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Postcards From the Past

The Hotel Green, Pasadena

The Bridge



March 15, 2007
South Pasadena

Here’s the Gold Line, its passengers mercifully unaware that they are zipping along to Pasadena in the “Gorge of Eternal Peril” beneath “The Bridge of Death.”



Here’s a close-up of a patch made to fix one of the 1907 cracks in the bridge. And yes, the darn thing is still standing. Hm. Maybe I should call it “The Bridge of Hope” instead.

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In Which a Ghostly Visitor Returns



March 15, 2007
Los Angeles

“Well, dear boy, I suppose you thought you were through.”

“Yes, I did.”

“And?”

“Good grief! Do you see this bridge over the Gold Line? It looks like it’s held up with hairpins and spit!”

“Saliva, dear boy. And what is the Gold Line?”

“Well, it’s sort of a streetcar, except it doesn’t run on the street.”

She leaned back in her ghostly chair. “And what did you think of our little year?”

“I was quite wrong, wasn’t I?”

She merely nodded.

“You could have at least told me.”

“Dear boy, you needed to find out for yourself.”

“OK, so there were movie theaters in Los Angeles.”

“Yes.”

“And there were comics in the paper.”

“Little Nemo is one of my favorites.”

“I couldn’t believe all the domestic violence. Awful stuff.”

“It was terrible,” she said.

“And getting a divorce was so difficult.”

“That was horrible,” she said.

“And the rotten doctors, the fakes and charlatans, dirty restaurants, the drinking and alcoholism. The exploding gasoline stoves.”

“Well,” she said chidingly, “you didn’t write very much about people who were nice. You newspaper folks never do.”

“Most of all, we haven’t changed very much, have we? I mean, look at our problems with transportation... with sanitation... with growth... with housing... immigration... ethnic discrimination... education... polluting the ocean. A century later, the Police Department is still pleading for more officers. It’s the same story, with different details, that we had in 1947.”

“And why do you think that is?”

“Ma’am, that’s a short question with a long answer. You could tell me, couldn’t you?”

“I could.”

“But you’re not going to, because I have to figure it out for myself, is that it?”

She nodded.

“I’ll miss all of you so much.”

“You know where to find us,” she said.

“Was it a kinder, simpler time?” I asked.

“Maybe in some ways, but mostly no.” And then she paused for a moment. “Go take a picture of your bridge. It hasn’t fallen down yet, has it?”

“Nope, it’s still there. Or at least some bridge is still there.”

I didn’t know what else to say: “Thanks for everything.”

“You are most welcome. And thank you.”

And then she was gone.

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The Celebrity Interview



March 14, 1907
Los Angeles

Harry C. Carr, future author of “Los Angeles: City of Dreams,” visits Fely Dereyne, who is starring in the San Carlo Opera Company’s touring production of “Carmen.”

Accompanied by Times artist Harold R. Coffman, who sketched the singer, Carr conducted a backstage interview with Dereyne with the help of two opera company members who served as translators. As an interview, it is disjointed, poorly organized and frustratingly incomplete; the early work of a green but talented writer who is somewhat smitten with his subject. And yet it is fresh and immediate.

“Dereyne dutifully remarked that she didn’t study Carmen” as a character, Carr says.

“Just natural,” she said in French. “I am just like that myself.”

“Gee,” said the artist, uneasily, “have you really got a temper like that?”

“Sometimes,” she said, with dancing eyes.

“Well, then, I hope you like this picture.”

“Oh,” she said airily. “Sometimes I am ver—how do you call it? Ver’ nice.”

“Like the little girl that had the little curl?”

Dereyne looked troubled. “I don’ know zee ladee; who is she, please?”

“This was a great moment in Dereyne’s career,” Carr wrote. “She was about to learn the tragedy of the little girl who had a little curl. It took two newspapermen, an opera manager and a second tenor to do it.”

Dereyne, an incredibly obscure figure today, was described in The Times as “one of the best Carmens who has ever been seen upon the local stage, for with her vigor and vivacity she never loses sight of the vocal demands of the role. At all times she sings. Her stage work and byplay are constantly assertive.”

She made her Metropolitan Opera debut in November 1907 as Musetta in a performance of “La Boheme” with Geraldine Farrar and Enrico Caruso. Her last Met performance was in 1908 as Nedda in “Pagliacci.” After that she seems to have vanished from the stage.

And there you have it; a moment backstage in a theater (Philharmonic Auditorium) that is gone with people who are, except for Carr, entirely forgotten. That’s what I love about research.

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Farewell, Faithful Companion


Feb. 12, 1907
Whittier

Don had rushed up San Juan Hill with the Rough Riders, fearless in the face of enemy fire. But he could not survive a speeding driver on the otherwise placid streets of Whittier.

A present from Teddy Roosevelt to Hamilton Fish, Don was the mascot of Company B of the Rough Riders. Don was given to Col. William Wallace. When Wallace died in Whittier, Don was given to Wallace’s physician, Dr. Hadley.

“Since that time the big dog had had the freedom of the Quaker town and had never walked through the streets without receiving much attention from small boys and girls to those of larger growth,” The Times says.

Death came from “a big touring car containing four persons, going around a corner at so high a speed that the old dog, which was walking quietly along, could not get out of its way.”

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Los Angeles Has No History...

Feb. 24, 1907
Los Angeles

Google Earth, 2007

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A Tumultuous Season


March 10, 1907
Los Angeles

Someone who opened the Los Angeles Times on this Sunday might be forgiven for wondering what had become of the world, for Page 1 was full of news about the demise of two religious leaders.

The first was the death of John Alexander Dowie, the founder of Zion, Ill., who considered himself the reincarnation of the biblical prophet Elijah. The second was the decline of Mary Baker Eddy, founder of Christian Science.

The Times published some of Eddy’s letters to her son, saying: “These Eddy letters, now carefully guarded in a safe deposit vault at Washington, are confidently expected to invalidate every transaction made by Mrs. Eddy in the last 15 years.”

They are too long to post, but here’s a sample:

“My Dear Son: The enemy to Christian Science is led by the wickedest powers of hypnotism and is trying to do me all the harm possible by acting on the minds of people to make them lie about me and my family.”

Dowie’s history is far more complex and even the highlights of his career defy an easy summary. He arrived in San Francisco in 1888 and moved to Chicago two years later. By 1899 he was mobbed by thugs while staging nightly crusades in Chicago after establishing a divine healing mission and opening a bank and newspaper.

In 1900, he bought the property for what is now Zion and began calling himself “Elijah the Restorer.”

Five years later, he was paralyzed in Zion upon returning from a trip to begin a colony in Mexico. In 1906, he appointed a general overseer, Wilbur Glenn Voliva, who took over the movement and repudiated him.

Dowie’s last words were: “The millennium has come. I will return in a thousand years.”

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Random Shots From Our 12-Bore

March 9, 1907
Los Angeles

The Insanity Begins

Led by I. Newerf and J.B. Dudley, the automobile owners of Los Angeles are fighting a new city ordinance that bans parking within 40 feet of downtown intersections. Newerf, the West Coast representative of Goodyear Tire Co., and Dudley, a car salesman, received citations for violating the law and have pleaded not guilty.

In April 1909, Dudley pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter after hitting street inspector Woodman J. Thomas on Broadway near 5th Street. He was sentenced to five years’ probation in March 1910.

Disgraced Woman

Hazel La Doux, a.k.a. Hazel Rogers, hid her face with a veil as she was tried on charges of forgery.

“Her downfall is said to be due to a man named William Rogers, an alleged Ascot tout who deserted her,” The Times says. “It is charged that Miss La Doux forged the name of Mrs. John Brink on a check for $120 and cashed it.”

