A History of the UCLA Daily Bruin, 1919-1955

The Decade of the Thirties: Part 2

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

Go to the First Half of This Chapter
5A. The Decade of the Thirties (1929-1940)
The 1930s were years of Depression, years of preparation for war, years of disillusion. Joe College was dying,
and the Daily Bruin was doing its best to finish him off.


Chapter 5

THE DECADE OF THE THIRTIES (1929-1940)

(Second Part)

The Bruin was often wary of attempting too much with too little power to accomplish miracles or stem irresistible tides flowing in the opposite direction. Editors in 1932 and 1933 advised their successors to avoid editorials dealing with the University of Southern California, subsidization of athletes, the Military Science Department, "the Administration and our relations with Berkeley, both of whom [sic] are loaded with dynamite." (CDB, 5/27/32 and 6/2/33.)

Editor Robert Shellaby publicly advised his successor that:

 Commercialism and free speech will be your concern at all times. No step that you take will be outside their pale. When you find out what sins are committed in their names, your heart-aches will know no bounds.

 . . . you will be chagrined beyond words to find out that the student janitor [a subsidized athlete] who empties your wastebasket gets more money than you. (CDB, 5/29/34.)

In its crusading, liberal fashion, the Bruin took on professors and "rah-rah" spirit societies. Berating the profs for checking attendance at every class, it complained that the college student of 1934 was "not an irresponsible child whose every step in this bewildering world must be planned for him; he is a self-reliant young man or woman, certain of his actions and with some conception of where they are leading him." (CDB, 3/14/34.)

And of the campaign by Spurs and Sophomore Service (both of them spirit societies) to forbid students from stepping on the University Seal on the floor of the University (now Powell) Library, it said:
 

Fun for the Kiddies

 When Spurs retired gracefully from its game of Ring Around the Seal, everyone breathed a sigh of relief at the passing of such useless and ineffective enforcement of a slightly extinct "tradition."

 But everyone apparently overlooked the appalling possibilities of Sophomore Service. True to form, Sophomore Service has not even waited a decent interval after the death of the poor tradition before pulling it out of its well-earned grave to serve as a basis for more and bigger monkeyshines.

 Sophomore Service will guard the seal. In its formal announcement it revealed that it would inform ignorant students of the tradition as fast as they broke it . . . the group may not be thoroughly aware of the ban against hazing . . . Sophomore Service will [also] . . . solicit ideas from imaginative minds for some more bright and shiny traditions which will be installed on a moment's notice. (CDB, 9/28/34.)


Another tradition it attacked was that of "Hell Week," the long-observed hazing period of the fraternities and sororities. It printed a six-part editorial series against this practice in March-April 1934.

On the other hand, the Bruin did its best to preserve the benign tradition of singing school songs in class on Wednesday mornings. Since the 1920s it had been printing the words to these songs in its Wednesday editions, and one year it even printed a "Black List" of professors who did not allow singing in their classes. (CDB, 3/21/34.)

As the Thirties progressed, the Bruin had to defend UCLA from a growing, ill-founded reputation as a Communist-influenced campus, attacking both radicals and conservatives editorially yet maintaining their right to speak through the medium of the Daily Bruin's feature pages.

UCLA's reputation as a leftist school was always baseless because its Administration was certainly as conservative as most other college campuses in California, if not more so. As early as 1934, a UCLA-UC Berkeley debate was canceled by Darwin C. Brown, UCLA forensics manager, on the grounds that "Communism cannot be discussed on this campus." (CDB, 3/5/34.) But Director Ernest C. Moore played into the hands of the leftists later that year when he used what appears to have been his favorite method of academic discipline -- suspension -- to rid the University of five students who were planning an open forum on the subject of peace and militarism. The official charge was "their radical activities and unsatisfactory conduct." (Adm, 10/22/34.)

His mistake lay in the fact that four of the five students were members of the Student Council, one of them -- John Burnside -- being student body president. None of the four was at all radical; at the most, they believed perhaps that Communism could be "discussed on this campus." On appeal, President Robert Gordon Sproul reinstated all five -- the four within two weeks and the fifth (who was a Communist) six weeks later.

"Such behavior tempted me to write an editorial blasting Dr. Moore," recalled Editor Chandler Harris. "Counsel by a fraternity brother on the faculty (Dr. H. Arthur Steiner) resulted in an editorial asking for patience on the part of all concerned."
 

