OCR Interpretation

The San Francisco call. [volume] (San Francisco [Calif.]) 1895-1913, July 23, 1911, Image 45

Image and text provided by University of California, Riverside; Riverside, CA

Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85066387/1911-07-23/ed-1/seq-45/

What is OCR?

Thumbnail for

An Independent Review of Men and Things That Figure in the Contemporary Life of California
I *"'"'. SHE painful and elaborate delibera
t tions, connubiations, conferences and
Eh B J political clinics- by which San Fran-
J cisco has been edified and entertained
J for several months chiefly serve as
f testimony to the prevailing confu
'. L . f .;-'■" ■•','*-.'■! "■ .' ■
-^^^- f sion of politics. There was a time
... . v _ jjli __ n r iili I not long gone when all that was done
| I J for us, but now that we are asked to
J - jdo it ourselves we don't quite Know
J J how. One conferential and consc
!'.'. - J quential body of public spirited and 1
■.. . ■ ...... , & distinguished citizens has been
spending months in the endeavor to
select the best possible municipal ticket. But when they
started en what locked like a simple task they soon dis
covered they had not realized what they were up against.
.-..'- - - ■■■--■ -
They were immediately swamped with aspirants for office.
Human limitations compelled them to put a bridle on the
exuberant loquacity of -candidates and a hard and fast rule
allowing each man 10 minutes to present his claims was
adopted. It was a sort of competitive examination con
ducted with a lick and a promise. Ten minutes is plenty
for some men to tell all they know about how* a city of
400,000 people should be governed, but others might need
more time. Then when all the fuss was over Chairman
Sanborn of the republican county committee unkindly de
clared that he could make a better ticket in 15 minutes.
Jr was as easy and as ready as soft boiled eggs or scram-
These arc the blundering politics of a transitory period.
We miss something and are groping for a substitute with
many expedients, most of them as yet clumsy and lame.
Life is full of compensations and we are hunting for ours
in the fullest confidence that it will arrive.
It is matter of popular observation on the streets, for
example, that the ladies God bless themhave left off
wearing petticoats, but as the money that way saved now
goes for silk stockings it makes small difference, to the
old man's pocket at the end of the month: In like fashion,
the politicians have put off the tempestuous petticoat of
the convention and are now eagerly flirting with silk stock
ings. Everything is under the limelight. We are doing
our politics in tights.
The new politics does not yet run smoothly. The machine
is a little cranky and the motive power balky. But as
soon as the thing begins to move without noise or appar
ent friction we may look out. The people are now asked
to do politics in mass meeting, and we are making some
sort of bluff at it, but the whole thing irks. The fact is
that we do not as a people want to bother about politics
except as a diversion or a game rather more attractive
than a horse race, but not quite equal to a prize fight.
These conferences and political clinics are only the
beginnings, the embryo of a machine. The politics of
this nation has always been controlled by some such
agency and probably always will, taking a general average
of years. This control can only be exercised so long as
the people are willing, but the experience has been that
for long periods they have been willing.
The : domination exercised by the Southern Pacific in
California politics was more complete, more overbearing,
more corrupt and quite as well understood when James G.
Maguirc ran for governor against Henry T. Gage as when
Hiram Johnson ran against Theodore Bell. In fact, the
issue in the former case was more clear cut because Gage
was everywhere known to be the railroad candidate and
yet he was elected by some 20,000 majority. In fact, rail
road control of politics, lasted in California for full 40
years, unbridled and unchecked, with the full consent of a
majority of the people.; It was not a question of conven
tions or primaries. The issue was.clearly, unmistakably
and repeatedly made at; the polls in a general election.
The people simply did not care. ' • '
A restless generation craves a sign. The political clinics
seek to gratify this desire and supply such filling as they
may for the aching void.; As yet it is a blundering sort of
politics. When the amateur in his dilettante way is stacked
up against the professional he gets confused because the
two breeds arc; playing different games.; They are per
suaded that all arc playing the, same game, but, in fact,
they have not agreed about the rules. This was amus
ingly illustrated when the amateurs [ were invited to have
part in a serious discussion over the rival merits of Tom
Finn and Fred Eggers 'as candidates for sheriff. The,
amateurs did not know what to think and they simply
held their noses; • ' *,
But Tom Finn and Fred Eggers, one and the other,
firmly believe that San ■ Francisco owes them an office
apiece. "The situation is further complicated and confused
by the presence of the exoteric body "sometimes described
as "Tom Finn's: reformers," who did such distinguished
service [ during the session Jof the legislature. While the
session lasted and the;pie was uncut they bore all the
