Friday, November 2, 2018

Veteran's Day

Why we celebrate November 11th

          At 9:06 in the morning of November 7th, 1918, the Long Beach Daily Telegram received a United Press wire---the World War in Europe had ended. The armistice took effect on November 11th, at 11 o’clock in the morning—the "eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month" of 1918. In 1926 November 11th would officially become a U.S. holiday. In 1954 the name was changed to Veterans Day to honor all U.S. veterans.
           But festivities in Long Beach began on November 7th with news of the German surrender. The war was over!! The newspaper staff immediately got on the telephone and spread the news throughout the town.  The bathhouse siren roared, automobiles everywhere began to honk their horns, street cars and trains set bells and whistles going.  In an amazingly short time the streets were jammed with autos and trucks draped with flags.  Businesses closed.  Thousands of people, despite the influenza forced ban on public gatherings, paraded down the streets yelling, weeping, and waving flags.
Long Beach celebrates the end of the war.
          A semi-official parade began at 2 o'clock from the corner of Fourth and Pacific.  One automobile in the procession had a representation of the Kaiser's goat mounted on the hood; another carried the Kaiser's coffin.  Patriotic adults distributed packages of firecrackers to kids on the street.  At 3 P.M. three German flags were burned.
          Cecil W. Ayers, formerly a member of the British Royal Flying Corps, was part of the celebration, but it nearly killed him.  During the festivities, Ayers rode about Long Beach in an automobile of the British Ambulance Service, waving a large flag and shouting with his friends. A few hours later Ayer’s experienced what the Los Angeles Herald described as a “mind lapse” that led him back to the war and the battle trenches of France. He had been severely wounded during the war when his airplane was shot down in a battle with German aircraft.  In addition to suffering from shell shock, Ayers’ spine was injured by the fall and to make matters worse he had lost his wife to influenza three weeks before Armistice was declared. He was just one of the many who would suffer from this new form of illness called “shell shock” back then, but now recognized as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

          An "official" celebration to commemorate the end of World War I had to be delayed because of the influenza quarantine. 
"Victory Day" was eventually held on Sunday, December 8th. 3,500 people thronged the Municipal Auditorium for the three hour program.  Allied nations were represented by speakers from Europe, Canada, Japan, Australia, and America.
          Another celebration was held the following year, when 400 men and six women were welcomed home to Long Beach on September 9, 1919.  All were given bronze medals following a parade in which the latest war veterans were honored. 
Veterans welcomed home.
That evening eulogies were spoken for those that died.  The weather-stained city service banner, which had flown over the city since the war started, was retired.  Attached to the banner was a mammoth gold star inscribed with the number 50, signifying the number of local men who gave their lives in the war.  A blue star bore the numbers 2437 showing that 2437 Long Beach men and women had stood willing to die, if necessary, in the cause of humanity.  

The Long Beach Service Flag  would have looked
 like this but the numbers would have been different.
    The first local casualty was Donald Edward Erickson (7/3/1896-6/13/1918) who died on a battlefield in France.  He was wounded in action at Chateau Thierry on June 9, 1918. Four days later he died as a result of his wounds. His mother, a widow, was supported by her three sons---Donald, Derrell and Fred---before the war. 
   When her sons approached her about enlisting she readily gave her consent. When asked by the Long Beach Press to express her feelings about having three sons in the war and Donald’s death, Mrs. Ada Lulu Erickson replied: "Each must die in time. None can die a more glorious death than this; but, oh, it's hard to feel it all, all the time." (LB Press 6/20/1918).
          Donald’s body was returned to his mother. Marines at the San Pedro submarine base were in charge of the funeral service at Sunnyside Cemetery. His brother Derrell (1886-3/26/1920) is also at Sunnyside. Derrell died in 1920 from wounds and exposure incurred during the war. Brother Fred survived and helped support his mother, he died in 1964 (3/9/1890-9/17/1964) and is buried at the Los Angeles National Cemetery. 
Named for Arthur Lincoln Peterson,
killed September 12, 1918.
     Many of those Long Beach/Signal Hill lads who died are buried in France and Belgium. Five are buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington D. C. Long Beach American Legion Post No. 27,  was named for Arthur Lincoln Peterson who was killed on September 12, 1918, while leading a voluntary advance to cut barbed wire before a troop invasion. Corporal Peterson is buried in the Saint Mihiel American Cemetery and Memorial in Lorraine, France.  
   Some Long Beach men never made it to the war. Homer T. Rathbone (7/25/1894-1/23/1918) died at Camp Greene Hospital in North Carolina. Walter Lawrence Wickham  (9/29/1897-10/8/1918) died while on a ship in the harbor at Liverpool, England. Harold Moughan Ketels  (9/16/1896-10/29/1918) died just prior to receiving orders to report to Nautical School, at Washington D.C. Charles Edwin Livingstone  (11/18/1891-11/4/1918) was receiving training in Delvin, Washington, when he passed away. Mundie Woodard, George Tupper, and Theo Robinson also never made it to the war. All seven men had one thing in common. They all died of influenza. 

