Summerhill 1: Ollie Haskell

In November I spoke with my niece and told her I’ve been telling my stories here. She immediately responded, “Write about Summerhill.” So I will.

Although I didn’t identify him as such, I mentioned Summerhill Day School director Oliver Haskell in a lengthy footnote in October. Ollie was an old friend whom I met when I sent my kids to his school in 1970.

That summer my then-husband and I were looking for a private school for his daughter from a previous marriage. She’d run away from her mother and we were in a custody battle for her and her two siblings. Starting with A in the phone book I called several schools only to be told they wanted a year’s tuition up front. When I got to S, I saw Summerhill. I was surprised and also confused, because I thought that was a school only in England. About a year before, I’d read A. S. Neill’s classic Summerhill: A Radical Approach to Child Rearing in which he explains how children can learn while not being compelled to attend class. When I called the school, despite its name, I didn’t know what to expect, especially about tuition. Ollie answered the phone. I told him, as I had the others, that we’d been advised by our attorney to place my stepdaughter in a private school away from our neighborhood in Van Nuys, to deter her mother from snatching her. Ollie agreed that we could pay at a rate that suited us.

By the end of summer my stepdaughter and I visited the school, which was holding a vacation session. It was on a large lot in North Hollywood on Vineland just south of the Los Angeles River. The “campus” consisted of Ollie’s one-story house and a barn and stable for three or so horses. Classes were held on the dirt in the open air. There was also vegetation and trees that the kids could explore. (During bad weather classes were held in Ollie’s house.) My stepdaughter immediately recognized the place. “My brother went here,” she said. Some years before, their mother had been concerned that he’d get in trouble during summer break and sent him there for at least one session. So we didn’t look any further, and filled out the paperwork.

Ollie Haskell

Summerhill Day School wouldn’t have existed if its founder hadn’t lived the life he did, so I’m taking space here, with research by my husband David Hughes, to explain who Ollie was. In Part 2 I’ll reminisce about the school itself.

Oliver Henry Haskell was born on October 9, 1908, in Thessaloniki (aka Salonika) in the region of Macedonia, the son of American Congregational missionaries.1 Other than a mention of being educated in Switzerland,2 Ollie’s story in the public record picks up at Pomona College from which he received a BA in 1931. In 1929, while at Pomona, he’d participated in a League of Nations “model assembly” of roleplaying at USC by reading an address (in German) originally given when Germany had been elected to the league three years before.3

China Aid

A fortnight before the 1929 stock market crash, on October 4, Ollie had left with nine other Pomona students on a year-long “oriental study expedition” to China, Hawai‘i, Japan, Korea, the Philippines, and Russia.4 Ollie was a replacement for Chinese graduate student Sam Lee who was unable to go, and Ollie’s area of study was to be labor conditions. The trip was thought to be “the first actual reciprocation by American students of similar action by Chinese student expeditions” to U.S. schools. The ten men were to write theses on their studies and contribute to a book.5 One of the party’s tasks was to aid an emissary of President Hoover in dispensing famine relief in China.6 In that regard Ollie spent time in the region that, a year later, would become the Japanese puppet state of Manchukuo in Manchuria.7 After his return, Ollie gave talks about his travels in the Soviet Union, notices for which take pains to remark on his impartiality.8 But in due time he would become involved with organizations that had alliances with the Soviet-friendly Communist Party in the U.S.

Metate Yearbook 1929
Page from The Metate, the Pomona College yearbook. Ollie appears as a member of the junior class in 1929 but wouldn’t graduate until 1931 due to his China expedition. (Click to enlarge)

By 1932 Ollie was doing graduate work at both Pomona College and an unnamed UC school.9 He also worked as a camp counselor in the late summer of 1931, drawing upon “extensive experience with boys of this age [6 to 8] for a number of summers at Lake Placid, New York.”10 That fall he worked at the Midnight Mission in Los Angeles.11 By February 1932 he was superintendent of the warehouse for the Associated Charities in Los Angeles, which provided food for two thousand families a day.12 (In later life Ollie became notorious for his dumpster diving in search of edible food thrown out by markets.)

Back to the Balkans

In the early summer of 1932 Ollie and two other Pomona College graduates, unable to find jobs, began panning for gold in San Gabriel Canyon and in Oregon.13 He returned from Oregon in August to be a camp counselor once again.14 Later that year he became business manager and interpreter for the Bulgarian Folk School of which his father Edward was director in Pordim, north central Bulgaria. The school was “for teaching Bulgarian farm boys and girls the art of homemaking and farming” as well as sanitation and hygiene to combat disease that killed children whose deaths comprised thirty percent of the country’s mortality rate.15 While in Bulgaria Ollie was “volunteer assistant to the correspondent on the Christian Science Monitor” and “for one and one half years was correspondent for three Bulgarian newspapers and for the Manchester Guardian.” At the time of the July 1934 assassination of Austrian Chancellor Engelbert Dolfuss, Ollie worked as a correspondent in Vienna; he also did newspaper work in Athens.16 (Ollie told me he spoke seven languages, which must have been Bulgarian, Greek, German, Russian, Mandarin, Spanish, and English.)

In 1937 Ollie was a New England organizer with the new Textile Workers Organizing Committee, CIO, an alternative to the AFL’s United Textile Workers; the two merged in 1939.17

China Aid Redux

At about this time (if not before) Ollie became involved with the American League for Peace and Democracy, a pacifist group dominated by communists who had driven out socialists and others since its inception in 1933.18 By March 1938 Ollie was director of the league’s China Aid Council, headquartered in New York City, which acted as a charity on behalf of the Chinese side of the Sino-Japanese conflict, due to the organization’s opposition to fascism.19 On a speaking tour that summer Ollie explained how $65 a month could support an anti-epidemic unit and $400 could buy an ambulance.20 During that fall of 1938 he told how Japan obtained half of its war supplies and all of its aviation fuel from the United States.21 And so it’s no surprise that in 1939 Ollie was director of the San Francisco Committee Against War Shipments to Japan, which kicked off a petition drive in April at the First Congregational Church.22

Ollie Haskell and Marjorie Taggart photo
Ollie Haskell shows photos to Marjorie Taggart, chair pro tem of a new Rochester committee to conduct a China aid drive in July 1938.

Against the Draft

By August 1940 Ollie was directing the China Aid Council from Chicago.23 And at the same time he was described as “leader of the Committee to Defend America by Keeping Out of War,” which was sponsoring the Emergency Peace Mobilization in Chicago to be held over Labor Day weekend.24 The meeting was attacked as being “Communist inspired,” leading to the pullout of several organizations and speakers.25 Nevertheless an attendance of twenty thousand is stated by an academic archive, whereas the number of delegates varied in press reports. “Morris Watson, chairman of the credentials committee, announced that 4,198 delegates and 1,435 ‘observers’ were registered at the meeting from forty states and the District of Columbia,” the AP reported on September 2.26 But Ollie himself, “in charge of credentials” according AP on August 31, “said 7500 had registered when the meeting finally opened” after a delay due to late trains from New York and Ohio.27 Curiously Ollie is listed in the latter report as not from Chicago but rather from Seattle. In any case, at the Labor Day peace event a new organization was formed—American Peace Mobilization—to fight conscription, to “restore the bill of rights,” and to “restore full rights to the foreign born.”28

Six weeks after the Chicago event, on October 16, 1940, Ollie filled out his draft registration, giving his residence in Seattle and his employer: American Peace Mobilization. As he’d done with the China Aid Council and Committee to Defend America by Keeping Out of War, Ollie went on the road for APM as its national field work director, from St. Louis to Portland.29 APM is generally considered a communist front organization, and it opposed the U.S. entering into the war, holding a forty-two-day White House picket, suspended only a day before Germany invaded the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941.30

Oliver Haskell Draft Registration

Ollie is absent from newspaper reports in 1941 and 1942, except on October 7, 1942 to note his engagement, and, two days later, his marriage in San Francisco to Rosemary Wylde of Vancouver, BC.31

Housing (and) Authority

Ollie’s obituary states he began managing the largest City Housing Authority project in Los Angeles, Banning Homes, in the late 1930s, but that wasn’t dedicated until late 1942.32 Nevertheless he was involved in projects like Banning and we can use it as a case study to explain why housing became a flashpoint in urban affairs.

Browsing the Banning Homes publicity photos in the Los Angeles central library’s Housing Authority collection shows a multiracial community: adults registering to vote, showcasing their personal gardens, attending their housing council meetings; kids involved in onsite music classes, checking out toys from a lending library, posing in costumes at a party, attending exhibitions of flowers and minerals, having picnics and soap box derby races, and receiving food from a grocer as well as giving food to a relief drive for Vanport, Oregon, an integrated, kindred housing community that had been wiped out in a flood.33 Kinda smacks of socialism.

