Friday, December 13, 2013

Long Ago Long Beach Christmases

            In the December 19, 1948, Southland Magazine, Katherine Bushong reminisced about the first Christmas program held in Long Beach in 1885.  The Methodist Sunday School, housed in the chapel of the newly built Tabernacle, invited the entire village to the event.
            Mrs. Bushong, who was Katy Robinson then, remembered that it was chilly outside, but when people entered the building they were greeted by lights, warmth, friendliness and the wonderful smell of a fresh tall fir tree.  Real candles glowed on the tree, which was also strung with fluffy popcorn and bright red cranberries.  As the children sang Christmas songs, there was the sound of sleigh bells.  The jingling became louder and louder until suddenly Santa Claus came through the doorway.  Once the children told Santa (W.W. Lowe) that they had been good all year, he gave every youngster a bag of candy and nuts.
            That same year, a Monterey cypress tree was planted in the southwest corner of Lincoln Park (then known as Pacific Park).  In 1914 it was decorated with tinsel and colored lights. It became known as Long Beach's living Christmas tree.  There, under that tree, an annual Christmas program was presented until the tree died in the late 1920's.

            In December 1889 Southern California experienced  torrential rains and the flat area between Long Beach and Wilmington was under six feet of water.  The water rushing in the rivers was so swift that every bridge except the old Macy Street covered bridge in Los Angeles was swept away.  The 2600 acre Nadeau vineyard, east of Florence was devastated by the overflow of the Los Angeles, San Gabriel and Rio
Honda rivers.  Nearly everything on the Nadeau property was swept away in the flood including kegs of wine.  Some of the ranchers living on the flood plain partially recouped some of their losses by this windfall of wine, which they viewed as an unexpected Christmas gift.  Twenty years later folks still claimed to have some of that wine on tap in their homes. The Nadeau’s never fully recovered from their losses, and switched from raising grapes to sugar beets.
            That same flood put the Southern Pacific railroad out of commission and quite a few Long Beach citizens were stranded in Los Angeles. Many had been out Christmas shopping and couldn’t get home.  What would Christmas be without family and presents?  A boat was sent for the stranded citizens of Long Beach, and they were transported to the high land of the mesa on which downtown Long Beach was situated.  The city was shut off from all outside communication for three weeks until the flood waters receded and things finally got back to normal.  

       On Christmas morning, 1899, Southern California was rudely awakened at 4:25 A.M. not by Santa, but by a severe earthquake.  In Long Beach, the vibrations lasted about fifteen seconds; the shock was heavy enough to shake down pans and other loose articles in stores and houses and stop the clock at the Julian Hotel.
       The quake was centered in Riverside County near Hemet. On the Saboda Indian reservation near San

Jacinto, six Indians were killed and four fatally injured when an adobe building, in which they were holding Christmas celebrations, collapsed.  Almost every house in Hemet had their chimneys shaken down and china broken.  Beds and bureaus were moved by the tremor and stoves overturned.  Small fissures were visible in the streets and water pipes were snapped.  The County hospital which had just been built was a total wreck, though patients escaped injury.
       Several aftershocks followed, with people afraid to return to their beds.  Coming during the final days of the nineteenth century, many could not help but wonder if this tragedy was a portent of the century to come.



Saturday, November 2, 2013

Long Beach Museum of Art


            On June 14, 1950, the Long Beach City Council authorized $100,000 to buy the O’Donnell property at 2260 and 2300 E. Ocean Boulevard and funded an additional $25,000 to decorate and refit it as an art center.  The three-story, 10-room house overlooked a large beach area which the city wished to acquire for public recreation.  There were additional incentives for buying the property:  the city could now straighten Ocean Boulevard and use the residence as an art museum.
            The property had had many owners since it was built in 1907.  Originally the residence of Elizabeth Milbank Anderson, a wealthy philanthropist from New York City, in 1926 it became the home of the short-lived Club California Casa Real, a private club which claimed to be Long Beach's first social, athletic and beach club for "educated and refined" people. Memberships were graduated in price from $100 to $1000,
Aerial view of the future art museum 1921
depending upon classification and time membership was acquired.  The first five hundred members paying $100, with the price rising until the complete membership quota was filled.  The Club soon faced stiff competition from the Pacific Coast Club opened near the heart of downtown Long Beach.  Failing to meet financial obligations, the Club California properties were auctioned off in 1929 and bought by Thomas A. O'Donnell.  During World War II the property was used as an officer’s club but in 1950 it was for sale at a reasonable price.
            The Municipal Art Center (as it was first called) opened on Saturday night June 23, 1951, amid controversy.  A chair with a nude sketch had art patrons buzzing.  Was it modern art --- whimsy and full of wit?  Or was it sidewalk art --- vulgar and out of place?  Everyone had their own opinion about the nude chair designed by cartoon artist Saul Steinberg.  City librarian, Edwin Castagna, in charge of the Art Center until an art director could be selected, had his hands full.
            Castagna had been City Librarian less than a year, replacing Mrs. Theodora R. Brewitt who had served in that position for 29 years.  An avid fighter against censorship, he wasn’t about to change the “interesting” display.  When Mrs. Dean Godwin, chairman of the Municipal Arts Committee, saw the chair, she asked Castagna to remove it.  He declined.  Someone took the matter into their own hands, turning the chair around with its back to the audience.  Castagna and his staff kept turning it around again with its nude front showing.  Mrs. Godwin said she would take the matter up with “proper authorities", who the press took to mean the City Manager.  When City Manager Samuel Vickers was contacted for his opinion on the matter, he issued a brief “no comment.”  Would the chair stay?  It would.  If it was removed, Fran Soldini, a famous Long Beach artist, claimed Long Beach would become the laughing stock of the United States.
         This wasn't the first time that "art" in Long Beach had come under criticism.  Back in 1914 the public library, which also served as the city's first art museum,  removed a painting because Mayor Louis N. Whealton thought it a disgrace.  The picture in question was "The Portrait of a Young Man" which the mayor labeled "as a bad example to be set before the youth of the city" because the young man held a lighted cigarette in his hand.  The mayor said:

I have no objection to a man smoking a cigarette when he is old enough to have completely formed his character, but to have such a picture before the youth of the nation is a disgrace."

City librarian Victoria Ellis resigned over this and other "systematic, harassing and petty annoyances" from Mayor Whealton.  Ironically, one of the city's newspapers, the Daily Telegram was preparing for a new advertiser---Camel Cigarettes.  For several weeks a camel appeared in advertisements with a single word: "coming." Back in the early 1900’s, most cigarette smokers rolled their own cigarettes. There were many brands of tobacco from which smokers could choose, and most thought there would be no national market for pre-rolled and packaged cigarettes. This was the case until 1913, when R.J. Reynolds released Camel cigarettes.  Prior to releasing the now-famous brand, R.J. Reynolds developed a massive advertising campaign for the cigarettes. The months-long “The Camels are Coming” campaign raised public interest and built anticipation for Camels. Eventually the entire Camel Cigarette ad appeared (the first cigarette advertisement in not only Long Beach newspapers but all newspapers) but the mayor had no control over the newspaper and the ad remained!

Omar Hubbard Building 1920's

A sad postscript - On April 3, 1976, the 11-story Omar Hubbard building at the SW corner of Broadway and Cedar (310 W. Broadway) was ripped down to make way for a new museum that was never built---an art museum, designed by famed architect I.M. Pei.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Marie Caroline Brehm


Did you know that the first legally qualified woman to run for Vice President of the United States
lived in Long Beach? * On July 4, 1924, Miss Marie Caroline Brehm (3121 Eliot) accepted the nomination as the Prohibition candidate for Vice President of the United States before a crowd of 4000 Prohibition Party members at Bixby Park in Long Beach. 
     Miss Brehm had been prominent in reform movements for many years before she first visited Long Beach in 1905.  She came to this city as a guest of Long Beach residents John and Ellen Chaffee, prominent members of the Prohibition Party, and again in 1911 when she lectured on the evils of alcohol.  She must have liked the town that prided itself on its anti alcohol policy, because in 1917 she decided to make the city her home. From Long Beach she launched her 1920 race to enter state politics, narrowly losing her bid to be elected to the state senate of California in the 33rd  district. 
     Despite her failed attempt to enter the state political arena, she remained active in Long Beach civic and religious affairs.  As a member of the City Planning Commission she was not happy about the development taking place in the city.  On May 5, 1923, Marie C. Brehm resigned as a member of the City Planning Commission because "someone must save Long Beach."  She joined former commissioner Mary Foster, who had resigned for similar reasons a few weeks earlier.  Miss Brehm was angered at the lack of height limitations of buildings going up along Ocean boulevard. "It is wicked", she said, "to shut out the rest of the town from an ocean view by building a row of twelve and sixteen story apartment houses between Broadway and the beach."  She also stated there was not much need of a planning board when the council continually overruled its recommendations.  Her heart, however, was in the establishment of a community hospital.  In 1923 she gladly accepted a place on the board of directors of the Long Beach Community Hospital Association.  $369,000 was needed to build a hospital and Miss Brehm gave what she could--- periodic $20 donations to the cause. By September 1923, $266,000 had been raised and a campaign between September 17 and September 21 raised  the last $103,000.  Community Hospital of Long Beach was opened on July 15,1924.
         In 1924 Marie Brehm turned her attentions back to the Prohibition movement and another stab at a vice-presidential nomination.  She had first been considered as a vice presidential candidate in 1916 but took her name out of the race because she decided competitor Dr. Ira Landrith would draw more votes.  In June 1920 she was once again asked to run, but withdrew her nomination in August 1920 saying it was more important for her to be elected to the state senate of California.  Her qualifications were impressive: she was chairman of the National Prohibition convention in 1920 at Omaha.  She had been a national lecturer for the Women's Christian Temperance Union since 1891 and she lectured extensively on temperance and women's suffrage. She was superintendent of the Franchise Department of the National W.C.T.U., and President of the Illinois W.C.T.U. from 1902-06.  She was elected a member of the General Assembly's Permanent Committee on Temperance of the Presbyterian Church in the United States in 1906.  She was a candidate on the Prohibition ticket, in 1902, 1904 and 1908, for Trustee of the University of Illinois;  was United States delegate to the Twelfth International Congress on Alcoholism, in London, in 1909; was Temperance Federation delegate to the World's Congress on Alcoholism, The Hague, Holland in 1911.  In 1913 she delivered an address at the World's Sunday School convention at Zurich, Switzerland, and that same year lectured at the World's Anti-Alcohol Congress, Milan, Italy, to which she was appointed by President Wilson.
       On July 4, 1924, at a program in Bixby Park sponsored by the Prohibitionists of Southern California, Miss Brehm was "officially" notified of her nomination as running mate to H.P. Faris, presidential candidate for the party.   It was hoped she would attract the vote of great numbers of newly enfranchised women.
At the 4th of July event, famed evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson presented the formal address of notification to Miss Brehm.  Miss Brehm followed with this response:

"The Prohibition Party has weathered the storms of more than half a century.  It has always held up high ideals of government and influenced the reforms for righteousness in our national life.  It was the first political party to declare that women were citizens and ought to vote on equal terms with men, which declaration was in its platform as early as 1872.  If all the voters who in time past have voted to outlaw the liquor traffic in State and County and town would in this year of our Lord, 1924, vote to utterly destroy it by voting a national ticket composed of platform and candidates who declare for its destruction and for the enforcement of the laws of the land, there would come about a new era in our national politics and our national life..."

      Miss Brehm vowed that if elected vice president of the United States she would see that the prohibition law was obeyed, taking its enforcement away from those that were too lenient.  She saw gaps in the structure of the prohibition law that needed tightening up, including the indiscriminate issuing of permits for the consumption of liquor for "sacramental" or "medical" purposes.

Though her party did not win the election, Marie Brehm continued to preach against alcoholism, but her life was soon to come to a tragic end.  At the Pasadena Rose Parade on January 1, 1926, a grandstand on which she was sitting collapsed.  The shock triggered a heart attack and she died on January 21, 1926.  The Second Presbyterian Church in Long Beach was packed to capacity for her funeral on January 27th, with friends and prohibition leaders from across the nation attending. She was also remembered at a community service held January 31st.  Following a Long Beach Municipal Band concert held in her honor, a vacant chair bearing a floral wreath and 66 bows of white ribbon symbolic of the years lived by Marie Bream was carried through the Municipal Auditorium. Though she had lived in Long Beach since 1917, following cremation her ashes were returned to Sandusky, Ohio, where she had been born 66 years earlier.  She didn't forget the city whose values so mirrored her own.  She left $1000 to Long Beach Community Hospital, which named a room in the hospital after her, and the the Women's City Club of Long Beach.

     Marie Brehm believed it was time for women to make changes in society. Perhaps her philosophy can be summed up in these words spoken in June 1924.

To women voters - Organize! If there are reforms that your inner being demands must be accomplished, don't fancy you can bring them about by electing one lone woman on a ticket where men hold all the other offices.  Organize!  Put a whole ticket of women in the field...and you will see the muck heaps of the past cleared away, and flowers of a beautified civil life blooming in their place."

* Marietta L.B. Stow ran for Vice President of the United States in 1884 under the National Equal Rights Party ticket, but it was not legal for her to do so since women could not vote or run in national elections.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Wrigley Historic District

       In October 1927, surveying and grading of the 12 acre William Wrigley Jr. tract at Twentieth and Magnolia had been completed and work soon started on streets, sidewalks, curbs and gutters.

First construction in Wrigley District
     Water, gas and electrical lines were installed to service the first of sixty homes built by the Fleming & Weber Company, a Wrigley organization formed to purchase and develop Southern California real estate.  The Wrigley interests had also invested $1,000,000 to develop the Banning Park section in Wilmington.  Dave Fleming, President of the Fleming & Weber Company, designed each of the unique homes in the tract.
The Long Beach Wrigley undertaking had the support of E.J. Williams, who owned twenty-five adjoining lots.  Williams planned to coordinate his building program with the Fleming & Weber Company. Each lot had a 35-foot setback, and no two houses were alike.  All prevailing types of architecture were encouraged --- Spanish, English, Norman and Italian. No flats, apartments or stores were allowed. Ownership was restricted to the Caucasian race.

The current Wrigley District has boundaries vastly larger than those of the original tract. Wrigley never bought any other property here, but his name somehow stayed with the original parcel of land, and when developers enlarged the area they were quick to recognize a good publicity gimmick, so they continued to call it the Wrigley District.
Wrigley District housing 1930's
       In a 1976 article in the Long Beach Public Library Wrigley District files, Kay Daugherty, wife of aviator Earl Daugherty recalled that when they developed the land that was once their former air field, near Willow and Cedar, David Fleming asked them to name their subdivision after Wrigley, so it would appear to be a larger project. Since the Wrigley name on anything became a magic selling potential, the Daugherty’s agreed.
     Long Beach benefited from the Wrigley name and the Wrigley district just grew.  A newspaper map of Long Beach printed in 1941 designates Santa Fe Avenue as Wrigley’s western boundary. Later maps outline a rectangle--Anaheim Street north to Wardlow and Long Beach Boulevard west to the flood control. The area today is considered bounded by Long Beach Boulevard, the Los Angeles River flood control, Wardlow Road (the 405 Freeway) and Pacific Coast Highway.
    Development in this larger extended “Wrigley District” actually began in 1906 with the Willows Park and Pacific Boulevard tracts, built to take advantage of the nearby Pacific Electric trolley junction.
       In 1920s several other tracts followed. In November 1920, Atlantic Heights, lying on the north east corner of Atlantic Avenue and bounded on the south by Willow was placed on the market. Its value was enhanced by being near a new Long Beach park which included a 160-acre waterlands tract west of Cherry Avenue.  This park, it was said, would surpass the famous Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, and would also include an open air theater and stadium capable of seating 5000 in the arena and 20,000 more on the adjoining hillsides.  The park never developed, becoming instead the Municipal Airport.

        Builders in Atlantic Heights were guaranteed the quiet and exclusiveness desired in a "high class" residential neighborhood. To accomplish this, promoters established building restrictions of $4000 minimum, restricted all "but the best American Caucasian families" from the tract, prohibited apartments and stores. Atlantic Avenue bus lines, and the Pacific Electric lines serviced the tract.
       Atlantic Square (bounded by Atlantic Avenue, Pasadena Avenue, Perkins Street and 25th Street ) was also another important subdivision in the Wrigley District.  This residential property included water, gas, electricity, sewer and was only four blocks to the Burnett school and various churches.  All of the 142 lots were sold by December 1920, in a period of 90 days.
      But the Wrigley District has a history that goes back to an earlier history, when it was part of the Willows Colony, which I write about in my website www.claudineburnett.books.  

The Wrigley District today:
Los Angeles River, 405 Freeway,
 Long Beach Boulevard, Pacific Coast Highway

Today the area of the Wrigley District along the Los Angeles River  is one of the only sections in Long Beach that maintains a rural atmosphere. 

For more on the early history of the Wrigley District go to my website The section on Early Long Beach Subdivisions will give you much more not only on this section of Long Beach but others areas as well.  The direct link is Willows & Wrigley District

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Costliest House in Long Beach

The Myers mansion later owned by Jotham Bixby
Concrete steps led from the mansion to the beach.
          Long Beach was still a relatively small town in 1910, though it had gained the reputation as the fastest growing city in the United States according to the U.S. Census.  It had grown from a population of 2,252 in 1900 to 17,809 in 1910.  The growth was precipitated by Long Beach's new mass transit system, the Pacific Electric Red Car, and the development of the harbor.  New arrivals included millionaire mine owner Alva D. Myers whose home on Ocean Ave. was the costliest in the city.  “Goldfield Al” Myers made an enormous fortune during the gold rush days.  Starting off with nothing but a burro, a side of bacon, a coffee pot, a pick and a pan, his worth in 1910 was estimated to be between 3 to 10 million dollars ($75-$250 million in 2012 dollars).  His home reflected his wealth.  All the hardware, including door hinges and knobs were gold plated, leading many to believe the door knobs were solid gold.  He even had a swimming pool built in the basement of the house.  Concrete steps led to the level of the beach below and there was a special bathhouse for ocean bathing. Only the finest and highest grade materials were used in Myers’ mansion.  In 1908, people were amazed to read that Myers was also building an “auto home” for his automobile estimated to cost $5,750---this was double the amount required to build a good two story frame residence at the time.
            Myers and his wife Mattie began building their $225,000 ($5.6 million today) home at 1800 E. Ocean in 1907.  However things were not going well for the couple.  Soon after their marriage on March 9, 1906, Mattie found that Al became violent when he drank.  The last straw was when Myers fired a shot at her in their not yet fully completed mansion in Long Beach. In May 1909, she secured a divorce from Myers, receiving between $75,000 and $100,000 as her share of the community property.  Women continued to plague the mining millionaire.  In October 1910, Miss Julia Ward Gibson drew a revolver and threatened to shoot him unless he married her.

            The October 13, 1910 issue of the Daily Telegram told the story.  It quoted Julia Ward Gibson as saying: “after I had drawn the revolver, I found that I had not the heart to kill the man I love more than life itself.”  Miss Gibson had also brought along her father, a retired Presbyterian minister, to perform the wedding ceremony.  She had obtained a marriage license that same afternoon and was sure, with the help of a pistol, she could get Myers to agree to the marriage.  Seeing the gun in the hands of the excited young
Dining room of the Myers mansion
woman, Myers made a bee line for the dining room where he armed himself with a thirty-two automatic. He called his housekeeper on a private phone and asked her to summon the police.  When the police arrived Miss Gibson quietly handed over the gun.
            The circumstances leading up to this sensational episode began in June 1909.  Miss Gibson, a writer of some note, asked Myers for permission to visit his home and interview him for a story she was writing.  Myers agreed, and this visit led to others.  Letters were written, marriage was promised.  In February 1910, Miss Gibson brought suit against Myers for $100,000 for seduction and breach of promise, but she had a change of heart.  In August, Julia Gibson began telephoning Myers daily, telling him she was withdrawing the suit and asking him to resume their relationship and marry her.  Myers refused and told her to go ahead with the lawsuit.  Miss Gibson told a different tale.  She said she and Myers were becoming "chummy" again and when she heard Myers planned to marry another woman she was forced to act.
            Julia was arrested for attempted murder and while in prison awaiting trial received flowers, boxes of candy and other gifts from another admirer who Julia identified only as "a prominent Los Angeles real estate operator."  But Julia told the press  she loved only Myers and would keep on loving him because “woman is so constituted.” (LAT 10/16/1910).  Goldfield Al declined to press charges asking only that Miss Gibson give him no further trouble.  Julia agreed.
           In 1911, to escape his "female trouble" Myers sold his home to another millionaire---Jotham Bixby.  Bixby, who owned the Rancho Los Cerritos, purchased it as a 50th wedding anniversary gift for his wife Margaret.  Myers took a financial loss, selling the $225,000 home for $75,000 cash.  He moved to Nevada vowing to devote most of his time and energy to his mines, not women.  However, he couldn't resist female charms.  He returned to Long Beach in 1912 and wed again.  His bride was Hedwig Jablonski, the daughter of a Berlin banker.  They had met on a train coming from Chicago to Long Beach 13 weeks earlier.  They were married in Myers’s sister’s home in Carroll Park.

            Meyers, who lost most of his fortune during the Nevada bank failures in 1927, became a semi-invalid from injuries received in an automobile accident in 1937. He died October 16, 1949, at the age of 77.  He had, however, out-lasted his extraordinary house, which was destroyed by the 1933 Long Beach earthquake.

For more on this area of Long Beach click Alamitos Subdivisions

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Cultists, Prophets and Frauds

Katherine Tingley
  One of the most reported aspects of Southern California is its fabled addiction to cults and cultists.  Migration is the explanation given by some, such as Dr. William W. Sweet, for the growth of cults in Southern California.  In the process of moving westward, the customs, practices, and religious habits of people underwent important changes.  Emma Harding, in her history of spiritualism believed that cults thrive on the Pacific coast because of the wonderful transparency of the atmosphere, the heavy charges of mineral magnetism from the gold mines which set up favorable vibrations, and the strong passions of those who moved here created “unusual magnetic emanations.”  Whatever the reason, the first major prophetess of the region was unquestionably Katherine Tingley.  Born in New England in 1847, three times married, she did not discover her “calling” until  she was in her 40s.  She moved to New York, where through her interest in spiritualism, she came to know the theosophist William Quan Judge.  Judge viewed her as the promised disciple, “The Purple Mother,” meant to continue the philosophy that all religions are attempts by higher beings to help humanity in evolving to greater perfection.  Although she had never been west, Mrs. Tingley, had, since childhood dreamed of “building a White City in a Land of gold beside a Sunset Sea.”  Raising a considerable sum of money, she established the Point Loma Theosophical community near San Diego in
Carroll Park as laid out in 1909
1900.  It attracted many followers, including John Carroll who established the area known as Carroll Park in Long Beach.  Many believe that Carroll laid out his housing tract in an unconventional manner because Tingley, a close friend of John and Jane Carroll, told the couple she saw "favorable" signs in designing streets in unbroken circles.
Yes, there is a park in Carroll Park,
 but it is not at the center of this quiet neighborhood.
John Carroll designed the central circle for homes and placed the parks
-- and originally there were 4 of them -- at the corners.
  After Mrs. Tingley’s appearance in Southern California, the region acquired a reputation as an occult land; theosophists and other movements termed “New Thought” began to converge throughout the area, including Long Beach.

"Holy Kiss" Controversy

In 1905 every church in Long Beach was debating the teachings of Dr. William Rosecrans Price, a former Baptist preacher, who had founded a new system of psychic research in Long Beach the previous year.  The aim of his association, the Society of the New or Practical Psychology, was to teach and live "practical" Christianity.   In little more than a year his society grew to number into the hundreds, composed of "thinking, practical Christian men and women,” who believed that Jesus taught a salvation that was practical in nature, and which was to be practiced in daily life.  By "tuning in" to these principles, an intuitive psychic power could be developed which would show the proper way in which to live life.  This eventually became known as "New Thought" philosophy, which Dr. Price set forth in his book The New or Practical Psychology.
On October 1, 1905, the corner stone was laid for the future home of the group, the Psychological Temple at 230 E. Second Street.  All of the churches in Long Beach were present at this dedication; however some later came to question Price and his methods.  The questioning started when Reverend Charles Pease of the First Congregational Church came across a book published in 1852 which duplicated Price's book The New or Practical Psychology. Pease accused Price of plagiarism.  Accusations also came from Mrs. Roselyn Bates, chairperson of the Psychic Research Society.  She claimed Dr. Price controlled people through his telepathic influence and made them do his will and bidding.  She cited the fact that when the Bank of Long Beach refused him a loan, Price told his followers that if they loved him they
Psychic Temple aka American Hotel 2001
would all withdraw their monies from the bank, and they did.  She also recounted how Dr. Price had used his mesmerizing influence to have a lawyer steal a loaf of bread and have him walk down the aisle at one of Price's meetings with the stolen loaf.  She testified that Price had telepathically controlled her husband time and time again in various ways to do his bidding, including financially backing the purchase of the lot for Price's $25,000 Psychological Temple.
Another controversial activity of the disciples of this new philosophy was the "holy kiss," which members conferred upon one another in greeting.  Mrs. Bates said Price kissed only a select few of his group, and it just so happened that all of those selected were young, pretty and female.  This "liberal" sexual policy infuriated the more conservative religious sects in the city.  Many claimed Price used telepathy to influence his "victims" and took "advantage" of his female followers.
In response to the plagiarism question, Price stated that the principles behind the “New Thought" philosophy were known by many enlightened scholars of the past, it was only natural that he used some of the same words as those that had gone before him.   He denied Mrs. Bates' charges and said she only said what she did out of spite because a business deal he made with her husband turned sour.  He just laughed at the accusations relating to him and his female followers.
It seemed that Dr. Price also was involved in selling worthless stock in the National Gold Dredging Company.  He made it look like such a deal, only allowing members of his Psychological Temple to buy shares. The company, Price avowed, owned eleven miles of the American River in Northern California, a river that panned up to $60 a day from a cubic yard of river rock. The stock, Price told his flock, was worth $3 a share, but was not on the market.  He, however, with his connections, could obtain shares for his fortunate followers for only $1 a share.  Many leaped at the opportunity only to find out later that the company didn’t own a foot of the river and what was being found was nowhere near the $60 return a day they had been led to believe. A big rubber and development scheme on lands in Mexico was also touted, but after a time when dividends failed to come in and extra assessments were made, some of the investors began to suspect something was amiss.  Since they were also members of Price’s flock, a rift appeared in the psychic society.  Dr. Price found himself involved in lawsuits, both civil and criminal. Judgment after judgment was secured and Price eventually lost everything, except his holdings in the Temple.  Finally the stockholders in the Temple held a meeting, declaring the doctor’s control illegal. They voted him out of office and forcibly took possession of the building, chiseling his name from the cornerstone.  Price left Long Beach and started the New School for Applied Christian Psychology in Los Angeles.  Here things also got out of hand.  In 1923 he was arrested for fraud over two gold mines in Alaska, an illegal plan to place homesteaders on the Irvine ranch in Orange County, and the revealing of  "the secrets of hermetics" for a price.    He died in 1925.
On September 25, 1911, the beautiful Psychological Temple on west Second street in Long Beach, planned and erected by Price and his flock as the home of a new religious society, was sold at auction for  $2,910.09, although the site and the building was valued at $25,000. Mrs. Anna Sewell, who held a mortgage of $12,000 on the temple, was the only bidder. The Sewells held heavy court judgments against Price and were the heaviest stockholders. Though the Sewells had managed to get back their money it did not look good for minor stockholders.

Psychic Powers Lead to Jewel Thief

Adelaide Tichenor
The entire town seemed enraptured with this "New Thought" philosophy, including Reverend Charles Pease of the Congregational Church who, though denouncing Price, still thought there was truth behind some
of this metaphysical thought.   When Adelaide Tichenor, one of the wealthiest women in town, told Rev. Pease that someone had stolen her jewelry, he told her he would use his spiritual insight to find out who did it.  Mrs. Tichenor, however, did give the Congregational minister a few clues to follow along the astral plane, namely that the only person that had access to her jewels and knew where the house key was hidden was her maid, Bessey Fleet.  Pease agreed, after hearing Adelaide Tichenor's arguments, that the maid was the best suspect.  With Pease’s support Mrs. Tichenor confronted Bessey.
Bessey and her husband, John, lived in a little tent alongside the Southern Pacific tracks on Daisy Avenue, between 4th and 5th streets. Bessey worked as a laundry woman while her husband was a gardener.  They had fallen on hard times, John having spent all their savings to join the gold rush in Alaska, coming home with nothing.  They certainly could have used the money from the stolen articles, but Bessey was outraged at the accusation. She claimed her innocence and brought a $10,000 libel suit against Mrs. Tichenor for alleged slander.
Rev. Charles Pease
In his testimony Rev. Pease denied possessing any occult powers, he said he made a study of the mind which enabled him to find out things not open to anyone not quite so gifted.  In probing Bessey’s mind he had come to the conclusion that she had not taken the jewels (in conflict with the earlier story).  Mrs. Tichenor, he testified, felt differently and confronted Bessey on her own.  The case continued for four years, passing through appeal after appeal, finally ending up with the California Supreme Court which ruled against Bessey Fleet's   charge of slander  (Fleet v. Tichenor, L. A. No. 2080, Supreme Court of California, 156 Cal. 343; 104 P. 458; 1909 Cal. LEXIS 330, September 29, 1909).  The jewelry was never found, or anyone  arrested for the burglary.

Mrs. Crandall's "Psychic" Husband

Many were attracted to this "New Thought" philosophy and gathered in Long Beach at the new Psychological Temple.   Some, however, weren’t quite all sane to begin with, such as Mrs. Mary Crandall, who insisted on being called Mrs. Henry E. Huntington.  Since joining Dr. Price's group she had become more and more peculiar.
In March 1904, Mrs. Crandall’s friends began receiving letters written by her signed with her new name: Mrs. H.E. Huntington.   When asked about her new name, Mrs. Crandall explained she could project her “soul body” across the River Styx, while her mortal body rested. It was here she met her soul mate – H.E. Huntington, the man who in a previous incarnation had been her husband.  On this psychic plane, with the eyes of the universe as witness, they were again united in matrimony, according to a Los Angeles Times article dated Apr. 30, 1905.   In late November 1905, Mary Crandall visited the Huntington Railroad Building and forced her way in saying that her husband, H.E. Huntington, had given her the presidency of the corporation and that from now on orders must be taken from her.  When it was revealed that Mrs. Crandall, dressed in heavy mourning, with a crepe veil thrown back over her bonnet, had a gun, police were called.  She was lucid enough when the officers arrived to explain that she carried a loaded revolver in her handbag because she lived in a part of Long Beach where she had to pass through a lonely neighborhood, and she felt more secure with a firearm.
Following this incident Mrs. Crandall was taken before a judge for a sanity hearing.  In checking her state of affairs they found she was a very wealthy woman, with over $200,000, mostly invested in real estate.  When the judge asked her if she was Mrs. Crandall, she replied in all honesty (according to newspaper reports) that she was Mrs. Huntington.  Following this admittance, her attorney made arrangements for the private care of his client in a sanitarium.

 For more about Price's Psychological Temple click here

Renovations in progress 6/26/2013

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Fasting & Premature Burial

Fasting Expert Dr. Henry S. Tanner

            Long Beach had its own health guru in the person of Dr. Henry S. Tanner .  Believing there was a deeper meaning to the Bible’s account of Jesus’ forty day fast in the desert, it was Tanner’s belief  Jesus was trying to show mankind the health benefits of fasting.  In 1877 Dr. Tanner fasted forty-two days after experiencing what he and another doctor diagnosed as low gastric fever.  During that time he carried on his daily activities and consumed nothing but water.  At the end of ten days of fasting the symptoms disappeared; he gained strength, but he continued the "experiment" for another 32 days. The outcome was so surprising and successful that his notoriety spread and in 1880 he repeated his "experiment" again in New York, this time abstaining from water for 41 days.  On August 7, 1880, he finished his fast and proceeded to devour a peach, and then a forty-five pound watermelon, regaining nine of the thirty-six pounds he had lost within 24 hours, and the rest of the 86 pounds in another eight days.
           Dr. Tanner was so popular that people flocked to Long Beach from all over the country to take his treatment. Even Mark Twain in his 1897 book  Following the Equator mentioned Dr. Tanner in passing: "I think that the Dr. Tanners and those others who go forty days without eating do it by resolutely keeping out the desire to eat, in the beginning, and that after a few hours the desire is discouraged and comes no more."  
            In March 1908, Miss Etta Priscilla Grove traveled all the way from Chicago to fast under the guidance of Dr. Tanner.  Tanner believed fasting rid the body of toxins that caused disease and sapped a person’s energy.  Miss Grove had been experiencing a lack of stamina and came to Long Beach to seek Dr. Tanner’s cure.  She maintained her fast for the entire forty days, dropping from 123 to 104 pounds, and claimed she had never felt better.
            Not all were up to doing the entire forty days.  Mr. and Mrs. E.W. Elder of Pasadena fasted only fourteen and ten days respectively, under the direction of Dr. Tanner.  Both sought relief from stomach trouble.  Mrs. Elder stated the fast had an entirely different effect upon each of them.  She experienced sleeplessness and nausea,  had  little desire for food,  however the headaches which plagued her disappeared entirely.  Mr. Elder had no problem sleeping and felt his lumbago and rheumatism had lessened.  He told the Long Beach Press about his experience in the September 25, 1908 issue:

      “The story that some people tell of losing all desire for food after a fast of a few days is entirely contrary to what I feel.  I could eat a generous portion of a chicken right now.  It takes will power to fast, but I am thoroughly convinced that it has done good in my case and I believe and hope I will be able to keep it up long enough to cure my ailments.”

            In May 1909, the famous Dr. Tanner had ten people fasting under his direction at his Long Beach clinic.   Among them was E.P. Smith, of Los Angeles, who had gained fame by writing 19,000 words on the back of a government post card.  Guy H. Parkinson of 642 Pacific Avenue in Long Beach, was also under Tanner’s care.  On May 18, 1909, Parkinson broke the world’s fasting record set by Tanner, by abstaining from food for 43 days.  What was remarkable was that Parkinson, a house mover, worked at his strenuous job almost every day of the fast without suffering loss of stamina or energy.   Parkinson had been having trouble with his stomach, and felt “out of whack.”  He tried a great many things, but found no relief.  He went to Dr. Tanner and took his advice on fasting and along the way vowed he would break the world’s record.  Tanner, however, claimed his fasting record of 41 days in 1880 still stood.  He had also abstained from water (making it a pure fast), while  Parkinson drank water three times a day.  By July 1909, Tanner's notoriety had spread to such an extent that he opened a fasting hospital in Los Angeles, though he continued to make his headquarters in Long Beach at 416 Pine Avenue.

Dr. Tanner & Premature Burial
            Dr. Tanner was interested in other things besides fasting—such as premature burial.  Others in Long Beach were concerned about being buried alive and wrote Tanner for guidance.  In the Long Beach Press of March 31, 1908, Tanner responded.  He said he was considering forming a premature burial society that would be mainly educational, teaching people not to be too hasty in burying people.  He told of an undertaker from San Bernardino embalming a man who noticed the body beginning to perspire.  His embalming had progress too far for him to stop, and the more he embalmed, the more the body perspired.  He finally finished his work but confessed to Tanner that the man had been buried alive. 
            Dr. Tanner used the story of Rip Van Winkle to stress that in present society Van Winkle would have been prematurely buried.  In England, Dr. Tanner told the newspaper, a body was kept six days before being buried, and this prevented, in many instances premature burial.  Tanner felt this was a good idea which America should adopt.
           Tanner, born in England in 1831, died in San Diego on December 28,1918.  He was buried six days after his death, no sign of perspiration noted.  

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Come to Long Beach for Your Health

(An excerpt from my book Died in Long Beach - Cemetery Tales) 

Seeking Health
  Many who find obituaries of loved ones who died in Long Beach often wonder why they came to Long Beach in the first place.  A number of the obits list the person only having been in town a short while before they found their eternal resting place in either Long Beach Municipal Cemetery or Sunnyside Cemetery.  Many of us living now, take the medical marvels that science has discovered within the last fifty years for granted.  However, back at the turn of the 20th century you were considered "old" if you lived to be 50 years of age.  Diseases that we now have inoculations for were prevalent then.  Smallpox, infantile paralysis and tuberculosis were common medical problems.  Often there was nothing doctors could do and the only  hope was prayer.  However, science was advancing.  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.

Long Beach Sanitarium
  A pretty flowered walk led the way to the Long Beach Sanitarium at Tenth and Linden.  The $60,000 sanitarium, which was also known as the Long Beach Hospital, opened in June 1906.  Though it wasn't quite finished, patients flocked to its doors.  All were impressed.  There was a great electric fan in the basement, run by an electric motor.  It took only three minutes to change the temperature in a room by the mere push of a button.  The hospital was on the list of "must see" stops for tourists.  Several times a day tour companies brought visitors to view the marvels the sanitarium offered.  They gawked at the treatment rooms, where clients took invigorating baths and received massage therapies, and were amazed at the static room where electricity was used in treatments.  Many families lived at the sanitarium for months at a time while one, or several, members regained their health.  To accommodate the religious education  of the young, there was a Sunday school and various devotional exercises practiced throughout the day.  During evenings residents were treated to lectures, such as "The Evil Effects of Stimulants and Narcotics."
  The Long Beach Sanitarium used the "Battle Creek" idea, practiced by John H. Kellogg.  At his Michigan sanitarium, Kellogg advocated total abstinence from alcoholic beverages, tea, coffee, chocolate, tobacco, and condiments.  He preached a meat free diet and believed milk, cheese, eggs, and refined sugars should be used sparingly, if at all.  Man's natural foods, Kellogg claimed, were nuts, fruits, legumes and whole grains.
  There were about a hundred stockholders in the association running the sanitarium, among them twenty-two local physicians.  There was no resident physician, each patient called in his or her own doctor.
  Dr. W. Harriman Jones, whose Harriman Jones Medical Group continues to this day, was one of the driving forces behind this new sanitarium and later became one of the most prominent physicians in Long Beach.  Born in Battle Creek, Michigan, February 22, 1876, Jones came to California when he was three.  He attended Cooper Medical College, now Stanford University School of Medicine, and received his medical degree in 1899.  Dr. Jones started his practice in Long Beach in 1902 and became the city's first health officer, instituting sewers, garbage collection and sanitary inspections. In 1930 he opened his own clinic---the Harriman Jones Clinic on Cherry and Broadway in Long Beach.  On June 17, 1956, he died in the hospital that had once been the Long Beach Sanitarium---St. Mary's Hospital.

Seaside Hospital
       Shortly after the Long Beach Sanitarium opened in 1906, local physicians decided it was time for a real hospital.  Dr. Jones had used a small house at 327 Daisy as a hospital, but something larger was needed.  Area doctors first considered the old Porterfield home at 519 Cedar, but when neighbors protested they were forced to look elsewhere.  In 1908 they rented the H.L. Enloe home at Broadway and Junipero for $60 a month.  Each physician contributed $200 and elected Dr. Lewis A. Perce chairman of the board.  Perce's wife suggested the name Seaside Hospital and Perce donated a sign with the hospital's name.  By 1912, the doctors' needs had outgrown the capacity of the house.  A new hospital was needed.
     The new facility at 1401 Chestnut was something to be proud of.  Sitting atop Magnolia Hill, on Fourteenth Street, the hospital had polished hardwood floors made sound proof by cork covering.  Rooms of restful brown tints, each equipped with an electric call button nurses had to come into the room to turn off, greeted patients.  Front rooms on the second floor had private baths and doors large enough to roll beds out upon the broad balcony on nice days.  There were four private wards able to accommodate sixteen patients, and a maternity ward for 40 new mothers.  An operating, dining room and morgue (accessible from the driveway, but discreetly out of sight) were outfitted with state of the art equipment such as huge electric fans, gas ranges and an elevator. In 1935 the original 16-bed hospital was increased to 275 beds and in 1960 Seaside Hospital became the Memorial Hospital we know today.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Empire Day Disaster

May 24, 1913 - Long Beach, California

38 people die, 200 injured

     It was supposed to be the greatest British celebration ever held on foreign soil but turned into the greatest tragedy to strike California up to that time.  On May 24, 1913, the first "Empire Day" in Southern California was celebrated.  Ever since she started her reign in 1838 May 24th was a national British holiday celebrating Queen Victoria's birthday, but after her death in 1901 her subjects still wanted to continue the celebration, establishing "Empire Day" to commemorate the expansion of the British Empire duing her reign.
     Twenty thousand British and former British subjects gathered in Long Beach that day for a festive celebration which was to include a parade, athletic conpetitions, games, music and speeches at the Municipal Auditorium.  It was just at the close of the parade when disaster struck.  The marchers, and those in vehicles, marched up the ramp leading to the double decked pier and auditorium where the program was to begin.  However, the main entrance to the auditorium became blocked by the crowd and those in the rear pressed forward in such large numbers that they caused a rotten 4 x 14 foot girder to break.  Masses of people fell through or on top of another crowd packing the lower deck; then the floor of the lower deck also gave way, tumbling people to the sand and water below.
     The Long Beach Press reported the day of the tragedy:
     What must go down in history as the most terrible disaster in the annals of Southern California, made gruesome history this morning when a four foot square section of the Municipal Auditorium fell to the sand below.  Heart rending scenes, never before equaled in the history of Long Beach were enacted on the beach as the dead and living were carried out and tenderly laid on the beach.  Many begged piteously to die.  A lad of ten yers was seen to pass away in his mother's arms, as she was raising a glass of brandy to his lips.  A broken-hearted father carried the limp and almost lifeless form of his fourteen-month-old baby to the steps to hunt for a doctor.  His wife lay on the beach with her life crushed out.  A mother saw her little boy smile and die at Seaside Hospital, a half hour after he had stood with her and cheered as a parade disbanded for the auditorium ceremonies. 
     It took a full ten minutes for the crowds on the pier, only a few hundred feet away from the disaster, to realize what had happened.  When the fire chief's auto came dashing up to assist in the relief work, many thought the fire department was giving an exhibition as part of the festivities.
     The Daily Telegram reported on the aftermath:
     Most of the wearing apparel and valuables dropped by the visitors of Saturday are on display at the Council chambers awaiting identifiction by the owners or relatives.  There are nearly 200 men's and boys' hats and caps of every shape, size and style generally in a battered and mashed condition.  There are bows, gloves and numerous hair switches of every shade of color, most looking as if they had been torn roughly from the head which it adorned.  Perhaps the most valuable article is a solid gold watch, the case of which is made of three kinds of the yellow metal, collected by the owner in America, Australia and South Africa, the three colors forming a curious combination set off by a half caret blue white diamond.  A heavy gold chain is attached to the watch.  It was the property of Thomas Beck, whose body is on a slab in one of the morgues.....
     Long Beach felt responsible for the tragedy.  Doctors donated their services free of charge.  $10,000 ($234,000 today's money) was quickly raised to aid the victims.  The following statement was issued in the Daily Telegram on May 26, 1913:
     The citizens of Long Beach will courageously and promptly meet every responsibility and humane demand growing out of Saturday's awful tragedy.  The dead will be given proper burial and the wounds of the injured will be cared for by the best obtainable medical and nursing skill.  The needs of every surviving victim will be promptly and heartily supplied.  There will be no red tape to handicap our people in demonstrating to the world, that we entertain a full understanding of our obligations to suffering humanity and propose to meet them with decision and sympathic candor.
     The Citizen's Relief Committee was true to their word.  Arthur Lett, a former conductor on the Pacific Electric who lost his wife and two of his three children, was one example.  his slender savings could not cover funeral expenses nor buy lots in the cemetery.  The Committee provided money to cover the burials and purchased cemetery plots.
       As a result of this tragedy many State and Federal laws had to be examined and changed as a result of the Long Beach Empire Day Disaster.  The city also instituted stringent building codes which few people today realize helped prevent greater tragedy during the 1933 Long Beach earthquake.
     If you're interested in learning more about this tragedy and its aftermath please read my book Murderous Intent.  To learn more about what was happening 100 years ago check out my Author's Blog at

Monday, January 28, 2013

Long Beach, CA. cemeteries

(An excerpt from my book Died in Long Beach - Cemetery Tales)

Long Beach Municipal Cemetery

     No one knows for sure how old the cemetery on the northwest corner of Orange and Willow is.  The oldest marked grave is that of a Milton F. Neece who was buried in 1878 at the age of 17, but old timers back in the 1950s remembered a man who used to visit the cemetery in the 1930s who told the sexton that his father had been buried there years ago when the man was just a boy.  Since the man appeared to be in his 80s, it could push the date of the cemetery as far back as the 1850s.
     Even the old record books aren't of any help, they were kept so poorly that there is even doubt about who is buried in the graves.  When the city took over the cemetery in 1906 from the Long Beach Cemetery Association, they found that the record books were a mess.  The early caretakers thought that all they were responsible for was appointing a sexton to look after the property, but many of the sextons could not read or write and their attempt at bookkeeping and posting records was amusing, at best.  Many lots had been sold, but there was no record of the owners.  When the Department of the City Clerk took over the record keeping in 1906, they discovered one instance where five bodies had been buried in one grave and several lots sold three or four times.
     In his spare time Deputy City Clerk Paine would get out the old map of the cemetery and devote a few hours to untangling the bookkeeping nightmare.  At one time, according to the records, one man was buried in eight different lots!  Paine swore that he would not rest until he finally allotted each corpse to its proper grave.  So all we really have to go on is Deputy City Clerk Paine, and hope that the work he did is correct.
     By 1906 the old municipal cemetery (also called the Signal Hill Cemetery since it was on Signal Hill) was a blot on the landscape.  The 5 acre graveyard was owned by the City, but administered by the Long Beach Cemetery Association, which had passed into oblivion sometime between 1893, when they incorporated, and 1906.  The municipal authorities had not given the graveyard any attention, despite constant petitions filed with the City Trustees, asking them to spend a few hundred dollars on cleaning it up.  Finally, in 1906, Long Beach's latest city fathers considered the matter and appointed a cemetery commission, who hired someone to tend the grounds and clean it up.  But the size of the cemetery was limited, in fact there was hardly enough space left to care for the average dead in Long Beach for one year.  Besides improving the present grounds, something needed to be done to secure more land for the "City of the Dead."

