Social Progress, ca.1914

I came across this bit of historic trivia in the January 31, 1914, issue of the movie theater operator's trade journal "The Moving Picture World" thanks, Google Books.) I don't think the proposed theater ever got built. Perhaps that's why boys have never gotten out of the habit of watching "...moving picture shows which are injurious to their morals...."

By the way, has anybody seen Jackass 3D yet? I really want to see that! It would be so sick if there was a theater that would let me see it for a penny.
Big Theater for Children Proposed in Chicago.

A plan to build a moving picture paradise for boys in the "Loop" was announced the other day by John Coleman, financial secretary of the "Big Brothers'" philanthropic organization, this city. According to Mr. Coleman work will be begun the coming spring. The theater will have a seating capacity of 4,100, and six reels of pictures will be shown for one cent.

"We are going to take the boys away from the moving picture shows which are injurious to their morals," said Mr. Coleman. "All crime pictures will be barred. So will questionable love films.

"The site of the theater has not been chosen, but it will be in the loop."

Jack Robbins, head of the "Big Brothers" and a well-known sociologist, has submitted the final plans. They call for help from the city council. Mr. Robbins recently gathered twelve of the toughest boys in the country and sent them to a farm near Reno, Nev., where they will be given a chance to become good citizens.

If this project goes through, Chicago will have the first strictly children's moving picture theater in this country.

Dumb Stuff from the USC Digital Archive

Now edited, with contemporary links.

Picture here (click on its "Details" link to see the page with the text.)

View of the corner of West Broadway and South Seventh Street in Los Angeles, ca.1926

Photograph of a view of the corner of West Broadway and South Seventh Street in Los Angeles, ca.1926. A crowd of people are crossing the street from right to left while an automobile tries to make a right turn through them. Crowds of other people huddle together on the sidewalks. A few are gathered by two post boxes and a street lamp at the foreground left corner. The Loew's State Theater building can be seen at the right. Also in view are the Isaacs Building, Marshall Field & Company, Chicago Wholesale Dry Goods, Johnson Rass Company, Wholesale Millinery, Machin Shirt Company, Clayburgh Brothers Woolens at 745 South Broadway, a dentist's office at 706 South Spring, and the Hotel Lankershim. Seventh Street and Broadway was also a busy junction for the Pacific Electric Railway, with southbound cars leaving on the San Diego Coast Route, stopping at Whittier, Santa Ana, Oceanside, and La Jolla. Westbound trains along Wilshire Boulevard head towards the Santa Monica Bay District and Beach Road North.


View of the corner of West Broadway and South Seventh Street in Los Angeles, ca.1926

Record ID:


Oh, dear. Have the Internets fetched me something from the website of the USC in an alternate universe? Or is it just that somebody who knows very little about Los Angeles (and doesn't want to go to the trouble of learning more) has been hired to write descriptions of photos in USC's collection? But why would USC do that? It must be the former.

There are some things that have to be corrected in order for that information to be historically true of the Los Angeles in this universe. First, it's South Broadway and West Seventh Street (as it is correctly identified later the text—I have no idea why they didn't get the title right.) Second, Seventh and Broadway was not "...a busy junction for the Pacific Electric Railway...." None of Pacific Electric's interurban routes ever ran on either West Seventh Street or Broadway. P.E. ran interurban cars on Hill Street, a block west of Broadway, and on Main Street, two blocks east of Broadway, but the streetcars on Broadway and West Seventh were purely local, operated by the Los Angeles Railway.

Stranger is the claim that the P.E. had a route to San Diego, through Whittier, Santa Ana, Oceanside and La Jolla. There was a P.E. route to Santa Ana, but it didn't go through Whittier and it stopped in Orange County, just a few miles beyond Santa Ana. Also strange is the claim that the P.E. cars to Santa Monica ran on Wilshire Boulevard. Not even the local cars of the L.A. Railway ran on Wilshire. There was never any mass transit but buses along Wilshire until the red line subway was built late in the 20th Century. It looks as though the writer of the caption mistook for P.E. signs two street signs directing traffic along auto routes.

How could people working for USC, one of the oldest educational institutions in Southern California, get such easy stuff wrong? If this page were the only one with such glaring errors I might not now be suspecting the school of having been taken over by giant cephalopods from some distant planet, disguised as humans and just biding their time until they can seize full power. Alas, there are many pages in the archives containing egregious errors of this sort. Example: a view of Broadway south near 6th Street [Edit: This page has been repaired and now features a photo matching the description. The cephalopods must know we are now aware of them! There is little time for us to act!], with many still-extant, easily recognized landmarks in full view, is inexplicably claimed to be a view north along Spring Street toward 5th Street.

I now realize that those giant cephalopods are bound to eat us if we don't do something. I say we seal off USC and send in our own cooks. We must eat the cephalopods before they eat us! Don't be fooled by their human appearance! Just ask everybody on campus if there was ever a streetcar line to Santa Monica on Wilshire Boulevard. If they give the wrong answer, off with their tasty heads! Once the invaders are dead and eaten, then I, and other knowledgeable earthlings, will get to provide accurate captions for these pictures.

It Isn't Me!

It once was the case that when I Googled myself (oh, come on, we all do it), the first several results were all about either that guy who plays basketball in Lebanon or about me (mostly in the form of pages on which I've posted at Cinema Treasures, where I've been active for a couple of years.) A couple of months ago I attached my name to the user info page at this journal, and I figured that once I got around to making more public posts, and put the word around to people I know in real life that I was posting stuff here, that cinedude would start showing up in the results of searches on the name Joe Vogel, too.

Now, all of a sudden, there's this guy, a former vice president of the student government at Utah Valley State College who resigned his position a couple of years ago when protests erupted over his role in extending an invitation to Michael Moore to speak on the campus. As a result of that event, he has been turning up in the search results for the last couple of years, but always a little way down. Now this other Joe Vogel has published a book called Free Speech 101, and the book's eponymous web site has popped up to the top of the Google results. Now, while the author has published the book under the name Joseph Vogel, which is not my name (I got only the simple diminutive, and Joe Walter Vogel is what it says on my birth certificate), the site still shows up at the top of the results of "Joe Vogel" searches. As Joseph's fame grows, his Blogger account (which does use joevogel in its URL) will probably also be climbing up in the results as it gets more and more links to its posts.

Now, I certainly don't begrudge author Joseph Vogel his success, but I would like to make it clear to anybody who might show up at this journal that I'm not that guy! I've never even invited Michael Moore to dinner (I probably couldn't afford to feed him in any case), let alone to speak on a college campus in Utah. In fact there are all sorts of things that Joseph and I don't have in common. For one thing, he's a lot younger than I am. In fact, I'm old enough to be his dad (though I'm not his dad-- I swear it! I've never even been to Utah!) For another thing, he's been a missionary, and I'm not even particularly impressed by the position. Also, he's got a college degree and all I have is several dozen lower division semester units adding up to nothing, so the kid is obviously a lot more focused than I am. And it should be noted that (though, I know, this is highly subjective) I'm way better looking than Joseph Vogel (OK, for my age, at least.) Since I'm not going to post any pictures of myself and there are plenty of pictures of Joseph out there, you'll just have to take my word for this. But would a guy with almost the same name as a nice, clean-cut, responsible kid from Utah lie about such a thing? I think not.

Thanks to both the popularity of athletics and to the way that Google relates to certain web sites, both that strikingly handsome basketball player and I still have Joseph beat when it comes to a Google image searches though. (The pictures I'm responsible for in that search aren't of me, but are thumbnails of various pictures to which I've linked in posts at Cinema Treasures, as well as a couple of pictures at Dave's Railpix for which I've provided caption information.) Maybe the day will come when Joseph will top the results even of a Google image search, but for now the handsome basketball player (who I'd say does resemble a younger me, just a bit) and I dominate!!!

But fame is fleeting. When I was a kid, I was often asked if I was related to the Joe Vogel who was then the head of MGM studios (I'm not.) Today, I doubt if more than a handful of people even remember who that once famous and powerful Joe Vogel was. And Joseph should be aware that there are dozens of other Joe Vogels just a few pages down in any Google search. Any of them might suddenly rise to the top as the result of some achievement or other. In the meantime, good luck to Joseph, and to handsome Joe basketball player, and all the other Joe Vogels out there on teh Interwebs. I think we can all agree that, whichever one of us comes out on top in search results, we can at least all be grateful that we aren't named Mel Gibson.

Harmony Lane

One of the enjoyable web sites I've lately discovered is Walking In L.A., which features photographs taken on walks through various parts of Los Angeles and vicinity not often frequented by tourists and little known to anyone but local residents. Each walk is accompanied by a Google map of the area. In the site's archives, I found a walk from June 11th, 2005, along Garvey Avenue. It has only a few pictures of the street, and a few of areas nearby, most of which I don't recognize, but there is also one picture which immediately caught my eye. It is a picture of the Harmony Lane Trailer Court. To my delight, there was a link above that picture which opens an entire page devoted to pictures of the place.

