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CHAPTER XV—LOS ANGELES CONVENTION; AN OCEAN GARDEN

IN September, 1902, my mother died, at the age of ninety years. Hers being a robust constitution, she was always a great worker, and though blind the last eleven years of her life, she was never idle. After she grew old, she preferred to live in the country, so made her home with Sister Florence who (I was careful to see) was called upon to give her only care and attention. Father had preceded her by twenty-seven years, being sixty-seven at the time of his death.

The following January my wife's mother, Mrs. Levi Claybrooke, also passed away in her seventy-ninth year. For thirty years she had been a member of our family, her husband having died in 1866.

The Los Angeles Convention came in 1904. We went by New Orleans, thence over the Southern Pacific; and though being a full week on the trip, we passed the time pleasantly, viewing sights of interest or visiting around in the different coaches. Some of the sleepers were Pullman, and several were of the tourist kind, with cool straw seats. In crossing the Mississippi River our train was put on a barge, with the cars and engine in three sections. The engine was a large oil-burner, and attracted a good deal of attention from the railroad folks, some of the ladies even climbing up on it to get a nearer view. Our "Convention Party" was of good size by the time we reached San Antonio, Texas, and as there was a wait of over two hours, we went over in a body to see the Alamo. We were too early to get inside as the door was not unlocked until nine o'clock, and so had to content ourselves with seeing the outside of the building. It is built of rock, and is long and low, with small windows high up. We thought of the tragic scenes enacted there, when Santa Anna with his four thousand Mexicans, after a twelve days' siege, finally stormed the place and massacred one hundred and forty-nine of its one hundred and fifty occupants. No wonder the Texans fought their way to liberty with such a war cry as "Remember the Alamo!"

The country which had been low and flat after leaving New Orleans, now became stretches of sand, bearing only sage brush and prickly pear, and the farther we went the more we saw of all three. At Del Rio, the train stopped ten minutes to allow the passengers to purchase "hot tamales" from the Mexicans. Frances urged me to get some for her, but the demand far exceeded the supply, and by the time I got there, they were all gone. I bought a flat cake and a long pie and told her they were hot tamales, but I couldn't fool her.

From Del Rio on to Langtry, the scenery was good, the Sierra Madre Mountains being in sight beyond the Rio Grande, and at five o'clock we went into the observation car to look at the high bridge over the Pecos River. The stream is small but the bridge is three hundred and twenty-one feet high, and said to be the second highest in the world. After this the country became more and more barren. The many cabbage palmettos had tried to bloom, but the flowers had parched before opening out. Upon arriving at El Paso, many of us got mixed in regard to time, as it changes there. Several of our party stopped off to come on a few hours later, and many went over to Juarez during our wait of more than an hour. Frances wanted to go, but I did not care to cross that dry riverbed just to say that I had set foot upon Mexican soil. She would not go without me, so we just looked around on the Texas side of the hollowed-out sand-bed, which should have been filled to the brim with a mighty current of foaming water, according to the impression the words "Rio Grande" has produced on our minds ever since those long ago days when we studied geography. We were told that it had not rained in El Paso for eight months, and sometimes, it is said, the drought lasts two years. For purifying the air, they frequently have to depend solely on sand-storms, which clear the atmosphere, though are extremely unpleasant while blowing.

We passed Youma and got into California on Monday before daylight. On first looking out we saw the black hills in the distance with such a bluish red veil over them that it rested the eyes after gazing at white sand for so long. A few miles from Los Angeles we passed a place where we were two hundred and sixty-five feet below sea level, and about this time quite a commotion was produced among the ladies on account of the California poppies growing along the road. They are of a beautiful yellow and very fragrant.

The Hollenbeck Hotel was our Headquarters in Los Angeles, and I first secured a room near by, but not liking the noise of the street cars, we then moved to a pleasant house bearing the poetic name of "The Silver Maple" on Maple and Eighth streets.

The opening on Wednesday, May 11th, was very good, some of the addresses being fine. The General Conference of the Northern Methodist Church was also in session, but we had very little time to attend it, as there was so much to see in the Golden State.

The flowers were a revelation to us. Callas, fuchsias, arbutus, heliotrope, and all kinds of geraniums grew out of doors in great profusion, upon plants from three to six feet high, while many of the rose bushes were veritable trees. Great bunches of daisies, yellow and white, perhaps a hundred blooms to a plant, were to be seen everywhere, together with sweet peas.

Our first excursion was to San Diego, where we arrived at night, but all secured accommodations. About nine o'clock the next morning, the party began to scatter to view the country. I secured a conveyance and we set out for Point Loma, twelve miles away, seeing interesting things throughout the drive. We passed a tiny hut where an old Mexican was digging in his little garden. He was bent nearly double, and looked aged, indeed, but scarcely the one hundred and thirty years he claimed. Near by we saw some old bells that were made in 1802, and not far away was a splendid mansion owned by a wealthy woman. The building was in Roman style with an immense dome in the center and small ones at each corner. Flowers grew in profusion on the wall that surrounded the place, and all inside. We were told that the owner of this place had belonged to a church that was opposed to going to law, and that she demanded a million dollars from it, and in case of refusal threatened to sue the church. It is said the church paid it, and thus she secured an ill-gotten fortune. There is a summer resort connected with her place, called the Tent City, where the tents are clustered around a music pavilion.

