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Book Review—Deadly Times

Book Review

My wise old grandmother always told me that “those who don’t study history are bound to repeat it.” She also told me that “history is written by the victors.”

I have always loved history, so much so that as late as a graduating senior in high school I thought I wanted to be a history teacher. Then, after doing research and discovering that (1) teachers in Texas didn’t make enough money to get me out of the poor household that I was in, and (2) if I wanted to make enough money and be a history teacher, I probably would have to go to college and get a bachelor, master, and doctorate degree.

Eight.

More.

Years.

Of.

School.

Nope.

It wasn’t until the last decade or so that I came to agree firmly with what my wise old grandmother said as I watched the Texas State Board of Education remove any mention in their textbooks of history events like the KKK and Jim Crow laws. According to the social studies textbook, “United States Goverment,” Brown v. Board of Education only happened because sometimes “the buildings, buses, and teachers for the all-black schools were lower in quality.”

Deadly TimesWhen I was at the public library a few weeks ago, there on the New Books display was one titled “Deadly Times—The 1910 Bombing of the Los Angeles Times and America’s Forgotten Decade of Terror” by Lee Irwin.

Since I live just 100 miles south of Los Angeles, the title intrigued me. With 55+ years of history reading and research under my pillow, I had never heard of this bombing, and certainly not “America’s Forgotten Decade of Terror.” Nothing about it in my Texas high school and college history books….

After reading the dust jacket, I checked out the book.

Between 1907 and 1911, there were more than 200 bombings carried out in the United States, East Coast, West Coast, and everywhere in between. It was the longest period of sustained terrorism in the nation’s history. The bombings were carried out by Union men against non-Union companies.

Although labor unions can be traced back to 1349 in England with the Ordinance of Labourers, the first effective nationwide labor organization in the United States was the Noble and Holy Order of the Knights of Labor, founded in December 1869. The Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions began in 1881 and eventually morphed into the American Federation of Labor.

When reading Deadly Times, it is important to know—the book does not tell you directly—that Democrats in 1910 were pro-big business and against the working man. Republicans were mostly pro-working man, pro-union, anti-big business, anti-rich. Exactly the opposite of what the two parties stand for in today’s United States. In 1910, many newspapers actually WERE foes of the working class. Perhaps this is the time that the current U.S. President wants to take America back to.

Los Angeles Times building after being destroyed by a bomb in 1910In 1910, the Los Angeles Times was an open shop business, and the owner, General Harrison Gray Otis (1837-1917) was so anti-union that he proposed making unions, strikes, and picketing illegal in San Francisco (a pro-union city, and the largest city in California at the time) and Los Angeles. General Gray’s proposal ultimately made the Los Angeles Times building a prime target, and early in the morning of October 1, 1910, a bomb exploded and killed 21 people (some accounts say 20; some accounts say that the number is not known because of the carnage the bombs created).

Lee Irwin’s research creates a fascinating story of the bombing, the search to identify and catch the bombers, a nation polarized by labor issues and the bombings, and the trials that ensued. The search for the bombers was conducted by William J. Burns (1861-1932), known as “America’s Sherlock Holmes,” and his William J. Burns International Detective Agency, acquired in August 2000 by Securitas AB of Sweden.

In April 1911, Burns, along with Los Angeles and Chicago police, arrested brothers John J. McNamara (1876-1941) and James B. McNamara (1882-1941). Clarence Darrow (1857-1938), eventually to become famous for defending John T. Scopes (1900-1970) in 1925 in the “Scopes Monkey Trial,” was hired by the labor unions to defend the McNamara brothers.

Before the case could go to trial, a plea bargain was reached in which both brothers would plead guilty. John, admitted to placing the bomb at the Los Angeles Times building, would serve life in prison. J.B. would serve 10 years albeit for a different bombing; the judge would modify the plea bargain so that J.B. would serve 15 years in prison. Interestingly, the plea bargain was first mentioned at the home of E.W. Scripps, a name well known here San Diego County where we have the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Scripps Health, Scripps Research, Scripps Ranch housing subdivision, and more.

The Los Angeles Times trial ruined Clarence Darrow who himself was indicted and tried, twice, for attempting to bribe jurors. His first trial, a state trial where Darrow was defended by Earl Rogers, (1869-1922) ended in acquittal. The second trial, a federal trial, resulted in a hung jury. A plea bargain, in which Darrow agreed to leave California and never come back, was reached in order to avoid a third trial.

Darrow left public life for many years, returning in 1924 to defend Nathan Leopold Jr. (1904-1971) and Richard Loeb (1905-1936), teenage sons of two wealthy Chicago families, accused of kidnapping and killing 14-year-old Bobby Franks for the thrill of it (resulting in the term “thrill kill”). A year later was the Scopes Monkey Trial.

I have always been fascinated by people killing people, under the guise of religion, social progress, thrill, or whatever, and this book certainly brought to my attention lots of events where people killed people that I had not been aware of. I now have several other books, autobiographies and biographies, on my reading list.

Considering where the current U.S. President and his ilk are taking the nation, I would not be surprised if the common laborer ultimately rises up, perhaps again resorting to death and destruction….

More interesting facts I learned from “Deadly Times” and subsequent research:

  1. Ossian Sweet (1895-1960) trial. In September 1925, a white mob in Detroit tried to drive a black family out of the home they had purchased in a white neighborhood. During the melee, a white man was killed. The eleven black men in the house all were arrested and charged with murder. Darrow’s closing argument to the all-white jury:
    “I insist that there is nothing but prejudice in this case; that if it was reversed and eleven white men had shot and killed a black man while protecting their home and their lives against a mob of blacks, nobody would have dreamed of having them indicted. They would have been given medals instead….”
    The first trial of all 11 defendants was a mistrial.
    The second trial involved Henry Sweet, Ossian’s brother, who had admitted firing the shot. Henry was found not guilty on grounds of self-defense. All charges were dropped against the other ten.
    Darrow’s closing statement, lasting over seven hours, is considered a landmark in Civil Rights history and is included in the book, “Speeches that Changed the World.”
  2. The book, Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz Age, by Kevin Boyle, a professor of history at Ohio State University, is about the Sweet trials. It became a bestseller, won the National Book Award for non-fiction, and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award. It also is on my reading list now.
  3. The judge overseeing the Sweet Trials was a young Frank Murphy (1890-1949) who would go on to serve as the last Governor General of the Phillippine Islands, Mayor of Detroit, Governor of Michigan, and as an Associate Justice on the United States Supreme Court. The court building in Detroit is the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice.
  4. The television show “Perry Mason” is based on the life of Earl Rogers (1869-1922).
  5. Los Angeles Times bombing memorial in Hollywood Forever CemeteryThere is a memorial in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery honoring 20 people killed in the Los Angeles Times bombing. General Otis also is interred at the Cemetery. It has 20 names on it, not 21.
  6. The labor movement in Los Angeles crashed after the guilty pleas of the McNamara brothers, languishing until the 1950s.
  7. Samuel GompersThe head of the American Federal of Labor at the time, Samuel Gompers, who approved tens of thousands of dollars of Union money to defend the McNamara brothers, was honored by the United States Post Office on a 3¢ postage stamp issued on January 27, 1950.
  8. The kidnapping and murder of Bobby Franks was the basis for Patrick Hamilton’s 1929 play “Rope” as well as Alfred Hitchcock“s 1948 movie of the same name. Other film, theatre, and fiction works based on Bobby Franks include Meyer Levin’s 1956 novel Compulsion and the 1959 film adaptation; Nothing but the Night by James Yaffe; Little Brother Fate by Mary-Carter Roberts; Never the Sinner, a 1988 play by John Logan, which included an explicit portrayal of Leopold and Loeb’s gay relationship; Native Son by Richard Wright; Swoon, a 1992 film by Tom Kalin; Funny Games, a 1997 Austrian film by Michael Haneke, and its 2008 remake; R.S.V.P., a 2002 black comedy film; Murder by Numbers by Barbet Schroeder; and Stephen Dolginoff’s 2005 Off Broadway musical (muscial? really?) Thrill Me: The Leopold and Loeb Story.
  9. Leopold’s autobiography, Life Plus 99 Years, published in 1958, is on my reading list now.
  10. In 1959, Leopold sued to block production of the film version of Compulsion on the grounds that Levin’s book invaded his privacy, profited from his life story, and defamed him. Eventually the Illinois Supreme Court ruled against him, stating that Leopold, as the confessed perpetrator of the “crime of the century,” could not reasonably demonstrate that any book had injured his reputation.

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San Diego Historical Landmarks—#10: Torrey Pines Area, part 2

San Diego Historical Landmarks

If you missed Torrey Pines Area, part 1, here it is.

Let us start at the far north of the Torrey Pines Area as defined by this map:

Torrey Pines Area

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

That blue just below Carmel Valley Road is Los Peñasquitos Lagoon. It’s a great place to go train watching since Amtrak, Coaster, and BNSF freight use the single track through the marsh.

Amtrak under the Del Mar Bridge at Torrey Pines State Beach near San Diego, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Those trees you see on the hill behind the bridge are torrey pines in the Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve.

The torrey pine (Pinus torreyana) is the rarest pine species in the United States. It grows only in a small area here in San Diego and on Santa Rosa Island, one of the islands in Channel Island National Park off the coast of Southern California.

Torrey Pine (Pinus torreyana)

Torrey Pine (Pinus torreyana)

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I went to the Reserve at 7:00 one morning and did everything within my power not to just sit out there and watch the trains go by. Long-time readers probably realize how difficult it was for me to ignore the trains. Nonetheless, here’s a walk through a couple of the trails in the Reserve:

Torrey Pines State Nature Reserve, San Diego

Torrey Pines State Nature Reserve, San Diego

Torrey Pines State Nature Reserve, San Diego

Torrey Pines State Nature Reserve, San Diego

Torrey Pines State Nature Reserve, San Diego

Torrey Pines State Nature Reserve, San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The first time I visited the Reserve was back in May 1993. As I remember it, there was very little sunshine to be found on the trails since it was a fairly dense forest of torrey pines. Sadly, the pines slowly are losing their fight for existence due to drought, insect attacks, and pollution from nearby developments and roadways.

There are two named beaches below the 400-foot cliffs of the Reserve: Torrey Pines State Beach and Blacks Beach. Blacks Beach is one of the world’s largest and best naturist beaches. It is difficult to get to because one has to navigate trails down the 400-foot sandstone cliffs, and each time you go, the trails are different due to erosion from human traffic and rainfall during the winter weeks.

My knees don’t like me going up and down cliffs anymore, so these pictures are from a trip a couple of years ago:

Blacks Beach

Stairs to Blacks Beach in San Diego, California

Blacks Beach in San Diego, California

Blacks Beach in San Diego, California

Blacks Beach in San Diego, California

Blacks Beach in San Diego, California

IMG_7122 framed

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The Torrey Pines Golf Course is San Diego’s best and most beautiful course, and it’s a municipal course! It is where Tiger Woods won his last major championship, the U.S. Open, back in 2008.

Torrey Pines Golf Course

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Overlooking the golf course is The Lodge at Torrey Pines, a AAA Five Diamond hotel:

The Lodge at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, California

The Lodge at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, California

The Lodge at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The University of California at San Diego (UCSD) is in the Torrey Pines Area. UCSD was established in November 1960, and in just 54 years has risen to prominence among universities worldwide, with U.S. News & World Report recently ranking it as the 18th Top World University.

The campus has many unique buildings and public art, and is worth spending a day just walking around gawking at everything. The library, shown in the first picture, is named after Theodore Geisel, better known as “Dr. Seuss.” Geisel was a La Jolla resident when he died, and many of his works are in the Geisel Collection in the library.

Geisel Library at the University of California San Diego

UCSD Sun God

University of California San DiegoUniversity of California San Diego

Computer Science & Engineering Building at University of California San Diego

House at the University of California San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Across the street from the campus is the historic Torrey Pines Glider Port. I have been known to sit there for hours at a time and just watch the hang gliders.

Torrey Pines Gliderport, San Diego

Torrey Pines Gliderport, San Diego

Torrey Pines Glider Port

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

On the beach below the Glider Port is the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, founded in 1903, and one of the world’s foremost oceanographic institutions. The Institution is now a part of the University of California San Diego, and also includes the Birch Aquarium. Take an afternoon to visit the Aquarium because the view of the beach and ocean is unparalleled, and the aquariums and fish are pretty nice, too!

Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego

Scripps Institute of Oceanography, San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

At the very south of the Torrey Pines Area is the Salk Institute for Biological Studies:

Salk Institute, San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The Salk Institute was founded in 1960 by Jonas Salk, the developer of the polio vaccine. It often is ranked as the premier biological & biomedicine institute in the world.

Constant praise is heaped upon the architecture, but I find it to be absolutely atrocious. Bare concrete everywhere; just depressing and oogie.

Salk Institute in San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

There you have it. An absolutely gorgeous and historic area, so if ever you are in San Diego, take a day out of your schedule and go visit the Torrey Pines Area in La Jolla. You won’t regret it.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

For the introductory blog post
to San Diego’s historical landmarks,
click on San Diego’s Historical Landmarks.

For previous posts in the
San Diego Historical Landmarks series,
go here.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Anniversary? Birthday? Graduation? Marriage?
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African tulip tree (Spathodea campanulata)

Did you know?

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The first time I saw an African tulip tree (Spathodea campanulata), I was awestruck by three things:

  1. The beauty of the flowers
  2. The size of the flowers
  3. The number of flowers on the tree

African tulip tree

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I saw my first one at the end of a cul-de-sac one day when I purposely had gotten lost. I don’t remember exactly where it was, only that it was somewhere in South Park, so I haven’t been able to find it again. However, I keep my eye out for other African tulip trees, and I have found a lot of them.

The second one I discovered is a very large tree in the northwest corner of Alcazar Garden in Balboa Park:

Alcazar Garden in San Diego's Balboa Park

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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Next I discovered several of them at the northwest corner of Costco in Mission Valley:

African tulip trees in Mission Valley near Costco

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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Recently I was exploring the beach below Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla.

I had walked north on the beach, but rather than walking back south on the beach, I decided to go up to Scripps and walk at the top of the cliffs.

Look what I discovered:

African tulip trees at Scripps Institute of Oceanography in La Jolla, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Location of Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, California

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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The blue building is Sverdrup Hall. Here’s a Google Earth view of the trees:

African tulip trees at Scripps Institute of Oceanography in La Jolla, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Spathodea is a monotypic genus, meaning that there is only one species in the genus, and that species is, of course, Spathodea campanulata, the African tulip tree. Smile if you feel special now!

Mature trees can be anywhere from 23 to 82 feet tall. It is native to the tropical dry forests of Africa, which explains why it does so well here in San Diego. Interestingly, the African tulip tree has been nominated as one of the 100 World’s Worst invaders.

First discovered in 1787 on the Gold Coast of Africa, the African tulip tree is planted extensively in tropical locales for its showy reddish-orange and crimson flowers. Yellow flowers occur, but are rare.

Other interesting tidbits about the African tulip tree:

  1. The flower buds contain water, making them fun to play with since you can shoot the water at other people simply by squeezing the bud.
  2. Thirsty birds love the flowers because their upward cup shape allows them to hold rainwater and dew.
  3. The wood is relatively soft, making the trunks popular with hole-nesting birds like barbets.
  4. Seeds are edible, and seeds, flowers, and roots are used in medicine in some parts of the world.
  5. The bark has laxative and antiseptic properties. It can be boiled in water and used for bathing newborn babies to heal body rashes.

You knew I was going to create some Photographic Art, right?

African tulip tree Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Surfer in San Diego

So many things I do for you!

My wise old grandmother

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

My wise old grandmother often said, “You can’t fight City Hall.”

Over the years I’ve heard of people fighting City Hall.

I’ve even heard of people fighting City Hall, and winning!

However, I’m pretty sure all of us rational people know that you don’t fight City Hall, you bribe City Hall!

That explains why I’ve never had much to do with City Hall.

Just don’t have enough money….

So when I saw the following at one of San Diego’s most beautiful and popular beaches:

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

….I wondered, “Is someone bribing City Hall?”

A sign assured me that someone was not:

Outfall seawater

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Now I’m not a big government conspiracy theorist, but I suppose someone could be bribing the monitors….

I guess the proof is in the pudding…. Hmmm. That’s something else my wise old grandmother used to say, and I still don’t know what it means. Maybe I’ll Google that after publishing this post….

Anyway….

If the birds like the outfall, it must be alright, right?

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Wait!

Not so fast there, pardner!

Everyone knows that what is good for wildlife isn’t necessarily good for people.

Well, then!

If surfers (considered by many to be people) don’t mind surfing in it….

Surfer in San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I figured I would take my shoes off and walk across it to get directly underneath the pier to get the following video especially for you!

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I put myself at risk of falling in the water with my camera, having my toes sucked into the sand and not being able to escape, sickness from the water outfall…. Oh, so many things I do for you!

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend James Frimmer,
Realtor Century 21 Award, BRE #01458572

If you’re looking for a home inspector,
I recommend Russel Ray — that’s me!Real Estate Solutions

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos