Eric and I spoke and showed photographs from Wilshire Boulevard the other evening at the Jonathan Club in downtown Los Angeles. We were thrilled to take in the building, a 1920s landmark on Figueroa Street. We received a gracious welcome from a large and knowledgeable audience in the club's elegant library, then enjoyed dinner with the Library Committee and their guests. Several members told personal stories of their families' connection to the boulevard, and two women described working as live mannequins at Bullock's Wilshire during the department store's heyday.
It was a new experience to be telling tales on boulevard founder Gaylord Wilshire from the podium while making eye contact with one of his descendants. She is the grand niece of Gaylord, and I think took his personal foilbles in the historical sense they were intended. The biggest laugh came after I described Gaylord as an unlikely figure to have his name plastered across Los Angeles. He was a bit of a dilettante, as well as an infamous medical quack and a socialist, which for this audience was the right set-up for the punch line: Wilshire also was a founder of the Jonathan Club's friendly downtown rival, the California Club.