Frederick M. Shaw's Letters to the Los Angeles Times


    Although 19th century Los Angeles produced no one as colorful as San 

Francisco's Emperor Norton, a number of unforgettable eccentrics whose exploits 

would still be retold a century later called the city home.  In the 1890s, as 

paternalistic attitudes developed regarding the community's responsibility for 

the mentally unstable and as society increasingly scorned the more blatant 

taunting of those deemed odd, the Emperor Nortons of Los Angeles became less 

visible though they did not disappear.  During the 1880s, however, they still 

roamed the city's streets, often the object of cruel teasing.

    William Spalding, who had been in the city since 1874, reminisced in his 

1931 history of Los Angeles about one of the oddest characters he encountered: 

Nicolas Martinez.  From a huge bucket that he carried on his head, Martinez 

sold hot tamales in winter and ice cream in summer, served fastidiously, as 

Harris Newmark remembered, with tobacco-stained fingers.

    Equally memorable was Pinnecate, or Pinikahti in the Newmark version.  

Spalding wrote that he was Indian; Newmark labeled him "half Indian and half 

Mexican."  Both agreed that he was mentally unsound, a trait commonly ascribed 

to those considered "odd" at the time.  Never without his flute, fashioned from 

bamboo, Pinnecate played but one tune - "repeatedly," Spalding lamented.

    One of the area's earliest Anglo eccentrics was San Gabriel resident 

William Money, who frequently published letters to the editor in the Los 

Angeles Star and was described by William Rice in his history of that paper as 

its "most eccentric contributor."  Money, whose anti-clerical diatribes 

enlightened, or irritated, Angelenos for years, was remembered by Spalding as 

an astrologer whose "wonderful hieroglyphics and inexplicable drawings" covered 

an entire wall of the city library during the 1870s.

    In the 'eighties Angelenos made a running joke of "Prof. Brewster," better 

known by his stage name of "Savariej," or "Savarie J.," as it was sometimes 

spelled.  The professor was a frequent competitor in walking races, entered, 

Harris Newmark suggested, not because he was a real contender but because as an 

eccentric he drew crowds.  Whether participating as a hopelessly outclassed 

entrant in a race or demonstrating a lack of talent on his violin or homemade 

dulcimer, Savariej commanded the attention of a crowd of hecklers who took 

pleasure in making him the butt of their joke, sometimes provoking him to 


    Early in 1882 Los Angeles Times editor Samuel Mathes denounced Saveriej's 

persecution by street mobs:  

         It is a common and disgraceful scene to see this poor 

         demented man chasing boys and almost grown men around the 

         streets, because every smart Aleck, knowing no better, 

         delight in persecuting him.  It should be stopped.  He is 

         perfectly harmless if let alone....

    Even the new proprietor of the Times, Harrison Gray Otis, could not resist 

participating in the fun at the expense of the professor.  Otis published a 

letter, ostensibly from Savariej, announcing a violin concert he was to give.  

The letter, of course, appeared in the Times after the date scheduled for the 


    One of their contemporaries was another eccentric with a talent for letter 

writing: Frederick M. {usually F. M.} Shaw, author of at least 28 letters 

printed in the Times from 1883 to 1887 and the paper's most prolific 

correspondent in that decade.  Shaw had written letters to Los Angeles editors 

long before the Times began publication and had contributed to the Star, as 

Money had done, during the 1870s.

    Born in Castleton, Vt., in 1827, Shaw sailed to California in 1849 as a 

cook on the brig "Sea Eagle."  Landing in San Francisco in September, he later 

claimed to have been involved in the construction of that city's first three-

story building.  When he arrived in Los Angeles is unclear; none of his letters 

give any indication.  But he was in town by the early 1870s.

    On rare occasions he was referred to as "Colonel Shaw," sometimes as 

"Professor Shaw," and frequently as "Dr. Shaw."   This last title resulted from 

the claim, made in his letters and other public statements, that he had 

graduated from several colleges, was a "regular" physician, and had practiced 

in hospitals during the Civil War.  

    In 1883, at age 56, the year his first letter appeared in the Times, a 

reporter described him as a man of ordinary height and weight, with white hair, 

gray side whiskers and mustache, and clear blue eyes.   Newmark recalled that 

he was over six feet tall.  Spalding depicted Shaw as

         a large man of serious face and commanding air, gray as to 

         his hair and stubby side whiskers--old style--with a little 

         forward bend of the shoulders, as from age or scholarly 

         habits, and he walked with a limp.

    Shaw's letters to the Times were as eccentric as the man himself.  He wrote 

on a wide variety of topics.  Frequently his correspondence dealt with matters 

of a scientific nature: climate, the earth's rotation, geology and, in his 

final letter of the decade, a prediction that man would fly.  Other letters 

reflected his passion for public health and personal hygiene, although his own 

appearance as noted by several observers would raise questions about his 

adherence to the practices he espoused.  He offered advice on bees, lima beans, 

fruit growing and other topics of interest to the large numbers of farmers who 

read the Times.  And his series of letters on the breakwater and harbor 

indicated more than a passing knowledge of the subject.  

                             A) SHAW THE SCIENTIST

    His first letter in the Times appeared on April 3, 1883, and was typical 

Shaw, replete with ideas only remotely related to each other, although his 

environmental concern reads like that of a modern-day conservationist.  His 

second letter, ostensibly commenting on a recent report that well diggers had 

unearthed a buried forest near San Bernardino, became a vehicle for detailing a 

theory, mentioned in the first letter, that the earth had changed its axis.  

