A Century of Malibu Life, 1920-2019

Millie Decker.jpg

“I often think of my childhood and how lucky I was to live the life I did.”

Where does one start 100 years of living? As Ray Hunt said, “It takes a lifetime to live a lifetime.” Ray also said, “Take the time it takes.”

Mildred Meek arrived in the Malibu backcountry in 1926 on the back of a horse, along with her two sisters and parents Rose and Percy Meek. Thus started 93 years of living in the paradise of Malibu.

In the early years, the Meeks camped in a tent house until a cabin could be built. All supplies were carried in on mules, one board at a time. As a young girl, Millie and her sisters rode eight miles to the one room school in Yerba Buena, and after that to Decker School. 

At age nine, she began helping her father raise and train quarter horses and racing and showing on the early fair circuit, a place to buy both horses and cattle, to open the trade bag and share stories. Horses were ridden and cattle were driven to wherever the fair was held. Day-to-day living meant hunting with her father for mule deer, rabbit, dove and quail and at other times assisting her mother and sisters in the garden so that the cellar would be full to carry them through the winter. It was a Malibu where people truly lived off the land and knew the connection between land and table.

Millie witnessed the opening of the Roosevelt Highway, now Highway 1, lived through every major wildfire in Malibu from 1935 to 2018, experienced the Great Depression, worked in a factory in World War II, lived through Korea, Vietman, the Gulf War, the invention of commercial air travel, the moon landing, phone, television and the internet, all from the slope of a Malibu ridge. Marrying her fifth husband James “Dynamite Decker” in 1960, and moving into a Sears kit house built in 1935, Millie with Jimmy watched Malibu grow from a remote cattle ranch to a place whose natural treasures drew people from all over the world.

With her father, Millie helped start the first equestrian clubs in Malibu, and gave her life to the care and training of horses. Hers was a home where the door was always open and a pot of tea was always ready for whoever showed up. There was always the walk down to the barn to show the latest foal, to sling a saddle or throw a rope, or to share a slice of watermelon under an oak old enough to have been rubbed on by a grizzly bear.


We invite you to join us in an afternoon of celebration at Point Mugu State Park (Sycamore Canyon), sites 55 & 56, on June 2 from 4-7 p.m. It will be an afternoon of memories—where we came from and of how we got here.