The Battle of East 71st Street

The Battle of East 71st Street

January 3, 1927
South Los Angeles

The men came marching onto County land, with their boots and their buckets and their shovels and their poles, and the ladies of East 71st Street, just east of Hooper Avenue, came out of their little bungalows, leaving their babies and their breakfast dishes and their washboards and their bougainvilleas, and they met there, in the middle of the road, and looked each other up and down.

"Why have you come to our little street?" asked the ladies.
"To install high tension electrical wires," the men replied.
"Down the middle of our street?"
"Down the middle of your street."
"Like hell you will!" was the ladies’ retort. And when the workmen returned to sink their poles on Monday morning, they found an angry mob of females who congregated around the various spots where holes were to be sunk and planted their bodies in the way of any work. One octogenarian brought a chair out and sat atop the digging spot, while others stood their ground and glared. At lunch time, other women came out and changed places, so no child would go without its meal.

The men retreated, not willing to spill female blood or risk their own safety further. On further investigation, it was revealed the city has not obtained the proper county permit to plant any such power line down 71st Street, so any such erection would be delayed indefinitely. And the next day, a spokesman for the work crew said, "They not only won, they routed us altogether. There’ll be six feet of ice at Sixth and Broadway before some of our men venture on Seventy-first street again. We ceased operations because we are not putting up any poles or lines on any street where the people object to them. Nothing will be done unless we can come to some agreement with the women."

Here’s to the heroines of the Battle of East 71st Street: Mrs. P. R. Bottomly of 1348 East 71st Street, Mrs. H. B. Dawson of #1332, Mrs. M. M. Schnell of #1342 and Mrs. W.J. Kline of #1315 and those who sat for the photograph (L-R): Mrs. Louisa H. Orr (aged 82), Mrs. W. A. Grubbs, Mrs. G. S. McIntyre (provisional general), Mrs. M. Robertson (aide-de-camp), Mrs. R. Jackson (chief of staff) and Mrs. Louise Dixson. For sisterhood is powerful, NIMBYism is nothing new in Los Angeles, and who the hell wants power lines cluttering up their view?

The Battle of East 71st Street

The Female Driver

December 21, 1907
Los Angelesminnieheadline

Hey, enough you, with the cracks about the lady driver.  Let’s see you make a long tour over hairpin turn-filled mountain roads replete with sharp ascents and descents.  Such a journey requires skill and judgement, “and yet,” writes the Times, “woman drivers are giving as good account of themselves in this work as men.”  

During the dear Edwardian days, the more daring element among our fairer sex would, on such tours, more often than not content themselves with presiding at the wheel on smooth stretches, leaving the real driving to the patriarchy.  Snorting a hearty pshaw at convention, Minnie Roberts of Madera shipped her 1905 White steamer touring car to Los Angeles to have it rebuilt as a runabout.  Here they also painted the auto a bright red.  She came down to LA to see how her car was coming, and, on visiting her pals Mr. and Mrs. H. D. Ryus, announced she was going to drive the beast home herself.  Mr. Ryus loaned her a mechanic in case the car should break down, but otherwise, Minnie was at the wheel.


The two days, and 315 miles, were full of hills, fords, bends, sand, ruts, desert, canyons and thick woods—and few towns.  The Tejon pass summit, where they were caught in a brief but fierce rain, is 4280 feet; Mint Cañon has a 3850 foot summit.  Minnie and the mechanic donned leather-covered laprobes during the inclement weather, since Minnie “does not believe in” glass fronts or canvas tops.

Whence came Minnie’s love of hard driving and speed?  It seems the week previous, Minnie had been taken for a ride in her pal “Wild Bill” Ruess’ fifty-horse-power Pope-Toledo (“that he uses to scare the life out of would-be motorists”) which, when it reached fifty-five miles and hour and could get no more speed, Minnie asked sweetly of Wild Bill, “Is this all the fast you can go?”












(A 1905 White, above, indicating the proper placement of ladies within an automobile, an image I snatched from here.)

Those Sporting Ladies!

Los Angeles
May 15, 1907

Curious neighbors noticed recently that a large number of well-dressed women have been taking the streetcar to the end of the line at 54th Street and South Central Avenue while still others are arriving in automobiles. Upon investigation, Patrolmen Walsh and Murphy discovered that the women are gambling on horse races at a bookie joint set up next to the Ascot Park billiard parlor in a vacant lot surrounded by a high board fence.

Owners J.W. Carr and W.J. Murphy restricted the clientele to women, so police had a difficult time obtaining evidence, but finally officers raided the place and found 50 stylishly dressed women playing the ponies.