American Polo Pioneer
Sue Sally Hale
I think everyone that knew her, had a story about her and how she crossed their lives. This is my story. My daughter, her friend and I were at the Monterey Horse show one year "many" years ago and ran into Sue Sal whom I had met thru polo. She had one of her kids riding in the show and lived in Carmel Valley at the time. She invited the three of us to come to her house for dinner and to spend the night. We accepted. After many wrong turns and stops for directions, we arrived at the barn. what a great place that was. Kids all over and every kind of horse there is to be had. Sue Sal greeted us and took us down the road to her house. I remember thinking what an interesting house this is. There were memorabilia all over. A very comfortable place. Very homey. We had spaghetti for dinner. What else does one serve 7 kids and 2 moms after a horse show. The kids of Sals had stayed at the barn to feed and I asked her how they would get home (the barn was maybe 1/2 mile away) She told me to look out the dining room window. From across the field came the children, all on horse back, jumping fences and ditches. It was a sight to behold. I have eaten dinners in some fancy places in my life as a polo wife, but I will never forget the hospitality or the adventure of that meal in the home of Sue Sal. I will miss hearing about her and her doings. Our loss.
A special thanks to Lynn Bremner at POLOZONE for making a place to collect these stories shortly after Sue Sally's passing.
Over fifty years ago my family moved into a house in Pacific Palisades, California. While carrying things into the house, I looked up and on the rise next to our driveway, I saw two Indian warriors, mounted, horses and warriors completely painted in horrifying colors. I wisely went inside to hide under the dining room table. Happily, those two didn't attack, but the friendship lasted all this time.
Sue Sally Jones Hale and Terry O'Reilly Kristiansen I never met her Dad: screenwriter Grover Jones.
Her mom Suzie made Christmas chowder for us kids after caroling (horseback, of course) but I don't remember if we cared much about the road apples we left in David Niven's, or Ronald Reagan's, driveways. Neither cared, both were marvelous surprised hosts! Sal knew the words, and of course rode the best.
Dickie, Unca' Dickie, helped us kids avoid the red rooster that chased kids at the barn. Dickie and Suzie married (Stunt man awards are named after Dickie, Richard Talmadge, the Talmadge awards.)and lived in Carmel Valley.
Sal ultimately had a big goose who was as belligerent as the rooster, but only in a protective mode! Then there was the dog that walked by Sal's side, holding her hand in his mouth. When Sal married Alex, I was in a full leg cast and the only pants I could pull on were rawhide with buckskin fringe. Might as well wear the buckskin shirt to the wedding, which I did. I was, uh, noticeable at the wedding, but even though limping slightly with her bad feet, Sal hit me on the head with her bouquet, accompanied by her wonderful smile. Suzie knew her daughter, so I was merely a surprise.
Ah yes, that first house in Carmel Valley. The kitchen window overlooking the bathtub. Which had feathers from the goose.
The second house in CV, bigger and room for a summer camp. Yes, Sal knew that I would best any and all campers in a bareback water fight in the creek, I learned the techniques from playing horseback on Zuma Beach, learned the hard way from Sal. Sal also knew I was gullible, so when the campers gained revenge by putting pollywogs in carrot salad and telling they were raisins, I cleaned my plate. And rode that evening and the next morning!
Last saw her play years ago at a demo in Scottsdale. She and two other ladies beat the local males, which included a descendant of Will Rogers. That was appropriate because the Will Rogers Polo Field in Palisades was where Sal started playing. (At an early age she gave up her other career goal, rodeo, in lieu of nearby polo.)
So many happy memories. Hard to marshall them with tears in my eyes. Somehow, I hope others hear of her passing and also have weepy memories. Lorn, Janey, Maria.
There is a heaven for horses and people, and now Crownie the Wonder Horse is telling Buckie, Willy and others that Sal is home.
Thank you lady, thanks for the possum cartoons, the bad jokes, the spaghetti, the cute way you said "oh, I know, I know", thanks for getting the horse INTO the east end of the John Thomas Dye School (Bel Air Town and Country, on the hill) and thanks for more than I'll ever remember.
Yes, I did "date" her once, we went to see a western movie.
