by Paul R. Spitzzeri
A previous post here examined the remarkable life and journalistic career of Sam T. Clover, who published Saturday Night, also known as Los Angeles Saturday Night from 1920 to 1934. While the magazine is not remembered much today, it was noteworthy for its overview of literary, society, current events, entertainment, business and other aspects of life in the region and more broadly. Clover, who was assisted by his wife Mabel Hitt, also had women contributors and he held some fairly advanced views on women serving in politics among others.
Tonight’s post looks at the 16 July edition of the journal with focus on a few interesting articles and items, starting with the cover feature about the development of “Industrial Hollywood.” The piece begins with the observation that “few people realize to what extent Hollywood. generally thought of as a ‘movie colony,” ‘home of the arts,’ and the like, has come to the front in a business way.”
This industrial section of the Los Angeles neighborhood was not marked by “tall chimneys, black smoke pall and roaring furnaces,” but, rather, of places where “a city must eat, have its clothes washed, its suits and dresses cleaned, its homes built, its streets paved and do a hundred-and-one other necessary things.”
The “Industrial Hollywood,” as shown in an aerial photograph, was a tract between Highland Avenue, La Brea Avenue, Romaine Street and Willoughby Street and was part of “the Hancock interests,” meaning G. Allan Hancock, the prominent figure most associated with the development of areas of Los Angeles along Wilshire Boulevard where his father, the prominent 19th century surveyor, Henry, owned much of Rancho La Brea. This was left to his widow Ida Haraszthy, daughter of one of the founders of the wine industry in Sonoma, and it was passed on by her to Allan, who was also very active in Santa Maria in northern Santa Barbara County.
Among those firms first in establishing in the new “Industrial Hollywood” areas was Crane Company, the plumbing firm still well-known for its products today, while much of the “tract is to be devoted to branch plant location.” This, apparently, was to service an “ever-increasing Hollywood and valley trade.” A benefit was that “the congestion of the metropolis is avoided, long and expensive hauls evaded and quick transportation assured.” This, it was averred, meant that “Hollywood’s new industrial center offers a strategic position for the manufacturer not easy to duplicate.”
The article ended by proclaiming that Hollywood was “first in the moving picture industry, in the world, unique in its natural amphitheaters, devoted to music and kindred arts, leading in its beautiful theaters and metropolitan cafés and now bidding strongly for industries!”
Not stated was that industrial development in the region, previously located in the section of downtown Los Angeles along the Los Angeles River, was also moving to the southeast where Vernon and City of Commerce are today. In future decades there was more development along the shoestring connecting the city to the Port of Los Angeles, the areas around the harbor (including that of Long Beach), and then to places like the City of Industry, established in the late fifties.
On the main editorial page is a piece under the heading of “Not Yet a Fait Accompli” and which concerned the order of the California Railroad Commission that the three main lines in the city—the Santa Fe, Union Pacific and Southern Pacific—”unite in the erection of a union passenger terminal in the plaza area of Los Angeles, to be completed and ready for operation within three years of the date of ratification of the findings by the interstate commerce commission . . .”
While the Union Station was, in fact, finally finished a dozen years later, in 1939, there was a vigorous effort to contest the order and Saturday Night took the position that it did not serve a broad public purpose to force the three lines to operate out of one facility. Such an act, it argued, “removes all initiative from the railroads” and was “an arbitrary demand.”
Moreover, it continued, because there was so little incoming rail travel transferring elsewhere in the region, “the public is not greatly concerned” where it disembarked. The Clovers asked “why should the Southern Pacific be compelled to abandon its handsome and comparatively new station at Central avenue and Fifth streets [sic], the Union Pacific to vacate its lease or the Santa Fe to leave its present site on which it is ready to erect a modern million-dollar station . . .?”
Finally, they pronounced, sounding much like the Los Angeles Times, champion of the so-called “open shop” that “the decision savors too much of union labor methods to be palatable to Southern California.” It added that “it is a sort of stand-and-deliver exaction which is relished as little by quasi-public utility bodies as by business houses and individuals.” The railroad commission went too far and it was hoped the interstate commerce commission would redress the error, but, if not, “the courts will so order.”
Another editorial addressed a “missionary from Inyo County, Mr. Nordskog” who spoke to the Women’s City Club about the damage down to Owens Valley by the seizure of land and water for the Los Angeles Aqueduct, then nearing fifteen years of age. The Clovers observed that he had a pair of bodyguards with him as he spoke to the club members and, while he spoke against the tendency of some agitators to bomb pipelines and otherwise try to undermine the delivery of water to the thirsty environs of greater Los Angeles, he warned listeners of “the possible results if Los Angeles will not listen to the plea of Owens Valley people for arbitration.”
The Clovers cited evidence purporting to show that “Owens Valley was enjoying far greater prosperity since the aqueduct was built than prior to that event” including new hotels and the fact that the City of Los Angeles paid some 45% of Inyo County taxes. In recent years, however, there have been efforts to restore more natural water supply to the Valley and provide other remediation for the effects more than a century of water transfer from the area to this region have had.
The “Los Angeles Society Notes” does provide a good idea of who constituted much of the readership, or, at least, the desired clientele, of Saturday Night. Among luminary families represented in the column were those of the Dohenys, John B. Miller (president of Southern California Edison), the O’Melvenys of the legal fraternity, the Tobermans, the Marbles (John M.C. Marble was among the best-known commercial real estate developers in Los Angeles), Harold Janss (a major figure in residential development throughout the region), and railroad figure Eli P. Clark.