Sure enough, a year after opening, the Banning project was being whittled away. In November 1943 a representative of its six thousand residents (in two thousand units) testified before Congress, listing several issues faced by the tenants: inadequacy in health service, child care, and public transportation; an increase in juvenile delinquency; and the termination of a full-time recreational staff of five just two months before.34 It was wartime, of course, the perennial excuse for belt tightening. Except that wartime was Banning’s reason for being.

Housing projects like Banning hadn’t been created for what we’d think of as the traditionally disadvantaged. Banning had been “built for war workers and their families,” its ad tag line being “So That War Workers May Live Close to Their Jobs” at the L.A. Harbor. It was to be

situated on a 156-acre tract of land within half a mile of the vital shipyard industries. […]

This vast war housing enterprise will be a self-contained community. There will be a hospital ward, drug store, beauty shop, cafeteria, grocery store and various recreational facilities among the accommodations offered residents.35

We first find Ollie’s name associated with L.A. Harbor housing in October 1943 when he’s mentioned as, of all things, a committee member for the kickoff of Wilmington’s War Chest drive. (His wife Rosemary is listed in November as representing a military shipbuilder for USO programs.36) The war chest event was held in the cafeteria of Wilmington Hall (aka Wilhall), itself a wartime housing project of 1266 rooms for 2000 male war workers.37 From then on Ollie is listed as Wilhall’s recreation director or its assistant manager.38

Housing Projects Ad
Four wartime housing projects, including Wilmington Hall (where Ollie worked, pictured) and Banning Homes, were dedicated on the same day. (Click to enlarge)

Ollie’s recreational activities at Wilhall included various sports, a chorus and barber shop quartet, and a Coffee Cup club.39 Beyond recreation he facilitated civic meetings and chaired a “Meet Your Neighbor” program with participants from two dozen harbor area organizations that aimed to acquaint residents with people of color and the foreign born.40 Even when he left the harbor for L.A. Ollie joined the Family Service Harbor District Advisory Council and the Harbor Welfare Conference.41

In the spring and summer of 1944 Ollie spoke about his experience in the Balkans to several local groups, including the Wilmington Kiwanis Club:

The use of the Balkan countries as a tool to foster international trade, its 500 years of war with the Turks, its economical status with the larger powers and its place and importance in the present conflict, was graphically pictured in a talk [by Oliver Haskell].

Haskell spent many years in the Balkans and his descendents back 80 years were missionaries in that region of Europe. His knowledge of the issues involved is from personal association with the peoples of the Balkans.

He told of the sufferings of the people and their will to survive and fight for their way of life to be undominated by international politics and bickerings of the larger powers. They look to America—the one country they admire—for freedom, but will turn to Russia or one of the other powers if offered any kind of light out of the chaos.42

So interesting was his talk, the Kiwanians asked Ollie back two weeks later.

In completing his talk Haskell warned the allies to follow the will of the people and not governments and royalty in exile at the coming peace table.43

In January of 1945 Ollie’s wife Rosemary was listed as the secretary of Banning Homes medical center.44 By May of 1946 Ollie was manager of Pico Gardens, a housing project in Los Angeles that “offered housing to non-U.S. citizens (primarily non-naturalized Mexican citizens) by amending the FHA Act to allow ‘allied and friendly aliens’ admitted” there.45

Kukla, Frank and Ollie46

Ollie was a friend of the most famous L.A. Housing Authority figure, Frank Wilkinson, who joined the agency in 1942,47 four years after its formation in 1938. Wilkinson was memorialized in 2005 by Ry Cooder’s “Don’t Call Me Red” from his Chávez Ravine song cycle, which is my favorite album.

The Los Angeles Times, employing Cold War terminology, eventually called Wilkinson “chief propagandist” for “unwanted” public housing, including the prospective project in Chávez Ravine,48 but plans there for a new Dodger Stadium already were underway.49 The real estate war was a hot one—between public housing advocates and realty developers, between tenants and managers.50 Calling public housing a communist plot from the outset might have aided those developers in that war, but it got little traction: the L.A. authority’s funder, the Federal Housing Authority, while a product of the New Deal, also was supported by Republicans, Dixiecrats, and anti-communists.51 The summer of 1952 a communist conspiracy theory became a communist crisis when an opportunity to play the Red card finally came.

