friendly or otherwise–showed up to participate that day. We still had a good time among the pines, with the deer and the birds. The Little Chapel (available to rent for special events) provided a sumptuous buffet, coffee and other beverages. About thirty people meandered among the tombstones and markers on a perfectly sunny day. Don Beals prepared a walking map handout of notable PG inhabitants, put orange cone markers at their gravesites, and gave a personally guided tour to many. I assisted him and answered questions about my Gale family members buried in the pioneer section in 1892. Near her grave, Don set up an easel with the self-portrait by Lavinia Waterhouse, which is normally on display at Ketchum’s Barn, and gave a little talk. Plans are underway to develop a Living History persona of Lavinia—and other interesting pioneers—to appear at the 2014 tour; which may entice a few spirits to liven things up for everyone!

Álamos Book Fair 2-20-2013

Welcome to the



4—6 PM at the Hotel Colonial, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico

Thank you all for coming today!

JANET AND KELLEY, of the Hotel Colonial, Hosts for Alamos Book Fair 2013.

JANET AND KELLEY, of the Hotel Colonial, Hosts for Alamos Book Fair 2013.


PATRICIA HAMILTON, emcee today and publisher of “Our Stories of Alamos, A Pueblo Magico.”



The Making of

“Our Stories of Alamos, a Pueblo Magíco”


In Appreciation for an Alamos Woman with a dream that grew into a book!

In Appreciation for an Alamos Woman with a dream that grew into a book!


Joan Winderman had a dream to make known the stories of the fascinating women of Alamos – which led to the publication of “Our Stories of Alamos, a Pueblo Magico.” With pleasure we also acknowledge her dogged dedication to collecting these stories. I’m sure many of you can recall your own story of that! We know you love and collect books, Joan, so please accept this 500 Peso Gift Certificate to Kathy’s Korner Book Salon as a token of our appreciation.

I also acknowledge the contributions of Donna Love – who got the book rolling with a writing class for 25 local women and interfaced with other writers throughout — and Bernadette McAllister for photographs, and for the support of Betsy Maier.

Lorna Acosta, Los Amigos de Educación and Kathy's Korner Book Salon.

LORNA ACOSTA, Los Amigos de Educación and Kathy’s Korner Book Salon.

Lorna Acosta created Kathy’s Korner Book Salon to honor her sister’s memory, and it was become a repository of an amazing number of books, donated and for sale, with the ambiance of the independent bookstore which has all but disappeared in America. It is also the headquarters for Los Amigos de Educación, which provides scholarships for further education to Alamos youth. With pleasure we acknowledge Lorna’s contribution to literacy and education, and gift her the net proceeds of $500 U.S., from the sale of the first printing of “Our Stories of Alamos.” PLUS Los Amigos’ ownership of all native book files for future printings and updates and the proceeds thereof. I offer my services to transfer all Amazon.com files.

Linda Adams, Los Amigos de Educación and Kathy's Korner Book Salon.

LINDA ADAMS, Los Amigos de Educación and Kathy’s Korner Book Salon.

Linda Adams has been a tremendous help to Lorna and Kathy’s Korner and is available next door with name tags for the women writers so we can further identify each other and have our books autographed by everyone present. I’m looking forward to meeting the women writers and thanking them in person for their contribution—and have them autograph my book! There is also a sign-up sheet for any woman who may want to contribute her story for a possible second edition. Joan Winderman will also be helping with the autograph party next door. Thanks also to Louise McPherson, another Los Amigos board member, and her partner, Rob, for balloons and set-up.

43 Alamenses attended.

43 Alamenses attended the 2013 Alamos Book Fair at the Hotel Colonial. Chairs provided by Casa de Los Tesoros Hotel.

Los Amigos de Educación dignitaries, Lorna Acosta and Michelee Cabot, sat at the front.

Los Amigos de Educación board members, LORNA ACOSTA and MICHELEE CABOT sat at the front of the Hotel Colonial courtyard.

Michelee and Hal Cabot, serving refreshments.

HAL AND MICHELEE CABOT volunteer to serve refreshments, which were provided by Devorah, Donna, Cherisse, Joan, and Teresita’s Panadería.

