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Venice Update

News of Venice, CA and Marina del Rey CA

Springer Comes Out With Book Two — The History of Venice of America Series


Dr. Arnold Springer shows the cover of his book History of Venice of America Series, Book Number Two. Everyone knows him as “Arnold” or “Springer.”

Note:  Sue Kaplan was asked to review Arnold’s book for the Venice Update.  Sue Kaplan, a Venetian of over 20 years, graduated from UCLA with a master’s in library science focusing on Special Collections and the History of the Book. She has worked at the Beverly Hills Public Library, the Getty Research Center and the UCLA Special Collections. Currently she is an activist, and has a letterpress studio, The Garlow Studio, where she designs and hand prints the old-fashioned way.

Note:  This is being published on the eve of Venice’s 114th Birthday, 4 July 1905.

By Sue Kaplan

(3 July 2019) Arnold Springer. The History Of Venice of America Series, Book Number Two: Materials for the Popular History of Venice, California 1850-1939.

Arnold Springer has done it again. Book 2, his continuing documentation of the history of Venice, has been published. Like the previous two volumes on the building of the canals and the annexation of Venice to the City of Los Angeles, history is played out right before our very eyes.

Dr Arnold Springer, a longtime resident of Venice and activist, and retired professor of Russian literature at California State University Long Beach always recognized the importance of Venice and that it is deserving of more research into its founding and development. The book’s 510 pages are filled with the colorful moments – testaments to Abbot Kinney’s skill and persistence to see his vision fulfilled, the founding of our Venice of America.

It is an oversize folio with four columns to pack all of the references from local newspapers primarily the Venice Vanguard and the Outlook and also the Los Angeles Times and the Los Angeles Herald. (for complete list, see p. 243) There are secondary sources included and information not to be found anywhere else.

Full of illustrations of early scenes, portraits of important personages and welcomed newly published official financial records and election results. Also welcomed is his catalogues of photographic material and where they can be found. A list of newspapers and secondary sources is tucked in throughout the book.

The book is divided into 11 volumes, all arranged chronologically. At the end of each section are the illustrative material and a “Gloss” containing relevant materials to add to our understanding of the specific area and to bring it up to the twentieth century.

How wise of Dr Springer to also include early Santa Monica, the Ballona and Playa del Rey, and Sawtelle (now Palms) communities. He presents the development of south Santa Monica and Ocean Park in their own separate sections. We can read and feel Abbot Kinney’s disappointments and frustrations with the city of Santa Monica, thwarting his every step to realize his dream. All to the good because if they had supported him, we would not have had our Venice.

The special cultural events and amusements each have their own sections. Appearances of noted celebrities, artists living and working in Venice, and attractions, sporting events and venues are recounted in “Amusements,” and “Arts.”

In “Curiosities,” you will find all sorts of peculiar and odd notices. Among them, those on nude bathing, the many charlatans trying to make a buck at the expense of the people, and a couple who were arrested for drinking every last drop of all the booze that was available in the markets. Prohibition brought its problems to Venice; there are many notices of arrests of people drinking and selling alcohol during the 1920s. And it wouldn’t be Venice without all the gory details of deaths, shootings and crime found throughout and gathered in volume 11, “Vice.”

We can expect forthcoming volumes to emphasize sources on agriculture, aviation, individuals, oil, politics and infrastructure, among others. The final book will include needed resources on our ethnographic diversity and materials for a biography of Abbot Kinney.

This is maybe not the book you read cover to cover, but if you do, you will find riches like this:

“Venice has really bad postal service but it is not the fault of the local postmaster. The staff is too small, the quarters cramped, and general delivery cannot handle all the customers. Sometimes there are over 100 people waiting in line for service” (Vanguard, July 8, 1912, Curiosities, p. 417)

And nothing can express the free-wheeling openness of Venice better than Dr Springer’s choice quote from Abbot Kinney: “… Before you put that question regarding the next meeting please remember: Every town, like every person, has spirit, and if we haven’t that spirit, it is for us to create that spirit.” (rear inner cover)

It is Dr Springer’s goal and hope that his work of over 30 years will spread that spirit to all and inspire others to write the narrative history of Venice. Lack of documentary resources has long been the impediment to serious scholarship. Because of Dr Springer’s persistence and diligence, there are no longer any more excuses.

This is an achievement in historical reference works and a work of love. I can’t wait for the next volumes in Dr Arnold Springer’s heroic work.

Books are available through the Ulan Bator Foundation by the author. $75 with a check made out to the foundation to Ulan Bator Foundation, Box 3059, Venice, CA 90294 with the notation: For Book 2, Popular History of Venice. Arnold will mail it to you with free shipping as his way of saying thanks.  The book is a limited edition of 1000 copies.

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