Sunnyside (Willow Street)

     A company of businessmen purchased 15 acres adjoining the municipal cemetery in May 1906, resurrecting the name "Long Beach Cemetery Association." They planned to organize the cemetery association on the land north of Willow and offer "perpetual" care.  It would be a private concern and offer the best in landscaping, parking and care.
     By June 1907, Long Beach had a new cemetery---Sunnyside.  There were 3,500 lots in the new burying grounds with ample room for five graves a lot, giving the Silent City (as they referred to it in early newspapers) a capacity of housing 17,500 persons.  The drives in the grounds were called Myrtle, Fern, Magnolia, Ivy and Lotus.  On both sides of these drives date palms were planted along with flowers and greenery.  The association guaranteed that they had a first class water system available throughout the grounds so survivors would not have to worry about dead shrubbery and grass disgracing the graves of the departed.
      In 1915, it was decided that a mausoleum was needed.  Sidney Lovell, architect of the famous Rose Hill mausoleum in Chicago, was hired to design the Sunnyside Cemetery Memorial Mausoleum, which was to be of Grecian-Doric design, approximately 50 by 175 feet.  A "view to die for"--- a stunning panorama of Long Beach and the Pacific---was to grace the front portico. In addition, only granite, re-enforced concrete, marble and bronze would be used in the construction of the building.  The inside was to be finished entirely in marble, bronze and art glass with ceiling decorations tinted to match.
     The cost of single crypts was to be about the same as earth burial, but because of the number of individual crypts and the large amount of money needed to build the mausoleum, all of the crypts had to be sold in advance of construction, and only those who purchased them ahead of time could be "accommodated."
     On May 23, 1921, oil was discovered at Temple and Hill on Signal Hill.  By 1922, with producing oil wells on three sides, Sunnyside and the Municipal cemetery were perhaps the most valuable burial grounds in the world.  The hallowed earth was beginning to attract the covetous glances of prospective oil promoters.  Soon the Long Beach Cemetery Wars (described in "Died in Long Beach  - Cemetery Tales") began!
     Though a compromise on where to build a mausoleum was reached in 1923, the Long Beach Cemetery Association continued to run the original Sunnyside until 1989 when it was sold to an individual who neglected the site and embezzled more than a half million dollars from the endowment fund.  The state Department of Consumer Affairs took the property into conservatorship and a group of volunteers made arrangement to keep the cemetery open and continue burials.  The volunteer group formed a not-for-profit corporation to own and operate the facility.  On December 29, 1998, the Department of Consumer Affairs and the Los Angeles Superior Court ended the conservatorship and turned the title and deed over to Sunnyside Cemetery, inc.  The State Department of Consumer Affairs has publicly stated the reorganization and management by the non-profit group is a classic example of what can be done when the community works together.

Sunnyside Mausoleum & Memorial Garden (Forest Lawn)
     In 1923, amid all the fighting over oil and a place for a mausoleum, a new "model" cemetery was established with an entrance off Cherry Avenue at 1500 E. San Antonio Drive.  It really wasn't a "new" cemetery, since it incorporated the earlier Palm Cemetery, donated by Jotham Bixby.  Long Beach, rich with oil money, was the largest city in California without a mausoleum.  Now, in order to "cool down" tempers, building of the mausoleum continued.  A new design, drawn up by Cecil E. Bryan inc., Chicago engineers, was selected to build and design the structure which would contain 3000 crypts, with family rooms priced as high as  $50,000.

     Constructed with a Spanish theme, the roof of the mausoleum was of red Spanish tile, while the chapel itself was decorated with imported art glass.  Heavy bronze doors and Italian marble for the interior trim was designed to make this a virtual "Palace of the Dead."  In 1935, gardens were added to the grounds, in 1945 two decorative pools, and in 1980 the mosaic of Raphael's fresco "Paradise," composed of 2.8 million pieces of Venetian glass and standing 45 feet high by 32 feet across, was constructed.

    Three small chapels (the chapel of the Palms, Wilton St. and Grand Avenue) as well as a crematory and mortuary were purchased by the Forest Lawn company in August 1960.  The mortuary was renamed Forest Lawn Mortuary - Long Beach.  The rest of the 38-acre cemetery was purchased by the Glendale based funeral giant in 1979.  In 1987, after eight years and 200,000 man-hours of renovation, the former Sunnyside Memorial Garden took on a new look as well as a new name---Forest Lawn Memorial Park - Sunnyside.  The renovation included transforming the smallest of the three chapels into an expanded reception area, relocating the mortuary entrance, adding dozens of statues, and consolidating two narrow drives into one wide road leading to the grounds.

Today people from around the world are drawn to the Mausoleum to not only the impressive architecture, but to see the Foucault Pendulum.  It is one of the largest of its kind in existence. It keeps accurate time as it makes one complete revolution every 42 hours and 48 minutes.

     If you want to find any relatives buried in the mausoleum, best to check at the Administrative office and ask for a guide.  It's easy to get lost in the cavern of passages, and some of the names etched in marble are hard to make out.  All in all, it's a beautiful, marvelous place,  this "City of the Dead." 

All Souls Cemetery
     There's one more Long Beach cemetery I haven't mentioned: All Souls Catholic Cemetery at  4400 Cherry Avenue, almost across from Forest Lawn - Sunnyside.  It opened in June 1950.  They advertise:
  • Over 19,000 square feet of enclosed space
  • Three (3) large visitation rooms
  • A chapel with seating for 220 people with vestibule to accommodate larger gatherings
  • Seven (7) private arrangement rooms
  • After-service reception area with kitchen amenities to accommodate 80 people
  • Large parking lot
  • Full-service flower shop
  • Mortuary and cemetery administrative offices in one convenient location
  • Fully handicapped-accessible amenities
  • Several large public areas, including a comfortable visitor lounge and a large, private family meditation room
  • Two (2) courtyards with lush greenery
More about All Souls and the other cemeteries will be found in  Died in Long Beach - Cemetery Tales  (published July 2016).  The book is available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble.