A Silent But Vibrant Life: Honoring the Deaf Community During National Deaf History Month

In March of 1996, two deaf employees at Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library in Washington D.C. taught American Sign Language to their coworkers. This exercise spurred a week dedicated to deaf awareness at the library. The National Association of the Deaf suggested the week become a month, and in 1997 Deaf History Month was launched. Deaf History Month runs from March 13 through April 15, a period which encompasses three key dates in deaf history: the founding on April 8, 1864 of Gallaudet University, a private university for the education of deaf and hearing-impaired students; the appointment of the first deaf President to Gallaudet on March 13, 1988; and the opening of the American School for the Deaf, the first public school for the deaf, on April 15 in 1817.

The Los Angeles Public Library has books and other resources which chronicle the history of deaf people in society and provide information on the deaf community and its contributions. The photo collection of the Los Angeles Public Library provides a chance to see Southern California’s deaf residents as they live their lives, capturing them in settings ranging from schools to swimming pools.

Louise Treadwell Tracy (wife of actor Spencer Tracy) watches as a deaf student attending the Leadership Training Program at Valley State College (now California State University, Northridge) utilizes the newly invented telephone for the deaf. The student is able to send a message to a friend in another state via the telephone, thus making it possible for him to have a conversation over the phone. Tracy founded the John Tracy Clinic (also known as the John Tracy Center), a non-profit educational resource center for the deaf based in Los Angeles, naming the facility after her son, John, who was born deaf.

telephone for the deaf

Valley Times Collection, photo taken by Gordon Dean on January 28, 1964.

Esther Arnold teaches a Sunday School class of deaf students at Emmanuel Lutheran Church in North Hollywood.

deaf sunday school

Valley Times Collection, photo taken by George Brich on August 26, 1961.

Connie Tidwell, a teacher at the John Tracy Clinic, demonstrates to the clinic’s Northridge guild how she is helping four year old Patty O’Haver learn to speak.

teaching the deaf to speak

Valley Times Collection, photo taken by Steve Young on October 23, 1964.

Deaf students attend special classes at Saticoy Street School in North Hollywood. These classes were designed to prepare hearing-impaired children to attend classes with students with normal hearing. Hearing aids enable deaf students to participate in class discussions and (in this photo) spelling instruction.

saticoy street school

Valley Times Collection, photo taken by Larry Leach on December 2, 1963.

Three preschool children in the Los Angeles area utilize hearing aids at the John Tracy Clinic.

preschool deaf children

Valley Times Collection, photo taken on May 14, 1964.

Muriel Hersom leads a group of deaf congregants in silent worship at MacArthur Memorial Bible Church in Burbank. Using hand movements, body rhythm, and expressive signs, Hersom conveys the meaning of hymns, sermons, and songs.

 

religious services for the deaf

 

silent worship for the deaf

Valley Times Collection, both photos taken by Bob Martin on April 25, 1964.

Richard Joy, Jr., a blind and deaf Boy Scout, is awarded the rank of Eagle Scout by Los Angeles County Supervisor Warren Dorn. Joy’s parents watch proudly as their son is given the certification scroll.

deaf eagle scout

Valley Times Collection, photo taken by Jon Woods on July 20, 1960.

Bob Follosco (standing in pool) teaches John Lewis how to swim while Joann Munson and Kathy Garcia await instruction. These three students are deaf. Follosco, the pool manager at San Fernando Municipal Pool, hailed them as the best students he had ever taught.

swimming lessons

Valley Times Collection, photo taken on June 27, 1961.

Lori Le Sage, a seven year old patient at the John Tracy Clinic, poses with two members of the Northridge Guild of the John Tracy Clinic, as plans for a luncheon and fashion show are being discussed.

fundraising for john tracy center

Valley Times Collection, photo taken by George Brich on October 24, 1962.

Attorney Charles Mepham uses American Sign Language to confer with his client, Walter Lee Meiners, before going to court. american sign language used in court

Valley Times Collection, photo taken by Dean Gordon on February 21, 1957.

Quarterback Steve Scolaro uses sign language to give orders to his football team at California School for the Deaf.

deaf football players

Herald Examiner Collection, photo taken by Joe Rustan on November 17, 1965.

A delegate representing a member club of the American Athletic Association of the Deaf uses sign language to deliver a speech during a four-day National Basketball Tournament held in Los Angeles.

american athletic association of the deaf

Valley Times Collection, photo taken by George Brich on March 30, 1963.

Four coworkers at Community Rehabilitation Industries in Long Beach chat with each other during a coffee break. As all four are deaf, they use American Sign Language to converse.

deafness in the workplace

Herald Examiner Collection, photo taken on October 1, 1960.

Deaf actress Marlee Matlin is exuberant as she uses American Sign Language to give her acceptance speech at the 59th Academy Awards ceremony in downtown Los Angeles. Matlin won an Oscar for Best Actress for her performance in the film Children of a Lesser God.

marlee matlin

Los Angeles Herald Examiner Collection, photo taken by Paul Chinn on March 31, 1987.

NOTE: For additional information (include ordering) on any photo, simply click on the photo and you will be taken to its information page.

Campo de Cahuenga: Overlooked Landmark

This undated postcard in the Security Pacific National Bank Collection, labelled “Fremont house, Hollywood, Cal.”, purports to show the original adobe on the grounds of Campo de Cahuenga in North Hollywood, with Cahuenga Peak behind it. Security Pacific National Bank Collection, #00070855. Photographer, M. Rieder Studio.

Nestled at the juncture of North Hollywood, Studio City, and Universal City, at the north end of the Cahuenga Pass, sits a small fenced-in heritage park.  Campo de Cahuenga is in the care of Los Angeles Recreation and Parks in partnership with the Campo de Cahuenga Memorial Association. It is believed to be the location of the signing of the Treaty of Cahuenga (otherwise known as the Capitulation of Cahuenga), a landmark event in the history of California. The treaty, which ended hostilities between American armed forces and the resident “Californios,” was signed 172 years ago, January 13, 1847, long enough past to make memories hazy. It effectively made the Mexican state of Alta California a military-ruled territory of the United States and, three years later, a state.

The Significance of the Treaty

Folks like to refer to the Campo as “The Birthplace of California.” However, there is much more to the tumultuous history of the Golden State. Prior to the treaty signing, the territory that is now the state of California had endured decades of shifting claims of authority: Spain until 1822, Mexico from 1822 to 1847. Russia established a short-lived colony at Fort Ross in northern California. Of even shorter duration was the California Republic in northern California, the dream of a ragtag band of American settlers with support from John C. Frémont and his soldiers. This “Bear Flag Republic” lasted 25 days in the summer of 1846. And let us not forget — for six days in 1818, the town of Monterey sat under an Argentine flag! All of these authorities ran rough-shod over the rights of the indigenous populations.

The story of the Bear Flag Republic speaks to the character of Frémont , one of the most famous men in both the history and mythology of the American West. By all accounts, Frémont was an ambitious man who saw himself as a major player in the future of California and perhaps the nation. He had burnished a reputation as an explorer, surveyor, Indian fighter, and man of destiny, specifically manifest destiny. In 1846 he was asked to bring his motley crew of mountain men, freebooters, and Native Americans into the fight for control of California.

Frémont is pictured here late in life standing next to a giant redwood tree, the so-called Frémont Tree. A legend that Frémont encouraged has it that he and a group of his men took shelter in the burned-out roots of this tree during a driving rain storm in 1846. The tree still stands in Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park in Santa Cruz County. Security Pacific National Bank Collection, #00043846, undated.

The second man in our story is Andrés Pico, the brother of Pío Pico, the last governor of Mexican-controlled Alta California. Andrés Pico led the last stand of the Californios in Los Angeles. As Frémont and his California Battalion closed in from the north, and the American military commanders Stockton and Kearny approached from the south, Pico made the decision to surrender to Frémont , expecting greater leniency from that quarter than what had been rumored to be in store for him and his men from Stockton and Kearny. Through fast-riding intermediaries the outlines of a peace plan were sketched out and an appointment made to meet at “a deserted rancho at the foot of Couenga [sic] plain.” (Edwin Bryant journal) The rancho in question was a property connected to, though some distance away from, the Mission San Fernando Rey, where Frémont and his men were encamped.

A studio portrait of Andrés Pico. Security Pacific National Bank Collection, #00043874, undated, likely 1870s.

A Woman’s Touch?

Much has been made of the story of Bernarda Ruiz de Rodriguez, a widow living in Santa Barbara when Frémont and his men trudged into that town at the very end of 1846 on their way to Los Angeles. In Frémont’s memoirs, written forty years after the fact, he mentions that a woman “of some age” (she was 42) came to him and advised him to be lenient in his dealings with the Californios he was sure to conquer.

“In the interview I found that her object was to use her influence to put an end to the war, and to do so upon such just and friendly terms of compromise as would make the peace acceptable and enduring.”

Frémont gives the lady some credit in persuading him to act graciously toward the soon-to-be vanquished. He goes on to write, “Here began the Capitulation of Couenga [sic].”

Historians and journalists have latched onto this anecdote, adding much detail both possible and decidedly unlikely: Bernarda has been credited with everything from swaying Frémont from leveling the town of Santa Barbara to personally dictating the terms of the Treaty of Cahuenga. Many versions of the story have Bernarda traveling with Frémont and his men to Los Angeles and witnessing the signing of the treaty. This writer has yet to find evidence to back up this assertion in the primary sources.

 

An early hand-drawn map of Campo de Cahuenga, showing the as yet unchannelized Los Angeles River, the Camino Real running diagonally from top to bottom, meadows (llanos), and a field of chamisa plants, sometimes called rabbitbush, a yellowish flowering plant which may have provided fodder for cattle. Security Pacific National Bank Collection, #00031280.

Whether or not Bernarda was present in body at the signing of the treaty document, she was there in spirit. The terms agreed upon by both sides that rainy Wednesday were quite generous to the vanquished. They were to be allowed life, liberty, and property, as well as the right to remove themselves from the territory should they wish to. They would, of course, have to forfeit their weapons and swear off further violence.

The Treaty, or Capitulation, of Cahuenga was remarkable in that it had no official sanction from the superiors of either side, yet it was generally accepted and even became the model upon which the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, the  pact that officially ended the wider Mexican-American War in 1848, was based.

The Significance of the Campo

Campo de Cahuenga is one of the lesser-known landmarks in the Los Angeles basin. Nonetheless the site offers a wealth of historical and archaeological significance. What was an abandoned structure at the time of the treaty signing continued to weather away until it was completely demolished in the 19-teens to make way for Universal City. It has been the site of a number of archaeological excavations, beginning with the efforts of a group of high school students in 1931 who uncovered a portion of foundations and some floor and roof tiles, enough to establish a rough approximation of the forgotten adobe and to qualify it for landmark designation by the State of California in 1935. A few years later the City of Los Angeles built a replica structure on what they believed was the footprint of the adobe. This structure and surrounding gardens were made available for use by the community.

This photo from 1928 shows the city-built walls surrounding a small memorial park. The original adobe structure of the Campo was long gone at this time, but a new structure was built about 1950 to serve in its stead. Security Pacific National Bank Collection, #00032431.

Sixty years later progress on a Los Angeles Metro project was halted when digging uncovered additional flooring materials under the street and sidewalk outside the new Campo gates along Lankershim Boulevard. Professional preservation practices were called into play resulting in the excavation of the original footprint of the adobe running crosswise to the re-imagined structure. These efforts uncovered artifacts of both Native American and Mexican/Californio origin.

Today, while the original foundations have been re-buried, one may see the outlines of the adobe walls adjacent to the reconstructed building and extending out onto the boulevard! An iconic bell-shaped markers identifies the spot as a location on El Camino Real, the original dusty road that connected the California missions and their growing communities.

Mrs. A.S.C. Forbes, the “Mother of the Campo.” Mrs. Forbes was a well-known advocate of preservation of California mission-era structures. She is credited with tracing the route of El Camino Real, the road that linked the California missions. She is sometimes known as the “Bell Lady” for designing and installing antique-looking bells along the route of the Camino, including at the Campo de Cahuenga. Her influence is credited for preservation and interpretation of the Campo site. Security Pacific National Bank Collection, #00043839, undated.

 One of the famous El Camino Real bells, designed by Mrs. Forbes, marks the site of Campo de Cahuenga. Herman J. Schultheis Collection, #00010012, c. 1937.

A Place for All

Although not well known to the general public, Campo de Cahuenga has been popular with a number of civic and heritage-minded groups in the San Fernando Valley area. A sampling of photos from the Los Angeles Public Library gives us a peek at the many happenings that have taken place at the Campo over the decades.

 

For many decades, the Campo de Cahuenga Memorial Association has held an annual re-enactment of the treaty signing at the adobe. Here James M. Sutton, left, of the Los Angeles Parks Department, and Geoge E. Shipley of the Memorial Association dust off the plaque on the in preparation for the event in 1963. Valley Times Collection, #00114275. Photographer, Bob Martin.

 

The Pan-American Friendship Club, North Hollywood chapter, celebrates Mexican Independence Day in 1957. The man standing at left is a representative of a Mexican airline, probably Mexicana. Valley Times Collection, #00124747.

 

A meeting of the San Fernando Valley Historical Society takes place at Campo de Cahuenga in 1959 with musical entertainment by Rudolph M. Garza. A plaque commemorating the treaty signing can be seen on the wall. Valley Times Collection, #00133101. Photographer, William H. Wilde.

 

The Daughters of the American Revolution, Peyton Randolph chapter, learn to duck and cover from Major William Koons, an Armed Forces Information Officer. The news article accompanying the photo was entitled “Learns atomic test lore.” Valley Times Collection, #00141406, 1957.

 

Ingrid Goude, a 19-year old starlet from Sweden, demonstrates how to re-set your sundial for the end of daylight savings time, September 29, 1956. Ms. Goude went on to find fame, of a sort, as the star of “The Killer Shrews” in 1959. Valley Times Collection, #00143191.

 

The Kappa Delta Sorority Alumnae Association, San Fernando Valley chapter, held Easter egg hunts at the Campo during the 1950s. This photo appears to be staged for publicity of the event which was to be the next day. Valley Times Collection, #00142142, 1955. Photographer, Dave Siddon.

 

Sculptor Henry Van Wolf presents a scale model of a proposed sculpture commemorating the Cahuenga Treaty signing to women representing the San Fernando Valley Historical Society and the North Hollywood Women’s Club. Van Wolf offered to create a full-scale monument for display at the Campo at his cost. It does not appear that the work was ever carried out. Efforts to interest the federal government in a national park at the site foundered. Valley Times Collection, #00133104, April 3, 1965. Photographer, Gordon Dean.

 

Sources consulted for this essay include Memoirs of My Life and Times by John C. Frémont (1887); What I saw in California, the journal of Edwin Bryant (1848); The Private Journal of Louis McLane, U.S.N., 1844-48; Bear Flag Rising by Dale L. Walker (1999); Old Spanish Santa Barbara, From Cabrillo to Frémont by Walker A. Tompkins (1967); “Doña Bernarda Ruiz de Rodriguez, Santa Barbara’s Forgotten Heroine” by William G. Lockwood, in Ancestors West: Santa Barbara County Genealogical Society, Fall 2009/Winter 2019; “San Juan to Cahuenga: The Experiences of Frémont’s Battalion” by William H. Ellison in the Pacific Historical Review, August 1958; “When the System Works, The Campo de Cahuenga,” by Roberta S. Greenwood, in the Pacific Coast Archaeological Society Quarterly, Spring and Summer 2002; the website CampodeCahuenga.com;

Death of a Gentleman – The Unsolved Murder of William Desmond Taylor

The temperature in Los Angeles was just above freezing on the morning of Thursday, February 2, 1922. Henry Peavey was glad to get to his workplace – a stylish bungalow in the affluent Westlake district – as it would surely be warm inside. What’s more, he genuinely enjoyed his job as cook and valet for silent film director William Desmond Taylor. Mr. Taylor was very good to him, both as an employer and as a fellow man. Peavey unlocked the front door and stepped inside, ready to draw a morning bath and cook breakfast for Taylor. He ultimately did neither, as he found the director lying on his back in the living room, a pool of blood on the floor. The quiet of the morning was shattered by Peavey’s screams as he ran into the courtyard.

Thus began the saga of the murder of William Desmond Taylor – a crime unsolved to this day. Viewing images from the photo collection of the Los Angeles Public Library, we can learn not only of the crime and the crime scene but also of the era – a time (in spite of prohibition) of cocktails, cocaine, illicit affairs, scandals, public outrage, and powerful studios that orchestrated events (and people’s lives) the same way they made movies.

William Desmond Taylor began life as William Cunningham Deanne-Tanner on April 26, 1872, in Carlow, Ireland. After an argument with his father (who frowned upon his son’s interest in the theater), he was sent at 18 years of age to become a gentleman farmer in Kansas. After a year and a half, young Tanner moved to New York City, where he met Ethel May Hamilton, a stage actress. They married in 1901 and became part of New York society. In 1908, he disappeared with neither a word nor a warning, leaving behind Ethel May and a young daughter. His wife, unable to locate her errant husband, obtained a divorce in 1912.

william desmond taylor

Portrait of William Desmond Taylor, Herald Examiner Collection, photo undated.

Taylor’s ex-wife, Ethel May Hamilton, reported that Taylor worked as an antiques dealer in her father’s establishment while she worked as a stage actress. Taylor was a wonderful husband and father but had bouts of amnesia during which he would wander off and forget where was his home. He wandered off in 1908 and never returned. Years later, Hamilton and her (and Taylor’s) daughter, Ethel Daisy, were watching a film in which Taylor appeared onscreen. Pointing to the screen, Hamilton exclaimed, “That’s your daddy!” While Taylor and his wife never reunited, they did meet in Los Angeles and remain friends with Taylor supporting and staying in contact with his daughter until his death.

 

ethel may hamilton

Photograph of Ethel May Hamilton, the ex-wife of Deanne-Tanner (later to be known as Taylor).
Herald Examiner Collection, photo undated.

ethel daisy deanne-tanner

Photo of daughter Ethel Daisy Deanne-Tanner as a young woman.
Herald Examiner Collection, photo undated.

Around the same time his wife was divorcing him, Tanner (who by that time had changed his name to Taylor) arrived in San Francisco. He had purportedly spent the time since his departure from New York traveling and working at various jobs – gold prospector, builder, soldier, horse trainer – in locales ranging from the Pacific Northwest to Alaska. With financial help from friends, he moved to Los Angeles and started acting in film. With his equestrian expertise and good looks, he was in high demand and worked with the stars of the day, but his true desire was to direct. In 1914, he directed his first film, The Awakening. Taylor was to direct 50 more films before that cold morning he was found dead.

film director william desmond taylor

Taylor directing a film. Herald Examiner Collection, photo undated.

william desmond taylor in automobile

Taylor at the wheel of his automobile. Herald Examiner Collection, photo undated.

The Alvarado Court Apartments in which William Desmond Taylor resided were located on South Alvarado Street in the (then) swanky MacArthur Park neighborhood. The apartment complex contained eight two-unit bungalows situated in a U-shape around a central garden. (It was into this garden that Taylor’s valet, Henry Peavey, ran screaming after he discovered Taylor’s body.) Taylor lived in Apartment 404B on the east side of the complex. (The complex was razed in the 1950s.)

alvarado court apartments

Photograph of bungalow home of William Desmond Taylor. Herald Examiner Collection, photo taken in 1937.

Peavey’s screams awoke and attracted neighbors. Verne Dumas and Neil Harrington, who both worked at Cal-Mex Oil Company and lived in 408A, ran to see what was the matter, both of them still in their bathrobes. Emile Jesserun, the Jamaican-born designer and manager of the apartments, left his sick bed to go to Taylor’s apartment. Douglas MacLean, an actor who had appeared in movies directed by Taylor, joined the crowd forming at the apartment, noting that he and his wife, Faith, had heard a loud noise (which they attributed to a car backfiring) the night before and, upon looking out the window, had seen a man exit Taylor’s apartment, step back into it for a few minutes, then leave the premises. The man did not seem suspicious or strange, so the MacLeans returned to their card game.

