Peter Kyne: Coastside Author (3)

[Note: I remember meeting Gretchen Drew, a friend of Peter Kyne long ago. Ms. Drew lived in San Francisco, in the Embarcadero, and had some of Kyne’s personal [childhood] papers. I made a Xerox copy of a couple of items….one of them was an algebra lesson showing his perfect penmanship. She also gave me a photo of Peter Kyne which I donated to the historical files of the San Mateo County History Museum.]


The 1897 economic depression called the “Cleveland Panic” was making life difficult for everyone, including the Coastside Kyne family.

“My father,” wrote Peter Kyne, “had owed a bill for a year, and my poor wages wre being applied to its reduction.” The Kynes needed a miracle to get them out of hard times.

At that moment– the soon-to-be-famous oilman from Southern California, the future president of the Pan-American Petroleum Corp– Ed Doheny, drifted into the Half Moon Bay general store where Peter worked. Remember, Ed’s fame and fortune was all in his future so when Doheny met Peter, he was down on his luck.

[In later years when both men were household names, Peter Kyne attached great significance to the crossing of their paths.]

Doheny was drilling for oil on a ranch near Half Moon Bay. Doheny “boarded his crew,” Kyne wrote, “and bought his dry groceries from my employer on credit. The well was a duster, and 10 minutes after I was ordered to kill his credit, he drove into town in his old battered buckboard with a broken leaf in the right side spring, so that when Mr. Doheny got into the vehicle it sagged so low one expected him to be dumped out into the dusty road. A wearing old mare pulled this contraption. When he entered the store and told me he wanted a 50-pound bag of flour I had to tell him his credit had run out and I’d have to have cash for the flour.”

Ed Doheny was embarrassed to be turned down by this young boy but he said nothing and, according to Peter, “he loaded all his gear on Ed Frey’s two big freight wagons and pulled out for parts unknown. The jingle bells on the hames of Ed’s leaders was his requiem and my employer did not sue him and attach the rig.”

…to be continued…