About the Author
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As a youngster Harry Chandler could best be described as a model child, the perfect American boy, with floppy sandy hair and large, innocent, agate-brown eyes. He grew into an adult who was tall, stern, tough, hardheaded, and anything but innocent. He conducted the affairs of Los Angeles like a grandmaster playing his pawns, checkmating any opposition and always controlling the board. Some called him shrewd, calculating, unscrupulous, and ambitious. Others swore by him, especially his fellow members in such exclusive Los Angeles enclaves as the California and Jonathan Clubs. Above all he achieved amazing success, a mirror of the growth and success of Los Angeles, to which his fortunes were inextricably tied. Harry had the Midas touch.
Harry Chandler grew up in Landaff, New Hampshire, a small village a few miles east of the town of Lisbon and the Ammonoosuc River. Purple lilacs and lush elms dotted the countryside. Children in the wooded vale spent their idle summertime swimming in Pearl Lake or hiking through thick, verdant forests carpeting the surrounding hills. The winters were not idyllic, with freezing snow and ice, and raw winds that shredded any semblance of warmth. Winters in Landaff merely served as a test of survival, a test that Harry ultimately failed.
It happened in 1882 when Harry left for Dartmouth College. He was a fearless, immortal freshman, not unlike any other 18-year-old teenager bound for higher learning, ready to grapple with his studies or fellow students. Life was a lark. The winter arrived early that year, and a simple, almost innocuous freshman prank changed the course of American history. Harry dove into a vat filled with ice, some say it was an icy river, and within a few days developed bronchitis. The bronchitis became pneumonia that got progressively worse until his lungs hemorrhaged. Unable to continue with his studies Harry returned home where his worried parents, after reading newspaper accounts about Southern California's salubrius climate, made a fateful decision-to send him to Los Angeles to recuperate.
Although his parents were not wealthy, Harry was so weak they tightened their belts and paid the $150 for a Pullman berth. Harry began his voyage from East to West, from rags to riches, in suitable style. The journey in May 1882 took seven and a half days on the Union Pacific, Central Pacific, and Southern Pacific railroads, from Boston through New York, Chicago, St. Louis, Omaha, Cheyenne, Ogden, Reno, Sacramento, on to Los Angeles. The experience was a kaleidoscope of remarkable change, threading through deep woods, across the Great Plains, past long stretches of baking deserts, through the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and along California's fertile San Joaquin Valley. The black steam engine and passenger carriages passed nearly 300 stations before Harry finally arrived at his destination, weary but excited.