WIDE-OPEN TOWN: PART III

In 1905, Santa Rosa had two faces – as did its main newspaper, the Press Democrat.

On one side was the sleepy little farm town, where we all met downtown Saturday night to listen to the brass band tootling away on the courthouse balcony as we shopped, and what crime was reported in the newspaper was the likes of an occasional stolen bicycle or attempted burglary. Santa Rosa could’ve been the model for the dear little town in “The Music Man.”

But there was another Santa Rosa that was less sugar and a lot more spice. Downtown was more like a “mining camp” when there were horse races in town, and our small community had a red-light district large enough to service, well, a mining camp. Press Democrat editor Ernest L. Finley never mentioned that face of Santa Rosa, and didn’t like it when the young lions over at the Santa Rosa Republican published an exposé of the illegal gambling scene and the city’s complicity. In the weeks that followed, the saloonkeepers and others who profited from gambling attempted to intimidate or close the Republican through a subscriber and advertiser boycott. While Finley didn’t openly endorse the call to shut down his rival, he used it as an opportunity to ambush the Republican by renewing a petty feud that he had started earlier in 1905.

For twenty years or more, Santa Rosa’s nasty gambling addiction was kept out of the papers by editors like the Press Democrat’s Ernest Finley and the Republican’s Alan Lemmon. Whether they personally liked gambling (or for that matter, prostitution) is unknown; perhaps they kept mum because they feared exactly the sort of backlash from gambling interests as was faced by the new editor and publisher of the Republican. Most likely, though, the editors and town elders saw wide-spread gambling and prostitution as necessary evils to draw visitors. As transcribed in the previous post, the Sacramento Bee wrote an editorial in support of the Republican noting that this was an argument also made in the state capitol: “The same sort of talk has often been heard in Sacramento – that the majority of the residents favored gambling, at least during the State Fair and at all other times when efforts were made to draw crowds to the city.”

And the number of visitors drawn to Santa Rosa and the amount of money gambled could be substantial. Although the PD usually described racetrack attendance in generalities like “a good sized crowd,” the item below shows that even an off-season race could draw five hundred from San Francisco (that there were so many bordellos is no longer surprising) and that side bets at the racetrack could pay around double the $300 that an average American worker made at the time as an annual wage.

Yes, we had Trouble right here in our River City – With a capital ‘T’ and that rhymes with ‘P’ and that stands for ‘ponies’ and ‘prostitution.’ Only we didn’t have a Harold Hill to rouse the town against it until 1905.

EXCITING FINISH IN MANY RACES
Meet Under Auspices of San Francisco Driving Club Proves a Success

The San Francisco Driving Club held a very successful race meet at the track of the Santa Rosa Stock Farm on Sunday afternoon and some excellent racing was witnessed by a large crowd of enthusiastic spectators. The afternoon was not devoid of sensational features and fun.

A special train brought five hundred visitors from San Francisco and a great many more swelled the crowd from this section. Owing to the oncoming of darkness two of the harness races were not finished and it was agreed to complete them and have another meet here next Sunday.

Some good time was made in the free for all, which by the way proved the most interesting event of the afternoon…five horses are entered and each owner puts up $100 apiece and the winner will take the $500 in addition to the club purse…

– Press Democrat, October 17, 1905

1905 “Wide-Open Town” Series
1 2 3 4

Read More

WIDE-OPEN TOWN: PART II

If it wasn’t for that little matter of an earthquake in 1906, the biggest news story in early 20th century Santa Rosa would’ve been the exposé that for at least one week every year, Santa Rosa was a “wide-open town” where police tolerated criminal activity. Even though local children were found alongside professional gamblers from San Francisco at roulette wheels and crap tables in the backrooms of downtown saloons and hotels, illegal gambling was condoned, even encouraged, by the City Council – as well as by Press Democrat editor Ernest L. Finley.

Santa Rosa’s biggest dirty little secret was that the August horse races brought in gamblers from outside Sonoma County, and the town welcomed them by throwing out state and city gambling laws. Local authorities kept an eye out for cheating during the illegal games, sometimes watching too closely; one deputy sheriff was found gambling himself, and a former deputy was running an illegal card game. An unnamed “prominent city official” was also among those betting and inviting his friends to “come up.”

This pattern of lawlessness apparently dated back to the 1880s and was ignored until the 1905 racing season, when the new editor and publisher in charge of the Santa Rosa Republican published the investigative story below. This was a kind of fresh journalism that Santa Rosa had not before seen. The Press Democrat at this time of year read more like The Racing News, reporting all track results, time of each horse, and the purse for each race, complete with racetrack lingo: “Charlie T. was out for the long green,” “Miss Win felt the flag.” Photographs, otherwise rarely found in the PD at this time, were plentiful when it came to horsey portraits during racing week.

Press Democrat editor Finley first tried to downplay the rival paper’s scoop. In a short item seen at right (transcribed below), and next to one of its typical racing blurbs, the PD reported only that “visiting jockeys, race attendants, etc., found small opportunity for indulging in their favorite pastime” because of the crackdown, still ignoring the larger problem that the paper had long ignored. When arrests were made the following day, the PD likewise made not much ado.

Finley apparently didn’t see that he was on the wrong side of history by sanctioning illegality. Reform was in the wind during 1905 and following years, thanks in part to both the progressive leadership of newly-elected President Teddy Roosevelt and the golden age of muckraking journalism. Change was certainly the byword in San Francisco, where a series of Grand Juries and activist groups were starting to root out the corruption of long-time city boss Abe Reuf. Just days after the Santa Rosa Republican exposed illegal gaming in the City of Roses, an August 20 Press Democrat headline reported on the newly-released findings by the San Francisco Grand Jury, “POLICE INVOLVED IN CORRUPTION AND FRAUD.” But the PD’s skimpy article mentioned only “charges of malfeasance and misconduct” without going into detail that the Grand Jury found specifically that elected top SF officials and police were taking kickbacks and bribes from gamblers, whorehouses, and illegal saloons. Too close to home, perhaps?

To be fair, it must be noted that the Santa Rosa Republican likewise ignored local crime. As described in “Wide Open Town Part I,” Santa Rosa had an enormous red-light district for the size of this town, with no fewer than eleven whorehouses just a couple of blocks away from the downtown courthouse. It was mentioned in passing once in an essay published by the Republican, but neither paper crusaded against Sonoma County’s Ground Zero for prostitution.

It took Editorialissimo Finley a week to plan out a campaign, and his counterstrike was both brilliant and deplorable: he completely ignored everything about the illegal gambling issue, instead slamming the Republican for supposedly being ignorant about and/or hostile to vital Sonoma County agricultural issues. Distract and demonize: Finley’s 1905 Press Democrat was the Fox News of its day – petty, mean, vindictive, and wrong.

Finley blasted away with charges that the Republican was trying to “force the price of hops downward” by simply printing bonafide market reports. The Republican foolishly defended itself, which gave the Press Democrat even more ammo. The Republican editor should have known better; this incident was an almost exact replay of the opening salvo of the newspaper feud of 1905, when the PD misquoted Luther Burbank, the Republican corrected the error, and the two papers ended up in a silly squabble over whether Burbank was “chagrined” or not.

But this time around the dance floor, the Press Democrat brought friends with sharp elbows. “This afternoon the Republican learned that a petition was being circulated among the merchants of the community asking that those who are advertisers with the Republican agree to discontinue their patronage, because of the stand that this paper has taken in the matter of printing the facts about the gambling games,” the Republican noted in the issue following their exposé. A couple of days later, they noted that Frank Brown of the Oberon Saloon was leading a boycott of the Republican, followed by a smug little editorial note in the Press Democrat: “Santa Rosa should have a big street fair or something of the kind this year. Who will take the contract to get out and raise the necessary funds?” Promoting that upcoming street fair was none other than Frank Brown, who stayed true to his words and took out no advertisements in the Santa Rosa Republican. This exhibition of pique ended when the carnival arrived, and discovered that it wasn’t being promoted at all in one of the town’s newspapers.

And with that, the battle lines were drawn. Finley began calling the rival paper the “Evening Fakir,” which he would continue to use until the earthquake. The Republican took to calling the Press Democrat the “Morning Screamer.”


ILLEGAL GAMES WERE RUNNING IN SANTA ROSA LAST NIGHT
DEPUTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY THOMPSON ORDERS THEM CLOSED

For several weeks it has been known that preparations were quietly going on for the running of gambling games during the races here this week. Gambling was done last night in at least five places in town. Today, after the Chief of Police and Sheriff had stated that they did not feel called upon to interfere, the facts in the case were presented to the District Attorney. At noon Deputy Rolfe Thompson issued an order directing the peace officers to enfoce the law. Whether the illegal gamess will close remains to be seen.

The “Tiger” was loose in Santa Rosa last night.

Gambling games, prohibited not only by the State law but by city ordinances, were in full blast in at least five places in the city and no effort was made by the authorities to stop them.

In fact the games were even patronized by a deputy sheriff and at one of them a prominent city official was playing and inviting his friends to “come up.”

While the games had hardly settled down to the kind of play that is usually seen in places where the “lid” is off, it was tolerably brisk, the patronage good and the operators took in a nice pile of coin.

An investigation made by the Republican during the evening disclosed scenes down town that resembled in miniature those in mining camps where gambling is the only diversion and amusement of the men.

Faro, roulette, craps and klondike were the games that were being run and they were not only patronized by the visitors from San Francisco, but by many residents of Santa Rosa.

There may have been games in progress elsewhere during the night, but those that were found in full blast were at the Occidental Hotel on Fourth street, at the Grand Hotel, corner of Third and Main streets, and at the Palace Saloon at the corners of Third and Main streets.

FARO AND ROULETTE.

At the Occidental Hotel there were four different games running. These were klondike, craps, roulette and faro. The klondike games was in the room where the bar is located. It was partly screened from view by a large curtain of calico-like stuff. The other three games were operated in the little room off the bar where cards are usually played.

It was in this room that the deputy sheriff already alluded to “bucked the tiger” and ventured some of the coin he earns by preserving law and order in the Imperial County of Sonoma. He took a spin at roulette, which was presided over by a man who might have been fifty or thereabouts, but who seemed an expert at making the wheel go around. On leaving the roulette game the deputy sheriff went to the klondike game, which was presided over by a man who, unless his appointment has recently been revoked, was also a deputy sheriff for the County of Sonoma. It is understood that the deputy was out under orders from the Sheriff to see that no “crooked” work was done.

BUCKING TIGER.

While the roulette wheel had a fair share of patronage it was apparently not so attractive to the men, young and old, as were the craps and faro games. Around these tables were the sons of some of the best people in Santa Rosa–parents who, doubtless, had not the slightest suspicion that their boys were witnessing the seductive games that the law has seen fit to prohibit for the good of society. Some of the boys ventured a little bit of money and most of them lost. But of course they were being initiated in the art of “bucking the tiger” and it was to be expected that they would have to pay for their experience.

Among these young men were those who hold positions of trust in business and official life here in Santa Rosa, and it is understood that one lost all the coin he had although, according to his own admissions, he had overdrawn his bank account.

MORE GAMES.

Across the street at the Oberon there were two games in operation with a piano player to help the sport along and make harmony with the click of the dice. Here, too, the games were hidden from public view by the use of a curtain which reached to the ceiling. Behind a klondike outfit and a crap game were in full blast. Patronage was good but, possibly, not so liberal as it was at the Occidental.

Another hotel–the Grand–had a klondike table going in the card room to the rear of the bar. The patronage here was somewhat limited, although the “tiger” was doubtless as easy to buck as it was elsewhere in the city.

On the opposite corner in the Palace Saloon another klondike game was going.

Further down Main street at 103, in the Senate Saloon, still another klondike game was to be seen, and the operator lazily counted his coin, as he pondered how much larger a crowd he would probably have had were he located on Fourth street.

OFFICERS IN EVIDENCE.

All during the evening the city’s police officers were in evidence, and there is reason to believe that they were just a bit disturbed at the situation. Frequent conferences were held and there was much riding up and down on wheels as if they were looking for someone, but so far as is known the games were not molested.

The Republican has been informed that heretofore when there have been races at the track that the “lid” has been taken off and that gambling was winked at by the officials. Just why this was so the Republican is not informed. Other communities enforce the law and there is apparently no valid reason why the “tiger” should have swing in this city.

The law on the subject is too plain to be misunderstood or overlooked. Both the State and the city have laws on the subject. For the benefit of those who may not be familiar with them the Republican prints herewith quotations from State as well as city ordinances.

[..]

SEVERSON PASSES BUCK.

Chief of Police Severson was seen this morning and asked in regard to the games that were running last night. He said that he knew the games always ran during the race meets and that while they were prohibited by law he had heretofore received instructions from the Council to “keep things down” the best we could and prevent any crooked games. “I am powerless to do anything if the Council will not back me up,” said Severson. “Two years ago I made an arrest and went to considerable expense but the Council would not allow the bill and I was out $58. I do not understand that things are any different now. If I hear that any more crooked games are being run the men who operate them will be pinched. Anyhow it is up to the Sheriff. I take my orders from him in the last resort and he ought to enforce the state law if it is being broken and the people do not like it. My policy will be to do the best I can under the circumstances unless I receive instructions to close up the games.”

GRACE ALSO PASSES.

Sheriff Grace was also seen. He made the same statement that Severson had made – that it had been the custom to hold things down so that while the games were allowed to operate nothing but games he called “square” would be countenanced. The Sheriff thought that he was doing his duty under the circumstances, for it was only following custom which permitted more latitude in town during the week that the races were here. Said he when it was suggested that the state law was specific upon the subject: “I don’t propose to stand for any crooked games. In order to do this I had Gist out last night with three others to wath the games and see that they were being run on the “square.” If they are to be closed down it is up to the District Attorney. He is the man to act. You know I am not a candidate for re-election, and I think the orders should come from the office up stairs.”

THOMPSON SPEAKS OUT.

District Attorney Pond is out of town enjoying his vacation, but in his absence Deputy Rolfe Thompson is in charge of the office. When the matter was broached to Mr. Thompson he said at once that if there were violations of the law the District Attorney’s office would do all in its power to stop them. Accordingly he looked up the law, and after an investigation into the facts decided that his office would at once make a move to shut up the game. His plan was to instruct the peace officers of the county to do their duty and close the games.

ENCOURAGE CLEAN SPORT

In protesting against the continuance of gambling in Santa Rosa the Republican wishes it to be distinctly understood that the policy of this paper is for all legitimate sporting enterprise. The raising and breeding of fine horses is not only one of the most important industries in the county, but is one of the most important in the state as well. And speed contests between high-bred animals on a fine track are things that make the blood tingle in the veins of every true American. And the industry ought to be encouraged in every possible manner.

But it is assumed that it is no more necessary for the present races at the Santa Rosa track to be accompanied by the legally prohibited gambling games that it is in other places where the law is obeyed and enforced. The papers are full of instances where gambling has worked ruin to many bright, promising men and boys, and so thoughtul of society is the law that it has put strict prohibitions on the statute books.

OFFICERS INSTRUCTED TO CLOSE UP ALL GAMES

About noon Deputy District Attorney Thompson announced that he had been in communication with Mr. Pond over the telephone at Healdsburg and that the latter had said to go ahead and do what the situation demanded. “Mr. Pond also told me to notify the peace officers to enforce the law and to say that if they did not comply that actions would be brought against them for not performing their sworn duties,” said Mr. Thompson.

“Acting upon these instructions I at once told Chief of Police Severson to close up all games he found operating. Mr. Severson said he would do so and I understand that he so informed his men. I made an effort to get at the Sheriff but he was closeted at the time. However, I shall see him later and say to him what I told the Chief of Police.”

