IN EAST L.A."
Huebner and Cheech Marin were born in East LA and each has appeared
to be equally proud of the fact, and although Mentor didn't write
a song to tell the world, still he so identified with the 'tough
guy' image of the neighborhood, that when anyone asked about his
place of birth he'd never say, "LA" ~ but instead would
laugh and brag, "Boyle Heights", adding as though it
was important - the line from Cheech Marin's song, "I was
born in East LA".
Huebner was born July 19, 1917, in a little turn of the century
house in East LA, in a section known as Boyle Heights, and was
delivered by a professional Midwife ~ his own Grandma Huebner.
he was a second born son, he'd been given his father's first name,
much to the chagrin of his older brother, who never forgave him
for being the "Mentor II", nor for being a talented
painter nor for having spent his entire adult life working in
the motion picture industry, which his older brother felt was
in someway connected with Mentor's distinctive name.
Mentor II was ten years old, "Mentor I", died from tuberculosis
(which had run rampant in the late 1920's). He was only 33. He
had spent his tragically short adult life as a chauffeur and mechanic
~ and not as an artist of fine arts or a designer in the film
industry. (If the older brother's theory was correct, Destiny
made a mistake.) Another 'mistake' occurred when Mentor's Dad's
rich ''Boss' tipped him with a chunk of land, which he promptly
sold for $200.00. It was Signal Hill.
this fact did not dissuade "son number one" from his
belief that he had not only been cheated out of his father's first
name, but also out of everything that he believed would have accompanied
it: the mystical 'birthright' of fame, fortune, notoriety and
at least one beautiful wife, all of which supposedly went along
with the name
has now become a family name, but it had not been at the start.
Grandma Huebner, was responsible for starting the Mentor Dynasty.
Impressed with the Latin name, after she discovered it in a history
book. She was the one who had gotten the name going.
this time there are two other additional Mentors; our first first
born son, "Mentor III" and his son, "Mentor IV".
"Mentor IV" promises there will, in the future, be a
"Mentor V" , "For sure Grandma, I promise. I swear".
Mentor's poor, young Dad died of tuberculosis, it was necessary
for his mother to work in order to support the two brothers.
she had no particular training, her brother-in-law, Dr. Frank
McCoy, a famous medical nutritionist and radio personality gave
her a job in his office, four hours a night, filing the day's
paper work and Mentor, ten years old at the time, accompanied
office was well stocked with what seemed to Mentor to be a gift
from God, a treasure chest filled with an abundance of pads of
paper, pens and pencils.
would settle down quietly in the patient's waiting room, and spend
the hours 'drawing'.
that period of time, at McCoy's, was not the beginning of Mentor's
creativity. When his Dad had first become ill, his Swedish, maternal
grandmother, who had a chicken ranch out in the desert, kept little
Mentor for entire summers.
chasing chickens, patrolling the acreage with his kid uncle Ernie,
and looking at 'pictures' in comic books, Mentor spent his time
often sent letters home to his mother, with drawings interspersed
between childish scrawls and misspelled words. So it seems he
had begun to draw in earnest when he was around eight years of
mother attributed his ability to the fact that when she was pregnant
with Mentor she had frequented many Los Angeles art galleries
what did it." She bragged throughout his life. As
the only connection with art on either side of the family had
been those museums. What else could it be?
Ernie of course believed it had been the exposure to his collection
of comic books. "That helped!"
irate brother insisted, "He's a show-off..."
a good boy" said Grandma. "He's going
to be an artist". And indeed that's what he did
do. He became an artist. Grandma was right.
family's ethnic background was a mixture of several European nationalities.
His mother's family - she always lectured, was 'pure' Swedish.
My mother-in-law prided herself on being a 'blue eyed blond' due
to that bit of chance 'luck'. But I've seen quite a few dark Swedes.
Very dark. In fact they are called Black Swedes! She though --
always reassured me -- wasn't one of them!
father's family was from Austria Hungary and mostly of German
heritage. However, Grandma Huebner's family carried a spec of
Russian and Polish. She was definitely not a 'blue eyed blond'
and was often mistaken for a Gypsy.
mother-in-law as destiny would have it was cruelly placed between
the bookends of a mother-in-law and daughter-in-law who shared
the distinction of being "The Huebner Gypsies".
had greenish hazel eye coloring and although he had been a platinum
blond from childhood up through elementary school, his hair darkened
to a golden ash brown as he reached adulthood.
I saw him naked I was under the impression he was dark skinned.
However, since he was a 'plein aire painter' and worked outdoors
constantly ~ painting landscapes and seascapes and cityscapes
~ he was always darker and a kind of golden brown.
tanned quickly. So much so that during the Algerian Revolution
while we were on location in France for the film The Longest Day,
he was frequently stopped by the military police as a suspect
of terrorist activities.
this would happen as he left the Bank of America in downtown Paris.
Or while shopping for veggies at an open air market not far from
our apartment in Saint Cloud.
come to think of it he was also, often pulled over in Los Angeles,
California, at Los Felix and Riverside Drive, as he drove past
the Fountain, because he looked 'suspicious'.
never crossed any border easily.
by car throughout Europe loaded with our three kids, baby paraphernalia,
luggage for all, along with three trunks (on top of the car),
painting supplies, and sixty pound cans of French SMA Baby Formula
-- without an inch to spare anywhere in the car and with no air
pockets -- we would be stopped at each border and asked to unload
and time again I would be forced to use my charms to get us past
the Border Patrol.
I worked my potentials, the Guards would "Senora" me
this and "Senora" me that, stare directly into my eyes,
admire 'my' twins, comment on the politeness of the "good
big brother", while one or the other would take turns to
glare at Mentor!
don't know to this day what caused all that.
guess Mentor had vibes.
thought he was sexy.
the Border Patrols must have seen things differently.
and the Cops on Riverside Drive.
(To be continued)