La Doux told police that she and Rogers used a scheme in which she took a job with a reputable employer and passed clients’ information to her lover. La Doux said she worked at a department store in Oakland and a dentist’s office in Los Angeles, turning over names to Rogers, who forged the checks.

“She had been an honest woman, she said, until Rogers’ oily tongue and smooth ways captivated her and she became his mistress and then a thief,” The Times says.

He Paid $40

Restaurant owner Frank Flood stood over his wife, Annie, as she lay on the floor of their quarters at a Spring Street rooming house and said it would be worth the $25 fine just so he could beat her up.

In testifying against him, “She recited a story of shocking cruelty, saying that she had been mistreated, scorned and finally beaten by the man who promised to love, cherish and protect her,” The Times says.

Flood did not dispute any of the charges, refused to cross-examine her (a husband’s right in those days) and pleaded guilty to battery. “He admitted that he struck her and confessed to having assaulted her with his fist as she lay on the floor,” The Times says.

He paid $40 ($837.08 USD 2005).

Flood skipped town in September 1907. “He made the acquaintance of a fast sot and spent plenty of money, too much, in fact, for a man of his means. Late suppers at swell cafes cost Flood much cash. Then he became possessed of a desire to take long journeys in touring cars. He paid his bills with other people’s money, the new restaurant manager says, by levying on the cash drawer of the restaurant, which is owned by a company,” The Times says.

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It Was a Kinder, Simpler Time...

March 8, 1907
Los Angeles

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Forget Bird Flu, This Is Serious



March 7, 1907
Los Angeles

A dreadful disease called acute glanders has been discovered in a horse and veterinarian R.J. Ramage ordered that the animal be destroyed immediately.

In addition to rapidly causing death, acute glanders can be spread from horses to humans and there is no known cure, at least in 1907. Apparently several men in Los Angeles County died of acute glanders in 1893.

Since glanders is often found in horses’ nasal passages, local veterinarians want to ban wooden water troughs from city streets, saying that they are a breeding ground for the disease.

In 1911, Pasadena authorities ordered that 14 horses owned by the Pasadena Ice Co. be shot to death because they had the disease. The county veterinarian also quarantined a stable occupied by a dozen horses and “a number of Chinese” after detecting acute glanders.

“The disease is so infectious that it can be contracted by a horse sneezing in one’s eye,” said county Veterinarian W.B. Rowland.

In 1909, Ramage, of 831 S. Los Angeles St., went on a violent rampage at the Alpine Tavern on Mt. Lowe and it took 11 men to get him under control.

“At the tavern, the man created notice by talking continually to himself and created a disturbance by falling on his knees in the ashes of the fireplace; bowing his head down almost to the embers and offering violent words of prayer,” The Times says.

“Two physicians, formerly of the Southern California Hospital for the Insane at Patton, happened to be present and, taking ropes which were brought, demonstrated that they knew how to handle a crazy man.”

After being taken to Pasadena, Ramage was put in a car for the ride to the county hospital. “All the way to Los Angeles, the unfortunate man screamed and struggled, endeavoring to throw himself from the swiftly moving machine,” The Times says.

Eventually, Ramage recovered and told hospital attendants that he had been suffering from mania for years. “He had only a dim recollection of the trouble he went through there.”


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Belles Are Ringing



March 6, 2007
San Francisco (VIA Associated Press)


The Irish of San Francisco are furious over a play at the Davis Theater called “The Belle of Avenue A,” which features a character named Mrs. McCluskey who drinks a glass of beer in the first act.

“Three times, about 40 people charged the stage and the actors and actresses feared they were about to be attacked,” The Times says.

“Indignant because the woman’s part in the first act called for the drinking of a glass of beer, two score men, members of the Irish societies of this city, charged the stage and for half an hour refused to allow the play to go on.”

The riot was reported to the police and the protesters were eventually thrown out of the theater.

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Bonus shot:


Los Angeles, before the days of Google Earth, at the junction of Main Street, Spring Street and 9th Street, 1873.

An Independent Life


March 5, 1907
Los Angeles

What shall we do with Emma? She’s gone off to New Mexico and married a Chinaman. Her horrified mother hopes to get the marriage annulled, but Emma is an independent-minded young lady.

Emma’s mother, Mary Culver of Monrovia, says she will do everything she can to undo her daughter’s marriage to Frank Chew, whom The Times describes as “a sort of missionary revivalist,” noting that “Miss Emma had longings to help the heathen herself.”

Chew asked Culver for permission to marry Emma, but “it was bluntly refused,” The Times says. “Emma had a mind of her own and her answer was ‘yes,’ regardless of her mother’s wishes.”

Even worse, Chew could be an illegal immigrant and if he’s deported, Emma says she will be willing to go to China with him. She made this vow, even though she was warned that Chew would sell her into white slavery as soon as he got her to China.

Emma isn’t the only one in trouble. Members of the Chinese Baptist Mission are equally furious, saying that Chew borrowed jewelry from members of the congregation under the pretense of defending himself against deportation when in fact he used the money for his elopement.

In August 1907, Emma sent a letter from Hong Kong to her family, saying that their fears were baseless and that she and her husband had opened a day school where they taught English.

The next year, Emma mailed a photograph of her students and tried to recruit more women to come to China.

“With her husband, Frank Chew, she has established an English school which is attended by the sons of well-to-do, educated Chinese gentlemen. The Chews have prospered beyond their wildest dreams,” The Times says.

“Every family in Hong Kong seems anxious to have its children learn English and the pupils themselves study the language eagerly.”

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A Page From the Past


March 3, 1907
Los Angeles

Stroll into the Los Angeles Public Library on Central Avenue with me for a moment, over to the children’s section. The librarian says there are about 15,000 to 16,000 books, only half of what is needed, because about third of them are checked out every month.

The most popular titles are “Little Women,” “Little Men” and “Old-Fashioned Girl,” The Times says. Although the library has 25 copies of each book, it’s rare to find them on the shelves.

Among boys, Civil War stories are the most popular, “the Henty books, Barbour’s athletic tales, ‘Tom Sawyer’ and Dunn’s Young Kentuckian series of which there are a dozen copies each in stock,” The Times says.

“The children delight to search through the card catalogue and select their books,” The Times says. “It is interesting to watch the youngsters as they stand, pad and pencil in hand, and with a grownup air of importance, write down the names of the books they want.”

The story describes several young library patrons, but this is the one that stays with me:

“One of the constant patrons of the juvenile department is a tall, pale-faced lad who walks on crutches. A cruel accident so injured him that he is unable to attend school, but he has found an excellent substitute in the serious study of electricity at the library.

“He greedily devours everything he can lay his hands on about electricity. Day after day this delicate, white-faced boy pores over the books. He talks intelligently about induction coils, ohms, volts and motors.

“ ‘I intend to be an electric engineer,’ he declares as he limps away on his crutches. And the chances are that he will be.”

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On the Frontiers of Medicine

March 2, 1907
Los Angeles

City Fathers Confront an Intractable Problem


March 1, 1907
Los Angeles

Downtown businessmen are at a complete loss over what to do with the garbage from their operations and want the city to either take it or designate a dump they can use.

“They declare that the Board of Health has refused to let further deposits of garbage or refuse be made at the old dumping ground to the southeast of the city and state that if the city does not come forward with a proposition to locate a new dump, or to cremate the stuff, they will be helpless to get rid of the accumulations of each day’s business,” The Times says.

City officials say they don’t know what to do because the local sanitation system is strictly for residential use. The Times says that local ordinances define garbage as “animal and vegetable refuse from the kitchens.” As a result, officials feel no need to deal with commercial waste, although they concede it is a problem.

“We can scarcely take care of the garbage we are now forced to collect, one Board of Public Works commissioner says. “We don’t want to take care of any more of it, even if it is hauled to the crematory without cost to the city.”

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