 On all sides there are cries for action, hints of organized protest, even threats of strikes and violence. This, if there was ever a time, is a time for calm, unprejudiced consideration. This is a time for all sides concerned to count up to ten. Whoever pours gasoline on the fire will be to blame for the consequences. (CDB, 10/30/34.)
The Bruin showed its essentially moderate (and by today's standards, almost indefensible) position by writing "Finis" to the controversy when the four student officers were reinstated, leaving the Communist -- Celeste Strack -- off in limbo and forgotten: "Now that the whole thing has been settled, it is useless to waste time in futile regrets. The whole thing mast be thoroughly buried and forgotten as soon as possible." (CDB, 11/14/34.) Harris recalled that Dr. Moore later "thanked me rather shyly for the Bruin's editorial restraint." (Questionnaire.)

The newspaper continued to oppose radical activities by urging students to ignore a peace strike scheduled for April 12, 1935.

 A little group of stubborn students, turning a deaf ear to the pleas of all about them, will march resolutely into the quadrangle today to perform their final act of foolhardiness -- a student "strike" calculated to put an end to war.

 . . . STAY OUT OF THE QUAD TODAY! (CDB, 4/12/35.)
 

Its follow-up story on the strike was dripping with scorn.
 

Strikers Vie with Onlookers,
Reporters at Demonstration

By GILBERT HARRISON

 With cries of "free beer" and a "pretzel amendment" competing with cries of "no suppression" and "fight against war," the anti-war "strike" was put on Friday off-campus before some thirty strikers, fifty cameramen and 500 fun-hunters . . .

 At the "strike" resolutions were passed, and all the previously-chosen "strike" delegates elected. General interest in the motions and speeches themselves was confined to the small, but enthusiastic, group which surrounded the box from which the speakers gave their messages. The attention of most was given to the frantic actions of newspaper reporters, and to the seeking out of familiar faces in the gaping crowd . . .

 The "strike," proclaimed "successful" by Miss Strack, finally ended. "It was a fine thing," said some. "It was a fine show," said others. (CDB, 4/15/35.


The Bruin attacked with impartiality the activities of the radical National Student League and a conservative group, the UCLA Americans. One of the student leaders of this latter group "took umbrage at many of the things in the Daily Bruin, particularly the editorial page," recalled Stanley Rubin, editor in 1936-37. He "pursued his resentment against the Daily Bruin and me to the point of charging into the office and physically attacking me. The fight was inconclusive." Rubin identified the angry young student as Max Rafferty, who later became the State Superintendent of Public Instruction. (Questionnaire.) See Page 77 for more on Rafferty.

Meanwhile, because of the radical activities on the UCLA campus, abetted by the Administration's early high-handed methods of dealing with them, UCLA continued to be tainted with a Red brush. But it was not alone. Editor Chandler Harris, who attended a nationwide conference of college editors sponsored by the Hearst Newspapers over the Christmas holidays in 1934, felt no obligation to be charitable to his hosts when he discovered the underlying mood of the entire gathering: "From college newspapers in widely separated parts of the country comes the advance news of a campus Red-Scare to be conducted on a nation-wide basis . . . The motives of the chief scarer, the Hearst string of newspapers, are still obscure . . . " (CDB, 1/15/35.) (The animus of Bruin editors toward the Hearst papers scarcely lessened with the years, particularly when Regent John Francis Neylan, a Hearst attorney, began criticizing both the Daily Bruin and the Daily Californian, the UC at Berkeley newspaper, in the 1950s.)

Editor Stan Rubin gave this advice about the Red scare to his successor: "Public opinion is still too much of a sore spot here. We'll outgrow our fear of the downtown press and our fear of red cries. But that will take time, and meanwhile you must be gentle." (CDB, 5/14/ 37.)

One who was not gentle was Editor Bruce Cassiday, who said in 1940:
 

 Again, again, and yet again U.C.L.A. is "communist" in the newspapers, magazines, books, and yes on the radio. Completely, you know. At least 99 44/100 percent red. Crimson. U.C.L.A. had campus strikes, U.C.L.A. distributed anti-war literature: ergo, U.C.L.A. was and is communist all the way through . . . Until at present the Westwood communists include, in all their gory red glory, all of 1 percent of the student body. But they are noisy, like termites, and alone they make more noise and cause more campus discontent than the other 99 percent. (CDB, 7/23/40.)


