Before we go back into history for May, let me say that the Biographers International conference in New York City last week was great. It was held at the Roosevelt Hotel (named for Teddy Roosevelt) where I had the opportunity to talk to dozens–hundreds–of others who also write biographies. J. W. Young’s story joined other subjects as varied as Lyndon Johnson, Margaret Fuller, Rachel Carson, Dana Andrews, Frederick Law Olmsted, Sandy Koufax, Clover Adams and so many others. Wish I could read them all.
Roosevelt Hotel Lobby, May, 2013
Our connection, Young’s and mine, earned a mention in The Biographer’s Craft:
“For one BIO member coming to the conference, the Roosevelt Hotel holds special meaning. It is where the subject of her newest book stayed on many occasions. Here are short excerpts from Joan Mickelson’s Joseph W. Young, Jr. and the City Beautiful: A Biography of the Founder of Hollywood, Florida (McFarland & Company) that mention the historic hotel: Joseph W. Young, Jr. was one of the prominent city builders of 1920s Boomtime Florida, having created the city of Hollywood there. He regularly spent time in New York, where he had financial backers. In September, 1926 he and close friends Ralph and Lena Young (no relation) arrived at their shared suite at the Roosevelt Hotel on September 18, 1926, only to learn that their city, Hollywood, had been devastated by a monster hurricane. Desperate to return to Hollywood, J. W. Young left the hotel for several hours, and on return told his friends that he had had a special train made up, and they would leave the next day. Somehow Young had been able to raise $5,000 in cash on a Sunday, to hire the train.
In 1929 Young and his wife Jessie left Hollywood, Florida and moved to New York where they lived in the Roosevelt Hotel. Young had moved his corporate offices to 535 Fifth Avenue. The Youngs remained in the Roosevelt Hotel while J. W. bought and sold property on the projected IND subway line in Queens, and in Old Forge in the Adirondacks. They returned to Hollywood in January, 1934, where J. W. Young died.”
That gave me quite a nice introduction to other writers with more famous subjects.
Now back to the month of May for Hollywood’s history and people.
May, 1905 Twenty years earlier, in May, 1905, when he was 22 and considerably poorer, Joseph Young began his real estate career in Long Beach, California. Having recently married Jessie, he went into the business with one of her Parmley cousins. As Young and Parmley they bought land at the foot of Signal Hill, just to the east of Long Beach proper. They divided the lots, laid out the streets and installed sidewalks, and began to sell. Apparently they did well for in
May 1906 twenty-three-year old Joseph Young was an active and flush member of the Elks Lodge 888 in Long Beach, donating a boat to the building fund.
May 1921 Young has purchased his first square mile of Florida. On May 1, 1921 Young instructed his head of the land survey party to stand at the spot where the Boulevard, therefore the city of Hollywood, would begin.
Tony Mickelson stands at the same spot on Hollywood Boulevard, 55 years later. From Joan Mickelson’ s personal collection.
For the record, the hatless young man in a very similar photo is not Tony Mickelson. So far he has not been identified, but my guess is that he is the photographer Young hired to document every step of building his city. If this is so, then he would be Bobby Yale. Who else would be out in the underbrush at that time with a camera?
Is this photographer Bobby Yale?
Young’s property is bisected by Flagler’s railroad and Fisher’s Dixie Highway and lies between Dania and then unincorporated Hallandale (incidentally, to TV announcers, it’s pronounced HAL-an-dale, not HOLLAN-dale. It was named by Luther Halland and settled by Swedes. Nothing to do with the Netherlands.) Both neighboring towns were farm lands, with Dania in particular given over to growing tomatoes, but Young’s land clearly is nothing by palmetto and jack pines. Nevertheless, the visionary Joseph Young was able to see a hundred-foot-wide boulevard from the water to as far west as the eye could see, ornamented with circles, parks, and grand hotels.
May 1, 1923 A short two years later the underbrush is a city with residents. The first recorded child born in Hollywood was William Sidney Mikel. He was born May 1, 1923 at his parents’ home in the Little Ranches at 24th Avenue and Hollywood Boulevard.
But he was hardly the first child in the city. That same month, according to Virginia TenEick, the first Hollywood troop of Girl Scouts, the “Bob White” troop, was begun with a full two dozen girls. This troop was led by Mrs. F. T. Gardner. That was just the beginning, for a second Girl Scout troop was formed in August. Hollywood Boy Scouting also began in 1923, but I haven’t located the month.
I was a Camp Fire Girl (Wo-hee-lo). Hollywood’s branch of the national organization came to Hollywood in the 1930s. Pauline Watkins was one of the leaders who I remember.
