January 26 – February 1, 1933
Weekly excerpts from Mary Theler’s diary from 1933
By Clydene Hostetler
This week Mary, Sam and Elizabeth head out of San Diego on their journey home. Not a straight shot though. Long Beach is their first stop visiting friends and got to catch a movie! She mentions Kate Smith. Now there is an icon. I remember growing up in the 1950s and when she came on TV it was a very enjoyable and respectful moment to listen to Kate Smith perform. I always thought it had to do with getting through WWII era and her role in singing positive patriotic tunes. This tells me that Kate Smith was instrumental in uplifting the country with her singing during the “Great Depression” too. Enjoy! ch
Thursday January 26, 1933
My, but the sun was bright and warm when we got up this morning. Ate our breakfast and dusted up a wee bit. Left home at 11.20 for a ride. Sam drove out towards La Jolla towards the Old Spanish Lighthouse. It was built about 85 years ago and is not in use now but still stands in good condition. Sam took a picture of the harbor of San Diego.
Near the lighthouse is a monument and grave yard that contains the bodies of 40 men who were killed on the Mississippi in an explosion some years ago. A dreary place to look at. From Point Loma we drove to Sunset Cliffs. My, but it was the most beautiful place. The breakers were immense and broke over the cliffs in big white clouds. Drove through La Jolla and saw many lovely homes and gardens. We stopped at Bird rock Inn and saw a couple with a little toy Pomeranian pup. Oh it was cute and fluffy and how it barked at Sam. We hiked along the beach over to Bird Rock and frightened all the pelicans away. My, they have big red necks and bills and are awfully clumsy. Saw two big gray squirrels up on the bank near the stairs. On our way home we drove by Mission Beach and saw some men picking garden peas. My, but it is early for peas. They must get quite a price for them. We drove to Lindbergh Field and watched the planes go out and then went up to Glenn’s Barbecue and had a sandwich. Sam and I had barbecued ham and Elizabeth had beef. They were very good. After lunch we drove to the end of Broadway and saw the sailing Vessel “Constitution.” There were hundreds of people visiting the ship and it was so crowded and so stuffy in the lower quarters we could hardly stand it. The ship is all repainted and finished but certainly is a far cry from our battleship of today. The cannon they used were very clumsy affairs. In a glass case were shown models of uniforms worn on the ship when it was in active service. The officers wore lace at the neck and cuffs of their coats. There was also a very strange old compass on board. About the only modern thing I saw on board was a Frigidaire. We drove towards Tijuana and saw field after fields of celery. It was lovely. Saw a lot of orange and lemon trees too. Went down as far as the boundary line to Tijuana and sat in the car awhile and watched the cars come across the line. We saw all kinds of cars and faces coming back from the races. We visited the auto show. It was held near the docks where the motorcycle races used to take place. Of all the lovely cars the Buick was the nicest. There were dozens of wonderful coupes and sedans of every kind but the Ford. We saw a new car called the Terraplane. Looks something like the Plymouth. I liked the Dodge coupe too. It was plain but very nice and roomy. Cost 25 cents per person to see the auto show but it was worth it. We came home about 5.30 and got supper. Sam received two sales sheets from John today. The cash sales averaged over $65.00 for each day so that is pretty good. We were riding along and Elizabeth saw a sign that read “Shelltown Courts” and she read it “Helltown Courts” because a telephone pole covered up the letter “S”. My how we laughed!
Friday January 27, 1933
The alarm rattled at 8.30A>M. and Elizabeth called me but I didn’t get up until nine. Pressed Sam’s pants and he brushed off my coat good. We drove over to the Ferry that runs to Coronado. It was about eleven when we landed at Coronado. The sky was blue and oh it was warm out. We drove around on North Island and saw huge Nay planes and small army planes. My, but airplanes were whizzing all around. One was hauling a target through the air. My, but it looked strange. We entered Mexico about 11.30 and drove up near the saloon with the longest bar in the world-300 ft. long. We walked past the different mirrors and saw ourselves thin, fat, long legged and broad and oh it was funny. I told Elizabeth the broad mirror showed us as we would be when we get old and fat. Sam got himself a couple of beers and met us at the Curio Shop. We sent cards to Red Parsons, Earie Althof, Gordon, John and Spence Ames. Then we went over to the long Bar and Sam bought us some pork sandwiches from a Chinaman who sold them at the corner of the saloon. My, I never tasted a better sandwich. The pork was cut about 3/8” in thickness and had lettuce, sliced tomatoes and pickle besides butter between the brad. I’m going to make some like that some day at home. The Chinaman are masters at roasting pork as they use so much in their native dishes. As we passes by one saloon a man sprawled on the sidewalk just so easily it looked like it was planned. He was very drunk but that was really the only drunk I saw over there although I saw several who looked very sleepy. Most people from this side go to “The Foreign Club” to drink, gamble and party. They have vaudeville too. Much gambling is done there even more then at Aqua Caliente. As we pulled away from the curb some girl inside a saloon called to Sam, “Hello there” and popped behind the counter – then up and smiled – then down again. She was trying to get him interested so he would come in and buy and then she would get a commission on what he’d buy. We sure laughed at the way she popped up and down behind the counter. I’d sure hate to work in such a place. We drove to the race tracks and Sam got a program. It was ladies day so Elizabeth and I got in free. We saw lots of slot machines inside and up stairs the gambling run by men. Different ways to lose your money at each table. We must of sat up in the grandstand from 1.30 until 4.30.
Ate peanuts and got awful dry. Got shells all over my coat. Sam got so cold he went down to where all the betting was going on and watched that. We heard one woman teling about losing $285 the day before and about some friend of hers who lost their home and all they had betting. What a foolish way to lose money. Better to give it away. There were not 1/3 of the people there today that there was two years ago. I guess hard times have hit the race tracks too. The gambling room did not seem to be doing a very thriving business either. There were many people there who must follow all the races. You could read it on their faces. It must be an uncertain living at the best. Most of them find it a pretty tough road to success. The horse I picked in the last race threw his rider and the ambulance rushed around and took him away. I certainly picked a bad one that time. One horse Elizabeth picked to lose because he was so frisky and wouldn’t stand at the start fooled her by winning the race by a big margin. How we laughed. Most every woman we saw at the races smoked. Smoking is a habit more indulged in down here by women then up North. As we were going over the line the line officer asked us if we bought anything on the other side and Sam said “We bought an 18 cent basket.” The fellow said “18 cent worth of basket, go on” and laughed. You are not to bring back more than 90 cents worth of stuff from Mexico without paying duty. Came home and found we’d left the gas heater on all day which made Wisilet quite mad but she was the last one out of the house so she couldn’t blame us. Too bad as it runs up the gas bill quite a lot.
Saturday January 28, 1933
Didn’t get up till 10.30 this morning so ate a very late breakfast. The sun was bright and warm after raining most of the night. I dreamed Sam was a bouncer at a dance and took a flask away from Henry and Fat Beard and Henry got so mad he socked Sam in the jaw and he fell down. Sam jumped up and told Henry where his flask was and fell down again this time he passed out. Dreams are surely queer things. We drove over to Rutledges to find out how to bake ham and she treated us to cake. It was warm yet and very rich. Sat around and talked and decided to go for a ride up to see the snow. Went down town and got some stuff in the 10 cent store. I bought my mother a cake decorator. She makes lots of cake so she ought to have good use for a decorator. Sam bought a big ham up at the market weighing 13 lbs. and when we got home I’m going to start parboiling it for roasting. We drove to Laguanna about sixty miles from San Diego on the way to the Imperial Valley. We saw lots of snow the last ten miles, at least 4 feet up at the summit. The road was slippery and hard to drive on. We took Rutledges home and were back here by 6 o’clock. We certainly had a long ride. Saw most beautiful country and orange and lemon groves. Passed through the little town of La Mesa. It was quite a pretty place. Was dark when we got home and we still had two big balls of snow on the car that Sam and Rutledge put on up in the mountains. We saw a few people out with small sleds sliding down hills but they didn’t see to go very fast as the snow was too wet. After supper we drove up to the Carterie Theater and saw “Air Mail” with Pat O’Brien, Ralph Bellamy, Lillian Bond and Slim Summerville. Also the “Golden West” with George O’Brien and a blonde I can’t remember seeing before. Nothing striking. Just an ordinary blonde who certainly could ride a horse. Both shows were very good and we enjoyed them. Home again at eleven and to boiling the ham some more and writing in my diary. Elizabeth and I have figured out why Mrs. Rutledge’s cakes are so soggy. She ices them while they are still warm and the icing sinks into the cake and by the time it’s cold she has a lovely, heavy as lead cake. There are more paved roads in this state built by real estate companies then you can imagine. We saw a large tract of land out beyond La Mesa where even sidewalks were in but I didn’t see any houses so I guess it must have fallen through. No trees, just the barest country.