The Deputy District Attorney also caused to be published the notice which appears in larger type on this page [DEPUTY ROLFE THOMPSON ORDERS LAW ENFORCED…]. He said that he hoped he would not be compelled to take any further steps, but that evidence had been and was being gathered and that if the games continued to run that prosecutions would result.

P. H. QUINN MAKES STATEMENT.

P.H. Quinn of the Occidental Hotel was interviewed in connection with the games. He declared in the most emphatic trms that he had nothing personally to do with the operations of the games. Mr. Quinn said: “I do not believe in gambling. I think the games do no good, and the only reason that we tolerated them in the house because it was represented to us that somebody in authority had given permission for the games to be run during this week. At any other time we do not permit anything of the kind on the premises. We permitted certain parties to use the hotel only this week and if the authorities want the games closed they will have our co-operation. It seems that those who subscribed the money to bring the races here felt that in the operation of the games that they would find a way to get their money back.”

– Santa Rosa Republican, August 16, 1905
THREE ARRESTS MADE FOR CONDUCTING GAMBLING GAMES
Warning Issued by Deputy District Attorney Rolfe Thompson Closes up Most of Places

Walter Farley, Lous Guesa and Deputy Sheriff Bob Garner were arrested this morning on complaints sworn to charging them with gambling, running a percentage and banking game known as klondike.

Despite the warnings given the men yesterday by Chief of Police Severson these men saw fit to violate the law and conducted a gambling game last night at the Oberon Saloon. Each of the men was found conducting a game, and warrants were sworn to this morning on which they were arrested. They were notified to be at Justice Atchinson’s court room this afternoon at 2 o’clock.

There was no attempt to disguise the fact that gambling was being carried on in the saloon last evening. Dozens of persons were about the gaming tables.

The crowd surrounding the table included sons of some prominent families of the City of Roses, who were being given a rudimentary education in the seductive pastime of gambling.

Under orders from Chief of Police Severson his officers went into all the saloons last evening and inspected them for games.

So far as is known the Oberon was the only place which did not comply with the order of the District Attorney. The Occidental Hotel, true to the statement made by P.H. Quinn, closed up the games.

This afternoon the three men against whom complaints were issued appeared before Justice A. J. Atchinson through their attorney, Joseph P. Berry. They took advantage of the statutes, which provides that they may have two days in which to be arraigned and enter their pleas.

District Attorney Thompson has announced that these men will be arrested again if caught conducting games tonight or at any other time, and that any others caught gambling will also be dealt with according to the law.

ATTEMPTED BOYCOTT.

This afternoon the Republican learned that a petition was being circulated among the merchants of the community asking that those who are advertisers with the Republican agree to discontinue their patronage, because of the stand that this paper has taken in the matter of printing the facts about the gambling games.

– Santa Rosa Republican, August 17, 1905
“CUSTOM” HAS BEEN VIOLATED.

The gamblers, the backers of the illegal games and some others who feel their business and political interests are involved with the men who own the “layouts” are exceedingly wroth with the Republican because it has had the unparalleled audacity to publish the facts, to point out the very stringent provisions of the law against gaming and in doing so, to disturb the “custom” of twenty or more years’ standing and place the responsibility where it belongs. In their heat at the stand this paper has taken, those who feel injured have proclaimed that the Republican is opposed to saloons, that they have more money than the publishers of the Republican, that they will “put the paper out of business” and that all kinds of “discipline” will be administered in copious doses.

In discussing the statements thus made to obscure the real issue, the Republican wishes to say that it does not for one instant believe that the community sentiment of Santa Rosa is for gambling – open or secret – nor that its residents acquiesce in the “custom” prevailing in previous years. It believes that had the matter been brought to an issue at any time in the past, public sentiment would have been unmistakable. It is so now. The great majority of people in this city are glad that the “custom” of “taking off the lid” during racing meets or other gatherings has been fractured and that in future illegal gaming will not be “winked at.”