After publication of his third letter that month, editor Otis commented that 


         has a penchant for writing and has written frequently some 

         very readable articles, some of which have appeared in the 

         Times, and while the sentiments may have been oddly expressed 

         they have been marked with good sense, at least.

    Readers may have scoffed at his theory that the earth's polar axis shifts, 

but in holding that theory Shaw was in the forefront of science.  Either he 

came upon the idea independently or he was aware of a study begun in the early 

1880s by Harvard astronomer Seth C. Chandler, who reached the same conclusion 

although offering a different explanation than the one put forth here by Shaw.  

While Shaw's middle name was printed more than once in the Times as "Moulton,"

in the Great Register it is listed as Merrill.

                         {Times, April 3, 1883, p. 1}

                              Fires Make Drouth.                                   

              To the Editor of the Times--Sir: There is much trash 

         written and talked about weather and the "probabilities."  If 

         the fact be accepted that Earth has changed her polar axis 

         (and there is now no reasonable doubt of that fact), and may 

         change again, the phenomena of weather may be relegated to 

         those members of the barnacle family that are in want of 

         occupation doing nothing for good pay.  The present is all we 

         have that can certainly be counted on.  It will take fifty 

         years to undo or repair the mischief done in the last twenty- 

         five years by the carelessness of stock men and others in 

         allowing fires to destroy the shrubs and trees that clothed 

         our hills and mountains at one time.  To these destructive  

         fires is attributable the diminution of condensation, and 

         consequent diminution of springs and rivulets that once were 

         plentiful along this coast.  Now is the time to remedy these 

         losses by a STRINGENT interpretation of the regulations for 

         the suppression of these fires and by a liberal 

         interpretation of the so-called Timber-culture Acts.

                                                F. M. SHAW.

                         {Times, April 22, 1883, p. 1}

               That Buried Forest in the San Bernardino Valley.                                   

              To the Editor of the Times--Sir:  As to the timber found 

         in well-boring, it is easily accounted for if we admit the 

         hypothesis of the change of the earth's polar axis.  These 

         changes have been sudden.  They occurred in the glacial 

         periods.  Volcanic action in its highest intensity has been 

         as likely to occur at or near one or both poles as elsewhere.  

         These, creating land in those regions, gave room for the 

         formation of ice.  Glacial action is rapid under such 

         conditions, soon disturbing the balance and causing the 

         changes of axis.  The laws of motion are inevitable and 

         easily calculable; as whenever glacial action has proceeded 

         to make the longer axis through the poles, the hour that 

         condition arrives, the largest axis will seek the line of 

         greatest motion.  These changes involve greater dynamic 

         forces than are easily estimated; sufficient to move 

         mountains.  For with the oceans filled with ice mountains in 

         motion or floating, whenever these come in contact with the 

         bottom under the velocity obtained by the sudden displacement 

         of -- say twenty miles of depth of water, it can be easily 

         seen that the rasping off of the tops of the ridges and the  

         placing of the debris in the valleys would proceed at a 

         terrible velocity.  This is the way some forests are buried.

                                     FREDERICK MOULTON SHAW.

                             Cahuenga Mts.  April 18, 1883.

                                B) "CRAZY SHAW"

    In Northern California, a few years earlier, another visionary obsessed 

with a grandiose scheme had earned the sobriquet "Crazy Judah."  Theodore 

Judah, an engineer with a plan to span the continent with a railway terminating 

in California, became so dedicated to his cause that he was dismissed by 

critics as a crank.  Eventually the soundness of his proposal, despite its 

scope, won the support of capitalists and government.  Judah's inability to 

direct the project once he had financial backing resulted in his unsuccessful 

attempt to buy out the Sacramento merchants who controlled the Central Pacific 

railroad, leading indirectly to his premature death - another eccentric 

martyred for a cause.

    Angelenos looked upon Shaw in much the same way.  Spalding and Newmark 

wrote that he was always involved in some glorious venture - the harbor, a 

health resort, a railroad.  Never without a bundle of papers and maps under an 

arm as he went about town, Shaw was ready to tell anyone and everyone about his 

latest enterprise.  For a time he had the support, though perhaps grudgingly, 

of some of Southern California's most prominent men.  

    But unlike "Crazy Judah," whose nickname was simply the result of his 

overzealousness, Shaw was found to be legally insane by a Los Angeles judge.  

On April 27, 1883, Shaw was in court, having charged that E. W. Doss, a 

neighbor, had threatened him with a gun.  The two lived in Laurel Canyon in 

what was then called the Cahuenga range, later the Hollywood hills.  The 

approach to Shaw's property was across land owned by Doss, who had blocked the 

road both with barriers and with two bulldogs.  Armed with a shotgun, Shaw, who 

had recently reminded readers that his "Quaker proclivities keep me peaceable 

but I get fighting mad at times," called on Doss in an effort to settle the 

matter.  When Doss emerged from his house with his own shotgun Shaw astutely 

moved behind a tree and engaged in conversation until breaking off the 


    The matter eventually ended up before Judge Robert A. Ling the day after 

Shaw's third letter of the month had been printed.  Doss' defense was that Shaw 

was insane and he asked that Shaw be examined.  Ling agreed to interview Shaw.  

