News stories from the local press


Much was happening in Long Beach in 1924 – Annexations, Prohibition, Ku Klux Klan, Hoof and Mouth Disease and more. Here is a brief synopsis of some of the stories. More on these, and other happenings, can be found in my book Prohibition Madness.


            Though Long Beach could no longer boast of having a major motion picture studio after Balboa Films left the city, it did appear to have a city of motion picture performers.  Almost every man, woman and child in town responded to the call for “extras” in the First National comedy feature Her Temporary Husband in 1923When First National announced it was planning to produce the film on a “scale hitherto unprecedented for a comedy” and would need several thousand people to accomplish their goal, the Long Beach Chamber of Commerce offered the town as a location for the picture and promised to recruit an army of citizens for the scenes.

Balboa Film studio

            The city’s fraternal, civic, military and government organizations united to gather a crew of amateur actors for the film adapted from Edward Paulson’s stage comedy of the same name.  All in all more than 3,000 of Long Beach’s 125,000 citizens were used in the film as well as the city’s police and fire departments, postal employees and members of various military organizations. All hurried to see the film (and themselves) when the movie opened in February 1924.

            The entire Long Beach crew could be seen in the picture rushing to help those trapped inside a home where the inhabitants were at the mercy of a band of roughnecks and cut throats.  The crowd sped to the house in response to an “S.O.S.” call sent over the radio by movie star Sidney Chaplin (Charlie Chaplin’s elder half brother).  It was a brilliant comedy, reviewers wrote, but what was to hit Southern California next was no laughing matter.


            In March 1924, the dreaded “hoof and mouth disease” that had ravaged the U.S. in 1914-1916, broke out in Northern California.  By early April it had spread to Los Angeles County where, on April 6th, a quarantine went into effect.  All roads leading into Los Angeles County were barricaded with barbed wire and 500 extra deputy sheriffs and 100 extra horticultural commissioners were hired to supervise the few roads open into the county.  Checkpoints were set up at these open roads and cars had to pass through fumigated sawdust patches to disinfect the tires of the automobiles.

           Shell Oil Company employee, S.M. Robinson, was shot in the shoulder by an Orange County patrol when he refused to stop at one of these barricades.  Robinson suspected a holdup when a man flashed a light and attempted to stop him on the county line.  To escape, he put on the gas, speeded ahead and was shot. Lloyd Ross, a Long Beach business college student driving home to Anaheim had a similar experience when a guard attempted to stop him on the road.  He drove ahead and the guard shot at him four times.

            On April 7th city officials received notice that they should organize local gun clubs or groups of men with guns.  These gun totting hunters need to be prepared at a moment’s notice to clean up all the stray dogs and birds in the area.


The Ku Klux Klan was active in Long Beach and Southern California during Prohibition.

            On June 21, 1924, 7500 citizens gathered in Recreation Park to witness 700 candidates join the local Ku Klux Klavern.  According to the secretary who recorded the new members, the Long Beach Klan would have more than 10,000 members following the day’s ceremony. With a 40,000 candle power searchlight sweeping the skies, and a battery of huge lights playing upon the east slope of the golf course, the Klavern staged its first public open air initiation.  High above the park, suspended from a balloon, hung a cross with the letters KKK etched upon it. A voice boomed out of the crowd toward the sky:

            “God give us men, men who will stand up for the right, for the betterment of America…Wrong rules the land…Winking justice sleeps…God give us men.” (LA Times 6/22/1924 A1-1)

In answer to this appeal, hooded, white robed initiates marched twelve abreast through the park towards the podium to take their oath.  Most of the 700 were hard to identify, but when asked where they were from, nearly half were Long Beach residents,  a quarter from Los Angeles, while the rest were from Santa Ana, Anaheim, Bellflower, San Pedro, Southgate and other nearby communities.


            On April 7, 1924, the City of Signal Hill was created, voters casting 348 ballots in favor of incorporation and 211 against.  Through the night tension mounted as the ballots were counted at the Nelson garage.  The intense bitterness between the supporters of the incorporation and those who wanted to be annexed to Long Beach permeated the air.