Walter Wickham
Howard Ketels
Charles Livingstone

          Following a tribute to the returned war heroes and to those who would never return, the Mayor adjusted a white silken streamer diagonally across the banner, partly obliterating the numbers on the service stars, indicating the closure of this chapter in the history of the City of Long Beach.  For sixty seconds, the three thousand people in attendance stood in silent reverence before the service banner, bidding unspoken farewell to the flag that for more than two years had stood as a constant reminder of the sacrifices made by residents of Long Beach during the Great War.
          As indicated on the blue and gold banner, 2437 Long Beach men and women had gone to war; 50 of them did not return.  In comparison, 9000 cases of influenza were reported in Long Beach between October 1, 1918 and February 1, 1919; 148 Long Beach residents died.

         The flu buried more than 50 million people throughout the world in eighteen months.  The death rate stunned physicians.  It took the battlefields of France four years to kill 15 million men but the flu did the same work in much less time.  In the United States alone more people died of the flu (550,000 adults) in 1918 than the U.S. military lost to combat in both world wars, Korea and Vietnam.  In Alaska, whole Indian villages disappeared while India lost more than 12 million people.  Adults with flu finished a poker game or army drill one minute, only to drop dead the next.  Although the epidemic initiated the biggest plague die-off in world history, it is remembered, when it is remembered at all, as no more than a bad outbreak of "the flu."
          So remember to get your flu shot!

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Early Long Beach African Americans: George W. Hawkins

            In researching a possible new book on African Americans in our community, I came across a California State Office of Historic Preservation report (An Ethnic Sites Survey for California) that mentioned that most people seemed to believe that before 1940 there were virtually no African Americans in the State. But there were. Of the forty four of the original founders of the city of Los Angeles, twenty six were of African descent. Africans had been brought to Mexico, many as slaves, in the 17th century, and their descendants were racially mixed by the time of the colonization of California in the 18th century. People of mixed race were actually the majority of the population in several Mexican states. California governor Pio Pico (1845-46), the last governor of California under Mexican rule, has been described as Afro-Mexican. In the 1900 U.S. Census those that identified themselves as Mexican were classified as Black, along with African Americans. .
            I found 7,858 African Americans living in California in 1900, with 21 of that number (who lacked Hispanic surnames) living in Long Beach. Let me tell you about one of the more prominent members---George Washington Hawkins.

These image are from the Los Angeles Herald (11/4/1898). The one on the left shows Hawkins in a checked suit . The seated gentleman is J.J. Neimore, president of the California League of Afro-Americans. In the other image Hawkins'
 head is portrayed above the dog. These are the only image I have been able to find of Hawkins. The article, reporting on a "Colored Republicans Jubilee," like many from the time made fun of African Americans. This one discussed the dog who interrupted the conference more than the conference itself. 
            One of the leaders in the Long Beach and Los Angeles community was George Washington Hawkins, a Los Angeles furniture dealer who also owned a ranch in the Los Cerritos area of Long Beach. Hawkins was born in Alabama in 1845 and had been married to wife Carrie (born in Wisconsin in 1854) since 1875. Not much is known about George’s early life, though he may have been a slave born to a black mother and a white father, since he listed himself as “mulatto” in the 1910 U.S. Census.  He was referred to as “Captain” and may have served in the Civil War, though I can find no records to that effect.  He was first listed in Los Angeles City Directories in 1891 and continued having a residence in Los Angeles until 1913. He was one of the most successful African Americans in Los Angeles, according to a Los Angeles Herald article published in March 1902. His Los Angeles home was on the corner of 16th Street and Central Avenue and was located in “a refined aristocratic white community.”
            Hawkins had been active in the California Republican Party since his arrival in Los Angeles in 1891 and quickly gravitated to the California Afro-American League and its platform which stressed education, political involvement and helping each other. He was also instrumental in forming the Colored Business Men’s League of Los Angeles in 1901, which frequently met at his business at 242 E. Second Street in Los Angeles.  At that time Los Angeles had several African American physicians, a dentist, a veterinarian, tailor, plumber, nurses, pharmacist, blacksmith, cabinet makers and carpenters and there were several grocery stores and other businesses run by African Americans. The city also had two local African American newspapers. At the inaugural meeting Hawkins stated there was a need for such an association so African American men in business could come together and become acquainted with each other. There was a need to “instill into the race a desire to branch out in various commercial lines and to be better known among their people that they might obtain a good share of the trade that now drifted to other firms.” Hawkins also pointed out how an increase in patronage would enable African American owned businesses to employ others of their race. 
            In 1903 the Colored Business Men’s League took a firm stance against proposed school segregation in Los Angeles. Hawkins told the Los Angeles Herald (10/15/03)

           We are American citizens and taxpayers and our children are entitled to the same privileges as those of the whites. There should be no race distinction, particularly in a section where the differences that cause so much trouble in the south are lost sight of. It would be fully as unjust to isolate the Spanish, the Germans or any other nationality, as to exclude the Negro from the public schools. If there are unruly spirits among the Negro pupils there is a very simple remedy. Put them out of the school, just as is done with white children. No Negro parent will object to such a measure. I have talked with 20 or 30 men of my race within the past 48 hours, and I have not found one in favor of separate schools.” 

