A History of the UCLA Daily Bruin, 1919-1955
Beginnings and Early Growth
by George Garrigues
Printed edition © 1970, 1997
Internet Edition © 2000, 2001
All rights reserved, but you are welcome to download electronic copies, send e-copies to your friends or make printouts for yourself.
Go to the Front of the Book
Preface, Contents, List of Editors, Bibliography and Index
BEGINNINGS AND EARLY GROWTH (1919-1924)
It was a drizzly Monday morning, a light wind from the northwest, the temperature about 58 degrees as the yellow streetcar rocked its way north on Vermont Avenue. From time to time the motorman standing at the front window tapped his heel on the metal button in the floor, sending a shrill clang into the streets lightly filled with automobiles and a few big vans with wooden-spoked tires covered by solid rubber. A group of girls in the center section misted the glass windows with the warmth of their breath, and a half dozen college-age boys sat in the open section up front, the fabric shades pulled down to ward off the wind. One of them took the last Fatima from his pack and threw the crumpled wrapper into the street before lighting up with a wooden safety match. Another, dressed in a tight-waisted suit with narrow lapels, steadied his morning Times against his knee as the streetcar bounced over the crosstracks at Beverly Boulevard. The date was Sept. 29, 1919. The headlines read:
MOB BURNS OMAHA COURTHOUSE; NEGRO LYNCHED.
He turned to a smaller story and found that President Wilson had returned from his Western tour,
suffering from a serious though not alarming, breakdown, and unable to give attention to the greatest aggregation of domestic and foreign difficulties an American Executive has confronted in more than a decade.
As the streetcar approached Normal Avenue, the boy was reading a Washington dispatch predicting the absolute exclusion of all Japanese from the United States. In the Senate there will be little objection . . .
The rainslick wheels screeched against the tracks, and the car halted with a slight lurch. The accordion doors collapsed upon themselves front and back, and the boys and girls (for they hadnt yet started thinking of themselves as men and women) stepped down into the drizzle, the girls ankle-length skirts pulling up to reveal a glimpse of their black-stockinged ankles. They crossed the street to their campus.
Already the students were caught up in their school routine, their day punctuated by the sound of bells in the hallways, the droning murmur or high-pitched staccato ricochet of teachers voices, the squeak of chalk on blackboard, a massed choral repetition of French or Latin verbs. It was the beginning of the second week of classes in the first year of existence for the Southern Branch of the University of Californiawhich was to grow from its opening enrollment of 1,420 to reach 15,000 by 1955.
But this Monday the boy found there was something new on campusa school newspaper, small by comparison with the eight-page Times he had been reading, but filled with stories, poems, photographs and a cartoon about his new University. He snatched up a copy and began dipping into its four six-column pages during his history class, sitting in the back of the room and unfolding the paper cautiously so the professor wouldnt notice.
Beneath the flag proclaiming Cub Californian, the lead story bore a sedate single-column headline, Old State Normal School Becomes Branch of U.C., and the boy didnt particularly care that it had been placed on the left side of the page instead of the right as good journalistic practice, even then, would have had it. The right-hand column was filled with a story headed Many Distinguished Persons Now in Faculty. He skipped over Y.W.C.A. Offers a Hearty Welcome to University Women (there were 1,213 women enrolled, compared to 207 men), and his eye was caught by a headline,
MACHINES REPLACE MEN IN OFFICES
Machines are rapidly replacing young men in offices, especially banks, where most of the experienced clerks have gone into service, said Mrs. Fayette Partch, instructor in the course in office appliances at the Summer Session. What to do with the office man whom the machine supplants will constitute a grave economic problem after the war, Mrs. Partch thinks. (CC, 11/29/19.)
The boy read the rest of the story, then turned to the back page, to sports, where he found that a football team was being organized. The professor stopped his lecture suddenly in mid-sentence and glared. The boy hastily put the paper away
Who was responsible for this first newspaper? It was probably the youngest editor who ever served, Dale Stoddard, who was only 17 when he was tapped for the job. He recalled more than half a century later:
I was the first editor after the changeover to the Southern Branch of the U of Cal. I never knew any of the Normal Outlook staff.
