The Final Farewell — Funerals, Burials, and Memorials in Southern California

Southern Californians have panache. From the clothes they wear to the dishes they cook to the homes they make, they create their own style – often a mixture of tradition and innovation – and show it proudly. This flair for living does not stop once they stop living. As you can see from the photo archives of the Los Angeles Public Library, Angelenos leave this earthly realm and go to a final resting place with as much elegance or flamboyance as they had in life.

It seems that residents of L.A. are always ready for their close-up. A beautiful headshot of a recently deceased gentleman adorns his gravesite in a section of a Southern California cemetery serving the Chinese community (with all tombstone writing in Chinese).

chinese american gravesite

Security Pacific National Bank Collection, photo taken in 1945.

While Southern Californians embrace the latest fashion in dress and style, cultural traditions are still important. A burial service for two Chinese-Americans is held at a cemetery in Southern California. As white is symbolic of death in East Asian cultures, the men attending this funeral wear white armbands over their dark suits.

chinese american funeral with white armbands

Harry Quillen Collection, photo taken by Harry Quillen on September 10, 1941.

At Eden Memorial Park Cemetery in Mission Hills, Rabbi Aaron Wise and Cantor Allan Michelson lead a procession bringing religious books (Tefillin) and religious objects (prayer shawls, for example) for the Sheymot burial. This type of burial is rare and occurs only when religious objects can no longer be used.

eden memorial park cemetery

Valley Times Collection, photo taken by Bob Martin on February 20, 1965.

The Pacific Ocean is the final resting place of one who loved the water and endeavored to keep all beach goers safe. A boat scatters the ashes of a lifeguard in the waters off of Santa Monica beach while surfers look on.

surfer memorial

Herald Examiner Collection, photo taken May 24, 1983.

Family and friends, from small children to senior citizens, gather for a graveyard funeral service honoring Ellen Rozier Crabtree and pose for a memorial photo.

african american graveside funeral

Shades of L.A.: African American Community, photo taken on February 5, 1932.

A man dances the Adewa (also known as Adowa and Adzewa), a traditional African dance, at the funeral of W.K. Anin, the father of Chief Nana Kofi Anin, a Ghanaian American. The dancer is wearing a costume of kente cloth, a silk and cotton fabric native to the Akan ethnic group of Ghana. The funeral is being held in the Crenshaw District of Los Angeles.

dancing the adewa

Shades of L.A.: Ghanaian American Community, photo dated November 7, 1996.

Here we see family members pouring liquids to invoke ancestral spirits, an important prayer tradition performed at traditional Ghanaian funerals.

african funeral traditions

Shades of L.A.: Ghanaian American Community, photo dated November 7, 1996.

Aimee Semple McPherson, the evangelist who founded Angeles Temple, broadcast sermons over her own radio station, and donated many hours and dollars to Southern California charities, was put to rest in October of 1944. Her funeral was attended by thousands of mourners, many who traveled great distances to pay their respects in person.

aimee semple mcpherson funeral

Herald Examiner Collection, photo dated October 9, 1944.

Francis Herman Pencovic was born in San Francisco in 1911. In April of 1948 he announced that he was the new messiah and claimed to have led rocket ships to Earth from an extinct planet. He founded the WKFL (Wisdom, Knowledge, Faith and Love) Fountain of the World cult in Simi Valley and changed his name to Krishna Venta. His group fought wildfires, fed the homeless, and gained national attention in 1949 when they were the first to offer aid to survivors of a commercial airline crash in Simi Valley. Krishna Venta was killed in a bombing carried out by two disgruntled former members of his church. Here we see his funeral in Chatsworth, California, attended by his faithful followers. (The cult ceased to exist in the mid-1970s.)

krishna ventna funeral

Valley Times Collection, photo taken by William H. Wilde on December 19, 1958.

Stately and elegant, Moritz-Harrell Funeral Home was built in classic Spanish style on West Whittier Boulevard in Montebello, California. (The building still houses a funeral home today.)

moritz farrell funeral home

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

For convenience and comfort, the Ives & Warren Funeral Parlor in Pasadena provided private transportation via streetcar for funeral attendees.

ives & warren funeral home

Security Pacific National Bank Collection, photo undated.

Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. – the swashbuckling actor who portrayed Robin Hood, Don Juan, and Zorro in silent films – died on December 12, 1939 of a heart attack. His funeral was held at the Wee Kirk o’ The Heather Chapel on the grounds of Forest Lawn in Glendale. His remains were temporarily interred in Forest Lawn Glendale’s Great Mausoleum while his widow, (Sylvia, Lady Ashley), had a marble monument with a raised tomb built at Hollywood Cemetery (now known as Hollywood Forever). Sylvia moved her late husband’s remains to this spot in October of 1941.

Wee Kirk o’ The Heather Chapel, a reproduction of a 17th Century church in Glencairn, Scotland, is in the forefront of this photo. The tower in the background was the Tower of Legends which was demolished in 1948.

wee kirk o' the heather chapel

Security Pacific National Bank Collection, photo undated.

Pictured here is the Great Mausoleum at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Glendale. Douglas Fairbanks Sr. was originally interred here.

great mausoleum at forest lawn glendale

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

Here is the raised tomb at Hollywood Forever Cemetery that is the final resting place of Douglas Fairbanks, Sr.

douglas fairbanks sr. tomb at hollywood forever

Carol Westwood Collection, photo taken by Carol Westwood in August, 1991.

Hollywood Cemetery (later known as Hollywood Memorial Park and then renamed Hollywood Forever in 1998) was built in 1899 on 100 acres. By 1920, 40 acres at the south end of the cemetery had been sold to Paramount Studios. Many prominent people from the entertainment field are interred on the grounds – Rudolph Valentino, Cecil B. DeMille, Fay Wray, Jayne Mansfield, Tyrone Power – as well as others including gangster Bugsy Siegel, L.A.P.D. chief Tom Reddin, and Griffith J. Griffith, donor and namesake of Griffith Park.

The entrance to the Hollywood Cemetery (now known as Hollywood Forever Cemetery) projects a collegiate air with its ivy-covered arch.

hollywood cemetery entrance

Cary Moore Collection, photo taken by Cary Moore on unknown date.

Forest Lawn Memorial Park has several locations throughout Southern California. Forest Lawn in the Hollywood Hills boasts a beautiful mosaic depicting events from the history of the United States. Here we see a Veteran’s Day event (which included a sacred torch rite performed by the American Legion) being held shortly after completion of the mosaic.

forest lawn hollywood hills

Herald Examiner Collection, photo taken on November 11, 1964.

The Home of Peace Cemetery in East Los Angeles was created on 35 acres of land donated by Kaspare Cohn, a businessman who played a pivotal role in the development of the City of Los Angeles and also had a major role in developing Jewish religious organizations in the region. When the cemetery was being constructed, Cohn negotiated an agreement with the Los Angeles Railway Company to extend a street car line to the cemetery, making the graveyard more accessible.

house of peace cemetery

Gary Leonard Collection, photo taken by Gary Leonard on unknown date.

The original Calvary Catholic Cemetery (most commonly referred to as Old Calvary Cemetery but also known as Buena Vista Street Cemetery) was built on the site now occupied by Cathedral High School. Many prominent Los Angelinos are buried there, including General Andres Pico, the first-generation Californio who fought in the Battle of San Pasqual during the Mexican-American War, signed the Treaty of Cahuenga, and became a California State Assemblyman. The cemetery showcased the diversity of settlers in Los Angeles, boasting tombstones written in Spanish, English, Italian, French, and German.

Here we see a family plot at the Old Calvary Cemetery.

old calvary cemetery

Security Pacific National Bank Collection, photo undated.

The New Calvary Catholic Cemetery, located at 4201 Whittier Boulevard in East Los Angeles, covers 137 acres and is owned by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. It is the final resting place of many celebrities and dignitaries including oil magnates Edward Doheny and Harry F. Sinclair, Archbishop of Los Angeles Timothy Manning, boxer Jose Yarba (Mexican Joe Rivers), musician Ferdinand “Jelly Roll” Morton, and thespians Ethel Barrymore, Lionel Barrymore, Ramon Novarro, Irene Dunne, Lou Costello, and Pola Negri.

new calvary church

Cary Moore Collection, photo taken by Cary Moore in 1991.

A faithful horse receives a proper funeral with a bugler playing reveille, a horsewoman bringing a wreath, and a crowd paying their respects.

horse funeral

Security Pacific National Bank Collection, photo taken in 1930.