outward marks and visible signs of the true reformer. I/In
THE San Francisco CALL
Edward F. Cahill
fact, they were careful to wear these insignia where every
body could see them. By this exemplary policy they
believed they had established "claims" for reward from
Governor Johnson. You ought to hear them cuss him out
now. But it was simply another case of men playing the
game under different rules. It recalls "Alice in Wonder
land": •
"I don't know what you mean by glory." Alice said.
"Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. "Of
• course you don't—till I tell you. I meant there's a
nice knockdown argument for you!"
"But glory doesn't mean a nice knockdown argu
ment," Alice objected.
"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said In
rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose
it to'mean— more nor less." *
"The question Is," said Alice, "whether you can
make words mean so many different things."
This is what comes of trying to make politics mean so
many different things.
- "I met one of the sheriff's reformers *>the other day.
"What's de good o' bein' good when you don't git
nawthin'?" he ejaculated in disgust. "Dem bums dat runs
de harbor commission has no sense of gratitude."
This is the key. Politics works on the ball bearings of
gratitude so far as it is a business. The professional poli
tician considers himself entitled to as much pay for being
honest as he might for being a grafter, and tßis condition
being fulfilled, he is quite as ready to take one role as the
other. The amateurs are different and seeking no personal
advantage, their interest easily grows languid. =>
To add to the confusion of the situation we have de
stroyed the ancient landmarks and guide posts of party in
municipal: politics. Now, the fact is that > human nature
loves a label and hates to be left to the unaided light of
reason. In fact, a large proportion of ; mankind' would
rather _ eat than reason, and can't spare the - time for both.
They like to be supplied with some conspicuous rallying
point, and the new municipal politics leaves them floun
dering in an uncharted sea of undistinguished candidates.
It used to be said that the incumbent of an office had 25
per cent advantage at the polls over his competitors, owing
,:: to the fact that he had become known, but under the
''new municipal practice of ignoring partisan nominations
and affiliations of candidates I should say that the normal
advantage of the incumbent is quite 50 per cent.
Atone of; the meetings of the kindergarten section of
the National Education association last week there was an
astonishing as well as confusing differentiation of the name
of the illustrious founder of this plan of education. The
chairman insisted on talking about Frubble, as if the name
might fit somewhere into William Shakespeare's great
short poem:
:.Bubble, bubble.
Toll and trouble.
But this was only one variation on this hard worked
theme, and the gamut ran like this: Freebel, Frabel, Fro
bel, Frubel, Frubble. . But really it is an unequal contest
between the American tongue and the German diphthong.
The memory of a great benefactor of the human race
suffers for no sin of his own.
-The Grass Valley Union inquires:
Wolgast fought Moran on the fourth of July tor
the middleweight championship in San Francisco and
is to right Welsh in Los Angeles for the same prize ""■
Thanksgiving. day. But the Jeffries-Johnson fight
.was barred a year ago In this state. Why is it there
is a lack of agitation and action against the Wolgast
fights which were.taken In, the bigger contest?
'I presume the answer might be .-that last year we were
undergoing one of our periodical spasms of virtue. They
are comforting while they last, but they don't last. Now;
as to; the Wolgast accomplishment in the way of twisting
the British lion's tail on the national holiday the Chicago
Tribune has this: '"'' * ',- -
It was regarded as very appropriate that this affair
should have*: had such an outcome*on the day we
celebrate. Sentimental prize ring followers and emo
tional sporting gentry believe that :It demonstrates
there was real class in the performances of our*fore- t
} fathers in revolutionary endeavors, and that we were
then, as we are now, a great nation. "
That such reflections do not give us all the patri
i otic thrills to which we plainly are entitled Is proba
.:..* bly our own'fault. ; '"•'.* \\ *
As to the home view of the patriotic ardor of the occa :
sion 1 offer this paragraph from a local paper:
Ad Wolgast turned to his corner, more . firmly
planted than ever before on the lightweight throne,
.a grin flashed across his bleeding lips and he plucked
I with his ; gloved hands at the American flag he wore
about his.; waist. :In a second he was smothered in
the, throng of admirers who surged into■ the ring, •
:' untied the battle scarred flag and waved-It-over
Wolgast's tousled head. . : . . " • "*
It does hot seem impertinent to remark that the national
flag might-be left out of these occasions. -
T , ' -■."•' •■' ' V'V . • '•- r„ ■' ~.
These prizefighters .are a queer folk. The other-day^a
SMBrasai*-:;:.-. - - .■ ■ w
reporter caught Jim Jeffries in Los Angeles and asked him
if it were true that Jack Johnson had snubbed him in a
London restaurant where these great antagonists were
both present to assist at the coronation of King George.
Jeffries flouted the tale and said it was all the other way,
like this: . '
"You ought to have been at Romanos" In London
the night we saw the 'Big Smoke' (Johnson)," said
Jeff to his acolytes. *, ',".."
"The ,'Smoke' came in with all his gold teeth shin
in" and glimmerin' in the candle; light. 'All niggers
are white to them Englishmen, and right away we
heard 'em say on air sides: 'There's Jack. Bully old
boy!', , ' ...JVv*. '. V'J; '■■'. ■"■.-> •■ ■ > -
"He either saw, us or was told that' I was present,
and soon he walked toward the table where Walter
Kelly, the Virginia judge, and myself and a couple
oft friends were.. I was standing up at the time, and
as he looked my way I had the pleasure of turning
my American back upon him. '..
"The 'Smoke' knew what' that meant He did not
linger one little moment. 'That was the only time
that I saw him while abroad.''
In fact, Johnson was an important part of the coronation
festivities. One of the London illustrated papers ran a
picture of his famous skull more than five inches thick as
shown under the X-ray and - explained that an ironclad
head was the bruiser's best asset As for Jeffries, nobody
seemed to know he was in London. . It was one of the
tragedies of fame. -
A little bit of politics leaks out from Washington. The
other day we were surprised to see in the dispatches that
Senator Heyburn of Idaho*; had -introduced a bill for. the
appointment of a national commission for the Panama-
Pacific exposition. We did not. quite understand -why
Heyburn should butt into a purely California affair and no
explanation was given. It is now related that Heyburn's
purpose was to get Harrison Gray Otis of the Los Angeles
Times appointed commissioner under his bill at a salary
of $7,500 a year and that he had a promise that the appoint
ment would be made if the appropriation got; through;:
But Uncle George Perkins and John D. Works shooed
Heyburnoff the grass. 'Heyburn will bear watching. -
Editor Devlin of the Santa Cruz News grows dithyraro
bic to the point of tears mingled with profanity on; the •
subject of the exemption of domestic servants from the
women's. eight hour law. It is like this: *
Lords and gentlemen, what of them? Are they
without the pale of, your sympathies? When you
I would legislate In favor of the weaker sex, why not
legislate for the servant girls? ;
The News believes In no half way reforms. It be
lieves in hewing the line, let the chips fall where
they may. It refuses to see why a householder., can
employ a servant girl 19 hours or more, or a cannery
can keep a woman at work peeling fruit 10 hours or
more, while a telephone office or a dry goods store
can not employ a girl more than eight hours.
They say the fruit Industry of California, which Is
one of our'great assets, would suffer were the eight
hour law,enforced as to the girl operatives. But our
girls are a bigger asset yet. When the health and
moral welfare of the girlsthe future mothers of
• this - state— at stake, we say to hell with the
fruit Industry of California . ■ *•_■'.- - ■ ■ ■
The reasoning is impregnable if the language is excited.
Yet Brother Devlin's contribution to the servant problem
appears.in quality something strained. How many servants
,does Brother Devlin employ? I; have none, for the appar
ently sufficient reason that the young ladies who now
condescend to this important ; domestic function want to
run the whole house" and usually succeed under pain of
dismissing their employers. The old relation of master
and servant has been reversed. The young person in the
kitchen is boss.
A man who was in Yosemite last week believed he had
-seen a stage holdup. . That is to say.he believed" it ufttil
he saw . that the buckskin fringed robber had his face
painted. Then he began to realize that it was nothing
more exciting than a moving picture company working off
stage effects in front of the deadly camera's mouth. One
of the films was made to show the thrilling rescue of a fair
but well painted young damsel from drowning in the Mer
ced river. As every film must be duplicated, it was neces
sary to immerse the young lady twice in the icy waters
of Merced, fresh from the snojvbanks. She was a. chilly
heroine when the adventure was concluded and the curtain
■'rung down.; ..'. ■. ■. ■ ■ - ■
Looking out of the window the other day I, saw across
the way three painters standing on a narrow board slung
from the cornice of the Hearst building about a hundred ;
feet above the ground. They had no vestige of guard rail
or protection and the board ; seemed to flutter in the stiff
trade wind. It is about the windiest corner in San Fran
cisco. Yet the men appeared to be wholly indifferent to
their,situation and moved about as freely as if they were
on the ground. It recalled Shakespeare's /
Half: way down hangs one who gathers samphire. -■
."j Dreadful trade! "; ,' . ■ < . "
.It, gave me the creeps. It seemed to me as if a man in
: that position could, not free himself from the impression
that the wall was pushing him out into space. *
An important official of the. Pacific. Surety company was
under contract to serve for five years at a salary of $7,500
a year. But" the . directors of .the company, for one reason
;": PAGES 45 TO 52.
„-■-■»■- , „: ■ , • , _. . - - - .■- * - — ■-.
or another, came to believe that the office was superfluous
and should be eliminated. So ordered. But the incumbent,
who saw himself legislated; out. of office, objected.
"That is all right, gentlemen," he suggested. "You have*
power to abolish my office, but under your contract you
are compelled to pay me $7,500 a year for five years."
"That is very true,", replied the proponent of the measure.
"We arc bound to pay the salary, but we can at the same
time prescribe the duties, and I suggest that we provide
the gentleman. with a neat uniform and brass buttons,
with a gold braided cap marked in plain letters, 'Messenger
Pacific Surety Company.'"
The dispute was compromised.
The San Bernardino Sun says a sober word to those
southern California newspapers' which take their diversion
in scolding San Francisco, and it is this:
Nowto; the future. ' The tax was voted, the expo- ■.-..
sition Is going to be held, . and : some journals In
southern California are. not going to change the
habit of the San Franciscan. Forget it.
' The Stockton Mail tells a wicked story about the way
the state board of control wrestled in spirit with a con
tract to buy hairpins for patients in th© insane asylum.
The Stockton hospital board had approved a contract for
several gross of hairpins, and the Mail proceeds' to tell
what happened: ; ■
Now, to be sure, none of the gentlemen on the
board had ever worn hairpins, and none of • them >
: ■"_ knew any : more about them than a hod .carrier
-^,knows about; syntax, but there.arose a vision In.the
minds of members of the board that insane ladies
always 'were, their hair'down their backs," so what, :
in thunder did they want with hairpins?: Here was
"a chance to save the tax payers of the great state of •
California upward of nlne(J9), dollars.
The board of control hurriedly laid aside all other
. business and dug Into that hairpin contract for fair.
- An Investigation developed the fact that a number
xof the women at the Stockton state; hospital had so
■ - far advanced past the gibbering Idiot; and maniac
■ -stage,*, due to the able medical and managerial skill
of Superintendent Clark and his staff, that they were
actually wearing hairpins, 'just like—well, just like
the feminine relatives of the board of control. ,
'Of course. If hairpins were an actual necessity, the
hairpins would have to stay on the supply list. Then
the question of cutting down the supply came up,
but this was hastily sidetracked when It was discov
ered by one of the eagle eyed economists that the
Stockton managers had recommended contracting for
. crimped hairpins, while j another bidder had offered
the straight hairpins for less money. Some rapid
figuring developed that the state could save nearly
a dollar and a quarter a year by the change, so the
change was promptly made, the state board of con
trol taking the crimp out of the hairpins and putting .
a crimp in the recommendations of the board of man
agers of the Stockton state hospital, where* there Is
still roonj for a few patients, if the state board mem
bers feel ; like givingr themselves up.
The Mail insists that as the wages of the board of con
trol for one day amount to $20 and the saving on hairpins
was $1.25, the transaction does not show a profit for the
state, but that is the sordid way of looking at it. It is the
principle of the thing. . *
I find among the "ordinances of the San Francisco park
commission now in course of publication this section:
Section;?. No person or .persons shall hold any
B public meeting of any kind or nature, nor hold any
public discussion or debate, where five or more per
sons are gathered together for. that purpose, in or
upon -any; of . said ; public parks, squares, pleasure -
grounds, or the Great highway, without first obtain
ing the consent of the park commissioners thereto.
It is. a bad rule and an unreasonable exercise of arbi
trary power. There may be some reason for restricting
the right of public speaking on the streets where it ob
structs trade, but there is none that applies to the parks.
In fact, the parks are an entirely fit and _ proper place for
public meetings and this ordinance is^an: example of \im
pudent official meddling with popular rights.
The British practice is' quite the reverse. Any man may
hold a public meeting in Hyde park in the heart of fash
ionable London, and if he can get anybody to listen he
can cuss the king and all the royal family, damn the house
of lords and take the Money Devil by the throat and shake
the foul fiend as a terrier does a rat. Nobody minds.
American institutions^ from being the most free in the
world, are running to the other extreme as a result of the
growth of bureaucracy. Every petty bureau or commis
sion, stuffed with a sense of its own importance, enacts
an elaborate code of laws without by your leave or with
your leave, and if you don't like it your only recourse is*
an expensive lawsuit. If you dare protest on the spot the
answer is made with a policeman's club.
, I find in the same code an- enactment that "no automo
bile, the machinery of which shall create any loud noise,
.shall be allowed in the Golden Gate park!" The idea that
inspired this clumsy example of official English was good,
but the man who wrote it was ignorant of the first prin
ciples of vconstruction. We know that a noisy noise
annoys an oyster, but how noisy must a noise be to annoy
a ; park commissioner or a sparrow cop?
Why not : tell 'i the foghorn to stop "creating" a noise.'
As a matter of fact, a startling and noisy warning from
automobiles is a necessary condition for the safety of
pedestrians.. ' : -:V, ' "

xml | txt