Wes Costa

Wes lived the ideal 1950s american dream. 2 children, a loving wife who baked immaculate cakes. A WW2 veteran, volunteer fireman, and highway patrolman. A lumber yard worker when his daughter Gail needed $40 for dance lessons.

While sitting along the road one evening watching for speeders, he would remove the shells from his magnum and dry fire at the dash. One day he didn’t remove all of the shells and blasted a huge hole into the floorboard of his cruiser. After telling the captian, he decided no one else needed to know. However, Gail heard her parents talking talking and shared her dad’s story at kindergarten the next day.

Wes with his family
Wes, Gail, and Gwen.

Events played out as if on Leave it to Beaver. While helping the neighbors remodel their house he accidentally hooked up the hot water to the toilet. Wes built giant displays for Christmas, hand-painting scenes and characters for his front lawn. His charm and good nature captured the tiny American town’s attention.

Over a few years Wes began to lose feeling in his left leg, and had a tingling sensation around his waist. No treatment helped ease his condition. One day Wes came home laughing because he left a stuffed sock in his boot all day and didn’t feel a thing.

As if overnight Wes’s condition shifted and he was completely paralyzed. Gwen’s mother would take care of the kids and Gwen would visit any chance she could get. The family struggled with his new development.

He tried everything. After an immense amount of tests the doctor at the Veteran’s Center concluded that the pain that Wes was feeling was “All in his mind.” He was loaded up with pain killers and underwent exploratory surgery and severing nerves where he was having pain. Surgery made things worse. He was moved home. Gwen struggled to give Wes happiness, and make him pain-free.

After several moths Wes committed suicide. Newly widowed Gwen and her two children were left to provide for themselves.

Family at a glance

  • Gwen Wilder
  • Gail Haggard
  • Gwen Wilder

Follow his lineage

It has taken years to collect, curate and record my family's history and I've barely scratched the surface. What you see in this document is an exploration of an atypical Californian family. A common theme throughout my lineage is strong women providing for themselves and their kin passed their due. It's clear to see the turning points in my Great Great Grandmother's life and how it has rippled down generations.

Each person portrayed here is done so with love and kindness, and I hope that I have done their character justice.

A Study Of Family

by Jonathan Haggard

All icons from The Noun Project.