Bringing It Down and Building It Up: Los Angeles Through the Lens of L. Mildred Harris

The online photo archive of the Los Angeles Public Library (TESSA) contains many photos taken by professional photographers, including images from Rolland Curtis, Lucille Stewart, Herman Schultheis, Gary Leonard, and Ansel Adams. These artists worked for magazines, advertising firms, newspapers, studios, and even government agencies. (Stewart worked for Fletcher Bowron, Mayor of Los Angeles from 1938 to 1953.) These photographers were well known and well-respected for their craft.

The collection also, however, showcases snapshots taken by people who did not have the title or training of a professional photographer but whose photos capture a moment, document an event, or memorialize a spot in sunny Southern California. These folks captured the history of the City as much as the professional photographers.

Not much is known about L. Mildred Harris. She was a secretary who worked for a Methodist church somewhere in greater Los Angeles. She took many photos of the City between the late 1940s and the early 1970s. These snapshots became a visual record of developments in Los Angeles – construction, renovations, additions, and demolitions – during the post-WWII boom years. Her photos wound up with her employer, a minister, whose daughter brought them to the Los Angeles Public Library and noted, “She [Harris] was my dad’s secretary and we have these photos. Do you want them?”

The Library took the images only to discover that they provide viewers with a stroll down memory lane and a chance to see places and parts of the City which no longer exist. Photography may have been Ms. Harris’s passion or perhaps just a hobby. She may, possibly, simply have had the habit of taking a stroll with camera in hand. No one knows for sure her motivation, but what is certain is that she captured Los Angeles at a time of great growth and change.

NOTE: All photos in this blog post are from the L. Mildred Harris Slide Collection of the Los Angeles Photographers Collection and were taken by L. Mildred Harris.

Fort Moore Hill was the original site of a U.S. military fort utilized during the Mexican-American war. Providing panoramic views of what is now downtown Los Angeles, Elysian Park, and Hollywood, it was situated above what is now the juncture of the Hollywood Freeway and Broadway Street. The fort was decommissioned in 1853 and the hill became the site of a cemetery, then a saloon, and later one of the toniest neighborhoods in the area – Bunker Hill. A tunnel was bored through Fort Moore Hill in 1901, with construction being so noisy and disruptive that wealthy residents abandoned the area and left their homes to become boarding houses. Most of the Hill was removed in the 1930s with the remainder leveled out in 1949 for the Hollywood Freeway. Ms. Harris wrote an article about the history of Fort Moore Hill for the Historical Society of Southern California Quarterly (Volume 32, No. 2, June 1950, pages 133-138) which can be found in the Reference Section at the Los Angeles Public Library or can be previewed and/or downloaded from the JSTOR database.

Ms. Harris was looking southeast from the L.A. Board of Education Administrative Offices when she took this photo. In the foreground, one can see Fort Moore Hill being removed. In the distance, one can see (from left to right) the U.S. Post Office and Courthouse, City Hall, and the Hall of Justice.

U.S. Post Office and City Hall in Los Angeles

August 2, 1949

Standing on the site of Fort Moore Hill during its excavation, one could look east and see the Post Office Terminal Annex (left), which was the main post office in Los Angeles. Built in the California Mission style in 1938, it processed over 4,000,000 pieces of mail daily until its decommission in 1994. Behind the Annex (in the distance) is Los Angeles County General Hospital.

fort moore hill removal

August 2, 1949

Many Victorian mansions on Bunker Hill were turned into hotels after their owners left them. From left to right in this photo, we can see the Melrose Hotel “Annex”, the original Melrose Hotel, and a glimpse of the Richelieu Hotel. All these hotels were on South Grand Avenue.

Melrose and Richelieu Hotels

April 16, 1955

Ms. Harris photographed the upper terminus of Angels Flight at its original location (juncture of Olive and 3rd Streets). Angels Flight, a funicular railway, opened in 1901 and ran for two uphill blocks, from the west corner of Hill Street at Third to its Olive Street terminus. The buildings on either side of the station were boardinghouses which would be demolished by the late 1960s during the redevelopment (and commercial construction) of Bunker Hill. This redevelopment also caused the dismantling of the original Angels Flight.

