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The Journal of San Diego History
SAN DIEGO HISTORICAL SOCIETY QUARTERLY
Summer 1972, Volume 18, Number 3
James E Moss, Editor

By Peter Mehren

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Because of the high cost of production, opera had been traditionally out of reach of all save a small part of the American people. For this reason an opera project was not viewed as a practical venture for the Federal Music Project. This was unfortunate, since the talent for its production was present, and the desire on the part of the American people was manifest in requests for operatic presentations and attempts to maintain opera in various parts of the country.1

In San Diego, Federal Music Project administrators and relief workers were able to avoid “the high cost of production” and were thereby able to bring to the people fine productions of light and grand opera. The same sort of concern which enabled companies of 100 and more singers and musicians to present these operas to the people of the city of San Diego, by putting
in hours of rehearsal and by building inexpensive but effective costumes and sets, was manifest when the project workers realized that, having brought these operas to production, they should take them into the “hinterland” and let southern Californians not able to get to San Diego also benefit from this work. So they took their operas on the road, to the people.

As with all of the Federal Arts Projects, the San Diego opera unit took advantage of the propitious conditions which the Depression and the New Deal created. Talented and highly trained people were out of work, the general public could not afford expensive entertainment, and the Federal Government was willing to pay wages for creative people if local sponsorship could be found to cover all of the other costs, including working areas and materials. In addition to several young, talented and dedicated singers, San Diego’s Music Project had several administrators who were able to give direction to these talents, and to draw from the entire company an enthusiasm which helped make the productions successful.

In 1930 San Diego had a total population of about 148,000, of which about 70 per cent were “native White,” 19 per cent were “foreign-born White,” and 9.4 per cent were “Negro.”2 San Diego was one of the 50 largest cities in the United States, with Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Oakland larger California cities.3 If it is possible to attribute psychological conditions to cities, San Diego had feelings of cultural “inferiority” relative to San Francisco, and of general inferiority to — or domination by — Los Angeles. In fact, San Diego had a reasonable degree of culture. Between 1919 and 1932 the San Diego Civic Opera had produced over 40 French and Italian operas;4 the Savoy Players were one of America’s most successful stock companies, with a continuous run of over seven years, when the average duration was usually measured in months;5 and in the area of light opera or operetta, a San Diego “cast presented Gilbert and Sullivan’s “Pinafore” in the old Horton’s hall in San Diego in 1879, one year after it opened in London and 18 years before it was produced in New York.”6

California’s State Emergency Relief Administration (SERA), which preceded WPA in providing work-relief in San Diego, had allowed the creation of a local music project which included a concert orchestra, a chorus which included a separate group of Negro singers, a “symphonic dance orchestra,” a band, and other units made up from the membership of those groups.7 The choral group “and soloists will combine in programs of cultural as well as popular appeal.”8 Originally the chorus had been planned as a means of providing some sort of work for people who were physically unfit for manual labor and who had some experience in group singing, even if this were only through membership in a church choir.9 In order to avoid conflict with professional singing groups, SERA leaders stressed that the chorus can only appear at “charitable functions where it is not possible to hire other entertainment. They will also perform in conjunction with the SERA orchestra and dramatic players.”10

Dr. Charles O. Breach, an outstanding musician and conductor, was preparing the concert orchestra, and was introducing “symphonic instrumentation” to the four choirs within the SERA choral unit. He expected that the choral unit and the orchestra would be presenting performances by the end of 1934.11 He gave much effort to shaping a choral unit which could perform a wide variety of material, from light and popular to classical. When WPA took over SERA projects in November 1935, it included among San Diego’s 350 musicians a “federal opera company.”12 The base had been prepared for an impressive project.

“There are to be some surprises in the operas to be given by the WPA Federal Civic Opera company under direction of Edwin Skedden, with Charles O. Breach in the orchestra pit,” wrote a local music critic. Production of two operas, Flotow’s “Martha” and Mascagni’s “Cavalleria Rusticana” was progressing satisfactorily. T. Morley Harvey headed the choral department, and the “principles in the first opera, ‘Cavalleria,’ are among the city’s best singers, all experienced in opera. It will be an experiment well worth watching, and may lead to something permanent for the city along this line.”13

It did “lead to something permanent” because it was members of the cast of this first opera, and other participants in this unit, who created San Diego’s famous Starlight opera series after World War Two.14 But that was a long way off, and first the new company had to get “Cavalleria” on the boards. This took longer than it should have. Complications about the royalties for “Martha” forced the project to cancel that production;15 and the Savoy Theatre, which the city was renting as part of its sponsorship of the Federal Music and Federal Theatre Projects, “had to have a brand new panel of electrical switches, dimmers, etc. before it could be used with the blessings of the building and Safety Dept.”16 This also delayed the initial performance of the Federal Theatre Project company.

This production of a grand opera by a work-relief cast was an experiment. The plan was to present two productions, on a Friday and a Saturday night, on the assumption that if there were any popular appeal those would be the best nights to get the people to the theatre and if there were not, little would have been wasted.17 The cast included a 60 voice chorus and there were enough principals to form a double cast, with one to work the first night and the other to perform on the second night. The lead singer, Jose de Arratia, was from the Royal Opera Company of Mexico. The others were local people. The 50 member Federal Philharmonic orchestra provided the accompaniment. “William Dougherty, stage technician for the operas, has worked out lighting effects and other special features which promise to give the production a strictly professional air.” The WPA sewing project made the costumes. There was no admission charge.”18

It was a popular production! In addition to the two evenings originally scheduled, five more performances were produced,19 in the Russ auditorium, including a production with the stage more brightly lighted for an audience including many elderly people20 “who have not attended an operatic entertainment in years.”21 The opera unit immediately began rehearsals for a production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s “Gondoliers.” “A cast of 75 will participate in the show and those identified with the effort hope to eclipse the presentation of Cavalleria Rusticana which was seen by more than 15,000 San Diegans.”22

Dr. Julius Leib, who had left Germany in order to avoid military service, conducted the production of “Gondoliers,” which was the first of the San Diego operas to go “on the road” when it followed its run at the Russ with a free production at La Jolla High School.23 The opera project was popular, and thus it was fulfilling two of the major goals of the New Deal: to provide the relief-workers with “the increased morale resulting from gainful employment rather than outright charity,”24 and “to provide entertainment to lighten the spirits of unemployed and needy families and the general public.”25

Now, like a developing operatic singer, the San Diego unit began to build its repertoire. In March, William L. Dean of Los Angeles “assumed duties as office manager and head of all business departments in the federal music organization for San Diego and Orange counties,” with his office in San Diego. This allowed Edwin Skedden, who had been district coordinator for all federal music in San Diego and Orange counties to “devote his full time to production of the musical units.”26 Dean recognized the talents available in San Diego for the production of “classical” music, both in the form of opera and of symphony. He shifted the emphasis of the San Diego units from light, popular music towards the classical — although he respected and helped develop the popular brass band which played weekly concerts, the Negro Jubilee Singers, and other popular groups. But even within these popular groups there was a movement to broaden the musical knowledge of the performers by adding more serious music, and to increase the cultural education of the audiences.27

Even the stage hands applauded the dress rehearsal of Gilbert and Sullivan’s “Mikado” as the cast of 100 prepared it for its August 26 opening under the musical direction of Julius Leib. Tickets for two of the performances were already sold out — at low Federal Music Project prices — and Charles Marsh, general director of the project in San Diego “said he plans to take the entire operatic company and the federal symphony orchestra that accompanies it on a tour of the smaller towns and cities in southern California.” Allan Rogers, the tenor who sang the part of Nanki-Poo, was borrowed from the Federal Music Project in Los Angeles, but with that “exception, all those who have parts in the opera, or who are assisting in its production, are residents of San Diego.” William G. Stewart, whose operatic experience dated back to 1882, and who had produced the “Mikado” at San Diego’s Spreckels Theatre years ago, was the general production manager. “The sewing (of) . . . a colorful array of costumes . . . was done by federal sewing projects. Brilliantly-dyed rayons and silks were used. The effects of lights playing upon these moving fabrics was dazzling at the rehearsal.28 Special effects with lights and costumes were “specialties” of the WPA projects in theatre and music, mainly because they were forced into creativity by their relative poverty.