The Daily Bruin had a certain professional flair in the years before World War II. One reason was its use of full-size, eight-column pages that demanded a more sober, professional treatment than the tabloid size later did.

By the end of the decade, the Bruin had distilled its method of operation into a statement of internal policy filled with lofty ideals and inspiration:
 

 The California Daily Bruin is published by the Associated Students of the University of California and is a completely student managed and edited newspaper having full independence of editorial opinion within the limits of truth and decency. As long as it continues its policy of striving at all times to achieve the ideals of fair and accurate presentation of the news, the Bruin will retain editorial freedom, its most cherished possession.

 The Daily Bruin as the official organ of the A.S.U.C. believes a campus newspaper is a vital medium for the academic, social, cultural and economic development, and progress of the student body and the whole University community.

 As an institution the Daily Bruin has no editorial opinions; editorials and features necessarily reflect the individual opinion of the writer. It affirms the obligation of student editors to frank, honest and fearless editorial expression within the limits of decency, truth and responsibility.

 The Daily Bruin respects equality of opinion and the right of every individual to participate in the Constitutional guarantee of Freedom of the Press. (CDB, 10/17/41.)


During this period, the Bruin continued its policy of exchanging stories with the Daily Californian in Berkeley -- often by radio. (CDB, 4/10/35 and 10/31/41.) As part of President Robert Gordon Sproul's emphasis on "One University," the Bruin and the Daily Cal exchanged front-page mats on the Friday before Charter Day activities, Page One of each publication substituting as Page Two of its sister daily.

At one point, the Bruin's desire for a "metropolitan" image took a bizarre turn. On May 29, 1930, a small box in the lower-left corner of Page One informed the reader that "Every story on this page, with the exception of this one, was written by Ted E. Ginsburg, '30, retiring Editorial Advisor. This metropolitan gesture is being tried out for the first time in the Daily Bruin." (CDB, 5/29/30.) The Bruin did not explain just which metropolitan newspaper was in the habit of assigning all its Page One stories to one writer.

Front-page opinion columns were often written by student editors. And columnists often occupied prominent spots on the feature page, which is where the opinion articles ran. One of the best of the columnists was The Dilettant, whose taste in writing ran to off-beat sex and hair fetishes.
 

The Dilettant

 The Dilettant feels that he has not properly introduced himself to his readers. You may feel quite intimate with someone you just met in a bathtub, but you wouldn't call it a proper introduction. Or would you?

 The Dilettant is the fellow who has read Watson's "Behaviorism" and the first two chapters of "Psycho-analysis" by Freud, and is willing to argue with any psych prof in the school. He has read the introduction to and the first four pages of "The Communist Manifesto" and is prepared to shout down any Marxist in the city. He took piano lessons from the ages of six to ten, but he'll discuss Counterpoint with Paderewski any time the latter is ready.

 However, think not evil of him. He promises never to refer to his output as "this pillar." . . . He will neither grind axes nor burden you with such drivel as "What this campus needs is a clock in the pediment of Royce Hall." (By the way, that is just what this campus needs.) . . . And he won't take himself or you too seriously. (CDB, 1/31/34.)
 

The Dilettant was dropped from the feature page shortly after he quoted from Samuel Pepys' description of the trial of a man who exposed himself in Jolly Old London. (CDB, 4/18/34.) His last column revealed pontifically that "love is the result of the tissue conditions of the sex organs." (CDB, 5/2/34.)

This was too much for Editor Robert Shellaby, who threw The Dilettant out of the paper and wrote that the column had "outlived its usefulness . . . [It] wandered beyond the pale of good taste." (CDB, 5/8/34.)

One of the most interesting years was that under the editorship of Gilbert Harrison, who was executive secretary of the University Religious Conference from 1937 to 1941 and later became editor of the national liberal magazine The New Republic. Harrison, editor in 1935-36, subscribed to a Christian Science Monitor news service that enabled him to run complete pages on important national and international events in a manner that no other Los Angeles newspaper was doing at that time.