Angels Flight Original Station

April 16, 1955

The demolition of the Health Building at 167 W. Temple Street is seen here. On the left is City Hall and behind the demolition site is the original Hall of Records (which would eventually face demolition itself).

Health Building in Los Angeles

April 15, 1955

Here Ms. Harris captures the demolition of the Hall of Records in September of 1973. (If you click on the photo, you will see an enlargement that shows the California State Building just to the right. It would be demolished three years later.)

Los Angeles Hall of Records Demolition

March 22, 1973

The California State Building was a government office that opened in 1931 and stood at the corner of Broadway and 1st Street. (Its official address was 215 West 1st Street.) Forty years after it opened its doors, it was heavily damaged by the 1971 Sylmar Earthquake and became structurally unsafe. The 13-story Art Deco building was demolished in 1976. In this image, Ms. Harris captures the venue in all its glory (with City Hall peeking over its shoulder!)

california state building

May 11, 1950

Looking west from the City Hall, Ms. Harris points her camera at the future site of the Los Angeles County Courthouse, conceived as part of the 1947 Civic Center Master Plan which was to transform a large part of Bunker Hill into an axis of government buildings. The Courthouse formally opened on January 5, 1959. In 2002, it was renamed the Stanley Mosk Courthouse after former California Attorney General and California Supreme Court Justice Morey Stanley Mosk.

Los Angeles County Courthouse Construction

February 18, 1955

In this photograph, the imposing Los Angeles County Courthouse (designed to last 250 years!) is seen in the background of the construction site for the Los Angeles County Hall of Administration. Like the County Courthouse, the Hall of Administration would later be renamed in honor of a prominent Los Angeleno. The Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration was named after “Kenny” Hahn, a member of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors for forty years.

los angeles county hall of administration

May 25, 1957

Another bit of history that Ms. Harris captured was the construction of the Department of Water and Power Building. Completed in 1964, the building cost over $26,000,000. The building was renamed the John Ferraro Building in 2000 after long-serving Los Angeles City Council member John Ferraro.

department of water and power building

January 25, 1964

One week after Thanksgiving in 1970, Mildred focused her camera northwest from City Hall and snapped a shot that featured (from upper left to right) the DWP Building, the Music Center, the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, Hall of Administration, the new Hall of Records, the Criminal Courts Building (shown under construction), and the old Hall of Records (in foreground with spiked roof).

panoramic view of 1970 downtown los angeles

December 3, 1970

West Coast Radio City, an NBC radio facility designed in the Art Deco style, is seen here during the early stages of its demolition. (It would be replaced by a bank building in 1967.) Further south on Sunset Boulevard one sees the Sunset Vine Tower, the first skyscraper built in Los Angeles after the city repealed it building height limit of 14 stories.

west coast radio city

May 3, 1964

sunset vine tower

May 3, 1964

The Police Administration Building is captured in this photo, taken shortly after its completion. This police headquarters building was located in downtown Los Angeles and would serve as the main police station for over 50 years. In 1966, the building would be renamed Parker Center after Police Chief William H. Parker. (Alas, it also faces demolition to make way for a 28-story office building.)

police administration building

June 1, 1955

The Crocker Bank Tower was designed by architect William Pereira and is located at 611 West 6th Street in downtown Los Angeles. Ms. Harris took this photo a few months before its completion in 1967.

crocker bank tower

June 2, 1967

The Paramount Theatre, which opened as Grauman’s Metropolitan Theatre on January 26, 1923, with the premiere of the film “My American Wife” (and an in-person visit from the film’s star, Gloria Swanson), ranked as the largest movie theater in Los Angeles for many years, having the largest balcony and the longest projection throw in the city. In this image, Ms. Harris catches the grand dame as she makes a final bow.

Paramount Theatre in downtown los angeles

March 10, 1962

The statue of Felipe De Neve stands in the plaza of Los Angeles’ historic Olvera Street district. In the background is the Methodist Headquarters Building.