A view from the back of the room.

We’ll take a short break. Please help yourself to the food and enjoy some water or wine. Next, I’ll describe the self-publishing sequence of “Our Stories” by way of illustrating to you the steps required should you be interested in self-publishing a book through Amazon.com and CreateSpace print-on-demand or e-book service. Following, I will introduce today’s authors who will speak about the writing experience. Books for sale benefit Los Amigos de Educación.




There are only two main questions an author must answer to produce a successful book:

Who is your audience? How will you reach them?

With this book we identified the audience as the people of Alamos and we would reach them by mouth and through Alamos Notes. And if it got wider distribution, so much the better. We would not be investing a large amount of money, and believed we could recoup our investment.


IDEA: Author – Joan Winderman: An idea whose time had come: lunch at Teresita’s March 30, 2011 Joan mentioned her idea of making known how special the women of Alamos are, and five of us thought it was a great idea too. We invested our time and money to make it happen today.

TEXT: Writers – the women of Alamos wrote their stories (the most amazing feat of all, I think) Editors – our content editor and interface with the writers was Donna Love; a professional editor was hired for the final line edit.

GRAHICS: Photographers: myself, Joan, and Bernadette submitted a variety of photos of Alamos to choose from.

As stories and photos came in, I put up this blog to show our progress and keep us inspired.


This is my main work–making text and graphics look good and make sense: form and function.

I examined the stories, their length, etc. and decided the best format would be to put them in alphabetical order and use a maximum of two pages per story.

If they didn’t fill two pages and there was a big white space left, I combed the photos to find one that illustrated their story, and ultimately to provide a variety of photos that would showcase the essence of Alamos, its people, plants, animals, architecture, ambiance, festivals, etc.

Sample pages and covers were prepared for the committee, reviewed, and refined to what you see today.

I assigned an ISBN and purchased a barcode for the back cover.


PDF files were prepared to spec and uploaded in November to my account on CreateSpace.com, the print-on-demand arm of Amazon.com and were immediately for sale worldwide.

We ordered 225 books printed and sent to Joan in Tucson and delivered by Joan, Lorna, and Louise McPherson to Alamos in time for Christmas—to give a free book to each of the women writers, and for sales to others. We were able to completely recover our initial investment of $1700 by January 15.


Our only marketing so far has been by word of mouth and exposure at Kathy’s Korner. Donna Love, an entertaining writer, and one of the authors who will speak today and has books for sale, is also a good book publicist. Jim Swickard of Hacienda de los Santos gave Donna contact information for national tourist related associations. Those letters and requests will go out soon. If you have any influence or know who Lorna might contact for bulk sales (the ideal way to sell a book, along with having a niche market), please let her know.



Please welcome five of our local authors:

Robin Ellis, will speak about writing her book while pregnant and with breast cancer, “She’s Alright.”



Emily Preece, author of personal Alamos stories, “Over These Cobblestones.”



Donna Love, who brings four books to the table: “Tell Me a Story,” “To Make the House Complete,” “Walking for Our Lives,” and “Driving for Walking for Our Lives.”



Robert Cabot, author of several books, one of which is nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.



Leila Gillette, who wrote and illustrated “Stately Homes of Alamos.”



These local authors will be available afterwards for your questions and to sell books. A portion of today’s sales goes to Los Amigos de Educación, so I urge you to purchase at least one book from each author if you can! They will be happy to autograph books for you. Books are also available for purchase at Kathy’s Korner Book Salon – proceeds to Los Amigos de Educación.

Books are passed around. Here, Steven Foster examines "Walking for Our Lives."

Books are passed around during each author’s talk. Here, STEVEN FOSTER examines “Walking for Our Lives.”

Eat! Drink! Be Merry! Buy Books and Support the Youth of Alamos!

We published this book and created this event around it, to bring the people of Alamos together in community and with an appreciation of our strengths and diversity. I say, “Well done, Alamos!” Today’s event raised money for two scholarships for the youth of Alamos!

After the party's over...

After the party’s over… Welcome to Hotel Colonial.

Photographs by Joan Gould Winderman and Patricia Hamilton.