Thursday, December 4, 2008
Scott Is Feted on Occasion of His 90th Birthday
By ROGER M. GRACE
Ninety candles were ablaze on a birthday cake. It was July 16, 1957, and more than 1,000 persons were crammed into the Biltmore Bowl to pay tribute to a feisty man who had fought many a good battle, and who that day gained his stripes as a nonagenarian.
The name of “Joseph Scott” was inscribed on numerous scrolls and plaques presented by government officials. The next morning’s edition of the Los Angeles Times recites:
“There was a twinkle in the elderly man’s eye as a tear trembled on each leathery cheek as a long line of dignitaries paraded past his chair to offer congratulations.”
The governor of California, Goodwin J. Knight, a steadfast friend and admirer of the honoree, was there. To the man who had handed him his elementary school diploma, he handed a congratulatory scroll on behalf of the State of California.
The one presented on behalf of the city by Mayor Norris Poulson said: “Throughout the years, his robust frame, agile mind, golden eloquence, decisive action and articulate nobility of purpose have been dedicated to the rule of righteousness.”
A scroll bearing the signatures of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Vice President Richard M. Nixon, Chief Justice Earl Warren, Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn, and former Presidents Harry S Truman and Herbert Hoover was bestowed on Scott by Los Angeles County Supervisor Warren Dorn.
An Associated Press wirephoto showing Hoover as he was about to sign a scroll in tribute to Scott was transmitted to newspapers nine days before the birthday celebration from Independence, Missouri. It had been Scott who, at the Republican Convention in 1932, placed Hoover, then president, in nomination for reelection.
The scroll was one of two Hoover that signed that day in 1957. Dorn and singer Phil Regan were in Independence for the dedication of the Truman Museum, and busied themselves gathering signatures of political notables. Foolishly, they left the scroll unattended while Warren was addressing the crowd of about 10,000, and it was pilfered.
The AP report says:
“At last accounts Regan, armed with a new supply of paper, was still chasing dignitaries frantically. Some of those he most wanted to locate already had scattered. A few had already left town.”
The United Press version mentions U.S. Sen. Lyndon Johnson, D-Texas, as one who had, by then, flown back to Washington. (The future president was Senate majority leader.)
Somewhere, there was, and perhaps is, the purloined scroll, the monetary value of which, if it still exists, has burgeoned with time and with Nixon and Johnson having become presidents.
In its issue the day after the birthday celebration, the Pasadena Star News quotes the emcee, Dorn—a former mayor of Pasadena—as reminding the well-wishers that Pasadena was where the man known as “Mr. Los Angeles” actually dwelled.
The article sets forth highlights of Scott’s record of service in these words:
President and one of the founders of Los Angeles Community Chest; Los Angeles School Board member for 10 years, chairman for five of them; chairman of County Relief Committee during the depression, a difficult job that earned him an award as ‘most useful citizen’ of Los Angeles in 1931; many times chairman of Boys’ Week Committee; first state deputy of Knights of Columbus in 1902, in a vast organizing job that earned him the unofficial title of ‘father’ of the Knights in California.
He has found time, too, for some minor jobs, such as serving as chairman of Los Angeles Draft Board No. 1. And he has taken great pride in some of the off-beat honors he has earned—the coveted Silver Beaver award of Los Angeles Boy Scouts at 86, the ‘Joseph Scott Day’ proclaimed in Los Angeles, the time the Board of Supervisors a little off-key sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to him during their official session, the time he led a grand march with actress Jeanne Crain, the many times he has sat astride Rose Parade floats.
In church work Scott attended and spoke at several International Eucharistic Congresses in Budapest, Buenos Aires, Manila and Chicago. He was made Knight of St. Gregory by Pope Benedict, elevated to Knight Commander by Pope Pius XI, and elevated to the rare honor of Private Chamberlain with cape by Pope Pius XII.
An editorial in the Star News that day says:
“In his profession as an attorney, he has put forth the same unstinted effort whether fighting for a corporation or the right of a junior college student to play football. Yesterday, as he responded to the tributes paid him by speakers, his eyes flashed with the same youthful fire that has characterized his court appearances.”
Copyright 2008, Metropolitan News Company