NOTE: It is possible that the Methodist Headquarters, later renamed Biscailuz Building, was the site of Ms. Harris’s employer, though this is not known for certain. She could have worked next door in the Plaza Methodist Church which was built on the site of the adobe owned by Augustin Olvera (the man for whom Olvera Street is named).

felipe de neve statue

March 16, 1956

Palm trees are being planted in Plaza Park (aka Father Serra Park) in downtown Los Angeles at the site which formerly housed the Dragon’s Den Restaurant and Casa de Lugo, the residence of Don Vincente Lugo, an early Los Angeles landowner and highly accomplished equestrian.

father serra park

November 2, 1955

Standing at the construction site for the Santa Ana Freeway (which commenced construction in 1947, was finished in 1956, and encompassed Interstate 5/US 101), Ms. Harris could look northeast and see (from left to right), Los Angeles Transit Lines street cars and the United States Post Office Terminal Annex. (Clicking on the photo enables you to see a Los Angeles Gas Company gas holder and La Plaza Church on the right side of the photo.)

santa ana freeway construction

May 8, 1950

Ms. Harris captures the crossover spot for the Hollywood, Santa Ana, Harbor, and Pasadena freeways (near the Los Angeles Civic Center) on St. Patrick’s Day. This is a truly historic photo as the freeways are open and THERE IS NO TRAFFIC! (Could it be that everyone was somewhere celebrating?)

los angeles freeway interchange

March 17, 1956

Thank you, L. Mildred Harris, for capturing L.A.’s history while it was being made!

So … what’s in your camera?

It’s Cool, It’s Hot, It Swings, It Slides … It’s Jazz (and it’s in L.A.)

Whether you want it hot or cool, swingin’ or slow, Dixieland or experimental, there’s jazz to fit your mood, mellow you out, pick you up. Jazz was born in New Orleans – the only place in the U.S. in the 1800s where slaves were allowed to own drums. This ability to own drums led many African slaves (particularly those from West Africa) to play their traditional music in order to keep their musical heritage alive. As New Orleans was a huge seaport, this traditional music became mixed with rhythms heard from ships coming from Cuba, the Caribbean and other islands, as well as from Europe. This hybrid music often incorporated lyrics from slave songs and spirituals.

When slavery was abolished in 1865, many slaves began musical careers, bringing this American-born and ever-evolving musical style to other parts of the country and later to the world. The word “jazz” – originating from the slang term “jasm” which meant pep or energy – came to encompass this new style of music. (The earliest written use of the word “jazz” is in an April 2, 1912 article in the Los Angeles Times. Ben Henderson, a pitcher for minor league baseball team Portland Beavers, described his pitch as a jazz ball “because it wobbles and you simply can’t do anything with it”.)

Jazz – considered to be America’s classical music – found a home in Los Angeles. The photo collection at the Los Angeles Public Library documents jazz in the City of Angels – clubs, concerts, big names, local bands – and shows that jazz is as diverse as Los Angeles itself.

[NOTE: Please click on individuals photos to view enlarged images and obtain more information about photo.]

In 1915, the California Eagle – an African-American-owned Los Angeles newspaper – began to refer to Central Avenue as the “Black Belt of the City”. Local businesses and churches promoted the area to African Americans and their efforts spurred a steady increase in African-American ownership of stores, restaurants, and other businesses as well as homes during the 1920s and 1930s. The 1940s, however, was a watershed moment for Central Avenue. Over 50,000 African Americans moved into the area during WWII – many to work in munitions factories and other defense-related jobs – and took up residence in and around the area south of downtown. Central Avenue, often referred to as “the Avenue”, boasted jazz clubs that were the place to hear live jazz performed by newcomers, up-and-comers, and jazz greats. Legendary music producer Quincy Jones stated, “I didn’t know where Sunset Boulevard was when I moved to L.A., but I sure knew Central.”

Club Alabam (originally titled The Apex Room) was a very popular jazz club located next to the Dunbar Hotel on Central Avenue in Los Angeles. Owned and operated by Curtis Mosby – “the mayor of Central Avenue” – it was one of the ritziest clubs in the area and was often visited by Hollywood’s elite as well as regular folk who wanted to enjoy a live show as well as good food.

A group enjoy a night out at Club Alabam.

club alabam

Shades of L.A. Collection: African American Community, photo taken in 1941.

A view of the luxurious interior of Club Alabam.

interior of club alabam

Shades of L.A. Collection: African American Community, photo taken in 1945.

