Friday, June 23, 2006

Route 66 Begins

June 23, 1907
Los Angeles

The Auto Club of Southern California has begun posting white enamel signs with blue lettering along Foothill Boulevard between Los Angeles and Riverside.

Spending about half a day, auto club President George Allen Hancock and Charles Fuller Gates, who is in charge of the county’s signage, staked the route through Highland Park, South Pasadena and Pasadena, Lamanda Park, Baldwin’s ranch, Monrovia, Azusa, Glendora, Claremont, Uplands, Cucamonga, Etiwanda, Stalder (34.0119/117.3125 to folks with GPS) to West Riverside.

To protect the signs, a $200 reward ($4,104.71 USD 2005) was offered for anyone caught vandalizing them. “For a while the motoring public did not understand these signs,” The Times said, “but gradually their value dawned upon them and then the rest of the highway traveling public understood them too. After that, very few were destroyed. Now it is seldom that any are molested.”

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Thursday, June 22, 2006

You must be kidding

June 22, 1907
Los Angeles

Let’s suppose for a moment that you are a handsome former Army sergeant who has served in the Philippines. Let’s further suppose that you get into a fight in a bar on South Main Street and hit another patron in the face with a heavy beer glass. Then let’s suppose you escape to St. Louis, change your name and start life over.

Which is exactly what Edward H. Freund did. And then he was undone by a woman, or rather two women, since he was courting two at the same time. It seems that one of them wanted a picture of dear Edward and the only photo he had of himself was the wanted posted issued by the Los Angeles Police Department.

So he gave her a copy of the wanted poster.

We know where this is going, don’t we? Edward was held in the local jail on $1,500 bail.

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Shout out, Kabul, Afghanistan (

Sony Pictures (

Comcast subscriber in Reading, Pa. ( Windows 98? Upgrade that antique operating system!

Hurry back!

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Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Shout out to

Dow Jones (

Twentieth Century Fox (

E! Entertainment (

Jeff Poulin (

County-USC Medical Center (

San Francisco Public Library (

Verizon User, District of Columbia (

Hurry back!

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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Summer Heat

June 20, 1907
Los Angeles

The salesclerks of Los Angeles are steaming—and not over the warming temperatures. Beginning last summer, all the department stores agreed that instead of closing at 10 p.m. on Saturdays, they would close at 12:30 p.m., giving the staff a half-day off with pay.

But the new manager of the Bon Marche, J.W. Eccleston, decided he could increase business by remaining open, incurring the anger of every other merchant—and clerk—in town. Eccleston said: “We have the matter under advisement. We have not determined that we will not close, but we will probably not do so on next Saturday night. We have our side of the story; our employees are unanimously with us and I don’t see that we need any outside sympathy.”

Thousands of store workers crowded into Simpson Auditorium for a meeting on preserving the half-holiday in the summer and closing at 6 p.m. instead of 10 p.m. on Saturdays for the rest of the year. Speeches were made and boycotts were threatened.

In the end, the half-holiday prevailed.

Here’s an inflation reality check:

Women’s mohair swimsuits $3.50-$12 ($71.83-$246.28 USD 2005). Taffeta silk $15-$20 ($307.85-$410.47 USD 2005).

Weather in Los Angeles for June 20, 1907: A low of 55 and a high of 72; at midnight, it was 61 and cloudy.

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Monday, June 19, 2006

Soothing Music

June 19, 1907
Los Angeles

What shall we do with the insane? Don’t give them drugs... give them music! (Well, some music).

Dr. E.C. Dent of the hospital for women on Ward’s Island in New York says: “I firmly believe in the curative power of music for insane patients and those who suffer from nervous diseases, but I do not say that music in itself is a cure. It is true that music is now a regular part of the treatment in this hospital systematically employed in reaching and stimulating the brain.”

The musical selections are important, Dent says, because “popular airs ... were useless or injurious in the case of a patient accustomed to the classics while the classics would be entirely without effect on the brain of an uneducated person.”

For simple mania, Dent says, slow, dreamy music is best while someone with melancholia is best treated with a stirring air. Dent’s assistant Miss Vescelius has classified music much like drugs: stimulants, sedatives, bromides, narcotics and tonics.

Dent uses Franz’s Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 as a stimulant (predating Warner Bros.’ cartoons by several decades), and Felix Mendelssohn’s “On Wings of Song” as a sedative. Franz Schubert’s “Ave Maria” is a narcotic and marches and bright waltzes are considered as tonics.

“One day a dear friend mentally and physically at the lowest ebb lay in a half-fainting condition on a lounge as I sat at the piano, singing. Through a sudden impulse, I broke into the old gem ‘She Touched the Hem of His Garment,’ knowing it to be a favorite of the invalid. When I had finished she was standing by my side, with bright eyes and cheeks flushed. ‘I am revived; I am well,’ she said as she grasped me. And it was true that from that hour she improved and rapidly recovered.”

“The time will come when discordant tones in the sick room will be recognized as a crime, just as heinous as giving the sick adulterated drugs or impure food,” Vescelius said.

Although Dent doesn’t give an example of bromides, one might easily suggest, for starters, Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture” and Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons.” I wonder what they would have thought of Steve Reich’s “Come Out.”

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Sunday, June 18, 2006

Who Poisoned Baby?

June 18, 1907
Los Angeles

The victim: A collie named Baby

The plaintiff: Hazel G. (or Ella M.) Schurger, 1156 S. Flower.

The suspect: J.J. Brady of the Immigration Bureau, a next-door neighbor.

Baby’s agonizing death scandalized residents of the fashionable homes around 12th Street and South Flower, because everyone—except for J.J. Brady—loved the dog.

In May, Schurger found Baby in convulsions on the front lawn. Analysis determined that it was given strychnine. She suspected Brady because he had threatened the dog and thrown rocks at it. Schurger said that shortly before the death, she saw Brady throw some meat to Baby over the back fence. Schurger said: “I will not let the man who killed my pet go free if I can help it.”

Brady said: “I had a grudge against the dog because she barked at me, but I didn’t poison her.”

Brady was freed after a chemist testified that Baby had been given strychnine, but in such a small dose that it would have taken hours for the dog to die, not immediately, as Schurger said.

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