Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history
Category: March 1, 2009 - March 7, 2009
||Now here's an intriguing book. "A Pictorial Album of Electric Railroading" compiled by Donald Duke, published in 1958. Bidding starts at $30.
|The Times' Robert R. Kirsch reviews Philip Durham's "Down These Mean Streets a Man Must Go," Dec. 11, 1963.
Kirsch says: Raymond Chandler "was one of a small group of writers who used Los Angeles in the regional sense. The setting -- from Pasadena to Santa Monica, from Hollywood to the Malibu Hills -- was crucial to his work. Its places and people provided the stage and characters, and even the poetic mood. It was an ambivalent relationship. At times he loved the place; at other times he hated it. But it was always there.
"And as George P. Eliot once wrote: 'If you want the feel and aspect of Los Angeles and vicinity in the '30s, '40s and early '50s you could hardly do better than to read his fiction.' "
The Garner Concert Jubilee Company, in a photo from a promotional brochure.
I've been able to gather some more information about George Robert Garner, a Pasadena choral director and singer who was the first African American to solo with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
Frank Villella, archivist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, says:
Tenor George Garner appeared with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on one occasion, on a Popular Concert at Orchestra Hall on March 25, 1926. He sang "On away! Awake Beloved" from Samuel Coleridge-Taylor's Hiawatha's Wedding Feast (Frederick Stock, our music director, was the conductor). Unfortunately, there was no biography or photograph of Garner included in the program book for that concert.
According to an article in The Chicago Defender (from April 3, 1926; see attached), Garner was "the first soloist of our Race to appear with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra." Also according to the article, Garner sang the "Lament" (presumably "Vesti la giubba") from Leoncavallo's Pagliacci as an encore.
Regular Daily Mirror reader Dick Morris drew upon his vast knowledge of online databases and offers these facts about George Robert Garner and his father, George Sr.:
In 1900, (the older) George is listed as living with his brother Fred in Chicago. No spouse or children were living with him. In this one, George is shown as being born in Canada and his parents born in England and a immigration date of 1888 is listed and he had been in the U.S. for 12 years. Occupation was clerk. This may be a different person, but there are a number of similarities.
In 1910 George Sr. was listed as born in N. Carolina as were his parents. He was a butler for a private family. At 18, George, Jr. was identified as a musician, concert. he had been out of work for 10 weeks during the year. The address looks like 209 E. 32nd.
On an LDS site I found a record saying that George R. Garner, Jr. was married to Pauline H. Bell on 1 Sep 1915 in Chicago. This is a transcription of marriage license and they have the image available to view.
The WWI draft registration for George R. Garner Jr. gives his birth date as April 16, 1892, and his address as 5229 Wabash Ave., Chicago. It's hard to read, but I think his occupation is professional concert artist singer. He was married.
For the 1920 Chicago census, George Jr. lived in Chicago and his spouse's name was Pauline. The address was 4405 Champlain Ave., and he owned his house outright. He and his wife were both 27. She was born in Illinois as was her father. Her mother was born in Oregon. He was a vocalist, opera, she was a pianist, opera. It appears that they had two boarders with the last name of Harrison. Both were his cousins and both were tailors.
In the 1920 census his father was identified as mulatto and a butler for a private family.
A George R. Garner, 30 years old, married, born in Chicago, Ill., Apr 16, 1899, of 6408 Laurence Ave., Chicago, Ill. arrived on the Leviathan from Southampton to New York on Apr 26, 1929. This is obviously the same person as in the 1930 census. The birth date matches the WWI draft registration, but the year doesn't.
The one from the California Death Index -- George R Garner 8 Jan 1971 Los Angeles 16 Apr 1892 Illinois -- is obviously the same person as the one in WWI draft registration.
There are a lot of inconsistencies, but it appears these are all the same person.
I did a Google news archive search and it appears that the Chicago Tribune mentioned him a number of times in the 1920s and early 30s. However, I don't have a subscription to the Chicago Tribune archives.
Dick also notes that Garner performed an aria from Verdi's "Aida" at the 1919 Chicago premiere of an African American film described as "Oscar Micheaux's Mammoth Photoplay."
--Let's hope more information turns up--lrh
Los Angeles Times photo
Roy Campanella is honored during a benefit game between the Dodgers and the Yankees.
A PTA meeting at Center Avenue Elementary School in Inglewood opened Tuesday with a salute to the flag, after which the audience remained hushed as a Girl Scout choral group assembled for a song and the accompanist approached the baby grand piano.
The accompanist raised the keyboard cover. She lifted the movable music rack. A puzzled expression came over her face.
She tried them again, then crouched and peered underneath, then into the instrument. She was no longer merely puzzled, she was baffled, even desperate.
At this point Principal Irene Hoban went to the rescue and, amid laughter from the many community youth groups present, joined in the search.
