Frankie goes to Hollywood

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San Francisco,Cal.

Monday, May 8th, 1916

My last letter left us in Pasadena, where, I stated before, we arrived on Friday afternoon, the 21st of April. When I say we are all tired, it is placing it very mildly.

We stopped at the Maryland Hotel and were given and were given a very nice cottage to live in adjoining the hotel. The cottage had a sleeping porch under a bower of roses. Notwithstanding the tremendous heat that we just passed through, we found the temperature in Pasadena very congenial and very pleasant, and we rested in the cottage until the arrival of our trunks. We had not sat on the porch a great while before we were warned that we should keep our hats on so as to prevent catching cold, and to our surprise it commenced to grow cold about 5:00 O’clock in the evening and continued to grow cold, and we had to sleep under heavy blankets every night that we were in Pasadena.

Our trunks arrived in due time, without any trouble and then we felt very much happier, especially as my cigars had practically run out and I had plenty of them in my trunk. Mr. Rand thought this was a great joke that I was worried more over cigars than I was over clothing.

We were perfectly contented to remain in the cottage all evening and had the meal served in a very nice dining room, just the same as if we had been at home. The service from the hotel was excellent, as everything was brought to us hot. We had all our meals with the exception of one in the cottage dining room instead of the hotel.

Saturday the 22nd, we hired a 1910 Packard automobile and drove to Los Angeles’, a distance of only 10 miles, where I visited an old long time friend of mine, Mr. E.W.Barrett. When I say an old friend of mine, I mean over forty years standing. When I went from the farm into the Corner Store in Watertown to learn the dry goods business, March 24th, 1873, Mr. Barrett was the head clerk in that store and he was getting $13 per week. I started in on nothing per week, and it was through his kindness that I had nerve enough to stay in that store long to learn the retail dry goods business. He was always very kind and attentive to me, notwithstanding the fact that he was getting a tremendous salary, whereas I was getting nothing.

He afterwards went into partnership with Mr. Golding, who was head clerk in A. Bushnell’s store in Watertown in the Fall of 1875. These two young men left for Port Huron, Michigan where they opened a 99c store of their own. The reason why I recall this instance, is because it was the turning point in my life. At that time I was getting $6. per week in Moore & Smith’s store in Watertown. I immediately applied for the position that Mr. Golding held in Bushnell’s store, which I got at $10 per week. I remained in Bushnell’s store until February, when I was taken sick and laid up for a year and a half.

In the Spring of 1878, Mr.Golding visited Watertown, and he asked Mr. Moore in a conversation which I overheard, if he ever had a 5c counter. Mr. Moore replied that he had never hoard of any such thing, and Mr. Golding stated that he had tried a 5c counter and it proved to be

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a big success. The following August in 1878, Mr. Moore was in New York and bought less than $100. worth of 5c goods, and I helped to display these goods on a counter in the centre of the store in Watertown. In the meantime, after my sickness, I had returned to the “Corner Store”. That was the beginning of my experience in the 5c and 10c business, and the following February I opened up my first store in Utica, New York, on the 22nd day of February in 1879. The rest of the story you all know.

In referring to Mr. Barrett again, will say I did not know where or what had become of him until about six months ago, when I received a letter from Port Huron, Michigan, from a friend of Mr. Barrett, stating that Mr. Barrett and Mr. Granger, his friend, were living in Los Angeles California. I took the opportunity to write him a letter, which he received in due time and replied to, and we have corresponded ever since. Mr. Barrett was very much, surprised to see that young sapling of a boy that he used to see in the old “Corner Store”, who, at that time weighed only 135 lbs, had gotten so large. He could hardly recognize me after I had put on another 100 lbs. and he kept repeating to me that it didn’t seem possible that I could have ever gotten so large, but Mr. Barrett himself had also increased his weight very much. Notwithstanding the fact that he was not very well at the time I met him, he looked really good to me. He was living in a very nice house with Mr. Granger in Los Angeles.