The assertion that The Republican is opposed to race meets is puerile and untrue. This paper has given freely of its space to encourage the present meet and will do so again. It is, however, opposed to the proposition that a successful meet can only be had by throwing open the town to the gamblers and ignoring the plain provisions of a most stringent law…

The Republican has no quarrel with saloon men as a class. Under the law, a man has as much right to deal in wet goods as in dry goods. But because the law gives a man license to conduct a saloon and protects him in that right is all the more reason why he should endeavor to abide by the law, which forbids in the strongest terms the countenancing of gambling, even though it has been the “custom” for time out of mind.

As to the other remarks or threats, The Republican will blushingly admit that the parties who feel they have a right to be aggrieved possess “more money” than its publishers. It congratulates them on their opulence, merely suggesting that with so much of the world’s goods it woould seem unnecessary that their store of gold should be added to by the adoption of questionable methods.

As to the threat made to “put the paper out of business,” The Republican inclines to the belief that the persons responsible for the statement will think better of it.

– Santa Rosa Republican editorial, August 17, 1905

THE LID WAS OFF, BUT NOT FOR LONG
PART OF USUAL RACE WEEK PROGRAM CUT OUT BY ORDER OF DISTRICT ATTORNEY
Vistiting Jockeys and Race Attendants Will Not Indulge in Their Favorite Pastime This Week to Any Great Extent

The “lid” was off Tuesday night and in several places the gambling that usually forms a regular part of the race week program was indulged in. But on Wednesday notice was sent out from the District Attorney’s office to the effect that no further indulgence in games of chance would be permitted, and last night the lid was back in its accustomed place, and the visiting jockeys, race attendants, etc., found small opportunity for indulging in their favorite pastime. At one Fourth street resort no attention was paid to the notification, and late last night a Press Democrat representative was informed by authorities that a charge would be filed against its proprietors this morning for failing to comply with the law against conducting games of chance.

– Press Democrat, August 17, 1905

Boycott Against the Republican Gains One Admitted Convert

They boycott against the Republican instituted by Mr. Frank Brown and his friends because this paper printed the facts about the existence of gambling games here apparently does not make the headway immediately that Mr. Brown hoped it would.

During the past twenty-four hours just one man stopped his paper and he was in the saloon business and probably listened to Brown’s specious arguments that the Republican was a “temperance” paper…in certain quarters it was reported with great glee that over two hundred subscribers of the paper had shown their very great displeasure by stopping the paper…

– Santa Rosa Republican, August 19, 1905

THE OPEN VS. THE CLOSED TOWN

The small coterie of gambers and their friends who are opposing the efforts of the District Attorney to enforce the law of the state and are also attempting to boycott the Republican for printing the facts concerning the illegal games are resorting to the argument that the closing down of the games will be a detriment to the city’s business interests…

…What the banker and the merchant and the real estate man all seek is new families who will make their homes in the community and spend their earnings among the store-keepers, put savings in the banks, and buy property to improve.

Touts, gamblers and sure-thing men do not do this. In fact they are a menace to the large property owner, who, least of all, wants anything to happen that will depreciate values… it is just as much to the interests of the ordinary saloonkeeper to keep out gamblers as it is to the interests of the grocer, the hardware man, or the butcher.

– Santa Rosa Republican editorial, August 19, 1905

WHAT THE THUNDERER THINKS ABOUT GAMBLING IN SANTA ROSA
(Editorial in Sacramento Bee, August 21.)

Because the Santa Rosa Republican has had the courage to take a firm stand against gambling in that town, and to publish the facts regarding violations of the laws against gambling, a number of saloon men and other persons have undertaken to boycott the paper by withdrawing their advertisements. The Republican is by no means cowed by this contemptible effort to prevent it from doing its duty, but, on the contrary, is making a plucky fight, not only against the gamblers but also against those who are aiding and abetting them in their impudent defiance of the law.

[..]

The same sort of talk has often been heard in Sacramento – that the majority of the residents favored gambling, at least during the State Fair and at all other times when efforts were made to draw crowds to the city. But the truth is that by far the great majority of the residents of Sacramento, and doubtless of Santa Rosa also, are strongly opposed to gambling, and rightly believe it to be one of the worst of evils. No community can afford to stand for open disregard and defiance of laws against gambling.

