Saturday, September 23, 2017

Newland House: Saving our pioneer history

ABOVE: The Newland House Museum after a rain. Once endangered and in disrepair, it was a decades-long community effort to save and restore the 1898 structure as part of the development agreement with the Newland Shopping Center.  As of 2017, the recent refurbishment of the Newland Shopping Center reflects design elements complementing the National Register of Historic Places-listed house museum. (Photograph, M. Urashima. October 24, 2016) © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED     

   History takes a long time to make. And, a long time to save.  In the case of this local and national historical landmark, it took decades of community volunteer effort--and near loss to neglect, vandalism and disrepair--to save a historic site now considered a treasure.
1964
   It was 1964 when local residents began voicing a concern about the Newland House, calling for it to be saved and restored to its former glory as the headquarters of the 1,000-acre Newland Rancho.  In the fast-paced, mid 20th-Century building boom, the community discussion is reminiscent of most historic preservation efforts: What is historic?  Why did the original owners sell it?  Should the Newland House be demolished to allow for the construction of a new shopping center?  Why should historic preservation be part of community planning?

   The Newland family--no longer farming or ranching--had already sold their property and, in 1964, it was owned by Signal Oil & Gas Company.  The Huntington Beach Chamber of Commerce manager, William Gallienne, advocated moving the house to get it out of the way of progress.   

RIGHT: Mayor Don Shipley with Miss Huntington Beach Rosemary Southward, in front of the Newland House in 1964. Shipley advocated for its historic preservation.  (Los Angeles Times, August 3, 1964)

   Mayor Don Shipley--for whom the Shipley Nature Center is named--advocated working with the property owner and developer to save the Newland House and make it a centerpiece of a public park site.  Shipley acknowledged the challenges of restoration, preservation and ongoing stewardship, but advocated his vision for historic preservation.  

LEFT: The Newland House with its outbuildings and the original Newland barn in 1948.  The outbuildings included a bunk house for ranch labor and a sizable barn that almost dwarfed the house.  The barn on the property today is not original and was constructed to provide event space. (City of Huntington Beach archives, 1948)

   Shipley told the Los Angeles Times in 1964 that the Newland House "would make an excellent historical tie for the City".  Shipley's unflagging advocacy of the elements that are important to retain in community planning--history, open space, natural landscapes--led to him being honored in perpetuity at the Shipley Nature Center in 1974.  

   The Shipley Nature Center--off Goldenwest Street--explains on their website, "Dr. Shipley’s vision was to have a place which reflected what California was 100 years ago...so that children would be able to see what Huntington Beach may have been like before intense development began..."  The Shipley Nature Center is today a center for community and school educational programming, and a respite in an increasingly urban environment that has removed most of Huntington Beach's early history.

LEFT: Delbert "Bud" Higgins in front of the Newland House. Behind him, the exterior paint is peeling and windows are either open or boarded up. Higgins advocated for saving the community's pioneer history and the pre-history of California's indigenous people. (Los Angeles Times, April 27, 1976)

1974-1980
   Twelve years after the first article, the Los Angeles Times published another article about the grassroots historic preservation effort to save the Newland House.  It featured a photograph of Delbert "Bud" Higgins, a long-time local and community historian, standing in front of the Newland House again.  The Newland House looked more neglected, but those involved in the preservation effort refused to give up.  By then, community residents had formed the Huntington Beach Historical Society and began holding fundraising events to generate funds and friends.

   Higgins--who, with his brother, Gordie, began making the first redwood surfboards in Huntington Beach after watching Duke Kahanmoku and "the Hawaiians" surf Corona del Mar in the 1920s--had seen radical changes to the Huntington Beach historical and cultural landscape in his lifetime.  He talked about the pre-history of the indigenous people of California and the 19th-Century pioneer settlement history represented by the Newland House.

   "Indians lived on this mesa more than a thousand years ago," Higgins, who was Huntington Beach's first lifeguard and first fire chief, told the Los Angeles Times, after picking up a clam shell in the yard of the Newland House while taking the reporter on a tour. "They'd go down into the tidal basin mud flats below, gather clams and cook them."

RIGHT: An example of the Native Californian basketry that was part of the Newland family collection of Mary Juanita DeLapp Newland.  The majority of the collection is held by the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana.  The Works Progress Administration helped with an archaeological investigation of the Newland House property in the 1930s, resulting in "two wagon loads" of artifacts removed from the mesa and "housed in Santa Ana", according to local historian Bud Higgins.  Some artifacts were reported by the Times as dating to 5,000 B.C. In 1980, another archaeological investigation documented a native American burial on the property. (Image, Los Angeles Times, June 29, 1980) 

  A major breakthrough came to the historic preservation effort in April 1974, when Signal Landmark Homes donated the Newland House and land to the community for a historical public park, as mitigation for their housing development.  The original plans were to encircle the house with a retail center.  After community objections, Signal Landmark changed their plans and lowered an office buildng by ten feet to retain the Newland House's view  of the Pacific Ocean and promised that the retail center's architectural features would complement the historic structure.

LEFT: The Newland House in 1970, missing an exterior wall.  The old wooden garage structure--which no longer exists--can be seen in the yard. (Photograph, City of Huntington Beach archives, circa 1970)

   A dozen years after the historic preservation effort was initiated in 1964, the community was rallying behind the effort.  Students at three local junior high schools holding a bike-a-thon as a fundraiser.  Descendants of the Newland family offered support by donating a few artifacts, historical ephemera, and helping locate furnishings to re-create the dining room as they remembered it.  

   Very little of the original furnishings remained, as family members did not realize their home would be considered historic.  Community members scoured antique markets and asked for donations of period-appropriate items to furnish the house museum.

RIGHT: A table set for pioneer holidays inside the Newland House dining room.  The Huntington Beach Historical Society and Huntington Beach's Historic Wintersburg Preservation Task Force will roll the clock back 100 years again at their fourth annual "Holidays in Huntington Beach" at the Newland House on Friday, December 1.  This year, it will be 1917! (Photograph, M. Urashima, November 30, 2014) © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED    

   Like most historic preservation efforts, the call to save the Newland House was initiated by people other than the family whose history it represents.  Historic preservationists took the larger view that the property's significance was important to the community and region, and that the community would undertake saving it.

   The Newland family had ten children, two of whom were born in the house.  The family had sold the property and had not lived in the home for more than 20 years.  The Los Angeles Times interviewed one of the descendants born in the house, Helen Newland Tarbox, in 1976.

LEFT: The Newland House, as it appeared prior to its stabilization and preservation, with barbed wire security fencing and in disrepair. (Photograph, City of Huntington Beach archives, October 15, 1976)

   Helen Newland Tarbox--then 75 years old and living in Newport Beach--remarked, "More power to the Historical Society! What they are doing is great. They've had a hard time of it with no city money. It's going to take time to do the restoration, but they are going to do it."

   Volunteers from Orange Coast College re-roofed the Newland House, while volunteer carpenters and electricians worked to restore the structure.  A crew from the Huntington Beach Fire Department installed a flagpole on the distinctive cupola.  The second floor of the Main Street Branch Library was used to store historical items, while the Newland House was undergoing stabilization and preservation work.  

   Higgins told the Los Angeles Times that the original estimated cost for the historic preservation effort was far less than projected, due to community volunteers and donations.  Once the historic preservation effort was permitted and the project had site control, everybody became a preservationist.  The effort to save local history brought residents together, rolling up their sleeves to help as a point of community pride and civic contribution.

RIGHT: By 1980, over fifteen years after the historic preservation effort began, the Los Angeles Times recounted the Newland House journey through neglect, blight, vandalism (which cannibalized historic fixtures), and the pressures of urbanization.  Members of the community persisted in their work to save the structure for future generations. (Los Angeles Times, June 29, 1980)

   Huntington Beach City Councilman Ted Bartlett told the Los Angeles Times in 1976, at the height of the country's bicentennial, "I'm 100% behind the society's restoration work.  I'm going to donate my money, just like the others."  

   Like Don Shipley, Ted Bartlett's leadership regarding the retention of historical places and open spaces in the city's planning and development prompted a grateful community to honor him in a permanent manner.  The natural wilderness area behind the Newland House--Bartlett Park--is named after Bartlett, who served five four-year terms on the city council.

LEFT: Alice Jumper, a member of the Huntington Beach Historical Society, inside the Newland dining room in 1980.  She is one of the many volunteers who donated countless hours to save the Newland House, now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. She described seeing the house from Beach Boulevard and stopping to take a closer look.  By 1980, Jumper said she was "up to my ears" in her volunteer efforts to help restore the Newland House.  When asked why she cared so much for a place to which she had no familial connection--a question often asked of historic preservationists--she told the Los Angeles Times, "how do you describe love?"  (Los Angeles Times, June 29, 1980) 

1982-1986
   By 1982, the 19.5-acre Newland Shopping Center had opened and was 75-percent leased.   The City of Huntington Beach committed $400,000 for the stabilization and preservation of the Newland House, including associated infrastructure for water and power to the property.  Community members had contributed more in their volunteer labor and donations.

    In 1985, the then 87-year-old  Newland House was listed on the National Register of Historic Places by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.  

LEFT: A new addition to the Newland Shopping Center in 2017, Miguel's Homestyle Mexican Food includes an artful rendering of the National Register-listed Newland House as part of its architectural decor.  The rendering reminds of local residents and visitors of Huntington Beach's agricultural past.  Miguel's is located on ground once occupied by the chile pepper dehydrating warehouses of Masami Sasaki, who was known as the "chile pepper king" and one of the largest chile pepper processors in Southern California prior to World War II. (Photograph, M. Urashima. July 2017)  © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

    The City of Huntington Beach's financial commitment to the preservation effort led to the construction of a new barn on the Newland House property and the restoration of landscape for a cumulative bid of $272,733.  The barn was built to provide public event space to generate revenue to support the Newland House property.  Today, the "Newland Barn" is a popular site for weddings, birthday parties and other events, and is booked months in advance.  

   Currently, the barn--a single, 1,100-square foot structure with a "patio" area of 22 square feet--generates an average of $53,000 annually, per revenue records provided by the City of Huntington Beach for the years 2000 through 2014.  During those years alone--not including revenue for the mid 1980s through 1990s--the Newland Barn generated close to three-quarters of a million dollars for the City.   The City's Community Services department now holds a lottery to determine who gets reservations on available dates.

RIGHT: A view from Bartlett Park of the Newland House and the "Newland Barn", a new structure constructed in 1983 to provide event space a the Newland House Museum.  The 1,100 square-foot Newland Barn has generated well over a million dollars for the City since its opening. (Photograph, City of Huntington Beach, circa 1986) 

   The City of Huntington Beach's investment in the Newland House property has been repaid many times over.  The ongoing maintenance and continual improvement at the Newland House Museum is born by the Huntington Beach Historical Society, who also provide historical tours, train docents and provide events at the Museum.  The Society improved the property with the back yard gazebo and the reconstruction of the historic water tower, as well as restoration of the garden.  Each year, the Huntington Beach Historical Society awards a "Newland Rose" to community members who make contributions to the preservation of local history.

LEFT: The garden on the south side of the Newland House contains bricks rescued from the demolition of the Holly Sugar Factory, a 1911 sugar processing plant near the original Huntington Beach Township, once located off what is now Garfield Avenue and Holly Lane. Local residents had wanted to save the pioneer-era Holly Sugar Factory for adaptive reuse; it was demolished with little warning on a Saturday. (Photograph, Newland House garden, M. Urashima. November 30, 2014) © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
1990   
   Eighty-one years after the incorporation of Huntington Beach, the City appointed Michael Mudd as the new cultural affairs director, following a historic resources survey in 1986.  Mudd told the Los Angeles Times that "cultural concerns and historic conservation haven't evolved in Huntington Beach."  He advocated devoting some City investment to organize the various historical organizations and create a long-term plan for preserving local history.  Alas, his position did not last.

1996  
   The Newland House rose garden was dedicated in 1987 and grew over the years through the work of volunteers.  The garden's present-day design was developed with input from the Pacific Coast Archaeological Society in order to avoid archaeological sensitivities on the grounds. 

RIGHT: Newland House trustee Virginia Whipple on the brick walkway of the rose garden in 1996. (Los Angeles Times, November 23, 1996) 

   In 1996, the garden was renovated by the Master Gardeners of Orange County as a volunteer contribution.  The garden has been used for master gardening classes and cooking demonstrations, and is in keeping with the 19th-Century intent of Mary Newland to be both useful as a kitchen garden and a beautiful spot to linger.

LEFT: Darrell Rivers, president of the Huntington Beach Historical Society,  in a photo frame at Holidays in Huntington Beach 1916, an annual joint event with the Historic Wintersburg Preservation Task Force.  The event recreates the community's holiday celebrations of 100 years ago.  It will be 1917 at this year's Holidays in Huntington Beach, on Friday, December 1. (Photograph, Darrell Rivers at the Newland House Museum. M. Urashima. December 2, 2016) © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Present day 
   The Huntington Beach Historical Society--in addition to organizing the annual Civil War Days in Central Park, along with other events at the Newland House Museum--continues to provide the stewardship, ongoing maintenance and improvements for the Newland House and garden.  

   The lasting legacy of the Newland family--as well as the efforts of community volunteers who have worked over half a century to save, restore, and maintain this local gem--continue to provide a sense of place and heritage for Huntington Beach, as well as a place for local celebrations.  It is, as Don Shipley predicted in 1964, an "historical tie" that binds our community together.