He also has a nephew, named Clarence Barrett, who was living next door to him, and this same Clarence Barrett used to work in the “Corner Store” at the same time I did. I met him also. He was a very bright healthy, young man the last time I saw him and now he is grown to full manhood, he looks just the same as he did in former days, except that his hair has grown gray, the same as  mine.

It was very pleasant to meet these gentlemen after being away from Watertown forty years.

We then motored back to Pasadena.

I am expected to say something about my impressions of California. First, I wish to state that I never saw such excellent roads as there are around Pasadena and Los Angeles. They are very smooth and very pleasant roads to ride upon; in fact, I discovered that the roads in California are much better than they are in the east, while they have been improved, one cannot say too much in favor of the automobile roads in California.

They all told us that the months of April and May were the best months of the year to visit California, and that is one of the reasons why we took this time of the year, as then the flowers are all in bloom and vegetation is at its height. Speaking of flowers, we cannot say too much, as you find them everywhere, even along on the side of the roads. Miles after miles you travel and get the odor of beautiful flowers until they become so common that you forget that you are in the land of roses. Yet, I must say that we are seeing California in the very best time and the very best season California has ever had. According to a Los Angeles paper, it stated that never before were there so many roses and such beautiful vegetation as there is at present, so we have seen California at its best. People who come to California in January, February and

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March, come here during the rainy season and do not see the perpetual sunshine that we saw. We spent ten days in Pasadena and vicinity and the temperature was the same every single day. The sun shone every day and it was fairly mild during the day, not any too warm and not any too cold, but after 5:00 o’clock, look out. The nights were so cold that we had to have the steam on in our cottage and sleep under heavy blankets, but we were sure that the next day would be pleasant.

Sunday the 23rd, we visited, the famous Busch Gardens. They told us it was only a short walk from Pasadena, and the weather was a little warmer than we expected it would be, but we walked the distance and discovered it was three miles from our hotel. The Busch Gardens belong to Mr. Busch, who made himself famous by making beer in St.Louis. He has several acres of wonderful flowers and vegetation, sunken Italian gardens, and it is a very delightful spot to visit. It is impossible for me to describe this wonderful place.

We got hold of an old man who took us back to the hotel with his horse and carriage. He had lived in Pasadena for years and he took us through the famous Orange Grove Avenue. He stated, with great gusto, that there were more millionaires in one mile on that street than any other place in the world. He told us that there were 28 millionaires in that one mile. It was certainly a beautiful avenue. The handsomest house, in our opinion, was owned by Wrigley, the chewing gum man. The avenue was decorated with real live growing date palm trees on each side, some of the handsomest I have ever seen, and beautiful lawns and flowers galore.  In regard to the houses themselves, they were certainly very insignificant in comparison with the surroundings. The general style of architecture was Mission, which does not appeal to the average person from the east; in fact, all through California, you are disappointed in seeing such miserable architecture in their buildings, especially in private homes. The office buildings were entirely different and more like the eastern cities.

The city of Los Angeles, is a bustling, busy town, and is growing very fast. The little city of Pasadena has less than 40,000 people, and is comprised principally of beautiful homes. The Huntington Hotel, Raymond Hotel and the Green Hotel, the principal hotels in Pasadena, were closed for the season, but we found the Maryland Hotel very attractive and comfortable, and a good table.

Sunday afternoon, we took a ride with an old man in an old Studebaker car. We could not stand the Packard car another day, so we tried the Studebaker, but we checked that off at night and would not use that car.

Monday, April 24th we went back to Los Angeles.  Mr. Rand had made all arrangements for us to meet the managers of the different stores in Southern California, and we had an excellent luncheon, one of the best we have had anywhere. Besides Mr. Rand, Mr. Albright and myself, we had Mr. Blatterman, the superintendent of the district, and the following managers of stores:-

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Messrs. W.E. Ward          Store,#634, Los Angeles

        A.H.Taber                  14, Los Angeles

        S. Cline                  264, Los Angeles

        H.W.Stephenson            390, Pasadena

        C.A. Ris                  457, Riverside

        R.J. Williams             203, San Diego

        C.A. Lamont               660, Pomona

        P.W.Rous                  433, San Bernardino

        O.R.Schubert              756, Redlands

        C.C. Lemons               752, Santa Barbara

        L.H. Bovey                839, Berkeley

Each one of these managers gracefully made a speech. Mr. Rand, Mr. Albright and myself had a few words to say ourselves in an informal way. They had one of the finest orchestras we had heard since we left New York. They played a “Perfect Day” and Gounouds “Ave Maria”, as well as I ever heard it anywhere. When we sat down to the table, there were ten managers of stores. When we rose from the table there were eleven, as I had the honor of appointing Mr. Bovee manager of the Berkeley store; the first time I have had an opportunity of appointing a manger in five years. He gracefully accepted. These Southern California boys are hustlers, and I appreciated very much meeting them.

Then we visited the large Broadway store in Los Angeles, which was found in excellent condition, both basement and salesroom. The store is elegantly located, large in size, and doing an enormous business. We also have another store on Broadway, which is also in good condition and doing a good business. Then we visited the Spring Street store, which is also doing a good business.

Then we went to call on my friend Arthur Letts, who I had met and become acquainted with in Europe in 1912. While in Europe, he told me about the wonderful business he was doing in Los Angeles, and what a wonderful climate it was, and what he told me was true, as he had one of the handsomest stores in Los Angeles – a tremendous, large, up-to-date department store. He also controls another large department store in Los Angeles, and he is a very prosperous gentleman.

Up to this time, I have been unable to secure any good oranges in California, and I asked him where I could find some good Florida oranges. He remarked at once “In Florida, I suppose”, so we had to go without Florida oranges while in California.

One of the first persons we met, whom we knew, in Pasadena, was Mrs. S.M. Knox, her mother and her sister and Mrs. Chas. Goodyear of Buffalo. Mrs. Goodyear was so enraptures with the cafeteria that she saw in Los Angeles, that she was bound to invite us to a cafeteria lunch but would not explain to us what this was until we had the experience. Mr. Rand and Mr. Albright secured a new Hupmobile, which proved very satisfactory, with a German driver named Wilhelm. We afterwards called him ‘Kaiser Wilhelm”. We drove to Los Angeles Tuesday, April 25th, again where we met at the cafeteria for lunch and Mrs. Goodyear conducted us through.

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You enter this restaurant and are shoved off one side into a line which is protected from the restaurant by a guard rail, until you come to the rear of the store, where we were handed a 24 inch Japanned tray, with a napkin, and a knife, fork and spoon, wrapped in the napkin. Then we stood along a very narrow marble counter with this tray, and back of this marble counter, were all the eatables you could imagine displayed very temptingly, and you could take anything you wanted off that you saw – from soup to nuts. At the end of this long marble counter, you are supposed to have your tray full. After we selected all we thought we could eat, we went past a cashier who checked up everything we had on the tray.  Then we were permitted to go upstairs to eat, carrying our own tray, where there were tables all set ready. We took the things off the tray and put them on the table to suit ourselves, and, believe me, everything they had tasted mighty good, but of course, everyone selected a great deal more than they could eat; but as long as Mrs. Goodyear was paying for it, we didn’t care so very much. After luncheon, we went down stairs again to a long avenue and checked up with a cashier before we could get out.

This was certainly a novel idea to us, and New York has tried it on top of the Strand Theatre.  These cafeterias are very popular, not only in Los Angeles, but all over California, and are a new method of running a restaurant that some eastern restaurants might do well to copy.

In the afternoon Mrs. Goodyear treated us to a moving picture show called “Civilization”, which we, understand cost a million dollars to produce. This was produced by Thos. H. Ince, the same man who presented the spectacle “The Birth of a Nation”. This was one of the greatest moving pictures we had ever seen, and is called a “Photo-play”. This was the first week it had been presented, and, no doubt, it is in New York by this time. Shall not attempt to describe this wonderful photo-play, except that it mostly represents the present war in Europe; a very fine orchestra gave us music during the performance.

Wednesday, we rested all day, as we had been going a pretty rapid pace. Thursday, we went to Riverside, a place about 54 miles from Pasadena. We went through Pomona and saw ourstore there. We thought the weather was rather warm and asked the manager of our store if it got very warm in Pomona. He said “Yes, it gets to 113 in the shade in July and August”. The store was well located and in very good condition.

