As they drove through the magical redwood forest on the narrow road, Joe Burns often blurted out, “Oh, heck, let’s take a chance,” before negotiating a hairpin turn without knowing for certain if another car was coming in their direction–an action Caroline Carlisle attributes to his gambling nature.
After stoppping at Apple Jack’s, a bar and local hot spot, “We drove and drove and finally across the road from the “Log Cabin School for Boys” was grandmother’s ranch, the farmhouse, stables and the barns,” remembers Caroline.
Residing at the working ranch was Joe Burns’ brother, his wife and children, including a future mayor of Half Moon Bay.
The ranch hands knew the boss lady had high expectations and they were prepared for her ritual inspection. But the surprise trips to the La Honda ranch and the Atherton house were soon to end.
(Photo: Posting with unidentified relatives, Inez Burns, third from left, her husband, ex-San Francisco Assemblyman Joe F. Burns at far right, wearing the hat).
…When the money was rolling in, Caroline Carlisle recalls, her middle-aged grandmother Inez Burns was “happy and jolly”–but Inez never eased upon on her inspection of the house in Atheron., “looking for dust,” often demanding that everything be done her way.
Despite the “inspection,” a visit from grandmother Inez turned into a festive event as she brought armloads of gifts: a black cocker spaniel, a white rabbit fur coat and matching hat, a chestnut horse.
Another great treat for Caroline ws a shopping spree to the Emporium in San Francisco, accompanied by one of Inez’s employees.
After one of these “surprise visits” to the La Honda ranch in the early 1940s, then 8-year-old Caroline Carlisle accompanied Inez and Joe Burns in the shiny, black limousine. As Joe Burns drove, inez sang songs form the 1920s, most often “Stella By Starlight” and “In her Sweet Little Alice Blue Gown.” Caroline hated the singing, especially when she was asked to join in–perhaps it reminded the little girl of the dreaded piano lessons grandmother paid for.
Attractive to men, Inez married three times before finding a soulmate in the tall and handsome Joe F. Burns, who grew up in San Francisco’s Mission District “as one of the boys”–many of whom became police officers.
Later, some of Joe’s old pals joined him for Wednesday night poker parties where they enjoyed the card games but “payoffs” to protect his wife’s abortion mill business may also have occurred.
Inez was in control of the relationship with Joe–but she was also gracious, lavishing him with gifts, including brilliant diamond rings worn on his freshly manicured hands.
She paid for Joe’s gambling habits, poker and the ponies and she probably bought and paid for his political career.
Inez shared Joe’s love of sleek race horses so much that she boarded half-a-dozen beautiful colts on the 1000-acre La Honda ranch, including the gelding “Sun Portland”–an occasional winner at the racetracks in Seattle.
When Joe F. Burns retired as a San Francisco Assemblyman, Inez bought him “Cavanaughs”, a busy bar located at 29th and Mission Streets.