ABOVE: One of the many cultural events at the Newland House reflecting local heritage, Dia los Muertos, in October 2014.  A group of event-goers, with Huntington Beach Historical Society president Darrell Rivers (far right in top hat) flashed a "W" for Historic Wintersburg, a present day historic preservation effort in Huntington Beach. (Photograph, Dia los Muertos at Newland House Museum. M. Urashima October 2014) © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

MORE INFORMATION:
The Newland House Museum is located at 19820 Beach Boulevard, in Huntington Beach, California, in the Newland Shopping Center, and is open to the public. Call 714-962-5777 for more information and hours.  The Newland House barn rental information through the City of Huntington Beach can be found at http://www.huntingtonbeachca.gov/residents/parks_facilities/rentals/newland_barn.cfm

© All rights reserved. No part of the Historic Huntington Beach blog may be reproduced or duplicated without prior written permission from the author and publisher, M. Adams Urashima.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

1920s: Fight Club in downtown Huntington Beach

ABOVE: Huntington Beach, circa 1920s, when downtown boxing was reaching its heyday. The Pacific Electric Railway line ran along the beach and oil wells dotted the landscape. (City of Huntington Beach archives, circa 1920s)

   Orange County boxers in the 1920s had names like Walloping Wilson, Kid Africa, Buzz Saw Burrows, Spike Kelley, and Kid Mack of Wintersburg.  In Huntington Beach, the boxing world centered around Kid Mexico.
 
RIGHT: Todd Faulkner, aka Kid Mexico, shown in a 1922 feature, was of Scots-Irish ancestry.  In a history on Latinos in U.S. Sports by Jorge Iber in 2011, it was noted that "Mexican spectators were rather surprised to see a blond kid entering the ring". (Image, Santa Ana Register, August 22, 1922)

   Referred to by the Santa Ana Register in 1922 as "the pride of Huntington Beach", Kid Mexico--aka Todd Faulkner-- wasn't from Mexico and he wasn't Mexican American.  Faulkner reportedly was born in Hope, New Mexico, and was dubbed with the nickname at around age fourteen when a fight announcer called him the "kid from New Mexico".  Along the way, it was shortened to Kid Mexico by boxing announcers.

   Todd Faulkner is reported to have earned the titles of bantamweight champion in 1914 (when he was fourteen years old) and welterweight champion in 1925.  The Signal Tribune newspaper reported in 2014 that out of 387 career fights, Kid Mexico lost only 11. His rise to the top was part tenacity and part showmanship, and a lifelong tendency to gamble on himself, and, well, gamble in general. More on that later.

   "He isn't very old, but his experience far outstrips that of his opponent. He began fighting when he was a little kid," explained the Santa Ana Register in 1922. Kid Mexico had "battled his way up" from a bantam weight to middleweight and "hasn't much of a punch but he is always digging in."

LEFT: An advertisement in the Santa Ana Register in 1922 promoting Kid Mexico as the "big feature" at a boxing event in Delhi. This same year, Huntington Beach trustees decided Delhi shouldn't have all the action and revenue from boxing, and directed a City ordinance be amended to allow it for a fee. (Santa Ana Register, June 14, 1922)

   For a couple years between 1922 and 1923, the big rivalry was between Kid Mexico and the "Santa Ana mauler" Jack Iman.  At their first match in Delhi (now part of Santa Ana) in 1922, the Santa Ana Register's Drew Moffat wrote it was a "torrid, goofy main event" with a sold-out crowd.

   By 1923, Kid Mexico was promoting fights--and fighting in matches--at a boxing arena in downtown Huntington Beach.  The Santa Ana Register reported on a "Clash in Oil City Pavilion" in October 1923 wherein the "blond battler" Kid Mexico would take on "the dusky" Ted Frenchie.  At that time, Kid Mexico had a reported 275 fights of which he had lost only eight.

   At first, the City of Huntington Beach wasn't sure boxing was a good fit for a beach town in the middle of an oil boom with oil workers who had a bit of cash in their pocket.  There was plenty of rowdiness already.

   A proposal came before the Huntington Beach trustees (city council) in 1921 for "boxing contests within the City under the auspices of the Huntington Beach Athletic Club".  The board of trustees took it "under advisement" but denied it  at their next meeting.  

   The next year, another proposal came before city leaders to allow boxing matches to be held on July 4th in the Airdome at Huntington Beach "in accordance with the laws of the State of California".  The trustees were advised by the City attorney that this was prohibited by Ordinance No. 141 and the request was denied.  

