1920-1930 Storrs

Les Storrs Santa Monica Portrait of a City Yesterday and Today, Santa Monica Bank: Santa Monica, CA, 1974, 67 pp., 1929, 1922, 1920, 1920s

P. 35 [Photo caption: "Ocean Park's big bath house was popular in the first quarter of the century, as this 1920 photo shows the building."]

Pp. 42 [ Photo captions: "In 1921 Santa Monica beaches were getting a bit crowded from time to time and many bathers sought shelter from the sun."]

     "During the decade prior to the Great Depression, however, changes accelerated, and the population increased rapidly. This was the period in which Southern California generally, under the leadership of the All-Year Club, embarked upon a vigorous campaign of national advertising which was designed to attract people from the eastern and miiddle western states.

     "The effort proved very successful."

      " . . ."

     "Confronted by the possibility of a development heartily disapproved by the populace, the city council enacted a primitive and incomplete zoning ordinance as early at 1922 and followed with one much more comprehensive in character in 1929."

     " . . ."

     "The Evening Outlook, through its editorial policy, made every effort to spur development, although during the 1920s the paper was little more than an adjunct to the Los Angeles Express, owned at that time by F.W. Kellogg. Kellogg was convinced that local news was needed in order to increase circulation of the Express in the suburbs, and he bought a number of local daily papers, including the Outlook. Subscribers received both, with the Outlook on the outside.

     " . . . Robert P. Holliday . . . editor of the Outlook, which was sold to the Copley chain shortly before the Depression struck . . . the paper was acquired by the late Samuel G. McClure and his family, the present owners [1974].

     [Colonel] McClure, father of Robert E. McClure, the retired editor of the paper . . . [sought] to correct certain governmental shortcomings which were known to exist at that time, but which were difficult indeed to prove."

       " . . . "

Chapter Four: Industry Arrives

     "Forces which were to bring profound changes to the beach residential community of Santa Monica were released by World War I, when the world realized that the airplane was more than an engineering dream and that it would find greater and greater application not only in war, but in commerce.

     "Santa Monica was destined, although this was unknown to the citizens of 1918, to occupy a position of world leadership in the nascent aviation industry.

     "Fate brought Donald W. Douglas to Santa Monica.

     "Douglas, a sailor at heart but an engineer by design, had entered the United States Naval Academy in 1909, but he already had a great interest in aviation, an interest not shared by the Navy at that time. Even so, he remained a midshipman until 1912, when he resigned and sought admission to Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was told that while M.I.T. respected his scholastic achievements at Annapolis, he could not expect an engineering degree in less than another four years. He made it in two, and received an immediate appointment to the faculty, a post which he occupied for only one year. Even while teaching, he was acting as consultant to the Connecticut Aircraft Co., and he found that he was much more interested in design and construction than in teaching.

     "In 1915 Glenn L. Martin summoned young Douglas, whom he had never met to Los Angeles to join his organization . . .

     "Douglas' first tour of duty with the Martin Company was brief, for in 1916 he was called to Washington as chief civilian aeronautical engineer for the Aviation Section of the Army Signal Corps, but after only a year Douglas and the Army agreed that his work might be more productive if he were outside the government, and he rejoined Martin, who by that time had a plant in Cleveland, Ohio.

     "There Douglas designed the prototype of the Martin bomber, which far outclassed anything in the world at that time and which was suitable for mass production. First flight of this design was August 17, 1917.

     "World War I ended November 11, 1918, and Douglas began to feel an urge to have his own business, and in March of 1920 he and his family moved to Southern California. His total assets amounted to $600, an amount hardly sufficient to establish a factory even in those days when the gold standard still applied and a dollar was indeed a dollar.

     "He sought financial support, found it in the person of David R. Davis, and designed and built the Cloudster, first airplane capable of flying across the continent non-stop. It actually flew February 24, 1921, less than a year after Douglas came to California with $600 in his pocket.

     "In April of the same year, Douglas received the first of a series of orders, orders which would tax the capacity of the plant which was established in what had been a small but by then defunct motion picture studio on Wilshire Boulevard and Chelsea Street in Santa Monica, present site of Douglas Park.

     "Money was needed to fill these orders, and Douglas enlisted the aid of the late Bill Henry, at that time sports editor of the Los Angeles Times. Bill Henry knew his way around Los Angeles financial circles, and Douglas was able to borrow $15,000 on a note backed by ten signatures representing personal fortunes totalling around $150,000,000. Among them were those of Harry Chandler, then publisher of the Times, a bank vice president, a prominent attorney, and the president of a major drug company.

     "Then came the event . . . the first Army contract given to the young company, a contract for the construction of four airplanes which would circumnavigate the globe.

pp. 30, 31 [Photo captions: "This scene in 1924, preceded the start of the U.S. Army World Flight, which originated at Clover Field, now the Santa Monica municipal airport. The wood and fabric biplanes were powered by Liberty engines left over from World War I. The flight put Santa Monica, and Douglas, "on the map."]

     "On St. Patrick' Day, 1924, all Douglas employees went from the Wilshire plant to Clover Field, now the Santa Monica Municipal Airport, but then the dusty station of a small Air National Guard unit, for the takeooff.

     "Also among those present were civic leaders, and a young reporter for the Santa Monica Evening Outlook, the writer of this narrative, himself to become an officer in the Army Air Corps many years later in World War II.

     " . . . three of the original four completed the globe girdling trip, landing at Clover Field September 23, this despite the fact that actual flying time amounted to only 15 days, 11 hours and seven minutes for the 25,553 miles covered.

     "The remaining five and a half months were used in mechanical overhauls, engine replacements, etc.

     " . . . it was the first such flight in aviatiion history, and it . . . led . . . to . . . additional and larger contracts with the armed services, and also with the airlines which came into existence a few years later.

     " . . . the U.S. Navy . . . in the earliest days of the company . . . Douglas and a handful of employees had built three torpedo bombers by hand. Douglas himself having designed them in accordance with a Navy request.

     "In 1922 the Navy ordered 38 more of the bombers. This led to the establishment of the Wilshire plant. Then, in Jaunuary of 1925 an inspector for the Air Service visited the plant . . .

     "The . . . next month the army ordered 75 O-2 observation planes for which the World Cruisers were the prototype.

     "Then in November of the same year, Western Air Express purchased six M-2 transports with which to carry U.S. mails. It was the first order for Douglas commercial aircraft and Western, now Western Airlines . . .

     " . . . the Wilshire Boulevard plant [became] crowded. The Cloudster, first non-stop transcontinental airplane, had been put together in a loft about a planing mill, and by comparison the Wilshire plant was luxurious. . . . Clover Field was close, and, thanks to a bond issue, had become a municipal field. Douglas purchased property adjacent to the airport and in 1929 manufacturing was moved to the . . . new factory at the airport.

     " . . ."

pp. 28, 29 [Photo Captions:; "Here Donald W. Douglas and a small group of dedicated men built the Army World Flight planes. The location was an abandoned movie studio on Wilshire Boulevard at the present location of Douglas Park"]

Irving S. Cobb; Will Rogers

     " . . .

     "Banks continued to be local institutions for many years, until the branch banking system began to develop and to absorb the smaller institutions, largely during the period of economic expansion which followed World War I and which came to a crashing halt with the bank holiday of 1929 and the subsequent Great Depression."

     " . . .

     "One of my moe interesting interviews as a young staffer on the Evenig Outlook was with a young woman who was wearing nothing at all.

     "She had . . . been picked up on the beach in Ocean Park, where she was nonchalantly sunbathing in the altogether.

     "Nude bathing in the 1920s had not gained the popular acceptance of today, and the police were properly scandalized and escorted her to the pokey, there she was taken in charge by Mrs. Brown, the matron."

     " . . .

"pp. 26. 27 [Photo captions: "Famous dance bands performed in the La Monica ballroom on what is now known as the Newcomb Pier. The building, long gone, attracted people from all parts of Southern California"]

pp. 38, 39 [Photo captions: "This view from the air was made circa 1930. Taken from a point on the south side of Venice, it shows a small, long-gone pier in the foreground, then the big Venice amusement pier, only the breakwater seaward of which now remains, and the Ocean Park pier, the Crystal pier and the Santa Monica piers" [an aerial photo from the south side of Venice]"]

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 Kelyn Roberts 2017