During the examination it was noted that Shaw had married a New Jersey woman by 

telegraph.  {It is unclear if he had met her prior to the marriage.}  Spalding 

later garbled the story, claiming incorrectly that when the woman arrived in 

California and first saw Shaw she was so taken aback by his unkempt appearance 

and tree house that she immediately returned home.  Contemporary accounts 

disagreed.  The Herald said she left him after two years, desiring "beefsteak, 

bread and butter, ... clean clothes, a roof, floors and square meals."  The 

Times claimed she still lived with Shaw and that their life together was 

harmonious.  At the end of the proceeding Ling declared Shaw insane and 

committed him to the asylum at Napa.

    The Herald ridiculed Shaw in its report.  Otis, however, ran a front page 

appeal in the Times urging a reversal of Ling's decision:

              That Mr. Shaw is eccentric no one will attempt to deny, 

         but that he is insane and that it is necessary that he should 

         be confined in a lunatic asylum but few will admit.  He is a 

         hard-working, peaceably disposed old man, {Shaw was 56} who 

         if left alone will injure no one....

              An effort should be made to stay the proceedings in this 

         matter, as it seems nothing short of an outrage to condemn 

         the old man to a life in a lunatic asylum.  His Honor, Judge 

         Hines, might, we think, at least review the case without any                                       

         harm to the cause of justice.

In addition to the editorial, the Times' printed three letters from readers who 

supported Shaw. 

    On April 30 Judge Hines reheard the case.  Attorney G. Wiley Wells, one of 

Shaw's defense attorneys, was among the most prominent lawyers in town, having 

successfully defended Lastancia Abarta for the murder of Chico Forster.  He 

would gain additional stature later in the decade by winning an acquittal for 

accused murderess Hattie Woolsteen {see chapter on women.}

    District Attorney Stephen White, who would become a United States Senator 

in the 1890s, testified that there was something indescribable about Shaw that 

made White think that he was "not exactly right."  White said that Shaw's 

conduct during the meeting in which Shaw had lodged his complaint against Doss 

was such that White preferred to sit near the door.

    Both Doss and his wife told the court that they believed Shaw was insane, 

citing his strange diet, hygiene, dress and the fact that he slept in a tree.  

Judge Ling testified that for three months Shaw had pestered him about having 

Doss arrested and that during the trial Shaw's conduct was "silly."

    But most of the witnesses testified on behalf of Shaw.  Isaac Kinley, 

former editor of the Star, praised Shaw's writing for that paper as "sensible," 

conceding that Shaw was eccentric but not of unsound mind.  Porcupine editor 

Horace Bell admitted that he had talked with Shaw about a proposal to harness 

whales to ships as a source of power, but characterized Shaw's most recent 

letter to the Times as "philosophic."  Since Shaw had frequently written on 

agricultural matters, editor George Rice of the Rural Californian and prominent 

citrus grower Thomas Garey provided relevant testimony, calling Shaw's letters 

on agriculture sound and indicative of more than ordinary intelligence.  

    Near the end of the hearing Shaw took the stand.  During questioning from 

George Gibbs, one of his four attorneys, Shaw was asked:

         Gibbs:  Was there ever any insanity in your family?

         Dr. Shaw:  Yes, I had an uncle that went insane.

         Gibbs:  What was its nature - mild or violent?

         Shaw:  Oh, it was very mild - he had peculiar ideas about 


Wrote the Times' reporter:

              The roar of laughter from bar and lobby capped by a 

         smile from the Court at this sally, wrought a powerful 

         conviction as to his perfect soundness of mind.                                        

Judge Hines then ordered Shaw's release.

    In the remaining twenty-five letters that Shaw published in the Times he 

never referred to his encounter with Doss or to his sanity hearing.  One 

letter, however, complained about the illegal blockage of roads that prevented 

development of hill country and urged the legislature to make it a penal 

offense to obstruct transit in canyons, which Shaw saw as natural highways.

                               C) SHAW ON HEALTH

    Even before the city's great population increase in the mid-1880s, which 

brought the number of inhabitants to an estimated 80,000 by late 1887, sewage 

disposal had become a major problem in Los Angeles.  One option was the 

creation of sewage farms, utilizing the outflow to fertilize crops.  Concerned 

about the dangerously unhealthy effect of this solution, Shaw wrote to the 


                         {Times, Sept. 9, 1883, p. 3}
                     Sewage not Fit to Irrigate With.                                  

              To the Editor of the Times--Sir:  I see it suggested by 

         a cotemporary that the sewage be used to irrigate land below 

         the city.  The experience of London, (England), in that 

         direction is not favorable.  Grass and vegetables grown on  

         land so irrigated was found to be unfit for forage.  The milk 

         from cows fed upon it produced fatal diseases in those that 

         used it.  The only way to utilize the sewage was found to be 

         by an expensive process of chemical decomposition whereby a 

         phosphate was obtained that was innocous.  There was a 

         company formed there called the Phosphate Sewage Company that 

         undertook to render the sewage of London innoxious and I 

         believe, succeeded in so far as to neutralize the poison 

         sufficiently to render the product available as a fertilizer.  