May 2, 1927 Following the devastating September 1926 hurricane the population of Hollywood (and the south Florida coast) dropped precipitously. The city had been incorporated, but was nearly penniless. J. W. Young would shortly lose his remaining property. But the city he created had a strong pull, and a small but determined group of “pioneers” came together to keep the city functioning. (They had their work cut out for them, with the national Depression looming on the horizon.) Maintaining a stimulating quality of life was important to them. Groups of women decided to organize a library. May 2, 1927 is the date of a tea held to mark the formal opening of Hollywood Public Library, which had been organized a month earlier by the Ladies’ Auxiliary of the City Club, under the auspices of the American Association of University Women and the Hollywood News. The tea was held in the Park View Hotel lounge. The speaker was Margret Ann Fife, librarian of the Flagler Library in Miami.
Young’s Hollywood Hotel, later the Park View Hotel, was designed for him by Rubush & Hunter. This handsome building stood on its own island facing Circle Park, where the Publix and other shops are now.
This photo of the hotel’s lobby (perhaps the “lounge”) was included in one of the many salesman’s books Young had prepared and sent around the U.S.
On the first board of the Hollywood Public Library were Mrs. Charles TenEick, Mrs. Forest Wachtstetter, Mrs. Vera Hammerstein, and three others. Read more about the library in Virginia TenEick’s History of Hollywood, pp. 301-302. Mrs. TenEick was first chief librarian with Mrs. Harrold W. Lathrop also serving for a time in that capacity.
To clarify for today’s readers, in 1927 Mrs. Charles TenEick was the former Mary Nunez, while the future Mrs. TenEick was then Virginia (Mrs. Harrold) Lathrop. TenEick himself was Postmaster. Forest Wachstetter was the wife of Guy Wachtstetter, who operated Wachtstetter’s Dairy out west of today’s U.S. 441. Vera Hammerstein, with her husband Clarence, would later build a home at 1520 Polk Street, now on the National Register of Historic Places and managed by the Hollywood Historical Society. Clarence was part owner of Flamingo Groves in Davie.
In 1927, books were donated, and the library was established in the southwest corner of the ground floor of the Morse Arcade. The space was donated by Mr. and Mrs. J. P. Morse who built and owned the arcade.
Morse Arcade is on the left, on the south side of Hollywood Boulevard. Next to it is Central Arcade, built earlier, in 1923. Some have asked what an “arcade” was then. The answer is a sort of early mall, with a variety of rented shops inside along a covered walk. In Hollywood there were dental and law offices upstairs.
The library in the Morse Arcade was operated by volunteers who kept it open six afternoons and two evenings a week.
May 1 1928 Although he was no longer in Hollywood, J. W. Young had not gone out of the real estate business. May first seemed to be a meaningful date for him, for on this date now in 1928 he signed an “indenture of mortgage” for 17,000 acres along First Lake near the town of Old Forge in the New York Adirondack mountains.
Excursion boat on First Lake, about 1930.
Young’s property was just off to the bottom right outside this photo.
Here he built “Hollywood in-the-Hills,” intended as a summer getaway for the folks in Hollywood, Florida. Young was still pulling out all the stops on this project when he died in 1934.
One of the best things about growing up in Hollywood when I did was that we had our own local newspapers. Before the Sun-Tattler, in the 1930s there was The Hollywood Herald, a weekly. Here is a summary of one issue, for the week of
May 4 1934 Page 1: C. P. “Ham” Hammerstein is honored by the Kiwanis club
William Adams is elected Mayor of Hollywood
12-year-old Marion Hopkins wins three first place medals at the AAU swim meet in Palm Beach
Who’s Who in Hollywood: Jack Fanin. First came to Hollywood in 1925 and opened the Hollywood Mortuary
An editorial box notes that Hollywood Incorporated, which owns 24,000 parcels of land, isn’t paying city taxes on the parcels. [This is a decades-long issue.]
Page 3 Social & Club Activities
names those with May birthdays
includes many notes like these: Miss Emmaline Batson has returned to New Hampshire after spending the winter here. Mrs. Gilbert Saunders has gone to Huntsville, Alabama to visit for two weeks. Etc.
Mrs. Guy Wachtstetter entertains the Sinawik [Before the men’s clubs accepted women they had auxiliaries. Sinawik is Kiwanis spelled backwards. Rotarians had Rotary Anns.]
And ads such as: 3-burner electric stove $99.50. At David’s Place, Schlitz beer, 15 cents a bottle [Prohibition had barely been repealed!]
C. B. Smith is running for County Commission.
And so on. I’ll try to mention the other May issues of the Herald before May ends.
May 15 1937 The Youngs’ youngest son, William James, called Billy, marries Marion Whatley, called Babe, in Hollywood. Babe’s mother Helen, from Chicago, had built the beautiful Trianon Hotel at 1955-57 Monroe Street in 1924.
Billy and Babe were the only descendants of Joseph and Jessie Young to settle in Hollywood. They lived with their daughter Patsy at 1500 Adams Street.
Images are from collections of Hollywood Historical Society, William Schaaf, and Joan Mickelson.