            Long Beach had long sought to legally annex the oil-rich hill which stood in the midst of the city.  Attempts had been made to force the annexation of the Signal Hill district by including territory to the south, which favored annexation, into the annexation vote.  This move had been tried several times, but lost.  The Signal Hill district was tired of this ploy and decided to incorporate as a new sixth class city. Because of oil, they were now the richest city in America.  Mrs. Jessie E. Nelson was elected mayor, making her the first woman mayor in California.


            Though Long Beach failed at annexing Signal Hill, it did annex additional territory in 1924 and added land from a fourth old Rancho to the city.

            Originally Long Beach, known as Willmore City in the early days, was comprised of land acquired from the Rancho Los Cerritos, this land represented about 64.3 per cent of the city’s area.  On November 23, 1909, Alamitos townsite, part of the Rancho Los Alamitos was added to the city, representing about 22 per cent of the city’s 35 square mile area. Also in 1909, areas of the old Rancho San Pedro (10 percent of the city) were added when parts of Terminal Island were brought under Long Beach jurisdiction.

            Now, in 1924, part of the old Rancho Los Coyotes land was annexed.  Additional parts of Los Coyotes land would be annexed in 1932, 1943 and 1945 forming a three-rancho corner of the Ranchos Los Cerritos, Los Alamitos and Los Coyotes on Studebaker Road, south of Carson.  This land (.07 percent of the city) was called the “shotgun strip” because of the actual gun shape of the land acquired in the annexations.



1 – William Wrigley views Recreation Park. (After purchasing the Chicago Cubs in 1921, would the chewing gum magnate consider Long Beach as a baseball hub?).

24 – Plot to annul North Long Beach annexation vote is revealed: hidden hand of Los Angeles seen in effort to nullify vote.


9 – Long Beach gets two ship terminals: port will connect all world harbors.


1 – City is given ground for new park: heirs of Col. Otis Houghton present three acres to municipality.

4 – Mayor to send greetings to radioland: KFON, new “echophone” station praised after first test.

14 – Chicago Cubs are brought to open new grounds at Recreation Park.

21 – Plan to invalidate annexation vote blocked; new North Long Beach territory to stay in city.

25 – Municipal Art commission named by mayor.


4 – Stock plague spreads in county: infection in herd is found.

9 – Hog ranch on city lands quarantined.

12 – Long Beach Municipal Band gives regular program on radio.

14 – Gas system becomes property of Long Beach.

25 – Hogs and cattle in district north of Signal Hill will be slaughtered; stray animals to be eliminated.


10 – Hospital to care for poor children to be built here through funds of Adelaide Tichenor.

24 – Site for new high school (Wilson) purchased.


7 – Long Beach woman, Miss Marie C. Brehm, is candidate for U.S. vice presidency (Prohibition Party)

22 – Thousands see Ku Klux Klan initiation at Recreation Park.


11 – Long Beach will bid for part of 1928 Olympic games.

15 – New Community Hospital opens doors to public.

26 – City directory estimates gives Long Beach population of 140,000.

31 – Inner harbor dredging is started.


12 – Liquor seized at Terminal Island; cargo valued at $50,000 captured by police at harbor; deputy sheriff is under arrest.

17 – Huge reclamation project started at Belmont Shore.


9 – Schools ask anti-fraternity oath: parents made responsible for pupil.

30 – Long Beach promoter indicted for fraud: Paul Rabe held on fraud charges; harbor projects involving millions alleged only money traps.


7 – Ebell Club leaders lay cornerstone of Long Beach building.

16 – City noisily welcomes Shenandoah: Long Beach salutes Naby’s leviathan of air on coast trip.

19 – Nations to open consulates here: Nicaragua is to have aide in city.


23 – Landmark of harbor fails before dredge: Dead Man’s Island is no more.


20 – Spectacular stunts dedicate city’s new flying field.

22 – Navy to begin airport on city’s field.