The Republican should profit by this nasty boycott. If Santa Rosa deserves a fearless and honest newspaper, the great majority of her business men and other residents will stand by this exponent of law and order, and show by liberal use of its advertising columns that they are in sympathy with the firm stand it has taken for the right.

– Santa Rosa Republican, August 23, 1905

HARDLY PROFESSIONAL

The Sacramento Bee, which usually “fights fair,” prints a paragraph from these columns in an effort to make it appear that the increased attendance noted at last week’s race meeting was due to the suppression of gambling, carefully cutting out all reference to what we advanced as the probable reasons for the said increase, namely the improved hotel accommodations, which now makes a visit to Santa Rosa a pleasure, and the recent completion of the new electric road, which puts a large territory naturally tributary to this city in close touch with Santa Rosa and its social life. As a matter of fact, the suppression of gambling here during race week, no matter how salutary otherwise, had no effect upon the attendance at the meeting one way or the other. Nothing was done towards the suppression until after all who intended coming here for the week had arrived and taken up their quarters…

– Press Democrat editorial, August 25, 1905

IS IT IGNORANCE, OR WHAT?

The determined efforts that have apparently been put forth by the Evening Republican during the past few months to force the price of hops downward has occasioned considerable comment among hop growers, who have heretofore been in the habit of seeing the local papers stand up and endeavor to protect the county’s crop interests instead of injuring them. Whether the Republican’s course has been prompted by any motive which do not appear upon the surface, or whether it has simply been the result of ignorance, as was the case in its recent attempt to introduce the codlin moth here “for the benefit of the fruit growers,” we are unable to say. The fact remains, however, that in constantly circulating erroneous reports regarding short crops and low prices in other places its publishers have been injuring rather than benefiting one of the principal interests of the county. And the public generally is fully appreciative of the fact. When the astute gentlemen now presiding over the destinies of our esteemed contemporary have been longer in authority, they may be both wiser and more appreciative of the responsibility that attaches to such positions. In the meanwhile they will find out, if they do not know it already, that interested parties are always ready to supply all the “bear hop copy,” that anybody will print gratuiously; also that some of these people are occasionally willing to pay liberally for having such matter printed., if necessary; and also, again, that we farmers are not always as great fools as we may look.

– Press Democrat editorial, August 25, 1905

Santa Rosa should have a big street fair or something of the kind this year. Who will take the contract to get out and raise the necessary funds?

– Press Democrat editorial, August 25, 1905

IS THE PEE-DEE FOR A WIDE-OPEN TOWN, OR WHAT?

It is really amusing to note the twistings and turnings of the Pee-Dee, the gamblers’ friend and apologist, in its efforts to avoid discussing the question of illegal gambling in Santa Rosa. Those who have watched the progress of matters, have not, however, been surprised at its attempts to belittle the movement for a clean town and to minimize the flagrant infraction of the laws. The reply of the gamblers’ friend this morning to The Republican’s editorial of yesterday leaves no matter just where it was. The Pee-Dee makes much of the hop question, which it precipitated in order to get away from the gambling matter. But the people of Santa Rosa, who are interested a great deal more in having gambling suppressed than in newspaper bickerings, would be both pleased and astonished to hear from the Pee-Dee on whether it believes in a wide-open town or in one known to be opposed to law-breaking…the Pee-Dee’s dead silence is that it is either a believer in a wide-open town, regardless of the laws and the welfare of the community, or that it dares not criticize those who are responsible for the breaking of those laws.

– Santa Rosa Republican editorial, August 26, 1905

The feeble efforts of the Pee-Dee. the gambler’s friend, to make it appear that the Republican’s hop reports are published in the interests of the “bears,” have greated much wonderment, for when it is all simmered down the Pee-Dee really has said nothing but what has been completely disproved by the actual market conditions….Sputtering and fuming and misrepresentations on the part of the Pee-Dee, which is anxious not to admit that the real issue before the people is one of whether or not Santa Rosa shall be an open town, will not help the gamblers any, nor the Pee-Dee either, for that matter.

