Lady drivers and presidential pets

June 8, 1927

Car dealer R.C. Kane thought he was about to close a sale, and perhaps was leaning back with an air of satisfaction when the would-be buyer, Mrs. R.N. Upton, became startled at an intersection as another car approached.

She went for the brake, but hit the gas, and the car careened into Judge F.W. Houser’s yard and smacked into a concrete post. Kane and Upton, in the front seats, both went through the windshield and were severely cut and lacerated. In the back, Kane’s wife went out the window, and like Dwight Lesley was cut and bruised. The car was wrecked: NO SALE!

The victims were sent to Alhambra Hospital for treatment—all save Mrs. Upton, who insisted on seeing a Christian Science practitioner.
grace coolidge with pet raccoon rebecca, 1923

Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C., President and Mrs. Coolidge’s pet raccoon Rebecca, a beloved pardon case from the White House larder one Thanksgiving, escaped and led staff on a two hour spree around the trees of the temporary White House, before climbing down and nonchalantly returning to her stump behind the residence. For more about the Coolidge’s interesting pets, see this article, with much on Rebecca towards the end.

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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Introducing Miss White

Jan. 24, 1907
Los Angeles

Meet a tough little lady who gave her life to helping the poor, needy children of Los Angeles. She built a church and school starting with a nickel donated by a newsboy, left it all and began again in a tent when the presiding minister turned out to be a crook, and then regained everything. She spent most of her later years fighting with state authorities to stay in operation. Her name is Belle L. White.

White was preaching as early as 1897 at the Pacific Gospel Union, working with needy children in the neighborhood east of Alameda Street. But in a few years, when the Gospel Union decided to give up working with youngsters, White split off and formed her own school at 6th Street and Mateo.

She began with a small, roughly constructed building and raised a larger Mission-style structure called the People’s Church. White was joined by the Rev. T.G. Atteberry, who was soon in debt. There was further controversy about him: “He has actually begun to jump with the Holy Rollers,” The Times says, “they who serve the Lord with ragtime songs and cakewalk accompaniment, and his institutional church at 6th and Mateo streets has become the lodging house, meetinghouse and general headquarters of the ludicrous bunch of fanatics.”

White continued to have faith in Atteberry when everyone else had abandoned him. “She is a sincere friend of Atteberry and last night fought his battle like the valiant little woman she is,” The Times says. “She pleaded and wept for him, declaring it was her belief that he is simply the victim of circumstances, that he is honest to the core and will pay every dollar owing on the People’s Church, though she says her work is now completely separated from it.”

And in January 1907, the church wanted to ordain her. “Los Angeles is likely to have the only woman preacher in the country in active charge of a congregation,” The Times says. The paper carried an announcement that White was to be ordained, but there is no further information about it.

Information on White remains sketchy. The institution at 6th and Mateo continued to operate, and by 1909 was known as the nonsectarian Belle White Children’s Home. In 1912, the Belle White Home moved from 588 S. Mateo to the home of former Mayor Hazard at 3701 Eastside Blvd., which had been remodeled as an orphanage.

In 1914, she was investigated on charges of running the home for personal profit and accused of neglecting the children. Later that year, the state Board of Charities and Corrections stripped the home of its license. White defied the ruling and vowed to stay in operation. She challenged the state board to arrest her, and when it didn’t, she continued caring for the children.

The next year, she incorporated and was again investigated by the state Board of Charities and Corrections, which among other things wanted her to restrict admission to either boys or girls and to have a board of directors including men and women. In 1917, there were further charges against White, saying that she operated a boarding home rather than a charity and White conceded that in some instances relatives paid the children’s expenses. It continued to operate as late as 1926, then vanished from the historic record, as did its namesake, Belle L. White.

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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

A New Prison for Lost Souls

July 9, 1907
Los Angeles

Grace Methodist Episcopal Church on Hewitt Street was barren; the pastor had gone away and the congregation had moved on. And so the City Council, in struggling to house inmates at the crowded, filthy prison on West 4th Street, decided to lease the old church for $100 ($2,052.36 USD 2005) a month as a temporary jail until a larger facility could be built


June 3, 1907
Los Angeles

It was to be one of the grandest society weddings of the season: An orchestra was hired, a caterer had been selected after lengthy interviews, gowns for the bride and bridesmaids had been sewn and the Hotel Lankershim had been hired for the occasion.

In preparation for the grand event, Dr. Harris C. Garcelon and his fiancee, Genevieve Smith, attended the wedding rehearsal at Christ Episcopal Church performed by the Rev. Baker P. Lee.

Lee said: