The Sam Hinton Website - Leslie

A Little Bit About Leslie Hinton (1917-2005)

By Leanne Hinton

Sam and Leslie Hinton
Sam and Leslie. Photo by Danny Cooper, 2001

Sam's wife Leslie was born Elizabeth Leslie Forster, the third child of four, in a family that moved to Southern California from Canada just a few years before she was born. Like Sam, Leslie is a musician and an artist, and comes from a family of very talented musicians. Her mother Belle was raised on a farm in Manitoba along with her cousin Elizabeth Fournier (called "Auntie Buzz" by the family). Auntie Buzz was an accomplished opera singer in her younger years, and Belle went to a college of music and became an accomplished piano teacher, and met her husband there, also a musician.

When they first came to Southern California, Leslie's father ran a music store for years in Oxnard. Leslie's older sister Frances, a violinist and child prodigy, went on tour to the east coast with her mother at the age of 8 (4 years before Leslie was born). During the silent film era, Frances and her mother played at movie theatres to give a live sound track to the films. Frances later became the superintendent of music in the Los Angeles County school system, a position that was unfortunately cancelled upon her retirement.

Some of Leslie's handiwork
Leslie's 6" apple, some flowers from her garden, and her tile mosaic dining table.

During the depression era, the family made much of their living through music teaching - often paid for by baskets of produce when people had no cash. Since Frances was the violin player of the family, the next child, Lawrence, was delegated to the piano, and Leslie was given the viola. As Sam says, he married her right out of the string quartet that played (with a substitute violist) for their wedding.

Leslie majored in art at UCLA and joined the school chorus. At a Christmas chorus, where Sam was performing with another group, Leslie came down a stage stairway singing like an angel, says Sam, and it was love at first sight on both sides. That night they met and talked, then during Christmas break sent each other Christmas cards, and two weeks later they were engaged.

It was a long engagement, though. They remained in their parents' homes and waited for marriage until they graduated from college two years later and Sam got a job as the curator of the Desert Museum in Palm Springs. Sam was an animal lover and a herpetologist, used to having pet lizards and snakes all over the house; Leslie, more of a mammalian expert, grew up with cats and dogs. Between them, they filled their home with pets of all sorts.

Leslie's garden
A corner of leslie's garden, leading up to the front gate.

In their early years together, Leslie sang with Sam occasionally and learned fiddling styles on the violin. But she was not at home in front of an audience, and was much more comfortable with those arts that she could do without performing for a crowd - so she was more dedicated to art than to music. Eventually she took up ceramics, deeply influenced by the Japanese masters, and filled their home and the homes of friends with beautiful vases, plates, bowls and cups. Years after she stopped doing ceramics, "Leslie pots" are still centerpieces in the homes of her relatives.

Leslie's artistic abilities are also expressed in home-keeping, cooking and gardening. Sam and Leslie's home is unique and beautiful, filled with furniture that they made together, decked with flowers from their lovely garden, and walls covered by books or artwork, including folk art and works by their children, grandchildren and nephews. Another of Leslie's skills is weaving, and the floors of their home have many rugs and hangings that she has woven herself. A floor loom is prominent in the living area, and she also has a multitude of small hand-weaving projects. Always fascinated more by folk art than the "fine" arts, she has studied and reproduced the techniques of finger-weaving and hand-loom weaving around the world.

Besides all this, Leslie has made a wonderful home and loving environment for Sam, their two children Matt and Leanne, and their granddaughter Katrina who lived with them for years. Sam and Leslie have always been deeply in love, and it shows. Their relationship has served as a model for many people who wanted to see what a happy marriage looks like.

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