Dr. David Bruno Ussher, FMP director for 11 western states, joined the stage hands in applauding the cast of “Mikado” at that dress rehearsal. He had flown in to San Diego from his headquarters in Salt Lake City for a day of inspection of the musical units in San Diego, and termed “presentation of such an operatic work as “The Mikado” . . . outstanding in the entire country.” “Only three cities in the western district are even contemplating production of an opera. They are San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco. The San Francisco group has not begun its operatic work. The Los Angeles company recently completed a successful performance . . . I am exceedingly proud of the progress that has been made by the San Diego musicians . . .”29

“Mikado” became one of the favorites of San Diego audiences, and was revived by the project for local audiences and for special groups including “a County Teachers’ institute.”30 Critic Ruth Taunton noted that although the singers first presented it in August, and have been on tour with it, they “seem to have lost none of their fresh enthusiasm, but have perfected their parts instead — a real test of whether or not one has found his right place on the stage.”31 The 60 voice chorus did not have the quality of the lead singers, because it was made up not of professionals nor young talents, but of older people who were assigned to the project more by default, by their inability to find other suitable relief work; but the enthusiasm stimulated by the popular acceptance of the company, and the strict and careful work of Charles Marsh, T. Morley Harvey, Julius Leib, and the lead singers, not merely brought out the best in the members of the chorus, but made them eager to continue improving.32

“Many of our friends in the audience of nearly 2000 attending ‘The Mikado’ at Russ auditorium last week,” said Charles H. Marsh . . . “expressed a desire to see other Gilbert and Sullivan operettas.” So they went into rehearsal.33

But as did other companies of the Federal Music and Theatre Projects around the nation, San Diego’s operatic unit worked to introduce new material, and older material which was rarely produced but which was worthy of production. These included choral works, shorter than operas and with less emphasis on solo singing. The unit gave the first presentation using special costumes and scenery of Bach’s “Coffee Cantata” in American history. At the same time they gave the West Coast premiere of Vaughn Williams’s work for full chorus and orchestra, “Benedicte.” The performance was completed with production of Debussy’s “Blessed Damosel.”34 Helen Jarmuth, “a magician”35 who couldn’t work well with cloth off of an unused bolt but who could do wonders reworking used clothing into beautiful costumes,36 made the costumes for the 60 singers. Eugene McCoy directed the construction of new scenery. Leib directed the chorus and the 30-piece orchestra.37

The company took only five weeks preparing for production of the original Engelbert Humperdinck’s three-act fairy opera, “Hansel and Gretel,” a very short time considering that at the same time the chorus and some soloists were making nearly daily appearances at schools and elsewhere. This opera was to become one of the most popular and some of the leads from the company toured southern California singing selections from it at schools and for other audiences.38

Floods hit San Diego county early in 1937, and to assist in fund raising, the project donated a production of “Mikado” at the Russ auditorium. “There will be no admission charge, but a free-will offering will be collected by women in Red Cross uniforms.” The earlier productions of “Cavalleria Rusticana” had also been dedicated to the Red Cross.39

Lehmann’s choral work, “In a Persian Garden,” with costumes and scenery, became a part of the company’s repertoire, although sometimes at productions of choral pieces, as opposed to operas, “we outnumbered the audience!”40

Then came National Music Week, and the San Diego unit produced what could almost be called a tour de force: they produced “Coffee Cantata,” “Benedicte,” Sidney Jones’s opera “The Geisha Girl,” “Hansel and Gretel,” and “Cavalleria Rusticana.”41

