The Internet of Yesteryear

readallaboutitFebruary 10, 1927
Los Angeles

Ho!  Wuxtry!

Those mockery-making purveyors of pasquinade Pi Delta Epsilon are at it again—it’s the new issue of the Razzberry!  Not to be confused with a Bruinite’s Hell’s Bells, the Razzberry is the Trojaninny’s main road to mirth, and boulevard to bellylaughs!  

Yes, the new ish of USC lampoon rag The Razzberry is out, and you should pick one up.  You’ll know the rag by its scent of scandal and journalistic tinge of yellow.  And by those gents dressed as prison inmates hawking ’em!  (As jailbirds stand, you see, in direct opposition of all that college and higher education hold dear, these lettered loons gave gab garbed as hostages…of hilarity!)

But be stout of heart…”Stories range from an exposé of supposed corruption to accounts of wild orgies staged in fraternity houses.” 

I’m sure those stories were just somethin’.  Of course reference to the fraternal wild orgy failed to carry the same import eighty years ago as it does to-day.  And the cub reporter of USC’s 1927 scandal sheet could only conjecture that in the future, there’d be no lack of diverting folly to make with the waggery over!

Maternity Fraternity

September 12, 1927
Los Angeles
"No longer will food be bolted at the table.  No longer will the rooms and corridors resemble the interior of a Turkish bath with young men in various states of undress.  No longer will the strains of ‘Columbo,’ ‘Lulu,’ and ‘Trojan Razz Song’ blare out from the dinner table."
That’s right, the boys of USC are getting civilizing influence, whether they like it or not. 
Today USC President Rufus B. Von KleinSmid announced that each of the school’s 19 fraternities would be required to submit to the supervision of a house mother.  This had been a pet project of Von KleinSmid’s for over two years, but was staunchly opposed by fraternities and sororities alike.
Josephine Campbell, president of the Panhellenic Council, explained the women’s opposition to house mothers saying, "I believe college men should be able to take care of themselves and house mothers would make them dependent, rather than making them stand on their own feet and run the frat houses as they have in the past."
Because USC women aren’t about to step through the pansy ring for any momma’s boys.

On the Frontiers of Medicine

Jan. 11, 1907
Los Angeles

A woman living on a hog ranch near the Santa Fe railroad crossing over the Los Angeles River contacted police after seeing dismembered human bodies in the old dumping ground near George Street.

Investigators dug through the dump, retrieving the body of a child that was nearly intact, along with bits and pieces of a man and a woman, including their skulls. In addition to the remains, police found books and papers traced to the University of Southern California Medical School.

“Whoever is responsible for the depositing of the remains on the garbage heap should be severely censured,” Coroner Roy S. Lanterman told The Times.

“It seems quite heartless enough to give up the human body to further science but when the students have finished dissecting the remains they should see that they are interred with the proper respect. I cannot understand the action of those responsible for sending the bodies to the garbage heap.”

For further reading on the sorry state of medical schools at the turn of the 20th century, read Abraham Flexner’s “Medical Education in the U.S. and Canada.” Note that in this era, medical students didn’t even need to be high school graduates.

E-mail: lmharnisch (AT)

A Strange Funeral Indeed

September 16, 1907horrorofgrave
Los Angelesdanvance

We’ve all been to funerals.  Some of us more than others, but funerals, they’re all pretty much the same.  Lots of black ostrich plumes.  Black clothing with jet-black buttons.  Stopped clocks and covered mirrors.  A fancy coffin and a viewing of the body, a solemn cortege whereby you follow the hearse to the cemetery, and then you watch as your loved one, at the hands of the undertaker and gravedigger, is lowered into the cold earth. Then it’s back to the house for snacks.

Today, however, Mr. and Mrs. L. M. Vance conducted a novel funeral ceremony for their fifteen year-old son Daniel, who contracted fatal cerebral meningitis after a recent dip in one of the local plunges.  Mrs. Vance (famed for organizing the “Helpful Home for Boys,” at Trinity and 16th) wished to triumph over the sting of death and the horror of the grave, and according to the Times, “the mother succeeded, and as a result the friends of the family attended the strangest funeral service ever held in this city.”

Before you get too excited, dear reader, remember, this is 1907, so you might do well to consider that when comparing the “strange funeral” of 1907 with the funerary customs of 99 years hence.

The first order of operations was taking Dan’s body to Rosedale Cemetery, where he was placed in the crematory and reduced to ash.  When friends gathered at the Vance home at 972 West 34th Street, instead of being met with his body in a casket, the house had been filled with flowers, arranged around Dan in his urn.  Floral pieces were massed in profusion all around the parlor, where words of inspiration and hope were spoken by all, including Rev. B. Fay Mills of the Church of Brotherhood, who officiated.  The ashes will remain in the home; said Mr. Vance, “I shudder to think of returning from the funeral and leaving the body of my boy under the ground.”

And so went the strangest funeral ever held in this city.

(The Vance home has since been covered over by USC’s Parking Lot P, which services the Humanities and Social Science Annex.  The subsequent disposition of Dan’s ashes is unknown.)