One thing that all the men noticed was how tidy the body seemed. Except for blood beneath his head, Taylor looked as if he had willingly lain down, smoothed his clothes, and combed his hair. The position in which the body lay would be impossible for someone to achieve by simply falling down. Moreover, nothing in the premises seemed to have been disturbed. The back door was still locked, windows were closed and secured, Taylor’s wallet contained money, his watch was still on his wrist, his gun and traveling bag were undisturbed.

william desmond taylor traveling bag

William Desmond Taylor’s boots, gun, and traveling bag. Herald Examiner Collection, photo taken in 1922.

Another neighbor who awoke to Peavey’s screams that cold February morning was Edna Purviance, a leading lady of Charlie Chaplin films living in 402A. When she learned of Taylor’s death, she promptly made calls to Famous Players-Lasky (the studio for whom Taylor worked) as someone there would definitely want to know of Taylor’s demise.

studios in hollywood 1922

Film studios in Hollywood — Famous Players-Lasky is on the right of the photo.
Security Pacific National Bank Collection, photo taken in 1922.

charlie chaplain

Charlie Chaplin cast Edna Purviance as his leading lady in over twenty films. He intended to
marry her but was forced to marry Mildred Harris when she became pregnant with his child.
Herald Examiner Collection, photo taken in 1932.

When he calmed down, Henry Peavey contacted Harry Fellows, Taylor’s assistant director, who promptly called Charles Eyton, general manager of Famous Players-Lasky. Meanwhile, Taylor’s landlord notified the LAPD, who promptly sent Detective Thompson Zeigler, a 30-year veteran, to Taylor’s home. Upon his arrival, Zeigler called a doctor. The physician showed up, declared that Taylor had died from a stomach hemorrhage, and immediately left.

While the doctor was performing his quick examination, studio manager Eyton arrived at Taylor’s bungalow and began to question others on the scene. As there was no evidence of a crime and Eyton represented Taylor’s employer, Detective Zeigler saw no reason to object to any investigation on Eyton’s part. While Eyton concurred with the doctor’s diagnosis that Taylor had died of stomach ailments, MacLean began to question if the noise he and his wife had heard the previous night might not have been a car backfire but rather a gunshot. This made Eyton nervous. Regardless of the cause of death, Eyton wanted as little press as possible regarding Taylor’s death. At the time, the film industry was being labeled a bad influence on the public at large. The rape/manslaughter trial of Fatty Arbuckle was casting a shadow on entertainers, studios were losing money due to dwindling movie audiences, and various factions were demanding censorship of the cinema. Eyton wanted to avoid any whiff of a scandal in the case of Taylor’s death.

NOTE: The Fatty Arbuckle scandal began when Virginia Rappe died on Friday, September 9, 1921, four days after she claimed that Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle had raped her during a three-day Labor Day party held at the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco. Her bladder had ruptured (causing her death) and this was supposedly due to Arbuckle’s weight and the harshness of the assault on Rappe.

Arbuckle’s rape/manslaughter case would be tried in court three times – the first two times resulting in a hung jury, the third time resulting in acquittal and a note from the jury stating “there was not the slightest proof adduced to connect him in any way with the commission of a crime”.

After his arrest and during the trials, many theaters refused to show Arbuckle’s films and most footage of him was destroyed. Despite the courts finding him innocent of all charges, Arbuckle’s acting career was permanently ruined. (William Hays, Hollywood’s chief cinema censor and the creator of the Hays Code, banned Arbuckle from appearing onscreen for several months after he had been found not guilty.) Arbuckle eventually worked as a director, using the name William Goodrich. He died in 1933 of a heart attack at age 46.

roscoe "fatty" arbuckle

Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle as seen in the 1921 film “The Dollar-A-Year Man”.
Herald Examiner Collection, photo undated. 

 

virginia rappe

Virginia Rappe, the woman who accused Fatty Arbuckle of sexual assault.
Herald Examiner Collection, photo undated.

arbuckle trial

Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle confers with his legal team in a San Francisco courtroom.
The three court trials cost Arbuckle a total of over $10,000,000 in current day dollars and
resulted in his acquittal as well as the end of his career. Herald Examiner Collection, photo taken in 1921.

To avoid another scandal of such magnitude (and possible financial repercussions), Eyton ordered others present on the scene (Taylor’s neighbors, many of whom were in the film industry and would obey Eyton’s commands) to remove any evidence of impropriety — love letters, liquor, racy photos, lingerie — lest the press find it when they inevitably showed up.

Before any reporters showed up, the coroner arrived and turned over the body. A bullet hole showed that Taylor did not die of stomach ailments (as suggested by the mysterious doctor) but rather was murdered. The apartment was now a crime scene. Thanks to Eyton’s quick actions, damaging (and possibly crucial) evidence had been removed. (Although Eyton did later turn over some of the removed materials to the police, there were things removed from Taylor’s apartment that remained under wraps by the studio.) The police, nonetheless, began an investigation.

william desmond taylor crime scene

Diagram of crime scene showing the location of Taylor’s apartment, his neighbors’ apartments,
and the purported route taken by the assailant. Herald Examiner Collection, image created in 1922.

The last person (besides the killer) to see William Desmond Taylor was his good friend Mabel Normand. Known as the female Charlie Chaplain, Normand was the reigning queen of comedy in silent films. Moreover, she was one of the first women to be a screenwriter, director, and producer. At one point, she had her own movie studio and production company (set up for her by ex-lover Mack Sennett). She and Taylor had been friends for years, and it was Taylor who helped Normand overcome her cocaine addiction, going so far as to threaten the drug dealers who supplied Normand with the white powder. She had gone to see Taylor on the evening of February 1 after he contacted her to tell her he had two books to give her. (The books were a translation of Nietzsche and a romance novel by Ethel M. Dell). She gifted him a bag of peanuts. They had enjoyed cocktails (Prohibition be damned!) and discussed literature. She had left at a reasonable hour.

Police questioned Normand but never considered her a suspect (although Henry Peavey did). A frequent onscreen collaborator of Fatty Arbuckle, she had recently suffered scrutiny in the press, with journalists freely writing of her addiction and questioning her morality. Although cleared by police detectives, she was viewed with suspicion and her popularity on the silver screen waned. Two years after Taylor’s death, Normand’s chauffeur Joe Kelly (who was actually Horace Greer, a man who had possibly escaped from an Oakland jail) shot Normand’s boyfriend (with Normand’s gun). The press, populace, and studios turned against her, denigrating her reputation and removing her movies from theaters. She married actor Lew Cody in 1926, retired from acting in 1928, and died of tuberculosis in 1930. One of her last utterances was, “I do hate to go without knowing what happened to poor Billy Taylor.”

mabel normand and walnut elephant

Mabel Normand, silent screen comedy queen and friend and confidante of William Desmond Taylor,
poses in front of the walnut elephant sent from Los Angeles to the Chicago’s World Fair in 1893.
Security Pacific National Bank Collection, photo taken in 1925.

mabel normand studios

The Mabel Normand Feature Film Studio Company stood on these grounds (now 4319 Effie Street).
Normand directed the feature film Mickey in 1916 at this studio. (The film was released in 1918.)
Roy Hankey Collection (Los Angeles Photographers Collection), photo taken by Roy Hankey in 1980.

Mary Miles Minter (nee Juliet Reilly) was a child actress whom Taylor had directed in films including Anne of Green Gables, Nurse Marjorie, and Huckleberry Finn. Forced to work as an actress at an early age (Minter used the birth certificate of a dead cousin to appear older than she actually was and thus be allowed to work) and ruled over by a domineering stage mother (Charlotte Shelby), Minter fell in love with the attentive and gentlemanly Taylor after first working with him. It is disputed whether or not he returned the affections of Minter (who was 30 years his junior) or was simply looking out for his protégé, but love letters from Minter were found in Taylor’s apartment, thus making her a suspect in his murder. The resulting scandal ended Minter’s film career.

mary miles minter

Police found love letters from Mary Miles Minter to Taylor (and a pink negligee supposedly belonging
to Minter) in Taylor’s home after his murder. Herald Examiner Collection, photo taken in 1921.

Fifteen years after Taylor’s murder, Mary Miles Minter was called before a grand jury to discuss her diaries. She stated that there was nothing in the diaries that would be of any value to anyone investigating the case. While she was never tried for Taylor’s murder, the insinuations that she may have been involved (Charles Higham’s book suggests that she was the killer) caused Famous Players-Lasky to decline to renew her contract. Minter attempted a career as a stage actress but eventually left show business behind.

mary miles minter's diaries

A 35-year old Mary Miles Minter poses in her Beverly Hills home.
Herald Examiner Collection, photo dated May 6, 1937.

Mary Miles Minter’s mother, Charlotte Shelby, was also a suspect in the William Desmond Taylor murder. A consummate stage mother, Shelby controlled every aspect of her daughter’s life and was enraged when she discovered her daughter (who was also her prime source of income) had feelings for Taylor. (Whether or not Taylor returned her affections was apparently immaterial to her.) Shelby had once threatened to shoot Taylor if he did not leave her daughter alone and many felt that she had indeed gone through with her threat. (In A Cast of Killers, Sidney Kirkpatrick theorizes that Shelby was Taylor’s killer and paid off attorneys and influential people to stay out of prison.)

charlotte shelby

Charlotte Shelby is flanked by her attorneys during a court case (unrelated to the Taylor murder).
Herald Examiner Collection, photo dated January 2, 1933. 

Taylor’s former valet, Edward F. Sands, had forged Taylor’s signature on checks and had stolen money and valuables (including a car) from Taylor’s home while the director was out of town on vacation in 1921. Investigators tracked Sands to a locale in Northern California but learned that he had quit his job and disappeared the day of Taylor’s murder. Sands was never found.

edward sands

Edward Sands, former valet of William Desmond Taylor. Herald Examiner Collection, image undated.

