Not all of the best letters to the Times in the 1880s dealt with major 

issues or drew forth responses from other readers.  Scattered throughout the 

decade were isolated gems that displayed the writer's humor or cleverness or 

commented on concerns that were not significant enough to arouse a general 

public outcry.  One such submission came in the form of a poem about Frank Ey, 

an Anaheim resident whose name appeared for a time on the editorial page as the 

Times' representative in that area.  Those with the same surname rhyme it with 

"fry."  Since Editor Otis and his wife Eliza had joined the paper's staff a few 

days before they published the poem and they were unlikely to have known the 

Anaheim agent, and since Eliza frequently contributed poetry to the paper, both 

the reply and the original inquiry may have been written by Mrs. Otis.

                          {Times, Aug. 5, 1882, p. 4}

                               A Poetical Eytem.

         To the Editor of The Times:

               You have an agent 'mongst the lime

               and lemon groves of Anaheim.

               Now humbly ask I, if I may,

               Pronounceth he, his surname Ey?

               Perchance those spelling would imply

               That he pronounceth himself Ey.

               Or, haply, it may neither be,

               But calleth himself simply Ey.

               Whatever's right, ye must perceive,

               To ease these doubts will much relieve.


         Los Angeles, Aug. 4, 1882.  

                                     - - -

                           ABLE REPLY TO THE ABOVE.

               Now, why should you weary the heavenly muse,

               And dam for a moment the channels of news,

               To ask without reason, and only in rhymes,

               The name of an agent unknown to the Times?

               Suppose we should tell you: to find out the key

               To the proper pronouncing of such name as Ey,

               Go search for the person, and thus to him say,

               "Is your name rightly Ey, or better as Ey?"

               Or again, should we warn you, in mannerly way,

               That the Times has no time to devote to your Ey.

               You might hence in all haste to that agent's friends 


               And ask as an item the history of Ey.

               'Tis discretion's best part in this instance, think we,

               To know well our own names and let other names be.

    In the 'eighties Santa Monica was the ocean resort for Los Angeles.  Rail 

passenger traffic to the beach opened in 1875 and until other seaside 

communities developed during the boom of the 1880s Santa Monica enjoyed a near 

monopoly on shoreline recreation.  While the visitors were welcome, at least 

one resident was concerned that inconsiderate bathers violated accepted 

standards of decency.  While no law was apparently passed at that time, forty 

years later similar concerns would result in enactment of a Long Beach city 

ordinance strictly regulating the size and shape of bathing suits that could be 

worn in public.

                          {Times, Aug. 5, 1882, p. 4}

                     Concerning Bathers in Scant Garments.

         To the Editor of The Times:

              Will you permit me in the name of our mothers, wives and 

         sisters, to protest against the very unbecoming, not to say 

         indecent garb in which some of our bathers appear day after 


              We have laws against men and women appearing in our 

         streets and at our public gatherings in immodest apparel, and 

         why should not the same laws apply to our public watering 

         places and theaters?

              If the parties who daily make a parade here of their 

         supposed physical attractions and charms would make so 

         shameless an exhibition of themselves upon your streets, they 

         no doubt would be arrested and fined.  The moral status of 

         those who come here and leave their modesty at home is very 

         fairly illustrated by the anecdote of the little girl who 

         closed her evening prayer with, "Good bye, Lord; I'm going to 

         Boston in the morning and won't be back for three weeks."  

         And so some people think that because they are going to a 

         fashionable watering place they will have no need of modesty.

              Again, there is now and then one who takes especial 

         pains to "show off".  We witnessed an exhibition of this kind 

         yesterday.  A being in the form of a man dressed himself in a 

         suit seemingly two or three sizes too small for his bulky 

         body, and then stepped out of the bathroom right into the 

         midst of a score of ladies and children, and stood there at 

         least ten minutes, looking around him every few minutes to 

         see how much the fair sex were admiring him.  Could he but 

         have heard the expressions of universal disgust from their 

         lips, and could he have interpreted the almost irresistible 

         upward movement of the right foot of some of them, he perhaps 

         would have postponed his bath.  But no, I'm mistaken.  Such 

         characters are strangers to modesty and even glory in their 


              These comments may seem severe.  Well, that is what I 

         intend them to be, for it is no use to waste time in 

         moralizing with such people.

              Congress would confer a very great blessing on society, 

         the home and family, if it would make an appropriation of 

         $3,000,000 to purchase one of the South Sea Islands for 

         bathing purposes, solely for this class, and furnish them 

         free transportation there and back annually.  There they 

         might enjoy, in their seclusion, each others' society and 

         enchanting charms without having blushes to mantle their 

         cheeks because of the gaze of the impolite bystanders.  Poor, 

         persecuted souls!  How much they suffer from a cold, 

         heartless, unsympathising, falsely-educated public!  Nothing 

         in dress nor conduct should be found at our public places of 

         resort that would not be proper in the family circle and home 

         society.  No doubt some will accuse the writer of "mock 

         modesty."  Well, so be it.  Even so-called "mock modesty" is 

         certainly to be preferred to the absence of all modesty.  

         While the conduct of such people is open to the severest 

         criticism, and most deservedly so, we challange all of them 

         to produce a single argument in justification of their semi-

         nude condition.          

                                        M. V. W.

              Santa Monica, Cal., Aug. 3, 1882.

    Harris Newmark described the fire alarm system that Los Angeles utilized 

upon his arrival in 1853.  

              Instead of fire-bells announcing to the people that a 

         conflagration was in progress, the discharging of pistols in 

         rapid succession gave the alarm and was the signal for a 

         general fusillade throughout the neighboring streets.  

         Indeed, this method of sounding a fire-alarm was used as late 

         as the eighties.

By 1882 "H" thought the time had come to change that system, but it was 1886 

before the old method gave way to a modern one.

                         {Times, Oct. 14, 1882, p. 4}

                             CAN'T IT BE STOPPED?

                The Regulation Alarm--Something Better Needed.

         To the Editor:

              Is it not possible to stop the indiscriminate sounding 

         of a fire alarm similar to that of last night?  It does seem 

         as though there ought to be a fire alarm system in a city of 

         the size of Los Angeles; but we must not expect too much all 

         at once.  Last evening the foundry of the Messrs. O'Donnell & 

         Sutliff, on Aliso street, was delayed in taking off a heat, 

         and at about seven o'clock the light reflected very brightly 

         from the furnace cupola.  Some individual standing in plain 

         sight of the furnace, after it had been flaming up for full 

         fifteen minutes, commenced giving the Los Angeles regulation 

         alarm, by firing a revolver.  That was enough; every revolver 

         within hearing distance was immediately brought out and a 

         fusilade commenced, and in the usual time the whole fire 

         department was called out and went tearing down the street to 

         squelch the great conflagration.  In vain a gentleman ran up 

         to one of the hose companies and yelled to the leaders that 

         it was only a cupola blast; as well attempt to dam Niagara 

         with straws--they were bound to quell that conflagration.  

         This little episode will cost the city $25 for calling out 

         the fire department.  Can't something be done to prevent this 

         kind of a lunatic from unnecessarily causing such excitement 

         and the attendant expense?                            


    While alcohol drew a large number of letters from readers advocating 

temperance or prohibition, only a handful of critics bothered to condemn 

tobacco.  G. A. Millard raised the issue of patches, a century early, as a 

method to stop smoking although the patches he cited differed considerably from 

the ones that would become popular later.  As noted by "R. T.," educators, too, 

denounced tobacco, although its continued use would became a prime source of 

revenue for the public schools through the cigarette tax.  "C. H. S." pioneered 

the attack on what would become known as "second hand smoke."  

                          {Times, Aug. 7, 1883, p. 3}

                           Can We Not Save the Boys?

              To the Editor of the Times--Sir:  This seems to me to be 

         an important question and there seems to be but little 

         thought given the subject, at least in regard to devising a 

         remedy for this growing evil.  There is need of a measure to 

         protect our boys.  The great evil of the use of tobacco, 

         especially cigarette smoking, is asuming enormous 

         proportions, particularly on this coast.  It is dragging our 

         rising generation down, creating a race poisoned by the use 

         of this vile stuff.  Our army of cigarette smokers is largely 

         made up of young boys.  And when we stop and think of the 

         tender age at which they begin, it is fearful to think of.  

         Little boys seven and eight years of age, just at the time 

         they are most susceptible of forming habits and most 

         susceptible to the evil effects of the tobacco.  The younger 

         one is at the time of beginning the longer he has to follow 

         it, if he lives, and the longer one follows the habit the 

         more completely is he under its power, and the more 

         completely is his nervous system affected by it.  Now, 

         considering the age of the majority of beginners, and that 

         they are not as likely to form the habit after reaching 

         manhood, this gives us a point to begin on.  Where is the 

         father, although using tobacco himself, who wishes his son to 

         form the same habit?  I think he would be hard to find.

              Fathers have the right to say, "Sir, you shall not 

         furnish my son with this poison, I forbid it."  And they can 

         successfully forbid it.  If they will unite they have the 

         power to make it unlawful for anyone to furnish the boys with 


              This vice is closely allied to strong drink, and while 

         the temperance question is being agitated why not make a move 

         in this direction for the benefit of our sons and brothers?

              But before leaving this question let us look at another 

         connected with it.

              The announcement is made that there is a hundred cases 

         on this coast of leprous patches on mouth and lips, believed 

         to have been started by smoking cigarettes made by Chinese.

              This is one of the best mediums for scattering this 

         loathsome disease.  Can we do nothing to check it?

              The first reason given is enough cause for us to 

         prohibit the furnishing tobacco to minors, but this last 

         reason is one that should attract the attention of every one.

              All who are interested in the young, the coming men, our 

         little boys, should wield their influence to stop this curse.

              Shall this fair land be allowed to become a leprous 

         hotbed?  It will be if we allow it to go on at the present 


              Our boys are thoughtless and do not realize their 

         danger.  After they are older they will be able to form 

         better opinions, will not be as likely to fall into the habit 

         of cigarette smoking.  Let us protect them in their youth and 

         they will bless us in our old age.

              Is there any one besides myself interested in this 


                                G. A. MILLARD, Pomona, Cal.

                         {Times, April 14, 1886, p. 2}

             The Teachers' Resolutions Against the Use of Tobacco.

              To the Editor of the Times--Sir:  I was greatly pleased 

         to read in the Times a resolution adopted by the teachers at 

         their recent institute, which reads as follows:

              Resolved, That the teachers should use all means at 

         their command to prevent the use of profanity, tobacco, and 

         alcoholic beverages.

              It is hoped that the teachers will do something more 

         against these vices than merely pass a resolution.  There is, 

         perhaps, no other vice so prevalent among the boys of our 

         public schools as that of cigarette smoking, and no other so 

         disastrous in its effects on the youthful mind and body.

              I have no doubt that every observant teacher can point 

         out boys in the schools whose moral and physical natures have 

         been poisoned and whose mental faculties have been benumbed 

         by long-continued use of tobacco in the form of cigars and 

         cigarettes.  From the very beginning of her crusade against 

         this evil the conscientious teacher will have to combat the 

         influence of example over precept.  The father smokes and the 

         son will follow his example.

              How discouraging to such a teacher, after she has 

         labored to impress upon her pupils the evil effects of 

         tobacco, to be told by some forward boy, "Why, our County 

         Superintendent smokes cigars; Principal A chews tobacco; 

         Principal B drinks whisky"; and as vice is more alluring than 

         virtue, and example is more potent than precept, the urchin 

         continues to imitate the vicious example of these educational 

         worthies.  I believe that the teachers should have gone a 

         step further in their resolution, and in view of the terrible 

         and widespread ruin that tobacco using is working, among the 

         boys of our land, they should have resolved that every 

         teacher, superintendent, principal or what not who promenades 

         our streets with a cigar or pipe in his mouth, poisoning our 

         boys by his example, should have his certificate revoked for 

         immoral conduct.

              A few applications of such a disinfectant would purify 

         the pedagogical atmosphere of tobacco smoke at least.  I hope 

         to live to see the day when the control and management of our 

         schools shall pass into the hands of women.  Then, and not 

         till then, can we hope to see a vigorous crusade against the 

         trinity of vices named in the resolution.

                                               R. T.

                         {Times, Sept. 8, 1888, p. 2}

                         Personal vs Property Rights.

              Los Angeles, Sept. 5.--[To the Editor of The Times.]  In 

         view of the generally-acknowledged fact that the fire at the 

         Masonic Temple Monday morning was the result of the 

         carelessness of some smoker, is it not about time for the 

         adoption by the Legislature of a law prohibiting a man from 

         smoking anywhere except in his own house?  Hundreds of other 

         mysterious fires have been traced to a similar origin.  Have 

         property-owners no rights that the smoker is bound to 

         observe?  If not, then some such rights ought to be 

         established, to say nothing about the personal right that a 

         man should have of going about the streets or into public 

         halls or buildings without being compelled to breathe the 

         smoke from other mouths, which, times without number, is very 

         disagreeable.  The tobacco habit is the most selfish one in 

         existence today, and is not only destroying valuable property 

         by the natural carelessness of its users, but is poisoning 

         the free air of heaven, compelling men and women to inhale 

         the unhealthy fumes whether they will or no, and entailing 

         weakness and disease upon the rising generation.  In view of 

         these undisputed facts would it not be a good idea for the 

         daily press to attack the filthy habit, and urge legislation 

         to restrict as above suggested.  

                                                 C. H. S.

    In a 1941 Times article dealing with the sixtieth anniversary of the 

paper's founding, Glendale resident John C. Sherer was listed as one of the 

handful of Times subscribers still living who had been readers of the paper at 

its birth.  Not only had Sherer read the Times in the 'eighties but he had also 

been a Times reporter in 1887.  Furthermore, he was a significant contributor 

of letters to the editor during that early decade.  In the summer of 1885 he 

offered this delightful response to an Otis editorial that had suggested the 

use of occupational titles that clearly indicated the gender of an individual: 

Doctor or Dr. meant a male physician; Doctrix or Dx. stood for a "lady 

physician."   These were designations Sherer was unwilling to use.

                         {Times, July 11, 1885, p. 3}

                        Concerning Doctrix Mary Smith.

              To the Editor of the Times--Sir:  In reply to your 

         editorial article in Thursday's issue, regarding the 

         "Shortcomings of the English Language," in respect to titles, 

         permit me to express an opinion in which I hope you will 

         eventually agree.  With its many defects in the shape of 

         incongruities which we hope some time to get rid of, 

         {illegible} English is a very good language, which can scarcely 

         be improved by the addition of new words, but should, when 

         changed at all, be made more simple and stronger by lopping 

         off such superfluities as have gradually crept into it.  This 

         certainly will not be done by borrowing any of the cumbrous 

         and ridiculous tautological forms which are the peculiar 

         feature of English law.  In the fond hope that English will 

         be the universal language of the future (as we have good 

         reasons for believing it will) we should be very careful to 

         add to it no unnecessary words or phrases, but to simplify it 

         as much as possible, so that its use may be the more readily 

         acquired by the foreigner.  When a woman has been appointed 

         by the court the executor of an estate does the law describe 

         her any more fully or explicitly by alluding to her as the 

         "Executrix Mrs. Mary Elizabeth Smith," than if it should 

         refer to her as "the Executor Mrs. Mary Elizabeth Smith?"  I 

         think not.  Neither would you convey to the public any 

         additional information in alluding to the lady as "Doctrix 

         Mary Smith," more than by referring to her as "Dr. Mary 

         Smith."  As long as women are given certain recognized 

         "Christian" feminine names, and men have bestowed upon them 

         masculine cognomens, there is no necessity for making 

         feminine and masculine distinctions in their titles.  The 

         highest authorities and the usages of the best society have 

         decreed, quite wisely, that a woman is a poet if she writes 

         poetry, and not a poetess; that she is a painter if she 

         follows that particular branch of art, and not a paintress, 

         and any attempt to make such titles, or names of professions, 

         vary so as to designate the gender is liable to be rejected 

         by English-speaking people as over-nice and unnecessary.

                                              J. C. SHERER.

              [Here is a deep, diabolical and insidious effort to 

         overthrow, in its very incipiency, the able reform which the 

         Times was about to institute in the manipulation of the 

         mother tongue as applied to pill peddlers of the off gender.  

         We are so completely set back, broke up, and done for by the 

         check administered with such cold-blooded previousness by our 

         esteemed correspondent, that we have no heart to go on with 

         the great work of reform begun yesterday with hopes so high, 

         and ambition so agile.  We venture, however, to fire one 

         pertinent conundrum at the daring head of our iconoclastic 

         correspondent.  What are you going to do when it is not 

         desirable to write the Christian name of the fair medica, or 

         when initials only are used?  How will you designate sex 

         when, for instance, the name is written "Dr. M. Smith," 

         instead of "Dr. Mary Smith?"  Or, take another case:  How 

         distinguish sex in a list of physicians comprising both 

         sexes, when the initials are not used?  It can't be done!

              Go to!  We intend to stand by our philological child, 

         the new-born Doctrix, and, if need be, see it die on the 

         threshold of "Doctrix Mary Smith."]

    In early 1886 a touring theatrical company sought to increase its 

attendance by offering to Los Angeles school children a monetary prize for the 

solution to a word puzzle, to be awarded during the final matinee performance 

at the Grand Opera House.  The winner would be the student who composed "the 

largest number of English words out of the letters spelling FANTASMA," which 

happened to be the name of the performance.  Answers were to be delivered to 

George McLain and Martin Lehman, operators of the Opera House.  The contest had 

been badly thought out and the judges were forced to set up rules after the 

entries had been turned in.  George A. Dobinson, a Shakespearean scholar and 

schoolmaster, chaired the committee of judges who determined that the ten 

dollar prize should be divided equally between a boy and girl who had each 

submitted solutions with 27 words and who just happened to attend private 

schools.  Mary Graham and Wyndham Brain, public school students, challenged the 

judges' decision in letters that were especially well written for such young 

students and that, in the case of Graham, reflected the anti-immigrant feeling 

that became more pronounced toward the end of the 19th century.

                         {Times, Mar. 27, 1886, p. 2}

                               The Word Contest.

                          LETTER FROM A LITTLE GIRL.

              To the Editor of the Times--Sir:  You are kind to all.  

         Will you favor a little girl, and publish this?  I exerted 

         myself to find all the words possible in the one word 

         "Fantasma," and I sent to the committee the result of my 

         labors.  I had all the words in the list published--and which 

         got the prize--and three more, which I think are legitimate, 

         as follows:

              Snat, the snuff of a candle; sanat, an Indian calico, 

         and asta, a rock or cliff.

              I do not care for the money value of the prize, but I do 

         care for the reputation of the public schools, of which I am 

         a member and pupil.  I do not like to be beaten by a girl who 

         is but six months from Europe, and who cannot speak English.  

         The committee did not see my words, or I would have got the 


                                    A LITTLE GIRL.  (Mary Graham.)

              [In reference to the foregoing communication which was 

         referred to the committee, that body through Mr. Dobinson, 

         reply that all the solutions of the "Fantasma" puzzle were 

         handed to them by McLain & Lehman, sealed up as received.  No 

         solutions came direct to the committee.  The committee saw no 

         paper from Mary Graham, and even if, as she says, her 

         solution contained all the words in the list as published, 

         she would not have won the prize, as there was a printer's 

         error in the newspaper list, the word "naft" being printed 

         "Maft," and Mary's other three words were disallowed in all 

         the lists in which they occurred.

              No rules had been issued for the contest, and the 

         committee had, in making their award, to frame such rules as 

         would admit the smallest girls on some kind of equality with 

         the rest of the children.  Yes, it is a fact that limiting 

         the contest to the main body of Webster's dictionary, only 

         twenty-seven words won the prize, and those twenty-seven 

         words were found in but two lists of the large number sent 

         in.  If, says Mr. Dobinson, the reputation of the public 

         schools depends upon the result of a contest of this kind, 

         the pupils must wake up and do better next time.]

                         {Times, April 1, 1886, p. 2}

                           Letter from a Little Boy.

              To the Editor of the Times--Sir:  I see you have been 

         kind enough to print in your paper a letter from a little 

         school girl about the "Fantasma" prize, and I am encouraged 

         to think you will allow me, too, to say that I think the 

         prize was not given according to merit.  I was also one who 

         made a good searching for the greatest number of words to be 

         made out of the letters, and I found thirty-eight, which I 

         delivered at the Grand Opera House as directed.  Now, as the 

         prize has been divided between two giving only twenty-seven 

         words each, was it not unfair?  And I would like to know why 

         twenty seven words were considered to be more deserving than 

         thirty-eight.  Your love of fair play, I think, will make you 

         find a place in your paper for my letter, for which I will 

         give you many thanks; and, apologizing for troubling you, I 

         am yours, respectfully,

                                              WYNDHAM B. BRAIN,

         A 12 year-old school boy at Chavez Street School.

              Los Angeles, March 28.

    Perceived injustices took on all forms, from a relatively minor squabble 

over a word contest to the more serious charge of extortion for access to a 

public road.  Mary Graham thought she had a better right to the prize than a 

girl only six months from Europe and unable to speak English.  "M. J.," on the 

other hand, believed that new citizens unable to read English ought to be 

protected from the "hawks and vultures" who preyed upon them.

                          {Times, Aug. 7, 1886, p. 2}

                                 A Hard Case.

              To the Editor of the Times--Sir:  I want to state a 

         case--a recent fact--and ask a few questions, in the interest 

         of truth and justice:  In this county, seven years ago, a man 

         (a citizen, though he cannot read the English language) 

         bought a few acres of land for a home, near an irrigating 

         ditch, but not on the highway.  The seller contracted with 

         him for the right of way to the public road, and the buyer 

         enjoyed and used that way for over six years.  He understood 

         that it was deeded with his home; but, as he did not think 

         his American neighbor would be guilty of either wrong or 

         negligence, he did not carry his deed to anyone to have it 

         read to him, for a special lookout against harm.

              Lately the seller has died; the widow put the property 

         in the hands of a lawyer to settle and sell, and since the 

         sale, this buyer--the owner of his own vines and orange 

         trees, and nice little home, the creation of his own 

         industry--finds himself shut in by the new neighbor--right of 

         way to a public road utterly denied; and he, with his wife 

         and little girls, are compelled to be torn from the home they 

         love, to give up to this rich extortionist, who has bought up 

         all around him, at such nominal price as said person chooses 

         to offer, or pay an enormous price, clear beyond his means 

         for the "right of way" that he supposed secured by his 

         deed--that he had bought once honorably, and used for years!  

         And a lawyer tells him he has no redress!

              Question:  Are laws designed for the protection of those 

         who need protection, or are they framed in the interest of 

         hawks and vultures?  Are there not men who can devise "ways 

         and means" to send somebody to the Legislature who will bring 

         forward measures to secure simple, natural rights in such 

         cases as the above?  We have many citizens--and more are 

         coming--who do not read our language, even when they speak 

         it, and must they be exposed to such wrongs?  Must we set 

         ourselves before the world as a people who, under color of 

         law, "devour" whomsoever may accidentally fall within reach 

         of our talons?  I am only a neighbor to the person being 

         devoured in this case, but my soul is stirred by the wretched 

         laws that cover such wrongs, and compel the wife and little 

         girls to lose their home.  Oh, Solon, let thy shadow fall 

         upon us!  

                                                M. J.

    Complaints about postal service were not frequently aired in the letters 

column although residents were disturbed when the post office was moved to a 

location several blocks south of what was then the center of town.  That 

complacency changed when the boom of 1887 brought to the city such a large 

number of new arrivals that the ability of the system to meet customers' 

demands was badly strained.  

                         {Times, Jan. 22, 1887, p. 3}
                           A FRAUD UPON THE PEOPLE.

              Los Angeles, Jan. 21.--[To the Editor of The Times.]  

         The condition of the postoffice in the city of Los Angeles is 

         an outrage upon the citizens of all parts of the country, and 

         a disgrace to the powers that be in Washington, who persist 

         in allowing such a state of things to continue!  Can language 

         make it stronger?  If so, supply and I will gladly use it.  

         All day long, and every day, three long strings of people 

         stand before the windows of the general delivery waiting to 

         hear from friends, and often on important business matters.  

         Each person must wait from twenty minutes to an hour before 

         receiving his letters and papers, and then perhaps after 

         waiting so long and getting within two or three places of the 

         window have it closed in his face, and he must come back 

         again to try the whole thing over.  There is no sense in it; 

         no reason for it; these waiting people are citizens of the 

         United States, they pay taxes enough, God knows, to have a 

         sufficient number of officials to serve them decently.  They 

         come from all parts of the country and neither Postmaster-

         General Vilas nor President Grover Cleveland will receive any 

         credit for the parsimony exhibited here.

              Postmaster Green and his assistants do all in their 

         power, but even they cannot compass impossibilities.  People 

         come here, not knowing where they may be able to domicile 

         themselves, and when they do succeed in obtaining an abiding 

         place it is weeks before the officials can possibly fix and 

         follow the thousands of changes being made all the time.

              If our respected President could only be shipped out 

         here and be compelled to stand on his rheumatic legs at one 

         of those windows for one single time, we would have the two 

         or three additional clerks needed quicker than one could say 

         "Jack Robinson."  And the best prayer that pious and impious 

         people can offer for Mr. Vilas is that he may come to his 

         ordinary horse sense, or "go dead" very, very quickly; so 

         that in the former case he will give the citizens their 

         rights, or in the latter case that some better man than he is 

         will have some respect for his fellow-men.

                             INDIGNANT AND UNHAPPY CITIZEN.

    There were other complaints.  The newly enacted Interstate Commerce Act 

brought a cry of protest from one writer while another criticized the treatment 

of state and county taxpayers, for which the Times blamed the lack of proper 

management in the tax collector's office. 

                         {Times, April 14, 1887, p. 6}

                    Ruined by the Interstate Commerce Law.

              Los Angeles, April 11.--[To the Editor of The Times.]  I 

         have a grievance which I wish to ventilate in The Times.  I 

         am a horny-handed son of toil, earning my bread by the sweat 

         of my face.  I came to this land of flowers, sunshine and 

         climate some months ago, and my enthusiasm and delight over 

         the situation has been continually on the increase, and I 

         "whooped it up" so energetically that some of my friends 

         seriously contemplated hooping me up, lest there might be an 


              But I have met with a serious setback.  My hopes are 

         dashed, and I fear I shall have to return to the land of 

         cyclones, blizzards, snow, ice, 40 degrees below zero and 

         things!  All on account of the Interstate Commerce Law.  I 

         was in San Pedro Saturday.  I entered a saloon to imbibe a 

         glass of beer.  To my utter amazement I was requested to 

         pocket the nickel which I rather ostentatiously slapped upon 

         the counter.  A dime was demanded.  Crestfallen, I demanded 

         the reason of this exorbitant charge.  The gentlemanly usher 

         in charge of the spigot informed me that the extra swindle 

         for the refreshing fluid was necessitated by the rapacity of 

         those giant monopolies, the trunk-line railroads, incited 

         thereto by the onerous provisions of the long and short haul 

         clauses of the Interstate Commerce Law.  "Beer had riz!"  

         Sadly I wended my way from his inhospitable door, and hied me 

         to a cigar store, to invest in a five-cent cigar to soothe my 

         agitated nerves.  Again I was destined to receive a shock.  

         There were no longer any "stinkers!"  "Everything is 10 

         cents," said the polite vender of the weed, and he repeated 

         almost word for word the explanation of the beer-jerker 

         aforesaid:  "Cigars had riz," because of the provisions of 

         the iniquitous law of Congress--the I. C. L.

              To this complexion has it come at last!  A prohibitory 

         tariff is levied upon the poor man's beer and cigar.  The 

         ruinous effect of "Chinese cheap labor" is thrown in the 

         shade, and the very necessities of life dashed from the poor 

         man's lips!

              If this fiendish law--to wit, the Interstate Commerce 

         Law--has not carried the price of a third-class ticket to New 

         York or Philadelphia to heights utterly beyond my finances, I 

         shall return to the East, where they manufacture beer and 

         cigars, and thus be able to indulge in these staple articles 

         of modern civilization.  That is to say, if the Angelenos who 

         dispense them do not "catch on" to this San Pedro infection.  

         Is there any way in which we can quarantine, San Francisco 

         fashion, against this destroyer of the poor man's privileges 

         and depleter of his purse?  Isn't it possible to vaccinate as 

         a preventive against its spread in this community?  Yours for 

         a reply,                      

                                          A TENDERFOOT.

                          {Times, Jan. 4, 1889, p. 6}

                             An Infamous Outrage.

              Los Angeles, Jan. 2.--[To the Editor of The Times.]  Day 

         before yesterday being the last opportunity for paying the 

         State and county taxes without the addition of the 5 per 

         cent. penalty, the writer, in company with hundreds of other 

         unfortunates of all ages, sexes, colors and previous 

         conditions of servitude, danced, or rather stood, attendance 

         at the court of the great mogul who condescends, with the aid 

         of his eunuchs and satraps, to receive our hard-earned 

         shekels and give us a receipt for the same when it pleases 

         them to do so.  Having received a paper which entitled him to 

         approach the august presence of the custodian of book 7, he 

         tremblingly did so, and for four weary and patient hours 

         sought in vain for recognition and the privilege of paying 

         over the amount of the penalty inflicted upon him for never 

         infringing the laws, or seeking office, and minding his own 

         business generally.  But let us drop the third and speak in 

         the first person singular.

              At 12 o'clock most of the crowd in front of me, who 

         appeared to be small taxpayers, had secured the coveted 

         receipts, and as I secured a position at the rail, directly 

         in front of the big volume and its custodian, I fondly 

         imagined I could soon have the pleasure of having my 

         "surplus" reduced, and a receipt in my pocket for the same.  

         Vain delusion!  About the noon hour most of the deputies 

         appeared to have urgent calls elsewhere; probably to the 

         banquet halls, and a siesta afterward, for there was a great 

         thinning out of the force during about two hours, and when 

         one occasionally flitted about the volume in front of me, and 

         I ventured to wave my little tag and respectfully ask for a 

         receipt, was either met by a cold, insolent, silent stare, or 

         not the slightest notice whatever was taken of the appeal, 

         with one or two somewhat gentlemanly exceptions, who deigned 

         to explain that they could not possibly attend to me then; 

         were themselves "awful tired," etc., which was doubtless 

         true.  Ladies and occasionally some apparently favored male 

         friend or acquaintance of the deputies obtained receipts 

         beside and behind me, although I had been waiting more than 

         twice as long, and at last, utterly tired out and exhausted, 

         about 8 o'clock p. m., with no earthly show of recognition, I 

         had to give up my position and retire.  While indulging in 

         some indignant remarks regarding my treatment while getting 

         out of the crowd, a young man unknown to me tapped me lightly 

         on the arm to attract my attention and informed me in a low 

         tone that if I would accompany him he would show me the place 

         where upon the payment of $2 my application would be received 

         and receipt made out, but this I indignantly refused to do.  

         It is the first time in my experience of 40 years' taxpaying 

         in Los Angeles and elsewhere that an attempt was ever made to 

         "hold me up."  Let the public draw their own inferences.

              In the meantime I hope that other taxpayers who have 

         been treated in like manner will let the public hear from 

         them.  The Tax Collector has given bonds, and taken an 

         obligation to faithfully perform the duties of his office, 

         and the main duty is to receive taxes when tendered and give 

         receipts for the same.  If he fails or neglects, through any 

         cause whatever, to do his duty, my belief is that he and his 

         bondsmen are liable for damages and costs, and the 5-per 

         cent. penalty that we may have to pay, and I propose for one 

         to see what we can do about it.  I also trust that every 

         voter and taxpayer who has been treated in this manner will 

         make out a list of these tithe-gatherers for future use and 

         reference whenever they have any political aspirations, 

         regardless of party.

                                       A MAD TAXPAYER.

    Many Angelenos correctly foretold the future, as noted in earlier chapters.    

"Old Settler" saw the city reaching out to distant mountains for its water 

supply.  "Caminos Buenos" pictured a grand boulevard stretching from downtown 

to the sea.  Frederick M. Shaw {later in this volume} envisioned the day when 

man would fly.   But the view of others was badly flawed.  Responding to an 

editorial that welcomed experiments in the expanded use of electric motors and 

foreshadowed the passing of the horse, Horatio N. Rust could not conceive of a 

love affair between men and steam locomotives.

                          {Times, Feb. 6, 1887, p. 6}

                       The Horse and the Electric Motor.

              South Pasadena, Feb. 4.--[To the Editor of The Times.]  

         "Will electric motors oust the horse" is asked in yesterday's 


              I well remember when the Boston and Albany Railroad was 

         built (as my father contracted to do the ironwork for the 

         bridge at Sprinfield, Mass., the first railroad bridge which 

         spanned the Connecticut River).  There was great anxiety 

         among the farmers, as the impression was general that the 

         locomotive would displace the horse and a source of revenue 

         would be lost to the farmers.

              Many locomotives have been built and still we must use 

         the horse more than ever.  The same will be true if the 

         electric motor is successful.  Man's love for the noble 

         animal will never be lavished upon an iron horse.  This 

         brings to mind the report of the projectors of the Boston and 

         Albany Railroad, said report having been made about 1830.

              The expenses of building and running the road were based 

         upon horse-power, and in closing the report the committee 

         said: "It is possible that the time may come when this road 

         may be operated by locomotives, as we have heard of some very 

         successful experiments in England."

              That committee lived to laugh on this report and see the 

         locomotive make that road a great success, making a greater 

         demand for horses than the farmer ever dreamed of.

                                           H. N. RUST.

    In Dec., 1881, shortly after the Times began publication, Editor Cole ran 

the amusing letter about the dog nuisance, printed in the introduction to this 

volume, that was written in the style of Mark Twain.  Near the end of 1889 

another Twain-like contribution, this one even carrying a variation of Twain's 

real surname, told the story of a stranger's Thanksgiving dinner in Los 


                         {Times, Nov. 30, 1889, p. 5}

                          "It's Home-made, You Know."

                          TENDERFOOT'S TALE OF WOE--

                         THEY HORNSWOGGLED HIS TURKEY.

              Los Angeles, Nov. 29.--Temple Street.--[To the Editor of 

         The Times.]  I passed through a sad experience yesterday, 

         which I wish to publish in order to warn other unwary 

         strangers of the dangers that lurk in the most harmless 

         appearing placards.  Thanksgiving Day dawned as beautiful as 

         a May morning, and I, being a stranger, sallied from my 

         boardinghouse to "view the landscape o'er."  Suddenly I 

         beheld what thrilled my heart with joy.  There loomed up 

         before me a telegraph pole and tacked thereon was a small 

         placard announcing that for the small sum of 50 cents a 

         certain church would furnish a "Bountiful and Oldfashioned 

         Thanksgiving Dinner."  Visions of roast turkey and pumpkin 

         pies came up before my mind's eye, and at the time mentioned 

         on the placard I presented myself before the doors of the 

         place where the dinner was to be served.  A gentleman 

         standing in the door demanded 50 cents, which I gave him; and 

         then handed me over to a bevy of ladies who wore red badges 

         with the word "Reception" emblazoned there, on in white 

         letters.  They seized upon me and bore me off to a long, 

         lonely table.  No other diners were in sight.  As soon as I 

         was seated a swarm of ladies from the back of the room came 

         down in a body, and many and unsophisticated were the 

         inquiries as to whether I liked turkey, and "which part" 

         would I take.  After a great deal of fuss, I succeeded in 

         obtaining a liberal supply of the above-mentioned fowl, and 

         attempted to taste it, but was prevented by having a plate of 

         bread thrust under my nose, with the words: "It's home-made, 

         you know."  I accepted the bread, and again attempted to 

         convey the coveted morsel of turkey to my lips.  A hand 

         interposed between my fork and my lips with a plate of rolls.  

         "Now I think the gentleman would prefer some of these home-

         made rolls to that bread."  I declined the rolls, and again 

         thrust my fork into the meat, but waitress No. 3 rushed up 

         with a plate of sauce.  "Now do try some of these 

         cranberries.  It's all home-cooking, you know.  I accepted 

         the sauce, and again essayed to lift my fork to my lips, but 

         "There's many a slip 'twixt the cup and the lip," as I found 

         to my sorrow, for just then a very large lady bore down upon 

         us, and as the little crowd around my chair separated, she 

         cried:  "Now I'm sure the gentleman is ready for pie," and 

         she commenced naming the various kinds at hand, ever and anon 

         putting in: "The're all home-made, you know."  Just then 

         another unfortunate lured to his doom probably by the same 

         seductive placard that attracted me, was seated by the 

         "Reception" Committee, and the attention of my tormentors was 

         turned for a moment.  I hastily gulped that bit of turkey, 

         and seizing my hat, fairly took to my heels.  One of the 

         waitresses followed me to the door, and called out:  "Do wait 

         and have some pie; it is home-made, you know."  Thus I 

         escaped.  Now, Saints, deliver us from church Thanksgiving 

         dinners, where waitresses abound and every thing is "home-

         made, you know."  Respectfully,

                                              S. C. CLEMONS

                                  Formerly of Middlebury, Vt.

         P. S.--I sign my name and former place of abode, "not as 

         necessary to publication, but as a guarantee of good faith."  

         However, you may publish both.