If you were living in Los Angeles
a hundred years ago:
You would take the streetcar to work.
Another streetcar might kill you when you got off.
You would work six days a week.
If you were a bank clerk you would work Saturday nights.
If you were really, really lucky you might get a weeks paid vacation.
Perhaps a 10-year-old would be piloting the elevator in your building (dont worry; the building wouldnt be higher than five or six floors).
You would shop Downtown (even, perhaps, for groceries).
If you were black you could be a policeman or a fireman, but not police chief or fire chief. You would have to sit in the balconies of the theaters. You could be a lawyer or a doctor or a minister or a porter.
If you were white and had a fancy title or owned a business, you might live on Ninth Street or on Adams.
If you lived in Hollywood, you might be raising flowers or fruits.
If you lived in the San Fernando Valley, you
definitely would be raising something or growing something or tending to some kind of animal.
If you spoke Spanish in your home, you would be called a cholo.
A cop could arrest you on suspicion and then try to figure out what to charge you with.
You could be arrested for speaking to a crowd without a permit.
You might be treated with radium and milk for breast cancer.
You could walk through the Third Street tunnel and sing songs in harmony with your fellows.
You could take Angels Flight to your mansion on Bunker Hill.
If you were a police officer, you might have to work from 3 a.m. to 6 p.m. You wouldnt have a union or even an officers association.
Likewise, a streetcar conductor would work from 5 a.m. until 11 p.m. (well, on the Fourth of July at least).
You would be surprised that a black man could invent a motorized roller skate. (If you were black, you might not be surprised.)
You could go to see a coon show, or even be in one if you had some blackface makeup (or already had a black face).
The last course of any dinner would be a cigar. Fancy dinners attended by big shots would be closed to women.
You could see Lillian Russell, Sarah Bernhardt or Booker T. Washington in person.
All ladies would be women, but not all women would be ladies.
You would have to buy textbooks for your schoolchild at jam-packed Downtown stores.
The schools would be overcrowded.
If you were a woman you could join a club and try to do good things for your community and your country. You could also work six days a week in a department store.
If you were a married woman, you would always use your husbands name, with Mrs. in front of it.
You would take the Pacific Electric to Venice or Long Beach as often as you could, unless you already lived there.
If you lived in Venice, you could get fifty dollars in gold for having a baby there.
If you lived in San Pedro or Wilmington you might decide being a part of L.A. would be better than watching your trees die of thirst.
You could go to an ostrich farm and see them pluck the ostriches.
It's very unlikely youd be one of the 20 people murdered in a year within the city limits.
Ghouls might dig up your grandparents bones. No, strike that; your grandparents were probably neither born nor buried in Los Angeles unless you were of Mexican (or French) descent.
If you were a teacher, you couldnt get married and keep your job (unless you were a man, and then you probably wouldnt be a teacher; you would be on the School Board).
You would get the flu in December or January, but you would call it the grippe.
If you were Chinese, there would be about 3,000 other people like you living in or near the Plaza, and most white folks would think you odd, dirty and smelly. You would probably be a man and, if so, you would wear your hair in a pigtail. Some would feel you couldnt open a laundry outside of Chinatown. But youd be allowed to march in the Fiesta parade because then youd be considered colorful.
You could have plenty of fun on the boats at Westlake Park even if you were Japanese.
Your local minor-league baseball team would be called the Looloos.
If you were president of the Protective Savings Mutual Building and Loan Association, you would pack heat.
You could get two years in the clink for stealing seven cents from a church poor box.
You could take your whole family swimming in fresh mineral water. (Unless you were a "Negro," a "chink," a "cholo" or a "Jap.")
Youd be shocked that the donor of Griffith Park was charged with trying to murder his wife. But youd be happy that she survived and divorced him.
If you were a man living in Hollywood, chances are you would vote to outlaw the sale of beer and wine except at drug stores. If you were a woman living there, you couldn't vote.
If you lived in Watts, youd be surrounded by nature.
If you died, chances are your final illness would be diagnosed as tuberculosis.