Saturday, December 30, 2006

The Old Men in Blue

Dec. 30, 1907
Los Angeles

James Sullivan, 64, was a prisoner of the Confederates held at Belle Isle, Libby and Andersonville, where he and war correspondent Albert D. Richardson escaped by tunneling for three months with a spoon.

Henry Russell, formerly of the 4th Cavalry, was held at Andersonville and Benjamin L. Gorsuch of the 1st Maryland Infantry was captured and sent to Belle Isle. James Sherwood was with the 10th New Jersey. John Ryan, 77, was with 7th New York Heavy Artillery.

And then there’s John Smith, 70, of the 8th Illinois who is out of his head most of the time. Smith is so feeble that one of his fellow ex-soldiers has to help him to his cell at night.

The six old soldiers are serving 10 days in jail for public drunkenness in Sawtelle, the settlement outside the gates of the veterans home, and much to their shame were brought downtown in irons on the streetcar.

Smith, Russell and Sullivan freely admit they were drunk on payday, but not causing any trouble. Gorsuch and Sherwood, two former infantrymen, said they were “skylarking” in a harmless scuffle and were jailed because they refused to pay a fine, while Ryan says he was in his room, doing nothing.

The men are no trouble. In fact the sheriff and jailer have refused to lock them up, giving them the run of the place as they serve their 10-day sentences. The men say that the Sawtelle constables “lay for us like a pack of wolves” on payday because they get a bonus for each arrest, plus mileage for every prisoner brought to the County Jail.

Veterans Home officials counter that drunkenness is an increasingly serious problem and that the old soldiers get around attempts to maintain sobriety by pooling their money and designating one man as a runner to buy liquor wholesale in Santa Monica.

“This method of irrigation is practiced to such an extent that one veteran is kept almost constantly on the go between Sawtelle and the beach,” The Times says. “All who travel over the electric line are familiar with the figure and the package bottles. He is seen every day. He gets off the car before it reaches the Sawtelle business center, and always there are lolling tongues and parched throats to welcome his return.”

Read the previous entry
on Ocean Park banning the sale of liquor to soldiers in uniform because of drunk Civil War veterans.

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Friday, December 29, 2006

The City Grows

Dec. 29, 1907
Los Angeles

The Times real estate pages feature homes under construction around Washington Boulevard west of Hobart Boulevard. “This section is just being built up with a splendid class of dwelling houses,” The Times says. “There are several car lines within a short distance, furnishing a rapid transportation service to the center of the city, and as the whole section is on a mesa, it is high above the fogs and occasional floodwater caused by rain, which obtains a few blocks farther south.”

One home features a bit of whimsy: A Mission-style house on the northwest corner of Washington and Westmoreland Boulevard with an automobile garage designed like a Dutch windmill, including a conical top and sails. Of course, the garage and the house are long gone.

J.H. Lapham is building a two-story, seven-room home at 2045 S. Oxford while the California Bungalow Co. is building a two-story frame home at 1732 S. Oxford that “will compare well with the surrounding homes.” Note that while the neighborhood in the 1700 block of South Oxford appears to be generally intact, The Times apparently erred in the street numbers, which go from 1728 to 1734 S. Oxford.

Stay tuned more architectural ramblings to South Oxford. By the way, here are the “New Ha Apartments.” Apparently the signage once read: “New Hampshire,” but I like it better this way.

And a random snapshot of ABC Letter Art on South Vermont. Maybe the folks who own the "New Ha" should pay a visit.

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Thursday, December 28, 2006

Architectural Ramblings

Dec. 28, 2006
Los Angeles

As promised, here are some photos of a few neighborhoods I visited recently.

Views of South Pasadena

First, a few shots of South Pasadena taken along Mission and El Centro to contrast with the views from 1907, then a visit to the 4600 block of South Wesley Avenue and the 100 block of West 52nd Street. Note the various states of preservation and decay, along with generous layers of stucco.

Views of Wesley Avenue

I always seem to run across interesting cars, a Corvair on Wesley and an old jalopy in South Pasadena.

And here’s an interesting mystery from Fedora Street. What’s the purpose of the guard shack/ticket booth? I can’t imagine.

The Mystery of Fedora Street

916 Fedora St., as photographed in December 1907

Behold, the mysterious guard shack

If it's to keep out the stucco crew, it's too late.

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Wednesday, December 27, 2006

A Gruesome First

Dec. 27, 1907
Henryetta, Okla., by the Associated Press

A little more than a month after Oklahoma achieved statehood, James Garden became a wretched statistic: the first black to be lynched there.

On Dec. 24, Garden went to see liveryman Albert Bates about renting a rig. When Bates refused, Garden accused him of racism, went across the street to get a gun, returned and shot Bates to death.

By nightfall, a group of 100 men stormed the jail, fought off police officers and hanged Garden from a telegraph pole in the center of town, then used his body for target practice, riddling it with bullets.