Aside from the value of the pictures in presenting an example of a particular (and rapidly vanishing) residential type which was once common in Los Angeles, the trailer court, my delight was occasioned by the fact that Harmony Lane is a place in my old neighborhood. I lived a couple of blocks north of Harmony Lane for over twenty years, and probably passed by it thousands of times. I never paid too much attention to it when I first moved to the neighborhood, as it was just another trailer court. They were all over the place then, and their reputation was not particularly salubrious. They tended to be the last stop before homelessness for many Angelenos (many of them elderly and most of them single) in economic decline, and were also often the home of many members of the criminal classes. A common view of the residents was summed up in the still-prevalent term "trailer trash".

But in my childhood, trailer courts had been the frequent recourse of many respectable folk who found them, given the city's tight housing market brought on by the rapid growth of the region during the second world war, a necessary way-stop en route to one of the new tract houses then popping up in former orchards and pastures from San Fernando to Lakewood. I recall visiting friends of my parents who lived in trailer courts, and their places were pleasant and tidy, though restricted in size. In fact, I found the thought of trailer life somewhat alluring at that time. At five or six, the idea that people could just hook up their house to their car and take off was pleasing to me. I was even a bit envious of the trailer dwellers. Trailers seemed almost like land-bound cabin cruisers.

By the time I moved into the house on Jackson Avenue, near Harmony Lane, trailer courts no longer held any glamour for me. The were merely the places where people who couldn't afford real houses or even apartments lived- maybe a bit more bucolic than the SRO hotels downtown where other people in that economic situation lived, but essentially the same sort of thing. Harmony Lane was only one of several surviving trailer courts along Garvey Avenue and some of its side streets in the 1960's, but by the 1980's, when I left the area, more than a few of them had vanished, and each time I passed Harmony Lane, I was touched by a bit of nostalgia for a vanishing way of life. I expected that I'd see the place closed down one day, to be replaced by one of those ubiquitous mini-malls which were becoming a common feature of L.A.'s suburban business streets, but the Harmony Lane persisted, though ever growing a bit dowdier, and the trailers a bit more overgrown by the vines and shrubs which surrounded them.

I've seldom thought of Harmony Lane since moving away from its neighborhood, and finding pictures of it on the Internet was a surprise. In these photographs, it takes on an almost romantic air, though one that is more melancholy than that which it might have evoked for me had I visited it when I was a child and it was much newer and tidier. One of the trailers- a small Airstream of about 1940's vintage, I think- is now so overgrown that it calls to mind an industrial-age version of one of those old English cottages long romanticized by illustrators of children's books and publishers of chromolithographs. Looking at these photos, I can almost imagine myself living in a trailer at Harmony Lane. There are certainly places far worse. In these pictures, though, the driveways and parking spaces are overgrown with weeds, and the trailers appear to be abandoned. I suspect that the place was, at the time they were taken in JUne of 2005, nearing the end of its existence, and may be gone by now. One less bit of the old neighborhood, and one more mini-mall, most likely.

Using Microsoft's Terraserver (which I prefer to Google Maps), one can search on the address 7539 Garvey Avenue, Rosemead, CA, and select the "Urban Areas 2004" link on the results page to see a nice aerial view of Harmony Lane, on the lower left corner of the block. Enlarging the map and clicking on the lower right arrow a couple of times will also provide a nice aerial of Richard Garvey School, the intermediate school I attended in the 1950's. Just about everything else in the neighborhood has changed dramatically since then, though.

Spelling "Miss Arzt"

My high school's official web site contains an essay on the school's history (written about four years ago) which has sufficient misinformation that it might even be considered worthy of Wikipedia. In fact, the Wikipedia page about my high school contains a link to that essay, so I guess that's proof. I just wrote an e-mail to the high school site's webmaster, pointing out some of the errors. Somehow, I doubt that they'll do anything about correcting it. Teh Internets is like that. I know from experience that while amateur web sites run by (for example) one old guy with a hobby often fix things, official web sites of various institutions seldom do. If the essay were on Wikipedia itself, I could correct the errors myself, of course- if I had the time and patience. I think one of the reasons that Wikipedia hangs on to so many errors is that, as easy as the operators have tried to make it to use, making corrections is still a time-consuming pain in the ass, so a lot of people who spot mistakes just don't have the time or patience to change them.

But about the high school site's errors- the one that surprised me least was the misspelling of the surname of our girl's Vice Principal, Miss Arzt. Her name was pronounced "arts" but spelled with the "z" preceding the "t". People get it wrong all the time, but I sent the webmaster a correction anyway. I hadn't thought of Miss Arzt in a long time. She was not a popular figure on campus. Very strict, she would make the girls kneel on the floor to see if their skirts touched the ground. If the skirts didn't reach, she would send the offending girl home to change into something longer. She forbade the girls to wear patent leather shoes, because she believed that boys would be able to get a glimpse of the girls' underwear reflected in their shiny surface.

A diminutive but determined presence with bobbed gray hair and plastic rimmed cat-eye glasses, she patrolled the hallways like a one-woman police force, always walking swiftly and with a forward lean that made her seem perpetually in a rush to catch the next miscreant who was in defiance of the school dress code. So many naughty girls, so little time! Poor Miss Arzt. But I shouldn't pity her. I think she delighted in her job, born Sargent-Major that she was. Maybe it's fitting punishment that everyone misspells her name, but it turns out that I'm as priggish about spelling as she was about the length of girls' skirts.

If they do correct any of the errors in that essay, I hope they correct the misspelling of Miss Arzt's name. In truth, I was never particularly annoyed by her (though I did find her a somewhat comical figure), and she always responded cheerfully when I said hello when passing her in the hall. Most of the female students may have found her constant thwarting of their ill-manners and their questionable fashion sense one of the great irritations of their high school days, and students of both sexes seldom failed to mock her when she had passed by them, but, dammit, the woman deserves to at least have her name spelled correctly on her school's official web site! These days, I think of her almost fondly, if only for the amusement the memory of her rather obsessive primness brings. Getting her name corrected is a good way to make up for my own occasional joke at her expense.


Every once in a while, I think about Ruth's, the little shop that was across Garvey Avenue from Garvey School until sometime in the late 1950's. I remember, in the mornings before the first class, Mr. Hillman standing at the school end of the pedestrian subway under the street, regulating the crowds of kids on their way to and from Ruth's to buy candy or any of the various fad objects she used to sell, like those long balloons or fake tattoo transfers that only faded from your skin after a couple of days, provided you didn't scrub them.

I only went to Ruth's in the morning once. The place was a zoo, the small room swarming with kids screaming and yelling for Ruth's attention. She was probably hard of hearing, because I remember her being even older than the old, wooden building her shop was in. Later, I recall going over to her shop a number of times in the afternoons, after the crowds had left. Ruth and I would usually be the only ones there. It was a small, square room with, along one side, a candy counter and an old wooden counter, lined with stools, where Ruth served ice cream, bottled soft drinks, and ice cream floats. I don't remember much else about the room, but I think there were a couple of tables with chairs, and not much else.

Out the dusty front windows, there was a view of the old Garvey School building across the street, which was torn down about 1957 or 1958 if I recall correctly. I used to buy a black cherry float, for which Ruth charged fifteen cents I think, and I would sit there at the counter, looking out at the old building, wondering what it had been like long before when it was new. I also wondered how long Ruth's had been there in that old, wooden building which was surely older than the old school building, and I wondered how many generations of Garvey students had made the trek across the street to buy sugary treats from Ruth as she and her shop grew older and older.

I might have asked Ruth herself how long she and her shop had been there, but I never did. In fact, despite her rather small size and her frail and aged appearance, I found Ruth a bit intimidating- even formidable. She didn't seem a particularly gregarious person, nor particularly fond of the kids who were, as far as I could see, her only customers, and so I kept my peace, quietly drinking the milky black cherry soda from the tall glass and then finishing the ice cream at the bottom with a long spoon. Then I would leave, taking care not to let the squeaky screen door slam shut as it was inclined to do. Ruth never said goodbye.

I'm pretty sure they tore down the old school building before I graduated from Garvey, but I can't remember if Ruth's was still there when I left the school. I know that a few years later, her shop was gone and that big, pink apartment building had been built in her building's former location. Since then, I've sometimes wondered what became of Ruth. I'd like to think that she owned the land her shop was on, and made a bundle selling it to the developer of the apartment house and moved someplace pleasant to spend her last years, but I have no idea. But I do have fond memories of those quiet afternoons I spent in Ruth's, looking out those dusty windows at the scene which now sometimes seems to have been drawn from another age, or another world I once merely visited for a while.