         But the use of sewage as it comes from the drains is not safe 

         as proven by the experiments referred to.  An epidemic broke 

         out in London among the users of the milk coming from animals 

         fed on the forage grown on lands fertilized by crude sewage, 

         that was attended with terrible fatality.  I have seen 

         scarlatina spread along the zanjas in this place by similar 


                                            F. M. SHAW.

    If readers replied to Shaw's letters the Times did not print them.  An 

exception occurred when "Milkman" felt economically threatened by Shaw's 

suggestion that consumption of milk hindered good health.  The reference to 

"Moore or Mormon" alludes to two subjects that were frequent topics of letter 

writers at that time.  Republican Walter Moore, seeking the office of Secretary 

of State, was bitterly opposed by fellow Republican Otis in the 1886 campaign.  

Mormonism was periodically a "live topic" in the Times.

                         {Times, Sept. 28, 1886, p. 1}

                                   On Milk.

              To the Editor of the Times--Sir:  I do not know that it 

         makes any material difference to you whether the topic of the 

         hour is Moore or Mormon, so that the subject matter is 

         clearly stated.  You in your immediate realm, imagine the 

         world you talk to, and in a measure control, is sufficient; 

         but I can tell you of a theme you have not exhausted.  The 

         problem is whether the "milk of human kindness" and cows' 

         milk are identical.  In a long and elaborate investigation, 

         just terminated, the writer has come to a negative 

         conclusion.  Looking over the races of men that have led a 

         pastoral life, and following their history down to this day, 

         it appears that those who use milk of kine most liberally are 

         the most cold-blooded and calculating despots-- all other 

         things being equal.  We will take our near neighbor John Bull 

         as an example.  The old gent is well enough in his way, but 

         goodness! it is a terrible way when viewed from a liberal and 

         cosmopolitan standpoint.  Now all this comes from cows' milk!  

         It will not do to put this aside as a joke; facts are 

         stubborn things, and this branch of the Anglo-saxon race are 

         fast drifting in the same direction.  Let us call a halt 

         before it is too late, and see if there is not some way out 

         of this terrible road we are traveling.  Milk, as the patient 

         investigators of science have shown, is intended for the 

         young, before dentition has enabled them to masticate more 

         substantial food.  To put it to use as food for adults is an 

         outrage on nature!  It is like drinking blood; and it may be 

         added that it undoubtedly has the tendency to produce the 

         same tigerish disposition.

                                            FREDERICK M. SHAW.

                          {Times, Oct. 2, 1886, p. 2}

                             Milk and Philosophy.

              To the Editor of the Times--Sir:  In the Times of the 

         28th inst., Frederic M. Shaw, our "backwoods philosopher," 

         has given utterance to some of his conclusions, which I 

         consider not only derogatory to the interests of us poor 

         milkmen, but which are also apt to bias public opinion and 

         convey an erroneous impression to the community at large.  

         That is, he has proven, after "an elaborate investigation," 

         in his own scientific way, that the "milk of human kindness" 

         and cow's milk are not identical.  Now I have the audacity to 

         contend that just the opposite is the case, or rather that 

         one begets the other.  I am not a philosopher, not even a 

         backwoods one, but have had some practical experience of my 

         own in this matter.  I have delivered milk to all parts of 

         this city and to all kinds of individuals, and after a very 

         painstaking investigation, I have reached the conclusion that 

         when my customers get their cow's milk at the right time, and 

         in quantities to suit, they are possessed with a greater 

         amount of the "milk of human kindness" than when the milkman 

         is late or his measure short.  Now, as before stated, I am 

         not at all scientific, and very much dislike to dispute 

         scientific theories given by scientific men, but "facts are 

         stubborn things" and must be recognized, all fanciful 

         conclusions of Dr. Shaw's to the contrary.


                          {Times, Oct. 5, 1886, p. 2}


              To the Editor of the Times--Sir:  It is not usual for me 

         to answer any one who assails me or my position from behind a 

         mask or nom de plume, but the temptation in the present case 

         is great.  It reminds me of the time when Joe Saunders and 

         myself were "b'ys" together in Boston.  Joe's master had 

         become converted to better ways and had ceased to water his 

         milk.  Not long after there was a customer on Lowell street 

         that had never been outside of the city, and evidently knew 

         but little of the chemistry of milk.  This woman, soon after 

         Joe's master's change of heart (and milk), came out to Joe 

         one morning with a long face, declaring that she could stand 

         it no longer; the milk for the several days previous had a 

         nasty yellow scum on the top; and that she must have the sky- 

         blue article, or none!

              This so-called milkman, who pretends to doubt my 

         premises and conclusions, if he is poor, as he intimates, it 

         must be on account of his not being a milk and-water man; but 

         really, a milkman like Joe's master, who had become too 

         honest to dilute his goods with questionable compounds.  It 

         is well known by all who have observed the usual course of 

         diseases about cities, that the milk that comes from certain 

         quarters carries the germs of disease in dangerous 

         quantities.  A certain quarter of London that was supplied 

         with milk where the cows had access to the fields irrigated 

         by the sewerage waters from the city, was never clear of 

         scarletina and many other fatal diseases of children.  Around 

         all large towns and cities there are dairies that feed slops 

         and garbage, gathered in the town, these foods being 

         considered absolutely necessary to the business at seasons 

         when fresh green feed is not plenty.  But aside from sanitary 

         considerations there are weighty reasons for the disuse of 

         milk by adults.  The age is too fast, and it behooves those 

         who have the welfare of society in mind to point out these  

         things.  The use of milk by adults is in its effect like 

         putting a strong person with two good legs on crutches, and 

         tying the legs up; eventually the persons so using themselves 

         cannot go without the artificial limbs.  Just so with those 

         who use a milk diet.  The stomach refuses eventually to 

         digest stronger and more substantial food.  At least that is 

         the tendency.  Moreover, it is, as stated previously, like 

         drinking blood.  It has the same stimulating and irritating 

         effect on the person.  Milk in its composition is suitable 

         only as food for infants.  It decomposes very quickly, 

         producing thereby a large amount of heat, which is required 

         to warm the bodies of little babes and the young animals.  To 

         use it as food for adults is an outrage on nature.  The most 

         successful physicians discard it in all chronic cases of 

         diseased liver or lungs.