At the San Diego Zoo’s Wegeforth Bowl, which usually featured sea lions, the opera company began to perform during the evenings, when the sea lions were resting, beginning with a production of “The Gay Grenadiers.” This operetta was written by Warner Van and Vern Elliot, members of the FMP in Los Angeles. It dealt with “the brief reign of Maximilian in Mexico.” “Costumes and scenery for the show are arriving from Los Angeles where it was given . . . last May.” “A nominal charge will be made at the main entrance of the Zoo.”42 San Diego’s mild weather made evening performances enjoyable for those with the foresight to bring a coat or a light blanket, and maybe a thermos of something. “Mikado” and “Geisha Girl” followed “The Gay Grenadiers” into the bowl during that summer series.43 The post-war Starlight Opera used Wegeforth Bowl, remembering the satisfactory nature of these shows.

The first “crisis” in the operatic productions came when FMP headquarters in Washington, D.C., issued a blanket ban on opera productions, due to their generally excessive cost. Marsh protested that the San Diego productions were both popular and economical: 73 operatic performances had been attended by a total in excess of 79,000 people. “They have been of such high order, musically and in their beautiful staging, that high school teachers have received institute credit for attendance at some of them.” The small charge for admission at the Savoy and at the Zoo had “covered the cost of costumes, sets and advertising,” partly because the average costumes, “although they have appeared fresh and authentic, have averaged only 34 cents each . . .” Because there was no rental charge for the Wegeforth Bowl performances, the project had made a profit of $600, which was being applied to the production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s “Iolanthe.” Marsh urged individuals and groups to write to FMP headquarters, urging continuance of the San Diego opera project.44 Apparently enough people cared, and Washington was impressed enough by San Diego’s work, because “Iolanthe” was produced45 and “when operatic productions were withdrawn from the federal music project throughout the U.S., San Diego was excepted because of the wealth of musical talent here, the unusual musical leadership of Julius Leib, and the economy with which we have been able to put on beautifully-staged productions.” State director Harle Jervis added that this made “San Diego . . . at present the only city in the country which is being given operatic productions by the federal music
project.”46

In order to justify the confidence thus expressed by the leaders of the FMP, and by the people of San Diego, the project built its repertoire until it included five Gilbert and Sullivan works — “Gondoliers,” “Mikado,” “Iolanthe,” “Pinafore,” and “Pirates of Penzance” — Johann Strauss’ “Die Fledermaus,” Oscar Strauss’ “The Chocolate Soldier,” Franz Lehar’s “The Merry Widow,” Luders’ “Prince of Pilsen,” Nicolai’s “The Merry Wives of Windsor,” Planquette’s “The Chimes of Normandy,” Rossini’s “Barber of Seville” and Leoncavallo’s “I Pagliacci,” in addition to choral works by Bach, Elgar, Gounod, Lehmann, Vaughn Williams, Debussy, Packer, and San Diego’s Alice Barnett Stevenson.47

Helen Jarmuth somehow reduced the average cost for the 1000 costumes she made for the project to 23 cents, using clever sewing, paint, and fragments of “clothes, shoes, old lace curtains, beads and buttons, ragged household linen” and other donated “materials that San Diegans no longer need.”48 This illustrated one of the strengths of the Federal Arts Projects: doing more than just “making do” with limited materials and funds.

Several of the productions were so popular that their runs were extended.49 At the same time the workers were rehearsing other shows and making appearances almost every day. Technically the workers were required to put in 30 hours each week, with performances counting as double time.50 In fact they put in much more time than this. The opera chorus appeared daily during the Christmas week of 1938, singing in San Diego’s downtown plaza.51 Some of the opera singers, who would also appear as a “popular trio” on occasions, would meet after working hours to perfect their copies of recordings by popular groups including the Andrews Sisters.52 “Tab productions” of some of the operas — about 40 minutes of singing, in clear English translations, with a narrator connecting the songs — kept the lead singers and some of the orchestral musicians busy touring schools in San Diego and throughout California south of Los Angeles.53 Incidentally, in these touring situations, the schools at which the company would perform would serve as sponsors for these single performances, providing transportation and the auditorium (and sometimes a meal) for the performers.54 “We’d perform in the darndest settings!”55

