William Bill Jacobson, a longtime resident of the Los Angeles suburb of Glendale who lives out his love of cowboys and trails in and around Paso Robles, made it clear that he would not tolerate this nonsense about hospital lines and hospitalization. In his conversation with Frank at the ranch, he made it clear that when the time came, he wanted me out of here and to have a party at the ranch. More cows, hummingbirds and ranches on his terms? – Then, no thanks, it’s time to get on your knees, make a fist and check everything. In the early evening of the 22nd. In February he lassoed the shooting star, perfectly content with life, and rode off into the sunset, smiling at the moon. He was 81 years old.
Helen, Bill’s twin sister, had taken to the wild winters and adventures on the prairies of Winnipeg, and it was here that the Canadian side of the family, Korochki, looked forward to regular visits from the larger-than-life uncle. Uncle Bill, whose heart stretches along the California coast, owns a laundromat in Burbank, at the end of Disney Studios street – an indication of the Hollywood spark in his personality. Bill was original and could easily have been a magical character on a Disney set, making an extraordinary moment appear out of nowhere. Л. L. Ron Hubbard knew better than anyone how to make ice cubes or how to hang a key on a bunch of keys (and he was often right). He was crazy in the kitchen, a culinary virtuoso who made every dish a sensation. A cracked or broken ceramic coffee cup could never be discarded because it was also his favorite, a cup that told a story. He built a dune buggy, ran his creation through the streets of Burbank and Glendale, impressed all the kids who rode in it and stopped at Baskin-Robbins.
Bill had a way of making the family reunion much more memorable. It was a sleeping uncle who missed his cousin John’s bar mitzvah (but arrived in time for dinner). He was the best babysitter. Just ask her cousins Sarah and Laney. When they were little, he liked to watch them in the park. Wake up, Uncle Bill! they demanded, tugging at his shirt. It’s time to go home! And the classic fish story: He opened the rod for little Lou’s birthday party in Winnipeg Beach. Here, Lou, let me show you how to pitch! It was a wonderful cast – one line, one rod, and what came out rippled into the depths of the harbor and swallowed it whole. And yet, despite these humorous moments, Bill was sincere and generous to the end. He was multifaceted in many ways and left a gold plaque in his memory, ranging from family and friends (and often mingling) to Bill! in the Cal Poly Rose Float Gang to his alma mater, always an ardent supporter.
Bill, son of Louis and Bona Jacobson, was born on the 8th. Born November 1939. He grew up on West Elm Avenue in Burbank – what could be more emblematic of the postwar San Fernando Valley? – where horses are still slaughtered, an area surrounded by pastoral splendor. Not far from there, his father and uncle Phil had a trucking business Jacobson Bros. on San Fernando Road in Glendale. For Bill, the three-acre backyard (most of which had been returned to Burbank) was a private playground that captured his imagination – the backyard of old trucks, or rather the grass between the debris – military toys like jeeps, semi-trucks and amphibious jeeps.
Neighbor David Banta, a mischievous and adventurous boy who drank root beer, forged a lifelong bond, and later many of the Banta children also had that special uncle who lit up their lives. Bill attended Burroughs High School and then studied animal science at Cal Poly Pomona before continuing his studies at Florida State University in Tallahassee. His journey took him to Australia in the 1960s, where he worked as a farmhand, a kind of rancher, to learn the trade. Our Billy Boy with the Texas hat has forged the strongest bonds of friendship. All roads led downhill, cows and horses colored his view. He took the old Wolseley and, in true Uncle Bill fashion, this Burbank fellow explored the wonders of Australia in British car glory. The ideas of how to turn the earth upside down are incomprehensible.
Fast forward a decade or so and Bill has his eye on a piece of land in a corner of San Luis Obispo County called Adelaide, next to an old stagecoach road that runs down from an abandoned mine where characters carved landscapes straight out of Steinbeck novels and where one Ignacy Jan Paderewski, Poland’s greatest pianist (yes, Poland’s real prime minister), once lived in the area and grew grapes. Uncle Bill has it all figured out. It fits perfectly. Between maintaining his washers and dryers and his real estate needs in Los Angeles (or in the living room of his apartment), his place in the golden plains of this country has taken shape. He had a joy in designing this building, this project. The land that nestled at the base of the mountain and stretched upward reflected deeply in his eyes as he turned his pickup around and drove out of the underground parking lot in Glendale, smiling, full of desire to get to his ranch.
The uncle’s role may be ambiguous, but Bill has made a serious business out of it by graciously renting out his Glendale salon for countless days and nights. He was difficult to deal with at times and of course we were also an incendiary mix that knew no boundaries, but taught us great life lessons. There was a time when her bathtub filled up with grapefruit sludge and orange peels – someone had misused the trash can. He called again, papers and envelopes flying in all directions on the dining room table, which was usually a cutting mess on the table. Our adventures include camping, dinosaur skeletons and tar pits, old steam locomotives at Griffith Park, movies, a soda and sandwich at Billies Deli, or maybe a submarine at Jamel’s.
Or, on a whim, he jokingly took his little niece Laura to look at the horses at the auction (Bill fell asleep again), and, somehow – sir, that little girl certainly wouldn’t hurt a pony! No, no, no, no, no. It’s okay. – Somehow, in the form of Uncle Bill, he finally bought the last available horse, McLeo Tony, and then – surprise! – the mare was pregnant. Cleo was born. Many horse names soon filled Bill’s lyrics like a country music song. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Our Uncle Bill – mentor, friend – rode off into the sunset on Monday night. A memorial service is planned.
Donations in memory of Bill to a charity of your choice are appreciated.
How do you load…
We’ll get through this together, Atascadero…