by Paul R. Spitzzeri
For this second and last of the two parts of this post featuring the 19 December 1909 edition of the Los Angeles Herald Sunday Magazine, we delve into more interesting material about greater Los Angeles and the Christmas season. One of the main features concerning the former is about Redondo Beach, the seaside resort town that emerged during the Boom of the 1880s after a previous development project, Centinela, of which land company F.P.F. Temple was president, failed in the mid-Seventies.
The same developers worked on both Redondo and its nearby sister town, Inglewood. As the former promoted its oceanfront amenities, including a grand hotel, one of the managers of the hostelry was the former managing cashier of the Temple and Workman bank, Henry S. Ledyard. Sadly, Ledyard’s short-lived tenure at the Hotel Redondo ended in his suicide in September 1890.
It was nearly two decades later that the promotional article was published in the magazine and, obviously, none of the sordid history was going to be related there! What was featured was the new bath house and salt-water plunge, one of a few (Santa Monica and Long Beach, for example, had well-known examples) on the coast. Naturally, Redondo’s was hailed as “without doubt the finest, best equipped and largest hot salt plunge in this country.
About 1000 gallons a minute was pumped into the enormous 220′ x 70′ pool after flowing through three tanks for heating and the trip were also drained, swept, flushed and refilled twice weekly. Beyond this, there were gymanstic rings, trapezes and slides and a “Baby pool” of a mere 2100 square feet and no more han two feet deep “in which the little tots may enjoy themselves by themselves in warm water.”
With “the most efficient life-guard corps on this coast,” it was boasted that there were no accidents, much less deaths, from drowning the last season even in the ocean, because “there is absolutely no undertow, which is the bugbear of other beaches.” Returning to the bathing facility, the article stated that there were several days when over 2,000 persons availed themselves of the plunge and the capacity of over 2,600 was reached on 29 August, a particularly hot day.
The plunge was also the scene of exhibitions of high and fancy diving and water polo matches, with spectators seated in capacious galleries overlooking the pool. It was added, with a good deal of pride, that “the Redondo Beach water polo team has never yet gone down to defeat.” The account concluded that “all in all, the bathing facilities at Redondo Beach cannot be beaten, and the new bath house is certainly doing its share in the good work of boosting Redondo Beach.”
A core component of the town’s success was the Los Angeles-Redondo Railway, without which the community “would be but a little bottled up seaport town.” Praise was heaped upon the foiunder of the railroad and the article gushed that “it is fortunate for Redondo Beach that Mr. [Henry E.] Huntington has chosen that city for his best efforts,” not just through the rail line “but in all else that pertains to the city’s material prosperity—its building interests and manufactures.” This included “Cliffton-by-the-Sea” an area of bluffs along which the Hotel Redondo was situated.
Also highlighted was the tax revenue, improvements made by Huntington and his partners, and the port, with the observation that one ship, the Carleton docked at Redondo because it was too large for San Pedro or San Diego and its massive cargo of Japanese-made railroad ties required 200 cars for transport. Statistics showed a large amount of lumber, as well as shingles, oil and other material imported, while exports were largely comprised of local oil.
Another notable feature concerns the California Fruit Growers’ Exchange and which was written by its president Francis Q. Story. He noted that a state citrus organization reported that there were 120,000 acres of orange and lemon orchards yielding about 14.5 million boxes of fruit with gross sales of over $36.6 million. Of this freight and other costs was more than a third, so the net total was not far south of $23 million and, generally speaking, the earnings per acre for the grower were between $1000 and $1100.
Story went on to report that there were about 10-12,000 growers in the state and some 150,000 laborers and their families connected t the industry. He added that the Exchange “meets weekly and its sessions are very strenuous” while there were inspectors at the major traffic routes west of the Missouri River reporting on the amoutn of fruit decay and other information.
For the Exchange for the year ending 31 August, there were 19,000 carloads of oranges and 4,000 of lemons sold with a gross amount of $22.6 million and net of $14.3 million, while for the three preceding years the total gross sale were $51.4 million, indicating the 1908-1909 year was particularly successful. Having the exchange, Story went on, helped keep commission merchants, buyers and speculators from being able to “make a football of the non-member of the exchange” because the organization’s methods led to a stable pricing structure.
Story also discussed the Fruit Growers’ Supply Company, established two years prior, to buy “all packing material used by the exchange growers” on long-term contracts to keep these items reasonably priced and to ward off gouging. Again, he noted, even non-member growers benefited because manufacturers had to give them the same price else those orchardists would rush to join the Exchange.
He concluded by stating that “it is the policy of the California Fruit Growers’ Exchange to put the fruit of its members on the market the year round . . . and to do all in its power to extend its district and to force sales through its advertising and its employe[e]s to every possible market . .” Moreover, an even market meant that wholesalers and retailers would sell on small margins, which they would not do if the markets were inconsistent “without a much higher leeway for profit.”