This touring followed the wishes of FMP director Nikolai Sokoloff, who had urged project orchestras to expand their activity, “to cover states and regions rather than to limit their activities to their local programs.” This, he felt, “will afford better prospects of permanency for these orchestras and give larger security of employment to the musicians,” by increasing the audience and the number of sponsors.56 William Dean and others in the project would have had the symphony orchestra and the opera company touring the southwest — California, Nevada, Arizona, and perhaps even New Mexico — if they could have found sufficient sponsorship.57

Instead, the project went into a decline, caused by outside factors. When the Federal Theatre Project was terminated by Congress, “theatrical productions” were banned, as of July 1, 1939.58 At the same time there were severe reductions in employment quotas, and many members of the San Diego project were laid off. Two-thirds of the workers were dropped, some with the possibility of resuming their work after a 30-day period.59 “On September 1, 1939, the Federal Music Project was transferred from federal to state control and renamed the WPA Music Project.”60 After considerable indecision, the San Diego project suffered another drastic reduction in quota early in 1940.61 Although, after an exchange of letters, the unit was allowed to produce “certain eighteenth century light operas.” “Production of the more recent light operas is not being permitted because of our belief that it might be construed by the public as in violation of the Emergency Relief Acts of 1939 and 1940, which prohibit the operation of a Theatre Project.”62

Around the end of 1939 “the onus of welfare set in” and the project workers who could find non-relief jobs left the project. Previously, they had considered that they were performing services for the public,63 but as San Diego’s economic conditions improved, taxpayers began to be more critical of their friends on WPA projects.64 The growing demand for war-related work was benefitting San Diego. “In 1940, the City and County had higher proportions of their populations in the employed labor forces than in the case of the State and the nation as a whole. Government employment predominated . . .”65

The productions were still popular: the run of “Barber of Seville” in Wegeforth Bowl was extended for two nights due to large audiences.66 But the spirit was fading. During January, 1940, nearly half of San Diego’s 125 workers had been dropped, leaving too few to produce operas or symphonies.67 With the increasingly military atmosphere of the city, the orientation of the project changed. This was the “twilight of WPA music” with popular music, “just froth,” being demanded by the growing military camps.68 Sponsorship declined, despite the increased prosperity of the city.69 “Barber of Seville” and “Merry Wives of Windsor” marked the end of the opera productions by WPA workers in San Diego.70 The popular members of the symphony and the opera project devoted their efforts to the local schools and to the military camps.71 Some found professional employment; others joined the military or the USO.72

But they remembered. They remembered the pleasure of the performances, of the warm audience appreciation. And when the War ended and some of them returned to San Diego, they began working to parallel, if not recreate, those days. The spontaneous creation of the Starlight theatre, by members of the old WPA opera unit standing around a piano in 1946,73 is, of course, a myth, a press agent’s dream.74 But despite the lack of romance, several of the project members, most notably Charles Cannon, William Dean, and Robert Sullivan, did create, at great effort, the nucleus of the Starlight opera company. Julius Leib and his son, Robert Leib, each worked at developing the company over the years, until it assumed the proportions which it enjoys today.

Former members of the San Diego opera unit speak of those days as being among the happiest of their lives, and expressed their gratitude to President Franklin Roosevelt for giving them the opportunities not merely to work to earn money during hard times, but to work at the music which they loved, entertaining their fellow citizens; and they agree that a similar program, with a small opera company and accompanying orchestra, could well be created and supported by local public schools, to perform for the students — and sometimes their parents — in a regular cycle around the schools. This could provide employment for talented local singers and musicians, as well as providing entertainment, cultural experiences and education for the students — and sometimes their teachers. As there was at the end of 1935, there is certainly adequate local talent, and there surely would be adequate local interest and support. It worked in those days, and people who were part of it then can see both how and why it would work now.

FOOTNOTES

1. William F. McDonald, Federal Relief Administration and the Arts, The Origins and Administrative History of the Arts Projects of the Works Progress Administration (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1969), pages 621-2.