“All the Negroes in Henryetta are terrorized and more than 100 came from there to Muskogee tonight,” The Times says.

The strife continued and there were fears that another lynching would touch off a race war. On Christmas Day, a mob stormed the jail a second time and tried to take “a one-eyed Negro named Smith, charged with inciting Garden to commit the crime,” The Times says. However the sheriff took Smith and Jim Johnson, who gave Garden a rifle, to Okmulgee before they could be lynched.

On Dec. 26, The Times reported that the white men of Henryetta had been sworn as deputies and armed themselves in response to reports that an armed band of 35 heavily armed African Americans were en route to seek revenge. There were “only 1,290 rounds of ammunition in the city,” The Times said, enough to shoot each member of the alleged black band 36 times.

Unfortunately, The Times (or AP) didn’t follow this incident, so there’s no telling what happened. But we in Los Angeles need not feel so superior to those in the raw, new state of Oklahoma. A quick check of Proquest shows that a lynching was narrowly avoided at Towne and 8th Street in 1906 after H. Whitfield of 907 W. 28th St., bit off the ear of Fritz Gustavson, 925 Crocker St., during a fight.

Whitfield’s life was saved by Deputy Constable Dennis Johnson, who arrested Whitfield and blockaded himself and his prisoner in a barbershop at 8th Street and San Julian until the police wagon arrived, despite threats from a mob that they would burn down the shop if Johnson did not turn over the black, who was soaked with a white man’s blood.

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Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Blunder the Double Eagle

Dec. 26, 1907
Pittsburgh, by direct wire to The Times

As Christmas celebrations concluded at Knoxville Presbyterian Church, the congregation presented the Rev. W.A. Jones with $100 ($2,052.36 USD 2005). A banker who was among the worshipers made a point of getting freshly minted gold pieces to present to the pastor.

But the $20 Double Eagles, newly redesigned by sculptor Augustus St.-Gaudens at the request of President Theodore Roosevelt, had a terrible flaw, in Jones’ view.

“This is Godless money, I cannot take it,” Jones said of the coins, example at right. “My mother taught me to look for the motto ‘In God We Trust’ on the coins of our country and when the president announced his new order effacing the inscription from the coins, I swore I would take no money that did not bear the old motto.”

St.-Gaudens died in August before the release of the coins and the resulting furor over omission of the motto, which was restored by U.S. Mint engraver Charles E. Barber in 1908. In fact, St.-Gaudens wanted to omit all the lettering and it was only after a heated battle with Roosevelt that he agreed to restore “E Pluribus Unum” to his design.

In 1908, Los Angeles bankers made further complaints about St.-Gaudens’ new $10 gold pieces, saying that they wouldn’t stack properly because the Indian’s cheek, example at right, was raised too high. “Someone’s idea of art is on the bum if those are artistic coins,” one the banker said. “Maybe it is mine and maybe it is the designer’s. I don’t know about that, but I do know the coins won’t do for us. They won’t stack and we cannot handle them at all.”

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Monday, December 25, 2006

Knocking at the Bar

Dec. 25, 1907
Los Angeles

There are precisely two African American attorneys in Los Angeles and their appearance against one another in court provides a bit of amusement for The Times. We can dispense with the news article and its unfortunate use of dialect rather quickly: Paul M. Nash was suing G.T. Crawford, an African American waiter, for attorneys fees after representing his wife in a divorce. Crawford was represented by Charles S. Darden.

Like most mainstream newspapers of the period, The Times rarely wrote about African Americans and stories always identified them as: “John Jones, Negro,” (or in this case, “Paul Nash, a colored man”) a habit that lasted well into the 1940s.

One of the rare occasions when The Times wrote about blacks occurred on the anniversary of Lincoln’s birthday in 1909, when the paper took stock of African American professionals in the city, counting five physicians, two dentists, five lawyers, a pharmacist, three newsmen and a veterinarian.

The story, which also mentions attorneys G.W. Wickliffe, I.D. Blair and W.E. Coleman, provides the following biographies on Darden and Nash:

Darden was born in North Carolina and graduated from Wayland Seminary. He attended Howard University, graduating from its law school in 1904. Darden settled in Los Angeles in 1905 after traveling through the U.S. and the Territory of Hawaii. “He has practiced before the United States District Courts and the State Supreme Court,” The Times says. “Mr. Darden has been promoter for several enterprises among the colored people and at present is president of an insurance company conducted for and by them.”

Nash was born in St. Louis, Mo., and attended Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass., Harvard and Boston University Law School. At Harvard, “Mr. Nash became editor and publisher of two of the university publications and this was the first time this honor had been bestowed upon a Negro,” The Times says. Nash came to Los Angeles in 1905. “He has confined his efforts almost exclusively to civil practice and few lawyers have made the showing that Mr. Nash has in the same length of time,” The Times says.