I edited the first paper, wrote it, proofread the paper, selected the name Cub Californian and had it printed at the Times-Mirror Co., L.A. The professors of the English Dept. wanted me to start this activity and I did.
The first offices of the Cub Californian were in the north wing of Millspaugh Hall next to the Student Co-op. At the start of the fall term in 1919 there were two hundred or so Junior College students as a start of the first class. There were over 2000 Teacher College students and some 200-300 Federal Board G.I.s from the 1st World War. At the outset there was little cooperation between these groups particularly the Teachers College group and the pea green Freshman J. C. students.
After the first paperI asked for help and some cooperation in continuing to publish the paper. It was not forthcoming soI said, You do it. Alice Lookabaugh was my successor. A good galand she didn't keep the job for long.
I know now that I was a hot headed smart elek [sic] kid and as a result of little help in the editing of the first paper, I rebelled and said, You do it. Years have a way of tempering this hot headednessthank heaven. (Questionnaire.)
By the end of the year, the school yearbook, Southern Campus, was able to say:
Growing out of the Normal Outlook, the Cub has attempted to adapt itself to the needs of a university and, in consequence, to emphasize, more than the former paper, a broad collegiate policy. For this reason the chief departments of the publication have been those of current news and immediate interests, rather than of literary and cultural values. The attempt has been successful, and the definite, journalistic standards of correct paper-editing have been adhered to by the staff to a degree that ranks the Cub Californian with the very best university and college news sheets of the West. (SoCam, 1920.)
Typical yearbook hyperbole, perhapsyet it is true that even the first few issues of the Cub gave some glimpse of what the Daily Bruin would one day be and what problems would face it.
The Cub began its life with a letters column, entitled The Fire Brand, and though it looked as though most of the letters had been invented by the staff, maybe by Stoddard, at least they showed that student comment and opinion were welcomed from the very beginning. Advertisements in the first issue were scanty: There were only 14, including one for a studio that taught Ragtime Piano and Saxophone Playing.
The Cub wasted no time in fulfilling its function as a noisy critic of student government. In its second issue, the lead editorial attacked the Council of Twelve, a group of student leaders drawing up a constitution for the new school.
SECRET DIPLOMACY MUST BE DONE AWAY WITH
The Council of Twelve is not playing fair! . . . it has come to the ears of an unbelieving student body that their committee, responsible to them alone, has decided to hold secret meetings and to withhold its doings from the public confidence . . . The course they have adopted resembles more the days of the French Commune, when a handful of so-called representatives signed away the lives and property of thousands of eminent citizens, than it does the chosen body of a modern university in session to found a system of self-government. It was that very method of secret diplomacy and legislative meetings behind locked doors that has made Europe the scene of innumerable international swindles and the center of international intrigue . . . (CC, 10/3/19.)
The second editorial in that issue, headed School Spirit Lacking; Societies Must Be Organized, was exhortative support for a Page One story that listed the clubs and organizations operating on the Normal School campus in 1917-18. (Extracurricular activities had been disrupted in 1918-19 because of the influenza epidemic.)
And, the Cub started early to dabble in off-campus political matters, a practice that would remain to trouble later generations of editors. The first issue featured a cartoon depicting a fat man labeled Street Railway Magnate, with dollar signs all over his clothes and a great diamond glistening from his finger. He is stamping his feet and cursing That Ford! as a jitney bus filled with comfortable passengers glides by; in the background a slow and overloaded Los Angeles Railroad streetcar is groaning and bursting with passengers popping out of windows. One of them says he should have taken the jitney, and another comments, Ive road [sic] these straps so long, George, that when I get home I have to hang on a chandelier to feel natural.
From the beginning, the newspaper suffered a shortage of writers and made the first of many calls for help:
CUB STAFF ASKS FOR COOPERATION
One of the favorite indoor (and outdoor) sports at the present time is criticizing the Cub Californian.