2. New York World-Telegram: The World Almanac and Book of Facts. 1935. Pages 247-8.

3. Ibid. Page 272.

4. “S. D. Civic Opera to Open Series,” San Diego Union, 12 April 1936.

5. Statement made to the author by Actress Miss Beula Fair, 26 July 1971.

6. “Original S. D. ‘Pinafore’ Cast, Federal Group,” San Diego Union, 18 November 1937.

7. Wallace Moody, “SERA Musical Units Entertain Throng in Park,” San Diego Union, 2 January 1935.

8. Wallace Moody, “Music and Drama,” San Diego Union, 10 January 1935.

9. Statement made to the author by singer Charles Cannon, 11 October 1971.

10. “SERA Announces Singing Project,” San Diego Union, 8 November 1934.

11. Wallace Moody, “Music and Drama,” San Diego Union, 29 November 1934.

12. “Music Projects Start Tomorrow,” San Diego Union, 17 November 1935.

13. Wallace E. Moody, “Matters Musical,” San Diego Union, 22 December 1935.

14. Carol Often, “Starlight Plus 25 Years . . .,” San Diego Union, 21 June 1970.

15. Statement made to the author by Charles Cannon, 11 October 1971.

16. Letter to the author from FTP actor Paul Norstrom, 31 October 1971.

17. Statement made to the author by Charles Cannon, 11 October 1971.

18. “Federal Opera Group to Offer ‘Cavalleria’ Here,” San Diego Union, 18 March 1936.

19. “Federal Troup to Repeat Opera at Russ Sunday,” San Diego Union, 16 April 1936.

20. “Opera Applauded by 2,000 Elderly Persons at Russ,” San Diego Union, 20 Anril 1936.

21. “Relief Group, Old Folk to See Opera.” San Diego Union, 19 April 1936.

22. “Federal Music Project Opera Set for Curtain,” San Diego Union, 8 May 1936.

23. “La Jolla to Hear U. S. Cast Tonight in ‘Gondoliers’,” San Diego Union, 15 May 1936.

24. “Bacon Outlines Work of SERA in County for Year,” San Diego Union, 5 March 1935.

25. “SERA Announces Singing Project,” op. cit.

26. “Dean Takes Duty as Manager Here of Federal Music,” San Diego Union, 15 March 1936.

27. Statement made to the author by Charles Cannon, 11 October 1971.

28. “Savoy Sold Out for Opening of ‘Mikado’ Tonight,” San Diego Union, 26 August 1936.

29. “San Diegans Lead in Staging Opera, Says Music Head,” San Diego Union, 26 August 1936.

30. “Federal Players to Give ‘Mikado’ Tomorrow Night,” San Diego Union, 29 November 1936.

31. Ruth Taunton, “Federal Singers Score Triumph at Russ in ‘Mikado’.” San Diego Union, 1 December 1936.

32. Statements made to the author by Charles Cannon, 11 October 1971; musician Paul Henneberg, 12 October 1971; and singer Genevieve Roberts, 5 November 1971.

33. “Federal Players Book ‘Gondoliers’ at Pt. Loma High,” San Diego Union, 9 December 1936.

34. “WPA Plans First True U. S. Rendition of Bach ‘Coffee Cantata’ Comedy,” San Diego Union, 10 December 1936.

35. Statement made to the author by Genevieve Roberts, 5 November 1971.

36. Statement made to the author by Charles Cannon, 11 October 1971.

37. “WPA Plans First . . .,” op. cit.

38. Statement made to author by Genevieve Roberts, 5 November 1971.

39. “WPA to Present ‘Mikado’ Tonight for Flood Relief,” San Diego Union, 3 February 1937.

40. Statement made to the author by Charles Cannon, 11 October 1971.

41. “Federal Project Bills ‘Cavallena,’ ‘Coffee Cantata’,” San Diego Union, 6 May 1937.

42. “Another Rollicking Musical Comedy,” San Diego Union, 23 July 1937.

43. “‘Mikado,’ ‘Geisha Girl’ Set for Zoo Bowl This Week,” San Diego Union, 22 August 1937.