– Santa Rosa Republican editorial, August 26, 1905

THE REPUBLICAN AND THE HOP SITUATION

The Republican of Friday evening devotes two full columns to an attempt to answer the Press Democrat’s charges regarding the manner in which it has been handling hop reports lately, but its efforts remind one of a fourth-rate juggler trying to keep three balls in the air at the same time. Between its very evident desire to keep itself and its affairs before the public, its attempt to create political capitalout of a matter that has no connection with the case whatever and its effort to divert attention as far as possible from the freal issue, the exhibition is anything but a success.

As a matter of fact, the Republican for some time has been publishing hop news furnished by dealers whose interests lie in seeing this year’s crop sell for a low price…in view of the amusing spectacle the paper has made of itself in other ways since coming under its present management and trying to pose as the only real friend of the farming element that ever happened, the former is perhaps the case. Only a few months ago the Republican published a most entertaining article telling how it had been planned to introduce codlin moths into Sonoma county “for the benefit of the fruit growers,” and other breaks almost as bad have been of frequent occurrence since.

[..]

– Press Democrat editorial, August 26, 1905

THE PEE-DEE MUST HAVE BEEN “DOZING”

[Excerpt of an Aug. 31 Press Democrat item on hop prices in Portland]

Wow. Great Caesar. The Pee-Dee is bearing [i.e. not being bullish -J.E.] the hop market. Just look at the above, published in this morning’s issue of that great family journal. Take notice, growers, for the Pee-Dee is either ignorant or is purposely bearing the market to the harm of the growers. Of course, it may be that to print such matter on the hop situation this week in the Pee-Dee is not as bad as publishing the same kind of information the week previous in the Republican, bit it is rather amusing, just the same, to note how the Pee-Dee, the gamblers’ friend, acknowledges the facts…

– Santa Rosa Republican editorial, September 1, 1905

An Example of How Boycotts Oftentimes Act as Boomerangs

It is not often that the Republican has occasion to parade its business before the public. But once in a while there arises a case where it seems necessary. Such a occasion has come now in connection with the visit to Santa Rosa last week of the Southern Carnival Company.

It will be remembered that some time before the company came to town Mr. Frank Brown of the Oberon Saloon appeared before the Council in the guise of a friend only who had no personal interest in the shows, secured from the Council permission for the carnival to use some of the main business streets of the city for the payment of a $50 license for the entire week.

Subsequently it transpired that the carnival company and Mr. Brown had a deal under which Mr. Brown was to handle the advertising of the carnival and also share in some manner in the profits of the affair while it was here. At least this is the story told by two of Mr. Reiss’ representatives.

So far so good. Mr. Brown harbors a grudge against the Republican and, accordingly, when it came around to the matter of placing newspaper advertising, did not put any in the Republican thinking that he was having a splendid time playing even for the expose made by this paper of the gambling games he operated during race week.

Things ran along till the Monday of the week that the carnival was to open. Mr. Reis arrived here from Woodland and discovered that he had had no advertising in the Republican. He naturally made a few inquiries and learned that in order to vent a petty spite of his own Mr. Brown had deprived the carnival company of considerably [sic] publicity it stood in need of in order to reach the many residents of Sonoma County who do not take Mr. Brown’s favorite sheet, the Morning Screamer.

It was then that Mr. Reis made his way to the Republican office and asked what arrangements he could make to advertise the carnival for the remainder of the week. He was informed of the rates and closed a contract for a certain number of lines of reading notices at so much a line.

It may be interesting for the Morning Screamer to know that Mr. Reis declared he would attend to his own advertising next time, for he admitted that the attendance had been materially lessened by Mr. Brown’s trick. And should Mr. Brown wish to see a duplicate of the contract made by Mr. Reis that document may be inspected at the Republican office.

If this situation affords the Screamer any comfort in its silly campaign against the members of the Good Government League the Republican is satisfied.

– Santa Rosa Republican, September 27, 1905

1905 “Wide-Open Town” Series
1 2 3 4

Read More