At Riverside, we stopped at the Mission Inn, a famous place for tourists where we had luncheon. This is a hotel and museum combined, built entirely of Spanish architecture. It is certainly a very attractive place. We saw a tree there that Theo. Roosevelt planted and a chair that was made for President Taft while he was at that hotel.  All the famous celebrities of the east have stopped at this hotel.

We visited our store in Riverside, which is a town of about 40,000 people. We found this store in excellent condition, but the weather was still warmer than it was in Pomona if anything. We asked the manager how hot it got there in the summer time, and he told us about 115 to 130 in the shade all through July and August. We saw that they were not only troubled

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with heat, but troubled with flies. They had enormous fly traps along the curb on the edge of the sidewalk to catch the flies and they seemed to have been catching a great many of them while we were there.

We returned to Pasadena, through thousands of acres of Orange groves on a beautiful road. All this valley through is composed of orange trees and vacant lots, which they stated were worth $375. per acre, but without irrigation would be worth nothing. In fact, the word irrigation is used so often in Southern California, you wonder sometimes that they ever invented this method of irrigating the land. The water all comes from the. mountains and is brought down in pipes at great expense, except some private plants with wells where they pump water to irrigate the land.

Asked the manager in Riverside, how the country looked in July and August, and he stated where there was no irrigation, it was just one barren waste of yellow, dried-up, burnt-up vegetation; in fact, it was anything but attractive in the mid-summer, on account of the tremendous heat and no rain, as rain is practically unknown from the first of April to October.

 We tried to buy some oranges;   where we could not buy. them, we stole them on the roadside, but it seemed to be impossible to get any good oranges to eat, as they told us that all the good oranges were shipped to New York and the natives have to live on what is left. Mrs. Rand arrived today to join our party.

Friday we took another ride, and Kaiser Wilhelm advised “us to go to Lookout Mountain. It was a beautiful clear day down in the valley, but before we got to the mountain we noticed what appeared to be a yellow fog. This proved afterward to be a sand storm, and we landed on top of this mountain, 1500 feet high, in a tremendous sand storm, unlike anything we had ever seen before. When we returned to the valley, the sky. was as clear as ever, yet over our heads in the distance, we could see these sand clouds, which looked just like real clouds.

Saturday, we visited Universal City, one of the greatest cities near Pasadena, which is comprised of over 1700 acres and over 10,000 people live there. The principal occupation of this city is producing: moving pictures. We certainly had the time of our lives, here we saw all the methods used in producing moving pictures. The first one we saw was a mining camp with a fight between a couple of teamsters, who had locked wheels and commenced to fight each other for possession of the road. Very exciting and a real fight. The mining, camp was certainly gotten up in wonderful shape.

When you go to moving picture shows, you must remember that most of these pictures – in fact, they told us 85%of all the picture films made in the United States – are made in this territory on account of the wonderful sunshine they have every day and the natural scenery, as Universal City is located on the foot hills of a mountain.

Our party was invited to have their pictures taken, which was done. They took a picture of me personally afterwards and wanted me in a moving picture, and I accommodated them. It is just possible you may

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In some moving picture in the east some time. I was induced to go into a ball room where there was a dance going on, and I was supposed to be looking for my wife, and was disgusted and surprised when I found that I was before the camera, so you will be prepared for anything like this if you happen to see my picture on the film.

We had lunch afterwards in the cafeteria in which all of the directors, actors and actresses of the company take their meals. We were interviewed by all the officials of the company, and shown all the details of the wonderful work they are producing and the millions of dollars that they are spending every year to produce moving pictures.

They told us about a wonderful bridge that they built purposely for moving pictures, and after it was built, some strangers got into the picture and spoiled the picture and they had to build the bridge all over again at tremendous expense.

They had cowboys running down the side of the mountains and accidents occur there every day. They have a hospital and nurses, and there were eleven people hurt in one day there, some of them quite seriously. When you see these moving pictures, you wonder if the things that you see ever happen. The most daring things that man can do are, produced in Universal City.