            Hawkins was elected state vice president of the California Afro-American League in 1904. The organization was one of several African American political groups formed in the United States after the Civil War. The California League started in San Francisco in 1891 with less than 150 members; by 1896 it had a chapter in all major cities of the state. Initially the members were all Republicans who espoused the belief that none but responsible and honest men should be nominated and elected to public office. After the first meeting on August 10, 1891, those present decided to form an association that would uphold the principles of the Republican Party and by doing so benefit their people in maintaining their political rights. It was also understood that as membership in the League increased, efforts would be made to obtain employment for those looking for work, and in this and other ways “establish a fraternity of interest and good will toward each other.” Women were allowed membership and voting rights in the organization and supported universal women’s suffrage, as did the men in the League.
T.B. Morton
Theophilus B. Morton founded the California Afro-American League and served as its president for seven years. Born in Virginia in 1849, he escaped from slavery in 1862 and in 1864 took part with the Eighth Illinois Regiment in defense of Washington D.C. Morton settled in California in 1875. He believed the highest duty a man owed himself was the love of a home, and in order to have a home and have it properly protected he must be involved in the political affairs of the state and nation.
       The League had a hard road ahead of them because of dissension among the members. Many felt that the pioneers and native born California African Americans were being slighted by those who had come from the south. There was also a prejudice of the black men against those of lighter color, according to the San Francisco Call (8/6/1895) 
           Morton had high ideals for the African American race. He told those in attendance at the 1896 congress held in Los Angeles:

            The young people of the race will be encouraged by the congress to cultivate their talents so that they will be fitted for the various callings in the business world, and not be contented to live from hand to mouth. We need to show our ability, and we have considerable, and thus receive the recognition we deserve, and disarm many good men and women who wish us prosperity of any lurking prejudice that remains. (San Francisco Call, 7/5/1896)

            In 1896 the League supported McKinley for president and were very happy to receive a letter from McKinley thanking them for their support. At that conference they appointed a committee of five to consider the best way to get legislation passed to end discrimination against their race. The most urgent measure related to section 60, article I, of the California Civil code, commonly known as ‘the black law,” which read: “All marriages of white persons with negroes or mulattoes are illegal and void.”  (This law would remain until the California Supreme Court voided the ban on interracial marriage in 1948). They also pushed for a bill which would allow “full and equal accommodation, advantages, facilities and privileges of inns, restaurants, hotels, eating houses, bathhouses, barber shops, music halls, public conveyances on land and water and other places of public accommodation or amusement.” If anyone committed the offense they would pay a sum of not less than $100 or more than $500. (This too would remain a dream not achieved in their lifetimes).
            The League also called mass meetings to denounce the lynching of African Americans in the South by lawless mobs and demanded proper action by the law in finding those responsible and punishing them. The League raised money to assist in defraying the cost for lawsuits in the states where the outrages occurred.
            In a speech Hawkins gave in August 1904 to the Afro-American League in Los Angeles he said the Negroes of the day were in reality slaves, kept down by the white people. He believed the Negro had to do better work and work longer hours than the white man to keep his position. He urged the race to turn to agricultural pursuits; own farms and their home life would be far happier.
            Hawkins took his own advice and purchased property in the Los Cerritos area of Long Beach. With the arrival of the Pacific Electric railway in 1902 he could easily commute between his ranch and his used furniture store in Los Angeles. A Los Angeles Herald article detailed his sentiments:

            The colored man who owns an orange ranch is treated by his white neighbor with vastly more consideration than one who owns none. The former, when he goes to a packing house to sell his oranges, finds the color of his skin no barrier. The latter goes to the same packing house to get a job and finds to his sorrow that none but white men are employed. Now, these two black men differ only in the fact that one had oranges to sell and was entertained, while the other, who had nothing to sell had a race problem on his hands.... The number of this class is happily on the increase, this pursuit carries with it an independence and dignity that the poor man finds nowhere else. To employ himself should be the ambition of every laboring man. In this lies the-hope for the colored race of Southern California. (LA Herald 3/2/1902)

            I haven’t been able to find anything more on George Washington Hawkins. I have had to rely on Los Angeles and San Francisco newspapers for information, though there were a few Long Beach newspapers from the early 1900s that have been preserved. In March 1903 the Long Beach Evening Tribune mentioned the Reverend P. Robertson of the Second Baptist Church of Los Angeles had established a mission in Long Beach at Tenth between Elm and Atlantic. Though not mentioned by name, I am certain it was thanks in part to George Washington Hawkins.
        According to census records Hawkins and his wife Carrie had no children whose descendants might know more about this remarkable man of many achievements. If any readers have additional information, please let me know.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Stories of Love Remembered

      What would Valentine’s Day be like without stories of love? Tales of romance abound in Long Beach. Let me share a few tales from the past with you.

Lost Love Found
    It was a story that brought many a tear to the eyes of many Los Angeles Herald readers the morning of August 28, 1898. It appeared that Leslie Newlin, one of the crew of the on the yacht Dawn, had found a long lost wife and she a long lost husband.
    Five years earlier Leslie was first officer of an English vessel engaged in trade in the tropics. He fell in love with the captain’s daughter, also traveling on the ship, and married her. Three weeks after marriage the vessel sank in the English channel, Leslie witnessed what he thought was the death of his wife —a huge wave washing her overboard—but unknown to him she was taken aboard one of the ship's life boats, he himself being in another of the life boats. The tempestuous sea drove the boats widely apart, after several hours Leslie’s boat was picked up by a passing vessel. The other boat which held his wife was also rescued after a long ordeal. Diligent inquiries on the part of both husband and wife failed to reveal any trace of either, both finally giving up all hope of ever seeing each other.
    While visiting Long Beach Mrs. Newlin, went for a sail on the Dawn. The couple met, looked at each other, and couldn’t believe their eyes. It couldn’t be; each thought the other dead. They chanced to meet again the next day on the wharf and he went to her and asked her who she was, and she told him. About a year ago she had married another man, thinking Leslie dead. But her first love won out. She would notify husband number two that their marriage was illegal. In the meantime she and Leslie Newlin set sail together on a lumber vessel for Puget Sound. 

