(Written 3-13-00 in response to the sale of The Los Angeles Times)

         For those not familiar with the history of The Times: Nathan Cole
         was co-founder and first editor of the paper, in 1881.  Within a
         month financial difficulties forced him to turn over the paper to
         others.  Harrison Gray Otis bought into the paper in 1882 and became
         editor.  Two years later the shares of several partners were acquired
         by Otis and Henry Boyce, making them co-owners with equal shares. 
         After their relationship soured, Boyce offered to sell his shares to 
         Otis.  If the latter was unable to raise the capital within a 
         specified period, the cash-strapped Otis would have to sell to Boyce.
         To his surprise, Boyce learned that Otis had made a deal with a Los
         Angeles banker, secured a loan and bought out Boyce.  Boyce then 
         started a rival daily, the Los Angeles Tribune, which for a time was a
         major force in the city.  Otis' son-in-law, Harry Chandler, secretly 
         got control of the Tribune's delivery system and subscription lists
         and drove the Trib into bankruptcy.  The last straw was a sheriff's
         auction at which Chandler bought the remaining property of the Trib
         and turned it over to Otis.]


                             A PROUD EAGLE SOARS NO MORE!

                            The Ghost of Harrison Gray Otis




         I chanced by First and Spring shortly after midnight Monday morning 
         and stopped to watch an old man, seemingly drunk and mentally 
         distressed, harangue a small crowd of late night revellers.  Some 
         hecklers among them egged him on, shouting "You tell 'em, General," 
         and "They don't know who they're dealing with, do they, Colonel?"  
         Why they honored him with military titles was unclear, but he did 
         have the bearing of an ex-army man.  Ramrod straight in his 
         mismatched and ill-fitting suit that looked like it came from a 
         turn-of-the-(last)-century thrift shop, the old man trembled as he 
         shouted upward toward the executive offices of The Times.  

         What he said was lost in the laughter and jeers of the crowd, but I 
         did pick up bits and pieces about "ungrateful heirs," "shirtsleeves 
         to shirtsleeves in four generations," "my city," "my paper." There 
         was something about "They cannot kill The Times," "Liberty under the 
         law" and "True industrial freedom," but none of it seemed to make 
         much sense.

         Across the street, smiling smugly in between snickers, were two other 
         elderly citizens who identified themselves to me as Boyce and Cole.  
         It was obvious they and the old gentleman had had a falling out long 
         ago, and they were now relishing "the Colonel's" misfortune.   

         Boyce said that he had once been a business partner of "the Colonel" 
         but was snookered out of his share by one of the Colonel's shrewd 
         deals.  When he started a competing business, the Colonel and his 
         son-in-law drove him into bankruptcy.  "Sweet revenge, and - how 
         ironic - by The Trib," he smirked, although I didn't know what he 
         meant.

         Cole just kept muttering: "It could have been all mine.  It could 
         have been the Cole Art Institute, the Cole Pavilion, the Cole Ranch.  
         I started it, not that old slanderer."  But what that meant escaped 
         me, too.   

         Soon  the crowd drifted away, leaving the old man to carry on his 
         ranting alone. He gradually ran down, and at length sat on the curb, 
         his back to the Times' First street door, head in his hands.  About 
         that time a snarling band of young hooligans on belching motorcycles 
         roared by, one of them so close that the old man had to lift his feet 
         to avoid being hit. A short distance beyond one cyclist ran over a 
         bird.  There was a great screeching and a shower of feathers. As I 
         went on my way I saw, in the gutter, a dead eagle. 

                                      - - -

         Ralph E. Shaffer's volume on The Times in the 1880s, Letters From The 
         People, is at
           www.csupomona.edu/~reshaffer