Sunday, April 29, 2018

F. B. Silverwood and Our State Song (Part 10)

Senaida Sullivan, 1965
 [Continued from Part 9]

More than twenty five years after Silverwood's death, Senaida Sullivan, state music chairman of the Native Daughters of the Golden West, with support from her organization and the Al Malaikah Shrine, led the lobby to have "I Love You, California" made the official state song. Many other state songs had been posited over the years, but none of the others had staying power. Senator Jack Tenney and Assemblyman Frank Lanterman (who loved playing the song on pipe organ) made the case to the California State Legislature. In 1951, their resolution passed. However, equivocating politicians had reworded the language to make "I Love You, California" “an” official state song, but not “the” official state song, leaving room for future waffling.
Silverwoods president Stephen C. Bilheimer (right) cuts ribbon at first Orange County store, at the Broadway Center on Euclid Ave. Anaheim, April 5, 1957.
In 1984, Assemblyman Dan Hauser authored a bill to officially make “'California, Here I Come,” our state song. It was defeated 41 to 30. Hauser complained that “I Love You, California” should be relegated to “state hymn or even better, funeral dirge.”

In 1987, to honor the memory of Frank Lanterman, (but because the song was falling out of copyright the following year), freshman Assemblyman Tim Leslie proposed a bill to unequivocally make “I Love You, California” THE state song. The idea was not universally loved. “I can't believe we're doing this,” said Assemblyman Dave Elder. “It might've sounded great on Frank Lanterman's organ after about four drinks -- if you had them, not him.” Assemblywoman Jackie Speier flat-out called it “a terrible song.”
Frank D. Lanterman at the organ.
Yet somehow the measure passed and was put into effect in 1988. It had been seventy five years since Silverwood published the song, but it finally fulfilled its intended roll. It may have sounded leaden to 1987 ears (accustomed as they were to modern talent like Whitesnake, Wang Chung and Kenny G), but its time had finally come.

Silverwood’s chain of stores grew along with Southern California, added women’s professional apparel to their repertoire, moved their headquarters to Santa Ana, and became part of the family of Hartmarx Specialty Stores. They closed after the 1991 Christmas season due to slumping sales.
Silverwoods (on left) at Fashion Island, Newport Beach, circa late 1970s.
In 1924, the year of his death, Frank Silverwood wrote a poem entitled “Just Tell Him Now” that was not only prescient but also seemed to capture his philosophy.

Just Tell Him Now

If with pleasure you are viewing any work a man is doing,
If you like him or you love him, tell him now;
Don't withhold your approbation till the parson makes oration,
And he lies with snowing lilies o'er his brow;
For no matter how you shout it, he won't really care about it,
He won't know how many teardrops you have shed.
If you think some praise is due him,
Now's the time to slip it to him,
For he cannot read his tombstone when he's dead.

More than fame and more than money,
Is the comment, kind and sunny,
And the hearty, warm approval of a friend;
For it gives to life a savor, makes you richer, stronger, braver--
Gives you heart and hope and courage to the end.
If he earns your praise, bestow it;
If you like him, let him know it;
Let the word of true encouragement be said.
Do not wait till life is over and he's underneath the clover,
For he cannot read his tombstone when he's dead.

Indeed, Daddy Silverwood isn’t reading many tombstones (or blogs) these days, either. But we Californians really should return his love by at least remembering him and by singing our state song.
Francis B. "Daddy" Silverwood, 1920.
[Click here to return to Part 1]

Friday, April 27, 2018

Thar she blows!

Okay,... So this has nothing particularly to do with Orange County history, unless you take into account that whales were once hunted off our coast. But I'm posting it specifically with my friend Bob Minty of Dana Point in mind. Bob portrays Richard Henry Dana at events on the Pilgrim, and he's a great collector of information about whales and the old whaling industry. If there's something he hasn't seen yet, perhaps it's this: Whale bone toilet seats!

Yes, we once slaughtered the whales wholesale -- not just for oil and ambergris, but also as something to poop on.  I stumbled across the ad in the pages of the Feb. 1922 issue of The American School Board Journal, which advertised nearly every product a school could want, from fire escapes to crayons.

Update: Bob has already responded: "The term 'whale bone' referred to baleen (not skeletal bones).  They used baleen for anything where we use plastic today."

I then asked him if that meant "whale bone corsets" were actually made of baleen.
Bob Minty at the Dana Point Historical Society, circa 2016.
"Yes," he replied. "Corsets, combs, policeman’s saps, buggy whips, bedsprings, fishing poles were all made from whalebone (baleen). When baleen is heated, it can be bent or twisted to any shape. The only use for skeletal bone, other than fertilizer, was to whiten cane sugar during the refining process.  (C&H Sugar -Terminal Island)."

"Another odd idea was  Mr. Wrigley (of gum and Catalina Island fame) wanted to develop a whale milk farm. They would use Orca whales as 'sheep dogs'.  I have the newspaper article."

Thursday, April 26, 2018

F. B. Silverwood and Our State Song (Part 8)

Frank B. "Daddy" Silverwood, circa 1920.
 [Continued from Part 7]

By the early 1920s, Francis B. Silverwood’s menswear chain had five stores throughout Los Angeles County, and it would continue to grow. Every Monday he set out letters (a.k.a. “wise talks from the office boy”) to his sales staff, sharing his thoughts on how business should be conducted, professional self-help tips, and how customers should be treated.

“I want the man in overalls to receive the same polite attention as the man in the silk hat and frock coat," he wrote in 1915. "I want the looker to be accorded the same attention as the buyer: A looker to-day is a buyer to-morrow. What is needed most in business to-day is more kindness. I want you to do unto others as tho you were the others. I want you to love your work and cultivate a happy disposition: happiness is a habit and I want every Silverwood employee to get the habit.”
Silverwood's store at 6th St. & Broadway, Los Angeles. (Photo courtesy
In another such letter he promised, "If your heart is in your work you won't have to proclaim your progress: you'll be so conspicuous I'll discover it long before you do. If you outgrow your job I'll make a bigger one for you. Don't think because you don't see me every hour of every day that I'm not keeping a line on you..."

In 1920, Silverwood opened a large new flagship store on the northeast corner of 6th St. and Broadway in downtown Los Angeles, replacing a smaller one at the same intersection.  The new store was said to be the largest retail clothing store in the United States.
Silverwood's at 6th St. & Broadway, circa 1905. Note sign reading, "Home of Silverwood's Office Boy." (Photo courtesy L.A. Public Library)
Next time: Departures

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

F. B. Silverwood and Our State Song (Part 9)

Frank Silverwood's 1922 passport photo.
[Continued from Part 8]

In early 1922, Silverwood handed over the reins of his company to his longtime business partner George E. Nagel and planned the vacation of a lifetime. Having already been around the world twice, this time he applied for a passport that cleared him for visits to India, Constantinople, Java, Australia, New Zealand, Tahiti, Borneo, Burma (Myanmar), Tahiti, the Cook Islands, Tonga, Greece, the Society Islands, Italy, France, the British Isles, Spain, Egypt, Switzerland, Belgium Holland, and part of what’s now Malaysia. In reality, he spent most of the next two years in Australia.

In January 1924, Silverwood suffered a stroke in Honolulu while headed back toward California for a visit. It was the beginning of the end for him. George E. Nagel – now head of the F.B. Silverwood Co. – left for Hawaii to attend to him and to bring him back to Los Angeles.
George Nagel in 1931.
For all his business success and charitable work, Silverwood’s most famous contribution would remain “I Love You, California.” Silverwood wrote other songs, of which he once said, “Oh, I'm no poet. I just want to keep the cheer-music going, so I write jingles.” (And none of those jingles proved as popular as his ode to the Golden State, which he’d felt so strongly about.) His other works included "The Golden Poppy" (1922, with music by Raymond Hubbel), a number of Hawaii-influenced numbers like “Honolulu, I’m Coming Back Again” (music by David S. Lindeman), and the more philosophical "We Want the Flowers Now" (1917, with music by Byron Gay). After suffering a stroke in 1924, lying on his deathbed, he turned to a relative and quipped, "Well, I'm getting my flowers now, anyhow."

Francis B. Silverwood died on March 11, 1924, in Los Angeles, with less than $10,000 to his name, having shared much of his business' success with his employees via profit-sharing, having spent a good deal on travel, and having given much more of his personal wealth to charity. He also gave many large gifts to friends and loyal employees in his later years.

Next time: We Finally Get A State Song!

Friday, April 20, 2018

Pioneer Preacher Puts Gospel in Gospel Swamp

Rev. Isaac Hickey
Isaac Hickey was born to John and Sarah Hickey in Marion, Tennessee on May 29, 1819. At the age of 20, he married Malinda Jane Marshall in Tennessee and the couple soon moved to Titus County, Texas where they began their family. Over the course of 25 years they had 15 children.

Sometime between early 1863 and the beginning of 1866, Rev. and Mrs. Hickey and some of their many children trekked from Texas to California along with twenty-five other families in ox-drawn wagons. The arduous trip took nine months. They initially stopped in San Bernardino and and settled in the Rincon ranch area near Chino in 1868. Isaac, an ordained Baptist minister, became the founding pastor of a Baptist congregation that met in the El Rincon schoolhouse.

Soon thereafter, the family uprooted to Julian, California, where Isaac again served as a preacher.

In those days, unclaimed public land was considered open for homesteading. The Santa Ana River - which had long been used as the boundary line for several ranchos - had changed course in 1825, leaving ownership of the rich and damp land between the new and old channels hazy. In 1870, the Hickeys, like many other families, saw an opportunity for free land and moved to this apparent no-mans land.

Specifically, Isaac and Malinda Hickey moved to the marshy southern outskirts of the new township of Santa Ana. Some of their children settled on adjacent parcels. Together the property was known to locals as Hickey's Settlement.

Isaac Hickey listed himself as a “Trader” on his voter registration entry, but he made his mark in the community as a bible-thumping preacher. Hickey, said historian Jim Sleeper, "sloshed his way into this rich over-flow land" to bring salvation to anyone who'd accept it. He had a fire and brimstone style of preaching, which he said was his way of "paving the way for the kid-glove men who would come in the future." Hickey volunteered his services without pay at a small nondenominational church that served most of Santa Ana and he was said to be the first to preach a sermon in the town.
Malinda Jane Hickey
He would also serve as the first pastor of what became the First Baptist Church of Santa Ana, where the parishioners called Isaac and his wife “Father and Mother Hickey.” There were initially only thirteen Baptist Church members: Rev. Isaac and Malinda Hickey, son John Hickey and hiswife, a young “Miss Hickey,” G. L. Russell and his wife, Robert English and his wife, Mrs. William Tedford, Mrs. Orma G. Vance, Miss Annie Cozad (Santa Ana's first school teacher), and Mrs. Lizzie Sears.

Until March 1871, when services began to be held in the newly built schoolhouse at Sixth and Main St., most services were held in members' homes. After one of these animated residential gatherings, a well-known local grumbler named George Lynch declared that "Gospel Swamp" would be a good name for the community. The name stuck and was reinforced by others (mostly protestant Southerners along with some Reorganized L.D.S.) who also came to the marshland and preached, held revival meetings and practiced their faith among the tule weeds. Even today, one occasionally hears the name Gospel Swamp attached to the South Santa Ana area (or sometimes erroneously to less gospel-y/swamp-y parts of Fountain Valley or Huntington Beach).

The Hickeys and their neighbors came in for a rude awakening when the Stearns Rancho Co. claimed ownership of the land they'd be living on. The company owned the Rancho Las Bolsas, from which the river had cut the disputed territory. Largely fruitless attempts were made to shoo the squatters off the land. Finally, in 1877, the federal government decided that the land between the old and new river channels was still part of the Rancho Las Bolsas. Legal challenges raged for several years until eviction notices were issued in October 1879. A few squatters were able to buy the land they'd lived on, but most moved away. One of the most popular resettlement spots was Julian, where the Hickeys had lived prior to Santa Ana.

But the Hickeys weren't headed back to Julian. From at least 1878 through at least 1882 they lived and farmed just outside Phoenix, in Arizona Territory. In July 1879, Isaac and Malinda were called as witnesses in the trial of their teenage son, Price L. Hickey, who had been arrested for robbing the Wells Fargo stagecoach. (Price was not found guilty, went on to become a prospector, and returned to Santa Ana prior to 1900 to raise his own family.)

Isaac Hickey died on January 11, 1893, in Creston, California. A street in Santa Ana was named for him, but has since been renamed 8th Street.

A 2013 Orange County Register article declared that Hickey was "a man lost to time," and that "his existence is now condensed to a few passing references in history books and essays." Let's hope this blog post helps raise his profile a little.

[Addendum: Anyone wanting to do further research on Isaac Hickey would probably be well served to check with the Santa Ana History Room at the Santa Ana Public Library. When the First Baptist Church of Santa Ana was closing up shop, I helped shepherd their records over to SAPL. I'm not sure if that collection is processed and available for research as of this writing, but if not, it should be someday soon. Another good resource would be historian Carolyn Christian, who's done a great deal of good work on Gospel Swamp, albeit more often from the RLDS side of things.]

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

F. B. Silverwood and Our State Song (Part 7)

Happie Winckler with inset photo of Frank Silverwood
[Continued from Part 6]

In 1919, Silverwood met Happie Cora Winckler of San Francisco while heading west on a cross-country train trip. Happie was a Wisconsin native, a recent divorcee, and was about 30 years Frank’s junior. Prior to her arrival in San Francisco, she’d lived in Chicago with her husband, German merchant Otto W. Winckler, and she was still best known as a Chicago socialite. Over the next year or so, Silverwood frequently took the train north to visit Happie, who lived at the Chancellor Hotel in San Francisco. In late 1920, impending nuptials were announced.

Silverwood invited 500 guests to his Dec. 8 stag party, held at the ritzy Jonathan Club, where he’d kept his bachelor’s quarters for over a decade. The elaborate invitation featured images of Happie, a gold wedding ring inscribed with "Fifty-Fifty" (a favorite Silverwood phrase), and the home he’d purchased for their new married life. He called the home Happyland, in her honor, and under its image was written, "Where the Welcome Signs Are Always Out to Daddy's Friends."
Cover of Silverwood's stag party invitation.
After the party, he headed north to San Francisco, to marry Happie on Dec. 14, 1920. They were married by Judge Thomas F. Graham at the home of Col. James H. Fannin near the Presidio. In contrast to the enormous stag party guest list, the wedding guests were few. They included Mr. and Mrs. Joe Dowling, Mrs. M. Cooke, Mr. and Mrs. Fanning, and Mr. and Mrs. George E. Nagel. The newspapers said, it was the third marriage for each of them, although only the one other marriage, to Marie Funk, can be found for Silverwood.

Frank and Happie spent a month-long honeymoon in Hawaii, where they were feted by local Shriners and the Honolulu Chamber of Commerce (for whom Frank had written a song). The "dashing and beautiful... Mrs. Silverwood proved herself a great favorite here," said the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. But Frank and Happie were becoming less enamored of each other by the day. 

Returning to California, they settled into Happyland at 760 E. Sycamore Dr., in Eagle Rock. The house had been built in 1904 by James Fulmer and it was not far from the Strickland Home (renamed the Optimist Boys Home and Ranch.)
All was not happy in Happyland. Apparently, Happie found Frank to be morose, temperamental, and generally a party poop. And Frank wasn’t happy with Happie, either. In early August of 1921, he told Happie he was sorry he had married her, had regretted it from the day of the wedding, and that she had best pack her things and leave." Happie filed for divorce in San Francisco after only nine months of marriage, hiring bigshot attorney Harry I. Stafford and telling the court she was "Happie by name, happy by disposition, but unhappy as a wife.'" The divorce was finalized on December 27, 1921 in San Francisco Superior Court. Happie failed to get the $100,000 cash settlement she sought, but came away with $32,000, a big automobile, and a large amount of Southern California real estate.

Within a few years, the land surrounding their Eagle Rock home was subdivided by developer R.C. Blackmer into residential lots sold under the banner of “Silverwood’s Happyland.” It’s now the Happyland Residential Historic District.

Happie Silverwood was still living in San Francisco in 1926, after which here whereabouts are unknown.
Happie Winckler Silverwood

Next time: The Wise Office Boy

Thursday, April 12, 2018

F. B. Silverwood and Our State Song (Part 6)

Silverwood surrounded by newsboys.
[Continued from Part 5]

Remembering his difficult years as a newsboy in New York, Frank Silverwood thought of a way to use music to change the lives of newsboys throughout the country. In 1909, he made an offer to an initial group of 500 newsboys: He would send them six copies of a popular song, which they could sell for 25 cents each. Of the resulting $1.50, 25 cents went to the publisher, 25 cents went to the newsboy, and Silverwood used the remaining $1 to start a bank account for the lad. If the account remained open for five years, Silverwood would deposit a dollar of his own for every dollar added by the boy in the interim. By 1920 he had already given away countless thousands of dollars to some 12,000 newsboys across the country.
Shriners at Bluebird Studios in Universal City in 1917 hear actress Dorothy Phillips (right) sing the new Silverwood song, "Honolulu, I'm Coming Back Again." The song was adopted by the Honolulu Chamber of  Commerce and Hawaii's Shriners. (Daddy Silverwood seen on the left.)
Daddy Silverwood wanted each lad to learn to save and invest and to "decide to be one of the great men of the future." In a letter to them, he wrote, "You are living in a land where nobody is held down by caste -- in a country where poor boys from the farm go to the White House; where brakemen, and even section hands, become railway presidents; where the poorest boys become our merchant princes; where the factories and institutions of every description are built up by boys who have had no opportunity except their own energy and their own integrity."

Although he was a benefactor to poor newsboys and various community charities and even served as president of the Strickland Home for Probation Boys, Silverwood had long shunned personal publicity for these efforts. But when word got out about his newsboy project, he found that other wealthy businessmen were copying him. Seeing that he could do even more good by inspiring others to get involved, he began consenting to media interviews. Silverwood’s became known as “the store with a conscience.”
Strickland Home for Boys orphanage, Highland Park. (Photo courtesy Los Angeles Public Library)
Next time: Happyland!

Sunday, April 08, 2018

F. B. Silverwood and Our State Song (Part 5)

Silverwood with fishing buddy, author Harold MacGrath, 1914
[Continued from Part 4]

In 1913, California was threatened with yet another state song: "My California," by George Edgar Shinn of Petaluma. Attempts to make it official tanked in the legislature, like its predecessors.

But the popularity of Silverwood’s “I Love You, California” was still growing. In 1915 it served as the official song of both the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco and the Panama-California Exposition in San Diego -- events that had far-reaching effects on California. Still, Senator William Scott's 1915 bill to make it the official state song narrowly failed, his fellow legislators deeming the song too "ephemeral" to be dignified with legal recognition. He was just a little ahead of his time.

The song also briefly became a battle cry for reformers seeking improved and better maintained safety signals at railroad crossings. In May 1916, three young girls were blithely singing “I Love You, California,” in the back of their father’s car, headed down Highway 101 through Irvine on their way to see the ruins of Mission San Juan Capistrano. Warning signals failed to operate and the back of the car was hit by a speeding train, killing the children. Horrified members of the public told their state legislators that the “greatest state of all” should provide greater safety measures at rail crossings.
Although "I Love You, California" was again voted down as our state song by the legislature in 1917, it was becoming part of the warp and woof of California. So popular was the tune that it became a template for parodies and satire. In 1920, one Santa Ana resident with the initials H.G.H., modified the lyrics to compliment his letter to the Santa Ana Register's editor, detailing how inflation and the high cost of living had made it too expensive even to buy a sack of lowly potatoes.


How I love you, you potato!
You're the grandest of them all:
I love you in the winter, summer,
Springtime and the fall;
I love you raised in valley.
And from the mountains I adore;
But H-C [high cost] of living--
I can't buy you any more.

Where the snow-crowned Sierras
Keep their watch o'er your bloom,
I'd plant you there
In our land fair,
In every bit of room;
And if Nature would give her rarest
It would be Jake to me;
So when I come to die,
I will breathe with a sigh
For you, Sunny California's Spud!

I have loved the sweet potato,
And I love the Irish, too;
I love them fried in butter,
And baked, and in the stew;
I have loved them in the garden.
I have loved them on the vine.
But the Japs have got our nanny now--
The Mrs.'s Goat and mine.

How I love you, you potato!
You are very dear to me,
I love to see you growing
From Stockton to the sea;
I have seen you sacked and rotting,
I have seen you all mildew,
But we have upon the table, now,
A photograph of you.

How I love the dear old Burbanks,
In patches stretching far;
How I loved the Early Roses--
Until they sold at par;
I love you, yes, forever.
But yet it makes me blue;
Your fine when in cold storage,
But you're finer in the stew.

Okay, so the chorus is a clinker. But the author had an intuitive grasp of Yankovic's Third Law: If you take a popular song and change the words to be about food, you've got yourself a hit parody!

[Ed -- I promise, no more wince-inducing lyrics in this series from here on -- Unless you count a short poem, quoted in Part 9, which really isn't half bad.]

Next time: The Newsboy’s Friend

Friday, April 06, 2018

F. B. Silverwood and Our State Song (Part 4)

Sheet music for our state song.
[Continued from Part 3]

Having fully adopted the lifestyle, attitudes, and internal thermostat afforded by the Golden State, Frank Silverwood was none too thrilled when necessity sent him to the east coast on a buying trip in the dead of winter. He found himself eating dinner alone in a New York café, homesick for Los Angeles and fed up to the gills with the miserable snow and cold. When the house band began belting out “Maryland, My Maryland,” it was the last straw.

Then and there, Silverwood decided to write a song about his beloved California. On his way home, he wrote the lyrics, into which, as the Los Angeles Times put it, “he poured all the earnest deep-felt love a man can have for his homeland.”  Those lyrics are…

I love you, California, you're the greatest state of all.
I love you in the winter, summer, spring and in the fall.
I love your fertile valleys; your dear mountains I adore.
I love your grand old ocean and I love her rugged shore.

