Friday, September 12, 2008

Herbert Hoover Jr. Worked Here

Here's a picture I took in October 2002 from the Hill Street Pasadena Starbucks looking east.

Not long afterwards this lovely building was torn down and replaced by a Tommy's Burgers. For those not from around these parts, Tommy's is an oft-imitated Southern California chili-smothered hamburger institution. My fave!

Here's another picture, taken from the same general direction, which appeared in the March 2006 pages of Mixed Meters.

Herbert Hoover Jr - Tommy's Burgers and rainbow Hill Street Pasadena CA
It's dangerous for me to live too close to such marvelous chili-smothered burgers. I've limited myself to one Tommy's trip per year - usually around my birthday. And so it was this year.

As I left Tommy's to walk home I noticed a brick plinth in an otherwise empty cement planter in the outdoor courtyard and smoking section..

Herbert Hoover Jr plaque at Tommy's Burgers Pasadena CAHerbert Hoover Jr plaque at Tommy's Burgers Pasadena CA
On top of this pedestal I discovered a brass plaque. I don't believe it was there last year. It certainly has been installed since Tommy's arose in Pasadena. You can see a satellite view in Google Maps here and the column is visible in the Google Street View here.

Herbert Hoover Jr plaque at Tommy's Burgers Pasadena CA
Click the picture to read the plaque yourself. Google's robo-trolls can't read it unless I type it in:

On This Site
170 N. Hill Ave., Pasadena
Son of the 31st President
of the U.S.A.,
Operated Consolidated
He made a discovery
which led to the use of
Mass Spectrometers
in soil analysis for the
oil industry; Circa 1937.

This struck me as strange. Apparently, seventy or so years ago the son of a president ran a company at this spot. That's where he made some unmentioned discovery which enabled the oil industry to analyze dirt in a way so important that it deserves a brass plaque. Heaven only knows how dreary and difficult our lives would be now without this ... er, thing - whatever it is.

I resolved to do some Internet research to slake my curiosity. Here's some basic info about Herbert Hoover Jr.

The best resource about the first son of the 31st President is the Time Magazine archive. Herbert Junior was Time Magazine's cover boy on July 14, 1930. This was during his Dad's only term in the White House.

This paragraph from July 10, 1939, Time is close to a biographical sketch:
It was natural for Herbert Jr., a graduate of Stanford and Harvard Business School and since then a radio engineer, to get into seismographic oil prospecting, not only because his father has prospected off & on all his life (and still does), but because the sound technique leans heavily on radio principles. Herbert Jr., at 35, is a prospector in a big way, employing 200 men in five laboratories. He lives with his wife and three children in a secluded whitewashed brick house behind Pasadena, rides and plays a little tennis, but has little time for social doings and no time for country clubs. Most of the time he works. Unlike Jimmy Roosevelt, son of another U. S. President, who lives only 20 miles away, Herbert Hoover Jr., has no interest whatever in politics.
He figures heavily in this July 14, 1930, Time article about aeronautical radio.

Wikipedia has this article about Consolidated Electrodynamics Corporation (although the name was different when Herbert Hoover Jr. owned it). It says CEC was bought up and eventually went out of business. However this company in Covina says different. Wikipedia has a copy of the patent diagram for a mass spectrometer. Possibly it employs the discovery on the brass plaque.
Mass Spectrometer patent Herbert Hoover Jr.
Later in life, H.H., Jr. became UnderSecretary of State under Dwight Eisenhower and John Foster Dulles. This paragraph shows him over 50 years ago dealing with an international situation that has not been solved even today.
Demanded, in the face of two previous turndowns, that Syria cooperate to allow repair of the Iraq Petroleum Co.'s pipeline cut by saboteurs during the Egyptian hostilities. Declared Under Secretary of State Herbert Hoover Jr.: "Unless work begins immediately . . . the oil situation will be aggravated, which means in human terms cold and hunger not only in Europe but in Asia and South America." (from Time Magazine, 1956)
And this quote compares our hero unfavorably to his successor.
After the often grating brusqueness of Herbert Hoover Jr., his predecessor as Under Secretary, Herter's unflagging courtesy and willingness to listen boosted departmental morale. (from Time Magazine, 1959)
If anyone knows a story behind how this magnificent mysterious brass memorial came to be outside of a fast food joint, please leave a comment.

Here's a picture of the Hoover family: President Herb and Mrs. Hoover and their sons Herb Jr. (with his wife) and Allen.

Here you can buy a Herbert Hoover Jr. Hoodie.

Here, for $1000, you can buy a 1956 Washington Redskins souvenir Christmas booklet autographed by Under Secretary of State Herbert Hoover Jr. and Vice President Richard M. Nixon.

Richard Nixon comes up a lot on Mixed Meters.

Junior Tags: . . . . . . . . . . . .


Anonymous said...

I see these plaques showing up on the side of buildings throughout Pasadena. You've now got me curious about Jimmy Roosevelt. 20 miles in what direction?. very interesting.

David Ocker said...

Thanks PasAdj. Could you point out a few of these plaques? Do they commemorate events of equal importance accomplished by Republicans of similar importance as the one at Tommy's?

What I really want to know is who puts them up? (Meaning who pays for them.) And why?

Anonymous said...

Sorry I can't. Old town is where I've seen them I think Petrea may have done a post on an alley plaque. Your discovery is just rich. Location location location!