In spite of thorough investigation, the police were unable to make any arrests in the Taylor murder case. While none of their leads proved successful and no suspects could be charged, there were confessions to the killing.

In 1930, Russo Rinaldo, a 41-year old accountant, confessed to killing William Desmond Taylor. He stated that he was a friend of a movie actress with whom Taylor had argued and that he had gone to Taylor’s home to reprimand him for treating the actress so poorly. According to Rinaldo, Taylor drew a revolver, the two men scuffled, and the gun went off, killing Taylor in the process. Rinaldo’s estranged wife, a music teacher in Glendale, California, was questioned and told police that her husband had suffered trauma as a soldier during WWI and only knew about the murder from what he had read in newspapers. Rinaldo was released from police custody shortly thereafter.

russo rinaldo

Russo Rinaldo, accountant who confessed to killing William Desmond Taylor.
Herald Examiner Collection, photo undated.

Harry Fields claimed to have been part of a plot to kill Taylor. Fields claimed he drove the vehicle which transported the assassins (two man and one woman) to the director’s home. The killing was in retaliation to Taylor’s interference with drug trafficking in Los Angeles. Fields was in a Detroit jail when he confessed; his ex-wife told authorities that he was an inveterate liar as well as an opium user.

harry fields

Harry S. Fields during his incarceration in the Wayne County Jail,
Herald Examiner Collection, photo taken in 1922.

J. G. Barrett was serving time in Folsom Prison when he confessed to murdering Taylor. He stated that he acted on behalf of another man. His story was discredited by a grand jury.

j.g. barrett

J. G. Barrett claimed to have murdered William Desmond Taylor at the request and
payment of another man. Herald Examiner Collection, photo taken in 1926.

William Desmond Taylor’s funeral was held on February 7, 1922, at St. Paul’s Pro-Cathedral, after which he was interred in a mausoleum at Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Despite a number of suspects, various leads, innumerable tips, and a rash of confessions, the identity of the murderer of William Desmond Taylor remains unknown.

Mr. and Mrs. Schultheis go to Santa Barbara

We have written before about Herman Schultheis, the German-born photographer and jack of all film-related trades. With his wife, Ethel, Herman arrived in Los Angeles in 1937 with high hopes of a career in the film industry. He did find work with Disney where, for a few short years, he had a hand in the special effects magic used to create Fantasia, Pinocchio, and other animated classics. Today he is best remembered for several secret notebooks he put together documenting the processes used to create that magic, as well as for his mysterious disappearance in a Guatemalan jungle in 1955. Following the death of Ethel in 1990, conservators found a trove of thousands of photographs in the Schultheis home in the Los Feliz neighborhood. Documenting a wide swath of life in the Southland, these snapshots were deeded to the Los Angeles Public Library. Nearly 6,000 have been digitized. A handful are presented here. All contemporary photos are by the author.

Sometime in 1938 Herman and Ethel made a trip to Santa Barbara, that charming town up the coast from Los Angeles along El Camino Real (now the 101 Freeway). It may have been a day trip, or perhaps the couple spent the weekend. The trip was, no doubt, a chance for the Schultheises to relax and indulge their favorite activities — exploration and photography. Without realizing it, they were also documenting the newly reinvented Santa Barbara, now fully committed to honoring, and capitalizing on, its Spanish colonial roots.

 

The Mission Santa Barbara, church front. Herman J. Schultheis Collection, #00097380.

 

The Mission Santa Barbara: this photo shows the northern flank of the colonnaded Mission , with a fountain and lavanderia in front. The washing trough was built by Chumash Indians in 1808, and was fed by an aqueduct system bringing water from Mission Creek. Schultheis Collection, #00097372.

 

 

Schultheis image #00097377 shows Ethel Schultheis peering into the fountain where she is reflected alongside one of the mission’s iconic twin bell towers.

 

Colonnade at the Queen of the Missions. Schultheis Collection, #00097375.

 

Our contemporary photo shows the original lavanderia still in place in front of the mission. The mission’s second bell tower is obscured by the tree. The bear’s head spout is a re-creation, but may have been original at the time Schultheis took his photo. The mountain lion spout, pictured below, is an original Chumash carving.

 

 

 

Herman and Ethel visited the splendid Santa  Barbara Courthouse. This working county courthouse was built in the late 1920s in Spanish Colonial Revival style. Following a devastating earthquake in 1925, the city elders decided to rebuild much of the town in this style, creating what to this day appears as a white washed, red-tiled Spanish theme park on the California coast.

The front entryway of the massive courthouse is flanked by the sandstone fountain sculpture entitled “Spirit of the Ocean.” According to a history of the courthouse*, two local “children,” brother and sister, acted as models for the sculptor, Ettore Cadorin. Schultheis Collection, #00036425.

 

The contemporary version appears much the same, but in fact is a re-creation put in place in 2011, as the original sandstone had deteriorated. In addition, despite the watery appearance of the green tiles, there is no water in the fountain, a casualty of California’s persistent drought.

 

The monumental entrance to the courthouse. Schultheis Collection, #00038217.

 

Courthouse from the interior courtyard and sunken garden, showing the entry way from the opposite end. Schultheis Collection #00038205.

 

Our contemporary photo doubles the Schultheis snapshot above. The Schultheises may well have taken in the panoramic view of Santa Barbara afforded from the upper deck of the clock tower, although no photos from that location have been found.

 

The Casa de la Guerra, Schultheis Collection, #00097366. The silhouette of a protruding Spanish-style balcony can be seen at upper left. Schultheis may have taken this overhead shot from another balcony.

Once a large hacienda, with many outbuildings and a tower room, the Casa de la Guerra is much reduced in size and circumstance, but is now managed as a museum by the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation. Built by a commandante of the Santa Barbara Presidio, José Antonio de la Guerra y Noriega (1779-1858), the Casa was a center of social activity in the young pueblo through much of the 19th century.

The Casa de la Guerra today.

The El Paseo shopping arcade, established during Santa Barbara’s Spanish Colonial Revival in the 1930s, surrounds the Casa on all sides except its front. Schultheis and his wife no doubt explored the charming alleys and plazas of this planned attraction. The particular alley pictured above was dubbed “Street in Spain.” Schultheis Collection, #00097367.

 

Schultheis took a number of photos of an area the cataloger dubbed “Santa Barbara Square.” In fact, this is the area called Plaza de la Guerra. Comparing the photo above with current photos it is clear that this is the Oreña Adobe, just down the block from the Casa de la Guerra and across the street from Santa Barbara City Hall. Built in the 1850s, the Oreña Adobe is now home to the Downtown Santa Barbara Association. Schultheis image #00097370.

 

The Biltmore Hotel, Montecito, Schultheis Collection, #00097333.

The Schultheises were clearly taken with the architecture and landscape of Santa Barbara. There are many photos in the collection of architectural detail. Schultheis took photos at both the posh Biltmore Hotel (now a Four Seasons resort) in Montecito and the nearly as grand Hotel Vista Mar Monte (now the Hyatt Centric Santa Barbara), although it is doubtful that the couple stayed at either. Money was tight. Herman had just started work at Disney after a lengthy period of unemployment.

The Hotel Vista Mar Monte, Schultheis Collection, #00097347.

 

A picnic under the palms, Schultheis Collection, #00097356. The ladies may be at a beachfront park on Cabrillo Boulevard. Ethel Schultheis is at left. One of the women at right may be her mother, Marie Wisloh, who, along with her husband Theodore, visited her daughter about this time.

 

Channel Drive, Schultheis Collection, #00097337.

The photos Herman took of the historic buildings and hotels are not his best work. There was no plan to publish them or use them to inspire his work at Disney. However, they nicely reflect a happy weekend for the couple.

 

*Gebhard and Masson, The Santa Barbara County Courthouse, 2001.

Taking a Peek at The Pike: Long Beach’s Oceanfront Amusement Zone

William Willmore had a brilliant idea. He was going to create a farming community on the coast of Southern California. He bought 4,000 acres of Rancho Los Cerritos and subdivided the land into plots which comprised Willmore City. Living there would be idyllic, with plenty of sunshine all year round and cool ocean breezes in the summer. People would flock there to live! Unfortunately, his plans did not pan out and he was bought out by the Long Beach Land and Water Company. His erstwhile agricultural paradise became the City of Long Beach.

Five years later, a huge bath house opened at the spot in Long Beach where the Pacific Electric Railway’s Red Car ended its traverse from Los Angeles. People did flock to the area, coming to bathe (many people did not have bathtubs or showers [or even indoor plumbing] at the time) and afterward enjoy a stroll along the Long Beach Municipal Pier. The bath house was known as the Plunge and the nearby boardwalk as the Pike.

The Pike attracted people of all ages and developed from a simple wooden boardwalk along Pine Street to an amusement zone complete with food stands, gift shops, and carnival rides. Also known as Silver Spray Pier, Nu-Pike, Queens Park, and the Walk of a Thousand Lights at various times, the Pike was an amusement extravaganza that attracted fun seekers for over 75 years. While we cannot visit it today (it was demolished in 1979), the photo collection of the Los Angeles Public Library enables us to take a stroll down the Pike and enjoy the pleasures of its past.

The Plunge – the bath house located near the Long Beach station at the end of the Pacific Electric Car line – featured a shallow wading pool, a deep water section, a slide, and a balcony with spectator seating.

the plunge bath house

Security Pacific National Bank Collection, photo taken in 1920.

This photo shows the variety of entertainment one might seek at the Pike, with facilities including a theater, cafeteria, hotel, and dance hall (not to mention the roller coaster!) In the background can be seen warships on the ocean.

long beach amusement park

Security Pacific National Bank Collection, photo taken in 1920.

The carousel at the Pike was enjoyed by all –those riding on it and those simply watching it.

carousel at the pike

Security Pacific National Bank Collection, photo taken by Winstead Photo Studio in the 1930s.

Sailors on shore leave enjoy a meal at a café on the midway of the Pike.

cafe on midway of the pike

Security Pacific National Bank Collection, photo taken by Inman Company in 1937.

Jack Rabbit Racer was a roller coaster built on a pier extending into the ocean. It ran from 1915 to 1930 when it was replaced by the Cyclone Racer. The flying airplanes were another ride located by the entrance to the Jack Rabbit Racer.

jack rabbit racer

Security Pacific National Bank Collection, photo taken in 1918.

Native Americans in traditional dress enjoy a roller coaster ride at the Pike.

 

native americans on roller coaster

Security Pacific National Bank Collection, photo taken in 1930.

Seen in the background of this photo, the Cyclone Racer replaced the Jack Rabbit Racer in 1930. A dual-track roller coaster (two trains could run at the same time), it was 94 feet high, had 17 hills and drops, and could accommodate 2,400 riders per hour. The coaster was designed by Frederick Church, built by Harry Traver, and regarded as one of the greatest wooden roller coasters ever constructed. It was featured in the hilarious climax of the movie Abbott and Costello in Hollywood. It ran until 1968.

cyclone racer

William Reagh Collection (Los Angeles Photographers Collection), photo taken in 1963.

In the early 1950s, the Pike was still a destination for many locals but began to face stiff competition from nearby Knott’s Berry Farm (a restaurant/shop complex which added a carnival aspect in the 1950s) and the newly opened Disneyland. Moreover, the Pike had gained a free-for-all reputation which dissuaded many families from visiting the park. The amusement zone underwent a renovation, installing a Kiddieland with children’s rides plus a petting zoo. Discounts and coupons were offered to families and various facilities (the bathrooms, for example) were upgraded to give the area a more modern look. A write-in contest was held to find a new name for the amusement park, with Nu-Pike being the winner.

For those who want an aerial view (and are not afraid of heights), the Hi Ride at Nu-Pike offered excitement and unobstructed observation of the Long Beach pier and its surroundings.

hi-ride

Herald Examiner Collection, photo taken in the 1970s.

The Looper was a popular ride at Nu-Pike that featured cages where one or more people would sit and be looped about (leaving you feeling loopy!)

 

the looper

Herald Examiner Collection, photo taken sometime in the 1970s.

People of all ages enjoyed visiting Nu-Pike and strolling down the Midway. Note the sign directing families with children to Kiddieland.

families at the pike

William Reagh Collection (Los Angeles Photographers Collection), photo taken in 1966.

Orphans take a ride on the “Bud” Hurlbut miniature train at Nu-Pike. The train ride kicked off a week-long benefit to raise funds for the Los Angeles Orphanage.

bud hurlbut miniature train

Herald Examiner Collection, photo taken by Robert Perkins in 1950.

The sideshow on the midway of the Pike offered visitors a myriad of curiosities including a sword swallower, a snake charmer, a mystery girl, and other magnificent marvels. (NOTE: A real oddity was discovered at the Pike during the 1976 filming of an episode of the television show “The Six Million Dollar Man”. The Laff in the Dark Ride featured a hanging corpse, presumably made of fiberglass and leather. When someone on the set accidentally pulled off one of its arms, a physician examined it and discovered it to be an actual human corpse. Investigation revealed that it was the body of Elmer McCurdy, a bank robber whose corpse had at one point been displayed by a wax museum onsite at the Pike. The museum closed and McCurdy wound up in the carnival ride. An autopsy revealed that he had been killed by a bullet and had a 1922 penny in his mouth. His remains were shipped back to Oklahoma.)

sideshow at the pike

William Reagh Collection (Los Angeles Photographers Collection), photo taken in 1950.

Madame Anna was available to those visiting the Pike who wished to utilize scientific palmistry to improve their lives and avoid future mistakes and tragedies.

fortune teller madame anna

William Reagh Collection (Los Angeles Photographers Collection), photo taken in 1973.

The Pike attracted people of all ages and stages in life from 1902 until 1979.

1916 midway of the pike

Security Pacific National Bank Collection, photo taken in 1918.

 

family fun at the pike

William Reagh Collection (Los Angeles Photographers Collection), photo taken in 1966.

Al Brown (whose family owned Looff’s Concessions which offered pinball and various other games to visitors of the Pike) holds up a photo of the Pike as it was in its heyday. In the background is the site of the former amusement park.

photos of the pike

Herald Examiner Collection, photo taken by Mike Sergieff on February 11, 1988.

Should you wish to peruse more photos of Nu-Pike, see Stephen Brown’s book The Pike (Past Its Peak) available at the Reference Desk of the Art and Recreation Department at the Central Library branch of the Los Angeles Public Library.

 

Fly Me to the Moon — in a Bathtub: Southern California and the Race to Space

Mankind has always looked to the sky and wondered what is up there and how to get there. Southern Californians are no different. Long before Neil Armstrong stepped on the moon in July of 1969, scientists, soldiers, engineers, designers, and space exploration enthusiasts in and around Los Angeles were making plans, asking questions, drawing blueprints, and building machines in order to reach that last frontier. TESSA, the online photo archives of the Los Angeles Public Library, has images showing the commitment, creativity, and curiosity surrounding the space race and Southern California’s involvement in it – in universities, research laboratories, military bases, and basement workshops.

Allyn B. Hazard, Senior Development Engineer at JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, managed by CalTech and owned by NASA), poses in a space suit that he designed. The suit – referred to as the moon suit – was being examined by UCLA biology students.

moon suit

Valley Times Collection, photo dated February 16, 1961.

After completing their missions, astronauts could glide back into Earth in the “Flying Bathtub” created by the Experimental Aircraft Association, an organization of pilots and engineers dedicated to designing and building the aircraft of the future at their homes in their spare time.

flying bathtub

Valley Times Collection, photo taken by George Brich on August 29, 1964.

Dr. William Pickering (standing), Director of JPL for 22 years, discusses a satellite with Albert Hibbs, a renowned mathematician who became known as “the voice of JPL” and who took a break from graduate school to try to beat the casinos at roulette.

satellite

Valley Times Collection, photo dated March 5, 1958.

Two scientists at a physics research laboratory in Canoga Park utilize a hypervelocity chamber which simulates conditions experienced in outer space – including temperatures of 80,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

physics research

Valley Times Collection, photo taken by Dean Gordon on March 20, 1965.

Emil DeGraeve, Managing Director of Litton Industries’ Space Research Laboratories, explains to Naval Reserve officers the function and fashion of a space suit designed by Litton.

litton industries moon suit

Valley Times Collection, photo dated February 26, 1960.

Three scientists display a model of Explorer I, the first U.S. satellite successfully launched into orbit on January 31, 1958, and discuss the data obtained from this satellite’s foray into space. The panel includes Dr. Henry Richter Jr., JPL’s Group Supervisor of Explorer Design and Development; George Ludwig, a graduate student of Iowa State University who would become a chief research scientist for NASA and JPL; and Phyllis Buwalda, a JPL researcher who determined the surface topography of the moon.

explorer 1

Herald Examiner Collection, photo dated February 13, 1958.

The Dyna-Soar Project was begun in 1960 and was a collaboration between NASA and the United States Air Force. Its mission was to place a man in orbit and then return him to an exact selected spot, with the aircraft available for reuse. In this photo, Air Force Captain William J. Knight stands next to an F-104 Fighter at Edwards Air Force Base. This aircraft was used for the project. No aircraft was ever able to reach the altitudes needed for orbital flight, and Project Dyna-Soar was cancelled in 1963.

dyna-soar

Valley Times Collection, photo taken by Jeff Goldwater on April 16, 1962.

A spacecraft engineer from Lockheed-California Co. displays a model of a vehicle with mechanical arms created by the aerospace company. This vehicle could build low orbit satellites and rocket boosters and make repairs in outer space – an invaluable service for solar system exploration.

robot for space repairs

Valley Times Collection, photo dated August 14, 1960.

Seda Garapedian, an Armenian immigrant, was active in many organizations that assisted Armenian-Americans including the Armenian Allied Arts, the Armenian Film Foundation, and the Armenian Professional Society. A renowned flautist, she taught music in Los Angeles high schools and married Martin Marootian, a pharmacist who spearheaded the class-action suit that forced New York Life to honor insurance policies bought by victims of the Armenian genocide. In this photo, Miss Garapedian poses next to a rocket engine during a tour of JPL (which was building rockets before NASA even existed).

rocket engine

Shades of L.A.: Armenian-American Community, photo taken in 1948.

A mannequin wearing an X-15 flight suit is strapped to a test sled to test equipment operating at speeds of 1,700 mph. The testing took place at Edwards Air Force Base’s speed track in Lancaster, California, and was part of a rocket testing program.

speed test dummy

Valley Times Collection, photo dated August 17, 1960.

Miss Gregory of Hollywood, a fashion designer, checks the fit of the space suit she designed for an employee of the Aro Corporation. Miss Gregory also designed the model (left) on which space suits are fitted.

miss gregory of hollywood

Valley Times Collection, photo taken July 31, 1964.

Robert Stegen of Canoga Electronics in Van Nuys looks at the company’s antennae which (hopefully) will be picking up transmissions from John Glenn’s Mercury satellite which is scheduled to be passing over Southern California shortly after this photo was taken.

mercury satellite communication

Valley Times Collection, photo taken by Jeff Goldwater on February 13, 1962.

Donald May (far right), a chief engineer at Rocketdyne and also President of the Valley Amateur Astrophysical Society, speaks with two members of Reseda High School’s American Rocket Association.

valley amateur astrophysical association

Valley Times Collection, photo dated June 7, 1960.

While attending a meeting of the Valley Amateur Astrophysical Society in Northridge, Daniel W. Fry discusses his contact with an alien space craft which gave him a ride from White Sands, New Mexico, to New York City in less than 30 minutes. Fry, an explosives expert who worked a variety of jobs in the rocketry industry, wrote a book about the incident (The White Sands Incident) and founded an organization (Understanding Inc.) to promote understanding and cooperation among all people – those on Earth and those living on other planets.

white sands incident

Valley Times Collection, photo taken by Alan Hyde on October 30, 1961.

In Remembrance of Carolyn Kozo Cole (1943-2018)

Carolyn Kozo Cole (left) and Kathy Kobayashi with Shades of L.A. photos.