Where the snow crowned Golden Sierras
Keep their watch o'er the valleys bloom,
It is there I would be in our land by the sea,
Every breeze bearing rich perfume.
It is here nature gives of her rarest. It is Home Sweet Home to me,
And I know when I die I shall breathe my last sigh
For my sunny California.

I love your red-wood forests - love your fields of yellow grain.
I love your summer breezes and I love your winter rain.
I love you, land of flowers; land of honey, fruit and wine.
I love you, California; you have won this heart of mine.

I love your old gray Missions - love your vineyards stretching far.
I love you, California, with your Golden Gate ajar.
I love your purple sun-sets, love your skies of azure blue.
I love you, California; I just can't help loving you.

I love you, Catalina, you are very dear to me.
I love you, Tamalpais, and I love Yosemite.
I love you, Land of Sunshine, Half your beauties are untold.
I loved you in my childhood, and I'll love you when I'm old

In addition to scratching an itch, and celebrating a love more permanent than his marriage, Silverwood’s new song also had “a real purpose back of it,” he said. “I was troubled by the sectional strife growing up between northern and southern California and felt that our people must get together some way” and that appealing to “state-love and state pride” might be “the best cement for the broken relations.”
A. F. Frankenstein (not Fronkensteen) in 1908.
Soon after arriving home, Silverwood presented his lyrics to Abraham Franklin Frankenstein, conductor of both the Orpheum Theatre Orchestra and the Al Malaikah Shrine Band. Frankenstein liked what he saw and wrote music to go with the lyrics. The song was copyrighted in 1913.

Silverwood would never make a dime on “I Love You, California.” He and A. F. Frankenstein gave all royalties to the Shriners, initially to finance the Al Malaika (Los Angeles) Shrine delegation’s trip to the 1913 meeting of the Imperial Council in Dallas. Of course, with the song’s unexpected popularity, the Shriners had plenty of royalties to put toward their charity causes as well.

Silverwood later signed over future proceeds to the Shrine charities in his will. Frankenstein’s descendants gave their share of the proceeds to the Crippled Children’s Hospital in San Francisco, and signed over any remaining rights they had to the song to the State of California in 1971.
Mary Garden, looking dyspeptic on the sheet music cover.
In early March 1913, famed soprano Mary Garden was in Los Angeles to perform the lead in the Chicago Grand Opera Company’s production of Nantoma – an opera set in Santa Barbara during the “Days of the Dons.” While in town, she agreed to be the first to perform “I Love You, California” publically, at a Shriner convocation.  The Shriners responded at the end of the song by cheering, jumping up on chairs and waving their fezes. They "rushed to Mary," wrote the Los Angeles Times, "each with a blood-red rose. They wound ribbons around her glistening neck. A basket held in her hands was filled to overflowing with the roses and she was well-nigh choked by the ribbons, but she smiled through it all and waved her ostrich plume fan, and marched around the room at the head of the procession."

Then the Shriners put Garden up on a chair, and marched around her, serenading her, throwing rose petals, and occasionally pausing momentarily for someone to further acclaim the wonders of their guest of honor.

Over the next few days, Garden would sing the song at least twice more: Once at a fireman’s benefit show and then, on March 14, at the end of a performance of Nantoma. The opera, by many accounts, stank. By comparison, Garden’s coda was a breath of fresh air. The audience gave a standing ovation for “I Love You, California,” and called for and received an encore. A group of Shriners in the audience jumped in on the chorus. These performances set the song on the road to widespread national popularity and robust sheet music sales.
Mary Garden as Natoma. Photo courtesy Library of Congress.
Next time: Orange County reacts

Thursday, April 05, 2018

A good old fashioned Orange County snipe hunt!

We've all heard of the snipe hunt: The time-honored camping tradition where a hapless victim is given a bag or pillow case and sent out into the night to crouch among brush and make strange “snipe calls” to lure the wily snipe. Eventually, the poor sap figures out he’s waiting to catch an imaginary animal while everyone else is back at camp laughing their butts off. This hazing tradition goes back at least to the 1840s.

But the truth is, snipe are REAL, they’re a type of bird, and Orange County’s got ‘em! In 1893 – the same year he founded the San Joaquin Gun Club and a few years before founding Bolsa Chica Gun Club, Count Jasco Jaro von Schmidt described our ample snipe supply: "The English snipe … the delight of the gourmand, is found in great numbers all over the artesian belt district of the county. Last season I bagged, near Westminster, seventy-on English snipe in one day.”

