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
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
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
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
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.
In 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.