When Wilkinson testified as an expert on the topic of condemnation of existing homes, on August 29, 1952, he was cleverly redbaited and suspended when he invoked the Fifth Amendment regarding his political affiliation. Such were the times that, because Wilkinson, a high Housing Authority official, might have been a communist, this created a “multimillion-dollar scandal,” as the Times reported. The Times dutifully listed Wilkinson’s eminent qualifications—all dashed by his refusal to answer a single question among several about his many associations.52 Regarding communists, his biographer Robert Sherrill writes, Wilkinson simply “admired their energy and the feeling was mutual.”53 But he was a Communist Party member—from 1942 to 1975.54

In September 1952, in regard to the housing “scandal,” the Los Angeles Times reported that the California Senate Committee on Un-American Activities tried unsuccessfully to locate Ollie Haskell to serve a subpoena.55 But a month later, in the course of Wilkinson being interrogated by that same committee, its counsel R. E. Combs stated that Ollie was neither listed as a subversive nor had he been subpoenaed.

Q. Were you familiar with a man by the name of Oliver Haskell, who was formerly employed by the housing authority?
Mr. Marshall [a Wilkinson attorney]: Mr. Combs, is Oliver Haskell a person whom you have listed as subversive?
Mr. Combs: Not to my knowledge, counsel.
Mr. Marshall: Is he a person for whom this committee has issued a subpena?
Mr. Combs: No, he is not. […]
Mr. Marshall: [Haskell] is a perfectly innocent and innocuous person so far as this committee is concerned; is that it?
Mr. Combs: Well, no, I won’t go that far. I don’t think he is even in California. My understanding is that for some time he has been in Michigan or some place, he is a former employee of the authority.
The Witness [Wilkinson]: I think I had better decline to answer the question, Mr. Combs, on the basis of the grounds previously stated.
Q. (By Mr. Combs): Were you acquainted with a former employee of the housing authority by the name of Drayton Bryant?

Remember that name…

Mr. Marshall: Is the gentleman whom you have just named a person listed by this committee […] as a member of any listed organization?
Mr. Combs: Not to my knowledge, counsel. You understand I am speaking only from recollection.
Mr. Marshall: Yes. Is he supposed to be a man of good reputation?
Mr. Combs: I have never met him. I have never seen him. As far as I know, he is, I don’t know.
The Witness: I do know Drayton Bryant.
Q. Presently?
A. He doesn’t live in Los Angeles presently. I did know him, put it that way.
Q. While you were both employed by the housing authority?
A. He was employed here at the housing authority for a number of years.56

Ollie told me he’d driven towards the Midwest, his car breaking down in Missouri, forcing him to buy another junker. He told me he was fired from his housing job for being linked to the Communist Party. I assumed that was in L.A., but today we came across the real story. Sometime in that year of 1952 he’d taken that job, and it wasn’t in Michigan but rather in Pennsylvania. The job was executive director of the Mutual Home Ownership Association, which had hoped to buy a sort of Banning Homes East—the ten-year-old Pennypack Woods project in Philadelphia—that had begun life in 1942 as defense-worker housing. In the course of opposition to the sale, the Pennypack Woods Civic Association learned that Ollie and his adviser Drayton Bryant were “left wingers.” The regional director of the federal Public Housing Authority had made a condition of the sale that Ollie “must resign, and that Drayton Bryant, an adviser of the group, must sever his connections with it.” Ollie said he was “pleased” with the decision to let the sale proceed, but protested the PHA from coercing his resignation publicly, when allegations against him were a private matter within the MHOA, and when he had offered to resign in the presence of the PHA regional director.57

Ollie told me that his wife Rosemary had been a member of the CPUSA but that he never joined. Nonetheless he was named as being a CP club member from at least 1949 to 1952 in testimony a decade later by undercover operative Robert Carrillo Ronstadt before the House Un-American Activities Committee. Further, Ronstadt called Ollie’s club a “security group,” members of which who “were people that the Communist Party felt were true and loyal, and […] wouldn’t break under questioning and things of that nature.” Those members included Rosemary, Frank Wilkinson, and Drayton Bryant, who Ronstadt called “probably one of the most brilliant individuals that I have met, and this includes some very top people that we could compare, like Wilkinson […]. I think that his IQ was probably 140 or above.” Regarding Rosemary, HUAC general counsel Frank Tavenner explained that she “testified before [HUAC] in 1958, at which time she invoked the fifth amendment and refused to answer questions regarding her membership in the Communist Party, and at that time she was the executive secretary of the American-Russian Institute.” (Her combative testimony begins with her refusal to answer questions about her name.) Ronstadt recalled Rosemary and Ollie “having some marital difficulties” in 1949.58 The two divorced in June 195059 and Rosemary remarried twice, first in 1951 to Bernard Lusher, a Communist party official,60 and again in 1964 to Albert Maltz, one of the blacklisted Hollywood Ten. She died four years later, on July 1, 1968.61 She committed suicide with a gunshot wound to the head at the Wilshire Motel, a three-minute walk from her home.62 Ollie told me how sad this made him because he really liked Rosemary. Two decades of McCarthy-era drama had taken its toll on her, he said.

