Tehachapi's Online Community News & Entertainment Guide

Hot Off the Press! TN 1920

The Spirit of Tehachapi

While doing some research at Beale Library back in 1987, a mere 27 years ago, I could not resist copying some events listed in the old 1920 Tehachapi News. The temperatures occasionally skip a day. I searched ahead for February and March. Often people say, "We've never had weather like this in January before." Note the 79 degrees on Jan. 18, 1920. Maybe it's not global warming, after all? We could just say, "Yes, we have."

Mostly though, I read of citizens' lives 94 years ago. Fortunately I jotted down the information on a piece of binder paper and put it in my old files. I'm glad I saved the information. What fun! Miscellaneous information from the Jan. 2, 1920 issue follows:

1 – Woodrow Wilson was President of the United States.

2 – The 14th Census of the U.S. was taken with Mrs. Ferd Snyder as the Census Enumerator. (That's not a typo, Ferd was short for Ferdinand, her husband.) Later on, in the 1950s, their son, Ferd Snyder, Jr. was a Justice of the Peace and Local Registrar. By the way, the population of the United States in 1920 was 105 million. Bakersfield population 18,638. Tehachapi, 458 souls.

3 – Southern Pacific Railroad lands were still available for sale. A switchman working for the S.P. made 64 cents an hour but was paid 94 cents an hour for overtime.

4 – Local parents were disputing that their rights be upheld for NOT having their children vaccinated. This would have been for small pox. They had diphtheria immunization shots then, too. Tetanus and Pertussis (whooping cough) shots soon to follow and combined with Diphtheria. DPT shots.

5 – Bad news was the alfalfa weevil had been a threat to crops the past year, but the good news was the Edison orange groves produced a bumper crop.

6 – The wooden sidewalks in the downtown area were in sad need of repair. The first cement sidewalks were added in 1927. Children today, walking from school, can still read the imprint on the sidewalks saying who had done the job, as many of those 1927 sidewalks are still in place. The city got their money's worth.

7 – They only had seven inches of rain that year but peeking at the later issues, November and December brought heavy snow. Probably getting ready for 1921 which brought over 11 inches of precipitation.

8 – The speed limit was 35 miles per hour. That was a pretty good clip due to the fact that makes of cars included the Model T Ford and other early models. I remember on my dad's car the speedometer only had numbers up to 80. Also, famed car racer Barney Oldfield was the first man to drive a car 60 miles per hour, but that was in 1910. He did make it to 100 mph but that was later in the Indy 500. The motorcycle policemen adopted the saying, "Who do you think you are, Barney Oldfield?" when stopping speeders.

9 – A new elementary school was built. This was the one built before Wells Elementary and after the old two-story frame building located across the tracks. This building was a handsome four-room brick school that cost $27,000 to build. The contractors were Kutzner and Zimmerman. It was torn down in 1935 to make room for Wells, which still stands, but is now used as the headquarters for the Tehachapi Unified School District.

10 – The Hotel Vernon, located on the main street across from the railroad water tower, was run by Mrs. L.E. Weferling. Its advertising stated that it was, "Headquarters for the traveling public." The hotel was to burn down. Mrs. Weferling would later own and manage the Summit Hotel located on Green Street. The Summit and the Clark Hotels stood side by side; both on Green Street. They were separated by a small grove of trees. In their advertisements they both vied for customers with the Clark saying it was the, "Headquarters for tourists" and the Summit holding on to the Hotel Vernon slogan, "Headquarters for the traveling public." The Clark boasted of a dining room operated by a Mrs. E.V. Buhn. Both hotels lasted until the '52 quake.

11 – The Tehachapi City Band (yes, we had a band) was directed by L.C. Modie. This was a band concert type of band that also marched in a parade. Records go back as early as 1914.

12 – American Legion Post 221 was chartered in March of that year. Thomas Downs was the first Commander. In those early days the Mojave and Tehachapi veterans of World War I belonged to the local Post 221. Some years later Mojave chartered their own post. The Legion was an active post and helped serve the 4th of July Free Barbecue that brought scores of out-of-towners to our fair city. The Legion dances were attended by those who enjoyed dancing. The Charleston was popular and the Fox Trot was the latest in dance steps. It was a smooth traveling dance that covered a good bit of the dance floor.

13 – Prohibition would soon be in full swing after the Nineteenth Amendment was passed on Jan. 16, 1920. One of the biggest crime waves resulted with the bootleggers providing what the citizens could not buy legally. Telling the American people that they cannot have that which they think is rightfully theirs has never worked very well!

14 – Women were now voting with the passage of the 20th Amendment in 1919.

What a year!