Harrison was enamored even then of Gertrude Stein. After he graduated from UCLA he met Stein, became a friend and in 1965 published a selection of her works. During his Bruin years, he ran two of Stein's phrases beneath the masthead on the feature page. First, "EVERYBODY WHO SAW IT SAID YES BUT THE PORTRAIT DOES NOT LOOK LIKE MLLE. GERTRUDE. AND PICASSO REPLIED NO DIFFERENCE, IT WILL." Then he switched to "ANYONE TO TEASE A SAINT SERIOUSLY."

Harrison, who was described by his successor, Stanley Rubin, as a "calm, talented man" (Questionnaire), recalls his year of editorship as a period of "enjoyable anarchy." (Questionnaire.) Rubin, who was remembered by Harrison as being "ambitious, industrious, intelligent," later became a writer-producer of films and television.

Harrison's predecessor was Chandler Harris, who remained on the UCLA campus as the University's manager of public information. Harris, according to Harrison, was "kind, quiet and cool . . . he had no failures, that was my department . . . [he was] tall, thin, sallow, quick, a straight man in a comedy act." (Questionnaire.)

Other staff workers during the prewar years were James Pike, a staffer in 1933-34, later the Methodist bishop of California; Jack Stanley, novelist; Louis Banks, managing editor of Fortune magazine; Al Kahn, United Press sportswriter and editor; Robert Brown, member of the New Hampshire state legislature; Hal Keene, San Diego newspaper and television personality; Tom Brady, New York Times correspondent; Louis Turner, treasurer of Systems Development Corp.; Cecil Smith, television editor and columnist, Los Angeles Times; Andrew Hamilton, UCLA public affairs officer and novelist; Flora Lewis, foreign correspondent and columnist; Jack Hauptli, supervising assistant city editor, Seattle Times; Bruce Cassiday, fiction editor, Argosy magazine; Claire Cox, byliner for United Press (later in public relations work); Hal Gilliam, San Francisco Chronicle; Richard K. Pryne, assistant news editor, Seattle Times; William Schallert, actor; May Hobart, society editor of the Hollywood Citizen-News, and William F. Tyree, United Press correspondent.

It was a rich and productive period in the history of the Bruin. Some of the writing, a trifle ragged perhaps by the metropolitan standards the Bruin professed to follow, nevertheless is worth reprinting.
 

Drizzle Fails to Dampen Ardor of
Crowds Waiting to See Roosevelt

By Helen Schnitt

 The first umbrella up was a deep magenta one, the second, a faded burnt orange. But the hundreds of students, villagers, and grammar school children continued to wait patiently to see the President of the United States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, as he rode up Westwood boulevard from Wilshire to Sunset.

 A general air of enthusiasm was noticeable at the gathering, and the slightly blase attitude, formerly expected of U.C.L.A. students, had given way completely to a pleasant graciousness, which seemed to make itself felt to everyone in the presidential parade.

 It was not mere curiosity that kept the hundreds standing in the drizzle. Nor was it hero worship. The feeling exhibited by the students was more wholesome than either of these. They seemed to be interested in Roosevelt as a man. They wanted to see what a president of the United States looked like. And they were happy to see that this president was fine looking and had all the poise, dignity, and pleasantness of bearing which could possibly be asked of any man.

 A bit of impromptu singing of University songs, hesitant music by the band, students climbing onto the bus station, and shouts to passing motorists . . . added to the gaiety of the unexpected occasion.

 As Roosevelt actually passed before the crowds, still another feeling became paramount -- that of embarrassment. The crowds wanted to be friendly toward this man, but they did not know whether he would be more pleased with cheers or with respectful silence, so some cheered and some smiled, and all felt as though Roosevelt were pleased with his reception and all wished that he could have stopped for a few minutes to speak. (CDB, 10/2/35.)
 

Writing and ideas were the stuff of which the Bruin staff was made. But that is never enough, neither on a University newspaper nor in the life outside the walls. Bruin writers learned that the world is hard, and that the just do not always receive the rewards they think they merit. They learned about such things as campus politics, secret maneuvering and outside pressures.

Go to the Next Chapter
6A. Bruin Spirit vs. Council Power (1919-1940)

"HE: A few complaints, people come up to me and tell me. The Olympic games and R.O.T.C. (smiles) And, uh, about paying football players (leans back in chair, arms folded.)

 ME: Uh Huh

 HE: But the main objection is that the editorials get kind of partial.

 ME: Precisely."


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