Thursday, October 2, 2014

Young Professor Leads the Esperanto Meeting

And how many were
at the meeting?
When the Los Angeles Herald published a letter from Val Stone in July, 1906, they had no way of telling that he was only about thirteen years old. But, when a few months later, they reported on a meeting, you might think that they’d get the idea. Except, of course, there is another possible explanation, one that I think is certainly true.

On October 2, 1906, Val Stone makes his second appearance in the pages of the Los Angeles Herald, and this time gets referred to as “Professor Val Stone.” The article gives no hint that the professor in question isn’t a real professor at all, but instead someone who is probably still in school. Once again, there's an assumption I'm making about how this article got into the Herald.

The main focus is on a set of Esperanto post cards, which actually are somewhat interesting. If they still exist, they’d be a prize for an archive.
M. Chevalier Shows Interesting Collection from All Nations and All Climes
M. Chevalier exhibited his collection of Esperanto post cards at the meeting of the Esperanto society last evening in Blanchard assembly hall. They were very interesting, as they were from all parts of the world and every one written in Esperanto. There were some 500 of them written by persons of all nationalities. What makes them doubly interesting is the fact that they can be understood by people who live on opposite sides of the globe.

Professor Val Stone who led the meeting, gave a short speech emphasizing particularly the object of the Los Angeles Esperantist society. He said:

“This society is not organized for profit but for mutual benefit, and we do not intend to have any money connected with it beyond the expense incurred by the hall and printing. We all are starting in the same place and want to learn the language and so do not care to be taxed.”

The society is growing and every Monday evening shows an increase.
I’m gong to make a guess that the Herald didn’t actually send a reporter to the meeting. I’m going to guess that this was a press release written by a bright teenager.[1]

The reason that the Herald wasn’t incredulous that Mr. Stone was a professor is that they never saw him, and so his appearance couldn’t contradict his words. Of course, on the other hand, about two years later, one newspaper would describe the nineteen-year-old Edmond Privat as “Professor Privat.”[2] Maybe they were just looser then we are on who got termed a professor. Are you teaching? You’re a professor.

As for the owner of the 500 postcards, the records don’t list a “M. Chevalier” living in Los Angeles. There are some men with the same last name, but it’s not clear who this might be.

As for the bit that the Esperantists “do not care to be taxed,” I think we hear the voice of a young man finding that his funds are tighter than he expected. Only four years later, he would be working in a bank at the age of 16.

The article doesn't say how large the group is, only that it seems to grow larger with each meeting.

  1. And I’m even guessing which one.  ↩
  2. Well, not exactly. They misspelled his first and last names. But other than that, and that he wasn’t a professor, they were dead on.  ↩

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1 comment:

  1. Joĉjo, ĉu vi pensas ke la fama aktoro/kantisto/distristo Maurice Chevalier estis la "M. Chevalier" kiu montris la kolekton ĉe la kunveno? Eble li vizitis Los Angeleson en 1906.


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