Danny was born on November Thirtieth, Nineteen Hundred Fifty One, just outside of Kearney, Nebraska.
His parents were Charles Vandevar Thomas and Marjorie Lucille Bolt, and he is the fourth of six sons.
His parents & brothers lived just outside of town, on a small "Share Croppers Farm", where they raised corn, rabbits, and a small vegetable garden. His Mom & Dad also worked in town at the local Bakery, to help make ends meet. And it didn't take long for day old bread to disappear, when they'd bring it home from work.
The small home they lived in was known as the "Little Red House".
Danny remembers his Grandfather, putting on a new addition to the house well before he started kindergarten, and at this same time they also installed electricity, indoor running water, (you still had to go outside to the "Old Two Holer" for personal relief) and a telephone, which was a party line they shared with four other families in the area.
Danny was at Bryant School in Kearney, Nebraska for kindergarten and first grade. Then moved to Oshkosh, Nebraska (up in the pan handle) where his parents started their own bakery. He was in 2nd grade there. Then it was a move back again to Kearney (the bakery failed) where he was back at Bryant School for 3rd and 4th grades, then to Kearney Elementary Grade School for 5th grade.
Then it was a big move to California, as they packed everything up in their 1952 Desoto with a U-Haul Carrier on top and headed for the city of Vallejo, (that's where his aunt & uncle lived), to finish 5th grade. This would have been in March of 1963. Then during the summer they moved to San Pablo, California, where he started 6th grade at Dover Elementary.
He started 7th grade at Downer Jr. High in September of 1964. Then his dad decided to pack everything up and head back to Nebraska again, in Oct. of that year. They had a 1959 Ford Galaxy 500 Station Wagon with a U-Haul trailer on the back. They got as far as Battle Mountain, Nevada and the car broke down, so his father sold it and most of their valuable belongings for cash to buy gas and food, because a man came along, that was on his way to New York and said he would take them and their trailer to Kearney, Nebraska as long as they paid for the gas, (and a few pints of high test).
to Kearney and stayed with his aunt & uncle, and he finished the 7th
Danny's oldest brother came home on leave from boot camp and borrowed their dad's car and brought himself, and his brothers back to their aunt & uncles house in Kearney. While there, their mother sent money and bus tickets for them to come back to California.
In June 1966 Danny finished the 8th grade back in California at the old Pinole Jr. High School, in Pinole, Calif.
They moved back to San Pablo, California that summer and he started the 9th grade back at Downer Jr. High.
He started the 10th grade, in September 1967 at Richmond High School, but got into trouble and found himself in Contra Costa County Juvenile Hall, and then on to Byron Boys Ranch, where he finished the 10th grade.
He was released from Byron Boys Ranch, and in Sept. 1968 he started what he thought was the 11th grade, but found out that he was still in the 10th grade because Richmond High School did not accept credits earned while in Byron Boys Ranch. So he went to the schools office with a forged note, and told them that the family was moving back to Nebraska, and checked himself out of school.
It was at this time that Danny picked up his first guitar and started teaching himself to play.
He started working for my father's, home repair company, and it was here that we first met.
I was 15 years old at that time and Danny was 17.
working part time for my Dad, and part time with his brother at a local
poultry company. We got married on my birthday, October Seventh, Nineteen
Seventy Two, and our first son was born soon after.
Danny started a full time job at a liquid sugar co., in Emeryville, Calif., and worked there for a little over a year. At the same time he was taking a home study course on Architectural Drafting. He completed his studies and received his Diploma of completion.
It was at this same time that a large number of engineers had been laid off in their industries, and they wound up taking drafting positions, and draftsmen with years of experience were already in the unemployment lines, so needless to say a job in that industry was not forth coming. But the skills still served him well while working for my father as a General Contractor.
By this time we were living in a two bedroom apartment in San Pablo, and our second son was on the way. Our Landlord reminded us that the apartments were not big enough for a family of four and that we would have to make other arrangements. So at that time we moved into our first home.
It was at this time also that Danny completed his police officer training courses and became a reserve officer for the city of San Pablo.
He went to work full time for a large frozen food company in Oakland, Calif., in Nov. 1977 and worked there for three and a half years.
Just after going to work at this food company, we bought a larger home in San Pablo.
By this time Danny's mother had remarried, and in April of 1981 his step-father offered Danny the opportunity to buy half of his business, known as "Fleet Electric, Inc.", in downtown Berkeley, Ca., which he did. When his "step-father, partner" retired from the business in 1986, Danny took over the entire company.
At this time Danny was doing his ground schooling and flight training and became a private pilot.
In 1995 we moved into a larger home in El Sobrante, Calif.
We retired from the business in May of 1999. and our oldest son is now the 3rd generation at the helm.
Since retiring we have done a lot of traveling and really enjoy the Death Valley area. We have joined the Death Valley '49ers Organization, and are learning and studying about the early history of the area.
Danny has played his guitar now for over 40 years. And is now performing and writing his own music and poetry of the Desert and Death Valley area. He taught himself to play the Guitar, Keyboard, and Harmonica, and at this time he has 4 different C/D Albums available as well as Music Slide DVD Video.
Over the last few years Danny has published a few books and has helped others interested in the Death Valley area work on publishing theirs. He also created a magazine for the Death Valley '49ers to help get their information out to the general public. Visit the Death Valley '49ers at their website www.DeathValley49ers.org which he also created, and find out more about the great mystery of Death Valley.
This information is by no means complete, it is just a quick look at Danny's life as it has unfolded so far, and hopefully will continue to do so.
From the day I first saw him jump over our fence those many years ago, I knew I was getting the pick of the litter.
Cheryl Diane ThomasBack to Top