by Paul R. Spitzzeri
Three years ago, a post on this blog featured the 29 September 1929 Sunday Los Angeles Times supplement for children called The Junior Times. Obviously conceived as a way to groom future adults subscribers to the paper, the supplement featured serialized short stories, games, poems, humor and syndicated content such as J. Carroll Mansfield’s “High Lights of History.”
This latter ran in American papers for about fifteen years from the mid-Twenties to the end of the Thirties until it briefly ran under the banner of “Would You Believe It?” Mansfield (1896-1957) had several other features during his career, but “High Lights of History” was certainly interesting for the relatively copious amount of text accompanying the renderings.
The one here is chapter 135 comprising “Medical Science in Olden Times” and ranging from ancient Egyptian treatment to the work of Hippocrates, for whom the famous oath was named, to the work of Arabs in the Medieval period when European “physicians” relied on astrology and magic. As always, the end of the “High Lights of History” chapter was accompanied by a statement that “If You Save This Page Each Week You Will Have a Complete History of Man.” At the top is a strip asking readers to identify such historical figures, whose identities were to be shared the following week.
Another syndicated artist featured in The Junior Times was Herb Roth (1887-1953), a native of San Francisco and skilled boxer whose rendering of “The Gay Nineties” was part of a dominoes game, the answer for which was found on the last page of the publication. Roth’s illustrations were featured in the New York Tribune and New York World newspapers, many books, including by Donald Ogden Stewart and Will Rogers, and as assistant and “ghost artist” for H.T. Webster’s popular “Timid Soul” comic strip. In 1947, he drew a syndicated strip version of Mighty Mouse, but it never made it into syndication.
Then there was Arthur W. Nugent (1891-1975), a champion acrobat who took up drawing while serving in World War I. He found his niche as a puzzle cartoonist for the New York World and his “A Marking Problem” from The Junior Times may be from his “Puzzlers” series, developed for the New York paper in 1927. From the mid-1930s to mid-1950s, he had a weekly feature called “Uncle Art’s Funland” that was syndicated from 1950 until 1991 and again from 2009. His namesake son assisted his father for many years and took over the Funland feature in the early Seventies.
As for the members of the “Times Junior Club” who made contributions of varying kinds to the publication, they included Alex Melancon’s story “The Cracked Mirror;” Elmer Mateas’ “The Wildflower;” Clara Scott’s “Midnight Marauders;” Mabel Walton (from “North San Gabriel,” a part of the mission city bordering San Marino) and her “The King With a Grouch;” Albert Decker, a teen from Glendale, and his “A Battle;” and Martha Davis’ “Destiny,” which had a Spanish California theme based in San Francisco with the protagonist being “Don Carlos” and another a “Father Sarria,” obviously this latter modeled on Junipero Serra, founder of many of Alta California’s missions.
“Jane’s Cooking Corner” included submitted recipes for frosting, Chocolate Cake Supreme, and Stew and Dumplings. Tillie King of Harbor City, part of the infamous “shoestring” connecting the Angel City to the Port of Los Angeles, wrote an advice piece called “Why Worry?” in which she stated that “you can easily banish your worry by building a high degree of self-confidence, and in his way avoid worry, real or imaginary, and if any other grievances come into your life you will be able to lose or overcome them in your daily work.”
As for the versification, examples included Margaret Blaettler’s “Repose,” which reads “The golden poppies / Sleeping in the quiet night / Are resting, weary, / After hours of wakefulness, / Throughout the golden day time,” while more philosophical and probably penned by a teen is Bernard Rosenhouse’s “Daily Observations” in which he ruminated that:
There are men
And more men, too—
And of courage
Of kindly mien,
And noble birth
Rests the earth.
There are men
To depths of shame
And there are
Who patiently climb
To heights of
But the greatest of
Is the common
Who does his bit
Each coming day
In his own
Glyndale Walsh submitted a brief explanation of “The New Currency,” in which she listed which figures were depicted on the eleven bills then in use and which, in July, were issued in a more compact size, 25% smaller than before, to save printing costs, but which also provided the opportunity to standardize designs as well as the use of color-coded seals and serial numbers to try and ward off counterfeiters and trace stolen bills.
While we recognize the denominations from $1 to $100 with the portraits of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Hamilton, Jackson, Grant and Franklin, and debate continues about how much of these to change to diversify the figures, we have long stopped using the $500, $1,000, $5,000 and $10,000 bills, which had McKinley, Cleveland, Madison and Salmon P. Chase (former Secretary of the Treasury and Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court) on them.
The “Our Roll of Honor” section recognized contributions from those in groups of the “Art Workers’ Club” and the “Writers’ Club.” Of these, there were only a few names that could easily be recognized as those of people of color, including art worker Henry Takahashi and writers Marie Yakawa and Lily Fujimoto, with Ruth Romerio (Romero?) and Ella Leon possibly being others.
“Aunt Dolly” who contributed a front page story called “The Magic City” had a regular letters column, with correspondents offering praise for The Junior Times, thanking her for advice and submitting material, with John Copeland of Tujunga writing of a trail in the San Gabriel Mountains that, to his chagrin, featured cans, boxes, gum wrappers, glass and other trash from those “who seemed not to care for what nature had to offer” as he and his fellow hikers “arrived in civilization!”
A real highlight of The Junior Times was the quality of the cartoons and drawings and one of these, on the front page, advertised a request for artists and writers to send in their submissions for the upcoming holidays of Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day, with the cartoon by Philip de Lara. He was also shown photographically astride a shark in “his favorite creation of the deep and salty seas,” merging his interests in photography and drawing, while the Cartoons section on the last page includes another ocean cartoon of his.
De Lara (1914-1973) went on to a lengthy career in the animated film industry, including most of a quarter century from the mid-1930s through mid-1950s at Warner Brothers. He was the principal artist for the Daffy Duck cartoons, as well as worked with famous characters like Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, Elmer Fudd, Tweety and Sylvester, Speedy Gonzales and the Tasmanian Devil. He also was involved with the great MGM series, “Tom and Jerry,” with Walter Lantz in the last half of the Fifties and early Sixties, with Disney for renderings of Donald Duck, Goofy and Chip ‘n Dale and, finally, for Hanna-Barbera. There he worked on The Flintstones, The Jetsons, Yogi Bear, Huckleberry Hound and Scooby-Doo.
Ed Benedict (1912-2006) illustrated the Melancon story, though there was not a contribution for this issue’s installment. In 1930, having completed high school, Benedict went to work for Walt Disney, followed by stints at Universal and MGM, where he worked at both for Tex Avery. In 1957, he joined the newly formed Hanna-Barbera studio and was a primary animator for Yogi Bear and The Flintstones, Quickdraw McGraw, Snagglepuss and Huckleberry Hound. His later years consisted of freelance work, though he was often dismissive of his years in the business.
Other artists did not achieve the renown of de Lara and Benedict, but Ed Shultz, Laura R. Brock (who created a syndicated paper doll series in the mid-1930s), Eleanor Becker, Chester Heiskell, Jimmie Hauptman, and Joe Becker also made contributions of cartoons and drawing. The young illustrator who provided the drawings for the top of the “Cartoons” section mentioned above was Long-Beach native Al Kaelin (1915-2006), who’d just turned 14 when this issue was published and whose first artwork seen in public was from The Junior Times.
He went on to study at UCLA and the Art Center College of Design, was a violinist and saxophonist, served in the Air Force during World War II, and taught high school for over 40 years, in addition to doing freelance art direction for political campaigns and had a cartoon in the local Catholic newspaper, The Tidings. Lastly, it bears noting that he was the secretary Inter-Global Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Cartoonists!
Finally, the Times had a full-page ad for those readers who secured other subscriptions, offered through its Junior Sales Division, so that those who found anyone willing to pay 90 cents per month for local delivery, $1.05 within the state and adjacent ones and $1.50 for the rest of the country, could choose from such prizes as a set of eight puzzles, an electric popcorn popper, a genuine Red Grange (the gridiron star for the Chicago Bears) football, and others.
It’s too bad the Museum’s holdings only contain two editions of The Junior Times because they are fascinating artifacts specifically concerning children and it can be pretty challenging to find regional historic artifacts from our interpretive period of 1830 to 1930 that pertain to young people. Still, the pair that we have are certainly interesting and now both have been featured on this blog.