There are times when history is ugly and this is one of those times. In August 1931, Gov. James Rolph Jr. denied reports that in filling judicial posts, he had selected Nash for the Superior Court, although he conceded that he was seriously considering Nash for an appointment.

In November 1932, Rolph said “he felt the selection of a Negro judge ‘would give the people of Los Angeles a chance to see if they want a colored judge.’ The judge would serve about four months,” the time remaining in the term of a judge who had been elevated to Superior Court. The Times noted that Fred Roberts, the Assembly’s only black legislator, was opposed to creating a court specifically for African Americans.

A week later, Rolph abandoned plans to name a black judge, saying: “In good faith, when the question was presented to me I believed it could be amicably adjusted. But it is evident that it cannot.” Rolph, citing President Coolidge, said: “I believe the people will have to establish the precedents. It is not for me to establish the precedents.”

In 1933, Nash ran for Municipal Court judge against Francis D. Adams and Clement D. Nye, the winning candidate, who was backed by The Times.

The record on Darden is even more obscure. In 1911, The Times noted that he was named to the executive committee of the National Negro Bar Assn., and hoped to organize a Los Angeles bar among the eight black attorneys practically locally. He is mentioned in 1916, when he helped incorporate the Fraternal Order of Beavers. And in 1933, he brought a lawsuit after hitting an escaped horse on the highway between Oxnard and Camarillo, charging that the owner was negligent in not keeping the animal confined.

Paul M. Nash, 3211 W. 17th, died Jan. 26, 1937, at the age of 67., and was cremated. Although he had a paid notice, The Times did not run an obituary on him.

Charles Sylvester Darden died March 12, 1954. He was 74. His death was never mentioned in The Times.

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Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas, Gen. Otis

Dec. 24, 1907
Los Angeles

Last-minute shopping, crowded post offices, trees decorated in hotel lobbies and toys given by Santa to the neediest children of the city; it was a Christmas season very much like today. And at Levy’s, 310 Times employees gathered to celebrate the most prosperous year in the newspaper’s history.

Of course, as The Times noted, not everyone could attend because “the news must needs be collected and the wheels kept going.”

Between courses of the Christmas dinner, speakers made humorous comments, following the motto: “Spare not the gaff, but live to laugh.”

Harry Chandler received a set of doll triplets and Gen. Otis was presented with a tin sword. The employees also put together a comic eight-page paper, “The Timeslet,” full of jokes, satirical ads and cartoons. Among the most notable speakers was George W. Burton, “known around the office as ‘The Bishop,’ who gave “a jolly and entertaining talk, full of humorous thrusts at the managing editor and others.”

Gen. Otis received a silver loving cup from the employees, along with a speech by the staff poet, John S. McGroarty:

“Gen. Otis is this afternoon the guest of his official family. He is among his own people—the people who are nearest to him and in whom he is most interested. In his busy and strenuous life he has to do with many men who are great and powerful in the world’s affairs, but it is we who toil within the strong walls of the old gray castle who are his strength and upon whom he relies. His enemies are not here, but are outside of the breastworks, where they lie more or less incapacitated....

“It is Christmastime and we, the members of the great craft who are each doing our part to produce a great newspaper every day in the year, are here to celebrate. The head of the house sits with us, as one of us and not the least of the hard workers now as he has always been. To him, from his employees and from his fellow workers, from the men and women of The Times, I am commissioned to bear a message of goodwill and loyalty and upright treatment. As a token of these sentiments, I present to Gen. Otis this loving cup, knowing that he will accept it with the same feeling that inspired the givers.

“Knowing Gen. Otis as I do, I know that no gift that he has ever received will occupy in his stately home a more honored and more affectionate place than this cup will occupy.

“Within his rooftree are many trophies of both war and peace—emblems of hard fights won on the fields of battle as well as in the oftentimes fierce struggles of peace. But when his eyes rest on this cup, which bears to him its message of faithfulness, the loyalty, the esteem and the affection of his own people, there will be no other to stand beside it.

“Gen. Otis, on behalf of my associates, I present this gift to you with old Rip Van Winkle’s toast: ‘Here’s to you and all your family; may you all live long and be happy.’ ”

The Times said: “Gen. Otis was taken by surprise and was much affected. He expressed his thanks for the token of esteem and affection, and spoke feelingly of his appreciation of the loyalty of his corps, remarking that the size of the gathering, the harmony of it and the whole spirit of the affair were most admirable, and once more assuring all that the gratitude of and kindly notice of the publishers of The Times were accorded to every faithful worker, no matter how humble.”

The banquet closed with three cheers for Gen. Otis and new refrain set to the tune “Auld Lang Syne”:

“The good old, good old Times, old Times
The good old, good old Times
Join in the song on every lip
The good old, good old Times.”

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