In a moment Miss Hoban announced that some men scheduled to give the auditorium a much-needed renovation had apparently started the job that afternoon without her knowledge, by removing the piano keys.
But all went well nevertheless. The choral group sang without accompaniment and the proceedings were graced throughout with a nice light tone.
ANYONE WHO has visited General Hospital knows about the colored lines on the floors and sidewalks which help people find their way from one section to another.
The other day staff members at the City Health Department's new center at 2032 N Marengo Street, a short distance from the hospital, were surprised to see several persons dodging traffic in the middle of the street. They turned out to be patients instructed to follow a line from the main hospital to the children's unit. Somehow they'd gotten off the line and onto the center white line. They were retrieved in the nick of time or doubtless they would be hiking out Highway 66.
He who hesitates is lost,
They taught me that in school.
But that is wrong I learned today-
They hadn't filled the pool.
G. C. McHose
WHEN HE WAS 16, Steve Allen writes in Look, he bummed around the country and learned what hunger and poverty meant.
"I remember walking along a road in California one day and finding a half-empty can of beans by the side of the road. I picked it up but was disappointed to see that it was crawling with ants. Within seconds I had shaken and blown the ants out of the can and finished the beans."
A remarkably forthright statement from a man in a realm where everyone is supposed to have a fairy godmother arranging his life.
BANK NOTES -- Two women met in a Sunset Boulevard bank and Frank Barron heard one say, "Isn't it funny, the only time I ever see you lately is either here or at the drugstore." "Yeah," the other said wryly, "every time I make a withdrawal I get sick" . . . A woman cashing a check in a Westwood Village bank asked for new $1 bills. The teller told her she didn't have 25 new ones but could give her new fives. "Oh no," the woman said, "then I'd have to take dirty bills in change somewhere else."
AROUND TOWN-- Larry Brown of the SC golf team misfired a ball over the fence at Wilshire Country Club and was looking forlornly at it when an officer in a patrol car came along Beverly Boulevard, took in the situation, stopped and tossed it over the fence. Yep, the long arm of the law . . . As anyone could have guessed, votes against the death penalty in this paper's poll on capital punishment have been received from rogues signing Caryl Chessman, Harvey Glatman , Stephen Nash and Elizabeth Duncan . . . Anyone else notice that the newspaper photos of the collapsing Vanderbilt Apartments, 334 S Figueroa St., showed a scrawled "Z for Zorro" on it? . . . The magazine Thy Kingdom Come, which circulates among flying saucer groups, has the slogan "Be active today or radioactive tomorrow" . . . A mortuary ad in El Pueblo offers a "courtesy discount" to city employees.
Inactivated Barber Makes Superb Clip
Any man who can overcome a handicap like an underactive thyroid and make a name for himself in show business, is, in my book, all right.
Therefore, to wit, I like Perry Como.
True, he makes me yawn. But it's not because he, personally, bores me, personally.
It's just that -- as anybody knows -- yawning is contagious.
The reason I mentioned Perry in the first place is because I read a significant item about him in yesterday's paper.
According to the story, he got together with a few Kraft Food Co. moguls over some pimento cheese spread and crackers, and signed a television contract which will gross him $25 million in the next two years.
Frankly, I'm happy for Perry.
If the Kraft Food Co. thinks he's worth that much, that's their business. Maybe his mother values him even higher.
The only thing I'm against is the indelicate way his press agent blabbed it all over town.
It's making a bum out of the rest of us. Collectively.
All over America today, wives are glaring meaningfully at their husbands, most of whom have perfect thyroids.
The equilibrium of the American home has been upset, just because Perry and his new bosses couldn't keep a secret.
Twenty-five million dollars is a lot of money -- more than some of us earn in a whole lifetime.
But personally, I'm not envious.
In fact, if I'd been sitting at that negotiation table in place of Perry, I'm not so sure that I would have signed.
Certainly, I would have checked into my prospective employers a little more carefully than he did.
I would have found out, for example, something about working conditions.
There are some cheeses I don't like the smell of. I'd make sure there weren't any of those stacked around near my desk space.
Then, there's the matter of paid vacations. Fringe benefits. Promotion programs. And coffee breaks.
What I'm trying to say is, the salary's all right. But it's the little considerations that really make an employee feel comfortable, feel wanted, in his job.
In a Cheesey Sort of Way
As for future prospects with the company, I guess that Kraft is a solid-enough organization.
But remember, the contract that Perry signed was for television shows.
Granted, the medium of television is a pretty popular one right now.
It's new, though. Sort of in the fad stage.
That's the final point, which I wonder if Perry bothered to take into consideration:
Is television here to stay?
But come to think of it, even if TV isn't here to stay, Perry's got it made.
He could always go back to being a barber and, at the price of haircuts today, he'd still be a millionaire.