The Daily Mirror

Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history

Category: 1899

Study Finds Widespread Grade Inflation at L.A. County Schools

Aug. 30, 1899, Teachers

Aug. 30, 1899: Hawley, King & Co. buggies, 5th and Broadway.

The county Board of Education finds "deplorable laxness and inefficiency" in most Los Angeles County schools.

By 1899, California required each county to send standardized tests to all its schools for students in fifth grade and above. The graded exams were to be returned to the county boards as a check on teachers' effectiveness.

In previous years, the magnitude of the paperwork precluded a detailed study of the exams. This time, however, thorough scrutiny of the tests reveals widespread falsification of grades. "Some of the teachers have sent in correctly marked examination papers, but the great majority have marked their pupils' examination papers from 5 to 50 percent higher than deserved," says Luther G. Brown, president of the Board of Education.

"In a number of instances the children of trustees were graded with very much more leniency than other pupils," Brown says


Houdini at the Orpheum!

July 6, 1899, Star Gazing

July 6, 1899: The Times reminds tourists to watch out for pickpockets.

July 6, 1899, Houdini

July 6, 1899: Look who's playing at the Orpheum. It's Houdini, with his wife, doing the Oregon boot routine.

There's also a female impersonator named Tacianu. On May 30, 1897, The Times said: "Taciano is a phenomenal male soprano after the style of Stuart, the male Patti. He is reputed to be a real artist in the matter of female impersonations and the possessor of a sweet, rarely beautiful voice located high on the upper register, on the plane usually monopolized by prima donnas.

On June 1, 1897, The Times said: "[Alexander] Tacianu is a wonder. He not only sings with a soprano that is sweet and round and rich in tone, but changes it to a melodious baritone that is sufficiently good voice in itself for any man to travel on. We have had female impersonators of all grades and varieties, and usually they have been of the sort that combines the falsetto of the guinea hen with a certain offensiveness of personality that is difficult of description. But not so with Tacianu. His singing is a finished performance, a work of the voice that shows quality of tone and a liberal amount of expression that could only result from good training and his personality while a simulation of the feminine is wholly without coarseness or offense of any sort. He is one of the very best features yet exploited by the Orpheum management."

Very little appears to have been written about Tacianu except that he flourished from 1897 to 1899 and performed in the U.S. and Europe. He predates Julian Eltinge by a few years.

Mayor Orders Crackdown on Animal Cruelty

  July 3, 1899, Racing

July 3, 1899: Dog races continue at Agricultural Park despite the mayor's order of a police crackdown. According to testimony in an 1899 animal cruelty case brought by the ASCPA, these races consisted of two greyhounds chasing a California jackrabbit that was given a 60- to 80-yard head start. There were about 28 places along the race course where the rabbit could escape. If it didn't, it was usually caught and torn apart as the dogs fought over it. A man was employed to kill the rabbit, usually by crushing its skull, if the dogs didn't finish the job. If the rabbit escaped, it was kept for about a week and used as bait in another dog race.

In October 1899, a judge ruled that such races inflicted "unnecessary cruelty" on the jackrabbits. Coursing continued elsewhere in Los Angeles without interference from the police. In 1904, it was again ruled to be illegal.

Still, coursing continued in other jurisdictions. Here's a description of a race in Arcadia. Warning: This is gruesome.

April 24, 1905, Coursing  

April 4, 1905: The Times noted that female spectators were frequently the most bloodthirsty when it came to dogs mauling the rabbits.

Woman, Baby Hurt in Bike Crash

June 27, 1899, Stove  

June 27, 1899: The Times published many stories about fires that were started by gasoline stoves. Given the primitive nature of firefighting at the time, the results were often tragic.

June 27, 1899, Bicycle  

June 27, 1899: A woman with her baby crashes while trying to ride her bicycle down 1st Street. Before it was altered, 1st Street was extremely steep with a 45-degree grade. The old Central Police Station was on the south side of 1st between Broadway and Hill.

Police Court, June 24, 1899

June 24, 1899, Weak Men

June 24, 1899: The cure for weak men.

June 24, 1899, Police Notes

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