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,â€Â 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,â€Â 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.â€Â

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,â€Â noting that “Miss Emma had longings to help the heathen herself.â€Â

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

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,â€Â The Times says.

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

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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,â€Â “Little Menâ€Â and “Old-Fashioned Girl,â€Â 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,â€Â The Times says.

“The children delight to search through the card catalogue and select their books,â€Â 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.â€Â

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.â€Â

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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,â€Â 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.â€Â 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.â€Â

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But the Line Is Straight

Feb. 28, 1907
Los Angeles

An old and massive California live oak used to mark the division between three Spanish land grants lies in pieces on the ground because an Edison foreman refused to run a transmission line around it.

“The tree was a full hundred feet in its spread,â€Â The Times says,â€Â and stood on the end of a little plateau, all alone in its greatness. The massive trunk could not be circled by three men stretching their arms and touching their fingertips—hardly by four men. Above, it split into four great branches that spread out and out and then again downward, containing with an evergreen shield a refuge where two full companies of soldiers might have bivouacked in comfort.â€Â

The live oak marks the junction of the San Rafael, Los Feliz and Providencia land grants, The Times says, adding: “The tree itself stands within the Providencia but it was a starting point from which direction was taken.â€Â

“The foreman is said to be in grave danger of losing his position and is very repentant,â€Â the paper says. “He bawled like a spanked bad boy before the board (note: the property was owned by the Water Board, which had given Edison permission to run the line). However the great old tree is lying among a smother of chips and there is no way to replace the work of nature’s 300 years.â€Â

Bonus fact: The San Rafael, Providencia and San Rafael land grants touched at a point in Burbank that is circled by the on-ramp for the southbound Golden State Freeway at the westbound lanes of Burbank Boulevard.

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A Secretary’s Sacrifice


Feb. 27, 1907
Los Angeles

A thick cloud of smoke from a raging fire in the basement swept through the Germain building on South Spring Street at lunch hour, engulfing businessmen and office workers. In a fraction of a second, the building’s occupants were transformed from powerful executives conducting elaborate stock deals into blind and struggling humans groping on their knees through the hallways to save their lives.

 

There were many daring rescues and examples of selfless sacrifice. One man was saved as he was about to commit suicide rather than die in the fire. Firefighters battled the blaze until they were at the point of collapse, left to revive themselves and then returned. The only fatality was Emma Stewart, a secretary who died because she turned back from her flight to telephone her employer about the fire.

Her last words were: “Mr. Germain, there is a fire in the basement. Come quickly.â€Â

Reporter E.O. Sawyer dragged her to safety after finding her next to the telephone, the receiver hanging loose from its hook. Doctors spent an hour trying to revive her but she never regained consciousness.

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In Indiana, There Is No Beer

Feb. 14-26, 1907
Los Angeles

The Rev. Ervin S. Chapman, a Presbyterian minister who heads the Anti-Saloon League of California, has won a victory through an address that persuaded an Indiana judge to rule that saloons are unconstitutional.

Chapman concluded his series of points by saying:

Our national Supreme Court, in decisions which it has rendered, has designated the liquor traffic as mala in se [wrong in itself] by characterizing it as

Harmful to material prosperity.
Injurious to life.
Destructive of manhood.
Disastrous to peace and happiness.
Fatal to morals and.
Productive of crime and misery.

That court having thus characterized the liquor traffic will surely declare that traffic mala in se and hence unlawful and incapable of being granted legislative standing or protection by any branch of civil government either national or local.

Whenever the public mind has become sufficiently enlightened and the public conscience sufficiently quickened to justify and make effective such a decision our national Supreme Court, which has always led public sentiment respecting this question, will place its brand of outlawry upon that traffic which McKinley characterized “as the most degrading and ruinous of all human pursuits.â€Â

Los Angeles saloonkeepers shrugged their shoulders and said they believed the ruling would have no effect on them.

The Times quoted one bartender: “ ‘Stop saloons unt drinking!’ one barkeeper screamed in astonishment. ‘Go vay. You might as well try to stop kissing.’ â€Â

Chapman died in 1921, two years after the passage of the Volstead Act.

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Architectural Ramblings

Feb. 24, 1907
Eagle Rock

Architect Samuel Tilden Norton has designed a bank building for Townsend Avenue and Colorado Boulevard in Eagle Rock, The Times says.

Just to make research interesting, The Times misspelled his name as S. Tilton Norton. According to his 1959 obituary, his mother was the first Jewish child born in Los Angeles. After studying architecture in Los Angeles and New York, he designed the Wilshire Fox Building and Sinai Temple.

He was a board member of Temple B’nai Brith during its move from Hope and 9th Street to Wilshire and Hobart and was an honorary consultant on plans for the temple, which was designed by A.W. Edelman.

Norton was lifelong friends with Rabbi Edgar F. Magnin, who presided over the funeral. Norton was a member of many professional, religious and social organizations, including Hillcrest Country Club, Nathan Strauss Israel Society, Jewish Federation, the Friends of the Hebrew University and the Zionist Organization of America.

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