Saturday, November 18, 2006

Religious Recycling

Nov. 18, 1907
South Pasadena

Calvary Presbyterian Church at Center (now El Centro) and Fremont was dedicated in a service featuring prominent local religious leaders, including Dr. John Willis Baer, president of Occidental College.

The Times notes that the original church building was located on Columbia Street, but the location was inconvenient, so the church bought the Nazarene Chapel on Center.

The church, which cost $10,000 ($205,235.70 USD 2005) incorporates much of the old First Presbyterian Church of Pasadena, which was at Worcester Avenue and Colorado Street, The Times says.

Fortunately, this church is still standing and I’ll post some shots once I get the film developed.

In other news, Police Chief Kern talks frankly with The Times about the crime wave that is gripping the city.

Destruction from last year’s San Francisco earthquake has deprived career criminals and hobos of their usual winter quarters, so they are heading to Los Angeles, Kern says. In addition, layoffs across the Southwest have sent waves of the unemployed to Southern California.

“From the railroad detectives and mining men of large interests I have learned that nearly all of the railroads are discharging men from all their departments. Men are also being thrown out of work at the mines in Arizona, New Mexico and Nevada,” Kern says.”

“It enormously complicates the police problem and makes life in Los Angeles more dangerous,” the chief says. “To a very large extent they are men who are not in the habit of saving money and they arrive here broke and out of work. The next step is crime.

“I learn from the County Jail that many of the vagrants coming there to serve time are mechanics and workmen who have never been arrested before.”

Kern advocates the creation of a state police department charged, among other duties, with searching all trains entering California to clear them of hobos and vagrants.

Now pay attention:


I swear, this should be carved over the doors of the new LAPD headquarters.

Read about the history of Pasadena Presbyterian Church here.

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Friday, November 17, 2006

What Happens in the Monkey House?

Nov. 17, 1907
New York by direct wire to The Times

Something curious seems to be going on with opera tenors in the monkey house at New York’s Central Park; perhaps there’s an atmosphere that lends itself to “annoying” people, for the problem of mashers at the monkey house has even inspired a 1907 movie by Biograph.

Luckily, Detective J.J. Cain is on the lookout for malefactors who make lewd advances, having arrested Enrico Caruso the year before.

Cain’s latest arrests are Leon Cazauran, “a slender young man with pale face and large brown eyes” brought to New York to sing in “Thais” at Oscar Hammerstein’s Manhattan Operahouse, and his companion, Claude Modjeska, “a copper-colored young man,” The Times says.

“The charge against both was that of attempting to corrupt the morals of little boys,” The Times says. Cain said he was suspicious of the men because they had visited the monkey house several times before “in the company of small boys.”

Despite the language handicap (Cazauran didn’t speak English and while Modjeska only knew a bit of English, he was able to act as a translator) the men protested their innocence. Modjeska was fined $10 and the men vanished.

Caruso had not been so fortunate the previous year. Although his alleged victim at first refused to testify, Cain pressed the complaint and gave the following account:

The tenor had followed two girls, one of them about 12, and annoyed them. He then turned his attention to three women, one of whom was black, Cain said.

Cain said he saw Caruso move close to Mrs. Hannah Graham of the Bronx, N.Y. “He said he saw Caruso move up close to Mrs. Graham and then saw one of Caruso’s hands glide stealthily through a slit in his overcoat and then saw Caruso pinch the woman. Mrs. Graham turned swiftly and struck Caruso in the chest, crying aloud: ‘You brute! You beast!’ ”

The detective said he intervened after Graham hit Caruso in the chest. Cain added that he had seen Caruso commit other offenses, but “wanted to get him good.”

The spectacular trial ended with Caruso being fined $10. Hmmmm. According to news accounts, Caruso later “attempted to take certain liberties” with a woman in an automobile and in 1913 got in trouble in London, when he pointed at a young woman in the crowded lobby of the Savoy Hotel and said: “You! You!”

When reproved by an American who said: “You shouldn’t do that,” the singer replied: “I am Caruso and I do as I please.”

Bonus fact: Caruso was in San Francisco during the 1906 earthquake.

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Thursday, November 16, 2006

1423 S. Van Ness

As promised, here are views of the home of Mrs. E.N. Eskey, featured in The Times in 1907. Note the damaged chimney, presumably the victim of seismic Darwinism.

And as a bonus, here’s the home of Igor Stravinsky, which I found in West Hollywood. It was here that Stravinsky and W.H. Auden began writing “The Rake’s Progress” in 1947. When I found the house, I struck up a conversation with a man across the street who was hosing off his driveway. He said had inherited his parents’ house and that when he was a young boy, he met Stravinsky.

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Fatal Fury

Nov. 16, 1907
Los Angeles

Mrs. Amanda Cook (she is also identified as Jennie and Mary) came to Los Angeles from Boston in 1906 with two of her children in search of her husband, Frederick, a union plasterer and bricklayer. She advertised in the newspapers without success and finally took a job as a cook at the Juvenile Detention Home.

Persuaded by her cousin to seek a divorce, she hired attorney George W. MacKnight, who sought out her errant husband and began divorce proceedings.

One day, after being threatened with divorce, Frederick appeared at the juvenile home and upon seeing his wife, said: “What the hell did you come out here for? Why didn’t you stay with your folks in Boston?”

At his office, MacKnight attempted a reconciliation. When asked if he thought he should support his children, Frederick said: “Yes, but I blow in my money with the boys and cannot save a dollar for the kids.”

Frederick said he didn’t want to get a divorce, so MacKnight asked Amanda if she would take her husband back. “Fred, you know I’ll do that in a minute,” she said. Frederick agreed to rent a house for them as long as MacKnight dropped the case—but the lawyer refused until Frederick made good on his promise.

As soon as the Cooks got into the hallway, Frederick said: “Do you think I’m going to be damn fool enough to support you and those kids?”

His wife replied: “Oh, Fred, you don’t mean that. Why, you just promised to take us back and get a little house for us all together.”

“Well,” Frederick replied, “if you don’t make the lawyer of yours dismiss this case I’ll kill you and him and the judge, too, and if the bum police ever catch me, I’ll kill myself.”

Amanda got a divorce, telling her lawyer: “I’m not afraid of him because he has threatened to cut my throat or blow out my brains a thousand times.”

Frederick began plotting to kill her. His first idea was to murder her at juvenile hall by shooting through a hole he cut in a screen, but he fled after being caught putting a pistol in the opening.

The next idea was far more cunning. A champion roller-skater,

Frederick went to a hairdresser on South Broadway, where he bought a false mustache and had his hair dyed, explaining that he was so well known in roller contests that he was prevented from entering.

On Aug. 27, 1906, he found Amanda on the fast streetcar from Santa Monica, sat next to her and shot her in the forehead, then stood up and shot her twice more. Several passengers grappled with him and got the gun, but Frederick swung free of the moving streetcar “near the Hammel and Denker ranch,” The Times said, and escaped.

Amanda’s bloody body was left between the seats as the car completed its rounds, slowly sliding down until “only the pathetic, shabby little shoes stuck out into the aisle to haunt those who made that terrible ride,” The Times said.

Frederick surrendered a year later in Fort Worth, Texas, claiming the shooting was authorized by “unwritten law” because he caught his wife with another man.

In 1908, he was convicted and sentenced to life in prison at San Quentin. As for the Cooks’ three children (an older child had been left with relatives in Boston) no record can be found.

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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Imagining the Future

Nov. 15, 1907
Los Angeles

Architect Charles Mulford Robinson has drafted a proposal for downtown Los Angeles that is stunning in its ambition. One portion calls for broad boulevard leading from a proposed Union Station at Central and 5th Street toward Grand, ending at a new public library and art gallery. The other, equally elaborate, calls for a grouping of civic buildings and terraced gardens around North Spring Street, including a new City Hall.

“First of all, and most important in his mind because Los Angeles is a leading tourist center and should strive to make a good impression at the very start, the architect suggests an immense union railroad station with an approach a mile long—a wide thoroughfare lined with beautiful buildings, with spacious parkways, rows of flowering trees and ornamental lamp posts, and with driveways for all classes of traffic,” The Times says.

Robinson’s report is lengthy and detailed, so it’s difficult to deal with in a blog. But it is fascinating to see how early the city was grappling with inventing its future. The library on 5th Street and City Hall on Spring (although on the Temple Block rather than the Bullard Block as Robinson suggested) are quite familiar.

Interestingly enough, Robinson also envisions a network of broad boulevards, including a picturesque drive with elaborate landscaping to Pasadena along the Arroyo Seco.

Search for a copy of “The Improvement of Towns and Cities.

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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Deadlier Than Male

Sept. 19, 1907
Los Angeles

“Hidden somewhere in Los Angeles is a daredevil Spanish woman who should be standing with the Mexican revolutionaries when they are arraigned here in the United States Court,” The Times says.

“Letters recently confiscated show that she was the most daring and reckless anarchist of all the band. Her name is Maria Talivera. She is said to be a beautiful and attractive woman. Her friends and even her husband regarded her as a quiet housewife, intent on cooking frijoles. But in her fry pans she was seeing men fighting, hearing in the sizzle of the grease the clash of arms, the pound of horses’ feet and the din and commotion of a nation’s government overthrown.”

The Times says: “She is the wife of one Marcello Talivera of this city. All the letters show that he was in perfect innocence of what was going on. How little he must have dreamed, when he returned from work at night and told her about his little business affairs, that he was patronizing a woman deep in the attempt to over throw two governments.”

Now this is an interesting research question, for there’s nothing else about her in The Times as Talivera or Talavera (apparently the paper misspelled her name). The Handbook of Texas Online identifies her as the companion and common-law wife of defendant Ricardo Flores Magon.

As Maria Magon, she was indicted Aug. 19, 1918, in connection with seditious editorials published in the Mexican newspaper Regeneracion.

To be continued.

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Monday, November 13, 2006

Revolutionary Defense Fund

Nov. 13, 1907
Los Angeles

An uproarious meeting was held last night at Simpson Auditorium to raise money for the four Mexican revolutionaries being held in the Los Angeles County Jail. The hall was packed with “revolutionists, Socialists, labor unionites, atheists and others of that ilk,” The Times said, noting: “A wild-eyed anarchist with a smoking bomb in his hand was the only thing needed.” “The audience was composed mainly of Mexicans and Spanish-Americans, but not of the better class,” The Times said.

A red flag was hoisted above the Stars and Stripes and red crepe paper was strung throughout the hall, while music was provided by a Mexican orchestra of boys and girls “who were supposed to represent the purity of the cause,” The Times said. Mexican women pelted defense attorney Job Harriman with flowers when he began his address.

In fiery oratory, Antonio Rodriguez, who spoke in Spanish, Harriman and fellow defense attorney A.R. Holston attacked the Mexican government, U.S. officials and the police, The Times said. A speaker read a letter from Antonio Villareal, one of the imprisoned revolutionaries, “filled with abuse of the Mexican government.”

Holston said: “I am a Socialist and a red abolitionist. We will be the saviors of mankind. America is following suit to Russia in its oppression and system of espial. Our officials have gone to school to the Czar of Russia. Our jails have been filled with Mexicans. Let our officials draw their pay from Mexico. We would not accept Mexican currency at one time. Now we seem glad to get it. It is probably better than Roosevelt currency.”

The Times said that the meeting “closed in an uproar. The ignorant Mexicans went out of the auditorium filled with sentiments of anarchy. They had been told that this country was the slave of Mexico. They were given to understand that revolution was praiseworthy and that bloodshed was necessary in such a righteous cause.... The church was openly assailed and the ministers of the Gospel were laughed at as cowards.”

The meeting raised $59 ($1,210.89 USD 2005).

To be continued.

Here’s a link to imprisoned revolutionary L. Gutierrez de Lara’s “The Mexican People: Their Struggle for Freedom.”

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Sunday, November 12, 2006

A Bad Way With Horses

Nov.12, 1907
Los Angeles

Half a block from his home at 1131 Westlake, John P. Shumway Jr. was badly injured when the carriage he was driving collided with the 11th Street trolley. Shumway was thrown about 20 feet, striking the pavement head-first, and the horse ran for the stable, pulling what was left of the smashed carriage, witnesses said.

Shumway was carried to his home, where his father, Dr. John P. Shumway, treated him for a concussion, bruises and cuts. A year later, the family filed a personal injury suit against the Los Angeles Railway, seeking $10,355 ($204,938.83), although The Times failed to report the outcome of the trial.

Whether Shumway was a troublesome sort before is unclear, but his problems continued. In 1909, he was arrested for passing a forged check for $25 at the Pioneer bar on North Main Street. He claimed that he was given the check for work he had performed and was freed when he promised to repay the money.

A few months later, he was fined $60 for cruelty to a horse. Witnesses said Shumway overloaded a three-horse truck in South Pasadena and “tried to drive up the hill near the ostrich farm.”

“The middle horse was a willing beast, but the others were not much good,” The Times said. “Because the middle horse was willing to work, he was beaten so hard to make him work harder that the blood ran down to his hoofs.”

The judge told him: “I only wish, young man, that you could be tied up to something impossible for you to haul and then beaten to make you haul it. It would do you good.”

And after that, the Shumways apparently disappear from the public record. I suppose you’re wondering why a man who had suffered a bad head injury was cashing a $25 ($494.78 USD 2005) check at a bar. At least I am. Was he a reckless, bad-tempered man all along, or did his personality change after the streetcar crash? Alas, we will never know. But the image of a horse being beaten so badly that blood ran down its legs is ugly indeed.

Zillow says the Shumway horse-beating HQ, built in 1894, is still standing.

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