If Ollie feared being named in hearings it didn’t keep him from civic engagement. In 1955 he was on a Democratic Club panel in Studio City on the topic “Which Way Peace” and in 1963 he chaired the Valley chapter of the ACLU.63 I think he’d seen too much during his time in China and the Balkans to be concerned with red-baiting by demagogues in the U.S.

Haskell’s Raskells

Ollie told me that when he returned to L.A. in the 1950s he started a day camp called Haskell’s Raskells, which employed instructors who had been blacklisted under the Red Scare. “I had the best people working with me,” he said. The kids came from all walks of life and attended the camp during summer vacation but also other school holidays.

Haskell and Wilkinson photo
From the Frank Wilkinson Tribute blog: Oliver Haskell of ‘‘Haskell’s Raskells’’ [left] and Frank, Jo, and Tony Playing ‘‘Choo-Choo,’’ Post-Firing. Following a comfortable upbringing Wilkinson traveled here and abroad in the late 1930s, which opened his eyes to the effects of poverty. After his firing at the L.A. Housing Authority in 1952 Wilkinson was questioned twice by HUAC, which he campaigned against. He was held in contempt of Congress for refusing HUAC questions and lost his case before the Supreme Court in 1961, resulting in a one-year prison sentence. Upon his release nine months later he continued his fight for civil liberties, as chronicled in his biography Free Speech Felon (cited below).
Haskell’s Raskells (despite the name, which was pretty defiant, if you think about it) appears to have flown under the radar of regulators, because Ollie didn’t file an application “to establish a day-care center and recreation day camp for children” until about June of 1962. The application stated the center “would care for approximately 70 children between 5 and 16 years of age between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. during summer months and approximately 40 children between noon and 6 p.m. during the school year.”64 It was Haskell’s Raskells that my stepson—and also my niece who asked me to write this—had attended in the early to mid 1960s.

In Part 2 I write about my memories of Summerhill Day School and its impact on my family.

Header image:
Summerhill Day School
general meeting, Agoura, 1970s
Oliver Haskell standing center
Andrea Carney collection