An Elopement 

   It was almost like Romeo and Juliet, fifteen-year-old Jennie Thomson of Duarte thought as she eloped with twenty-four year-old Homer Norman. Her father thought her too young for romance and did not mince words when telling her so, but she was in love and wanted to spend her life with Homer. The elopement had been well planned. Homer had taken off with Jenny in one carriage and, accompanied by four young friends in another, headed to Long Beach. Long Beach, they thought, would be the perfect seaside town to take a ship out to sea and get married. Besides, the town’s telephone system shut down at 9 p.m. every evening and Jennie’s father couldn’t trace them there.
    The Thomsons discovered their daughter missing around 8:30 p.m., Sunday, August 2, 1897. They found a note explaining that she had lived at home as long as she cared to and that she had decided to spend the remainder of her life with Homer. The police were immediately notified and several search parties started toward the beach, but it was too late. Jenny, Homer and their escorts had already boarded Captain Pearson’s ship the J. Willey and were heading out to sea and the nine-mile limit where Pearson could legally marry the young lovers.
   Jenny’s father was livid, her mother prostrated with grief. Their daughter was not of legal age to marry without her parent’s consent and Alexander C. Thomson was definitely not going to give it. The determined father found his daughter in Long Beach and hurried to the seaside town demanding that Jenny come home with him. Homer Norman told his now father-in-law he no longer had a say so in the matter. Thomson disagreed.
    The tangled court case that resulted would come to define the legality of marriages at sea. If Pearson’s marriage of the couple was legal it meant that any man could take any underage child to sea, defy the wishes of her parents and have his way with her.
    On August 15, 1897, Judge M.T. Allen rendered his decision: marriages on the high seas were legal only when neither of the contracting parties was violating the laws of the State or country in which they lived when contracting such marriage. Since Jennie was underage she was still under her father’s custody. The marriage was not legal and a hysterical Jennie was returned to her family home.
    Jennie claimed she still loved Norman and vowed she would run away with him again, at the first opportunity. Alexander Thomson told the press he would rather have a dog for a son-in-law than Norman and that he would have the young man arrested on a charge of rape unless Norman stopped harassing his daughter. The threat must have done the trick. Though no further stories appear, a look at the 1900 U.S. Census finds Homer Norman living with his parents along with his British born wife, Beatrice, and their 3-month-old daughter. Jennie, eighteen-years-old in that same census, is still at home with her parents; finally of legal age to marry---but her Romeo had deserted her for another.

A Love Rekindled
    On November 20, 1907, two thousand people crowded the shore of Long Beach to bid goodbye to the cruisers Colorado, Maryland, Pennsylvania and West Virginia who were leaving Long Beach after a ten day stay. The four ships of the first division of the Pacific fleet had cordially greeted visitors and performed shore drills. The major purpose of the visit, however, was to meet family and friends who had traveled from throughout the country to meet their sailor kin. Twenty five men had enlisted during the squadron’s stay, five from Long Beach. Two Long Beach lads, Robert Mead and Arthur Letts had signed up so they wouldn’t need to testify against Alice Shorers and her alleged house of prostitution. Thirty others had deserted, often with some ingenuity. Fred Smith of Los Angeles told how he met a sailor at the West Virginia ball who persuaded him to change clothing to see how he looked in sailor’s attire. Smith then said the sailor excused himself for a moment and never came back.

   There was one remarkable story involving the fleet visit. Cora Haskell had traveled to Long Beach to visit her brother on board the South Dakota. To her astonishment she ran into an old schoolmate and beau from Dubuque, Iowa. Seventeen years earlier Patrick Burns had enlisted in the Navy. The couple vowed to write regularly but the pair eventually lost track of each other and Burns thought Cora had died. Both were overjoyed; romance again developed quickly and Patrick proposed. On June 9, 1908, Patrick’s enlistment over, he lost no time in marrying his long lost love. The newlyweds decided to make Long Beach, where their lives had again intertwined, their home.

A Father Changes His Mind
    When Y. Igloppi of Long Beach married a lovely Japanese girl in Los Angeles in January 1919, he thought their lives together would be filled with happiness. But troubles not their own were brewing and in a few short days complications arose which ended up sending them to court.
    Before the marriage festivities were over the father of the bride told the couple that an ill friend, who could not attend the wedding, wished them to visit. When the newlyweds arrived at the home of the ailing man, the father asked the bride to follow him into an adjoining room. Leaving her new husband behind, the girl followed. The father closed and locked the door, fled through another passage, taking his daughter with him. Igloppi could not find his bride and was forced to return to Long Beach without her. He told his story to Attorney Newton M. Todd who served a warrant on the girl's family. According to reports the father, upon thinking about it, decided he could negotiate a better marriage to a more prosperous man for his daughter. But it was too late. Threatened with a law suit for having decoyed the bride away, the father returned the girl to her legal husband. It was a happy ending for the couple loved each other. Now all Igloppi had to do was prove himself a worthy husband to the father. 