Sunday January 29, 1933
Never got up this morning until 11.30. Then I put the ham on to roast right away. Elizabeth had finished most of the washing so I washed out a few pieces and of course it was raining all day so we had to dry all our clothes in the house. Elizabeth packed all her dishes and clothes and I packed all my things. We certainly had a lot to pack when we got started. Took us most of the day to get our packing done. About four Sam and I drove over to Crary’s. We found the place easy. Mrs. Graham was there too. She had come down the same time as Sam but on the train. We sat there and talked about four hours and it rained all the time were there. Crary’s have two boys. One three and one about a year old. They are real cute. The oldest one has an amazing memory. Crary is the sales manader for a large laundry concern and spends quite long hours on the job. He is six foot and weighs 165 lbs. Same weight Sam was ten years ago. We drove through water nearly 12 inches deep at the corner of El Cajon and 30th. Just a river running down the street. Arrived home and ate a couple of ham sandwiches and say they were good. We are all going to bed early so we get rested for our trip to Long Beach tomorrow. I hope it doesn’t rain on our way up as it will be our last long ride by the ocean for some time. Paid ten dollars on the store bill and said good bye to Mrs. Phillips and got my music. The Phillips had a lot of company and had a table set for about sixteen people.
Monday January 30, 1933
This was another sunny day and we all got up fairly early. We cleaned the house up very good, scrubbed and swept everything so it looked fine when we left at one o’clock. Said good bye to Mrs. Sawtelle where Elizabeth stored all her things and went up to the store where we got a few things. Went into Betty Hicks and returned her washboard. She was sick in bed with the flu. We got Elizabeth’s watch, had the gas turned off and gave our change of address at the post office all before two O’clock. Ate lunch at a counter just out of San Diego and my what a big roast sandwich we got for 25 cents. All we could eat. We drove to Long Beach and arrived at 5.45 P.M. We had a lovely ride and took two pictures of the ocean. My, but the sky was clear. The sunset was wonderful too. The ships looked like silver out on the harbor. Received four letters today. Gladwin sure writes a newsy letter. Sam said that Charlie Kindred was shot while out hunting deer so the whole family moved to Bremerton including the Hodges and Kinney’s. W.G. Barnes died of pneumonia about the second week in January. He hadn’t been feeling well for some time. He was a rather nice fellow. Sam and I both liked him. Found a cabin for a dollar at Long Beach auto Court so I made a lunch from our baked ham. My, but it was good. Made up the beds and went for a ride. Sam called up Al Kurth so we are going over to visit them tomorrow and plan to see Aikens at the same time. Will see Ericksons when we come home from Las Vegas, Nevada. We rode down town and walked down on the Pike. Saw lots of funny things. Saw two very good shows. Kate Smith in “Hello Everybody” and Joel McCrea, Marion Marshy and William Gargan in “The sporting age.” I could listen to Kate Smith all evening.
