Saturday, December 02, 2006

A Vintage Development

Dec. 2, 1907
Los Angeles

The Times real estate section features an apartment building at 2nd Street and Figueroa—no point in even going to look for it. But there’s also a large ad for the Erkenbrecher Syndicate’s Glendale Valley View Tract.

An unknown development today, the Glendale Valley View Tract is located west of Central Avenue in Glendale and north of Riverdale on what was once Judge Andrew Glassell’s vineyards. Part of it is apparently occupied by the Glendale Galleria, but some homes remain south of what is now Colorado Boulevard and was then 6th Street.

“Planted by Judge Glassell to vineyards some 30 years ago,” The Times said in 1907, “and kept by him in the highest possible state of cultivation, the Glassell vineyard of 146 acres was looked upon and pointed out as the ‘show place’ of the Glendale Valley.”

The homes are modest and the streets are narrow, probably not what Henry Huntington and L.C. Brand had in mind when they tried to acquire the property, “looking upon it as the choicest of subdivision property in that entire section,” The Times said.

The development offered five miles of oiled streets, curbs and sidewalks. The ads noted that the neighborhood was closer by streetcar than the West Adams District.

Here’s what the neighborhood looked like then:

And here are some homes today:

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Friday, December 01, 2006

Just Say No

Our Local Authors

Our Local Authors

Dec.1, 1907
Los Angeles

The Times runs a small blurb on writer Willis George Emerson, noting that the National Magazine has begun serializing a new story, “The Smoky God.”

The Times notes: “The story has to do with the discovery of the North Pole, and inhabitants of the interior of the Earth. It is the supposed story of Olaf Jansen, a Swedish sailor, and is told by Mr. Emerson as selections from papers left by the adventurer.”

How lucky we are to live in the Google Age, for a quick search in Twikipedia (my custom search engine that excludes all the nonsense in Wikipedia and its commercial mirror sites) reveals the entire text online.  Apparently The Times correspondent didn’t review a copy of the manuscript or he would have discovered that the explorer was Norwegian and that Emerson framed the story by saying he had been given the documents by Olaf Jansen himself.

Another Twikipedia search reveals--oh, good Lord, don’t tell me people are taking this “hollow Earth” book seriously. It appears to be prototypical science fiction. An review calls it “A Classic in Hollow Earth Literature,” presumably a rather sparse genre.

Emerson was a prominent land developer, involved in the cities of Brawley and Calexico. His books include “Winning Winds,” “Fall of Jason,” “My Partner and I,” “The Builders,” “The Flock Master,” “American Valor” and “The Man Who Discovered Himself.”

His “Life’s Journey” was frequently quoted:

“To me, life is a highway, leading to a strange country where no milepost is passed a second time. It is bordered with green fields and countless flowers and leads from an unknown point of departure to an unknown point of arrival.”

“The important and timely moment of every life is ‘the now,’ and our deeds should make humanity conscious of our passing.”

Emerson died in December 1918 at his home, 2964 W. 7th St. He was 62.
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Thursday, November 30, 2006

In the Days Before Polonium

In the Days Before Polonium

Nov. 30, 1907
Los Angeles

A secret witness in the trial of the Mexican revolutionaries—kept under close guard because his life has been threatened—went into convulsions shortly after eating a meal that apparently contained strychnine.  

Trinidad Vasquez, identified by The Times as a member of the Mexican Secret Service, has been accompanied everywhere by Detective Thomas Furlong. But after a stormy court session, Vasquez complained of being hungry and was allowed to go to a cafe on 5th Street near Olive, where he had a ham and cheese sandwich with a cup of coffee.  

“Just in front of the police station, Vasquez suddenly clapped his hand over his heart and fell forward to the sidewalk. The quick action of Furlong prevented the man striking his head against the curb,” The Times said.

Vasquez was taken to the Receiving Hospital, where his stomach was pumped by Dr. Tanner.

“The watch on the man will be redoubled and an officer will be with him day and night until the case against the Mexican revolutionists is completed,” The Times says.
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Nathan and I

Nov. 30, 2006
Los Angeles

I don’t think anyone who knows both of us will ever confuse me with Nathan Marask; certainly not when it comes to architectural photography. In fact, I don’t really do architectural photography. I take snapshots of buildings—and lousy ones at that. Nor do I have Nathan’s charm in wangling my way into historic structures (see the 1947 Project entry on the “Cafeteria of Doom!” for example)

But I do have a couple of pictures to share.

Here’s the former Calvary Presbyterian Church in South Pasadena, now the Grace Brethren church.

And here is the home of early 20th century developer Daniel T. Althouse, 2125 S. 4th Avenue. Click on the photo to enlarge it. Aren’t these window frames cool?

Here’s where I really blew it. I got to the Rupp home in Monrovia late in the day and since the building faces east, the sun was behind the house, burying it in deep shadows. Obviously I flunked architectural photography 101. That, plus the lavish landscaping, make it difficult to see much of the house. Trust me, it’s cool.

On the other hand, I did find myself behind this incredible car getting off the Ventura Freeway on my way to Fry’s in Burbank. It looked like a stainless steel torpedo. And who’s that driving it? Why it’s Jay Leno, who gave me a big smile and a “V”-sign as we cruised Hollywood Way. This is his “tank car.” Note the serious tailpipes. They are loud.

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Matzo Brawl!

Nov. 29, 1907
Los Angeles

Oh Those Shriners:
Recall, if you will, the grisly train wreck that killed a large number of Shriners returning from their convention in Los Angeles. It seems that one of them, George F. Hageman, inadvertently touched off a legal dispute between two belles of Reading.

Sarah Reber and Maude Weber went before the court insisting that each of them was the rightful heir of the bachelor, who was “tall and handsome and very popular with the fair sex,” The Times says. Both women claim that Hageman “spent his last evening in Reading with them” before he left for the Shrine convention and made promises of $12,000 in stock.

The court awarded the stock to Reber.

The City Beautiful:
By the way, this postcard of Broadway and 7th reflects one of Charles Mulford Robinson’s complaints in drafting a design for downtown Los Angeles: all the low awnings along the streets. (Note the Orpheum Theatre).

“We are very ‘country’ with our low awnings,” The Times says, quoting Robinson. “A man cannot walk a block without having to duck his head more than once. An ordinance would fix things”

Currant Affairs:
And finally, an artistic baker in the Russian quarter has provoked a riot over his preparation of matzo bread, sending five people to jail.

About a month ago, an enterprising baker at Turner Street and Vignes announced that he was going to prepare matzo bread with spice, raisins and currants.

“This was met with some dismay,” The Times says, “and the authorities on Orthodox were sent for. They agreed that this would be a digression from the rules laid down by the Jews.”

Nonetheless, Joe Wasserman liked the baker’s wares and decided he would have them for Thanksgiving dinner, regardless of any ruling. Thus began an argument between Wasserman and his brother Sam, with whom he and his wife had been living rent-free for four months. Sam said that if Joe insisted on eating the matzos, he would tell the grocer that Joe planned to take a trip to San Bernardino despite owing the market $20.

“Yesterday morning, the decorated matzos arrived at the Wasserman home and a family row resulted,” The Times said. “The Jewish [illegible] lined the streets until the Russian grocer, hearing the noise, hurried over, whereupon Yiddish, German, Russian and Odessa were all spoken at once and Turner Street sounded like a Tower of Babel. The decorated matzos were thrown out in the street.”

“Someone picked up the discarded be-decorated matzo and threw it at [Joe] Wasserman and the entire crowd began to fight.”

“The matzo was to have been used as evidence, but a trusty in the jail thoughtlessly ate it yesterday afternoon,” The Times says.

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Random Shots From Our 12-Bore