Far be it from us to assume an ironical tone, but we would like to ask the kickers what they are doing to make it better.
The paper is urgently in need of more staff members. The job of getting out the paper at the present size is not fully comprehended by the students. Not only the gathering of the news, but writing it up is a stupendous job. The paper uses about twenty-two galleys of type, which is about eighteen thousand words. The job of writing this now devolves upon a few, who are loyally giving their time and effort to make a good paper for our university. (CC, 10/3/19.)
A more tongue-in-cheek article in the same issue brought a topical political approach to the questiona curious foreshadowing of charges that would be hurled in earnest at the Bruin decades later.
MUCH CRITICISM IS OFFERED WEEKLY STAFF
By Phillup Space
The strike bug has hit the university! Already the radical reds have wormed their insidious way into the confidence of those who represent the very heart of the schoolthe Cub staff.
The edict has gone forth from that little cubbyhole next to the Co-op", sometimes dignified by the title of news office, that unless the Student Body comes through, shells out or otherwise produces any and every possible kind of literature coming under the head of news, an already overworked staff will form a union, walk out and leave the paper to the tender mercies of the faculty.
Before the first Cub appeared, the 1250 members of the Student Body registered as many kicks because the paper was not forthcoming just when they wanted it. Then, after surmounting innumerable difficulties, the paper finally appeared. What was the result? More kicks. And the staff got it fore and aft so to speak . . .
Then, students, unless you would see your progressive journal succumb to the influence of old man bolshevism, write, write, and then write some more. (CC, 10/3/19.)
The staff worked under noisy, crowded conditions without even having the benefit of academic credit, as had their predecessors of the Normal Outlook. One letter to the Fire Brand column was signed Cub Reporter:
Dear Fire Brand:
My head aches, and yet I must prepare my copy for the Cub late tonight. All day long I tried to do it, but in the stuffy office money jingled as students paid their dues. The room is so small that the society editor on one side and the sport[s] editor on the other jostled my elbows. Except for the editor-in-chief, the rest of the staff were standing, as there was no place for them to sit. As we are doing the work for the good of the school, I think we might have a more roomy, airy office. (CC, 11/29/19.)
Ben Person, who worked on the paper in 1924-26, remembered later that the room was only 10x8 ft. in size and that the summer heat beating on its tin roof would curl the paint into little chips. The actual printing of the paper was done in a small job shop on Spring Street, and those who took the copy down considered the trip [from Vermont Avenue] to be a long one, he said. (CDB, 10/6/31.)
During the early years, copy was still being handwritten, on 6x9-in. paper, lengthwise on the page, with two inches left at the top of the first page for headlines and spaces between lines for corrections. (CC, 1/16/20.)
And, the staff, though eager, admitted it was not overly competent in the nuts and bolts of college journalism.
A PAPER WITHOUT AN EDITOR
Our little editoress, Alice Lookabaugh, was ill the last few days of this week. As she is the axis around which all in the Cub office revolve, her presence was greatly missed. The paper this week was issued after a great deal of trouble. First there was not enough copy. The staff dashed wildly about and tore their hair until Esther Ostrow, the only calm one in the group, suggested some topics to write about.
The Red Cross, where can I find out about the Red Cross? Where is Miss Mathewson? and one of the reporters hurried off to find the Red Cross authority.
Im to write the gym story. What is the gym story, who is it about and what shall I say? The young lady was nearly in tears as she finished this incoherent speech.
Who is going to take this cartoon to the printers? Philip, you take it. Yes, get excused from your class.
Say, is this story fit to print?
Who knows how to write the head for these articles? We must go down to the printers often with Alice so that we will know how to make up a paper.
I say, who knows anything about the ads? How many did we kill this week?
Is the Monday assembly written up? Paul, you write it. Better have it in the paper twice than not at all.
Lillian, can you make-up a paper? Well, who can?
Wheres Jack? He ought to have an article about the big game Saturday.
Unfortunately, most of these questions remained unanswered. If you of the Student Body think putting out the Cub Californian once a week is an easy job, youre mistaken (CC, 11/7/19.)
Hangers-on cluttered up the Cub office in 1919-20 just as much as they did in the years to follow, and political discussions were just as frequent:
OF TRYING TO WRITE IN
The weary reporter sat in the Cub office trying to write up the last council meeting. He tried to concentrate on their weighty decisions, but was interrupted by Graumans made a big mistake, building where
No, it is in the center of the city. It-
The moving pictures have run their course. Soon theyll all be out of business.
If the Morosco would only put on good plays, something comic for example.
By the way, I forgot to go to class. Of course work was stopped during, Socialism is the crime of the age.
Socialism is too deep for students of our age.
Just then the bell rang and out walked the disturbers, each on the verge of a fight. After several minutes the reporter recovered and went on with his work. (CC, 2/27/20.)
Besides a shortage of staff, the Cub Californian also had to face a shortage of advertising revenue during the first few years. Building up the advertising staff occupied the attention of the Student Council on several occasions. Council minutes reported that the papers deficit increased from $446.24 on Dec. 11, 1919, to $851.92 on March 11 and $1,580 on May 17. Lack of funds forced the paper to reduce its size to a four-column tabloid on March 19, but it was able to go up to five columns on April 9 until the end of the school year. the Cub warned editorially:
The Cub Californian needs all the support that a loyal student association can give it and then some. The cost of one publication is over fifty-seven dollars, at the smallest estimate . . . No Cubs will be issued to anyone who does not hold a Student Association ticket. This is the last free issue of the Cub Californian. (CC, 1/9/20.)
The financial picture was so bleak at one point that three studentsGracia Murphy, Ernestine White and Ruth Hubert-raised $3.75, which they turned over to the newspaper fund. (CC, 11/21/19.)
But more was needed than threats and occasional donations. A vaudeville show was organized as a fund-raiser, and it became an annual feature during the early years of the campus. Soon, the Press Club Vode, as it was called, became the biggest show of the year, even though the Cub was placed on firmer financial footing and had no further need of footlight subsidies.
The Vode soon degenerated into a battle to see how much the students could get away with. The deans of men and women were supposed to enforce a costume code and check the scripts for offensive language, but it was a hopeless task to catch all the ad-libbed double entendres. Director Ernest Carroll Moore, the administrative head of the Southern Branch, said the Vode tended to vulgarity and exhibitionism, rather than to any kind of uplift. It is the least worthy thing we do at the university. (Adm, 4/11/27.)
The 1927 show became a drinkout worth at least a scene in a Scott Fitzgerald novel, and the University Affairs Committee was obliged to suspend six students and reprimand eleven others.
It seemed to me, explained Editor James Wickizer in defense, that it was the student body in general that was participating in the party. In Newman Hall there was hardly a person that was not inebriated or could be considered sober. (Arch, Box 43.)
That was the last Press Club Vode.
During the early Twenties, the Cub became a newspaper interested primarily in football, dances and the founding of new traditions, such as singing school songs on Wednesday mornings (a surprisingly long-lived tradition that lasted well into the 1950s) and the wearing of freshman dinks, or beanies. As the campus grew, so did the demand for coverage of campus events, and on Aug. 29, 1922, the Cub became a twice-a-week publication (which the editors insisted on calling a biweekly).
The headlines for the first issue of the new biweekly read
New Enrollment Will Reach 4,000,
What Your A.S.U.C. Card Is Worth in Dollars and Cents
Social Plans for Coming Year Will Please All Tastes.
A Page One cartoon by Bruce Russell showed a tanned and rested student returning to the campus from his summer vacation.
From almost the beginning we find that the Cub, though far from a great newspaper, was producing people who would become great journalists. Russell was one of them. His drawing talent was shaky and stereotyped when he began on the Cub in 1922, but by the time of his graduation in 1927 it had developed firm line and as much significance as he cared to present in the student newspaper. Russell, the longtime Los Angeles Times political cartoonist, undoubtedly drew more bears, cubs, grizzlies and bruins in his life than any other animala fact that may help explain his winning the Pulitzer Prize in 1946 for work that included a cartoon showing a Russian bear growling over a chasm at an American eagle.
Russells conservative beliefs did not change much over the years: A 1923 cartoon depicts a man labeled The Students of the World, holding a torch of Education as behind him crouches a rather smudged Miss Democracy clutching a tablet of Ideals. Slavering and drooling just outside the circle of light cast by the torch are wolves labeled Destruction, Strife, Bolshevism and War. (CC, 3/16/23.)
Matt Weinstock, popular columnist for the Los Angeles Daily News and then the Los Angeles Times, was an assistant sports editor, alternating the duties with Waldo Edmunds, who for many years was the editor of the UCLA Alumni Magazine. Lee Payne, who would become managing editor of the Daily News, had a column called Piffle and Patter.
A writer who was to win recognition in the field of international diplomacy was Ralph Bunche, the Nobel Peace Prize recipient of 1950. Bunche, an African American, played basketball at UCLA and for a long time wrote a column called
WHOS DOING WHAT, AND HOW
By Ralph Bunche 27
Cap Haralson has been on the indisposed list all week, but tomorrows fracas will find the Cub terror running wild oer the sawdust meadowpoetically speaking.
Tillie Parisi pulled up with a badly corked leg Wednesday, but hes out there barkingem out again and will probably direct the Cubs offense tomorrow.
The old Ku Klux ball has been brought out this week, due to the early falling twilight. The field looks real spooky with the white oval flipping back and forth, apparently from nowhere. (CC, 10/26/23.)
John F. Cohee, editor in fall 1924 and again in fall 1925, was a professional reporter for about twenty years, covering the opening of the United Nations. A contemporary recalled him 45 years later as quick-witted, a liberal, and somewhat a hippie of the Twenties . . . [He] honeymooned in a canoe on the Danube. Cohee had the unfortunate distinction of being the first of two campus newspaper editors to be expelled by the University Administration (see Chapter 4). Fred Moyer Jordan, editor in 1923-24, was elected student body president (one of two Bruin editors to advance to that position) and later became a Regent of the University.
This period saw the beginning of the feature that ran continuously and proudly until the 1960sthe Grins and Growls column, which was the campus ombudsman, sounding board, relief valve and political forum all rolled into one.
This issue marks the inauguration of a new department, Grins and Growls.
Were you particularly delighted by the way the last rally was conducted? Say so! Can you propose a remedy for the mob that accumulates in front of the mail boxes? Say so!
If you are afraid to publish your opinion, turn to the Editorial Page, and read some of the opinions that have already been expressed. Grins and Growls is intended as a spokesman for the hitherto silent majority of Student Body members. Does your soul demand self-expression? Turn in your thoughts at the Cub office. (CC, 9/29/22.)
The first letter, printed the same day, urged the establishment of a campus theater group. An editors note pointed out that All communications should be placed in the G mail box, addressed to Grins and Growls. Eighteen years later an editor lauded the column as democracy at work . . . of the students, by the students and for the students . . . the voice of the campus. (CDB, 9/19/40.
(The appearance of Grins and Growls had been preceded by a shorter-lived letters column entitled, somewhat one-sidedly, Grouches. Have you a little grouch in your dome? If so, turn it in. Limit 200 words.) (CC, 4/29/21.)
The Cub wasted no time in joining with other campus newspapers to form the Southwest Intercollegiate Press Associationwhich in 1921 consisted of the USC Trojan, Pomona College Student Life, Nevada Sagebrush, Redlands Campus, Davis Farm Agricola, California Tech, Arizona Wildcat, Quaker Campus (Whittier) and the Cub. The object was to syndicate news, exchange ideas and co-operate generally for the advance of college journalism. (CC, 1/14/21.)
