You Know, For Kids

March 5, 1927






couponsBeginning in 1923, Aunt Dolly’s Page occupied its own corner of the Junior Times, a Sunday supplement that urged young Angelenos to try their hands at blank verse, cartooning, and other feats of skill for fabulous prizes. There were also picnics, parades, community service projects, and a near-constant series of elections for the President of the Times Junior Club

Today, Aunt Dolly urged the youngsters to register for the Junior Jubilee, to be held at the Echo Park Recreation Center. Young readers were tempted with refreshments, a large band, a big show, sports, contests, monkey bars, and a parade.

Boys’ coupons enlisted the tikes in a "best-decorated bike" race and parade, as well as a "Ride-the-Plank" contest, though the wording on girls’ registration forms was equally odd: "I, (your name here) wish to enter your paper hat contest. I promise to parade at the Echo Park playground."

Nothing quite like a forced march in a paper hat to brighten up one’s Saturday afternoon!

The persona of Aunt Dolly was gradually nudged from the Junior Times in the late 1920s, appearing only to write a serial entitled "Snoopy in Do-Do Land." The feature abruptly ended in 1931 — perhaps Aunt Dolly got a buyout?



What’s Cookin’?

April 15, 1927

Lmenuadies of Los Angeles!  Do your cakes fall?  Is your husband weary of tough pot roast?  Do the words, "Company’s coming" fill you with dread?  Never fear, because Mabelle E. Wyman is here!

Throughout the 1920s, master chef A.L. Wyman answered the questions near and dear to the hearts of Times readers in his weekly column, "Practical Recipes:  Helps for Epicures and All Who Appreciate Good Cooking," supplemented by the popular daily feature, "Suggestions for Tomorrow’s Menu."  After Wyman’s death in 1926, his widow, Mabelle, immediately took over the columns.  Then, she did him one better, announcing free cooking classes to be offered weekly under the auspices of the Los Angeles Times. mabelle

Approximately 1000 Angelenos crowded into Wyman’s lecture room at the Southern California Manufacturers’ Exhibit at 130 S. Broadway for the inaugural class on April 15, some of them sitting on window sills and even under the enamel sink on the stage.  Within a week, the Times announced that classes would be offered on Tuesdays and Fridays to accommodate the demand.

Domestic science was a relatively young discipline, and like many burgeoning fields, sought legitimacy in its early days by emphasizing the ‘science.’  Nutrition, economy, efficiency, and tidy presentation were prized, sometimes over taste.  While this era in culinary history gave us the icebox cake, it also ushered is a parade of congealed horrors like the tomato frappe (the less said of this unholy mixture of condensed soup and iceberg lettuce the better).

Wyman’s culinary focus was typical for the time, if quirkier.  She emphasized meatless dishes, like her Potato and Peanut Sausages, as well as foods grown or produced in Southern California.  Popular demonstrations included recipes for Spanish omelettes, cucumber loaf, orange cookies, and the ubiquitous tamale pie.

tamalepieAfter the first class, Wyman encouraged her audience to submit questions to a question box, and guaranteed answers either during the next class or in her "Practical Recipes" column.  While most columns simply answered requests for particular recipes, others were more cryptic.  One can only wonder at the query that prompted Wyman to write, "Mrs. S., Los Angeles:  I am sorry but the law prohibits my either printing the recipe you ask for or sending it through the mail."  Bathtub julep, anyone?

Wyman seems to have been as good as her word, frequently humoring readers who requested recipe reprints.  Despite being demonstrated several times at her lectures, and appearing in A.L. Wyman’s posthumous Daily Health Menus (available for check out at the Los Angeles Public Library), Mabelle printed the recipe for tamale pie no less than 10 times during her tenure with the Times.

The classes remained popular until Wyman’s sudden death on January 23, 1931.  She was found at her home at 424 Arden Ave. in Glendale (also the mailing address listed in her column for A.L. Wyman Laboratory Kitchen), having suffered a heart attack.  Her estate, including a collection of over 200 cookbooks, was auctioned February 8, 1931.

Recommended reading:  Laura Shapiro’s Perfection Salad, a lively study of domestic science and city cooking schools around the turn of the century, and Sylvia Lovegren’s Fashionable Food:  Seven Decades of Food Fads, a collection of trendy, eyebrow-raising recipes (including one for the ubiquitous tamale pie).

Also of interest:  The Food Timeline, a culinary history project created and maintained by a librarian (woot!), featuring landmark foods trends through the ages.  Peking duck to hummingbird cake, it’s all here.

Steve Harvey featurette in today’s L.A. Times

Welcome, readers of Steve Harvey’s Only in L.A.!

Past Horrors Await Bus Tour, Provided Today’s Don’t Intervene

"Nightmares of Bunker Hill" is a bus tour for those who revel in the murders, suicides, brothels, gambling palaces and opium dens of 19th century L.A. — you know, the good old days.

"The city was so strange and wide open back then," said co-operator Kim Cooper. "But they had a lot of the same problems as we do now. Wild kids … men and women not getting along…. "

Naturally, it takes a certain mind-set to be entranced by, say, a story about a woman throwing acid in the face of her lover (Chinatown, 1887). But the market evidently exists. The last group who signed up for an excursion were invited by Cooper and partner Nathan Marsak to pick a date. Easter Sunday was chosen. "Oh, you delightful sickniks!" the duo responded on their website, And so the holiday was observed, in their own way.

The next scheduled jaunt is June 10. Cost for the five-hour experience is $47, which includes snacks and beverages.

Cooper and Marsak, incidentally, make this disclaimer: "Although it is extremely unlikely, the organizers reserve the right to postpone the tour in the event of extreme weather, riot, act of war or plague."

We’re talking, after all, about L.A.

Stupid criminal tricks, mid-20th century style: Cooper and Marsak recently completed a project in which they documented, for the fun of it, "the offbeat and criminal history of 1947 Los Angeles." A few excerpts:

•  Busboy James Edwards, 57, who distrusted banks, was conked on the head by a thug and awoke to find $75 stolen from his wallet. What the robber hadn’t noticed was that Edwards was also wearing a cartridge belt holding $3,843, plus $1.17 in change.

•  A taxi driver, saying he was "feeling sleepy," asked his passenger to take the wheel. The passenger, a young Marine named Patrick Crawford, did so — and drove to the Santa Ana police station. There officers arrested the somnolent man on suspicion of having shot the cab’s real owner earlier in the day.

•  When forgery suspect Robert Putter, 49, was arrested in Alhambra, police found in his possession an 18-page how-to booklet for others in the trade. Ironically, he failed to observe one of his own rules: "When you don’t succeed in passing a check, get out of town but fast."