the smiling men of pasadena 4: smiles may be habit forming

The December 31, 1920 edition of the Pasadena Post spotlighted (mostly) grinning photos of the paper's staff and local businessmen. Given my penchant for going down research rabbit holes related to anything quirky I stumble upon, this series will look at some of the stories behind the smiling faces. 


Pasadena Post, December 31, 1920.

He might be smiling out of habit but, based on the information I found about Clarke Bogardus, he may have hid plenty of pain behind that grin.

At age 17 he enlisted for service in the First World War, ending up in an ambulance unit.  During the Second Battle of the Marne in August 1918 he, according to his obituary, "contracted a disease from which he never fully recovered." 


Pasadena Post, June 5, 1920.

After the war, he wrote the Post's "Motor Gossip" column. He later established an advertising agency and was involved in Pasadena Preferred, an organization promoting local growth. By the late 1940s local papers periodically provided updates on his declining health, never specifying the exact ailment. He succumbed to his long-term illness in 1952.


Pasadena Star-News, November 20, 1942.

While biographical information about Clarke was scant, his dogs received a decent profile in the midst of the Second World War. 


Pasadena Post, December 31, 1920.

Like Clarke, John C. Bogardus Jr. appears to have adopted the smiling habit, even if the quality of this image makes him appear like he submitted his photo to a casting call for undertakers. 

The two Bogarduses have some facial similarities, but I wasn't able to make a clear connection, which is an occasional pitfall of newspaper detective work (attempts to check free genealogy sites didn't help). Clarke's obit lists a J.C. as his father, but neither coverage of this J.C.'s wedding in 1911 (when Clarke would have been around 10 years old) nor his obit in 1955 list any sons. What we do learn from the wedding profile is that the groom was "a rising young business man of Pasadena and is connected with one of the largest real estate and insurance firms of the city." 

That firm was the William R. Staats Company, which was launched by its namesake as a 20-year-old in 1887. Staats helped spur the growth of Southern California Edison and Union Oil, as well as developing Pasadena's Oak Knoll neighbourhood. At least one account credits him with convincing Andrew Carnegie to choose the site of the Mount Wilson Observatory. 

In 1916, the company's insurance and real estate interests were spun off into the Staats-Macy Company. It barely outlasted this ad: in March 1921, to avoid confusion with its former parent, who shared the same building, the firm changed its name to the William Wilson Company, which remained in business through the end of the 20th Century.

J.C. rose through the ranks of William Wilson, eventually serving as president and chairman of the board. He was also involved in the community, bringing his profession expertise to the local public school board as a member of its insurance committee during the 1930s, as well as serving as president of the Altadena Citizens' Association during the Second World War. 


Pasadena Post, September 4, 1925.

He also had time to sing the praises of the Post as an advertising vehicle.

One area he wasn't so successful in was spearheading a local effort to urge California's delegates to the 1940 Republican National Convention to back an effort to restore Herbert Hoover to his old job as President of the United States. The Pasadena Hoover for President Association, which J.C. served as president of, believed that Hoover's diplomatic experience and personal integrity made him the right man for troubled times - never mind the 31st president's weak handling of the Great Depression. While Hoover was positioned as a compromise candidate between the isolationist and interventionist wings of the party, he placed far behind convention winner Wendell Wilkie. 

We have no record what expression was on J.C.'s face when the results came in. 

Next: A Clean Smile

Sources: the August 27, 1916 edition of the Los Angeles Times; the January 11, 1952 edition of the Pasadena Independent; the March 27, 1921 and June 19, 1940 editions of the Pasadena Post; the January 9, 1942, July 16, 1942 and August 4, 2013 editions of the Pasadena Star-News; and the August 3, 1911 edition of the San Bernardino Daily Sun.

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