It was a charming display of humanity a century ago in the streets of Pomona, as a man in torn clothes entertained passers-by with his beautiful voice.
Suddenly, the good feeling of that day in 1922 was shattered when a police officer arrested him for begging.
To the rescue came Smith Russell, manager of the Belvedere Theater, who stopped the police from closing it. Instead, Russell, inspired by the impressive voice of the homeless, hired him instead to perform on Belvedere’s vaudeville stage.
And the story became even warmer and more appealing because the passerby – a James Gordon – discovered he was on his honeymoon and his young wife would accompany him to the piano, reported Pomona Progress of September 23, 1922.
Sure, it may seem a little strange for him to be on a honeymoon, but no one felt compelled to question that. Belvedere even advertised Gordon – dubbed “The Hobo Songster” – and his wife for their upcoming appearances. The audience, some drawn to the charming way he was “discovered”, filled the theater and enjoyed the couple’s talents.
A true story to feel good about.
But wait – an even more amazing coincidence happened a few days later. Gordon was singing on the corner of Pine and Broadway in downtown Long Beach when a police officer showed up and arrested him, just like in Pomona. Surprisingly, Gordon was rescued again by Liberty Theater manager. Police were talked about releasing him so he could perform at the theater award that week, Long Beach Telegram reported Sept. 29.
And it was deja vu back in January when – you guessed it – Gordon was arrested for singing in the streets of the Alhambra, only to be rescued by the manager of the Alhambra Theater, and hired to perform in the vaudeville program the following night.
Even 100 years later, it is very easy to understand that these were early-day publicity stunts that brought out the business for Gordon’s upcoming (and already arranged) shows in every city. It was amazing to find newspaper articles in dozens of western cities in which he was arrested for singing in the streets only to be rescued by local theater managers in a timely manner.
My opinion is that the theater manager would give a friendly cop some tickets to falsify the arrest in any city. And surely the newspaper was also joking. Gordon and his wife, Arelyn Snelling – who were actually married on stage during a show in Sacramento more than 14 months before coming to Pomona – may have never seen the inside of a prison cell.
Gordon – known as “Hobo Songster” or “Hobo Caruso” – was in fact a very accomplished singer in the vaudeville theaters in the West Bank, performing songs for “Hoboland” and other vagabond experiences.
And the stop in Pomona was not even the first time in Southern California. Six years ago, Gordon was the owner of a number of vaudeville theaters in Los Angeles. On June 25, 1916, “The Caruso Whore” even appeared on a free vaudevil program at Urbita Park in San Bernardino, according to the San Bernardino News.
The last mention I could find of Gordon and Snelling was in 1924, when they got their musical skills in Florida. But there were no reports that they used the old “arrest and rescue” advertising stunt routine.
Pomona’s HE Jewell was engulfed by an early road rage in the Puente community when a car passed by him in a disorderly manner in June 1933. He was determined to give the driver “a good noise outside” so he chased him all the way to Ontario before forcing him to stop.
Jewell spared no words, or volume, in giving the driver an assessment of his poor steering skills, according to the June 22 Pomona Progress Bulletin.
Jewell had followed Jedd Sawyer, the legendary Upland police chief.
After being criticized by Jewell, Sawyer arrested him for “using a very powerful language.” Judge JF Hamilton later left Jewell to leave with a warning.
Someone has to give the Redlands Board of Directors, the City Council of the early days, a good financial assessment 125 years ago this month.
The Redlands facts of March 25, 1897, reported the’s confession the night before, concluding with a statement of inaction.
“Since there was no money in the treasury”, writes Faktet, “no bill was paid”.
Joe Blackstock writes on the history of the Inner Empire. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter @JoeBlackstock. Check out some of our past columns in Inland Empire Stories on Facebook at www.facebook.com/IEHistory.
Arrests lead to theater performances and plenty of encores on Southern California streets – Daily Bulletin Source link Arrests lead to theater performances and plenty of encores on Southern California streets – Daily Bulletin