44. Ruth Taunton, “Federal Opera Ban Threatened; Protests Urged,” San Diego Union, 3 September 1937.

45. Ruth Taunton, “Appealing Music Marks ‘Iolanthe’; Costumes Lauded,” San Diego Union, 22 September 1937.

46. “S. D. Only City in U. S. With Federal Opera,” San Diego Union, 3 October 1937.

47. Statements made to the author, corroborating many San Diego Union articles, by Charles Cannon, 11 October 1971; Paul Henneberg, 12 October 1971; Genevieve Roberts, 5 November 1971; and musician Robert Leib, 8 October 1971.

48. Ruth Taunton, “1000 Costumes Cost 23 Cents Each as Paint Turns Flannel to ‘Velvet’,” San Diego Union, 14 August 1938.

49. Same as 47 above.

50. Statement made to the author by Robert Leib, 8 October 1971.

51. “Federal Opera Chorus to Sing Daily at Plaza,” San Diego Union, 20 December 1938.

52. Statement made to the author by Genevieve Roberts, 5 November 1971.

53. Statement made to the author by Charles Cannon, 11 October 1971.

54. Statement made to the author by Robert Leib, 8 October 1971.

55. Statement made to the author by Paul Henneberg, 12 October 1971.

56. Sally Brown Moody, “Dance Art Stimulates Wide-Spread Interest,” San Diego Union. 6 November 1938.

57. Statement made to the author by Paul Henneberg, 12 October 1971.

58. “Signs Relief Bill; Theater Project Dies; WPA Cut,” San Diego Union, 1 July 1939.

59. “Most WPA Jobs Cease Today for Federal Project Musicians,” San Diego Union, 14 August 1939.

60. William F. McDonald, op. cit., page 614.

61. “Federal Music Project Cut,” San Diego Union, 26 January 1940.

62. Herbert C. Legg, State Administrator, letter to San Diego Board of Supervisors, 10 July 1939.

63. Statement made to the author by Paul Henneberg, 12 October 1971.

64. Statement made to the author by Genevieve Roberts. 5 November 1971.

65. Day and Zimmerman, Industrial and Commercial Survey, City of San Diego and San Diego County, prepared for San Diego Chamber of Commerce, San Diego, 1945. Volume I, page 91.

66. “Opera to End at Bowl Tonight,” San Diego Union, 27 August 1940.

67. “Federal Music Project Cut,” op. cit.

68. Statement made to the author by Paul Henneberg, 12 October 1971; and “Camps Hear WPA Music,” San Diego Union, 12 July 1940.

69. “Federal Music Project Cut,” op. cit.

70. William Dean, letter to San Diego Mayor and City Council. 24 October 1940.

71. Sally Brown Moody. “WPA Music Project Attendance at Camp Callan Reaches 50,000,” San Diego Union, 30 November 1971.

72. Statements of Cannon, Leib, Henneberg, Roberts; and Constance Herreshoff, “Officers Consider Plan . . .” San Diego Union, 20 December 1942.

73. Carol Often, “Starlight Plus 25 Years: It Began Around a Piano,” San Diego Union, op. cit.

74. Statements made to the author by Charles Cannon, 11 October 1971; and Paul Henneberg, 12 October 1971.

75. Statements made to the author by Charles Cannon, 11 October 1971; Paul Henneberg, 12 October 1971; Robert Leib, 8 October 1971: and Genevieve Roberts, 5 November 1971.


Peter Mehren recently earned his Master’s degree in History at the University of California, Davis. His thesis, of which this article is a part, was on the WPA Federal Arts Projects and City Schools Curriculum Project in San Diego. Mr. Mehren received his A.B. degree from the University of California, Davis, after which he and his wife Kay, a veterinarian, served in the Peace Corps in Kenya. Mr. Mehren has worked as a teacher in San Diego schools and as an editor of scientific and educational materials. His article entitled “The San Diego City Schools Curriculum Project of the WPA” appeared in the Spring, 1972, issue of the Journal of San Diego History