Welcome to the Friendly
Westwood Village Rotary Club

Meeting Thursday noon at the UCLA Faculty Center

480 Charles E. Young Drive East, Los Angeles, California 90095  USA

How It Came About

By Angus Cavanaugh, First President

When the editor, gifted with much talent and even more spare time, was selected to prepare a history of the West Los Angeles Rotary Club for its Silver Anniversary, I thought the task was practically done. Instead, he has the effrontery to draft all past presidents as assistants to do the work for which he will claim the credit - the customary procedure.

Given a free rein and some imagination, the past presidents could do a remarkable job if it were not for the record kept by factually minded secretaries down through the years.

It is my considered opinion that the first president has a particularly tough task. He is farthest removed, in both space and time, from the sources of information and, what's more, he has to produce a record of nearly a year prior to receiving the charter and a year following the event.

The earliest incident which comes to mind was the arrival in my office at University High School of Charlie Hewes of the Santa Monica Club, Fred Hamilton, a local realtor and Jack Hadley, Governor of the Soldiers' Home. The date, as I recall it, was in December of 1928. My first inkling of what was in the wind came when someone proposed the formation of a Rotary Club. What did I think of the idea?

Anyone familiar with this section of Los Angeles in 1928, would accept my reaction as a normal one. There appeared to be no need, much less a demand, for a Rotary Club. Wide open spaces were features of the landscape. There was no indication of the upheaval which was to occur within a decade. However, we agreed to meet again and, meanwhile, to scout the district for prospective candidates.

Success followed the venture to the extent that a luncheon meeting was held in the High School cafeteria on St. Valentine's Day of 1929 with about ten present.

A temporary organization resulted in the selection of Angus Cavanaugh, President; Jack Hadley, Vice-President; Roy Church, Secretary, and Doc Elliot, Treasurer. Indemnity bonds, to protect the club from possible machinations of the Secretary and Treasurer, were overlooked; but no financial loss occurred.

The regulation against smoking on school grounds made it desirable to hold subsequent meetings in the Woman's Club House, located where the City Hall now stands. With the inauguration of weekly luncheons, visitors from Santa Monica, Los Angeles, Hollywood and West Hollywood clubs gave us encouragement.

The introduction of a new member was like a shot in the arm. Each addition represented a 10 percent growth! The 5 percenters came under subsequent administrators!

As if to add spice to a struggling existence, we had to find a new meeting place. The Woman's Club House was to be moved to make way for the new City Hall. For some time we were known as the peripatetic Club stopping briefly at the Brentwood Golf Club, the Bel-Air Tea Room, the Masonic Temple and finally to delightful quarters in Holmby Hall.

The events and vicissitudes of those days were vividly presented in a Thumbnail History of our Club by the editor of the Independent -- one Floyd Roueche. (Archaeologists have uncovered two copies of that priceless manuscript. Doubtless the contents of this document will be reproduced in the published History of the Club.)

Those were the days of sound money before the eggheads started to scramble our finances. Consequently the system of fines, then in vogue, appears antiquated and ludicrous in comparison with the painful extractions today.

Fines of two-bits or four-bits were common and occasionally a member might find himself on the losing end of a dollar. One fine stands out in my memory for a very good reason -- it was on me. It was engineered by Bert Coe, an official of the Edison Co., and our second president. A settlement for a power line extension was made in my favor for approximately $120.00. Bert Coe brought it to the Club in two checks -- $100 and $20 -- and presented them with much eloquence. He gently hinted that the Club might appreciate a contribution! Nearly everybody had a big laugh as sometimes happens now.

Westwood VillageIn the meantime, the committee on Charter Presentation was busy. The event took place on October 10, 1929, under the auspices of Santa Monica Rotary Club. It was a gala event which taxed the capacity of the dining room of the Miramar. A large delegation attended from the Los Angeles Club.

A special feature of the decorations at the head table was a huge baby doll. After nearly a year of caring for it, the President of the Santa Monica Club was turning over to me the job of filling the nursing bottle and changing the diapers. That job and the Charter were both accepted and another club was on its own.

West Los Angeles Rotary Club thus began its official existence with sixteen Charter Members who can take pride in having a part in the beginning of a Rotary Club which today exceeds the fondest dreams of its pioneers. For the record we list these founder members, some of whom are still active in the club, as the club celebrates its Silver Anniversary: Angus Cavanaugh, Jack Hadley, Roy Church, Doc Elliot, Harry Hale, Glen Munro, Tom Pitts, Bill Beaudry, Marvel Beem, Bert Coe, Clint Foggy, Ray Jones, Floyd Roueche, Frank Ringer, John Sandman, and Edwin Weary.

For a one-page history of Rotary International, click here, or follow this link to more Rotary resources.