Unbeknownst to me, she had her yellow cat "Thumper" hidden in her purse. Unbeknownst to her, I was allergic to cats. Hilarious? Oh my yes!
--Jeff Place, Prescott Arizona
Sue Sally was one of those wonderfully unique individuals who if you were fortunate enough to know her you are a better person for having had the privilege. For those of us who had the pleasure of knowing her we all know that she has done much more for us than just make us better riders and polo players. She adopted a group of Marines and we called ourselves the El Toro Marine Polo Team. Without Sue Sally’s support we would never have had the opportunity to play polo. She was an example of dedication and perseverance for all of us.
Sue Sally was both our equation Sergeant Major and our adopted mother. We learned from her as a teacher and coach, but most of all she was our friend. An advocate for many causes she set an example for "her Marines" by displaying boldness, dedication, and a true warrior spirit in everything she did. She gave so much of herself and I am sure it will be quite some time before we all truly realize what we have lost. She has truly changed my life as well as the lives of all "her Marines". Her love for horses, polo, and life is something none of us will ever forget.
It is hard to put to words how much Sue Sally will be missed. However, I can honestly say that the few Marines who have had the honor and privilege of knowing and learning from her are better Marines, better players, better horsemen, and more importantly better men for having known her.
Sue Sally we will miss you! As the third verse of the United States Marine Corps hymn states, "if the Army and the Navy ever look on Heavens scenes they will see the streets are guarded by United States Marines". For those of us who wear the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor and have had the honor of knowing you, we look forward to the day that we will be guarding those streets of gold, because by guarding those streets we will once again be able to be with you. Semper Fidelis,
--Major Caryll G. Rice II, U.S.M.C.R
There have been many famous people in U.S history we all remember like Davey Crockett, Daniel Boone, Wyatt Earp and Sue Sally Hale. They were all the same in many ways. Davey Crockett went were no one had ever been. Sue Sal went where no woman had ever been, Sunday Polo. Daniel Boone would not walk away and the same with Sue Sal. She was not going away. She was one who made the last stand and was still standing. Like Mr. Earp he did what he wanted to with a fast six gun and Sue Sal did what she wanted to with a fast horse and much the same because she wanted to. Sue Sally was the Grand Lady of polo and you guessed it, she wanted to be . She was and will always be one of the famous people in polo and history in California because she was Sue Sally Hale. She rode a Mule when others rode a horse and she kept a possum when others kept a cat. The one thing that probably 60% of the people in California polo have in common is somehow Sue Sally touched their lives. She probably helped your groom, your patron or your pro sometime, somewhere , somehow. She may have helped you personally, that was the way she was. Two weeks ago, in the lady's tournament at Eldorado Polo Club, she took her team to the trophy table. Her Team put a whipping on the other team and she did a lot of the work herself. Scoring goals, stealing the ball from K.B. and flying down the field, bandana flying and using one rein on a multi-colored horse and winning the way she wanted because she wanted to. Well now it will be a real test up there in the polo field in the sky. Big Gee will have to settle it all as Big Artie and Sue Sally must share the same field and the same line. So long Sue Sally. You will be forever be famous in polo history because we want you to be !! Our thoughts go out to her family and many, many friends .
-- Steve Crowder
I was fourteen when I met Sue Sal back at Rancho Point Lobos, CA in the mid '60's. She was always so positive, kind and generous to everyone she encountered. As I grew older, and Sal moved to Carmel Valley, I came to appreciate how she always made a place in her home for anyone who needed it...troubled kids, lost dogs, impossible horses and any other critter that needed healing, shelter and some TLC.
I'm 51 now, and haven't seen Sue Sal for eleven years. The last time I stayed at her place in Moorpark I got to tell her how much she had influenced my life, and as usual, she was humble and had some words of wisdom to share. I wonder how many of us she has encouraged to follow our dreams, when we were ready to give up? She could look around her and see possibilities where others saw drawbacks. She could take the ordinary and make it extraordinary. She taught me the meaning of an abundant life. Sue Sally lives on in those of us she touched so deeply. God bless you, Sue Sal, as you gallop down the fields of Heaven, playing with the best who've gone before. Another angel has been welcomed home.
--Cathy Frisbie Leach
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