The Count was well known for exaggerating his hunting prowess, so take that for what it’s worth. But even bagging a single snipe is no mean feat, as they tend to fly in an erratic corkscrew pattern. An 1888 article about English snipe in Punch magazine stated, "All sportsmen desire to be considered good snipe shots, because he is the hardest bird in the world to hit. I mean to hit with shot fired out of a shotgun. I think a good player could hit one with a base-ball bat, because the bird flies much after the manner of the erratic curved ball of the moderns."
English Snipe lithograph,  Currier & Ives, circa 1871 Courtesy Library of Congress
Further research shows that the English Snipe is also known as Wilson's Snipe or the Jacksnipe. It can still be found among the grassy sand hills of Orange County’s wetlands, albeit in much smaller numbers than in the Count’s day.

“Santa Ana marksman Ed Vaughn made a living shipping [snipe] to San Francisco,” wrote Jim Sleeper in his second Orange County Almanac of Historical Oddities. “One time he asserted, ‘They didn’t want me to [gut] them, as epicures considered the entrails the choicest part of the bird’ – which says a lot about the people of San Francisco.”

Sleeper goes on to point out that Gabe Allen’s place (now Estancia Park in Costa Mesa) was a popular spot for snipe hunting. Why don’t you head up there with a pillow case and a stick some night, and see if you can nab a few? I hear if you crouch in the brush and make a loud “kikery-KEE!” noise over and over again, it really brings ‘em running.
"English Snipe" chromolithograph by A. B. Frost, circa 1895

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Which flavor of history?

I sometimes find myself having to define the differences between academic historians and public/local historians. It’s not enough to just say, “Academic history is the reason most people say they don’t like history, whereas local history is made up of stories about real people in your own backyard, which is ALWAYS interesting.” Seriously though, the differences between the two approaches are worth thinking about. Shedding at little light on the subject is this article by Prof. Raymond Starr of SDSU, which I stumbled across in an old (March 1983) copy of California Historian. I’ve cherry-picked some excerpts that I found particularly enlightening:

“It is curious that professional academic historians have disdained local history for the last century, because history in America was local history in the beginning. Indeed… even after the emergence of national history as part of the nation-building of the 1830s, local history continued to be more important.
The situation began to change toward the end of the 19th century. Up until that point, history had always been written by amateurs - lawyers, ministers, teachers, retired generals... In the 1870s and 1880s, ‘professional’ history arrived. Coming into American universities from Germany, a new ‘scientific’ history began to dominate. It demanded university training in the new methods of research, analysis of evidence, documentation and writing. Hence departments of history, doctorates in history, and professors of history began to emerge in most American universities. With it came ‘professionalization’ and a professional organization, the American Historical Association, organized in 1884. …That organization and the universities came to be dominated by a very narrow, academic form of history which stressed national and international political, diplomatic, constitutional and military history, and which disdained as antiquarian and narrow, local history.
“Not only did the academic historians disdain local history as a field of study, but they also disdained the organizations and institutions of local history - the museum, the local historical society, etc. These matters remained in the hands of amateurs or of what we now call ‘public historians,’ who operated without university affiliation…
“That is what is changing today. …Professional historians in the universities have begun to work in local history. …Why have university historians discovered local history? The decline in teaching jobs and enrollments in the last decade has forced colleges to look for courses and programs which appeal to students. One of the phenomenons of the 1960s and 1970s was a great upswing of public interest in local and family history…
“…Academic historians are going to have to learn that many people in local history - writers, historical society staffs, museum and historical park staffs, archivists and librarians - are professionals in their own right. They may be different from professors, but they are not necessarily inferior. The emergence of the public history movement shows that some academic historians are capable of bridging the gap between university and public historians. Let us hope this continues and more and more academic historians are able to change their attitudes.
“At the same time, the non-academic local historians often show hostility toward university historians. Publications and meetings of archival, museum and preservation organizations ooze hostility toward the professor. These negative reactions come from many sources. One is the natural and understandable reaction to the rejection of local history and local historians by the academicians over the last century. …Archivists, museum staffs, people with historical societies have to come to recognize themselves that they are professionals making unique and absolutely essential contributions to local history.”

Monday, April 02, 2018

F. B. Silverwood and Our State Song (Part 3)

Westminster, 1911: Hub of culture and the arts. (Photo near corner of Westminster Blvd. and Olive St.) Photo courtesy Orange County Archives
[Continued from Part 2]

In 1911, Orange County Assemblyman Clyde Bishop introduced a bill that would have made “California (Land of the Setting Sun)” – a 1907 song with words and music by Mrs. Harriet M. Burlingame of Westminster – our official state song. The effort failed but laid the groundwork for Silverwood’s success soon thereafter.

