The Coon Chicken Inn and Utah’s Hidden History of Racism

By Chris Oregon

The Coon Chicken Inn was a fried chicken restaurant chain located in the Pacific Northwest and owned by Maxon Lester Graham and his wife Adelaide. The first Coon Chicken Inn was established in 1925 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Coon Chicken Inn was famously known for its racist “coon” caricature logo that was used to promote the authenticity of the southern-style food. At the entrance of the restaurant was a 12-foot “coon head.” Customers entered through the mouth, which had exaggerated large lips and teeth. This same entrance was then used for the other two locations that opened later. Despite protests against the racial slurs and racist caricatures the stores remained open until the late 1950s. Even though the restaurant was racist, the only complaint from the city was when it heard rumors that operators were serving alcohol. On March 11, 1927, The Salt Lake Telegram wrote about the trial that Graham went to for “conducting a disorderly house,” because officers had claimed that they found liquor on three of the restaurant’s tables. (“Graham Enters Not Guilty Plea”)

 

Coon_Chicken_Inn_P_7

Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, The University of Utah.

Catherine Roth writes that the large “coon head” used for the entrance of the building was a gimmick to attract customers. (“The Coon Chicken Inn”) Graham also used the logo on postcards, newspaper advertisements, children’s fans, delivery cars, and matchboxes as promotion.

After gaining a lot of success, Graham later opened two more locations in Portland, Oregon, and Seattle, Washington. Each location had the “coon head” entrance that was used with the first location to attract customers. The restaurant not only provided food for its customers but entertainment as well. The Utah Chronicle mentioned that the restaurant offered dancing and talented local musicians to entertain customers. (“What We’ll Do”) The Coon Chicken Inn was popular among University of Utah students; the Interfraternity Council planned a stag party for students and the restaurant was chosen to host its festivities. (“Greek Council”) Popular among University of Utah students, several fraternities chose to hold events such as banquets at the restaurant because it had a dance floor and live music for everyone to enjoy. (“The Town Chatter”) Variety magazine also mentioned in its April 7, 1937, issue that the Coon Chicken Inn was a great spot for out-of-state bands to work with local musicians, which helped attract customers.

Coon_Chicken_Inn_P_2

Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, The University of Utah.

Despite being racist, the restaurant was very successful, opening a total of three locations in three different cities. After opening in Seattle in 1930, Graham was met with protests. That same year the Seattle branch of the National Association for the Advancement for Colored People (NAACP) and the African-American newspaper, the Northwest Enterprise, protested the opening of the restaurant and even threatened Graham “with a lawsuit for libel and defamation of race.” In response, Graham agreed to change his advertising styles by “removing the word ‘Coon’ from the restaurant’s delivery and also by repainting the ‘Coon head’ entrance to the restaurant.” Instead of the “coon head” being black he decided to paint the skin color blue to avoid further issues. Graham also canceled his order of 1,000 car tire covers to please the protesters and not get in legal trouble. In the end, Graham removed the “Coon head” from public view and decided to close the restaurant doors for good. (Roth, “The Coon Chicken Inn”)

Today, the original Coon Chicken Inn building is gone. Despite the restaurant being shut down, Coon Chicken Inn remains relevant today due to the collectibles being sold online as black memorabilia. In 2017, Cook’s Garage, a Texas restaurant, caused outrage when customers noticed a Coon Chicken Inn neon sign on its walls. After receiving so much backlash, the owner said the sign wasn’t there to offend anyone, but to display Americana history. (Robinson) Even though the restaurant has been closed since the 1950s, it is still making headlines to this day. It’s still a relevant topic due to its racism. The Coon Chicken Inn will forever be a part of Utah history.

Chris Oregon is a senior at the University of Utah. He is majoring in mass communication with an emphasis in journalism and minoring in Spanish.

Sources

Graham Enters Not Guilty Plea,” Salt Lake Telegram, March 11, 1927, 2.

The Town Chatter,” Utah Chronicle, December 21, 1932, 2.

What We’ll Do,” Utah Chronicle, January 25, 1934, 2.

Greek Council Chooses Rulers,” Utah Chronicle, May 21, 1936, 1.

“Salt Lake City Sets Bands for Summer,” Variety, April 7, 1937, 50.

Advertisement, Coon Chicken Inn, Utah Chronicle, September 28, 1944, 4.

Roth, Catherine. “Coon Chicken Inn (Seattle),” HistoryLink.org, October 16, 2009.

Roth, Catherine. “The Coon Chicken Inn: North Seattle’s Beacon of Bigotry,” Seattle Civil Rights & Labor History Project, University of Washington, 2009.

Robinson, Elliott. “The Coon Chicken Inn Lives,” CreativeTension.org, 2017.

The Role of Cigarettes in 1940s University of Utah Campus Culture

By Emerson Oligschlaeger

In January 1943, Utah Chronicle columnist Bette Pomerance penned an op-ed titled “Scribe Finds Weed Vices Common at the U.” Pomerance neither condemns nor defends the prominence of cigarette smoking on campus; her point is limited to chronicling students’ commitment to the vice. When contextualized against local and national historical resources, Pomerance’s column allows us to understand tobacco’s cultural role in the university community of the 1940s.

The article mentions “restricted areas” — campus venues where smoking is banned — and students’ “flagrant violations of the ‘no fagging’ rule.” Pomerance cheekily notes students’ unflagging devotion to tobacco, writing that offenders chastised for smoking in restricted areas “swear… to never do it again — and get caught.”

University_of_Utah_College_Inn_Shot_1

The College Inn in 1937. Used with permission of the Utah State Historical Society.

Pomerance also records a few epicenters of campus tobacco culture, including the university game room and the College Inn, an off-campus restaurant that once stood on 200 S. and University Street. “One could hardly write an article on smoking without mentioning the College Inn,” she writes, calling it “the best place to obtain a non-average report card, tubercular lungs and stomach ulcers.”

In the Summer 1997 issue of Continuum, the University of Utah’s official magazine, alumnus Rod Decker recalls visiting the College Inn as a 10-year-old to find it full of college students smoking cigarettes and “fleeing supervised wholesomeness.” The non-smokers tended to eat in the Union cafeteria where smoking was prohibited, Decker writes, while tobacco users congregated at the campus-adjacent eatery.

women

Ellis Gangl Leonard poses in her husband Leo Leonard’s military cap while an unidentified woman smokes a cigarette. Both soldiers and women contributed to the prevalence of tobacco on campus in the 1940s. Used with permission of Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, The University of Utah.

Decker and Pomerance’s recollections reflect national trends in tobacco usage. The early 1940s saw one of America’s sharpest spikes in per capita tobacco consumption, and more women took up smoking during the ’40s than any other decade. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2014) Pomerance’s column notes the prevalence of smoking among university co-eds, writing of “the entire male population and half the female with a weed in his or her face.”

The presence of servicemen also contributed to the clouds of smoke on campus. Tobacco played a significant role in military culture. A July 1943 article from the Davis County Clipper titled “Smokes and the Soldier” detailed the ways that cigarettes “play a prominent part in many phases of the life of a soldier.” A January 1943 issue of the Vernal Express includes a write-up on care packages assembled by the local Red Cross chapter, which necessarily featured cigarettes. As rationalized by The New York Times during World War I, “tobacco may not be a necessary of life, in the ordinary sense of that term, but it certainly lightens the inevitable hardships of war as nothing else can do.” (Brandt, p. 52).

A letter to the editor published in a February 1943 edition of the Chronicle directly addresses the issue of servicemen smoking on campus. In response to complaints about soldiers smoking in buildings and areas where it is prohibited, the writer acknowledges that servicemen should follow the rules, but takes issue with critics’ tone.

“This note, then, is directed not to the validity or invalidity of the ‘no-smoking’ rule, but to one who, in times of war and stress, when the very life of our country hangs in the balance concerns himself with trivial things like smoking in school buildings. Let me say that we service men are concerned with affairs far more momentous,” he writes.

Another letter to the editors of the Chronicle chastised students for failing to properly dispose of their cigarettes, creating fire hazards and cluttering campus. “Just a little effort on the part of each of you can make our campus something to be remembered by the numerous visitors who come here,” wrote Marian R. Jones in 1949.

A 1941 Utah Chronicle article by Frank Allen, “Scribe Gets Hot Under Collar Over Paper’s Cigarette Ad Problem,” addresses an ongoing debate over the absence of tobacco advertising in the student paper. According to Allen, the Chronicle printed a number of letters to the editor alternately praising and decrying the paper’s decision not to advertise cigarettes. Throughout the 1940s – and indeed, to this day – the Chronicle remains an important venue for discussion of student smoking practices.

Tobacco use, on college campuses and elsewhere, has steadily decreased since the 1960s. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2014) In 2018, the University of Utah declared itself a smoke-free campus, sparking another wave of Chronicle op-eds. The first sentence of Pomerance’s 1943 column  —  “each year about this time someone starts a debate about the use of nicotine on our campus” — still rings true. While university nicotine culture has changed dramatically, some things never do.

Emerson Oligschlaeger graduated from the University of Utah in 2018 with a degree in mass communication. Emerson currently works for KSL NewsRadio and plans to pursue a career in community journalism.

 Sources

Frank Allen, “Scribe Gets Hot Under Collar over Paper’s Cigarette Ad Problem,” The Utah Chronicle, February 6, 1941, 4.

Bette Pomerance, “Pomerance Says: Scribe Finds Weed Vices Common at U,” The Utah Chronicle, January 21, 1943, 2.

“Local Red Cross to Make 275 Comfort Kits,” Vernal Express, January 28, 1943, 1.

 S/Sgt. OES., “Upholds Soldiers,” The Utah Chronicle, February 11, 1943, 2.

“Smokes and the Soldier,” Davis County Clipper, July 23, 1943, 6.

Marian R. Jones, “Battered Campus, Untidy Lawns Cause Greater Tuition Costs,” The Utah Chronicle, October 12, 1949, 2.

Brandt, Allan. The Cigarette Century: The Rise, Fall, and Deadly Persistence of the Product that Defined America. New York, NY: Basic Books, 2007.

Rod Decker, “Campus Hangouts Throughout the Years: A Cautionary Tale” Continuum,(Summer 1997): 24.

National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (US) Office on Smoking and Health. “The Health Consequences of Smoking—50 Years of Progress: A Report of the Surgeon General.” Atlanta (GA): Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (US), 2014, Chapter 13, Patterns of Tobacco Use Among U.S. Youth, Young Adults, and Adults.

Postwar Planning at the University of Utah

By David Miller

Image_1_Fort_Douglas

Fort Douglas (aerial), 1920-1940. Fort Douglas Military Museum, Salt Lake City.

World War II ushered in a time of radical change for the United States. Men and women went to war by the thousands and those who stayed home were forced to pick up the slack. The end of the war in 1945 was a relief for millions around the world, but the change was sudden and drastic and many had a hard time adapting. Universities across the country had to work especially hard to adapt to a post-war world. On June 9, 1944, the Progressive Opinion reported that “our own school system faces one of the greatest crisis in its history and, likewise, some of the greatest changes.” Elinore H. Partridge explains in the article “A. Ray Olpin and the Postwar Emergency at the University of Utah” that these changes were based mostly around two events that were tied to the end of World War II. GIs were coming home and looking for an education and all the teachers had either gone to war or switched to a more financially sustainable job in the war industry. (p. 197) Though the changes were swift, the University of Utah was not caught off guard. Plans had already been made and policies set into motion.

By the early 1940s, the University of Utah had adapted greatly to a nation committed to the war effort. Salt Lake City newspapers reported on the university’s wartime transformation. The Salt Lake Telegram reported on December 31, 1943, that “already more than 1,000 young men in khaki are pursuing studies designed to prepare them as efficient cogs in a war machine.” Yet, even as women and men left for the war, those who remained behind began to plan for the future after the conflict.

Article

Utah Chronicle, May 4, 1944.

On February 15, 1944, The Salt Lake Telegram reported that “a postwar planning council for Salt Lake City to ‘Integrate effort and coordinate a multiplicity of plans’ was approved.” The Utah Chronicle reported on September 21, 1944, that Brigham Young University would hold a conference on postwar planning for the “representatives of Utah’s institutions of higher learning.”

The University of Utah hosted similar discussions on postwar planning which were announced in the Utah Chronicle. For example, the paper reported on April 20, 1944, that “the school of business is doing its post-war planning by charting new courses for returning soldiers and by discussing their plans with downtown businessmen and government officials.” The University of Utah even helped to draft resolutions to send to their state representatives, the Utah Chronicle reported on May 5, 1944. According to the same article, “The resolutions had been discussed by the State College of Washington” and were then amended after being discussed at a public meeting at the University of Utah. Steps like these demonstrate how the University of Utah was committed to finding the most efficient way to navigate these trying times.

When the war finally did end in 1945, the impact on Utah was almost immediate. In January 1946, the University of Utah employed around 225 full-time faculty members and had around 3,000 students. In months enrollment rose to 5,300 and by the next year, it was up to 10,000. (Partridge, p. 197)

Image_2_Olpin

A. Ray Olpin, University of Utah president from 1940-1960. Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, The University of Utah.

The problem wasn’t just with the number of new students either. According to a May 1944 article in the Progressive Opinion, a newspaper published in Salt Lake City, “American schools have lost 200,000 competent well-prepared teachers since Pearl Harbor.” With too many new students and not enough teachers, a downgrade in the quality of higher education in Utah looked inevitable. But Utah met these problems head-on.

The University of Utah went to great lengths to accommodate new students, especially veterans, under the leadership of president A Ray Olpin. A lot of the time these vets had families and current student housing was too expensive. According to Partridge, “Olpin and his staff worked throughout the spring of 1946 to acquire family-dwelling units. By summer, after countless telegrams between Olpin and United States Senators Abe Murdock and Elbert D. Thomas, 301 family units were moved in to place to form an instant community.” (p. 197)

World War II brought about changes at institutions around the world and the University of Utah was no exception. The University planned for and then reacted to the end of the war with the power of intellect. This chapter in the school’s history demonstrates the value institutions of higher education can have to their communities. They are places where ideas are born and plans are executed.

David Miller is a student at the University of Utah. He is planning on graduating in 2020 with a double major in communication and psychology.

Sources

“War Science Eclipses Art at Utah Campus,” Salt Lake Telegram, December 31, 1943, 9.

“City Board Appoints Postwar Planning Council to Coordinate Multiplicity of Movements,” Salt Lake Telegram, February 15, 1944, 7.

“Postwar Planning,” Utah Chronicle, April 20, 1944, 4.

“Resolutions Go To Congress,” Utah Chronicle, May 4, 1944, 1.

Baukhage, “U.S. School System Faces Greatest Crisis in History,” Progressive Opinion, June 9, 1944, 3.

“16 U Teachers To Attend BYU Meeting,” Utah Chronicle, September 21, 1944, 1.

Partridge, Elinore. “A. Ray Olpin and the Postwar Emergency at the University of Utah,” Western Historical Quarterly 48, no. 1 (Winter 1980): 195-206.

 

Elaine Cannon: The Feminist LDS Leader Who Got Her Start at The Utah Chronicle

By Alaikia Miller

with camera

Elaine Cannon at the KSL television studio, where she hosted a weekly program for teenagers as reported in the October 7, 1949, issue of The Bulletin.

Elaine Cannon, born Elaine Anderson, graduated from the University of Utah in 1943 with a degree in sociology. During her time at the university, Anderson contributed light commentary pieces to The Utah Chronicle. She went on to write for The Deseret News, authored over 50 books, and became the eighth president of the Young Women organization in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a position she held from 1978-1984. Cannon, who died in 2003, is remembered for her dedication to her family, to the church and to young women and youth around the globe. (“Elaine Cannon Dies”)

Interested in writing early in life, Anderson started a school paper while attending junior high. She also launched a weekly paper following high school graduation. (Woodger, p. 183) The Salt Lake Telegram reported on March 6, 1939, that the Red and Black, the paper Anderson helped start for West High School, would be the first “home-printed paper” at that school.

During her time at the University of Utah, Anderson wrote for The Utah Chronicle, the school’s independent student paper. Her contributions to the Chronicle were light commentaries on current events, both general and campus specific. In an October 1940 issue of The Utah Chronicle, Anderson is listed as the assistant women’s page editoran achievement that isn’t mentioned in the various publications about Anderson’s life and work.

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One of Elaine Cannon’s earliest articles in The Utah Chronicle, which appeared in the October 10, 1940, issue.

The fifth page of The Utah Chronicle was dedicated to articles written by and for women attending the University of Utah. The “Women’s Page” was established in September 1935, first appearing in the September 26 issue. In one of Anderson’s earliest articles published in The Utah Chronicle, “College Transfers Give Opinions on U. of U.,” she shared the opinions of University of Utah students who transferred from other institutions. Anderson noted that young women who joined the university appreciated the number of tall men and the dancing styles on campus. Throughout her student writing career, Anderson would offer comments on campus fraternities and advice for freshman women. She also contributed a recurring column called “Campus Ramblings.”

group cannon

Elaine Cannon with her husband, James Cannon, during his 1964 campaign for governor, as published in the June 25 issue of the Vernal Express.

Anderson also wrote for The Salt Lake Telegram while attending the university and would eventually become society editor for the Deseret News, where she wrote under her married name, Cannon. (Woodger, pp. 183-84) Throughout her career, she wrote numerous articles for various publications, including Seventeen. (Woodger, p. 178) Anderson, who wed in March 1943, also briefly hosted a local weekly television program for teenagers, which was announced in the October 7, 1949, issue of The Bulletin, a small publication for residents of the Sugar House neighborhood. Cannon also contributed articles and served as society editor.

At the time of her appointment as Young Women president, the women’s liberation movement was in full swing. Cannon’s appointment was very near groundbreaking, as she became the first president who was employed outside of the home. She balanced the duties of being a full-time mother of six, her work as a writer and her duties to the church. Cannon spoke often about the balance of her duties and how she was always looking for ways her career could help serve the church. (Woodger, p. 175)

While she herself worked outside of the home, her focus as Young Women president was still on advocating for a woman’s duty to her family, as this was a priority of church leadership at the time. She noted that while having a family and a career was an option for her, all women are different. What was fine for her life might not work for someone else. (Woodger, p. 176)

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The cover of Elaine Cannon’s book, which was published in 1987 by Deseret Book Company.

When ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) began in 1971, the LDS church struggled to form a conclusive opinion. Leadership seemed adamant that the bill was vague and unnecessary. Cannon agreed with the opinions of church leaders. However, the bill still inspired her to make efforts toward providing security and empowerment to women in the church. In response to the discussion over the ERA, Cannon helped create a separate magazine for youth in the church, restructured the Young Women General Board, implemented a Sunday class specifically for young women and established the first LDS women’s meeting. (Woodger, pp. 181-83)

Cannon wasn’t just dedicated to serving young women, but all youth. In 1955, Seventeen magazine provided Cannon an award for her support of teen activities and she served as a delegate at the 1959 White House Conference on Youth. (“Elaine Cannon Dies”)

Elaine Anderson Cannon’s writing career began early and carried on throughout her entire life. However, her work as a writer and leader within the LDS church barely scratches the surface. Cannon had a brimming life, marked by her dedication to her faith and her community.

Alaikia Marielle Miller is a senior at the University of Utah and is set to graduate in May 2019 with a B.S. in communications and journalism. Alaikia is currently a senior staff writer for The Daily Utah Chronicle and can be found across all platforms under @mariellerrrr.

Sources

“West High Will Celebrate First ‘Home-Printed’ Paper,” Salt Lake Telegram, March 6, 1939, 10.

“The Utah Chronicle: List of staff members,” Utah Chronicle, October 24, 1940, 4.

“Women’s Page,” Utah Chronicle, September 26, 1935, 5.

Elaine Anderson, “College Transfers Give Opinions on U. of U.,” Utah Chronicle, October 10, 1940, 5.

Elaine Anderson, “Freshman Women Express Views on Fraternities to Reveal Many Startling Conceptions,” Utah Chronicle, November 14, 1940, 5.

Elaine Anderson, “Scribe Ponders Resolutions; Submits Advise to Frosh,” Utah Chronicle, January 9, 1941, 5.

Elaine Anderson, “Campus Ramblings,” Utah Chronicle, January 16, 1941, 5.

“Television for Teen-Agers” The Bulletin, October 7, 1949, 3.

Elaine Cannon dies at age 81,” Church News, May 22, 2003.

Woodger, Mary Jane. “Elaine Anderson Cannon, Young Women General President: Innovations, Inspiration, and Implementations,” Journal of Mormon History 40, no. 4 (Fall 2014): 171-207.

Image Sources

“Group at Dine A Ville Motel,” Vernal Express, June 25, 1964.

Cannon, Elaine. Adversity. Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company, 1987.

Elaine Anderson, “College Transfers Give Opinions on U. of U.,” Utah Chronicle, October 10, 1940, 5.

“Television for Teen-Agers,” Bulletin, October 7, 1949, 3.

Salt Lake City Dance and Music: Rainbow Randevu

By Kendra A. Madsen

The Rainbow Randevu was one of the larger music revenues in northern Utah. The dance club previously located at 460 S. Main Street was a popular spot for larger band performers to visit from the 1930s to the 1960s. (Stewart, p. 221) Like many of the popular spots in historic Salt Lake City, the Rainbow Randevu played a large role in the music culture in northern Utah. The ballroom also gave generations of young people a fun place to gather, especially during times of hardship, such as World War II.

Rainbow Randevu ad_1937-09-10_Salt-Lake-Telegram

The September 10, 1937, ad that appeared in The Salt Lake Telegram.

The Rainbow Randevu, previously known as the Rainbow Ballroom, opened for dining and dancing the week of September 10, 1937, according to an advertisement in The Salt Lake Telegram published the same date. The Rainbow Randevu was a popular spot for University of Utah students who were looking to escape their school responsibilities for the weekend. Wilkins and Williams wrote in 1944 that students who were either leaving to fight in the war or had returned from the war would meet at the dance club to enjoy each other’s company.

The Salt Lake Telegram wrote in July 1943 that Louis Armstrong performed at the Rainbow Randevu with other swing performers. Jerry Jones, the manager of the Rainbow Randevu, would often perform with his own orchestra at the Rainbow, and over the years many big-name artists would come to perform at the club. (Raff)

Fire-razes-rainbow-randevu_1948-05-22_Salt-Lake-TelegramIn May 1948, The Salt Lake Telegram wrote that a large fire consumed the Rainbow Randevu, completely destroying the building other than the four outer walls. Officials suspected the cause of the fire to be a cigarette. Days before the fire, the Rainbow Randevu had held an inspection and received approval of its wiring, heating and other equipment in the building. Raff wrote that the fire began with three explosions at 3:45 a.m. Saturday, only two hours after the Friday night performance by the Ink Spots band that was attended by 1,132 dancers had ended. While the firefighters were battling to save the Rainbow, they realized there was no hope for the venue and worked to save the surrounding businesses on the block. Witnesses claimed the flames reached 200 feet in the air at the height of the fire, which left the building as “a mass of twisted steel and charred wood.” (Raff)

In October 1948, manager Jerry Jones chose a new site for the Rainbow Randevu. The Salt Lake Telegram reported that the Coconut Grove would be remodeled to become the new Rainbow site. The renovations included adding 250 booths, a new bandstand, two fountains, a TV room, and a new entrance. Jones said the building would have drapery installed in order to close off certain sections of the ballroom making renovations during the day possible while the venue was open in the evenings.

The music culture in Salt Lake City was fostered by the music venues such as the Rainbow Randevu. (Stewart, p. 221) This was a popular hub for University students and Salt Lakers alike to dance and listen to artists. The venue allowed artists from all over to meet at this cross-road town of the West and try out their music on the attendees of the club. Such cultural spots were the go-to place for many young people at the time and show the importance of having venues where the arts can be celebrated.

Kendra A. Madsen is a communication major at the University of Utah and will be graduating in May 2019.

Sources

 Advertisement, Rainbow Randevu, Salt Lake Telegram, September 10, 1937, 12.

“Rainbow Randevu Adds New Musician,” Salt Lake Telegram, March 26, 1938, 7.

“Louis Armstrong to Appear at Randevu,” Salt Lake Telegram, July 14, 1943, 15.

Pat Wilkins and Norma Williams, “Full Weekend Keeps Utes Busy . . . Playing,” Utah Chronicle, October 26, 1944, 3.

Colin Raff, “Fire Razes Rainbow Randevu,” Salt Lake Telegram, May 22, 1948, 1.

“New Site Set for ‘Randevu,’” Salt Lake Telegram, October 5, 1948, 24.

Stewart, Polly. “Urban Pioneers: The Folk-Music Revival in Utah, 1959-1966,” Utah Historical Quarterly 74, no. 3 (2006): 220-230.

They Paved the Rainbow

By Carley Longhurst

In Joni Mitchell’s hit song “Big Yellow Taxi,” she sings the iconic lyrics, “they paved paradise and put up a parking lot.” These two lines became the story of a building with one of the richest histories in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Rainbow Randevu OutsideBuilt in 1922, the Covey-Ballard Motor Company stood between 400 and 500 South on Main Street in downtown Salt Lake City until 1931, when it was transformed into the Coconut Grove. According to Lagoon history, the ballroom was advertised as the largest in the United States. Sometime during the 1940s, the Coconut Grove was changed to the Rainbow Ballroom. Jerry Jones assumed ownership in 1946 and renamed it Rainbow Randevu. Its popularity continued as the community continued to fill the hall. In 1958 Lagoon bought and named it Danceland. A few years later, the company settled on its final name, The Terrace. Lagoon History shares that a final New Year’s Eve party was thrown in 1981 before The Terrace permanently closed. In August 1987 a fire demolished the building and “they paved paradise and put up a parking lot.” (Braden)

Every city has certain places that give them their own identity. Between 1931 and 1981, Salt Lake City had a hotspot that almost every young adult would flock to. Many knew this venue as the Coconut Grove, others as the Rainbow Ballroom, Rainbow Randevu, Danceland, The Terrace, or even The Terrace Ballroom. In the late 1950s Budge and Jeannene Hyde referred to it as the Rainbow, saying in an interview that they congregated there every Saturday night with groups of friends. With World War II recently concluded and political unrest sweeping the world, it was a refuge from reality.

The venue had a life where the musical notes of Nat (King) Cole and Led Zeppelin, among so many other incredible musicians, seeped into its walls and no one wanted to miss the chance to be there. (“Danceland Sets Cole”) The Rainbow felt the vibrations of twirling and dancing to Andy Kirk and his Clouds of Joy not long after the Salt Lake Telegram announced in February 1941 that they were coming all the way from New York. Advertisements were scattered through the Utah Chronicle to inform students what big names were coming, just like the one in March 1941 telling how Carl Ravazza was to play at the Randevu.

Rainbow Randevu FireIn May 1948, The Salt Lake Telegram reported the fire that turned Rainbow Randevu “to a mass of twisted steel and charred wood” in the middle of the night. (Raff) Firemen searched, but only found a cigarette as the reason only four walls of the Rainbow were left standing. Covered by insurance, a seemingly positive Jerry Jones wanted to rebuild “as soon as possible.” The Rainbow would reopen to renewed popularity.

After staving off The Terrace lease from Little America Corp, The Deseret News reported in December 1981 of the final three events before the hall closed indefinitely. A concert by The David LaFlemme Band took place, along with the regular Tuesday night dance and a last New Year’s Eve party. Lots of work was needed to meet city fire and public safety codes, and a Little America spokesman announced the hall would remain unused until a use was decided (An Era Ends).

Terrace Ballroom InsideAlready partially torn down, The Terrace couldn’t disappear without a bang. In August 1987, The Deseret News wrote how it took 30 minutes for a fire to demolish a building that was so beloved by a community forever.

Joni Mitchell never performed at The Terrace, but the hall has an undeniable connection to her song “Big Yellow Taxi.” The building with such a rich history that saw so much and could give a look into the lives of several generations is now a parking lot. The Rainbow Randevu left an unforgettable stamp on those who were able to experience its magic and it’s seen within articles written in newspapers.

Carley Longhurst is a senior at The University of Utah, majoring in communication with an emphasis in journalism. She will be graduating in the spring of 2019.

Sources

“Randevu Bills Kirk Group,” Salt Lake Telegram, February 28, 1941, 20.

Advertisement for Jerry Jones Rainbow, Utah Chronicle, March 6, 1941, 5.

Collin Raff, “Fire Razes Rainbow Randevu,” Salt Lake Telegram, May 22, 1948, 1.

“Danceland Sets Cole,” Deseret News, February 12, 1959, 13.

An Era Ends as S.L.’s Premier Dance Hall Closes,” Deseret News, December 26, 1981, 6A.

Pierce, Scott D. and Twila Van Leer, “Flames Become Last Dancers at the Terrace,” Deseret News, August 6, 1987, 35.

Interview with Budge and Jeannene Hyde, December 1, 2018, author’s collection.

Smart, Christopher. “Whatever Happened to … The Terrace Ballroom?” The Salt Lake Tribune, March 12, 2015.

Braden [no last name], “The Terrace,” Lagoon History Project.

Williams, Carter. “Looking Back at Utah Music and Dance Venues That No Longer Exist,” KSL.com, September 15, 2016.

McCormick, John S. The Gathering Place: An Illustrated History of Salt Lake City. Salt Lake City, UT: Signature Books, 2000.

 

 

The Life of a Japanese-American Artist in the Topaz Internment Camp in 1940s Utah

By Sayaka Kochi

Following the attack on Pearl Harbor by the Imperial Japanese Navy on December 7, 1941, an estimated 120,000 American citizens were forced into isolated camps because of their Japanese ancestry. Their ethnicity separated Japanese-Americans living in the United States from white culture, and racism took away their human rights. Additionally, many were placed in camps under the false pretense of giving them safe places to live at that time.

topaz

Photo of the Central Utah Relocation Center, better known as Topaz. Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, The University of Utah.

One of these internment camps was located in central Utah; the camp, Topaz, was named after a nearby mountain. Chiura Obata, a Japanese-American artist and former professor at the University of California, Berkeley, was one of those who were sent to Topaz. According to Sandra C. Taylor, Obata was “a sensitive, political aware man” who continued his art activities in the Topaz art school while teaching painting to Topaz internees with a hope of raising people’s spirits in the camp. (Taylor, p. 73)

Obata has been a widely recognized Nikkei artist (Japanese word for emigrants and descendants) since before the abandonment of his life in California. On March 11, 1928, the Oakland Tribune reported Obata’s art exhibition in the East-West Gallery of Fine Arts in San Francisco. His artworks had a variety, and every piece of his work expressed his appreciation of art.

Obata was not merely a well-known artist but also a student-oriented teacher. According to the California Magazine published on March 15, 2016, Obata held his last painting demonstration combined with an art sale for “any art student, regardless of race or creed” before he moved into the camp. In April 1942, Obata closed his art studio due to a relocation to the camp, and along with it, he sold his masterpieces, raised money, and donated all earnings into the establishment of a scholarship for students in the University of California.

His enthusiasm for the arts did not decline but grow, even after he was forced to relocate and was imprisoned in the middle of the desert. The Utah Nippo reported on January 25, 1943, that the eighth governor of Utah, Herbert B. Maw, was presented with the scenery painting of Topaz by Obata in the induction ceremony of the new councilmen of the Topaz community government in the Central Utah Relocation Center. Furthermore, the article of the Utah Nippo published in January 1943 announced that Obata’s silk paintings were sent to President Roosevelt as a gift. Even though Obata was interned during World War II, his artistic talent was never oppressed.

Arts_taught_by_Chiura-1

Two of the watercolor paintings produced by the students taught by Chiura Obata in Topaz. 
Park Record, March 12, 2011.

In 1945, with the end of the bloody chaos across the world, Obata was released and allowed to return to his beloved old home. Soon after he returned to the campus of the University of California as an art professor, three water paintings drawn by Obata, while he was interned in Topaz, were exhibited in the University of Utah. This University of Utah Japanese art exhibition sponsored by the War Relocation Authority was reported by the Utah Chronicle on November 15.

Obata left his teaching job in 1954. Upon his retirement, he got word from Clark Kerr, the first Chancellor of the University of California, who said, “You have been able not only to exercise your own creative gifts to the fullest extent, but also to help develop and guide the talent of students. In addition, your exhibits, lectures and demonstrations have given pleasure and instruction to countless people throughout California and in many parts of the United States.” (In Memoriam, p. 137)

In the midst of turbulent times, Obata was acknowledged to be one of the best artists in spite of his Japanese ancestry. His dedication to arts and his contribution of teaching arts have been outstanding, even now. At the Utah Museum of Fine Arts, Obata’s new exhibition named “Chiura Obata: An American Modern” was held in 2018. Through his experiences under the restraint and the patience, he created the arts which carry the strong message: “Who gets to be called American?” (Mann) This message can be sympathetic and relevant with today’s society as well.

Sayaka Kochi is a senior at the University of Utah. She is majoring in communication with an emphasis in journalism.

Sources

“Chiura Obata, Art: Berkeley,” University of California: In Memoriam (September 1978): 137

Cirrus Wood, “Artist Interned: A Berkeley Legend Found Beauty in “Enormous Bleakness of War Camp,” California Magazine, March 15, 2016.

Court Mann, “UMFA’s new Chiura Obata exhibit asks: ‘Who gets to be called American?’” Deseret News, June 1, 2018.

“Governor Maw Visits Topaz,” Utah Nippo, January 25, 1943, 4.

Hal Johnson, “So We’re Told,” Berkeley Daily Gazette, April 20, 1942, 6.

“Jap Internees’ Art Displayed,” Utah Chronicle, November 15, 1945, 1.

“Pres. Roosevelt to Be Presented Silk Paintings,” Utah Nippo, January 15, 1943, 4.

Taylor, Sandra C. “Book Reviews of Topaz Moon: Chiura Obata’s Art of the Internment,” Utah Historical Quarterly 69, no. 1-4 (2001): 72-73.

A Brief History of The Rainbow Randevu and Its Cultural Impact in Salt Lake City

By Cristian Garcia

Salt Lake City has always been the hub for live entertainment and nightlife for the state of Utah and surrounding states. With the state’s flagship university, young population, and abundance of downtown venues, it’s no wonder that entertainment acts gravitate to Salt Lake City. According to The Salt Lake Tribune‘s 2015 article “Whatever happened to … The Terrace Ballroom?,” the venue has been known by many names: Coconut Grove, Rainbow Ballroom, Rainbow Randevu, Danceland, and finally the Terrace Ballroom. The downtown venue located on 500 South and Main Street represented an entertainment icon for generations. The building, a quarter of a million dollar project originally built by the Covey-Ballard Motor Company in 1922, was later transformed in 1931 into the “largest ballroom in the country” spanning across half a city block. Known by its original name Coconut Grove, the venue was the prominent dance and entertainment hall during the years of the Great Depression.

rainbow randevu

Ads such as this one appeared frequently in the Utah Chronicle.

The concert venue was known for hosting a large number of top-tier performers. In 1941, Jimmie Lunceford, the famed saxophone player and bandleader, blessed Salt Lake City with his performance at the great hall. The venue was known as Rainbow Randevu at the time of his performance. According to a Salt Lake Tribune article from 1941, “Jimmie Lunceford and his orchestra will make an appearance for three nights only at Jerry Jones’ Rainbow Randevu Thursday Friday and Saturday. Collectively and individually this organization is a versatile and dynamic musical group.”

The hall has seen significant changes throughout its time in Salt Lake City, from a multitude of name changes, to renovations, and even damaging fires. Billboard reported on November 20, 1948, “Jerry Jones, owner of Rainbow Randevu, Salt Lake City dancery, which was destroyed by a $175,000 fire May 22, this week took a 10-year lease, involving more than $250,000, on Coconut Grove Ballroom in the same city. Jones intends to spend $100,000 in remodeling the room.”

The venue hosted a number of famed acts throughout its time, but it was no stranger to local artists as well. The News-Examiner, the prominent news source of Montpelier, Idaho, reported on October 24, 1957, that “Wayne Hoff, a former Montpelier resident, is appearing with the famed Jones Boys’ quartet at the Rainbow Randevu in Salt Lake City Friday and Saturday. Hoff produced, wrote and directed both radio and television shows before going to Los Angeles in 1952 to sing with bands there prior to joining the Jones Boys, recognized as one of the nation’s top vocal groups. He is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Herman Hoff.”

Screen Shot 2018-11-29 at 6.29.06 PMThe venue, known as The Terrace at this time, helped lead Salt Lake City into the modern mindset of equality. Before that time, many businesses and hotels still supported segregation. (Salt Lake City Television) Pushing boundaries by allowing admittance by all helped hoist the hall into fond memories from a diverse culture. According to historian Ronald G. Coleman, “By the late 1940s, Robert Freed had succeeded in fully opening Lagoon to Blacks; and when his company acquired the Rainbow Gardens (Terrace), the same policy was adopted.”

The venue failed to remain in its golden era forever. After its closing in the 1980s, the abandoned building sat unoccupied for some time before the decision to demolish it came from the city. According to a 1987 Deseret News article, “Even in the death throes, Salt Lake’s Terrace Ballroom put on a good show on­­ Wednesday afternoon. The memory-rich building on Main Street between Fourth and Fifth South was already half demolished. And at 5:30 p.m., fire added another element to its demise. The fire sent clouds of smoke through the downtown area and caused firefighters considerable concern as it danced inside the rubble. Although fire officials are happy to have one less fire hazard to worry about, the passing of the Terrace is not without a bit of melancholy.”

It is important to see the history of one’s community and the impact it may have had on the culture in that community. Although The Terrace isn’t around today, it was a historical icon and showcased the abundance of nightlife in Salt Lake City. The venue remains in Salt Lake City as a parking lot, but its rich history is retained through headlines in the newspapers and memories of attendees.

Cristian Garcia graduated from the University of Utah with a BS in Communication in Fall 2018.

Sources

“Local Items,” News-Examiner, October 24, 1957, 12.

“Salt Lake Dancery to Jones on Lease,” Billboard, November 20, 1948, 41.

Advertisement for Rainbow Randevu, Utah Chronicle, October 29, 1942, 5.

Advertisement for Rainbow Randevu, Utah Chronicle, November 5, 1942, 3.

“Lunceford Band Will Play at Local Club,” Salt Lake Tribune, May 14, 1941, 8.

Pierce, Scott D. and Twila Van Leer. “Flames Become Last Dancers at the Terrace,” Deseret News, August 6, 1987, B1.

“Covey-Ballard Motor Company Erecting $250,000 Building on Fifth South,” Deseret News, June 24, 1922, 3.

Ronald G. Coleman, “Blacks in Utah History,” Utah History to Go.

Braden [no last name,] “The Terrace,” Lagoon History Project.

Christopher, Smart. “Whatever Happened to … The Terrace Ballroom?” Salt Lake Tribune, March 12, 2015.

Salt Lake City Television, “Salt Lake City History Minute – Segregation,” YouTube, February 16, 2016.

 

OSS war documentary “The War Department Report” leaves mark at the University of Utah.

By Ellie Cook

students see war filmIn the February 3, 1944, issue of The Utah Chronicle, students were invited to attend a campus screening of the Academy Award-nominated documentary The War Department Report. The film was originally released to a small number of military personnel on December 7, 1943, by the U.S. Office of Strategic Services (OSS). It was directed by Oliver L. Lundquist; David Zablodowsky was credited as the writer, Carl Marzani as producer, Richard Lyford as editor. It was narrated by Walter Huston. (IMBD)

Director Lundquist was described by the Central Intelligence Agency as “a talented architect and industrial designer” who worked for the Office of Strategic Services, the CIA’s predecessor during World War II. Lundquist also created the logo for the United Nations as well as the one for Q-tips.

EPSON scanner imageThe documentary’s project began after a report was made by Major General George V. Strong on “The Strength of the Axis Forces.” The documentary included obtained footage taken of allies by the Germans, Italians, and Japanese. One segment of the film included “startling shots of the Pearl Harbor raid, taken from [Jap] planes.” (“New War Film”)

The American Film Institute notes that the film “marked the first time in history that the high command of the American armed forces made an official report to the country on the strength of the enemy.”

Originally the film was intended to remain “a restricted government film” and was “destined chiefly to be displayed before war plant workers.” (“Cary Grant”) However, it was later publicly released, which eventually earned the film an Academy Award nomination for Best Documentary Feature.

war department reportThe War Department Report is still viewed today, primarily used in military training. The OSS is highly praised for the film’s exposure of the war. Katz writes, “Through their pioneering experiments in the visual display of information … in service of the War Crimes trials … they left a small but indelible mark on history.” The film is kept today in the Academy Film Archives.

Leroy E. Cowles, the University of Utah’s president at the time, described the film as containing some of the “finest combat scenes ever photographed by army or navy cameramen.” In a Utah Chronicle story published in 1944, he highly encouraged professors who had classes at the same time of the on-campus screening to make arrangements in order to allow students to attend the viewing, which was held at Kingsbury Hall on February 3. The viewing included a display of “captured enemy pictures” as well as the film’s screening. (“Impromptu”)

Today, free screenings of recent films remain available to University of Utah students. However, the 1944 viewing of War Department Report stands out among many because students were able to see in real time the reality of the war via footage from the enemy’s perspective. The film is still highly acclaimed today and remains an important asset for military training purposes.

Ellie Cook is a third-year student at the University of Utah studying communication (journalism) and psychology. She has written for Trend Privé Magazine and U NewsWriting.

Sources

Major General George V. Strong, “The Strength of the Axis, delivered before the House of Representatives on 20 October 1943 and before the Senate on 21 October 1943.”

War Department Report. Oliver L. Lundquist, director. United States: U.S. Office of Strategic Services, 1943.

“Cary Grant, McCarey Team on Comedy Plans … ‘War Department Report’ Gives Pessimistic Outlook,” Los Angeles Times, December 21, 1943, 8.

“Impromptu War Film Showing at U,” Salt Lake Tribune, February 2, 1944, 8.

“New War Film Shown In S.F.,” San Francisco Examiner, February 2, 1944, 7.

“Students see War Pictures,” Utah Chronicle, February 3, 1944, 1.

Documentary (Feature Subject),”  The 16th Academy Awards.

Katz, Barry. “The Arts of War: ‘Visual Presentation’ and National Intelligence,” Design Issues 12, no. 2 (Summer 1996): 3–21.

The OSS Architect Who Designed the UN Logo,” Central Intelligence Agency, June 23, 2017.

War Department Report, IMDB.

War Department Report, American Film Institute Catalog of Feature Films.

A Brief History of Kingsbury Hall​

By Davis Bulger

Atop 1395 Presidents Circle sits Kingsbury Hall, an elegant building that resembles a smaller version of the museums built during the world’s fair. Kingsbury Hall has welcomed individuals such as Eleanor Roosevelt, Keene Curtis, Carol Channing, Vincent Price, Harry Belafonte, and Maude Adams. It was also the starting place of many performing arts organizations in Utah, including Ballet West and the Utah Opera.

According to the Utah Chronicle on October 16, 1928, Kingsbury Hall was named after Joseph T. Kingsbury, former president of the University of Utah from 1897-1926. Edward O. Anderson and Lorenzo Snow Young designed the building. Anderson was also an architect for the LDS church and designed the temples in New Zealand, Switzerland, and London. The style is neo-classical with an Egyptian revival influence. The hall was designed so it would fit in color and style with the adjacent Park Building.

The Utah Chronicle reported on October 4, 1929, that the auditorium was designed to fix all of the problems that affected typical venues at the time, such as noise level and the capability to see the entire stage from every seat. Many steps were taken in creating this venue to not only make it spectacular to the eye, but also to make it the most functional auditorium Utah had ever seen.

Uofu_kingsbury

Kingsbury Hall on the campus of the University of Utah. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

The Utah Chronicle stated on May 20, 1930, that the auditorium was equipped with 2,009 seats. An additional 200 people could be seated on the stage. Throughout the hall, patrons could see the splendid architecture and beautiful murals. The organ was to be installed soon after opening.

According to articles published in the Utah Chronicle in 1930, the stage was carefully worked out in accordance with modern ideals and was designed to be large enough to take care of almost any production. The velvet curtain adorning the stage cost $2,000. The lighting was to be the most elaborate in the city. The switchboard was described as “a masterpiece of electrical genius, capable of producing any desirable lighting effect.” The orchestra pit was to be equipped with a hydraulic lift at a future date.

The Utah Chronicle covered the “impressive” dedication ceremony on May 22, 1930. The play Bluebird was the first production to be staged in the new building. The play was the largest event ever put on at the nUniversity. Tickets were sold at prices from 50 cents to $1. The hall was originally built for extra classroom space, an assembly hall for students and the home of the Theater Program and Speech Arts Department but was later acclaimed as one of the largest concert venues in Utah.

The Deseret News on March 15, 1996, wrote about the renovation of Kingsbury Hall. After two long years and $15 million, the stage was set. Improvements included an enlarged stagehouse that was nearly four times the size of the original backstage area. Also, there were enough dressing rooms for 77 performers and two dressing rooms for stars were added.

Today, Kingsbury Hall is widely renowned as a concert venue, dance performance hall, play auditorium, and just about anything else you can think of. With the renovations over the years, Kingsbury Hall’s beauty and efficiency never cease to keep Utahns and visitors in sheer awe. Kingsbury Hall is one of eight buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Davis Bulger is a junior at the University of Utah. He was raised in Chicago and has lived in Utah for the past seven years. He is majoring in mass communication.

Sources

“Architects Are Now at Work on Kingsbury Hall,” Utah Chronicle, October 16, 1928, 1.

“Kingsbury Hall To Be Completed in Near Future,” Utah Chronicle, October 4, 1929, 1.

“Kingsbury Hall Dedicated May 15,” Utah Chronicle, April 18, 1930, 1.

“Kingsbury Hall $2,000 Curtain Will Be Hung Wednesday,” Utah Chronicle, May 6, 1930, 1.

“Kingsbury Hall Dedication Set for Thursday Noon,” Utah Chronicle, May 20, 1930, 1.

“Kingsbury Hall Is Dedicated,” Utah Chronicle, May 23, 1930, 1.

“Bluebird Scores on Opening Night in New Edifice,” Utah Chronicle, May 23, 1930, 1.

National Register of Historic Places Inventory—Nomination Form, University of Utah Circle, March 1977.

Ivan M. Lincoln, “Celebrating Kingsbury Hall,” Deseret News, March 15, 1996, 1.