Fraser’s Million Dollar Pier (Photo courtesy Santa Monica History Museum)

Fraser’s Million Dollar Pier (Photo courtesy Santa Monica History Museum)

THE PAST — Ah, campaign season in Santa Monica.

Despite the looming election date of Dec. 2, 1913, the mayoral candidates, perhaps feeling merciful, waited until mid-November to throw their hats into the ring. It didn’t keep the race from getting heated.

One hundred years ago this month, former Mayor Thomas Horace Dudley was first to announce his candidacy, hoping to unseat incumbent Roscoe Dow. Dow, through his cabinet of eight women, had become associated with temperance.

With the airport at least five years away from becoming a grassy-landing strip and development a universally encouraged concept (more than $1 million had already been spent on construction this year, a Santa Monica Outlook article boasts), Santa Monicans needed something to argue about. And liquor became it.

An initiative, proposed by the Law and Order League, would be placed on the Dec. 2 ballot to determine whether or not liquor could be served on Sundays in Santa Monica.

“If Venice wants the undesirable element, let them go there,” a political ad in the Outlook read.

The trial of a man accused of drunkenly battering his wife became the narrative center of the debate. The first all-woman jury in Santa Monica sent him to prison for 90 days “to cure the liquor habit,” according to the Los Angeles Times archives

Dudley had problems of his own. Mrs. Geraldine Hogg wrote a confession alleging that unnamed “improprieties” occurred between her and Dudley (both were married to other people) in 1905. Hogg would later deny the confession, claiming it was given while under the hypnosis of Los Angeles medium Herbert Luzon.

The confession was photographed and sent to the Ocean Park Bank, of which Dudley was president, advising the former mayor to drop out of the race or face the wrath of his wife and Hogg’s husband, to whom the confession would be sent.

The Los Angeles Time got wind of the story (it went unpublished in the Outlook) and both Dudley and Hogg vigorously denied the story.

As the election approached and the scandal died down, Dow founded his own newspaper, the Santa Monica Mirror, to stir the pot. It should be noted that this Mirror has no relation to the current Santa Monica Mirror, which is not a government mouthpiece.

(Spoiler alert: Dudley wins the election. Booze continues to flow on Sundays.)

• Everyone agreed on one thing: the city needed a new Municipal Auditorium. Los Angeles had about a dozen conventions each year, one 1913 grandstander noted at a widely attended meeting. How could Santa Monica compete? The fireproof structure would cost a whopping $60,000 but would easily pay for itself, the Chamber of Commerce said.

• Fraser’s Million Dollar Pier, located between Marine Street and Pier Avenue, burned down in 1912 but in November of 1913 City Hall took A.R. Fraser to court, challenging his property rights. The trial forced Fraser to halt his reconstruction of his pier and called into question the notion of private versus public property on the beach. The Ocean Park Pier replaced it the following year.

 

Ye olde Crime Watch 

 

The cops found a horse with a bullet in its side pulling an empty buggy on the outskirts of town. A gunnysack full of chicken feathers was found in the buggy. Police traced down the horse’s owner, who said he’d lent it to a friend. They deduced that the driver had been a chicken thief, evading an armed farmer who missed his target but hit the horse. The whereabouts of the chickens were unknown.

Near Santa Monica’s Long Wharf, a man found a message in a bottle, which he turned over to police. In the message a Rose Donoghue claims she “can’t get back” from Cat Island. Police tracked down Donoghue, of 21st Street and Santa Monica Boulevard, who “arose from bed tonight to deny that she was cast away on a desert island,” according to the Los Angeles Times archives.

One man was arrested in connection with an armed robbery. Charles Chick was walking on 22nd Street when A. Marino allegedly jumped out of the shadows brandishing a knife. Chick turned over 22 cents, but Marino wanted his cap and shoes. As he turned them over, Chick grabbed the knife and punched Marino a couple times in the face. Chick chased him down the street but lost track of him. Police picked him up a few days later.

 

 

dave@smdp.com