Looking for a Wife
    In November 1913 Mayor Kiel of St. Louis received an interesting letter from L.B. Johnson of Long Beach:

    Dear Mayor – I am writing you a letter asking you to help me find a companion. Am 23 years old, 5 feet 11 ¾ inches in height, with light complexion and blue eyes; weigh between 185 and 192. I want a good girl, not over 20 years old. She must be good looking, a fair cook and willing to start life with a young man who will treat her right and offer her a good home. I do not want any red haired woman. She may be fair or dark, but not too dark. If you will find me this kind of a girl I will be ever thankful. Kindly answer right away. L.B. Johnson.

    Johnson, living at 65 Alamitos Avenue, got the idea from a friend, Leo Anderson, who wrote a letter to the chief of police of St. Louis asking him to help him find a wife. Anderson received many replies, one of them from Miss Ella Alvin. The letter was nice, and a picture was enclosed convincing him she was the girl he was looking for.
    Anderson joked to Johnson that he should think about getting married. Johnson thought about it for a few years, and then decided to do what his friend suggested. Anderson helped Johnson draft the letter but put in the piece about the red-hair as a joke. Johnson, a fireman by trade expected to get as lucky as his friend Leo, because as he told the Daily Telegram “their experience has shown that a correspondence courtship may result in a happy marriage.”
   Unfortunately, there were no follow up stories to tell of Johnson’s success or failure, he moved away from Long Beach the following year. Did he travel to St. Louis to meet the woman of his dreams? Sadly, we will never know.

An Advertising Success
Unlike Mr. Johnson, Orion Watson did succeed in finding a wife, his second, through advertising. In January 1911, Orion and Mrs. Jennie Keener saw each other for the first time at the Southern Pacific depot on Second Street, and married that same afternoon. The widowed Watson, about 50, had come all the way from Hatchie, Mississippi, to meet and wed 40-year-old Jennie. It had been a short courtship. In November 1910, Orin inserted an advertisement in a matrimonial newspaper (yes, there were such things back then). Jennie answered it. Orion wasted no time, proposing they get married on Christmas day.  here was one delay. Jennie, who lived in Illinois, had been sent a railroad ticket by her Long Beach relatives, the Dunstons. She had always wanted to see California, and told Orion he would have to wait. An anxious Orion replied that he too wanted to see California. He arrived in Long Beach on January 11th. The couple married and honeymooned in Long Beach for the winter.

No Kissing
  No one knows exactly how Valentine’s Day began, but what would it be without a kiss between lovers? Well, folks in Long Beach were faced with that possibility when in 1918 Long Beach became a kiss-less beach. To keep Long Beach a nice moral town city officials passed an ordinance prohibiting caressing, hugging, fondling, embracing, kissing or wrestling on the beach and at the Pike. The law also prohibited a person from resting his or her head on another person’s lap. If you broke the law you would be fined, imprisoned or both.
    A. T. Sackett became the first man arrested under section two of Ordinance B - 456. Sackett was given an option---a fine of $l5 or spending 15 days in jail. He told the judge the young woman in whose company he was when arrested was the girl to whom he was engaged to marry. Sackett pleaded guilty to violating the ordinance, but declined to pay the fine levied by the court and appealed on constitutional grounds. “Under the Long Beach law a man can be arrested for kissing his mother or his sister,” he said. “My arrest and fining was unjust.”
    Sackett won on his appeal. Superior Judge Willis declared the local imitation of Connecticut's blue laws unconstitutional and "an unwarranted interference with the inalienable right of liberty and pursuit of happiness." His decision was also based on the fact that none of the acts listed in the ordinance could be declared wrong in themselves, but depended upon two things: First, whether the act, otherwise harmless, was performed in a public place. Second, whether the participants of the act were of the opposite sex. In other words, a young man could kiss, hug and embrace his girlfriend in the privacy of her own home, but should they do it outside, they would both be guilty of a misdemeanor. Also, a male child could place its head upon the lap of his father and a female child on the lap of her mother on the beach, but if their respective positions were reversed they too would be guilty of breaking the law. The remaining portion of the ordinance, governing public morals, was unaffected by Judge Willis' decision. Thanks to Judge Willis, a public kiss was now legal in Long Beach.

    I hope you take advantage of Judge Willis’ decision and share a kiss with one you love this Valentine’s Day. 

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

New Year's Eve in Long Beach - The Penny Scramble on the Pike

Tabernacle - 3rd St. and Locust
        In Long Beach, New Year’s Eve has always been a popular time to celebrate. One hundred twenty years ago Long Beach festively greeted the New Year with ringing bells, singing songs and tooting horns at a party held at the Tabernacle. The Tabernacle, the major building for city events, was decked out by women of the city with a banner in bright red letters made of flowers which read “Welcome 1898.” Music, songs, recitations were all part of the elaborate program to greet the coming year. But customs changed when the Pike arrived in Long Beach in 1902.
            Promoters came up with various ways to lure people to Long Beach’s amusement zone. There was the bathhouse, Looff’s carousel, and various contests. But one of the most popular and long lasting traditions was the penny scramble on New Year’s Eve. It began in 1910 when a hundred pennies were tossed from the bathhouse mezzanine.  The celebration took a hiatus during World War I, but was revived in 1920 when $100 in pennies was again pitched from the bathhouse.
Long Beach Bathhouse

     Things became rowdy in 1921 when many were injured in the mad scramble, and some fun zone buildings damaged, in the rush for the copper coins.  Police Chief McLendon declared a ban on repetition of this New Year custom.  But public sentiment won out. The penny scramble was held again the following year, this time, however, the pennies were scattered by a vehicle travelling along the fun zone, instead of from the bathhouse mezzanine.  This seemed to end the destructiveness and the 1922 event was described as “most orderly” by the press.   
Pike - 1921

            For the next 20 years the scramble was held every New Year’s Eve, except in 1932 when the penny toss was postponed because of wet weather.  Even the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941 didn’t put an end to New Year’s Eve celebrations on the Pike.  The December 31, 1941 celebration was slightly dimmer than in the past because there were no firework displays, no penny scramble and parade. All had been cancelled in the interest of emergency precautions.   However, you could still visit the plunge, hot dog stands and the rest of the amusements in the fun zone.
Press Telegram 10/20/1950
        In 1948 the penny scramble was back, but not as a New Year’s Eve event.  This time it was Halloween that brought out the copper coins and  around 500 kids. Held from 1948-1955, every Long Beach youngster was invited to the Pike. Those in costume received a prize booklet of free tickets for rides. There were prizes for best costume, and hats, horns and various favors were distributed.  In 1954 grown-ups wanted to get in on the Halloween fun and an adult penny scramble was held in front of the bathhouse at 11 p.m.
            Adults who remembered the New Year’s Eve penny scramble, wanted to revive the tradition.  On December 31, 1951, their wish was granted when more than 10,000 pennies were tossed out of the historic bathhouse to mark the 50-year-old tradition.  There was even a Miss Pretty Penny of 1952 to preside over the two coin tosses---one scramble held at 10 p.m. and the second at midnight.  
Press Telegram 12/30/1953
            Inflation hit the traditional New Year’s Eve Pike penny scramble in 1961. Nickels, dimes and quarters were thrown along with pennies. At least $200 was tossed from a truck touring the fun zone between Magnolia Avenue and Pine Avenue from 7 p.m. to midnight. The last penny scramble I have found was held December 31, 1963, when over 10,000 pennies were thrown from a truck touring the 8 block amusement zone at 9:30 p.m.  
           Back in 1910, when the penny scramble began, a penny was worth 26 cents in today's money. Quite a bit when you realize the average US wage that same year was 22 cents per hour. Today we don’t value pennies, if people see one lying on the sidewalk they don’t even bother to pick it up.  There has been talk for years about doing away with the copper coin since it costs more to make it than it is worth, but we have clung onto the coin which is now mostly zinc.

            Like the penny, which has changed in composition, the Pike lives on, but in a different form.  The Pike amusement zone closed just after midnight following Labor Day in 1979, but its name lives on at the new entertainment area known as the Pike at Rainbow Harbor.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

An Urban Legend, Orphans, Sanitariums and the Riviera Hotel: A Tale of Dr. Michael Schutz

Dr. M.A. Schutz

     I was surprised to come across an urban legend in writing this blog.  According to a 2002 Mayfair High graduate, the story about orphans helping autos climb Signal Hill was already well established by the time she entered school.  She told me she heard that your climb up the Hill will be easier if you put baby powder on your tires.  It seems the abused orphans from the Signal Hill home will help with the ascent---the proof being the tiny footprints left behind in the baby powder! The story she heard was that they had been abused, and they felt helping a car up the steep incline would speed up their rescue. 
     It is intriguing to trace down legends, most of which have some base in fact.  Here’s what I found.

    In 1904 segregation was the norm, but a dream of universal brotherhood could be found in a home atop Signal Hill. It was hoped it would be a place where all could live in peace regardless of nationality or religion.

   For years Dr. Michael Alexander Schutz and his wife had the dream of creating an orphanage for children of all nationalities.  In 1904 the couple purchased four acres on the area of Signal Hill known as Crescent Heights to build their visionary home for orphans and castaways.  The doctor’s idea was to give them not only a home but an education to prepare them to someday enter the working world and be self-supporting.
   The July 24, 1904 Los Angeles Herald described their vision in which they would rear children of all nationalities in an atmosphere of love. The children would be taught trades, and when they reached the age of 14 they would be given the option of going out into the world or staying with the family.

  This is a labor of love, declared Dr. Schutz. Life wouldn't be worth living to me if I couldn't do something tangible and practicable for the world. If we could make it so that all could live in peace with one another, and each should help his neighbor, life would be far happier than it is today. The world today is man-made. God made no distinctions between his children. We were meant to dwell together, and that will be the purpose of the institution which we are founding. We shall teach no religion other than the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of men. Adults are not prepared for such a step. Humanity has been struggling, from the beginning and each man is looking after his own wants and forgetting those of his neighbor. With babies it is different. We will take them when they are far too young and tender to have formed any ideas, and it will be an easy matter to instill into their lives feelings of love and fellowship. They will be taught that they are all the children of one God, and there will be no distinctions made between black, white and yellow.

    The Russian born Schutz, received his medical training in Bellevue Hospital, New York, and was for four years connected with the Dansville, New York, sanitarium.  He and his first wife, Hulda (1857-1900) moved to Long Beach in 1894 and started their own sanitarium and a hotel they called the Riviera.  Now with his second wife, Pearl, (who had spent 5 years working for the Salvation Army in New York), he planned on building a two-story house on Signal Hill large enough to accommodate a dozen children as well as their own two children, Helene Emeth and Murray Ahura. 
      Their income would be largely supported by Schutz running the Schutz Sanitarium, and the Riviera Hotel, at 325-327 W. Second Street in downtown Long Beach. Schutz hoped that by planting mulberry trees on his Signal Hill property he would have a second source of income, supported in part by silk worm and silk manufacturing. 
     In October 1904, the couple secured their first baby for their International Home for Children, a one-year-old Korean boy, Asha.  The boy’s father, who came to America to study law and medicine, could not care for the infant when his wife became sick. He thought the Schutz’s home the best solution to his dilemma.
     In July 1908, Schutz visited a Los Angeles organization which dealt in finding homes for young infants.  Schutz wanted to take custody of two 5-month old babies, one black, one white, but was turned down on the grounds that since his “establishment” was not a church institution the children could not be placed there. Dr. Schutz was upset. He not been given a face-to-face interview with the organization, the decision was based on hearsay. If he had been granted a hearing he would have explained his principles of universal brotherhood and how in his orphanage there was a Korean, a Filipino and American children. They ate at one table, slept in the same room and received their schooling at home from a private teacher.
Riviera Hotel
    In April 1909, the Schutzes adopted a 5 month old Yaqui Indian baby boy, Raymond Eawahta Polomares, who was found by missionaries in an Indian battlefield in Mexico where the child’s father had been killed.  The child’s mother Mabyla, only 15, was also adopted by the Schutzes.  By October of that same year the Schutzes had Japanese, Korean, Indian, Mexican, Portuguese, Australian, Fiji islanders and Americans as part of their international family. Schutz had turned over the running of the sanitarium and Riviera Hotel to Doctor Edward Bailey so Schutz could devote his time to his orphanage. But the sanitarium, along with its hotel, apartments and treatment rooms ran into financial difficulties, partially due to Long Beach’s anti-alcohol stance. By 1911 Schutz was back to being both proprietor and physician at the Riviera Apartments, Riviera Hotel and what was now called the Riviera Treatment Rooms. In 1913 he moved the sanitarium to Elsinore, but still managed the Riviera Hotel and Apartments until 1918 when he sold them to A.T. Tibbits.

  What did Schutz believe in other than universal brotherhood? Besides stressing a vegetarian diet, and hoping some of his charges would intermarry and create a new race of unbiased racially diverse people, it seemed he had an interest in spiritualism.  Spiritualism was in vogue during the early part of the 20th century, and in August 1910, Schutz became the moving force behind creating a Spiritualist temple in Long Beach. The plans showed an elaborate structure resembling an Egyptian temple which would cost about $20,000. A location tentatively considered was a lot just east of the Riviera Hotel at Second Street and Chestnut Avenue. Schutz didn’t get a church built where he wanted it but in 1912 a much less costly and not so elaborate Spiritualist abode, the First Spiritualist Temple, opened at 327 W. Second. It moved to 415 Linden in 1913, later changing its name to Universal Temple.
Many came to Long Beach for their health, many suffering from “consumption” better known today as tuberculosis. Physicians discovered that patients with tuberculosis improved if they moved to a dry climate.  Sea air and a regulated diet were also considered valuable in combating the disease.  Long Beach had the sea air and a relatively mild climate year round.  It was the perfect place to build a sanitarium (also spelled sanatorium, or sanitorium), which Dr. Schutz did in 1894. An article in the July 7, 1894 Los Angeles Herald describes Schutz’s sanitarium in Long Beach:  

The medical sanitarium of Long Beach, Cal., established for the successful treatment of chronic, nervous and female diseases. The most modern and best equipped sanitarium in Southern California. Highest of references. For any further information address Dr. or Mrs. M.A. Schutz, proprietors sanitarium, Long Beach, Cal.”

The sanitarium was successful, and in March 1896 the idea of building a larger sanitarium was contemplated.  The March 1, 1896 Los Angeles Herald reported:

The proposition of building a large sanitarium by a syndicate, urged by the proprietor of the one in present use, Dr. M.A. Schutz, has met with considerable favor among some of our most enterprising local capitalists, who are quick to see the advantages of the enterprise as a means of investment and will gladly put their money in it. There is no doubt whatever that if a large, well-appointed sanitarium building were now here it would be the best means of advertising the innumerable advantages Long Beach possess over all the other seaside cities as a health resort. As it is, the fame of the sanitarium now presided over by Dr. and Mrs. Schutz has reached very far with five Wisconsin women coming Tuesday for treatment.

In July 1896 articles of incorporation were filed by Dr. Schutz for the Long Beach Sanitarium Company. The purposes of the corporation were to carry on a medical and surgical sanitarium, establish a school of hygiene for nurses, issuing diplomas to graduates. It seemed Schutz needed additional capital to achieve these goals. The capital stock of the corporation was fixed at $20,000, divided into 400 shares. Directors were: Dr. M.A. Schutz, Hulda A.V. Schutz, Dr. O.C. Welbourn, P.E. Hatch and F.E. Ingham, all of Long Beach.

In March 1897, Schutz opened the sanitarium doors to celebrate the forty-ninth anniversary of modern Spiritualism. In the afternoon a baptism was held for infant Bryan Snow. The Los Angeles Herald (3/31/1897) reported the platform was surrounded by lovely decorations of vines and flowers, but the ceremony was different from that in vogue in more orthodox churches. The child, instead of being sprinkled with water, was strewed over with flowers. White symbolized purity; red, life and energy, and yellow, the intellect.