Lionel Hampton (far left), a jazz musician, bandleader, and philanthropist, poses in a Cadillac convertible in front of the Alabam Club to advertise his upcoming shows at the Lincoln Theater, also known as “the West Coast Apollo”.

lionel hampton at club alabam

Shades of L.A. Collection: African American Community, photo taken in 1953.

A group of women enjoy jazz in the company of a group of sailors at The DownBeat Club, a popular nightclub at 4201 South Central Avenue in Los Angeles. The DownBeat was one of the first clubs to feature bebop music, was a favorite hangout for gangster Mickey Cohen, and was the scene for West Coast jazz great Charlie Parker’s return to performing after serving a stint in prison.

the downbeat

Shades of L.A. Collection: African American Collection, photo taken in 1944.

A group of women enjoy a night out at the Casablanca, a jazz nightclub on Central Avenue.

casablanca night club

Shades of L.A. Collection: African American Community, photo taken in 1942.

Clubgoers enjoy a night out at the Last Word, a Central Avenue jazz club across the street from The DownBeat Club.

the last word

Shades of L.A. Collection: African American Community, photo taken in 1941.

A jazz band plays at Dreamland Café on Central Avenue just south of downtown Los Angeles.

dreamland cafe

Shades of L.A. Collection: Mexican American Community, photo taken by Victoria Studio in 1922.

The Ferris Jazzland Revue Band – which featured a female drummer and female banjo player – poses for a portrait. Bandleader Bismark Ferris is at the far right (playing a saxophone).

ferris jazzland revue band

Shades of L.A. Collection: African American Community, photo taken in 1925.

The Lighthouse, a club/café in Hermosa Beach, began showcasing jazz in May of 1949. Featuring traveling groups and also its own Lighthouse All-Stars, the venue (known as the home of modern jazz on the West Coast) was the site of many recordings which captured the brilliance of musicians including Cannonball Adderly, Art Pepper, Ramsey Lewis, Mose Allison, and more. The Lighthouse featured an annual Easter Week Inter-Collegiate Jazz Festival in the late 1950s.

College age patrons enjoy jazz on the day before Palm Sunday (the Sunday before Easter Sunday) in 1959.

the Lighthouse in Hermosa Beach

Herald Examiner Collection, photo dated March 21, 1959.

Bassist Howard Rumsey (second from right) and his Lighthouse All Stars prepare to judge a competition at the Inter-Collegiate Jazz Festival held at the Lighthouse, an event that would draw hundreds of jazz fans.

lighthouse all stars

Herald Examiner Collection, photo taken by Howard Ballew on March 21, 1959.

A group of musicians (names unknown) play jazz during a performance at an unknown venue.

jazz musicians

Shades of L.A. Collection: African American Community, photo taken in 1945.

Jazz pianist Nat King Cole prepares to play a song at NBC Radio City West, which was located at Sunset and Vine in Hollywood.

nat king cole

Shades of L.A. Collection: African American Community, photo taken in 1949.

Albert Shearing was a British-born jazz pianist who relocated to the U.S., became a citizen, and wrote over 300 jazz songs including Lullaby of Birdland, East of the Sun (and West of the Moon), and September in the Rain. He recorded for various record labels and formed his own band, the George Shearing Quintet. Here we see him preparing to tape a radio show in his Toluca Lake home. Blind since birth, Shearing first began playing jazz while performing with an all-blind band in London.

albert shearing

Valley Times Collection, photo taken by George Brich on March 7, 1963.

Actress and chanteuse Dorothy Dandridge performs a jazz set with the Count Basie Orchestra in Los Angeles.

dorothy dandridge and count basie orchestra

Shades of L.A.: African American Community, photo taken by Ted Merriman in 1950.

Jazz musician Stan Getz (left with saxophone) performs with Astrud Gilberto, a female singer from Brazil, and Gary Burton, an American jazz vibraphonist. Getz was known as “the Sound”, Gilberto made her vocal debut with the hit song “The Girl From Ipanema”, and Burton developed the four-mallet technique of playing vibraphones and later pioneered fusion jazz. The trio performed at Shelly’s Manne-Hole, a small club in Hollywood, and drew standing-room-only crowds plus block-long lines.

stan getz

Valley Times Collection, photo taken by Steve Young on July 15, 1954.

Shelly’s Manne-Hole was a very popular (but very small) jazz club on Cahuenga Boulevard in Hollywood that hosted big names and little knowns.

shelley's manne-hole

William Reagh Collection, photo taken by William Reagh in 1970.

Jazz saxophonist Louie Armstrong (left) receives a plaque from Los Angeles council member Billy G. Mills.

louie armstrong

Roland Curtis Collection, photo taken by Roland Curtis on October 26, 1966.

Pianist Milcho Leviev (left) confers with fellow musicians during a rehearsal for the Olympic Jazz Festival, part of the citywide arts festival that preceded the Olympic Games being held in Los Angeles.

olympics jazz festival

Herald Examiner Collection, photo taken by Lisa Hatalsky on August 4, 1984.

Leonard Feather wrote extensively on jazz. He penned magazine articles, wrote musical reviews, compiled an encyclopedia on jazz, and also collaborated with comedian and radio/tv host Steve Allen in the creation of The Jazz Story: As Told By Steve Allen, a three-disc sound recording that captured various jazz performers performing various types of jazz between 1926 and 1957. Feather moved from London (his home town) to L.A.’s San Fernando Valley in 1960 with the goal of composing songs. In this photo, he and his wife Jane pose in their Southern California home.

leonard feather

Valley Times Collection, photo taken by George Brich on December 12, 1960.

If you wanted to look at jazz as well as listen to it, you would turn to jazz photographer Bob Douglas. Douglas began photographing local jazz clubs in Detroit before moving to Los Angeles in 1948. Working as a freelance photographer for various newspapers and private clients, he captured the L.A. jazz scene including the historic Central Avenue clubs, immortalizing jazz greats such as Nat King Cole, Duke Ellington, and Charlie Parker. Here the camera is turned on him.

bob douglas

Los Angeles Photographer’s Collection, photo taken by Roland Charles in 1996.

Jazz drummer Arnold Frank keeps the beat while Cleopatra, a 350-pound lioness, listens and relaxes at Drum City in Van Nuys, California. Arnold Frank was the owner of Drum City, selling new and used drum sets and providing drum instruction. Cleopatra was onsite to advertise an upcoming event for teenagers (which included jazz and drums but not lions). In jazz lingo, Cleo and Arnie are a couple of cool cats.

frank's drum shop

Valley Times Collection, photo taken by George Brich on March 23, 1963.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Southern Californians Learn Their Trade: Images from the Los Angeles Trade-Tech Collection

Founded in 1925 as the Frank Wiggins Trade School, Los Angeles Trade–Technical College (commonly referred to as L.A. Trade–Tech) is a public community college in Los Angeles. (The school was renamed Trade–Technical Junior College in 1954 and became part of the Los Angeles Community College District in 1969.) The oldest of the nine campuses of the Los Angeles Community College District, L.A. Trade-Tech offers Associate Degrees, certification programs, and coursework for transfer to four-year colleges or universities. The school has a rich history of preparing Southern Californians for professional positions in industries such as Culinary Arts, Cosmetology, Construction Technology, and Fashion Design.

The photo collection of the Los Angeles Public Library offers a historical look at L.A. Trade-Tech and its predecessor (Frank Wiggins Trade School) which shows how students were trained for careers in various occupations. (Note: With the exception of the first photograph [portrait of Frank Wiggins], all photos in this post are from the Los Angeles Trade-Tech Photo Collection. Dates for the photos are given if available. )

Born in Richmond, Indiana, in 1849, Frank Wiggins came to California in 1886 for what he expected to be a short visit. A sickly 17-year old, he was not expected to live long. Instead of dying, he regained his health, fell in love with Southern California, and became the first Secretary of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce in 1890. Wiggins was influential in the construction of the Los Angeles Aqueduct and the Port of Los Angeles. He spearheaded the annexation of the City of San Pedro and traveled to various fairs with exhibitions showcasing the multitude of California’s agricultural products. (He created a large elephant out of 850 pounds of California walnuts for the 1893 Chicago Worlds Fair. When not exhibiting at a fair or other event, the pachyderm resided at the Chamber of Commerce headquarters.) Innovative and tenacious, he was relentless in his marketing of Los Angeles as the perfect place to build a business, improve your health, raise a family, and forge a new life. (William Mulholland, engineer of the aqueduct and a personal friend of Wiggins, is purported to have said that the only way to stop the growth of Southern California would be to kill Frank Wiggins.)

