As a youngster, Lester Loomis was always tall and skinny, and would rather spend his days hunting and fishing than in school. His family had trouble keeping him interested in his classes, and his adventurous spirit led him to leave home and school in his early teenage years.

By the time he reached his twenties, he had already driven freight wagons and stagecoaches through Indian territory in California, Nevada, and Oregon. He had operated sawmills, worked on a survey party in Nevada, worked for his brother Charles, been a sheriff in two counties, and according to a story published in 1938, had also been a miner, cowboy, prison guard, and range detective. The family trade was plastering, which led him to Southern California, where he spent his adult life, and eventually into contracting.

Odo Stade, in his 1938 article "The Last Homestead", noted that, in his younger days, Lester had been known as "Lucky".

In a journal he wrote in 1932, Loomis relates the following tale about how he acquired his nickname. He assigns no particular time period to the story, but I suspect he was between eighteen and twenty years of age when these events took place.

How I got the name of Lucky

by Lester Loomis

Went to work on Pyramid Mine belonging to a bunch of Reno bankers. Worked first firing boiler ... they gave me a better job after while handling furnace. Boiler man made $4 – furnace man $8.00. Furnace only ran about one month then broke down. Sent to S.F. to get repair parts - was layed off. During that time I roamed around, played cards, and drink whiskey - piling up debt at hotel and bar.

Started to crowd me for money but I was broke. Tried to figure way to pay debt. Had little silver watch. Told saloon keeper to take watch and put up for a raffle – 20 @ $1. I took one chance myself. Shook dice for it. When it was over with I had watch and 19 dollars. Then everybody joking about it put it up second time – won second time. Finally a fellow came around and said "Lucky, what'll you take for that watch." "Tried to get rid of it for $20.00; you can have it for that."

Some fellows were playing 4 handed flush seven-up - $5.00 a corner. Made 15 dollars on that, then got into a poker game. Continued to play poker all that night and the next day and part of the following night. Had all the money in Camp. Didn't amount to great deal.

Slept ... in an old barn. Pockets and hat full of money. Lit a lantern and started to count – was so sleepy I drifted asleep. Lay in pile of money. When I woke up the next morning all the money was still there. Paid my debts. Short time after work started again.

[Initial Version: 02/01/07]
[Sources: A.J. Loomis obituary, A.J. Loomis diary, Blaine Journal extracts, Census Records, Lester Loomis Journals]