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1918 prayer and songs for our troops

1918 prayer and songs for our troops

July 15, 1918: Los Angeles County officials and employees gather on the courthouse steps for a minute of prayer, followed by songs in support of American troops in World War I.

This photo accompanied a story in the next morning’s Los Angeles Times that reported:

The first open-air minute of prayer, under auspices of the Los Angeles County Employees’ Patriotic League, of which Judge John M. York is president, was held on the steps of the Courthouse at noon yesterday. A few minutes before 12 o’clock, many of the the courts and various departments ceased work, the employees and court attaches proceeding to the portals of the stately building. The gathering numbered about 500.

There was no attempt at grouping. For the one minute of time, men and women, with their thoughts centered on the awful conflict in Europe, in the new drive just launched, stood on the broad steps and overflowed to the asphalt pavement. Judges of the Superior Court, Supervisors, Justices of the Peace and heads of departments bowed their uncovered heads, as The Times siren announced the time for devotion and prayer for the success of the Allies.

After the prayer, the Star Spangled Banner was sung, not the finished singing of paid vocalists, but the earnest sympathetic effort of the men and women whose fervent prayer had left its impress on their minds. The singing was in charge of Capt. H. D. Alphonso, chief deputy Tax Collector, assisted by Miss Sadie L. Busby of the County Treasurer’s office. Mrs. Alice Rice played the cornet and Miss Beryl Day the saxophone. The employees sang in unison and the effect on the pedestrians was instantaneous.

It brought men and women passing along the sidewalk to a sudden halt. As the significance of the music struck home, men uncovered their  heads and women bowed in prayer. Lawyers hurrying into the Hall of Records paused and then softly walked to the Courthouse, joining in the the grand chorus of the song….

The courthouse, once located at Temple Street and Broadway, was damaged in the 1933 Long Beach earthquake and subsequently demolished.

scott.harrison@latimes.com

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