Other areas with society notes included Pasadena and Flintridge, now La Cañada-Flintridge and it is interesting to see a brief note concerning the recent attention given at the Pasadena Community Playhouse to the work of Noel Coward, who was still under thirty and whose Easy Virtue was being performed at the venue. His star was rapidly ascending and, by decade’s end, he was widely known and acclaimed, though much of his greatest work came in the early Thirties with such works as Private Lives and Cavalcade.
The music page included a review of performances at the Hollywood Bowl and its orchestra under the direction of famed conductor Bruno Walter. though critic Bruno David Ussher offered the opinion that his appearances would “neither increase to any degree his internationally-established reputation as one of the foremost leaders of the day, nor would lesser success tarnish his baton.” This was because the four programs offered were “safe” in terms of content and was, allegedly, because of “not sufficient rehearsals” with an ensemble not the maestro’s own.
Consequently, Ussher recommended that the Bowl leadership consider having fewer guest conductors and allowing more rehearsal time so that there would “allow a wider inclusion of unfamiliar classics and important newer works.” To do so would, to his thinking, mean “programs through their inherent caliber must count as much as baton personalities.” The column heaped praise upon Alfred Hertz for his conducting of the Bowl orchestra and highlighted the solo work of local pianist Olga Steeb.
The “Theaters” page by Pearl Rall discussed a long-running and popular institution in local live theater, the Pilgrimage Play, discussed in a previous post here. Rall was enthralled with changes to the seventh season’s offering as she exclaimed that “never before has this spectacular pageant drama presented a more impressive effect.” This was due largely to the outdoor setting at the Pilgrimage Theater near the Hollywood Bowl where the John Anson Ford Theatre is today.
Rall rhapsodized about the beautiful environs and its “starry canopy of heaven” as “a glorious moon lighted the scene from overhead and the crickets and summer inhabitants of the thickets tuned their songs as an accompaniment to the colorful scenes of the one scrap of idealism left to modern civilization as yet.” She also noted the timeliness of the year’s production with the showing at Grauman’s Chinese Theater nearby of Cecil B. DeMille’s epic King of Kings.
Regarding the screen epic, Rall reported that there were plans to translate the titles of the film in twenty-seven languages “more than four times the number previously employed in films of super-special caliber.” It was expected that DeMille’s epic would be a great success in Africa, “Asia-Minor,” the Far East, the “South seas,” and South America as well as in North America and Europe. Notably, she concluded her report by stating just as “enthusiastic reports are furthering curiosity and box office response so are the widely varying criticisms as to its possible weaknesses and variance from the best presentation of the Savior’s life and mission on earth.”
Returning to the earthbound pursuits of business and high finance, the “Business and Financial Review” included the important news that two of Los Angeles’ leading financial institutions were prepared to merge. Pacific-Southwest Trust and Savings Bank and the First National Bank of Los Angeles, the latter led by the prominent financier Henry M. Robinson and who would retain a major role in the consolidated enterprise. Chairman of the Board would be First National’s John M. Elliott, who had a large avocado and citrus ranch near the Homestead in North Whittier (later, Hacienda) Heights.
The idea with the merger was to increase First National’s capital to over $12 million, while lowering its stock price from $100 to $25 and allowing for nearly a half million shares. The affiliated First Securities Company would have a similar increase in capital and to acquire 5,000 shares of the repriced First National stock at a $75 per share price so that there would be a total of more than $10 million in capital added to the new firms.
With the fiscal year just completed, this section also had reports on profits from such major local firms as the Los Angeles Investment Company and the Union Oil Company., with the former reporting “greater earnings from real estate operations” and the latter showing a slight reduction in net profits from the first six months of 1926 due to lower oil prices, though president William L. Stewart anticipated higher prices for the second half of 1927.
In “Highlights of the Harbor” it was reported that the “movement of citrus fruits by water,” an aspect of export by freight from the region usually buried among general figures of tonnage reported from the greatly expanding facility, included nearly a million boxes during the 1926-27 fiscal year. This was more than 400,000 boxes than shipped out the previous year and included almost 750,000 boxes of oranges, close to 150,000 of lemons and about 85,000 of grapefruit. The largest destination was continental Europe, followed by Canada, Japan, England, Hawaii and New Zealand. As for oil shipments, nineteen tankers carried a record 1.4 million barrels in a recent 24-hour period, establishing a record.
We close with a fascinating statistical table of “Population and Nationalities” in the “Fact a Day About Los Angeles” feature and which showed figures for 1926 of twenty-two “nationalities” within the city’s 1,300,000 residents, more than double that roughly 575,000 souls enumerated in the 1920 census. The table is reproduced here, though note that what is identified as a “nationality” includes the reported population of “Negroes,” who, of course, were mostly American-born. This was presumably true of many of those listed as Mexicans, though it is not stated whether place of birth was used for the classifications.
This edition of Saturday Night is, as publications tend to be, an interesting and informative snapshot of life in Los Angeles and its environs in summer 1927 as the region continued to experience general growth of dramatic proportions, but was two years away from the shock of the Great Depression. It was during the depths of that period that the Clovers passed away, leading to the closure of the magazine in 1934 after nearly fifteen years of publication.