Probe: July 10, 2001

July 10, 2001

QUESTION: My granddaughter goes to Ben Hulse School in Imperial. I asked her to tell me who Ben Hulse was. She didn't know. She said none of her teachers know. It seems to me that if a person is notable enough to have a school named for him, the students should be taught about him. Can you find out about him?

My son sends me your newspaper and I have learned an enormous amount about El Centro and Imperial from your PROBE column. — Grandma, Buena Park

Way to go, Grandma. Although it sounds like you got an "Oh, Grandma" response from your granddaughter, questions like that can nudge the brain. Hereafter, when she runs into strange names like McCabe or Meadows School, she may wonder how the name was chosen.

Ben Hulse was a solid citizen of Imperial toward the end of the Valley's "First 30 years." He was elected to the Imperial County Board of Supervisors in 1925. It wouldn't surprise us to hear from PROBE readers that he did bigger things in later years.


During his four years on the Board of Supervisors, he was chosen to serve two consecutive terms as chairman.

That had happened only once before when J.J. Carr, also of Imperial, was picked to serve back-to-back years as chairman of the board. It was not as big a deal as it sounds now. The county had been in business less than 20 years when Hulse was elected to the consecutive terms as chairman.

Apparently Hulse was not crazy about being a supervisor. In November 1929, he resigned from the board. Otis B. Tout, who compiled the history of the Valley's first three decades, did not offer any details about the resignation.

Our reporter's instincts went, "Uh, Oh …"

But Hulse surfaced again a couple pages later with a notice that he was picked in March 1930 to head the 45th Agricultural Fair Association. Maybe he saw that board as being more prestigious. Or maybe the post came with a salary.

Hulse went on to become a state senator and was speaker pro tempore of the state Senate until his retirement in 1956, El Centro writer Ann Mitchell Horne wrote in the 1996 edition of this newspaper's Inland Empire.

Not only are the Imperial school and a building at the California Mid-Winter Fair & Fiesta named for him, but so is a portion of Highway 78.

Imperial so appreciated Hulse's efforts to get air conditioning for its new school — the first of its kind in the state, wrote Horne — that it named the school after him. He also was successful in his campaign to get a swimming pool for the city.

In their later years, Hulse and his wife, Laura, lived in a hacienda south of El Centro that they named the Hulsienda and which still stands today.

In any case, Hulse's seat on the Board of Supervisors was filled by Andy Preble. There's a Preble building on the California Mid-Winter Fairgrounds.

The only other mentions of Hulse in the Tout book were notices that he was elected vice-president of the Valleywide Associated Chamber of Commerce (1925) and appointed to the California Mid-Winter fairboard (1927).

QUESTION: I missed the Holtville Carrot Festival this year. Can you send me the winning recipes? — Cook, Buena Park

We don't have the winning recipes. However, it's possible that some PROBE readers have them and would be willing to send you copies. OK, readers, if you have the recipes, you may send them to Ida M. Chivers, 6189 MacArthur Way, Buena Park, CA 90620.

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