Thursday, March 19, 2009

March 19, 1939

It's a sure bet the Times ran a story about swallows returning to Capistrano; they did and it did. Right to the left is an article about police breaking up a poker game in San Gabriel and arresting 17 people. The address was 507 S. Del Mar--today it's Carmen's Beauty Studio.

And Pomona may host the President in 2009, but in 1939 the 8th annual Spring Poultry Show kicked off at the fairgrounds.

The big news in the world was that France was preparing for invasion by Hitler's troops, giving PM Daladier dictatorial powers. The first thing he did was call up 125,000 troops. The Nazis were parading in their recent conquest: Czechoslovakia. The lines were being drawn, and we all know how that turned out. (Here's a great site for tracking World War 2 events.)

In Los Angeles, though, Hitler and Daladier shared the front page with IATSE, the International Association of Theatrical and Stage Employees. Yup, a rally at the Hollywood America Legion Stadium turned into a riot and "At least a score of men received bloody noses, black eyes or loosened teeth in fistic battles breaking out on the stadium floor." The fight was over local control--international officers of the union had gotten an injunction stopping the local officials from transacting business. The local guys figured this to be a grab for their cash reserves. It got ugly.

This picture--dated Sept. 3, 1938, shows Gate 2 of the Stadium, which closed in 1960 or 1985, depending on your source. The photo's part of the Los Angeles Library's Herald Examiner collection. As a boxing venue from 1921, it had quite a history (see's site). It's now the Legion Lanes Bowling Alley on Gower St.

According to The Story of Hollywood: An Illustrated History, the Friday night boxing bouts were the place to stars like Lon Chaney, Boris Karloff, the Marx Brothers, Clark Gable and Carole Lombard, Mae West, Humphrey Bogart and the Three Stooges.

What else was going on?

Eleanor Roosevelt was in town for three hours on March 19, 1939 as well. She stopped by to see her son James, a movie studio VP--he picked her up at the train station, took her to dinner, and got her back on a train to San Francisco. Since Union Station didn't open till May 1939, they would have met and parted at the Central Station, 5th and Alameda (if you want to know more about our pre-Union Station train platforms, here's a good starting point: a comment by SenorLargo last September)

Mrs. Roosevelt rode on the Sunset Limited, operated by Southern Pacific, and Wiki says that by 1939 the route offered all Pullman cars and even had air conditioning.

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