Editorials generally dealt with campus affairs and the improvement of what was called California spirit. They whipped up support for Southern Branch football teams and for the California Bears whenever they came down from Berkeley to play USC. At one point, the Cub announced that it would discontinue the use of the term Southern Branch in its news stories and would use the phrase The University of California at Los Angeles or The State University at Los Angeles. The editorial was headed U.C. at L.A.,probably the first time those four initials had appeared in print. (CC, 11/17/22.)
On one occasion, though, the Cub broke out of its mold to evidence the concern that Daily Bruin editors generally felt through the years about racial equality.
We like to assume in this enlightened day and age that people as a whole are becoming more and more broadminded, more tolerant, and less bigoted in their relations toward one another. A complete world peace, we are told, can come only as a result of equality and fraternity among nations. And there are few today who would not claim to be in accordance with this ideal of universal brotherhood. At least the theory sounds well.
Occasionally, however, some little incident noticed in passing gives rise to speculation as to just how far we have really progressed along the line of complete tolerance toward our fellow man.
Recently the football team of Washington and Lee University objected to playing a scheduled game with Washington and Jefferson, because the latter eleven included a negro player . . . the significance of the incident is that it clearly shows a race prejudice, an intolerance towards certain peoples and creeds existing as strongly as in by gone ages . . .
It is a sorry state of affairs when our institutions of learning, the backbone of our country, will not only refrain from breaking down this race hatred, but will even go so far in some cases as to sanction its existence. How superficial, how ridiculous, all their high-flown lecture hall theories of brotherly love appear when viewed in the light of actual circumstance! (CC, 10/12/23.)
This is welcome relief from earlier treatment of African Americans by the Bruin. Dialect stories about a darky and a colored lady were printed on Dec. 5, 1919, and Oct. 28, 1921. And an early editorial cartoon showed two Negro stereotypes on their hands and knees in the gutter, one of them saying to the cobblestones, Oh, you Lil Boneswha iz yo?? The caption was Paradise (Pair ODice) Lost. (CC, 3/12/20.)
An earlier editorial had hit out strongly on another subjectcompulsory vaccination against smallpox, which the editor called unnecessary and un-American, likening it to the practice of Kaiser Wilhelms Germany. (CC, 11/14/19.)
During this period the Cub printed its first edition in more than one color, on May 18, 1923, to honor an At Home Day. It featured a blue-bordered skyline head, Greater University Edition, with a gold bear printed over the entire front page. It also printed its first extra edition on Dec. 12, 1923, a Wednesday, with the banner head,
SOUTHERN BRANCH FUTURE BRIGHT AS FOURTH YEAR IS ESTABLISHED.
Because the Cubs circulation was linked to the purchase of a student body card, campaigns were used to increase readership. In 1923, a sign was painted by William L. Andrews, a federal student (veteran studying at the University under an early equivalent of the G.I. Bill), along a campus fence: Every student should read the CUB CALIFORNIAN, the spirit of our university. (CC, 3/6/23.)
The next year, the student body felt it had grown up, and the mascot of the school changed from a cub to a grizzly. The change also affected the Cub Californian, which became the California Grizzly on March 21, 1924, with a new flag designed by Walter Lee of the Illustrated Daily News. It editorialized:
CUB NO LONGER
Completing one of the few remaining steps ahead of us before we can entirely assume the obligations and privileges of a full-fledged university, we will celebrate today and tonight the development of the Cub into a full-grown Grizzly Bear.
Cub and all it implies as being a stage in evolution, a way-station on the road to some adult achievement, is now out of our category. From this time forward for evermore we denounce the adolescent shortcomings of the Cub . . . (CG, 3/21/24.)
But whether it was called Cub or Grizzly, the student newspaper was essentially still a small-campus weekly, even though it was published twice a week. It remained for the publication of a daily newspaper to begin the second phase of the Daily Bruins growthsolidification and intensification of campus and worldwide news coverage in the spirit of the 1920s. That phase began on Sept. 13, 1925.
Go to the Next Chapter
The Daily Bruin Is Born (1925-1928)