Actor Forsook Footlights to be a Hermit in Lonely Canyon

March 7, 1956
Bob Weatherley, Long Beach Independent

Trabuco Canyon - Tom Lindsay has no phone, no television, no electric lights. He cooks his meals on an ancient wood-burning stove, and he draws his water from the creek that bubbles clear and cold down Holy Jim Canyon.

If Lindsay lacks some of the niceties of modern day living, he's also missing out on such things as traffic jams, smog and HCCL, the high cost of city living.

In short, Tom Lindsay is a happy man.

Not only that, but he knows that any pals who come from Long Beach to visit him are real friends. They'd have to be or they wouldn't have the determination to drive that car-curdling 6 1/2 miles up Trabuco and Holy Jim Canyons to see him.

The road winds up Trabuco Canyon, intertwining with the stream every few hundred yards. There are no bridges - only shallow fords that send solid sheets of water splashing up over the hoods of automobiles.

Lindsay's retreat nestles solidly on a steep mountainside a mile up Holy Jim Canyon.

The canyon, he explains, was named for Jim Smith, a recluse who died a half century ago. Smith knew more cuss-words than most men have ever heard, and thus the nickname "Holy Jim" seemed fitting by its sheer inappropriateness.

About the time Holy Jim was breathing his last bit of profanity, Lindsay was getting ready to launch his career as a vaudeville comedian.

He was born in Waukegan, Ill., in 1891 and his brother, Charles, gave violin lessons to another Waukegan youngster - Jack Benny. Charles, incidentally, is still living in Akron, Ohio.

Lindsay shared billings with some of the top stars of the day.

After his final performance in 1921 on the stage of the old Strand Theater in Long Beach, he turned his talents to operating the Footlight Cafe on the Pike. A few years later, he set up his own advertising agency with offices in the Press-Telegram building.

Seven years ago, Lindsay-- then 57-- decided he had enough of the workaday world. He closed up his home in Long Beach and moved here to the canyon cabin he had purchased for $250 from George Burt, then Press-Telegram business manager, several years before.

He's never regretted the move. Lindsay figures he go by on an income of $87 a month last year -- most of that from his fees as an Orange County deputy sheriff.

He patrols Trabuco Canyon a couple of times a day, checking on cabins that are unoccupied except on weekends and during the summer.

Tom Lindsay

Holy Jim and Friends