Burlingame’s lyrics – awkward and hokey, but a marked improvement over Gro’s – went like this:
A song to thee of loyalty. A song of the Golden West;
A land that lies ‘neath sunlit skies,
Beside the Pacific’s breast.

Thy native son and adopted one
From snowy climes agree
That heaven crowned this land renown—
Land by the Western sea.

California fair, California rare,
all nature sings to thee.
The balmy breeze, the fragrant trees,
the blue of sky and sea.
Mission bells sweet chimes,
as in olden times,
and the mocking birds in the vale,
Let the chorus rise to the sunny skies, Eureka California hail.

Thy hills hold wealth, thy breezes health,
thy valleys fruits and flowers.
Here the orange bright blends golden light
with the poppy pride of ours.
Oh, the lofty heights of Shasta white.
Oh, grand Yosemite.
From south to north thy fame goes forth
from Sierras to the sea.

We lowly bend, for heaven doth blend
with sunshine, shadows cold;
But God's above this land we love,
above the blue and gold.
So here we'll wait 'till the Golden Gate
shall ope when day is done.
Almighty Hand, hold thou our land,
"Land of the Setting Sun."
Assemblyman James W. Hamilton from Petaluma suggested that the work “Eureka” could be mistaken for the town of that name, and humbly recommended replacing the word with “Petaluma.” Legislator E. C. Hinkle of Sacramento objected to the mention of mockingbirds in the song, as he supported a law to legalize extermination of the noisy little bastards.

Milton Schmitt of San Francisco, looking down his nose at both the song and Orange County, recommended the matter be referred to the Committee on Overflow and Swamp Lands. (Schmitt was also among the few California legislators to vote against women’s suffrage that year.) Ultimately, the Speaker could find no committee suited to judge music, and in desperation passed the matter to the Judiciary Committee. The committee reviewed the bill and recommended passage with the proviso that Mr. Bishop sing the ditty, opera-style, on the floor of the Assembly. One member asked, "Wouldn't Bishop look cute in tights?"
O.C. Assemblyman Clyde Bishop promotes “California (Land of the Setting Sun)” in a Los Angeles Times cartoon, Feb. 8, 1911.
Bishop wanted no part of singing and said he might better use his time on the floor to tell the other members to go to hell. He suggested that Judiciary Committee Chairman William Kehoe might want to sing the song in front of the assembled body himself. That offer was also declined, but somehow the Assembly finally approved a slightly modified version of the song none of them were willing to sing.

The State Senate, however, shot it down. There had been harsh criticism of the song not just in Sacramento’s halls of power, but also in the press. "We have no sympathy with [Bishop]," snarked the Pacific Rural Press & California Farmer, "who moved to refer the bill to the Sacramento poundmaster on the ground that it might be doggerel."

Under the headline "Poetry That Snores," the San Francisco Call's Edward Cahill wrote, "In order to stock up with a full line of legislative nincompoopiana, it seems that we are to have a state song imposed on us without our consent, written by the poetess of Gospel Swamp, somewhere in the bogs of Orange County,... The stuff is utterly commonplace and could be written by the yard by any literary blacksmith. If the legislature has nothing better to do than make a laughing stock of California it might better adjourn and go home. As for the state song--forget it."
Capitol Building, Sacramento, 1915. (Photo courtesy California State Archives)
But California would not forget their desire for a state song, and Frank Silverwood would soon play a central role in filling that vacuum.

Next Time: Frank Loves You, California

Sunday, April 01, 2018

April Fool Addendum

April Fool! Some folks were pretty upset about my April 1 post this morning, until they figured out it was satire. The point of the article was that historically important sites are CONSTANTLY being destroyed in Southern California.

Even as we speak, there are very real plans to build large blocks of modern housing in charming little Los Rios – the oldest neighborhood in California. Even now, the remains of the early 1900s Japantown at Wintersburg are slated to be scraped clean and replaced with a Public Storage facility. At this moment, one of the best bits of Googie architecture remaining in O.C. – the Beach-Lin Car Wash – is facing its doom. And by the end of today, the former Sam’s Seafood building (preserved and restored for some years as Don the Beachcomber) will serve its last meal and its last drink. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

We SHOULD be outraged, not just when something as OBVIOUS as the Mission is threatened (which it isn’t), but also when OTHER important historic sites are threatened. Righteous indignation and hard work have saved a few important sites in O.C. over the years, including the Old Orange County Courthouse, which was once slated to become a parking lot.

If you’d like to learn more about preservation efforts and REAL threats, follow Preserve O.C. on their Facebook page.