Sunday, we went to Venice – not the Venice of Italy, but named after the Venice of Italy – situated on the seashore with Canals and one real gondola. They have a reproduction of the Doges’ Palace, the Capanile (sic) and some of the hotels, all of the Venetian architecture. Even the tame doves around the eaves of the Doges’ Palace looked natural. The rest of the place is similar to Coney Island except they went Coney Island one better. They have a tremendous large swimming pool, I should judge 200 feet square, and the water is pumped into this swimming pool at 85 degrees – salt water. The pool was thick with people with abbreviated bathing suits. The ladies, as well as the men, had on practically one piece suits, without any stockings, which would not be allowed even in Atlantic City. They appeared to be having the time of their lives. The beach was also lined with people, many in bathing in the ocean.

We had lunch at the Nat Goodwin Restaurant, which is located on a pier thrown out in the ocean, and I have never seen anything as handsome for a sea-shore restaurant in the east. The food they served was something wonderful. Their specialty was crab legs, as the crabs grow so very much larger here than they do in the east, and the meat of the hard shell crab legs was very delicious.  Then, of course, we had the famous sandabs, a very excellent fish which we do not have in the east.

The ride to Venice was magnificent and beautiful. On our return we stopped at the Beverley Hills Hotel, a magnificent hotel, beautiful flowers, a long street of palms and wonderful to our eastern eyes.

Another day we went to Long Beach – another beautiful summer resort on the ocean. We rented a store while there, which I think will be a very paying venture. This was more beautiful than Venice, if anything, and has a larger population.  They have a big auditorium there where the famous musicians of the east, including Walter Damrosch’s orchestra and Paderewski play.

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We decided to leave Pasadena for San Francisco on Tuesday, May 2nd. Have heard a good deal about the glorious climate of Southern California but wish to say that the climate of Southern California, did not agree very well with our party, as nearly all of us had some complaint or another. The air in Southern California seems to be dead and not invigorating, and we all had headaches, stomach trouble, bowel trouble and a new cold caught nearly every day. We were told, however, it would be necessary for us to stay there two months before we could get acclimated, but as our time was limited, we decided to leave for San Francisco.    The night before we left, it was extremely cold.

We left in two automobiles for San Francisco. The roads were in beautiful condition until we got about fifty miles from Pasadena where the boulevard ended at Bailey’s. Then we commenced to climb over the mountains. The government of the State of California, has spent an enormous amount of money in putting in a new road about thirty miles long. We reached an altitude of 4200 feet high at the highest grade. The mountains were very barren and wild and the road very crooked and a gradual grade either up or down all the time. We saw a wild coyote in front of our automobile, which ran across the road and down into the thicket below.

We had lunch up in the mountains, which we had taken along with us and the weather was not very warm and not very cold, but rather delightful. Soon after lunch, however, we came across a beautiful valley at the bottom of which was a river and lake, with plenty of green pasture land and thousands and thousands of wild flowers. We then ascended over another mountain, until within 32 miles of Bakersfield we had passed over this range of mountains, and beheld in front of us a road which looked like a white ribbon on the barren plain below, which reached 32 miles in a straight line direct, to Bakersfield. As soon as we got down on the plain, however, the intense heat got us and we suffered considerably before getting to Bakersfield. We saw a tremendous smoke coming off the mountains which was from the Bakersfield oil wells. This looked very close to us, yet it was 33 miles away. We passed by a forest of oil derricks, and we were told that one-tenth of all the oil supplied in the world is produced here, and one-half of all the oil produced in California comes from these wells.

We finally arrived in Bakersfield about 4:00 PM after a ride of 140 miles, and the heat in Bakersfield was intense. The manager of our store told us that it got up to 125 degrees in July and August in the shade. We found a mighty good hotel there and we had very choice rooms in the supper part of the hotel, where we were supposed to get all the cool air that was coming to us. This was one of the places where it was not necessary to even wear a night shirt, and we slept in our birthday clothes, as the heat was tremendous all night. At half past five in the afternoon, I saw the temperature in the street was 90 degrees so you see all of the wonderful climate of Southern California is not always agreeable. We were surprised when we had our dinner at night to find the room was cool. Upon investigation, we found under the table there was a register supplying us with cold air, and also in the main sitting room, it was necessary to do this, in order to keep it comfortable. This is something we had never seen or heard of in the east.

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Next morning we were off again, 150 miles through barren desert to Fresno, but the roads were so beautiful and so excellent the first it 50 miles, we did not mind it. Our chauffeur told us we had to go fast in the fore part of the day, as we would have 60 miles of pat (bad) roads and he was right. The heat was something tremendous all day and the scenery was nothing to look upon at all, except a barren waste of land, in the foot hills of the mounts, we found vegetation, orange groves and shrub trees. The mountains, however, were very handsome and were covered with snow, and this is a very high range of the Sierra Nevadas.

When we got in Fresno about 4:30 in the afternoon, the heat was 91 degrees on the street in the shade, so we had gone from one hot town into another hot town, and it was rather tiresome riding as a whole, considering the tremendous heat and the bad roads. We found an excellent hotel, however, in Fresno, much larger and finer than the one in Bakersfield. When we arrived at our rooms, we found them decorated with beautiful flowers and a large box of raisins, cherries, oranges, etc. Some of our party thought that the landlord furnished these, but we afterwards found out that the manager of our store in Fresno, Mr. Johnston, had supplied them for our comfort and welcome to Fresno,

The store in Fresno was one of the handsomest we had seen for a long time, Mr. Rand had advised the San Francisco Office to prepare to make the Woolworth Week in all the stores on the Pacific Coast a phenomenal week, and for the boys to increase their sales. We found that this manager was equal to the task. He had signs put up outside and all over through the store, and each one of the salesladies had a red ribbon pinned across her “Woolworth Week”. We take this opportunity to again thank Mr. Johnston for our welcome into Fresno,

The following day, Thursday, May 4th, we were to take our final ride into San Francisco, a distance of 300 miles. We left at 8:15 Am over a magnificent road all the way to San Francisco, with the exception of about five miles. Mr. Webber of the San Francisco Office had kindly sent his car down to Fresno to meet us, and the car we had hired at Pasadena, was sent back from Fresno. Mr. Weber’s car came through to San Francisco without any tire or trouble of any kind, but Mr. Rand’s car had many troubles.   As Mr. and Mrs. Albright, Mrs. Rand were in that car they had their troubles. They had no less than five tire blow-outs. We were to have met them for lunch at Modesto, 91 miles from Fresno, where we arrived at 11:45, and we had a long wait there until 4:15 before they arrived, so you can imagine the troubles they had on such a very hot day. No matter what their troubles were, the minute they saw us, they wanted their lunch, as they were nearly starved, which we provided.

Then, we started the balance of our trip. The heat was still baking us in the car.   We could not get cooled off. The heat, however, disappeared after we left Tracy and commenced to climb over the mountains. Right in the middle of the mountains, we met Mr. Foster and Mr. Crowther, who had come all the way from San Francisco, about 43 miles, to meet us and welcome us into San Francisco, and our ride the balance of the way was beautiful and the scenery grand beyond description.

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We finally reached Oakland in time to catch the 7:15 boat at night and after a ride of 35 minutes across the Bay, landed in the beautiful city of San Francisco. We stopped at the Fairmont Hotel here. Another surprise was here for us, as we found most excellent rooms with a big sitting room. The sitting room was decorated beautifully with flowers. The centre piece alone of American Beauty Roses was eight feet high and the finest we had ever seen. On the side were baskets trimmed up with flowers and bouquets of flowers, cherries and strawberries combined. In addition to that, was the usual amount of fruit that we always get wherever we go in California.

We were very tired and it did not take us long to make up our minds to get something to eat quick and go to bed.

We shall not tire you any more with a description of our reception in San Francisco. We have been in San Francisco four days, and we leave tomorrow for Portland, Oregon, Seattle, Chicago – Home.

We will describe in our next letter, our reception in San Francisco.

Yours truly,


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