Photo Friends is saddened to share the news that our founder, Carolyn Kozo Cole, passed away from complications due to Alzheimer’s on December 6th.

Carolyn began her career as a librarian on the East Coast, working in public, school, and corporate libraries. An avid fan of photography and a fourth-generation photographer herself, she served as an exhibit curator with the Seattle Public Library. When the Security Pacific National Bank Collection was donated to the Los Angeles Public Library in 1981, she became an exhibit consultant and began a nearly 30-year career with LAPL.

In 1990 she became the Senior Librarian of the Photo Collection and immediately established Photo Friends, the support group that assisted in launching the Shades of L.A. project. Carolyn was the driving force behind this landmark effort, working with Kathy Kobayashi to record Los Angeles’ culturally diverse history through the collecting of family photos. During her two decades in the position Carolyn also started the Photographer’s Eye lecture series (now in its 20th year), and spearheaded two photography projects to document contemporary L.A. neighborhoods and industries. Always a phenomenal ambassador for the Photo Collection, she brought it international attention.

She retired in 2009 and moved to San Diego to be near her son, daughter, and five grandchildren. At this time, services have not been scheduled. Messages of condolence can be sent to her son and daughter, Chris and Justine Kozo, at ckozocole@gmail.com

If you would like to make a donation in Carolyn’s memory, please consider donating to the Alzheimer’s Association.

Those of us fortunate enough to work with Carolyn knew her as a generous and compassionate person who loved Los Angeles and always sought for others to experience the city at its best. Her work with the Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection and Photo Friends laid the foundation for these organizations to continue to grow and share the history of our city with the world.

Playa Del Rey: The Last Beach Town

Surf, sand, sun: the key ingredients for a California beach town. Playa Del Rey has all these in abundance. Yet the tiny community also has had perhaps more than its share of fallout from both the force of nature and the hand of man. What was once a vast complex of wetlands south of Santa Monica, and the estuary for the Los Angeles River, is now a narrow slice of coast squeezed between man-made Marina Del Rey on the north, the huge upscale housing complex known as Playa Vista to the east, and LAX so close on the south that jets soar directly over the beach.

Fredie Martel gets sand between his toes, 1942. Although the photo is labelled Playa Del Rey, it could easily be another beach community. The confines of Playa Del Rey have changed so much over the decades that names tend to get lost in the mix. Photo, Shades of L.A. Collection – Mexican American Community, #00002789.

Water, water, everywhere

Playa Del Rey is a community defined by water. Ballona Creek, once a major river, cuts through the landscape as it courses from the Santa Monica Mountains down to the sea. Two centuries ago, the creek bed also channeled the Los Angeles River before that water course jumped its banks about 1825 due to earthquakes and flooding and began flowing south to San Pedro. Even without the waters of the L.A. River, Ballona Creek was a formidable stream, creating swaths of freshwater wetlands upland and saltwater wetlands as it approached the sea. A wide estuary ballooned into a lagoon surrounded by sand dunes, an ideal spot for recreational boating.

A century ago entrepreneurs dreamed dreams of pleasure pavilions, hotels, car-racing and other attractions. About the turn of the 19th century, an abortive effort was made to dredge out the wetlands and create “Port Ballona” where the railroad would meet shipping lines. Storm and tide foiled this effort and the port of Los Angeles went to San Pedro.

Dreams of a resort town had more success. The first decades of the 20th century saw a hotel and pavilion built on the lagoon with a pier on the oceanfront. Palm trees were trucked in from Santa Monica. Storm gates shielded the lagoon from ocean currents. The Pacific Electric Railway brought day trippers to the shore on its Red Cars. A funicular railroad took the adventurous straight up the bluffs. Housing started going up on the hills and along the shore to the south.

By the 1930s, things started to go sideways. The Great Depression played a part, but there were other factors. Oil was discovered in Venice, just to the north, bringing pollutants and unpleasant smells. At roughly the same time, Ballona Creek was straightened and channelized with concrete, reducing the threat of flooding, but forever changing the character of the wetlands. The lagoon shrank to a fraction of its former size. Two decades later, massive infrastructure projects to the south put the squeeze on the little beach town: the Hyperion Wastewater Treatment Plant, the Scattergood Steam Plant, and, of course, the expansion of Los Angeles International Airport. In the mid-1960s, the airport had hundreds of homes in the Surfridge neighborhood of Playa Del Rey condemned. The runways never extended quite as far as that beachfront community; one can still see ghost sidewalks and streets through a chain-link fence along Vista Del Mar, the coast road. The 1946 construction and 1955  expansion of the Hyperion plant dumped tons of sand and sediment off the coast of Playa Del Rey. While this may have compensated somewhat for beach erosion, it permanently stunted the already sleepy lagoon, cutting it off from all ocean tides.

The most significant change for Playa Del Rey, however, came when the Army Corps of Engineers began work on the project to be known as Marina Del Rey, a huge dredging project that created berths for 5,000 pleasure boats just across the Ballona Creek channel from the heart of Playa Del Rey. In effect, the Marina project, completed in 1965, cut off Playa Del Rey, geographically and ecologically, from its sister beach towns, Venice and Santa Monica, and from the northern lobe of the lagoon. The massive project destroyed 900 acres of wetland; in addition, tons of earth dredged out for the boat channels were deposited off Playa Del Rey. Once again the town became a dumping ground.

In more recent years, residents have had to fight to keep even a small portion of the wetlands that defined the community from falling to development. Beginning in 2002, the Playa Vista development threatened to destroy a good chunk of the remaining freshwater wetlands for upscale housing, businesses, and offices.  Negotiation and mitigation has allowed for the preservation and interpretation of some 600 acres of wetlands, now in the care of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Plans are afoot to restore the much changed wetlands to some version of their former selves.

Meanwhile, in the lowlands, the little community of Playa Del Rey retains a relatively low profile among beach towns.

Watching change unfold

Photos from the Los Angeles Public Library’s collection show the startling transformation of Playa Del Rey over the past century.-

Del Rey Lagoon (aka “Lake Ballona”) with canoes, about 1902. Photo, Graham Photo Company, Security Pacific National Bank Collection, #00022968.

 

The reconfigured lagoon with a pleasure pavilion (left), ocean pier, and hotel, 1907. Throngs of people along the shore provide the scale. The Hotel Del Rey, pictured center right, burned to the ground in 1924 killing two dozen, including 22 young people. At the time the wooden structure was being used as a home for special needs girls. While stories vary, it appears that the fire was started by one of the teenagers living in the home. Photo, Security Pacific National Bank Collection, #00022975.

 

A contemporary photo, taken from roughly the same angle, shows the much reduced size of the lagoon. Photo, Alan Humphrey.

 

Real estate developers have set up shop at the base of the bluffs along Culver Boulevard, 1925. Dickenson and Gillespie had their headquarters in the large building at middle right, between Pershing Drive and Vista Del Mar Lane. This structure, the Dickenson & Gillespie building, still stands, though much altered, and is the home of Tanner’s Coffee. The small huts in the photo, adjacent to a grandstand, were temporary structures set up to be used by salesmen. The photo appears to be taken during some event, likely the advertised “New Model City Addition” sale held August 2, 1925. During land “booms,” prospective buyers were often lured in to hear a sales pitch with free transportation, food, and other incentives. Dickenson and Gillespie dubbed Playa Del Rey “The Last of the Beaches.” Security Pacific National Bank Collection, #00023000.

 

Pacific Electric street cars bound for Playa Del Rey and points south. Photo, Security Pacific National Bank Collection, #00006774.

Remnants of the old Pacific Electric street car tracks can be spotted in the Ballona Saltwater Wetlands. A viewing platform atop the piers allows school groups and others to get a close up look at the flora and fauna of the wetlands. The yachts and condos of Marina Del Rey can be seen in the distance.

“All year play ground of happy healthy children: Palisades Del Rey.” So reads the slogan written on this photo dated 1930 in the library’s collection, perhaps a bit of promotional literature. Photo, Security Pacific National Bank Collection, #00070514.

 

Oil spills and the resulting sludge are common problems on California beaches. Playa Del Rey is no exception. This photo of Ileana Sanchez was taken in 1979. Photo, Toru Kawana, Herald Examiner Collection, #00044224.

 

Playa Del Ray beach about 1938. A crude rock jetty extends into the sea at left. Photo, Herman J. Schultheis Collection, Los Angeles Photographers Collection, #00022982.

 

The structure is called the McGurk Beach Jetty, for reasons unknown. It was likely built to protect swimmers from high tides. Photo, Alan Humphrey.

 

The Playa Del Rey Stables were a fixture in the community from approximately 1910 to 1988. The last days of the riding stables came when the land was optioned for a retirement home that never materialized. Here, one Jim Doggett rubs down his horse, Beau, April 30, 1988. Photo Leo Jarzomb, Herald-Examiner Collection, #00084387.

A circular area of trampled grounds is what’s left of the riding stables. Local lore has it that a young Elizabeth Taylor trained for her role in National Velvet in this corral. Photo, Alan Humphrey.

Bridge over Ballona Creek near its outflow, 1941. The photo is taken after the creek has been channelized and before the creation of Marina Del Rey. The channel is swollen due to torrential rains. Photo, Herald Examiner Collection, #00043329. (The photo shows editor’s crop marks.)

 

Today’s Ballona Creek Bridge, used by bikes and pedestrians only, links Playa Del Rey to a jetty and bike path. A wide boat channel on the other side of the jetty leads to the eight basins of Marina Del Rey. Photo, Alan Humphrey.

Catalina Island – History, Mystery, Beauty, and Buffalo

Over 9,000 years ago, members of the Gabrielino/Tongva tribe built settlements on a rocky island located 25 miles off the coast of what is today Southern California. They referred to their homeland as Pimu or Pimugna and themselves as Pimungans. In the 1500s, Spanish explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo landed on the island and claimed it for Spain, naming it San Salvador (after his ship). In the early 1600s, another Spanish explorer, Sebastian Vizcaino, renamed the island Santa Catalina Island (in honor of St. Catherine). That name stuck.