  1. Unless otherwise stated, biographical details are from “Obituaries: Oliver ‘Ollie’ Haskell,” Los Angeles Times, 08 Jun 1997, B14, as well as my recollections of conversations with Ollie. His family’s religious denomination is noted in “‘Russia’ To Be Discussed,” Pasadena Post, 05 Feb 1931, 6.
  2. “China Aid Council Leader Visits Here,” Montana Standard (Butte), 25 Nov 1938, 5.
  3. “Students to Play Diplomats,” Los Angeles Times, 16 Mar 1929, A8.
  4. “Ten Pomona College Men Complete Arrangements for Year’s Study in China,” Progress-Bulletin (Pomona), 19 Sep 1929, I-5. Korea and the Philippines are mentioned in “Oriental Study Group to Speak,” Pasadena Post, 22 Oct 1930, 19. Russia is mentioned in “Former Chest Aide Honored,” Los Angeles Times, 22 Sep 1932, II-5.
  5. “Ten Pomona College Men Complete Arrangements for Year’s Study in China.”
  6. “Visit to Orient Near End,” Progress-Bulletin (Pomona), 30 Jun 1930, 5; “Pomona College Globe-trotters Nearing Home,” Los Angeles Times, 08 Sep 1930, A3.
  7. “Good Afternoon Everybody; Chinese Aid,” Capital Times (Madison), 15 Nov 1938, 1.
  8. “Etiwanda Notes,” San Bernardino Daily Sun, 31 Oct 1930, 19; “‘Russia’ To Be Discussed”; “Soviet Russia Pilgrim Topic,” Progress-Bulletin (Pomona), 28 Nov 1931, I-3; “Claremont,” Progress-Bulletin (Pomona), 07 Dec 1931, I-7.
  9. “Former Chest Aide Honored.”
  10. “Claremont,” Progress-Bulletin (Pomona), 23 Mar 1929, I-5; “75 Campers to Enjoy Outing,” Progress-Bulletin (Pomona), 14 Aug 1931, I-5, 9.
  11. “Claremont,” Progress-Bulletin (Pomona), 17 Nov 1931, I-5.
  12. “Claremont,” Progress-Bulletin (Pomona), 01 Feb 1932, I-5. This warehouse is possibly the same as the Los Angeles Community Chest mentioned in “Former Chest Aide Honored.”
  13. “College Youths Hunting Gold,” Los Angeles Times, 20 Jun 1932, 8.
  14. “Haskell Again to Lead Camp,” Progress-Bulletin (Pomona), 06 Aug 1932, I-5.
  15. “Leaves for Bulgaria,” Pasadena Post, 13 Sep 1932, 8; “Former Chest Aide Honored”; “Pomona Graduate Joins Staff of Folk School in Near East,” Progress-Bulletin (Pomona), 27 Sep 1932, I-5; “A Neglected Deduction from a Religious Doctrine,” Land and Liberty, Jan 1934, 7, archived here.
  16. “Oliver Haskell to Speak Here,” Kingston Daily Freeman (New York), 18 Jun 1938, 7; “China Aid Council Leader Visits Here.”
  17. Ollie’s obituary, cited above, states he worked for the UTW in 1937, but that was an AFL union; the TWOC of the CIO formed that year. The Wikipedia entry for Textile Workers Union of America, the name of the union once merged, explains this, but we’ve not confirmed it independently.
  18. Historical Background (includes sources) in finding aid for American League for Peace and Democracy Collected Records, 1933–1939, Swarthmore College Peace Collection.
  19. “League For Peace Will Meet Tonight,” Paterson Morning Call (New Jersey), 31 Mar 1938, 26.
  20. “Work Begins on Campaign For Chinese Relief Funds,” Rochester Democrat and Chronicle (New York), 28 Jul 1938, 28.
  21. “China Aid Head Speaks to Easton-Phillipsburg Branch of Peace League,” Paterson Morning Call (New Jersey), 04 Oct 1938, 5.
  22. “Drive on Japanese War Cargoes to Open,” Oakland Tribune, 28 Mar 1939, 11.
  23. “Youth Group Hits Hysteria,” Minneapolis Star Journal, 03 Aug 1940, 11.
  24. “Peace Rally Here Fights Draft Plan,” Minneapolis Morning Tribune, 05 Aug 1940, 5.
  25. “Peace Group Organizes to Battle Draft,” Indianapolis News, 02 Sep 1940, 9.
  26. “Peace Group Organizes to Battle Draft.”
  27. “Peace Rally Opens Three Hours Late,” Los Angeles Times, 01 Sep 1940, I-4.
  28. “Peace Group Organizes to Battle Draft.”
  29. “Oliver Haskell Reception,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 20 Oct 1940, 3A; “Ask Draft Repeal,” Bend Bulletin, 13 Nov 1940, 5.
  30. Again see the Historical Note at this academic archive.
  31. “The Engagement Is Announced…,” Vancouver Sun, 07 Oct 1942, 6; “Marriages,” Vancouver Sun, 15 Oct 1942, 13.
  32. “New Homes Named in Honor of Pioneer Harbor Family,” Wilmington Press, 14 Nov 1942, 5. Ollie was listed as “manager at Banning Homes” in an article about a subpoena being issued to him by the California Senate Un-American Activities Committee, but it wasn’t issued, as explained below. It’s the only such mention of a connection with Banning that we found. See “Call CHA Aides in Red Probe,” Valley Times, 25 Sep 1952, 1.
  33. See the Wikipedia entry for Vanport for its history, including the flood, which occurred in 1948.
  34. U.S. House, Investigation of Congested Areas hearing before a subcommittee of the Committee on Naval Affairs, Part 8, 12 Nov 1943, 1970; archived here.
  35. From article and ad in Wilmington Press, 14 Nov 1942, 5.
  36. “Joint Council of USO Plans Dinner Event,” Wilmington Press, 09 Nov 1943, 4.
  37. “War Chest ‘Kickoff’ Luncheon to Be Held Here October 27th,” Wilmington Press, 13 Oct 1943, 1; “Wilmington Hall Largest Hotel for Men,” News-Pilot (San Pedro), 14 Nov 1942, 6.
  38. “Birthday Ball Tickets Go on Sale Here,” Wilmington Press, 26 Jan 1944, 1; “Big Bond Rally At Wil-Hall,” Wilmington Press, 31 Jan 1944, 1; “P.T.A. Notes,” Wilmington Press, 29 Jun 1944, 3.
  39. References upon request.
  40. “‘Meet Neighbor’ Program Planned,” News-Pilot (San Pedro), 28 Jun 1944, 4.
  41. “Service Group Election Set,” News-Pilot (San Pedro), 06 Jun 1950, 2; “Welfare Group Sets Fall Meet,” News-Pilot (San Pedro), 15 Sep 1950, 5.
  42. “Balkans Subject of Talk Before Kiwanians Today,” Wilmington Press, 28 Mar 1944, 1.
  43. “Haskell Returns as Kiwanis Club Guest Speaker,” Wilmington Press, 11 Apr 1944, 4.
  44. “Medical Center Seeks Members,” News-Pilot (San Pedro), 24 Jan 1945, 3.
  45. Los Angeles Conservancy, Garden Apartments of Los Angeles: Historical Context Statement, Oct 2012, 44; archived here.
  46. This subtitle is a takeoff on the mid-century television show Kukla, Fran and Ollie, which featured puppets. According to Wikipedia, kukla is a Greek word meaning “doll” and is a loanword with the same meaning in Bulgarian, and “puppet” in Turkish.
  47. Robert Sherrill, First Amendment Felon: The Story of Frank Wilkinson, His 132,000 FBI File, and His Epic Fight for Civil Rights and Liberties (New York: Nation Books, 2005), 68.
  48. “Public Housing Official Fired Over Red Issue,” Los Angeles Times, 29 Oct 1952, 1.
  49. Sherrill, 75.
  50. Sherrill, 71, 70.
  51. Sherrill, 71.
  52. “Lid Blows Off Housing; Top Aide Suspended,” Los Angeles Times, 30 Aug 1952, 1.
  53. Sherrill, 70.
  54. “Frank Wilkinson, 91; Civil Libertarian,” Los Angeles Times, 05 Jan 2006, B10.
  55. “Six Key Housing Authority Employees Branded as Reds,” Los Angeles Times, 26 Sep 1952, 4.
  56. Calif. Senate, Seventh Report of the Senate Fact-Finding Committee on Un-American Activities 1953, 105–106; archived here.
  57. “Residents Rap Pennyback Sale,” Philadelphia Inquirer, 26 Jun 1952, 25.
  58. U.S. House, The Communist Party’s Cold War Against Congressional Investigation of Subversion: Report and Testimony of Robert Carrillo Ronstadt, April 25, 1962, released October 10, 1962, 1501–1504; archived here. Rosemary’s testimony took place in executive session on 04 Sep 1958 and was released 03 Apr 1959. At the time she was married to Bernard Lusher, identified by the general council as chair of the Labor Commission of the Southern California District of the CP as well as an executive board member of the District Council. See U.S. House, The Southern California District of the Communist Party: Structure—Objectives—Leadership, 162–180, 248, 245; archived here.
  59. “Divorces Granted,” Los Angeles Times, 16 Jun 1950, 27.
  60. See note above for Bernard Lusher’s affiliation with the CP. Rosemary’s marriage is listed in “Marriage Licenses Issued,” Los Angeles Times, 17 Aug 1951, 36, but Bernard’s surname is misspelled as Lustier.
  61. Jack Salzman, Albert Maltz (Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1978), 13.
  62. Rosemary Maltz, Certificate of Death, State of California, Department of Public Health, No. 7097-029658, signed 18 Jul 1968.
  63. “Two Will Talk at Demo. Club Meet April 5,” Valley Times, 29 Mar 1955, 24; “6 Inter-Racial Groups Form Civil Rights Unit,” Los Angeles Times, 10 Dec 1963, G9.
  64. “Hearing on Day Camp Scheduled,” Los Angeles Times, 20 Jun 1962, E8.

20 Replies to “Summerhill 1: Ollie Haskell”

  1. I am 65 years old and I was a Haskell’s Rascal for much of my childhood in the 60’s. Thank you so much for this well documented biography. I loved Ollie. He had a huge impact on me and my sister. He was our childhood mentor. My lifelong activism began under his tutelage. I’m glad he missed the Trump era. I hope I live to see its end.

    1. Thanks, Bethami, for reading Part 1. In Part 2 we’ll continue with some Haskell’s Raskells bits before my Summerhill memories. I’ll let you know when that’s posted.

    2. I was at day camp for man summers from the 60’s. I loved it there. Best part of my childhood ❤️!

  2. In the mid-fifties, I started as a camper at Haskell’s Raskells in exchange for my dad building tables and benches for Ollie, who worked out these kinds of trades for the kids of blacklisted and fired lefties. I became a counselor, van driver, lifeguard, and in the 60s took care of the horses for his Summerhill school. I have lots of stories I’d love to trade with other Raskells. Ollie was the calmest person I ever met, despite kids pulling on him from all directions. I never saw him raise his voice or get angry.

    1. Patricia Kovner, I live in the LaTuna Canyon area. I attended Summerhill when it was on Vineland in North Hollywood. Do you know anything about the original LaTuna Canyon location? Only kids who attended in the ‘50’s would know.
      Summerhill Love!

  3. I was a “Haskell’s Raskell” for the summers of 1965-68. Ollie took us to camp at Joshua Tree National Forest, my first camping trip and a transformative experience. I learned to ride horses at the camp, and have fond memories of listening to KHJ on the car radio during the rides to and from North Hollywood, driven by our very cool, early 20s-ish counsellors.

  4. OMG! I am so blown away by all the research you have done on Summerhill and Ollie. I just melted when I discovered this through the Summerhill Facebook page. How do so many of us thank you! This is Pat and I am Joe Sevitski’s wife. Joe passed away in 2012 and I am still a part of this beautiful Summerhill family. We get together for meals and to hang out and when we do so much is always shared around those days. Everyone I am in touch with holds Ollie, the school and the effect it had on their lives in a very special place in their hearts. Lifelong relationships formed, smiles and warm hearts for each other to this day, and for the way in which this experience shaped the foundation of who we became. Forever grateful for this blog. Thank you, thank you. PS: Shelly O’Neil is in the process of doing a documentary on the school, so if there’s anyone out there who would enjoy being interviewed or a part of it in some other way please reach out to me or Shelly and let’s make it happen! Much Love xx

    1. Dear Pat, thank you so much for the first comment you left on Part 2 back in August. I’m sorry I didn’t reply then. And thank you for this also. I’d be glad to participate in the documentary, although I live in Denver now. I’ll let my young’uns know about it, too. Thanks for letting me know about Joe. Makes me mad. All the best to you and yours.

      1. Fantastic! Now that Covid is calming a bit I hope we will be back on track with the documentary soon. Hope all is well with you and your family. Many blessings always ❣️

    2. I was so touched to hear that a community of Haskells Rascals has continued to thrive. Ollie has always stayed in my heart, and moments I’ll always remember – I’d be delighted to contribute to a documentary if there is still an interest. Much love and appreciation. xxx

    3. Hi Pat!
      I went to Haskells Raskells and Summerhill back in 69-70….. I remember meeting you! I loved Joe so much. I remember Ken and Joe always being there for us kids. They took us everywhere and taught us algebra and Greek mythology, hhahahaha and how to make a good mud bath!!!
      My name is Lisa Coleman and my brother and sister, David and Debbie went there as well.
      This is an amazing blog to find now that I’m in my 60s!! Ollie was one of a kind. We rode around in his station wagon affectionately known as The Grapes of Wrath! So many memories. Anyway… So great to ‘hear your voice’. I am saddened to hear of Joe’s passing. I’ll never forget him… and his way stories. ☮️

  5. Hi, I was a Haskells Raskell in LA around the summer of perhaps 69 or 70. Thank you so much for all this. I was thinking of Oli the other day and to my really happy surprise i found this. So much to take in i look forward to looking it over more thoroughly.

  6. Hi! Thanks so much for this great remembrance of Ollie Haskell! I was a Haskells Rascal in the sixties and early seventies but only knew him from camp. I had no idea what an incredible history he had! My father was a counselor there and I spent summers there between ages five and ten. I learned how to ride a horse there too!

  7. Hi Andrea. I attended Haskell’s Raskels in the early 60’s and remember Ollie well. While I was there, I met his son, Jeff Haskell and we became friends for the time I attended, which was summer, vacations, etc. I’ve often wondered what became of Jeff and Ollie. Your amazing story gave me far more information about Ollie than I ever knew but doesn’t surprise me. You briefly mentioned receiving a call from Ollie’s son after Ollie passed. I was wondering if that was Jeff and if so, how I might contact him.

  8. Hi. My name is Irene Prince and I was a Haskell’s Raskell in 1966 and 1967.

    I hung out in the “Horsey Set” and had lots of “firsts“ under the bridge/train trestle down by the river, which we called the “Wash.” I have many memories and many stories from those days which I’d be happy to share. The bio of Ollie was fascinating—lots I didn’t know. Interestingly my youngest daughter also graduated from Pomona College!

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