Wiggins held the post of Secretary of the Chamber of Commerce until 1924 when he died on a steamship returning to Los Angeles from Cuba. The Frank Wiggins Trade School (now L.A. Trade-Tech) was founded and named in his honor in 1925.

frank wiggins

Herald Examiner Collection, photo taken by the George Steckel Studio of Los Angeles,
used in article dated March 16, 1935.

A group of students pose at the grand opening of the Frank Wiggins Trade School. The banners they wear signify the programs offered and skills taught at the school.

grand opening of frank wiggins trade school

Photo taken in 1926.

The Walter L. Dodge House (commonly referred to as the Dodge House) was designed by architect Irving Gill and built between 1914 and 1916. Located in West Hollywood, the house was a Spanish Mission style home that many architects considered a prototype of the Modernist movement. It featured cutting-edge innovations such as a garbage disposal in the kitchen and automatic car wash in the garage. The Dodge House was purchased by the L.A. Board of Education and used for classes and instruction purposes. In this photo, we see a student of the Frank Wiggins Household Service Training Program put the finishing touches on a cake at the Dodge House.

dodge house used for frank wiggins trade school

Photo taken in 1940.

A young woman, a student of the Household Service Training Program, practices the art of properly making a bed in a bedroom setting at the Dodge House.

household service training program at dodge house

Photo taken in 1940.

A culinary student at L.A. Trade-Tech practices cutting up fruit in stylish ways.

culinary arts student at l.a. trade-tech

Photo is undated.

Students studying food services at Frank Wiggins Trade School learn to use pastry bags.

pastry chef training

Photo is undated.

Students prepare to bake rolls using an industrial oven while an instructor oversees their work.

industrial baking

Photo is undated.

Two students of Frank Wiggins Trade School assist in the building of a small house. A sign on the wooden building identifies them as apprentices of the school.

frank wigging trade school construction classes

Photo is undated.

Carpentry students build a roof for a model home.

carpentry students

Photo is undated.

Students work on various projects in a wood shop class.

woodworking classes

Photo is undated.

Pictured is the patio of a home built by students of L.A. Trade-Tech. Students designed, built, furnished, and landscaped the house.

home construction by students

Photo is undated.

A student studying the construction trade adds finishing touches to a plastered wall.

plastering instruction

Photo is undated.

Students receive hands-on training in radio operations.

radio operations training

Photo taken in 1940.

Students learn to maintain and repair machinery.

machinery repair classes

Photo is undated.

In 1925, the apparel industry in Southern California was in dire need of well-trained professionals, from seamstresses to tailors to costume designers. Local garment manufacturers offered financial support to Frank Wiggins Trade School in order to create a program in apparel arts that would produce qualified professionals ready to meet the demands of the ever-growing clothing industry. The Fashion Design program continues today at L.A. Trade-Tech, making it the oldest such program in Los Angeles. In this photo, we see students learning the art of dressmaking.

apparel arts training

Photo taken in 1940.

A student pins a jacket together with precision.

tailoring classes

Photo is undated.

A student in the tailoring class fits a jacket on a man.

clothing alterations

Photo is undated.

A student studying millinery arts at Frank Wiggins Trade School adds some stylish touches to a hat.

millinery

Photo is undated.

An aspiring fashion illustrator puts the finishing touches on a drawing of a model.

fashion illustrator

Photo is undated.

Students studying the laundry trade at Frank Wiggins Trade School practice pressing and folding shirts.

laundry services

Photo is undated.

An instructor teaches a class in laundry techniques, helping keep Los Angeles clean and pressed. (Note: Prior to the 1950s, many people did not have washers and dryers in their homes [particularly if one was renting a room or apartment] and relied on knowledgeable dry cleaners and laundry services to properly wash and press their garments.)laundering instruction class

Photo is undated.

A cosmetology student prepares to style the hair of a patron.

hair styling

Photo is undated.

A cosmetology student applies curlers to a patron’s hair in the school’s training salon.

hair styling instruction

Photo is undated.

Students paint commercial signs while an instructor oversees and evaluates their work.

commercial signage classes

Photo is undated.

A poster painted in the Art Department of the Frank Wiggins Trade School advertises Armistice Day (now called Veteran’s Day).

armistice day poster

Photo is undated.