                                            F. M. SHAW.

                             D) SHAW THE PROMOTER

    How Shaw managed to finance his various enterprises puzzled many.  Harris 

Newmark offered one explanation:

         Long ago, he established his own pension bureau, conferring 

         upon me the honor of a weekly contributor; and when he calls, 

         he keeps me well-posted on what he's been doing.  His busy 

         brain is ever filled with the phantoms of great inventions 

         and billion-dollar corporations, as his pocketful of maps and 

         diagrams shows; one day launching an aerial navigation 

         company to explore the moon and the next day covering 

         California with railroad lines as thick as are automobiles in                                     

         the streets of Los Angeles.    

    One of those visions was construction of the Southern California Sanitary 

Hotel and Industrial College, devised in 1873 as a resort for health seekers.  

Shaw, as usual, was slightly ahead of his time.  John Baur, whose Health 

Seekers of Southern California is the seminal book on the area's health resort 

industry of the late 19th century, notes that Shaw {whom he described as 

"eccentric"} won temporary support from prominent Angelenos.  He had selected a 

site on the Santa Anita Ranch but interest waned as time passed and he failed 

to construct any facilities.  Baur concluded that the idea was not irrational.  

In 1886, as the migration of health seekers and others neared its climax, Shaw 

used a Times report that hotels were full in Pasadena to suggest the 

resurrection of his plan.  There was no response.

                          {Times, May 6, 1886, p. 2}

                            Dr. Shaw to the Rescue.

              To the Editor of the Times--Sir:  Your item of April 

         15th, "Filled to Overflowing," should remind the public that 

         it is simply time to reorganize the Southern California 

         Sanitary Hotel Company.  My plans will accommodate fifteen 

         hundred persons at least.  The stock is all taken but a few 

         shares, but those behind me in this matter are anxious to see 

         some Angelenos that can be trusted (out of sight) take, at 

         least, shares enough to form a working business quorum in an 

         incorporation.  If something of this kind should occur soon, 

         I pledge myself to have a hotel of the capacity named ready 

         for guests in less than one year from date.

                                                     F. M. SHAW.

             Laurel Canon, April 18, 1886.

                              E) SHAW THE FARMER

    Shaw was equally at home writing on agricultural matters.  Whether 

advocating cultivation of north slopes, which he claimed could produce fruit 

crops without irrigation, or explaining the proper time of year to take honey 

from bees, {between October and May,} Shaw was always ready to publicize his 

theories.  The only editorial postscript Otis added to a Shaw letter came at 

the end of this one on lima beans.

                          {Times, Dec. 4, 1884, p. 4}                                                     

                   The Muscular Mattock and the Agile Bean .

              To the Editor of the Times--Sir:  Those sensible people 

         that live in the country and know what to plant, will be 

         having all the good things about these days.  Nearly all the 

         fruits have ripened and been preserved au naturel for table 

         use, and the vegetables that are not in season (but what 

         vegetable is out of season here if one selects their ground 

         properly?) are potted or canned and are on hand to meet the 

         wants of those who desire them.  Now is the time the Lima 

         beans are more useful than at any other season, because their 

         second crop is just right to serve green.  With tomato sauce, 

         not too much spiced, they are relished wonderfully well these 

         cool days, and they contain such an amount of muscle-making 

         material that is needed to take out the grubs and roots that 

         are in the way of the plough.  The mattock is the tool that 

         is most frequently required now in the foot-hills and on new 

         land, and there is no tool that draws so largely on the 

         muscle as the mattock.  This is why the Lima beans are so 

         appropriate at this season, and then they are the best bean 

         in use anyway.  Those who live to enjoy life as it should be, 

         and are not merely money grubbers, have a patch of Lima beans 

         outside of the field crop that can be permitted to stand and 

         bear green beans all winter.  They are flowering plentifully 

         now, and the blossoms are so welcome to the bees at this 

         season of scarcity.  The wild currant and a few hybrids of  

         the lettuce family are about all the natural flowers except 

         the Lima beans now available.

                                                 F. M. SHAW.

              Cahuenga Mountains, Dec. 1, 1884.

              [Accompanying the above was a bag of toothsome Limas, 

         which have been duly eaten, and great muscular results are 

         looked for poco tiempo.  Spring poets and people with 

         grievances against the editor will take notice and stand from 

         under.  Also came with the frijoles an olive twig loaded with 

         handsome berries clipped from a tree 13 years old, grown from 

         a cutting planted by Dr. Preuss on the Rancho Rodeo de los 

         Aguas, and produced upon non-irrigable land.--Ed. Times.]

                            F) SHAW AND THE HARBOR

    In late 1885, before Los Angeles and the Southern Pacific waged their epic 

struggle over whether the primary harbor for the region should be located at 

San Pedro or Santa Monica, Shaw published the first of several letters 

advocating the use of an artificial breakwater to create a deep water port. 

