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Wednesday, December 12 , 2018, 12:01 pm | Partly Cloudy 62º


Mr. Mack, Ambassador of Cadillac Style, Dies at 90

The familiar joy rider loved cruising Santa Barbara's streets in his tricked-out Eldorado with the double horns.

L.C. McHaskell, better known around Santa Barbara as Mr. Mack, had a brilliant smile — enhanced by 10 gold teeth. (Rob Kuznia photo / Noozhawk)

L.C. McHaskell, better known around town as Mr. Mack, the spiffily dressed owner of a stretched-out, souped-up Cadillac Eldorado whose ear-splitting double horns he loved to honk while parading down State Street, has died. He was 90.

Police on Monday responded to call from a neighbor to check on him at his Lower Eastside condominium, and found McHaskell in the bathroom, where he had apparently died of natural causes earlier in the day, said Santa Barbara police Sgt. Noel Rivas.

The son of a farming family from Arkansas, McHaskell came to California in 1943 to serve in the military at a base near San Diego. He spent his entire working career as a construction worker — or, more specifically, a cement paver — at Port Hueneme Naval Base, beginning in 1948. He was an assiduous saver.

In the 1960s, McHaskell purchased a Canada Street lot and built a two-story apartment complex with two units. Until the end, he lived in one of them and rented out the other.

McHaskell was a flamboyant dresser who appreciated a good fedora and even used to tailor his own suits — in several colors — including all-white and all-blue. His easygoing smile also displayed 10 gold teeth, which, he said, were worth a grand total of $6,500.

Loaded with extra features, Mr. Mack’s Cadillac Eldorado was his pride and joy. (Rob Kuznia photo / Noozhawk)

In the mid-1980s, McHaskell purchased his beloved ivory-colored land yacht from Sam Battistone Sr., who co-founded Sambo’s restaurant with Newell Bohnett. The asking price for the 1981 model: $30,000, cash.

The transaction wasn’t without a trace of irony.

Although originally an amalgamation of its owners’ last names, Sambo’s eventually adopted the theme of the book Little Black Sambo. The local breakfast joint mushroomed into a nationwide chain in the 1970s, but shrank back to one location — the still-existing original restaurant on Cabrillo Boulevard — following a race-related uproar over the theme, which the restaurant long ago dropped.

But in a February interview with Noozhawk, McHaskell, who was black, said he never gave the controversy much thought.

“I don’t think that means anything,” he said. “I never thought too much about that.”

McHaskell was married twice; both of his former wives preceded him in death. His first wife, Larrie, died of diabetes in 1962, at age 41. His second wife, Dorothy, died of lung cancer in 2002 He is survived by a daughter who lives in Los Angeles.

Noozhawk staff writer Rob Kuznia can be contacted at [email protected]

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