Although the island fell under Spanish rule, American and Russian hunters set up camps on the island to hunt for seals and sea lions. Missionaries visited the island to teach the gospel. Miners searched for gold and precious minerals. Pirates of all nationalities used the islands to conduct smuggling activities. In 1846, mere days before the United States invaded Mexico, the Governor of Mexico granted ownership of Santa Catalina Island to Thomas Robbins, a naturalized citizen of Mexico. A few years later, Santa Catalina Island became part of the United States. Robbins sold the land in 1850 to Jose Maria Covarrubias. The island changed hands a number of times during the next several years with James Lick (at one point the richest man in California) purchasing the entire island in 1864.

Real estate developer George Shatto bought the island from the Lick family (James Lick had died) in 1887 with the idea of turning it into a resort. He defaulted on the loan and the property returned to Lick’s estate. Brothers Joseph and Hancock Banning (sons of Phineas Banning, “father of the Port of Los Angeles”) bought the island and did develop resort facilities, only to have them destroyed in a fire that eventually bankrupted them. In 1919, chewing gum magnate William Wrigley bought the island. He made many infrastructure improvements, built attractions (including the Catalina Casino), and made the island a destination for tourists and fun seekers. When William Wrigley died, the oversight of the island passed to his son, Phillip, who, in 1975, deeded 90% of the island to the newly formed Catalina Island Conservancy (which Phillip had created).

Today, Santa Catalina Island – generally referred to as Catalina Island or simply Catalina – is visited by over a million tourists per year. A perusal of the Los Angeles Public Library’s photo collection (TESSA) shows Catalina Island to be an archeological treasure trove, a seaside resort, a fisherman’s paradise, and a Southern California version of home on the range where the buffalo do indeed roam.

The Pimugnans mined the island’s vast reserves of soapstone, often traveling to the coastland (to what is today San Pedro) to sell this commodity. They had villages all over the island. In this photo, an anthropologist is seen with human remains he has unearthed from a Native American grave on Santa Catalina Island.

anthropologist on catalina

Security Pacific National Bank Collection, photo taken in 1920.

The anthropologist (name unknown) displays a fire-making tool used by Native Americans who inhabited Catalina Island.

catalina island relics

Security Pacific National Bank Collection, photo taken in 1920.

Pictured here is a panoramic view of Avalon Bay. The large ship in the harbor is the S.S. Catalina, also known as the Great White Steamer, which ferried passengers between Los Angeles and Avalon Harbor for over fifty years. If you click on the photo, you will be able to see a large circular building on the far right. This is the Catalina Casino, which houses a theater and ballroom (but no gambling facilities).

avalon bay

Security Pacific National Bank Collection, photo taken by Dick Whittington, date unknown.

The Catalina Casino (also known as the Avalon Casino Ballroom) was built in the Moorish Alhambra style and adorned with Art Deco fixtures. The Casino’s ballroom, as seen here, is the largest circular ballroom in the world and has a row of permanent seats surrounding it.

catalina ballroom

Herman Schultheis Collection, photo taken by Herman Schultheis in 1938.

The interior of the Catalina Casino features Art Deco styling. The building itself is surrounded by the sea on three sides. Here we see the Casino’s lobby and box office. (The Casino does not have any gambling facilities but does show movies and hold special events.)

catalina casino lobby

Security Pacific National Bank Collection, photo taken in 1929.

With its temperate weather, Catalina Island is a great spot for outdoor events. Here we see an open-air theater on a hillside on the island. The theater was apparently used for concerts, as a sign on the theater shell stated: “Do not talk while band is playing.”

open-air theater on catalina island

Security Pacific National Bank Collection, photo undated.

Folks are also able to enjoy dining al fresco pretty much all year round on Catalina Island. Here we see tables set up outside the Paseo El Encanto, a market in Avalon that featured Spanish Colonial Revival architecture.

paseo el encanto catalina island

Herman Schultheis Collection, photo taken by Herman Schultheis in 1938.

Catalina Island is known for its great fishing spots. The crew of the fishing boat Diamond Jim chose the west end of the island to cast their nets and got an unexpected catch – a 4,200 pound great white shark!

shark caught catalina island

Herald Examiner Collection, photo taken by Michael Haering on September 20, 1985.

Zane Grey, author of many popular western adventure novels (the most famous being Riders of the Purple Sage), built a home on Catalina Island (which later became the Zane Grey Pueblo Hotel) to use as a place to get away, write, and fish. (His primary California residence was in Altadena.)  Grey served as president of Catalina’s exclusive fishing club, the Tuna Club of Avalon. Here he poses with a swordfish he caught off the shores of Catalina Island.

zane grey with swordfish

Security Pacific National Bank Collection, photo undated.

Of course, with all the fish available off the shores of Santa Catalina Island (tuna, mackerel, sardines), fishing was not only a recreational endeavor but also a commercial enterprise.  Pictured here are employees of Coast Fishing Tuna Cannery in Avalon.

cannery workers catalina island

Shades of L.A. Collection, photo taken in 1945.

Taxidermy of large fish was also popular. In this photo, a woman prepares a fish for mounting at a taxidermist shop in Avalon.

swordfish mounting

Security Pacific National Bank Collection, photo taken in 1933.

Many residents built beautiful homes on the island.  The Banning brothers, who had ownership of Santa Catalina Island for over 25 years, sought to make Avalon (the only incorporated city on the island) a world-class resort. They built the Hotel St. Catherine and added attractions that included an incline railway, an amphitheater, and an aquarium. A huge fire swept through the city in 1915 and destroyed most of their property. This photo is of Descanso, the Catalina Island home of Hancock Banning.

banning residence on catalina

Security Pacific National Bank Collection, photo taken by Park & Co. Photo Studio, date unknown.

William Wrigley, Jr. (of Wrigley chewing gum fame) bought Catalina Island from the Banning brothers in 1919. He upgraded the island by installing utilities, building roads, planting trees and other flora, and building the Catalina Casino. He also oversaw the construction of his own personal residence which sat on a hill overlooking Avalon.

wrigley residence catalina island

Security Pacific National Bank Collection, photo undated.

The stately Victorian home known as the Lefmann Residence had a castle-like presence in the midst of tropical landscaping.

lefmann residence

Security Pacific National Bank Collection, photo undated.

While Avalon is the most populous city on Catalina Island, the town of Two Harbors — located at the Isthmus of Santa Catalina (18 miles from Avalon) and built between two harbors (Banning Harbor and Catalina Harbor) — offers beautiful views and a great place to unwind, as seen in this photo.

two harbors on catalina harbor

Security Pacific National Bank Collection, photo undated.

Of course, not all residents of Catalina Island are human. Buffalo were brought over to the island for the filming of a movie and remained on the island after the film shoot ended. (Note: Popular consensus is that the film which introduced buffalo to the island was the 1925 silent film The Vanishing American. That film, however, has no bison in it. Some theorized that the film The Covered Wagon brought the creatures to Catalina, yet that movie (which does feature buffalo) was not filmed on the island. Another film, The Thundering Herd (released in 1925) may have brought buffalo to Catalina Island, as the Catalina Islander (the island’s newspaper) mentioned in its October 6th, 1938, edition that the herd had been brought over by the filmmakers who then gifted the herd to the island.)

buffalo on catalina island

Valley Times Collection, photo dated July 22, 1962.

Spanish missionaries brought a few goats to Catalina Island in 1827, ostensibly as food for natives living on the island. The missionaries and the natives eventually all left the island, but the goats stayed and multiplied. (The goat population on Catalina Island in the 1950s was approximately 25,000.) The goats lived on the rugged terrain at the west end of the island, surviving on any and all vegetation — grass, cacti, flowers, tree leaves and bark. In the early 1990s, efforts were made to eliminate the goat population as they were decimating the top soil and negatively affecting Catalina’s ecosystem. Today, there are no goats (other than a few pets) on the island.

mountain goats on catalina

Security Pacific National Bank Collection, photo undated.

Not all the goats on Catalina were wild. Some were downright friendly and loved company — particularly if said company brought them something to eat. And since goats eat just about anything, it is not hard to find a snack to entice them!

goats eating hats

Security Pacific National Bank Collection, photo taken in 1928.

The Santa Catalina Bird Park covered eight acres, housed over 8,000 different species of birds, and was Catalina’s biggest attraction for over 35 years. Known as the world’s largest birdcage, it was constructed from remnants of the Sugarloaf Dance Pavilion which had been demolished to create space for the Catalina Casino. The bird park closed in 1966 and all birds were transferred to the Los Angeles Zoo.

santa catalina bird park

Works Progress Administration Collection, photo taken by Alma Overholt on March 18, 1940.

For the Chicago Cubs, beautiful Catalina Island was not a vacation destination but rather a place of grueling exercise and intense work. William Wrigley owned the baseball team and had them come to the island for their Spring training.

chicago cubs on catalina island

Security Pacific National Bank Collection, photo taken in 1930.

Abelardo Luis Rodriguez (man on the right), son of General Rodriguez (former President of Mexico), chose Catalina Island as a place to marry and have a honeymoon. After arriving at Catalina Island’s airport with his wedding party, he and his companions were taken to Toyon Bay where he and his fiancée, actress Lucille Bremer (female in middle of photo), were married by a Justice of the Peace. Toyon Bay is two and a half miles northwest of Avalon and was once the site of a boy’s boarding school. During World War II, the school site was used to house the Office of Strategic Services (which would later become the Central Intelligence Agency) where soldiers were trained in guerrilla warfare. The site is now occupied by Catalina Island Marine Institute which offers educational programs and summer camps for children.

Abelardo Luis Rodriguez

Valley Times Collection, photo dated August 6, 1948.

As the number of vehicles allowed on the island is restricted (and obtaining a permit to import a car or truck can take more than ten years), most people – particularly those staying in Avalon – walk, bike, or use golf carts to get around. Natural beauty and no traffic — now that is paradise!

golf carts on catalina island

Shades of L.A. Collection, Shades of L.A.: Mexican American Community, photo taken in 1962.

