May 4, 2021
I received the following email yesterday from one of my readers, Isla Brown.
Isla references one of my earlier blogs in which I posted an article written in the Los Angeles Evening Herald of July 14, 1917, entitled, “Boy Of Nine Chief Soloist At Shrine Holiday Exercises” (See link to that article here.)
(SKH Note: I have taken the liberty to insert minor edits to Isla’s email as well as the below original article that appeared in the 1913 San Francisco Call newspaper.)
There is a similar article to the one about your father that was printed in the San Fransisco Call on September 27th, 1913, with the title: “GIRL GENIUS OF 8 IS PLAYER, COMPOSER, MUSIC PUBLISHER” about a little girl from Oakland —. She was thought to ” claim the distinction of being the youngest musical publisher on the Pacific coast.” The Sacramento Daily Union also printed an article two years later on September 24th, 1916, with the title: “YOUNG PIANIST TO APPEAR HERE—, Ten Year Old, Will Be Presented at Tuesday Clubhouse October 13.” This article describes her as “the youngest pianist on the Pacific coast.” How ironic!
I quote the 1913 article in full:
“__, the diminutive daughter of Mr. and Mrs. James __of Sycamore street, Oakland, may claim the distinction of being the youngest musical publisher on the Pacific Coast. This tiny lass of eight summers has sent a collection of compositions to an eastern publishing house and in the next few months the interesting group of piano numbers which local authorities assert are of exceptional merit will be given to the public. At the present time, several of her musical writings are being used in the classes of one of the music schools of the city.
When other children were conning their A B C’s ___ was dreaming fairy songs in sound and learning to put them in concrete form. Her ear was perfect for tone values and she could lisp the names of each more easily than she could read them. She has grown up with the piano as her plaything and in her small arms is a wonderful power which is unafraid of the most trying of the old masters.
Two years ago ____ played before the Damrosch school in New York and was accorded the honor of being perched on the great stool before the magnificent organ which was the gift of the late John Jacob Astor to the Episcopal church in Rhineback-on-the-Hudson, a signal recognition to the gifts of the 6-year-old girl. When Josef Hoffmann visits the coast this winter she will be given an audience before the world-famous pianist.
But with all her natural talent and the splendid gifts which set her apart from her playmates, the little pianist and composer is a charming, merry-hearted child, devoted to dolls and baseball. She is taught at home with her mother for teacher and companion and Miss Cora Jenkins as her musical supervisor.”
Play below Twilight Zone theme
The 8-year-old child prodigy’s name?
ELIZABETH SHORT, from Oakland, California*
* Eleven years after this article appeared in the newspaper, Elizabeth “Black Dahlia” Short would be born in the East Coast and in 1947, at age twenty-two, would become the torture/murder victim of George Hodel and her body buried near her sister’s home in OAKLAND, California.
THANK YOU ISLA BROWN FOR FORWARDING THE ARTICLE.
And least we forget in 1923, George Hodel Sr. hired famed architect Zelenko to design and built a separate “Tea House” for his young son’s, fifteenth birthday. Though on the same property the young genius private residence had its own separate address: 6511 Short Way.
Elizabeth and Josef married for thirty years.