Tuesday January 31, 1933
We got up at nine o’clock to the tune of an agent pounding on the door. She said “Can’t you come to the door” and Sam said ”no, we’re in bed.” So he told her to come back in half an hour and she did but we just let her hammer on the door. Some folks outside said “You can’t trust those Washington folks. They might be kidding you” and we laughed. Left the camp about 10.30 and drove over to Kurths. My, they were glad to see us. We sat there and talked for about two hours and then we went for a ride. We drove way out past Beverly Hills and saw the most beautiful homes I ever saw. Many belong to movie stars and retired folks. So many had green lawns. We drove down by Venice and I had fried barracuda. It was very good. Tastes something like halibut and has white meat. Elizabeth didn’t feel good so she stayed in the car so we brought her out a sandwich. Went back to Kurth’s and got a map of Los Angeles and directions on how to get to Aiken’s in Glendale. We certainly had a nice afternoon riding around with Kurths. They told us many things about Las Angeles as they had been here for six months. Jobs are as scarce as hen’s teeth. Aikens were anxious to hear about all the old timers. We sat there and talked for 2 ½ hours about everyone and every thing. We certainly had a nice visit. Aiken works for an electrical outfit three days a week. He has worked for that same place for five years. They have a nice place all paid for so they are lucky. We had an awful time finding our way home. Got home at ten. We bought some fruit at a stand near our camp and the fellow said “These are the best apples in the world and are raised in Wenatchee.” He never knew I was from Washington too. Saw a blimp over Los Angeles that took people for 15 minute rides over the city. It is of silver color and is owned by the Goodyear Co. We watched it for quite awhile.
Wednesday February 1, 1933
We got up at seven and left the cabin at 8.15 for Las Vegas, Nevada. I made a good lunch of ham and jelly sandwiches, hard boiled eggs and apples. We reached San Bernadino about eleven. Took us quite awhile to get there as there was so many small towns to go through. And the car was missing so Sam got it fixed and my, it sounded good. Put in gas at Barstow for the last time. It is a division point for the Santa Fe Railroad and there were lots of cars there. We reached Las Vegas at five o’clock just as the sun was going down. My, but it was a long trip. Went about 360 miles all told. The trip up was fine. We saw the most wonderful scenery, desert, sand and snow covered mountains all in one picture. I’m going to take some pictures when I come back. Saw lots of yucca trees. They look like a cross between a palm and a cactus. We took pictures of some where we ate our lunch at a cross roads store. The snow was warm and the snow on the mountains looked beautiful. The scenery by the soda springs (dry) was lovely also near the state line where we actually saw some water with ducks on it but it wasn’t very deep. Sam was going to park by the road and ran off in the dirt and got stuck so got a truck to pull us out. He certainly was surprised when he got so near the edge and nearly ran off the bank. We were lucky a truck came by so soon and we could get under way again. Louie never received my letter as there is another Larson here by the same name so he must have got it. Just got here in time as Louie was starting out for Long Beach tomorrow. His name came up but he didn’t have enough experience so didn’t get on. So now he figures on coming down later if things open up. They are laying men off now by the dozens. Louie was sure surprised to see us. Leonard had the day off so we saw both of them. They had bought a chicken for supper so we had both chicken and steak, potatoes, gravy, corn and coffee and enjoyed it all. After supper we saw all the gambling joints in town and a good show. Marie Dressler and Polly Moran in “Prosperity.” We laughed until we ached. We saw all the town. Everything is licensed and wide open and you can see plenty of ways to get rid of money fast. Not a very large place though. Just one big main street and all the most important places are there. The roads here from Long Beach were wonderful and it certainly was a fine trip. To bed at 12.30. Very late.
I remember as a kid growing up in Vancouver, Washington hearing a strange sound coming from the air. Looking up I saw the Good Year blimp. I was so excited I had to run into the house and tell my mom. Several years later I lived near Lake Washington in Seattle and during one of the Hydro Plane races the Good Year blimp came to visit.
I lived in Orange County California from 1985 – 1989. The airfield and home of the Good Year blimp was between Los Angeles and Long Beach off of the 405 highway. Many times when I would see her tethered or approaching for a landing I would stop and watch. It’s been a long time since I have seen the Good Year blimp. I do know I would immediately recognize the sound of her engines in the air. Thank you for reading this week’s diary. ch
Clydene Hostetler is a professor at Olympic College, longtime Belfair resident, local historian, media archivist and documentary film maker of “Hidden in Plain Sight.” She has been researching Mary Theler’s life for the past 7 years. She may be emailed through the site www.marysmemoirs.com. She encourages you to participate in the web site’s blog sharing your comments and stories.