 

 

Oh Let’s Do Lunch! Dining Out During the Day (Maybe) in Los Angeles

There are many ways to “do lunch” in L.A., from a power lunch with your agent to a quick bite from a cart while you run errands. Peruse the photo collection of the Los Angeles Public Library and you’ll get an idea of where folks in Los Angeles – from traffic cops to studio executives – enjoy their midday meal (sometimes in the middle of the night).

Philippe’s, established in 1908 by Philippe Mathieu, created its signature sandwich – the French Dip –by accident in 1918. A police officer came to the eatery for lunch and ordered a roast beef sandwich. Mathieu – rushing to get the sandwich made quickly as the officer was in a hurry – accidentally dropped the French roll (used for all sandwiches in his restaurant) into a roasting pan filled with hot juice. The policeman said he would take the sandwich anyway. He returned the next day with fellow officers who wanted to try this new sandwich which was dipped in juice. The sandwich became known as the French Dip – perhaps because Mathieu was French, perhaps because the officer’s surname was French, or perhaps because of the French roll. No one is certain of the origin of the name, but 100 years later, Philippe’s still serves up French dips (beef, pork, lamb, turkey, or ham) to city workers, shoppers, stars, students, senators, and those wanting a good lunch with a cheap cup of coffee.

Philippe's

Herald Examiner Collection, photo taken by Michael Haering on November 18, 1986.

Nick’s Café was opened in 1948 by Nick, a Navy vet, who served breakfast from early morning until early afternoon (when the café closed). Nick offered bone-in ham sliced to order (earning the restaurant the nickname “the Ham House”) in his eatery across from the River Station freight yards. Business was brisk. After a bit, Nick sold the restaurant to two LAPD homicide detectives and the diner became a regular for cops and DWP workers. Today Nick’s Café still serves up breakfast all day to its eclectic crowd. The menu has some new items, but the day for Nick’s Café still ends at 3:00 p.m.

Nick's Cafe

Gary Leonard Collection (Los Angeles Photographers Collection), photo taken
by Gary Leonard on October 21. 2005.

Of course, Los Angeles has people – cops, film crews, hospital workers, firefighters – working all hours of the day and night, so lunch might be at 3:00 a.m. or 6:00 p.m. or midnight. Snap’s Coffee Shop was open 24/7 to serve hungry customers classic diner fare – fried chicken, meat loaf, grilled cheese sandwiches, French fries, and pie and coffee.

snap's coffee shop

 

inside snap's coffee shop

Security Pacific National Bank Collection, both photos undated.

Want to take a trip but cannot get away? Lunch inside the Zep Diner in South Los Angeles could help you feel as if you’re traveling high above the clouds (and your worries).

zep diner

Security Pacific National Bank Collection, photo dated March 21, 1931.

If you wanted a bit of fun with your lunch, the Merry Go Round Café was the place for you. Sit at the counter and watch as various meals slowly slide past you. Grab the one you want. Gustav and Gertrude Kramm had the idea of a cafe that served home-cooked food presented on a rotating conveyor belt and accessible by lifting a glass door and selecting the item. Items on the merry go round included salads, sandwiches, desserts, and relishes. Hot food was delivered by servers and fresh coffee was available every ten minutes. Lunch was 35¢; a full dinner (including two salads, a dessert, and all the rolls you wanted) was 50¢.

merry go round cafe

Security Pacific National Bank Collection, photo taken in 1932.

Southern Californians have always been on the move and their lunch counters are no exception! Here we see a lunch wagon parked by the parking lot of a local employer (believed to be a local aviation manufacturer). During lunch hour, an employee could grab a cold drink, a hot sandwich, and a pack of smokes all in one visit to this lunchmobile. lunch wagon

Ansel Adams Fortune Magazine Collection ( Los Angeles Photographers Collection),
photo taken by Ansel Adams in 1940.

Shoppers, workers, and beach goers in Venice could enjoy delicious seafood tacos and burritos from Tania’s Catering truck, seen here parked on Lincoln Boulevard.

catering truck

Los Angeles Neighborhoods Collection, photo taken by Cheryl Himmelstein in October, 2002.

The L.A. Mission has been serving meals to homeless individuals since 1936. In this photo we see a typical lunch crowd (approximately 250 people) on a typical day.

l.a. mission

Herald-Examiner Collection, photo taken in October of 1986.

If you were in Hollywood and got hungry, you could not go wrong with the lunch counter at Schwab’s Pharmacy (generally called Schwab’s Drug Store). Located near the corner of two boulevards (Sunset and Crescent Heights) for fifty years, Schwab’s was frequented by celebrities, screenwriters, set designers, directors, locals, and tourists who stopped in for ice cream, coffee, sandwiches, and light meals. Syndicated columnist Sidney Skolsky used the drug store as his office; his column for Photoplay magazine was titled From a Stool at Schwab’s. (Marilyn Monroe would leave messages bearing the signature “Miss Caswell” for Skolsky at Schwab’s.) Angela Lansbury stopped in to enjoy ice cream sodas, James Dean had prescriptions filled there, and F. Scott Fitzgerald stopped at Schwab’s to buy cigarettes and had a heart attack. Contrary to popular legend, Lana Turner was not discovered at Schwab’s (but at another eatery on Sunset Boulevard), but she did stop there to pick up her favorite lipstick. Chances are good that she also enjoyed a malted or cup of coffee while she was there.

schwab's drug store

Roy Hankey Collection (Los Angeles Photographers Collection), photo taken by Roy Hankey in 1980.

The El Rey Café at 417 E. 6th Street in downtown Los Angeles was ready for the lunch crowd with silverware settings on the counter, hot coffee perking in the kitchen, and a selection of cigars at the cash register – everything needed to serve and satisfy the hungry crowd. As the Pacific Mutual Life Building was a couple blocks away (just behind Pershing Square) and the street was lined with clothing shops, loan offices, and hotels, the café would do a brisk business serving clerks, bankers, insurance salesmen, executives, secretaries, and sightseers.

el rey cafe

Security Pacific National Bank Collection, photo undated.

Busy? Cranky? Don’t want to get out of the car for lunch? No problem. Tiny Naylor’s Drive In served delicious food – sandwiches, malts, patty melts – and you never needed to leave your car. With the original drive-in located at the corner of Sunset Boulevard and La Brea Avenue, this eatery (one of the original Googie-style restaurants) was a favorite of film stars who wanted to grab a bite to eat without being noticed. (A chain of Tiny Naylor’s restaurants dotted greater Los Angeles at one time, with one attached to a car wash in Studio City where many a celebrity had their vehicle washed.) Tiny Naylor (who was 6 foot 4 and weighed 320 pounds) realized that folks got hungry at all hours, so this drive-in was open 24/7.

tiny naylor's drive in

Roy Hankey Collection (Los Angeles Photographers Collection), photo taken by Roy Hankey in 1980.

For an elegant lunch surrounded by tranquility and beauty, you might choose to dine at the Huntington Gardens. Here we see a couple enjoying lunchtime tea brought by a kimono-clad server. While there are no longer carts offering tea in the garden, you may still enjoy lunch at Huntington Gardens, inside or outside, by yourself, with friends, or with a party.

huntington gardens tea

Security Pacific National Bank Collection, photo undated.

Grab some lunch and then grocery shop for meat, fish, fresh produce, spices, handmade tamales, and baked goods at downtown L.A.’s Grand Central Market. Housed in the Homer Laughlin Building (which once held offices for architect Frank Lloyd Wright), Grand Central Market still provides hungry visitors with victuals ranging from ice cream to egg rolls to oysters, chile rellenos to fried chicken to sticky rice.

grand central market

William Reagh Collection (Los Angeles Photographers Collection), photo taken by William Reagh in 1966. 

Lunch goers in Los Angeles have the luxury of enjoying authentic Mexican cuisine. Lalo’s Birrieria y Taqueria on Main Street serves up birria and other Mexican dishes with homemade tortillas. (Birria is a spicy stew traditionally made with goat meat but which may also be made with beef or pork.)

lalo's

Stone Ishimaru Collection (Los Angeles Photographers Collection), photo taken by Stone Ishimaru in 2007.

Frank Toulet opened Frank’s Francois Café on Hollywood Boulevard in 1919. Four years later, restauranteur Joseph Musso became Toulet’s partner. The two entrepreneurs hired French chef Jean Rue to create a menu and cook for their fine establishment. The restaurant was christened Musso & Frank Grill (often referred to as Musso & Frank’s by locals). Three years later, Toulet and Musso sold the restaurant to two Italian immigrants, Joseph Carissimi and John Mosso, who retained the name but moved the eatery from 6669 Hollywood Boulevard to 6667 Hollywood Boulevard where it still stands. Musso & Frank’s would become an integral part of Hollywood’s entertainment industry, serving lunch to movie stars, studio execs, screenwriters and writers of all types (including F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Steinbeck, Raymond Chandler, and William Faulkner, who used to go behind the bar to mix his own mint juleps). From humble beginnings sprang a historic venue that is still open today.

francois cafe

Security Pacific National Bank Collection, photo undated.

frank & musso's

William Reagh Collection (Los Angeles Photographers Collection), photo taken by William Reagh in 1991.

What better way to advertise your lunch offerings than to do so with your eatery’s architecture? The Tamale was a lunchroom in East Los Angeles that featured tamales, chili, hot dogs, malts, and other fare in a uniquely shaped building. It was just the right place for a quick lunch in a place you would not soon forget.

the tamle restaurant in east los angeles

Security Pacific National Bank Collection,  photo undated.

And you also would not forget Tail O’ The Pup in West Hollywood!

tail o the pup

Gary Leonard Collection, (Los Angeles Photographers Collection), photo taken by Gary Leonard, photo undated.

Of course, location and menu are only part of a great lunch. The right dining companion can make the most mundane meal magnificent. Angie the dog and Casey the duck – the best of friends – meet in a parking lot in Studio City for a fine lunch of watermelon. (No reservations needed.)

angie and casey meet for lunch

 

watermelon!

Valley Times Collection, undated photograph taken by Dave Siddon.