Meet Me in California…Again

thismonth0911-2NOVEMBER 2009 — “There is something stimulating about a convention,” the National Real Estate Journal reported in November, 1939. “It is enjoyable, for one thing, to greet old friends, to make new ones, to swap stories and experiences in the general companionship of a Realtors’ convention.”

That year 1600 REALTORS® and guests gathered at the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles. They came from 37 different states and the Territory of Hawaii to discuss issues vital to real estate. Accourding to the Journal, those included “the reclamation of blighted areas of our cities; brokerage problems involved in business shifts; building houses for low-income groups; and the ever-present bugaboo of taxation.”


Expert speakers addressed issues typical to a real estate office. Future NAR president Hobart C. Brady from Wichita spoke on salesmanship and “had his listeners asking for more.” Fred B. Snyder of Upper Darby (president of the Pennsylvania Association) gave a presentation on operating a small real estate office. Corwin D. Edwards from the Department of Justice reported on steps toward “Eliminating Abuses in the Construction Field.”

In another speech Holman D. Pettibone of the Chicago Title and Trust Company admitted that the new world war was a factor in an improving U.S. economy. However he warned, “If America enters into this quarrel among the nations of Europe, private enterprise as we know it in this country today will cease to exist…business has nothing to gain and much to lose by participation in the present European struggle.”

A notable feature of the convention was the official beginning of the Women’s Council of REALTORS®, “a section for women Realtors to study their own business problems.” More than a hundred attended an “enthusiastic luncheon.”

Los Angeles had previously hosted the convention in 1915. When registration lists were compared it was determined that 31 REALTORS® at the Biltmore had also attended the meeting at Trinity Auditorium 24 years earlier. Included were luminaries like William May Garland and Harry Culver of Los Angeles, Nathan William MacChesney of Chicago, R. Bruce Douglas of Milwaukee, Fred Taylor from Portland, and Louis F. Eppich of Denver.
REALTORS® of 1939 knew how to have fun as well. Entertainment included “‘A Night in Old California,’ a real Spanish fiesta and fandango.” Actor Monte Blue was master of ceremonies for the “Nite in Hollywood,” which included entertainers from Earle Carroll’s Follies.

Seventy years later REALTORS® will follow in their forbears’ footsteps to southern California, this time to San Diego from November 13-16. While a tour of movie stars’ homes isn’t in the program, modern day REALTORS® will enjoy a chance to meet William Shatner and Sabrina Soto.

Images from the 1939 convention are available on Flickr.

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