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!

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