Farther on we came to The Studio, upon a high terrace, which commanded a fine view of the bay. The artist was a lady who had some beautiful work on exhibition. Upon arriving at Point Loma we went up in the lighthouse, examined the ten-thousand-dollar reflector, and admired the view ninety feet above the water. We got back in San Diego in time to look around before starting on the return trip to Los Angeles, where we were due at ten o'clock, but on account of hot boxes, it was after midnight when we arrived there.

Numerous are the seaside resorts near Los Angeles, two of which are Santa Monica and Redenda Beach. At the latter place crowds of people were continually to be seen searching for moon-stones near the water's edge. Usually, collections were made for the purpose of having them mounted for different kinds of jewelry.

Another place about eleven miles from Los Angeles was very popular with our people. There stands the old San Gabriel Mission, built in 1771. Quite a portion of the original structure remains, though a part of it has been restored. At the baptismal font, between three and four thousand Indians have been baptized. Four out of the original six bells remain, and the little cemetery adjoining contains many quaint old tombstones. A large grape vine near by is said to be over a hundred years old, and one can readily believe it. Frances and two of her friends were given permission to go into an orange grove not far away, and had quite an enjoyable time eating the fruit from the trees. But our "orange shower" came later at Redlands, while on an excursion tendered us by the Santa Fe Railroad, which from start to finish was a most delightful occasion. First there was Pasadena, that seems like a Paradise on earth, and as for the beauty of the surrounding country, one cannot hope to describe it adequately. Flourishing orange groves succeeded each other, interspersed with occasional grape-fruit and lemon trees, with the fruit hanging in large clusters.

We were allowed fifteen minutes at the little station of Capistrano to see the ruins of a mission that had been built in 1776, and destroyed by an earthquake in 1812. The building was long and low with two large bells still hanging in the arches and a cross on top, while one of the cells was well preserved. Passing San Bernardino, we went on to Redlands, which claimed a population of eight thousand, and there we were invited into an orange packing-house, and told to help ourselves. Certainly that was a most generous invitation, considering the hundreds of people in our party, and it was a sight to see the different means the people devised in order to carry off as many oranges as possible.

We returned to San Bernardino to be present at a dinner given in our honor, and the entire entertainment was a record breaker. It was held in an immense pavilion that easily accommodated the vast crowd. Flowers were everywhere in great profusion, and a splendid band furnished excellent music. At the close of the speeches, there were showered down upon us from the gallery above, the loveliest flowers and flower petals like a big snow-storm. A splendid dinner followed, with everything in abundance; and all this pleasure we owed to the good citizens of that beautiful town!

One day it was announced that we were to take a trip to Catalina Island. Boarding the train at Salt Lake station, we went to Pedro where we took boats and travelled twenty-seven miles on the broad Pacific. We landed at ten o'clock, and were taken to our sleeping quarters, some being in houses, but the majority in tents. Frances and I were assigned to a tent, and found it very pleasant. The tents had a window and a door, and were furnished with a bed, small bureau, washstand, and two chairs. The floors were covered and supplied with rugs. After a refreshing night's sleep, we put out in glass-bottomed boats to see the Ocean Garden. It was marvelously beautiful and varied. Fish of the most brilliant hues, sea-weed in endless patterns of lace work, and shells of brightest tints and oddest shapes! At times we passed over immense schools of mackerel, sardines, gold and silver fish. It seemed as if we were under the spell of a magic wand, it was all so wonderful! The stores on the island contained many curios, and the seals were a constant pleasure. They would come very near the shore when fish was thrown to them, and could be heard barking for some distance. We left Catalina feeling that we had been very fortunate in having the pleasure of such a trip.

On Sunday, May 22d, we went to the First Presbyterian Church to hear the Reverend Frank Talmage, son of the celebrated T. DeWitt Talmage. The sermon was directed towards the nurses in the hospitals, the text, "Blessed is he that remembereth the poor," becoming by substitution, "Blessed is she that remembereth the sick." A number of trained nurses were there in their uniforms, and it was an unusual and a good sight to see.

At this California Convention, the B. of L. E. was called upon to witness the burial services of our lamented Brother, T. S. Ingraham. His funeral was held Sunday, the 29th, at the First Congregational Church, where an immense body of our order witnessed the sad rites, the auditorium and gallery being packed to their utmost capacity. The church was a large one and newly built, Brother Ingraham's funeral being the first to be held there. After the service by the pastor and tributes of love from different speakers, the congregation was invited to pass down the aisle by sections and view the beloved dead. The Masons formed in line as the body was carried out, and marched after the hearse to the depot. It was a sad and impressive scene.

I received a cordial invitation from a Brother Mason, to attend the Installation of Officers of the Commandery at Long Beach, the evening of May 31st. The visitors were given an auto ride, and an elegant banquet was served previous to the installation. There were forty members in the Commandery and they entertained us royally.

One incident connected with this convention stands out in prominence over the others. At a barbecue at a place on the coast, called Del Ray, quite a number of ladies and gentlemen were enjoying the surf bathing, when a cry rang out, drawing every one to the beach. A man swimming too far out had become powerless and was drowning. Before half the spectators realized what the trouble was, Brother W. E. Futch, President of the B. of L. E. Insurance Association, snatched down a rope from a flag-pole, and throwing off his clothes as he ran, in an incredibly short space of time, was in the water. Though the man was of much larger build than himself, he soon brought him out. Numbers of men were around at the time of the accident, but no one else had presence of mind or courage to do anything.

This most enjoyable convention lasted four weeks, lacking one day, and we left for home June 9th, thoroughly in love with California and her people.


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