In 1900 Schutz decided to add a hotel to his Long Beach holdings, but he needed investors. The Long Beach Hotel and Sanitarium Company was incorporated in April 1900, with a capital stock of $25,000, divided into 500 shares, of which amount $9,350 was subscribed. The directors were: M. A. Schutz, M.D.; H. G. Brainerd. M. D.; J. W. Wood, M.D.; F. L. Spaulding, Will H. Townsend, Harry Barndollar, P. E. Hatch, R.R. Dunbar, H.F. Starbrick, all residents of Los Angeles or Long Beach. In February 1905 Dr. Schutz bought out the other investors. He planned to make extensive improvements to the hotel and put in an elevator and convert the basement into offices.
    In February 1910 Schutz was offered $50,000 for the Riviera Hotel property. He refused to consider the deal, believing the property would only increase in value (Los Angeles Herald 2/20/1910).  Long Beach was growing.  On Saturday, June 24, 1911, the Port of Long Beach opened for business.  Lumber yards and a mill had already been established near the harbor to prepare for the big business expected to come. Schutz and many others believed this and other signs of progress meant tremendous growth and progress for Long Beach.  
  The 61-year-old Schutz died December 29, 1924, at the Convalescent Hospital, 2089 E. Broadway after a week’s illness.  His 74-year-old son Murray was interviewed by Bob Sanders of the Press Telegram (10/19/1976) but said nothing about the orphans his family helped raise.  Instead he talked about his father and the Riviera Hotel, the information somewhat different from that presented in earlier sources:

    My father started practicing in Pasadena in 1896. It seems he graduated in 1894, 1895 or 1896 from the University of Southern California medical school and went directly to Pasadena.  Around that time he ran out of patients during the summer months because he was told everybody goes east in the summer.  A German friend recommended going to Long Beach where there was a Methodist campground that attracted 7000 people. My father did just that and in 1900 bought a section of land where, with the help of financing, he built the Riviera Hotel. My father also bought 4 acres of land on Signal Hill, and I remember picking blackberries for a penny a box for a farmer nearby.
   Murray remembered the hotel advertised “One Hundred Rooms Elegantly furnished: All Outside rooms, many with Private Baths.”  Regardless of the number of rooms, the hotel’s days were numbered.  In 1918, according to Murray, five days after the United States entered World War I, the mortgage on the hotel came due and all financing was frozen.  To meet the payment his father had to sell the 4 acres of land on Signal Hill in 1919 just two years before oil was discovered there.  If he hadn’t sold he would have made a fortune.

    What happened to the orphans?  The 1920 U.S. Census showed M.A. Schutz, Pearl, Helene and Murray living at Elsinore in Riverside County.  What had happened to all the other children? The 1910 census had listed 7 children living with Dr. and Mrs. Schutz: there were their own children, Murray age 7 and Helene 8; Korean born Asha, age 6; Alp, 7; Tate, 5;  Earwatha, 1; and Mabyla Polomares, 16.  Where were the other children in 1920? 
    What of the urban legend claim that Schutz abused his orphans?  The only proof I’ve been able to come up with appeared in the October 16, 1913 Los Angeles Times: “After Marshal’s Scalp: Sanatorium manager charges officer with spreading slanderous stories. Action Deferred.”   
    By the time the article appeared Schutz had moved his sanatorium from Long Beach to Elsinore. Elsinore had attracted visitors since the 1880s because of the mineral springs near the lake. After 1893 the lake’s level sank almost continuously for about 10 years, which is probably why Schutz chose Long Beach originally for his sanatorium instead of Elsinore. But by 1903 the lake level began to rise, and by 1913 Schutz became owner and manager of the Elsinore Sanatorium, but kept the Riviera Hotel in Long Beach.
    The Times reported that Schutz made a formal complaint against Elsinore City Marshal Haworth, charging him with conduct unbecoming an officer. Schutz accused Haworth of circulating slanderous stories about him and with interfering with how he raised his children. Haworth claimed that Schutz had no right to punish them. Several Long Beach people, including the Chief of Police and a police detective, were present at the hearing and testified as to the good reputation of Dr. Schutz in Long Beach.  The matter was finally settled when Haworth publicly apologized to Dr. Schutz before the Elsinore Board of Trustees and a highly interested audience.
    So what about the urban legend?  Perhaps this 1913 article relating to corporal punishment of the orphans, plus Schutz’s belief in Spiritualism, led to the story of the ghostly children reaching out from beyond the grave to help drivers in their climb up the Hill---and the driver perhaps rescuing the orphans from Dr. Schutz and his abusive ways. Or perhaps the orphans were just practicing kindness and "universal brotherhood," principles they had learned from Schutz, in helping drivers in the steep assent up Hill Street.   


    I’ve been trying to find out what happened to the orphans.  Perhaps they were sent to another group interested in Schutz’s ideal of universal brotherhood. In 1904 the Los Angeles Times reported that the Schutzes were assisted by many philanthropic citizens. Chief among them was the Thimble Club of the Rathbone Sisters, who were not only financially interested, but expected to take an active part in the care of the little ones “and in the work so unselfishly undertaken by the doctor and his wife.” (LA Times 6/5/1904). A search through genealogical data bases revealed nothing about the orphans. According to the 1910 U.S. Census, all shared the surname Schutz, with the exception of Mabyla Polomares. I did find that daughter Helene became a doctor and died in New York in 1937, she never married. Son Murray was involved in the stock market in the 1920s; he died in Berkeley in 1982. Wife Pearl Kelly Schutz died in 1949 and is buried at Forest Lawn, Glendale.
   Perhaps some readers will remember the orphans and what became of them or have more to add to the urban myth? If so, please share.