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Arrests lead to theater performances and plenty of encores on Southern California streets  – Daily Bulletin

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.

This advertisement was published in the Pomona Bulletin of September 29, 1922.

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.

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

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