Although his letters never stated specifically where it would be located, 

Spalding later insisted that Shaw was promoting a wharf at Santa Monica.  Over 

a span of several months, while others were seeking federal financial aid to 

develop a harbor, Shaw reiterated his belief that it could be undertaken with 

local resources.  His claim that he had a long-standing interest in development 

of the port and that he made oceanographic surveys cannot now be documented.   

For purposes of clarity, the following letters are not in chronological order.  

The heading, "There's millions in it," was added by Otis and was a cliche of 

the real estate boom.  The sketch of the breakwater that Shaw included in one 

letter has been omitted.

                         {Times, Feb. 21, 1886, p. 5}                                            

                            Dr. Shaw's Big Scheme.
                           "THERE'S MILLIONS IN IT."

              To the Editor of the Times--Sir:  Does it not appear 

         childish and ridiculous that this section should be an 

         applicant for national aid in the matter of a harbor, or 

         breakwater, when our natural resources are such as to make 

         us, of all sections, the most able to help ourselves?  Every 

         evidence points to the fact that an artificial harbor is 

         required in this vicinity.  There is nothing to prevent 

         building one, and on ground where it will be permanent and as 

         beneficial as a natural harbor.  The scheme of floating 

         protection to wharf and shipping is impracticable.

              The only practicable harbor that comes up to the 

         requirements of our case is the one devised by myself for the 

         exigencies of our case.  It is the section of an equilateral 

         triangle placed in two segments of a circle, overlapping each 

         other to form the entrance; and, in order to be permanently 

         useful, a point on the coast has to be chosen to make this 

         available.  All points would not do, and especially such as 

         the one where the present landing is being carried on.  The 

         very nature of the ground and the currents make it the worst 

         place on the coast for any work of that nature.  A clean 

         bottom and good depth of water near shore are indispensable.  

         There is the best reason to know that this work will pay 

         interest on cost.

                                                F. M. SHAW.

                          {Times, Dec. 4, 1885, p. 2}

                           "There's Millions in it."

              To the Editor of the Times--Sir:  There is a deal of 

         wind wasted on resolutions and getting them printed and 

         before the gang that meet at Washington, while the same  

         amount of force given in the right direction would give us 

         the needed improvements while the others are talking about 

         it.  It is well known that there is a place on our coast line 

         where deep water and safe anchorage can be had at a merely 

         nominal cost compared with the importance of the work.  This 

         point will be utilized as soon as the people see its value.  

         By the use of the triangle-shaped, hollow, moveable 

         breakwater, two miles of which in a crescent shaped line 

         divided so that the outer ends of each segment of the circle 

         overlap the other to form the entrance{, g}iving ample room 

         inside for a still water anchorage, and wharf in water deep 

         and calm enough at all seasons to accommodate any business we 

         are likely to have.  All the fuss and delay in transferring 

         goods and people to ship and shore now endured can be done 

         away with.

              There are millions of private money now seeking just 

         such investments.  I have been eleven years quietly making 

         surveys to know just how much the cost of such improvements 

         will be; and as soon as properly sustained by the public am 

         prepared to enter upon their construction.

                                                  F. M. SHAW.

              Three to four million dollars can be thus used that will 

         pay interest and taxes on the investment.

                         {Times, Jan. 29, 1887, p. 2}

                            REASONABLE SUGGESTIONS. 

              Laurel Canyon, Jan. 27.--[To the Editor of The Times.]

         Seasons like the present emphasize the importance of terrace 

         culture as compared with irrigation.  On all slopes that have 

         any great declivity, especially on the northern slopes, where 

         cultivation has been thorough, no failure to crops can occur, 

         even where there is not more than 5 inches of rainfall.  It 

         is true that the crop may not be as abundant, yet it will be 

         of superior quality and flavor.  This applies to fruits and 

         nuts, more than grains or vegetables.  The grain crop is one 

         that can be kept from year to year with little loss, and the 

         prudent husbandman is never without three or four crops on 

         hand in this country.   Now permit me to say a few words on 

         the situation as to the outlook for business to employ the 

         incoming thousands.

              The writer has been "behind the scenes" from the first, 

         in this wonderful drama--the planting of the Empire State of 

         this republic--California.  He foresaw her needs and her 

         possibilities.  There being no harbor between San Francisco 

         and San Diego, and this most desirable coast between being 

         among the greatest of lands where the capacity for sustaining 

         a dense population is considered; we began our hydrographic 

         surveys as early as 1849 to find a place for an artificial 

         harbor similar to the one at Auxborg, on the coast of France.  

         The coast between Santa Barbara and San Diego has been gone 

         over many times with lead and line.   At one time the writer 

         built a raft 150 feet long (just the length of the longest 

         cassion required for the outer points of the breakwater) with  

         no help or assistance, and with only two small anchors and a 

         flat-bottom rowboat, went to sea, and was absent twenty days.  

         This was needed to know the character of the floor of the 

         ocean where these great cassions must be planted.  A small 

         reaf or any other inequality would be fatal to the success of 

         such an undertaking.  

              Moreover, the drifting sands and currents is another 

         important item in the matter.  A harbor that needs constant 

         dredging is of little value.  With a harbor where all sizes 

         of craft can freely enter, and where no deposit is to be 

         feared, our vicinity would soon become a great manufacturing 

         center.  Glass works, foundries, watch factories, woolen and 

         cotton mills and tanneries and shoe factories would give 

         employment to millions of people.  Take these employments and 

         those of horticulture and agriculture and there is hardly a 

         limit to the numbers that can find constant employment and 

         healthful homes here.

                                          FREDERICK M. SHAW.

                         {Times, Mar. 14, 1886, p. 5}

                    Frederick Moulton Shaw on Breakwaters.

              To the Editor of the Times--Sir:  As early as 1872 it 

         was seen that an artificial harbor would be required 

         somewhere between Newport and Point Duma on this coast.  To 

         meet this want, and to advance the cause of hygienic and 

         industrial education, the writer undertook the survey of this 

         section with a view to build such harbor and a short line of 

         railway to connect it with the back country, where building 

         material could be had in variety and abundance.  Eleven years 

         time and several thousand dollars have been expended in these 

         surveys and researches to fully determine that a work of such 

         magnitude would pay interest and tax on so large a sum as 

         would be required to complete it.  When the estimates were 

         first made, the cost would have been nearly $25,000,000; but, 

         owing to the fall in cost of steel, the work can now be done 

         for less than $10,000,000.  Money, too, is to be had on 

         better terms than it would have been possible to have 

         obtained it at that time.

              There is a growing tendency to place large sums in such 

         investments--investments that are permanent, and that are 

         likely to remain in a fairly safe way of paying dividends; 

         even small ones.  In this way it is now possible to obtain 

         the means to carry out this enterprise, in a way to do credit 

         to ourselves and be satisfactory to those who furnish the 

         "tools" to do the work.

                                              F. M. SHAW.

                                     Room 114 Nadeau Hall.

                                March 13, 1886.

                            G) SHAW AS PHILOSOPHER

    Shaw purposely avoided two subjects: politics and religion.  In one letter                                                                              

he rejected theosophy but his reasoning was more philosophical than religious.  

The closest thing to a political letter came in response to Republican concerns 

that the election of Grover Cleveland might lead to federal pensions for 

confederate veterans or a resumption of the Civil War.  While suggesting that 

such ideas were nonsense he refused to take a partisan position, noting that he 

had never affiliated with a political party nor did he ever intend to.

    More to his liking was an examination of mind-boggling questions.  Does the 

early bird really catch the worm?

                         {Times, Sept. 11, 1886, p. 2}

                      For the Horny-handed Sons of Toil.

              To the Editor of the Times--Sir:  How many of the old 

         saws and other worn-out tools hang on to us like grim death 

         and cast their malevolent shadows across the path of the 

         honest farmer?  One in particular it is a pleasure to 

         disprove--"that it is always the early bird that catches the 

         worm."  On the contrary, the worm usually catches the early 

         bird.  To this distasteful conclusion I have been forced by a 

         long and bitter experience.  Many farmers keep bees.  These 

         little helpers I have been associated with ever on the farm.  

         They eat with me persistently, as I always eat, if possible, 

         in the open air.  Millions of them go out for an early 

         breakfast and never return.  This is the way most of them 

         perish:  They get full of honey, or water, or pollen, and 

         their wings being too much worn to fly, they attempt to walk 

         home, and of course, it is their last move.  So with other 

         animals and insects, most of which are worms of some 

         description, at some time.  This idea that early morning work 

         is good is liable to be carried to extremes.  In the summer 

         it is judicious to work while it is cool, but there are only 

         a few weeks in this climate when the heat in the middle of 

         the day is at all burdensome.  The rest of the year, all the 

         work, that the average person can endure and enjoy good 

         health, can be done between sunrise and sunset.  It is the 

         drones and moths in the human hive that start these 

         fallacious axioms.

                                               F. M. SHAW.

                             H) SHAW THE FUTURIST

    After his 1883 insanity trial Shaw's contributions were absent from the 

letters column until September.  How many were published in 1884 cannot be 

ascertained since the existing Times file is missing all issues from Dec., 

1883, until October, 1884.  Still he managed to get three into the paper in 

November and December.  After publication of a letter in January, 1885, he 

disappeared from the column for ten months, followed by a flurry of letters.  

He published ten in the Times in 1886, and six more in the first half of 1887.  

Then his letters stopped again.  This time they did not resume, although he 

continued to author letters printed in at least one other Los Angeles paper.

    His last letter to the Times in the 1880s no doubt amused readers, who 

surely smiled and shook their heads as they read another one of the doctor's 

hair-brained observations.  Trains that cross canyons without bridges?  Hang-

gliding off the bluffs along the Pacific?  "Crazy Shaw!"

                         {Times, June 15, 1887, p. 6}

                              Walking or Flying.
                          A CORRESPONDENT WHO THINKS 

                        THAT MEN WILL YET LEARN TO FLY.

              Los Angeles, June 14.--[To the Editor of The Times.]  

         The multiplication of means of locomotion is one of the 

         marked features of our age.  It is only in its infancy as far 

         as practical results are concerned.  The writer, in his 

         investigations into electric railway construction, found that 

         it was quite possible at a rate of speed of 100 miles per 

         hour, to safely cross a gap with a railway train without a 

         bridge.  Of course the weight of the train would have to be 

         known exactly to the engineer in order to regulate his speed.  

