Retired Calif. judge credits Cumberland in his life course

George Eskin

CUMBERLAND — Retired California Superior Court Judge George Eskin credits Cumberland for having a positive effect on his life and values.

“I lived here from 1948 to 1958 and I consider this home,” said the Fort Hill High School Hall of Fame member during a brief visit to the Queen City.

“What was wonderful for me, other than the environment, was the people," Eskin said. "I just developed a wonderful healthy respect for other people and their circumstances. And I think that is something that is missing today — respect for people."

The Santa Barbara resident recently traveled to Washington to watch grandson and Northeastern senior Bolden Brace play basketball in the Colonial Athletic Association tournament. A slight detour between games brought him to Cumberland.

The son of Cumberland dentist Dr. Albert C. Eskin and Beatrice Castelle Eskin fondly recalled his joyous days in the Queen City where his uncle, dentist Dr. Paul Castelle, also resided.

“We were a Jewish family and we were accepted in the community. I played on the synagogue team in the Church League Basketball League at the YMCA," he recalled.

"But I remember that my mom played golf with the Cumberland Country Club women’s team but she could not go on the trips when they played at Hagerstown because of anti-Semitism there,” he said.

Eskin also spoke of some time he spent in the editorial department of the Cumberland News. 

“I worked as a sports reporter covering Fort Hill football games in the fall (of) 1954 for the Cumberland News and managing editor Bernard 'Speed' Sitter," Eskin said. 

The retired jurist said Sitter and Fort Hill English teacher, Mary Calamine, were his mentors.

“I can’t say enough about my education at Fort Hill and Mary Calamine. I owe what writing skills I may have to her.

“And Speed taught me a work ethic. He was all business — very serious, very professional — and he taught me how to edit. He was very encouraging and he had confidence in me,” Eskin said.

Eskin's early education in Cumberland included some training at the Catherman’s Business School.

“I could type up to 120 words a minute," he said. "I think we had Underwood typewriters back then."

It was 1958 when life took an abrupt turn. Eskin was a second-year student at Carnegie Tech in Pittsburgh at that time. 

“My dad died of a stroke at age 50. After that happened, my mother didn’t want to remain in Cumberland," he said. "So we moved to Los Angeles where we had lived during World War II."

Eskin transferred to UCLA and earned a degree in theatrical arts, then moved to New York to study acting.

"But I soon thought that there was no security in that profession and I took a job with the Teleprompter Corporation as an assistant director of public relations," he said.

He then transferred to Eugene, Oregon, as regional director of Teleprompter’s cable TV division.

“I had noticed there were a lot of people with Teleprompter that had law degrees and legal backgrounds. So I went to law school — figuring I would go back to Teleprompter after I got my law degree,” said Eskin, who graduated from UCLA Law School in 1965.

But Eskin's love for the law prevailed. 

"I realized I wanted to spend time as a trial attorney in court and I took a job as a prosecutor with the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office,” Eskin said.

His law career included five years working as chief assistant city attorney after being hired by Los Angeles City Attorney Burt Pines.

"The office had 120 prosecutors at the time," said Eskin, who later decided to return to private practice. He spent the next 20 years as a criminal defense attorney.

In 2003, Gov. Gray Davis appointed Eskin to the California Superior Court where he retired in 2013.

Eskins’ wife, Hannah-Beth Jackson, is a prominent California state senator who was first elected 20 years ago.

Eskin voiced his love for the Santa Barbara community where he is involved in a variety of professional and community activities, including serving in his 26th season as the public address announcer for the UCSB women's basketball team.

The Eskin family lived in Cumberland 10 years and resided in the 1900 block of Bedford Street just across the street from the family of retired Maryland Court of Special Appeals Judge J. Frederick Sharer.

After a half-hour interview at the Times-News, Eskin exited the front door for lunch with friends, including Allen Haines, prior to his drive back to Washington. 

Eskin paused to share his memory of sultry summer days he had spent next door to the newspaper offices next to Wills Creek.

“I worked on the flood control project in a summer job hauling hods," he said. "I was trying to build my muscles."

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