RIGHT: Huntington Beach Ordinance No. 141 was amended on July 21, 1922, to allow for "athletic or sparring exhibitions" by permit and fee. The Board of Trustees reserved the right to determine if the event was not "detrimental to public morals". No alcohol allowed and peace officers would be allowed to attend any exhibition free of charge with powers to stop an event that became "boisterous, brutal or improper". (City Charter and Ordinances 1909 - 1940, Published as a project of the Works Project Administration, City archives)

   As one does in Huntington Beach when there is the possibility of revenue, the City trustees--just moments later during the same meeting--directed the City attorney to "draw up an ordinance amending ordinance No. 141 to permit boxing contests as provided by the laws of the state upon special permit from the Board of Trustees and the payment into the City treasury of a fee of $5.00 for each such exhibition."  Each boxing match would require a special event permit and fee. Cha-ching!

LEFT: Fidel La Barba, former flyweight champion of the world, came to Huntington Beach in 1925 to fight in Kid Mexico's "arena" on Fifth Street, inside the City Garage. Like Kid Mexico, La Barba--who later attended Stanford to obtain a journalism degree--began boxing young, at around age 12 or 13. He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of fame in 1996. (Photo, Wikicommons) 

   Now that the dam broke and boxing was mainstream in the downtown, more permit applications followed. The respectable Antlers Club requested a permit to hold a boxing contest in the Odd Fellows Hall, permit application and fee in hand. Boom. Permit granted.  More boxing matches were held in the City Garage on Fifth Street by the Nonpareil Athletic Club.

   By 1925, boxing was so much part of the local culture that the American Legion organized an exhibition at "Kid Mexico's arena" on Fifth Street with Fidel La Barba, flyweight champion awarded the gold medal at the 1924 Olympic games. We were kind of a big deal.

   Sports columnist Eddie West commented that Kid Mexico spent his "busier moments at his Huntington Beach arena collecting ducats from Orange County boxing enthusiasts."  If Kid Mexico was making money off boxing matches--he later commented he averaged $10,000 per event--so was the City.

RIGHT: Striking a familiar pose, Kid Mexico is featured as "back from 'Frisco to promote scraps at Oil City House" in Huntington Beach.  The 158-pound Faulkner--reported as "in the best condition of his career and prepared to battle any man his size in the West"--would headline a grudge match fight against Young 'Dynamite' George who had bested him "for the count of ten" three years earlier. (Santa Ana Register, March 22, 1924)

    Kid Mexico won his March 26, 1924, grudge match against Young "Dynamite" George, who had bested him three years earlier. But, the fight conditions and the crowd in Huntington Beach wasn't  the stuff of boxing dreams and there were only "a handful of cash customers in the barn."  

   The Santa Ana Register's report about the fight the next day--Mexico Gets Lucky Decision at Beach--was more blistering than the fight.  The writer was apparently disappointed "there were no hard blow struck, no gore spilled or anything like that."

   "With rain oozing down through the roof to make the ring slippery enough for skiing and a chilly Westerly blowing breezes along the rafters, the setting at the Huntington Beach boxing arena wasn't right for thrillers last night," reported the Santa Ana Register. "So there just wasn't any cauliflower ear melodramas."

   Three years later in September 1927, Kid Mexico dropped by the sports desk at the Santa Ana Register to announce he was dropping the nickname and would be going by Todd Faulkner and focusing on boxing promotions.  

   Register sports writer Eddie West, explained in his West Winds column, "he has banished that fistic pseudonym forever for his more legal, rightful and dignified handle Todd Faulkner."  The back story to this is that Faulkner was suspended indefinitely by the State Athletic Commission in April 1926 for "failure to keep in condition".  

   The Santa Ana Register noted at the time that Kid Mexico "was a popular main-eventer here during the heyday of the Delhi arena and at one time was considered one of the best middleweights on the Pacific Coast."

LEFT: Santa Ana Register columnist Eddie West fueled the local boxing scene with gossipy tidbits and personal observations. In one column he noted that "Todd Faulkner's best friend's first name is Todd". (Source, Santa Ana Register)

   He did make a comeback in 1928, although by then the newspapers were calling Kid Mexico the "old Huntington Beach warhorse".  He makes yet another comeback in 1930, challenging his old nemesis Jack Iman via proxy with Santa Ana Register sports columnist Eddie West (who seemed to enjoy his part in stirring the pot). Kid Mexico wrote a letter to be published in the June 5, 1930, West Winds column challenging Iman.    

   Kid Mexico wrote, "I'm sure Iman would be kayoed in--oh, say three rounds--but he and I will cram more action into those three rounds before I stop him than these other fighters give in 10 full rounds."  

LEFT: An excerpt of the response from boxer Jack Iman to a letter written by Kid Mexico to Santa Ana Register columnist Eddie West. This served the same purpose as television-era interviews with boxers challenging their opponents: to generate public interest in a future match-up. (Santa Ana Register, June 10, 1930)   
  
   Local boxing enthusiasts grabbed their popcorn and waited for the response from Iman.  It came a few days later in Eddie West's June 10 column.  Iman, reported as a man of few words, wasn't having any of it.

   "I hope in the near future to give him a chance to learn that it is harder to k.o. me with a boxing glove than it is with a pen," wrote back Iman. "Let's say it with leather."

  Faulkner is frequently reported in local newspapers as putting together fight "cards" or matches in the 1920s and 1930s in both Orange and Los Angeles counties. They still called him Kid Mexico, often never referencing his real name.  Faulkner knew the value of promotion.  But as the years passed and despite his resiliency, the heydays of loosely regulated local boxing were passing.

   His friend and Santa Ana Register columnist Eddie West lamented the fading of Kid Mexico from the boxing scene in 1931, writing that Faulkner "who refers to himself as a perennial gigolo is doing one of his annual fistic 'comebacks'" at the Wilmington bowl.   

   "The Kid was the best fighter Orange County ever produced," wrote West. "The rest promise much, never get anywhere."

RIGHT: A token from Kid Mexico's bingo parlor in Signal Hill. His entertainment businesses in Signal Hill included a taxi dancing hall, saloon and movie house. (Source: TokenCatalog.com)

   What makes Kid Mexico's story even more interesting is what he did later in life, after he closed up shop at his Huntington Beach boxing arena.

   Faulkner was working as an oil driller in Long Beach, still fighting the occasional fight, and still promoting boxing matches into the 1940s...sometimes without a license (a problem for the boxing commission).

   In reality, the 32-year-old Faulkner was just catching his second wind. In 1932, he met 16-year-old Edna, his future wife, who was half his age at the time.  He began successfully investing in entertainment-related enterprises, calling on his boxing promotions experience.

ABOVE: Kid Mexico, then only 48, was wealthy, having invested in oil property and entertainment enterprises.  Meeting his wife, Edna, seems to have been a turning point. (Los Angeles Times, October 25, 1949)

    Faulkner moved with his bride to Signal Hill, where he built Edna a 14-room house and they raised two children.  He is remembered as a larger-than-life character, opening an eight-lane bowling alley, taxi-dancing hall, restaurant, cocktail lounge, and movie house.  He also ran a bingo parlor that "was ignored by the local police for many years", according to his obituary. 

RIGHT: Todd Faulkner, aka Kid Mexico, in 1938, six years after he met his wife, Edna, at the Long Beach Pike. (Image, geni.com) 

   Faulkner was referred to as the "Baron of Signal Hill" in a feature by the Los Angeles Times in 1949, which noted he was "a guy with a less than grammar school education" who made it big and hosted parties at his house every weekend for local children. His wife, Edna, was named "Woman of the Week" by Eleanor Roosevelt for her work on behalf of juvenile delinquency.

   In 2014, Ashley Fowler wrote of Faulkner in the Signal Tribune newspaper, "in 1951, he was accused of registering voters who didn't live in Signal Hill to defeat an anti-gambling initiative that would put an end to his bingo parlor. He plead guilty to the charges, was fined $500 and given three years' probation. The initiative passed and, without the gambling, his business quickly dried up." 

   Fowler reports Faulkner and his wife moved to Laguna Beach in 1952, but she was lost to cancer at age 36 three years later.  Faulkner would return to Signal Hill, to the oil fields and friends he knew, opening a private Kid Mexico museum and charging a few bucks to visitors.  As of the posting of this feature in June 2017, a framed photo of Hopalong Cassidy from the Kid Mexico museum is selling for $499.00 on eBay.  Kid Mexico would have loved it.

   In 1949, decades before his death in 1985, the Los Angeles Times' Cal Whorton reported, "there's a rumor that Kid Mexico's life story is beginning to interest several motion picture companies. Whether the flicker moguls go for the story, I can't say. Chances are they won't because it's so fantastic.

ABOVE: Boxing was still part of Huntington Beach culture at the time of the annual Twins Convention in 1940.  Old timers in Huntington Beach may remember Latka's Golden Gloves Tavern at 5061 Warner Avenue, owned by former professional boxer George Latka, who opened it in 1975. The Los Angeles Times wrote of the tavern in 1991 that "your first instinct is to hit the deck before the coppers bust the joint" and that "a fern would still probably die a fast death here".  The Times conceded that while the tavern was "rough around the edges", it was full of nice people. (Photo, Twins Convention, City of Huntington Beach archives, circa 1940)

© All rights reserved.  No part of the Historic Huntington Beach blog may be reproduced or duplicated without prior written permission from the author and publisher, M. Adams Urashima.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Flag Day

ABOVE: Image from the 100 Years of Surfing event at the Huntington Beach pier, 2014. The 1914 re-dedication of the Huntington Beach pier was a major event in pioneer Huntington Beach and followed several "wipeouts" of the pier from Pacific storms.  The 1914 cornerstone is on display at Huntington Beach's International Surfing Museum, 411 Olive Avenue, north of Main Street. (Photo, M. Urashima) © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 

© All rights reserved.  No part of the Historic Huntington Beach blog may be reproduced or duplicated without prior written permission from the author and publisher, M. Adams Urashima.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Fay and Ray, and Eugene, go joy riding in 1911

ABOVE: The men above want you to know they are not Fay and Ray. Or, Eugene.  This is the typical horse and buggy kit one would see in Huntington Beach in the early 1900s. These cigar-smoking men are on Ocean Avenue--now Pacific Coast Highway--near Main Street, circa 1905. Behind them to the left is the brick-and-mortar Ocean Wave Hotel.  Today, it is the El Don Liquor building at 416 Pacific Coast Highway, a few steps north of Main Street. We recommend walking behind the building to look at it from the alley to get a glimpse of its pioneer roots.  (Photo courtesy of City of Huntington Beach archives, 1905)

   Over a century ago, the Huntington Beach News and Santa Ana Register regularly reported horse thievery in the peatlands, a continual problem in rural Orange County.  On April 21, 1911, the culprits were a particularly rough lot, making it a tough case to prosecute.  They were children.

   Fay Miranville and Ray Talbert--both girls--spotted an opportunity on the dusty Main Street of Huntington Beach:  a horse and buggy, with the owner away.  Accomplice in the caper was Eugene Perry, a young man sufficiently overtaken by the charms of Fay and Ray that he joined the misdeed.  They were all under the age of ten.

RIGHT: The Kitchen Encylopedia was a 31-page booklet of recipes published by Swift & Company for Oleomargarine in 1911.

   Mrs. Lloyd Kelley had tied up her horse and buggy on Main Street and stepped into the Huntington Beach Meat Market to do some shopping for the evening meal.  She may have just gotten her 1911 copy of The Kitchen Encylopedia from Swift & Company Oleomargarine and wanted to try the Spanish Minced Beef in Meat Box recipe (hopefully, not the Boiled Beef recipe).  

   Mrs. Kelley did not lock her vehicle or set her alarm.  Big mistake, Mrs. Kelley.  To her credit though, no one else on Main Street would have suspected the grade-schoolers.   

LEFT: The McIntosh brothers' meat market, as seen circa 1927 inside the Standard Market on Main Street, was typical of the butcher counter of the early 1900s.  (Photo courtesy of Doug McIntosh) © All rights reserved.

   Fay and Ray, and Eugene, jumped in the buggy and high-tailed it inland through the countryside to Talbert (now, Fountain Valley).  With no paved roads, one can only imagine the bumpy ride and the trail of dust as they made their escape.  

   It was roughly a five to six mile trek as the crow flies from Main Street in Huntington Beach to the village center of Talbert.

   As they reached the outskirts of Talbert, they came across rancher J. B. McCowan and sized him up as an easy mark.  Fay and Ray, and Eugene, hit him up for 50 cents "to go to the show".  McCowan either thought the whole thing was normal or he was intimidated by the threatening nature of three nine-year-olds.  He gave them the money.  

RIGHT: Motion pictures were still transitioning from silent films to "talkies" and theater houses were few and far between in 1911. Vaudeville venues screened silent and talking pictures, along with their live vaudeville acts. The week of April 15, 1911--at the time of Fay and Ray, and Eugene's horse thievery--The Bell was featuring "4 big reels of the latest pictures", "5 big acts of latest vaudeville", "17 people...including musicians", and an assortment of "high class artists". (Santa Ana Register, September 30, 1911)

   Flush with coins, and despite the fact it was near dusk, the trio continued on toward the bustling metropolis of Santa Ana.  In 1911, it was the seat of Orange County government with a population of over 8,000.  Santa Ana had saloons, vaudeville, and other questionable entertainment. 
 
LEFT:  In July 1911, The Bell was advertising a show with "live trained wild lions" and soliciting for a couple who would be willing to get married in the lion's den, all expenses paid. What nine-year-old wouldn't want to see entertainment like this? Nuf ced. (Santa Ana Register, July 20, 1911)

   Santa Ana vaudeville house, The Bell, admitted children under the age of ten for a ticket price of five-cents each, leaving them with a balance of 35-cents.  Fay and Ray, and Eugene, planned ahead when strong-arming J.B. McCowan for 50 cents.  They had extra change left over for a second show and a few treats.

   On April 8, 1911, the silent animated short film, Little Nemo, was released.  The bandits being of youthful tendencies, we'd bet our 50 cents  they wanted to see the new cartoon.

RIGHT: Little Nemo and the princess ride away in the mouth of a dragon in the surreal 1911 silent short animation, Little Nemo, by Winsor McCay. In 1912, McCay--a cartoonist who created Little Nemo for the New York Herald--released his next animation, How a Mosquito Operates, which is described as having "a more coherent story". (Image source, WikiCommons)

   Downtown Santa Ana was another seven to eight miles journey on dirt roads from Talbert.  Most of the way was open countryside: ranches, farms, and irrigation ditches.  There wasn't an abundance of signage in the peatlands.  They had never actually driven to Santa Ana on their own before.  They were lost.  It was getting late in the day.

   It was then that Fay and Ray, and Eugene, came upon another rancher, Mr. Williams, and asked for directions.  Mr. Williams--being of sensible nature--told them he'd give them good directions if they came to his ranch house.  He probably used the ol' "how 'bout we get your horse some water and I'll get you directions" line.  It's possible the trio was beginning to have second thoughts about their plan for the day.  It also might have been the bandits thought they could talk Mr. Williams into giving them another coin or two.  After all, it worked on J.B. McCowan

LEFT: Thomas B. Talbert ran a general merchandise store in the village of Talbert, before moving to Huntington Beach to open a realty business. He was appointed to the Orange County board of supervisors in 1909, the year Huntington Beach incorporated (and two years before he was called upon to apprehend three nine-year-old horse thieves). (Photo, Santa Ana Register, September 25, 1928)

   Once at the ranch, Mr. Williams dialed telephone number 341 to talk with Thomas B. Talbert--an Orange County supervisor, Huntington Beach realtor, and the man for whom the village of Talbert was named--to let Tom know he had detained three children (one with the last name of Talbert), horse, and buggy.  

   Talbert had a new-fangled automobile and sped over country roads to the Williams ranch to return the horse thieves to their "anxious parents" in Huntington Beach.  
 
ABOVE: Thomas B. Talbert's advertisement from the Orange County Directory in 1911, the year of the great horse and buggy caper. (Fullerton Public Library)

  The Santa Ana Register reported it was after 8 p.m. by the time the hardened--or more likely sleepy and hungry--criminals returned home.

RIGHT: Also among the 1911 reports of horse thievery, H.W. Lewis' horse and buggy were stolen while hitched in front of the United Presbyterian Church, "buggy, bibles and mare", prompting the Santa Ana Register to ponder if the thief might read the part about "thou shalt not steal." (Santa Ana Register, September 11, 1911)

   There are some holes in the story of the April heist.  For instance, what happened to Mrs. Lloyd Kelley? However did she make it home without a horse and buggy?  And, what did she make for dinner (again, hopefully not the Boiled Beef)?

   Were Fay and Ray, and Eugene, charged with a speeding violation?  They had to have accelerated a tad over the speed limit as they made their way out of the Huntington Beach Township.

   Speeding was no joke in 1911, as horses, automobiles, and pedestrians were still adjusting to the clash of old and new transportation.  A spooked horse was dangerous.   Ordinance 70, passed by the Huntington Beach board of trustees in January 1911, made it unlawful to "ride or drive any horse or other animal...bicycle, tricycle, velocipede, motorcycle or automobile or other riding machine or horseless vehicle or any road vehicle whatsoever at a rate of speed greater than ten (10) miles per hour" on City streets and alleyways. 

   Violations of the speed limit set by Ordinance 70 were punishable by a fine of $100 and/or possible imprisonment not to exceed thirty days.  Were Fay and Ray, and Eugene, thrown into the brick hoosegow between Main and Fifth streets?  Perhaps their imprisonment was waived for bed with no supper and restitution of the fifty cents.

   There is no report of charges against J.B. McCowan, who aided and abetted--and indeed financed--Fay and Ray, and Eugene, on their slow-speed chase through the peatlands toward vaudeville heaven. It probably took a while before he lived that one down.

   And, finally, did Fay and Ray, and Eugene, ever get to "the show" to see Little Nemo?

BELOW: Main Street at Walnut Avenue, circa 1910s.  Unpaved, the streets were oiled to keep down the dust.  The young ladies in this photograph are unidentified.  We'll let the readers decide if that is Fay and Ray, on their way to find Eugene. (Photo, City of Huntington Beach archives) 


© All rights reserved.  No part of the Historic Huntington Beach blog may be reproduced or duplicated without prior written permission from the author and publisher, M. Adams Urashima.