Laughing at the Law: Week of June 5th, 1920

Lew Cody

One hundred years ago this week, Grace Kingsley reported on an unusual feature that was part of Lew Cody’s recent real estate deal:

Now it’s Lew Cody who has just bought a place on Morgan Hill in Hollywood, with at least fifteen acres. There is also a cellar. The cost to Mr. Cody was something like $50,000, I understand, and there are those who do say that Mr. Cody paid $20,000 for the place and $30,000 for the cellar, but these are probably jealous souls. Mr. Cody admits that he has lately learned how to make a very particular kind of mint julep, and that he had to have a house to fit the julep.

So the law hadn’t even been in effect for one year, and Prohibition was already being laughed at in a gentle gossip column in a family newspaper. It’s amazing that it stayed in effect for so long!

Cody’s house at 1939 Morgan Place (movie stars could still safely list their address in the City Directory) included stables and a barn, so he could have horses and cows ”if Mr. Cody becomes rural enough in his tastes.” His house isn’t there any more, and hordes of houses have been built on those fifteen acres.

May Allison in Fair and Warmer (1919)

In other illicit activity news, Kingsley had a chat with May Allison about her family:

Miss Allison’s mother suffered a nervous breakdown a few weeks ago. She was sent to the hospital and came home somewhat improved, but not as well as her affectionate daughter thought she should be, so she took her to Coranado, never dreaming of anything so wild as a trip to Tia Juana. But when mother heard that all the picture stars were going over, nothing to do but she must take the trip, too, so over she went, and she had such a good time she didn’t get home until the scandalous hour of 10:30 o’clock. But, Miss Allison reports, her mother’s health has been better ever since.

Kingsley didn’t mention if it was the alcohol or the gambling in what was nicknamed Satan’s Playground that cured Nannie Virginia Wise Allison. Maybe it was both.

The photographer didn’t record their names.

In addition, May Allison had a telegram from her sister Verda Allison Wright who lived in Tennessee; she’d been appointed to be a delegate to the Democratic Convention which was being held in San Francisco June 28th to July 6th. Miss Allison reported that her mother said “I certainly feel as if I’m an up-to-date mother, with one daughter in the movies and the other in politics. Ah, when a daughter is born nowadays, a mother may look at the babe proudly and remark, “Maybe my daughter will be President of the United States some day!”

Oh, sigh. Progress takes such a long time. At least the first step towards a woman president was taken at that convention, when two women were put forward to be the Democratic candidate for president, Laura Clay and Cora Wilson Stewart. They both got one vote each on the first ballot. After 43 more ballots, James M. Cox was selected and Franklin D. Roosevelt was chosen as his running mate. They went on to lose to Warren Harding in November.



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