A very interesting piece was about a project that “Solves Problem of Harnessing Ocean Waves” in Huntington Beach thanks to the inventiveness of Alva L. Reynolds. He constructed a “wave motor wharf” with a pair of pumps on top of motors pulling water from the ocean and a federal engineer heading up the work at the Port of Los Angeles commented that using a horizontal approach to gathering sea water was a better method to avoid injury by waves, while having multiple motors and pumps meant that one could be repaired without shutting down the system.
Finally, the storage of power “will equalize the wave energy and thereby produce a steady output of power from the waves’ intermittent action.” The engineer Amos Fries felt the system should be a success, “though only a trial will demonstrate what it is capable of doing.” Promising though the enterprise may have appeared (and the editor of the Herald happened to be a director in the scheme), the wave motor company only lasted a few years—yet there is still talk of harnessing wave energy to create clean power, so who knows what the future may hold?
The common connection between Redondo Beach and Huntington Beach, of course, was Henry E. Huntington and it is not surprising to see a two-page feature on the Pacific Electric Railway, the “World’s Wonder Line.” It was asserted that no business “enters into the daily life of the populace so much as transportation by the trolley system” while the names of Huntington and the Pacific Electric, or PE, were in common parlance.
The piece noted that the PE began in March 1902 and the difference of “the Los Angeles of then and the great metropolis of today is the wonder of the whole world” as track mileage went from 75 to some 600 miles with nearly 500 pasenger cars and some 575 freight cars in operation and the number of employees amounting to about 4,200.
It was averred that the PE did not exist to extract the most money from the smallest outlay of funds, “but to give to the public every modern facility, convenience and advantage in order to promote travel and to build up the territory through which the road passes.” That last point was, in fact, the key, as it was not the cheap passenger fares or the freight charges that made Huntington and his associates their “pile” but the investment in land that multiplied greatly in value when a streetcar line was built to the locale. The real money in railroading was in land.
The article added that new lines were recently built to La Habra, Covina, Glendora, and Huntington Beach, while a Santa Ana line was expected to be completed by Independence Day 1910. To hammer home the point about real estate values, it as explained that every locality on a PE line saw population jump up as much as 100% in three years, while property values skyrocketed as much as 1000%, while farmland also benefited by having easier shipment of produce “which makes for the betterment of the community.” Retail busines was said to have grown by up to 50% because of access to rail lines, as well.
More striking is that the PE and others systems operated more than 1,400 cars per day, more than nine major cities, such as Chicago, Detroit, Indianapolis and others combined, even though the Angel City had only about 8% of the population of those localities. Beyond these statistics, the article noted that quality of the roadbeds, tracks, bridges and culverts, beautiful stations, and comfortable cars, while conductors, motormen and other empoloyees were lauded for their service and, because “they belong to no union, are never in discord with the company’s management, [and] are well-paid and contented.”
There is also a substantial Christmas Motor Section with an illustration of a bare-headed Santa Claus pondering his workmanship with a toy car made in his workshop. Articles discuss the growing use of the automobile in greater Los Angeles with many photos of sites to visit on pleasure drives; the importance of the Automobile Club of Southern California; the growing prevalence of “Women in Motordom,” though much attention is given to attire; a history of “automobile advancement” since the late 1890s; early days of local cars; and the improvement of roads, thanks to the work of the Auto Club.” Also of note are the many great advertisements.
As for the holidays, there are several Christmas short stories, including a mystery story called “The Colonel’s Christmas Pudding” by Fred M. White and which told of how Colonel Harold Stanton solved the mystery of stolen jewelry in a household by deducing that they were stolen by the cook and hidden in a dessert.
Mary Stewart Cutting’s “Violet’s Christmas Gift” is about a young girl who transforms an elderly man’s holiday with, instead of a present of handkerchiefs, mineral water, or hot water bags, an engine that not only strikes his fancy but gets him involved with “every man and boy” in the family.
There is also a review of “Washington Irving’s Old Christmas” based on his discussion of the holiday in his The Sketch Book, published in 1819-1820. A children’s story “Hunting for Santa Claus” is told through the eyes of a ten-year old boy and in the automotive section there is a short piece on “Xmas Toys for Girls and Boys” which notes that two popular gifts were a menagerie of animals for nature study and, especially for boys, a set for an expedition to the North Pole.
This “Happy-Land Edition” of the Herald’s Sunday magazine has a wealth of information, albeit of the booster type, and Christmas stories and other holiday content that are definitely interesting and enlightening and is an illuminating window into greater Los Angeles life over 110 years ago.