Friday, March 20, 2020

Camouflage and presidential paintbrush wars in 1920

Harding versus Cox
CAMOUFLAGERS! in San Francisco Examiner. October 20, 1920—

The camouflage artists of World War fame could not have done a better job than that forcibly practiced on each other by a pair of Berkeley [house] painters during a dispute yesterday over the qualities of [James M.] Cox and [Warren G.] Harding for the presidency.

When the police arrived in answer to a riot call sent in by neighbors in the vicinity of a new building which was being painted at the corner of Camilia Street and San Pablo Avenue, [the house painters] C.W. Blackley and Harry Wessess, both [from] Berkeley, were using the final drippings of two large containers of paint in an effort to impress their respective points.

At each swish of the brush in the direction of his adversary, Wessess emphasized with a burst of profanity. Blackley, on the other hand, was carrying on quiet warfare with just as successful results in dopping up Wessess.

Because of his outbursts which formed the principle plaint of neighbors, Wessess was arrested on a charge of disturbing the peace. At his arraignment, Wessess pleaded guilty and his case was set for sentence on Thursday. He obtained his release on $20 bail.


Regarding the politics of the day, journalist H.L. Mencken wrote—

It reminds me of a string of wet sponges, it reminds me of tattered washing on the line; it reminds me of stale bean soup, of college yells, of dogs barking idiotically through endless nights. It is so bad that a kind of grandeur creeps into it. It drags itself out of the dark abysm... of pish, and crawls insanely up the topmost pinnacle of tosh. It is rumble and bumble. It is balder and dash.