         Whether it will ever be advisable or necessary to use this 

         airy bridge, is another matter.  Undoubtedly railway 

         construction is just in its infancy, as far as the safety of 

         passengers is concerned.  But it is evident that railway  

         trains, as well as human beings, can safely fly under proper 

         conditions.  Given the requisite velocity and there is no 

         difficulty or danger in passing an open space with a heavy 

         train of cars.  This has been demonstrated by actual trial.  

         The problem of flying by man himself has not been so 

         satisfactorily proven.  However, that will be done in time.  

         All that is needed is the will and a sufficient courage to 

         enable the human birds to launch themselves in air.  But 

         there will have to be some other regimen and training used in 

         order to fit them for aerial locomotion than has been 

         applied.  The late Bulwer Lytton in his "Coming Race," 

         foretells the existence of flying men and women, and claims 

         this continent as their habitation.  Now, I know of no place 

         as favorable as this for putting that theory into practice.  

         It can be done safely on the plains near the ocean, and the 

         new fledged birds can alight in the water.  This would avoid 

         the accidents of bone-breaking that might occur if all the 

         trials were made on land alone.  A pair of wings, that are of 

         sufficient size to sustain an ordinary person, could be 

         constructed so as to swing as the sword swings in its 

         scabbard, until needed; then by inserting the arms in the 

         sheaths, the wings can be put in motion, just as the same are 

         used to propel one in the water when swimming.  To obtain a 

         momentum sufficient to carry one off the ground, a slide or 

         incline might have to be used at first.  But the human bird 

         would soon develop speed enough in running to make the start 

         without the incline.

              All this will come, however, as the bicycle has--by 

         stages.  The human birds must train themselves to the utmost 

         condition of efficiency in physical exercises before any 

         attempts at flying will be likely to succeed.

              How often have we heard some ambitious person exclaim, 

         "Oh, how I wish I could fly!"  That is a perfectly laudable 

         desire, and sooner or later it will be realized.

                                              F. M. SHAW.

    While Savariej died alone in the middle of the desert according to 

Newmark, perhaps fantasizing he was in a long distance foot race, and Pinnecate 

drank himself to death, Shaw's fate was equally tragic.  In his 1931 history of 

Los Angeles Spalding said Shaw was a well-known figure in the city for about 

twenty years but did not know what happened to him.  Newmark, writing in 1913, 

implied that Shaw was still living at that time.  In fact, he was.

    Despite the many letters, the grandiose schemes and the insanity trial, 

the only citation for Shaw in the Times' microfilm index is for Nov. 22, 1914.  

As the reporter's story unfolds, those who remembered Shaw the dreamer must 

have been taken back momentarily some thirty years or more as the old man, 

still carrying his papers and diagrams, tried one last time to interest a 

listener in yet another marvelous enterprise.  Eccentric to the end, not even a 

life-threatening calamity could deter him from his quest.  

                     {Times, Nov. 22, 1914, sec. I, p. 10}
                       ASPIRING TO FLY, MAY NEVER WALK.


                             SLIPS ON BANANA PEEL.

              After having worked in vain for fifty years on an 

         invention which he hoped would solve the problem of aviation, 

         Frederick Merrill Shaw, 87 years old, No. 237 North Grand 

         avenue, slipped on a banana peel at First and Main streets 

         yesterday morning and sustained injuries from which 

         physicians at the Receiving Hospital say he can never 

         permanently recover.

              "It's the irony of fate," the old man said.  "I have 

         devoted nearly all my life to my invention, which when 

         perfected would in reality permit men to fly in the clouds 

         with the safety of birds and here I am on a hospital cot as 

         the result of a simple accident on the ground."

              Mr. Shaw is suffering from a fractured limb, his left 

         leg having been broken near the hip.  Owing to his advanced 

         years it is not considered likely that he will ever be able 

         to walk.

              While discussing the accident and his life work, Mr. 

         Shaw, who is one of the city's well-known eccentric 

         characters, took from his pocket a sheet of paper on which 

         was drawn a diagram of the air machine he had labored on for 

         so many years.  He exhibited it with pride, declaring if he 

         only had more time and a little money, he could yet perfect 

         it.  His device is of the famous Darius Green type, providing 

         huge wings to be operated by men birds.  About twenty years 

         ago he thought he had finished his invention and in giving a 

         public demonstration fell from the roof of a two-story 

         building and broke a number of bones.

              Upon three different occasions he attempted to prove to 

         the world that he had mastered the air problem and each time 

         fell to the ground, twice breaking the same limb that was 

         fractured yesterday.

              Mr. Shaw organized the Stein Transit Company in the 

         early eighties when he believed he had perfected his 

         invention and several thousand dollars were spent in a 

         endeavor to place it on the market, but when the time came 

         for its supreme test and he broke his leg in demonstrating  

         it, the project was dropped.

              Accompanying the diagram of the air machine are some 

         verses upon which Mr. Shaw said he had based his hope of 

         conquering the air.  They are:

              "Oh, that like doves I had two wings,

              The ancient bard of Israel sings;

              Then I would fly and be at last

              Secure from foes that have oppressed.

              And many are the seers of old

              Who have of angels' pinions told

              And now the good at last shall rise

              To join their host above the skies."

             Mr. Shaw wept when told that he probably will never be 

         able to walk again.  He was removed to the County Hospital. 

    Shaw's death on Dec. 7, 1914, was recorded on a single line in the official 

death notices printed in the Times.  There was no obituary, no editorial, no 

remembrance by readers of the letters column.  The city's last 19th century

eccentric was gone.