Thursday, November 20, 2008
Joseph Scott Hands Diploma to Future Governor
By ROGER M. GRACE
Attorney Joseph Scott arrived one day at the Hobart Blvd. Grammar School located between San Marino Street and Tenth Street, east of Western Avenue. He was president of the Board of Education of the City of Los Angeles, and was there to perform the routine duty of handing out diplomas. The year, as best as I can figure it, was 1911.
One of the youngsters graduating that day would later mention the erstwhile existence of “Tenth Street” at least twice during the early 1960s to his KCOP television viewers. The street was by then known as Olympic Boulevard. Not only was his grammar school located just north of that street, so was his home in the early part of the century, at 919 S. New Hampshire.
More significantly, that youngster, who was headed for high places, would forge a friendship with Scott in later years, and it would be he who would chair the committee to raise funds to erect the eight-foot statue of Scott in front of the Central Courthouse, on the Grand Street side.
That boy was Goodwin J. Knight…who, as a man, was someone for whom my wife and I had great affection. Jo-Ann and I met on May 7, 1965, at an event at which Knight, by then the former governor of California, was the speaker; we soon formed a youth group in support of his anticipated run for the governorship in 1966; in that year, Knight didn’t run, but he did attend our wedding, and—unplanned—pounded out old tunes on the piano during the reception.
Knight and Scott were kindred souls. They were both Republican. They eschewed extremism. They were level-headed, decent, honorable, affable, and bright, gifted with oratorical skills.
Knight, born in Utah Dec. 9, 1896, and Scott, whose debut in the world—to be precise, in England—was on July 16, 1867, were separated in age by nearly three decades. The younger that one is, the more significant a few years difference in age seems to be. Conversely, the older one gets…well, at 63, I consider my high school English teacher, Miss Penney, and her husband, retired Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Kenneth Chotiner, to be not only friends but contemporaries.
In June, 1920, at the Republican National Convention in Chicago, Scott, at 52, was in middle age and young Goodwin, who acted as his errand boy there, was 23.
By March 20, 1935, however, they were scooting closer to becoming contemporaries. A news item of that date in the Los Angeles Times says that Knight and Scott, jointly termed “Republican leaders,” would speak at a “a rally of the G.O.P. to be held at the Los Angeles Breakfast Club” in eight days.
In the decades ahead, events that one of them was at, the other was apt to attend, and they seemed to align themselves with the same organizations. By way of examples:
•Aug. 24, 1937: Knight, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge, was appointed to the executive committee of the Constitution Society of the United States—which opposed communism and labor racketeering—and Scott was designated chairman of the group’s historical committee.
•March 17, 1943: St. Patrick’s Day speakers before the Ancient Order of Hibernians included Scott and Knight. They paid tribute to St. Patrick and promoted the sale of war bonds.
•Sept. 28, 1948: Both were at the head table at a dinner feting Los Angeles Mayor Fletcher Bowron on the occasion of his reaching 10 years in office. By now, Knight was lieutenant governor. Among those who had backed his candidacy in 1946 was Scott.
•Aug. 7, 1950: They were both present at a reunion of alumni of St. Vincent’s College…which, in 1911, had become Loyola University (later to join with Marymount College in 1968). Neither was an alumnus, but Scott, a leading member of the Catholic laity, had served on the advisory board of the institution’s law school, founded in 1920, as did two men who were his fellow tenants of the Wilcox Building when it opened in 1896…and were close friends for decades beyond then…Isidore Dockweiler and J. Wiseman MacDonald.
•May 24, 1951: They were leaders of the committee orchestrating the visit to Los Angeles that day of Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, including a parade in downtown Los Angeles and an appearance at the Hollywood Bowl.
•June 29, 1951: Scott and Knight were speakers at an event at the Ebell Theater marking the 10th anniversary of the death of a Polish pianist and politician, the root cause being support for Poland’s fight for extrication from Soviet Union domination.
•Aug. 14, 1951: Knight was keynote speaker at a dinner at the Biltmore honoring Scott on his 84th birthday.
There will be more about Scott and Knight next week.
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