From the Los Angeles Examiner, August 16, 1904


Municipality Cited to Establish Rights to Flow From San Fernando Valley

What promises to be the greatest legal battle ever fought in Southern California, involving millions of dollars’ worth of property and the future of a large valley inhabited by thousands of people who derive their living from its fertile soil [see map], was begun yesterday.

The first gun was a petition filed in the United States Circuit Court asking that the city of Los Angeles be enjoined from taking further steps to prevent land owners and tenants of the San Fernando Valley from using for purposes of irrigation the water that underlies their land. . . .

The plaintiffs petition that their titles to the land, which they have brought to a high state of productivity by irrigation, be assured to them by the Federal Court. . . .

The complaint alleges that the Land Commission which gave the city the right to the water had no authority to do so, either under the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo [which ended the Mexican War of 1848] or an act of Congress. . . .

The city claims right to the subterranean watershed, which contains nearly 500 square miles, by virtue of decisions rendered by the State Supreme Court that are based upon the old Spanish and Mexican laws. When the pueblo of Los Angeles was founded in 1782, all the waters flowing into the Los Angeles River were deemed essential to the well-being of the pueblo and were dedicated to its use.

The city, in the famous case against Pomeroy & Hooker [Hooker v. City of Los Angeles, 188 U.S. 314 (1903)] , who had a ranch on the banks of the river, won a decision compelling those land owners to desist from irrigating with the water underlying their land. . . .

While the greater part of the Valley is unsettled and has never been cultivated, there are exceedingly fertile sections which raise some of the finest fruits, berries and melons in California.

Burbank, Tropico, Glendale, West Glendale, Lankershim and other smaller places all lie above waters claimed by the city. . . .

The shaded portion of the map indicates the district where over one hundred wells are now pumping at the rate of about five million gallons of water per day. The heavy lines embrace the area comprised in the San Fernando watershed. The river used to carry water from its source down; now surface water begins to show only from the cross on the map down.

[It looks more like a pork chop, in the cross-hatched area to the left of the vertical line running through the map.]

From the Los Angeles Examiner, August 17, 1904

‘Room Mates,’ the Great Brother Act

H.G. Otis and Frank Finlayson

Click on the various parts of the cartoon
to bring up explanations and comments in a separate window




The Cast-Off Characters

A Major-General — H.G. Otis

One of his best friends — Frank Finlayson

Paymaster in both, better known as The Man With the Soldered Fist — Harry Chandler

A wounded soldier in the Otis army — [State Senator] Thomas R. Bard

Two armies — By all of them

Other soldiers, mostly tin — Other Otis political followers, mostly thin


Note — Patrons of this theater are invited to inspect the Otis collection of medals, which is on exhibition in the lobby. The General, who is a firm believer in home industry, has bought most of the medals here.

All the furniture and costumes used in this production, both by the Times and the Herald armies, are owned by Mr. Otis.

Photographs of Mr. Otis, in his celebrated fire-eating act, will be on sale by the ushers.

Music by the Times gramaphone orchestra; if the music is bad, remember the gramaphones are free.

The stage and the rest of the universe are under the personal direction of H.G. Otis.

[Otis’ son-in-law and Times vice-president]

Please remember, ladies and gentlemen and slaves of the General, that this entertainment will be harmless. A battle, second in history only to that of the Rubicon, will be fought out upon the stage. But remember, it is only a play. Frank Finlayson, who will lead the Herald army, and General Otis, who will be behind the Times forces, are really good friends and bear no malice. My money is invested in this representation, and you know me well enough to know that I'll take pretty good care of that.



SCENE 1 — General Otis’ conning tower on the Times fortress. General, surrounded by aides de camp, seconds, sponge holders and soft-soap makers, is discovered being put into a uniform with a shoe horn.


THE GENERAL: Make haste, dogs. Already the enemy is at our gates. Lock the door, so that none of my loving and faithful friends can run away from me. Hand me my meat axe. Ah, this is a noble weapon. It is made of Nofziger lumber and is tough enough for even me. [F. W. Nofziger was a city councilman and a principal in the Consolidated Lumber Co.] Lead on.


The army exits, both of the soldiers much worried about the poverty their families will be left in if they die. The General follows at respectable distance, bewailing the fact that he is not again in command of the colored troops who made his reputation for him.


*  *  *


SCENE 2 — Frank Finlayson’s office in the Herald building. Table piled high with the Herald’s unpaid bills, all marked “O.K. H.G.O.”


FINLAYSON: I shall file a demurrer to this battle, also a motion in arrest of judgment. As soon as the General attacks us, I shall ask for a change of venue, and he and I can fight it out alone in one of his houses, the Outpost, the Bivouac or the Retreat.


Enter Harry Chandler on the run, saving money as he runs.


CHANDLER: You can’t back out, Frank. The General has decided that this battle must be fought. He says the advertising receipts from the Herald are not big enough to pay his laundry bills. He has ordered me to order you to come out and fight him and at once [so] that the people may get the idea that we are all enemies and not co-partners.


FINLAYSON: I’ve got a brief to prepare, but if those are the General’s orders, report to His Majesty that I shall obey his commands.


Exit Chandler and Finlayson and the Herald army loaned to Finlayson for the occasion by H.G. Otis.




During the intermission, Herald employes will pass among the audience soliciting subscriptions and advertisements and promising to trade with those who will contribute to a charitable cause — the support of the Herald.



THE SCENE — A battlefield. It is irrigated by Colorado River water, which will be valuable if the General succeeds in getting Thomas R. Bard back into the Senate on rubber shoes.

 On one side, the Times fort. On the other, the Herald ruin. Enter an ambulance. Enter Thomas R. Bard in the ambulance.


BARD: Sometimes I think that although Frank Flint [soon to be named U.S. Senator by the Legislature (the first from Southern California)] has a hard name, he has a soft snap. But the General has made me come out to the battle, and if I don’t catch a worse cold than I got the night that no one would listen at Hazard’s Pavilion, I am not attached to the Otis chariot wheel. That’s all, I hope. Exit Thomas R. Bard.


The General sticks his head out of the Fort. Frank Finlayson sticks his head, the red badge of courage, out of his decaying pile. Harry Chandler rushes up to watch the pile.


OTIS: Good morning, Frank. How much money did the Herald lose this week?


FINLAYSON: Good morning, General. You ought to know better than I.


OTIS: When shall the fight begin?


FINLAYSON: Six of my subscribers are here. When the other one comes, let us begin.




MESSENGER: Is there anybody here named Otis?


OTIS: My son, there is a very influential person of the name of H.G. Otis. Speak respectfully or you’ll get on the blacklist.


MESSENGER: My father sent me down to tell this fellow to quit sending the Herald to our house.


OTIS: Huh! There goes our Herald’s seventh subscriber. Frank, let’s fight.


The battle begins. From the Herald relic comes a rapid fire of blank cartridges and blank advertising contracts.


FINLAYSON: Keep up the good work, men. Use more of those advertising contracts. We have plenty in reserve. Throwing them away is the only way we can use them.


OTIS: What ho! Look over there on the horizon. See those men coming this way.


FINLAYSON: I pray that they are coming to the support of the Herald.


OTIS: Grim war is no time for such bum jests. Save them and put them in your comic supplement, where they’re needed. If anybody comes to the support of the Herald, it’s me.


FINLAYSON: Fire low and hard, my brave men. Aim at that roundhouse over there.


AN EXCITED SOLDIER: That ain’t no round house. That’s the General.


FINLAYSON: Then don’t aim at it.


OTIS: Be careful over there about what you’re shooting. Don’t use any bullets. You know I never did like bullets.


CHANDLER (aside): This is costing too much money.


FINLAYSON: Charge, my men, charge!


THE MEN: What’s the use? We charge all we like, but nobody pays us.


OTIS: Treason, treason. I pay you, and you know it.


FINLAYSON: May it please the court and gentlemen of the Jury. I want to go home.


HIS ARMY: Sir, let us volunteer. You need a guide to show you the way home. We’ll go with you. We’ll take you right into Otis’ office. That’s where you live. Anyway, we’d rather be over there.


ONE OF THE SOLDIERS: I only get $11.25 a week in the Herald army. Harry Chandler has offered me $11.35.


OTIS: Chandler must be affected by the heat.

FINLAYSON (jumping out of the Herald shell before it caves in): General, you have fought bravely. Let us have peace. I’ll give you my sword. Please give me my money.


OTIS: Peace has its con games no less renowned than war’s. The war is over. When I’m secretary of war, I’ll call another one.


CHORUS: We’ll all be so old then that they won’t let us fight.


OTIS: What’s that to you? I’ve been in wars before this, and I never became demented enough to fight.


Otis and Finlayson shake hands. Chandler shakes down an advertiser or two. The gramophones bleat and




Note to the public: the performance will be repeated as often as necessary. While money is some object, we trust that our greatest aim — to make the people think that Otis and the Herald were sweethearts once, but strangers now — has been attained. Please pass out without disturbing Harry Chandler, who is counting the money.

For a personal look at Los Angeles in the 1920s and 1930s, click for
He Usually Lived With a Female: The Life of a California Newspaperman