This has the feel of an overheard barbershop boast, with enthusiastic Mr. Apostolides proclaiming that he has a respected doctor as his “good Greek student,” along with the loan of a fantastic machine that records his voice.

The graphophone was the first major advancement over Edison’s primitive phonograph, invented and developed in the 1880s by Charles Sumner Tainter, an associate of Alexander Graham Bell. (The name “graphophone” was coined as a joke transposition of the word “phonograph,” according to Bell family lore.) The investors in their company, however, thought the future of sound recording lay in recording business correspondence, not music, and research concentrated on making a portable machine that recorded on wax cylinders. With improvements, the same technology would continue to be used by Dictaphone until the 1940s. The full history of Tainter’s graphophone — including the precautions taken to prevent his technology from being stolen by Edison’s spies — is told here.

Although the sound quality was lousy and the volume barely audible, wax cylinder recordings by musical performers such as John Philip Sousa’s Marine Band and “artistic whistler” John Yorke Atlee were favorites; an 1891 survey found one out of three phonographs and graphophones were being used for entertainment. In 1889, entrepeneur Louis T. Glass invented the jukebox using a modified graphophone that would only play after a nickel was inserted (and yes, the slug was apparently invented shortly thereafter). Only a single cylinder was available to be played, and patrons had to stand close to the machine, listening through one of four attached stethoscope-like hearing devices. The nickel-in-the-slot graphophone players continued to be popular through the turn of the century; a jukebox model was available as late as 1898, cost $20.00.*

*Jukeboxes: An American Social History by Kerry Segrave, 2002, pp. 5-8


Em P. Apostolides, the Mendocino street restaurant man, is an ingenious fellow and is never more pleased than when he finds any one who desires to be a Greek student. There is a certain learned medico in Santa Rosa who speaks English, German, French, Spanish, and other languages fluently and is also a good Greek student. The doctor has a graphophone and being desirous of getting the correct pronounciation of some Greek phrases got Mr. Apostolides to make him some records for the graphophone on Thursday so that in his home at night he could master his lessons. The restaurant man has promised to prepare other records for the man of medicine. It is no effort at all for him to talk Greek.

– Press Democrat, February 25, 1905

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MGM could’ve made a 2-reeler based on this incident, with Edgar Kennedy — AKA “Master of the Slow Burn” — playing the soaking-wet policeman badgered into arresting himself for spitting on the sidewalk during a downpour.

The charges against Officer Lindley were dropped the next day, but methinks Fred J. Wiseman didn’t hear the last of this.

The aggrieved Mr. Wiseman later became famous for his love of fast machines. He won third place during the California Grand Prize Race of 1909, which started and finished in Santa Rosa, and in 1911, earned a footnote in history for making the world’s first airmail flight with a hop between Petaluma and Santa Rosa.

A Few Days Ago the Officer Filed a Complaint Against His Accuser For Speeding His Automobile on Fourth Street

Police Officer L. N. Lindley arrested himself on Wednesday afternoon on a complaint sworn to by Fred J. Wiseman, charging him with violating the anti-expectoration ordinance on Fourth street.

It will be remembered that Policeman Lindley filed a complaint against Wiseman at an early hour Sunday morning, charging the latter with speeding along Fourth street at a rate far in excess of that allowed by laws.

Policeman Lindley not only arrested himself but booked the arrest on the register at the police station. The arrest was made without any resistance on the part of the defendant. The hearing will be heard before Judge Bagley this afternoon. It was during the tremendous rainstorm Tuesday night that the alleged offense is said to have occurred.

– Press Democrat, March 30, 1905

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Menu ads like this are treasures for anyone interested in social history, providing vital clues about things like prosperity, class, nutrition, the reliability of transportation, and how well that community was integrated with mainstream America. Almost everything listed here could be found on menus anywhere in the Eastern United States; there are no regional specialties at all. The selection of fresh fruit also reveals rural Santa Rosa had access to any produce on the West Coast, probably via the markets in San Francisco. Eating Hawaiian bananas and Southern California Oranges in early January must have seemed a luxury indeed, and proof positive of great progress.

Several dishes here centered on canned goods, which had no stigma at the time of being a cheap, poor quality substitute; to the contrary, canned food was expensive (spending 10ยข in 1905 for a can of vegetables would be the equivalent of $2.50 today), and prized because cans made available exotic and out-of-season items — pity those who had to make do with only fresh, local, ingredients. The asparagus was surely from a can, and “Shaker Green Corn” was the name for canned young (green) corn. This is also very much a traditional Victorian America menu: Canned sardines then could be offered with any meal, including tea, eaten on buttered toast or available on the side as a condiment (if the St. Rose was truly a high-class dining establishment, they would have served it in a special sardine dish).

Some dishes are unfamiliar today. “Chow Chow” was a type of relish based on diced green tomatoes and cabbage, but there were many variations, particularly in the Southern U.S. Orange Fritters were just that — slices of an orange battered and deep fried (cherry fritters were also popular). Celery Salad is a throwback to 19th century England and America’s odd fondness for the tasteless sticks (search eBay for “celery vases“); apples, lemon juice, and other items were also sometimes added, but like all of the salads here, celery was probably just chopped, mixed with mayo and served over lettuce.

This menu is also notable for what’s missing. Even though Bodega Bay is just down the road, there’s no Dungeness crab, abalone, or salmon offered, even in one of those ubiquitous salads. No egg dishes, either, despite the city also being next door to Petaluma, egg capitol of the world. And why no wine?

The curiosities here are the “Smothered Sole” and “German Breakfast Cheese,” again both items familiar in the Eastern U.S. As there weren’t many German immigrants in the area, the Limburger-like cheese may have been brought in for manager Spier or another principal. A delicate Eastern Atlantic Ocean fish like sole couldn’t be canned, so it’s a mystery what type of fish would be served in a 1905 California restaurant — presumably, it was well, well, smothered.

Hotel St. Rose

A.E. Chartrand – Prop.
S. G. Spier – – – Mgr.

SOUP – Wing of Turkey, Cream of Clam.
Sour Pickles, Olives, Sweet Pickles, Chow Chow.
FISH – Smothered Sole, Tartar Sauce, French Imported Sardines.
ENTREES – Breast of Chicken on Toast, Butter Sauce, Tenderloin of Beef with Mushrooms, Orange Fritters, Wine Sauce.
BOILED – Ham, with Apple Sauce, Tongue with Young Horseradish.
ROAST – Turkey with Dressing, Cranberry Sauce, Browned Chicken with Green Peas, Canvasback Duck with Baked Apples, Prime Beef.
VEGETABLES – Asparagus, Shaker Green Corn, Mashed Potatoes, Browned Sweet Potatoes.
SALADS – Chicken, Radishes, Celery, Shrimp, Large Oysters with Cracked Ice.
DESSERT – Hot Mince Pie, Pumpkin Pie, Lemon Pie, English Pound Pudding Hard Sauce, Vanilla Ice Cream and Pound Cake.
CHEESE – Edam, Roquefort, German Breakfast, Swiss, American, St. Rose Crackers.
FRUITS – Riverside Oranges, Honolulu Bananas, Choice Oregon Apples, Bartlett Pears, Preserved Peaches, Mixed Nuts with Raisins, Dates.
DRINKS – Coffee, Tea, Chocolate, Cocoa, Milk.
Music from 5:00 to 8:30.

Cor. Fourth and A Streets
Santa Rosa : : : Cal.

– Santa Rosa Republican

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