Nov. 28, 1907
Los Angeles

  • Ocean Park banned serving alcohol to soldiers in uniform because drunk Civil War veterans from the soldiers home in Sawtelle “were seen reeling about the saloons.”
  • A racing team preparing for the upcoming hill climb on the Box Springs Grade hit a horse and buggy at 45 mph. The Times says the horse veered into the path of the auto, which struck the animal broadside, carrying it 40 feet and throwing it into a ditch. The badly injured animal was shot. Neither the buggy driver nor the men in the car were seriously hurt.
  • Dick Malone, a handicapped man from Sioux City, Iowa, befriended by the Rev. T. Tracy of Church of the Sacred Heart, was arrested at 3rd and Los Angeles on charges of passing forged checks drawn on Tracy’s account.
  • A noisy rooster on Olive Street has provoked a dispute between two neighbors. Former Indianapolis Police Chief David Powell, 80, complained that a rooster owned by a man named Murphy begins crowing at 3 a.m. Murphy moved his chickens back from the neighbor’s residence, and in revenge has constructed a “spite fence” out of quilts and old clothes that blocks all sunlight going into Powell’s room.
  • Miss Godberg, a housekeeper at the home of W.G. Cochran, 1559 W. 2nd St., heard a noise at the front door and upon opening it discovered a man with a handkerchief over his face. She struggled to close the door, but the man forced his way in, so she ripped off his handkerchief and threw him to the floor. The man drew a gun, freed himself from Godberg and fled into the night, The Times says.
  • George Spence, a solicitor for Collier’s Weekly, was taken to the Receiving Hospital after falling into a hole in the street at 2nd and San Pedro, cutting his head and shoulders and bruising his back.
  • Workers digging a deep trench at Avalon on Santa Catalina Island discovered prehistoric Indian remains. “Visitors eagerly awaited to snatch every available opportunity and oftentimes even urged the Mexican workers into quicker action so that they could triumphantly carry off as curiosities pieces of the dead and sacred remains of an extinct race,” The Times says.
  • Walter P. Temple has sued L.F. Lewis over desecration of the family cemetery on the old Workman homestead. The lawsuit says the Workmans, who owned Rancho La Puente, dedicated a portion of the property as a family cemetery, but that Lewis tore down a brick wall, allowing cattle to roam on his ancestors’ graves. Temple’s suit asks that Lewis be barred from any more damage and from plowing over or removing the remains.
An undercover vice investigation went badly wrong when “lady barber” Mary Fisher fled her shop at 451½ S. Main St. clutching a fistful of hair. Police Officer Cook, investigating whether Fisher was offering haircuts and massages as a front for illegal activities, arranged for the full treatment: shave, massage, shoe shine and anything else.

According to The Times, Fisher put steamed towels on Cook’s face, had given him a facial massage and started shaving him when she straightened his hair, only to have his toupee come off in her hand.

“The woman gave one look at the handful of hair sticking to her hand and another at the bald head of her customer and, with a shriek, she dashed for the stairs,” The Times says.

“Hey,” yelled Cook, “give me that hair. I need it!”

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Monday, November 27, 2006

Who Are Those Guys?

Nov. 27, 1907
Los Angeles

A shadowy, global conspiracy of anarchists is being described in the trial of revolutionaries Ricardo Flores Magon, Antonio Villareal and Librado Rivera in federal court. The fourth defendant, L. Gutierrez De Lara, was charged separately with committing larceny in Sonora, Mexico.

“The first positive evidence of a gigantic conspiracy to overthrow a friendly government was legally introduced,” The Times said. “Although there has been intimation of the danger[ous] character of the three men under arrest, and a partial expose of their cowardly plans to [overthrow] the presidents of this country and of Mexico, the far-reaching character of the junta has hardly been realized, even by government officials.”

Investigators seized letters by the men showing that the “anarchists of this country and of Europe are hand in glove with the leaders of the Mexican junta and that extreme socialists and rabid labor [officials?] have lent their aid to a greater or lesser degree.”

“Arms, bombs and poison were the weapons to be used in invading Mexico.... The wily leaders expected to inflame their ignorant followers to acts of rapine and violence such as characterized the French revolution. For the furtherance of this infamous plot, thousands of dollars has been raised and expended by the leaders,” The Times said.

Shown above, the Arizona lawmen who helped capture the revolutionaries: from left, Capt. F.H. Rynning, Undersheriff A.A. Hopkins, Lt. Billy Old and U.S. Inspector C.T. Connell.

One of the key witnesses in the trial will be A.T. Samuels of the Furlong Secret Service Bureau, who worked undercover selling ads for the revolutionists’ newspaper in St. Louis.

The Times notes that the defense attorneys staged another fundraiser at Simpson Auditorium, collecting $75 “from the socialists, anarchists and poor peons.” The event was “a poor repetition of the mass meeting of a few days ago. The same dreary anarchistic sentiments were uttered; the same Mexican hymns dolefully butchered by the cholo band and the identical [sentiments?] regarding tyranny were enunciated.”

After several speeches, defense attorney A.R. Holston “devoted most of his harangue to an attack upon The Times. He was very much surprised, he said, that this paper had called the former meeting [anarchistic] in character when it had been praised by the Citizen (Labor-Union), by the Common Sense (Socialist) and by the Express.

Bonus facts: Job Harriman was one of the defense attorneys for the McNamaras in the 1910 bombing of The Times and in 1914 founded a Socialist colony named Llano del Rio in the Antelope Valley, just beyond Pearblossom on the road between Palmdale and Victorville. He died in that hotbed of radicalism, Sierra Madre, in 1925 and was buried at Forest Lawn in Glendale.

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Sunday, November 26, 2006

How to Drive on Streetcar Tracks