Anna Hartle had ups and downs in my novel Yours in a Hurry just as she did in real life. She went on to a second marriage in San Antonio, which is where the novel left off, and I may continue her intriguing story someday. Both she and her cousin, Daeida ‘Ida’ Hartell Wilcox Beveridge, a reader favorite in the novel, were strong women. Ida especially accomplished much in her life as the founder and promoter of Hollywood, California in the 1880's until her death in 1914. Here’s an excerpt from the novel. Both women are in real estate, and Anna, being new in town, is getting a tour of Los Angeles from Ida before lunching at the Hollywood Hotel.
Ida and her driver picked Anna up the next morning.
"We'll see the best architecture in the city—the classical French style Beaux Arts Farmers and Merchants Bank at 4th Street and Main and the Italianate Merced Theater on Olvera Street downtown with its towers and arches. You must see the colorful 'Painted Lady' Victorian houses in Angelino Heights, and the Mission Revival-style Powers House, the centerpiece for the Alvarado Terrace subdivision south of downtown in which Joseph takes such great interest.
"Aren't you glad you chose a bungalow, Anna?" Ida continued. "It's Frank Lloyd Wright's influence—such a wonderful blend of Oriental and the simple Arts and Crafts. It's a common dwelling in India, the Bangala, as the British call it. Wright is one of my favorite architects." She tilted her head closer to Anna and said in a lowered voice, "His infamous marital problems aside."
"I like that they're very affordable and private," Anna replied. "Owning a plot of land, no matter how small, seems to give a feeling of independence." Her smile faded as she saw the tops of oil wells beyond. "The landscape certainly is changing in other ways."
Ida frowned. "Yes, they say it's good for the economy, but since Edward Doheny made the first strike back in '92, many oil derricks have gone up a few blocks west of downtown, and the whole northwest side is a forest of them."
"It's a wonder the neighbors can stand the smell of the oil and all of the 'black rain,'" Anna said, sniffing the air.
"They can't. The companies pay them sufficient royalties for their property so they can relocate. The oil wells will soon threaten Beverly Hills."
Anna gazed in store windows as they passed. "There are so many electric signs."
"The first one was on a livery stable on the south side of Sunset near Wilcox Avenue."
"The street named for you and Harvey?" Anna teased.
Ida acknowledged the comment with a smile, and then said, "I think it's time to stop for lunch."
They arrived at the Hollywood Hotel and were immediately led to a table. "This is my favorite place to lunch," Ida said.
Anna could see why. Small, round white-clothed covered tables filled the room. Ferns hung from the ceiling along with round, globed chandeliers. Rather modern, she thought. Windows at two levels, some showing the street, and smaller ones near the ceiling disseminated light throughout the rooms. A fresh flower bouquet adorned each table.
Mira Hershey approached their table shortly after they were seated. "Mira is the owner—chocolate money from back East," Ida whispered to Anna.
Mira smiled broadly when she arrived at the table. "So glad to see you, Ida."
Ida nodded toward Anna. "This is my cousin, Anna Hartle. She's new in town, working with Joseph Cowell in his real estate business. I'm showing her around the area today."
"It is a pleasure to meet you, Anna. You couldn't ask for a better guide. I hope you both can return for tea another time."
"Certainly," Ida replied. Turning to Anna, she said, "Every afternoon Mira serves high tea in the lobby. And, the real treat is on Sundays when she performs a piano concert in the rotunda. Her Bach is to behold!"
Mira blushed and replied, "It was nice meeting you, Anna. Enjoy your lunch, ladies." She turned, nodded to someone at another table, and started in that direction.
Anna perused the room again. "We certainly have nothing like this back home."
Ida sighed, "Yes, but it has suffered in the general business slowdown. Many are worried about too much competition among the new suburbs growing in all directions around Los Angeles." She took a sip of tea and changed the subject. "Did you see the list of new city ordinances in today's newspaper?"
"Yes, quite a list," Anna replied.
"You can tell most of us are Midwesterners. The sale of liquor and most gambling is prohibited. I don't know how much longer we will be able to control alcohol with all the business coming to town." She moved closer to Anna and whispered, "Even Philo has been known to put white wine in water glasses when we entertain."
"Is the one limiting the number of livestock permitted through the streets really necessary? I've never seen anything like that."
"Well, it was not that many years ago that sheep and cattle ranches were on this spot, and even I can remember seeing cattle herded down a city street. I understand smaller livestock were brought through by the thousands, not always under competent control."
Anna couldn't imagine seeing two hundred cattle herded down her street. She gazed over the verdant foothills and rugged mountains. A refreshingly cool breeze, scented from the salty ocean a mile away, blew in through an open window in the restaurant.
"No wonder people want to live here. There is so much to do. One can use bicycles, automobiles, or the railroad trains to sightsee, and the electric railroad takes you to any beach for fifty cents."
"Yes," Ida responded, "everything thrives, but none of us, not even the plants, are native. The palm trees come from Mexico and the Eucalyptus from Australia."
Anna opened her timepiece. "I must be getting back. I promised Joseph that I would inform him about a client call yet this afternoon. And, I need to write some letters, especially one to Addison."
Next time: Military in the Pacific Pre-WW1: Purl Hartle
Ann Otto writes fiction based on factual as well as oral history. Her debut novel, Yours in a Hurry, about Ohioans relocating to California in the 1910’s, is available on-line at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kindle, and at locations listed on her website at www.ann-otto.com. Ann’s academic background is in history, English, and behavioral science, and she has published in academic and professional journals. She enjoys speaking with groups about all things history, writing, and the events, locations, and characters from Yours in a Hurry. She is currently working on her next novel about Ohio’s Appalachia in the 1920’s and prepared for future works by blogging about a recent World War 2 European tour. She can be reached through the website, or on Facebook @Annottoauthor or www.Goodreads.com.