The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised

The Walkathon

    Preparations are being completed for the holding of a "walkathon" in Medford at the Oriental Gardens with substantial cash prizes offered to winning couples. The participants are to enter training Saturday night, when Bob Sherman's Siskiyouans orchestra will hold a big dance at the gardens. Contestants will be introduced from the stage on that evening.
    The "walkathon" will officially begin at 10 p.m. May 19. Quite a number of contestants are expected in view of the fact that one dollar per hour will be paid the winning couple for every hour they walk, provided they exceed the 300-hour mark. Medford firms are sponsoring the contest in conjunction with O. G. Grantham of the Pacific Amusement Company.
    Entry is limited to amateurs. They will receive regular rest periods, will be under medical observation and will be given every convenience possible. Further details will be announced later. A similar "walkathon" is now being conducted at Klamath Falls, and these events are proving popular in a number of coast cities.
Medford Mail Tribune, May 11, 1931, page 5

    Interest is growing in the Walkathon contest, scheduled to begin next Tuesday night at the Oriental Gardens, where contestants are to be introduced from the stage at a big dance Saturday night, with Bob Sherman's Siskiyouans furnishing the music.
    Quite a number of couples have announced intention of entering the contest, which has attractive prizes for winners. The couple winning the walkathon, provided they have walked over 300 hours, will receive one dollar per hour for the time elapsed.
    Local business houses will furnish supplies necessary to feed and ensure the comfort of the contestants and are sponsoring the affair. Dr. A. F. W. Kresse, with the assistance of a corps of trained nurses, will look after the welfare and health of the participants.
    O. G. Grantham, director of the Walkathon, announced today that the Siskiyouan orchestra will broadcast over KMED, the Mail Tribune-Virgin radio station, Saturday evening at 8 o'clock, prior to the big dance.
Medford Mail Tribune, May 14, 1931, page 4

    Alterations are being completed to ensure the comfort of the contestants in the forthcoming walkathon May 19, at the Oriental Gardens. Saturday night, Medford's dancing enthusiasts will be permitted to enjoy the much-talked-of orchestra, Bob Sherman and his Siskiyouans, specially engaged to play for the opening night of the training schedule, which will last for two days.
    All competing couples will be introduced during the dance. Interest is being aroused to a feverish pitch as the time for closing the entries rapidly approaches.
    To date many couples have announced intention of competing for the prize of $1.00 per hour, paid to the winning couple, provided they have already been in the contest for at least 300 hours.
    A special consolation prize has been announced today by Mr. O. G. Grantham of Pacific Amusement Co. 10 percent of all gate receipts taken in after 300 hours has elapsed will be proportioned among the remaining contestants. An unusual array of unique features has been arranged for the entertainment of the spectators. Radio broadcasts will be heard nightly. Medford Mail Tribune, May 15, 1931, page 6

    Entrants in the Walkathon contest, to officially open next Tuesday at the Oriental Gardens, will practice this evening for several hours during the dance at the gardens, featuring Sherman's Siskiyouans orchestra. They will be on the floor walking for practice to determine how they will take the real contest, which is expected to cover several hundred hours.
    Sherman's orchestra will be on the air tonight at 8 o'clock over KMED, the Mail Tribune-Virgin station. The program will be sponsored by McPherson's clothing store. There will also be a broadcast from the Oriental Gardens an hour and one-half later.
Medford Mail Tribune, May 16, 1931, page 3

    Walking, walking, but no place in particular to go, entrants in the Walkathon, to officially begin Tuesday night at the Oriental Gardens, were practicing today to be in the pink of condition for the long grind, expected to continue indefinitely and possibly until the end of this summer.
    A big dance tomorrow evening at the gardens will be a feature of the start-off. Music will be furnished by Bob Sherman and his Siskiyouans, and the admission price has been reduced for the big event.
    The entrants in the contest, including several local couples, will be given every convenience and are assured of the best food possible. The services of Mrs. Gertrude Tetherow, dietitian, have been secured to prepare three meals daily for the contestants. A complete kitchen has been established in the Natatorium building. The equipment includes an electric refrigerator and an electric stove, donated for the purpose by the People's Electric Store. The food is furnished by local grocery dealers and is the best obtainable.
    A small white rabbit has been furnished the walkathoners as a mascot, and each couple is expectant that the bunny will bring luck. It is receiving the utmost consideration and has a headquarters all of its own.
    A large room has been outfitted for the men's quarters with cots placed around the walls at convenient intervals. On these beds the men contestants will snatch 15 minutes of sleep every 45 minutes when not eating or taking showers. Another room has been prepared for the women.
    The Emma Kline beauty shop is to give a number of the women entrants care for their hair and face. A barber from the Hotel Medford shop will do the same for the men.
    The list of the entrants will be announced later.
    Most of the contestants were practicing yesterday, and the following is a sample of the menu they enjoyed:
Breakfast 8:00 a.m.
Sliced oranges.
Soft-boiled eggs.
Buttered toast.
Coffee or milk.
Dinner 1:30 p.m.
Stewed chicken.
Mashed potatoes.
Creamed carrots.
Combination salad.
Jell-o and ice cream.
Bread and butter.
Coffee and milk.
Supper 7:30 p.m.
Vegetable dinner with hard-boiled eggs.
Fruit salad.
Bread and butter.
Medford Mail Tribune, May 18, 1931, page 5

Medford Mail Tribune, May 19, 1931
Medford Mail Tribune, May 19, 1931

    Hoping for the best but prepared for a walk that may continue until next August or longer, entrants for the Walkathon at the Oriental Gardens were going through their final practice paces today before the contest officially begins at 10 o'clock this evening as the feature of a big dance at the gardens. The walkers, 14 couples of them, completed preparations to break away from their usual activities and make the Natatorium their world for weeks to come.
    The contestants were announced this afternoon as follows: Mae Higley and Roy Brigham, Velma Endicott and Allen G. Keopp, Frances Shepherd and Fred Morgan, Bertha Guches and Truman Schwartznau, Maebell Thomas and Gilbert Perry, Marjorie Davies and Tex Garrison, Marjorie Eagle and William White, Allen Paul and Billie Emery, Hazel O'Hara and Orbin Cooksey, Ella Anderson and Harry Orelbeck, Maria Brown and Jimmy Anderson, Ruth Clark and Warren Priest.
    The entrants have all undergone strict physical examinations by Dr. A. F. W. Kresse, who discouraged two or three couples from entering because of their physical condition. A trained nurse, Miss Leona Dietrich, will be on duty until the contest narrows down to the last couple. During the length of the Walkathon, contestants will undergo regular examinations, and if their condition shows signs of danger, they will not be permitted to continue.
    The staff for the kitchen, under the direction of Mrs. Gertrude Tetherow, dietitian, has been assembled. The walkers will receive regular meals but must eat from a high table and must continue to keep their feet moving while eating. They will not be permitted to sit down. This privilege comes when they go to their respective couches for 15-minute snatches of sleep. They will rest in their walking clothes. Each entrant must take a shower each morning.
    It is possible several couples will arrive this evening from Portland to enter the contest.
    The menu the walkathoners enjoyed today was as follows:
Breakfast 9:00 a.m.
One glass fruit juices
Post bran and cream
Buttered toast
Milk or coffee
11:30 a.m. one glass of milk
Dinner 1:30 p.m.
Meat loaf
Creamed potatoes
Apple and celery salad
Ice cream and Jell-O dessert
Celery and bread and butter
Tea or milk
4:30 p.m. orange juice or malted milk
Supper 7:30 p.m.
Hard-boiled eggs and spinach
Boiled potatoes
Macaroni salad
Bread, butter and celery
Coffee or milk
11:30 p.m. cocoa or milk and graham crackers
3:00 a.m. heavy soup, celery and coffee
Medford Mail Tribune, May 19, 1931, page 3

    At 3 o'clock this afternoon, 14 couples had completed 17 hours of walking in the Walkathon, officially opened last night at the Oriental Gardens. The contestants were keeping up a steady pace this afternoon, with most of them appearing to be standing the strain of the first hours of the grind in good shape.
    The women were garbed in pajamas, with the exception of two or three, and expressed determination to stay to the last. One or two were walking around, reading magazines, and others were working crossword puzzles. One man, who showed the strain of the walk, was sleeping a portion of the time on his partner's shoulder while he was keeping up the pace.
    There was one solo entrant today, Warren Priest, who must drop out of the contest if he cannot find a partner by this evening. He thought possibly one or two of the couples would drop out today, giving him an opportunity of choosing one.
    James C. Parkhill, Yreka, Calif., a banjo player for the past seven years, will provide music for a time tonight at the gardens. He broadcast several selections over KMED, the Mail Tribune-Virgin station, this forenoon. He studied music at the Truett-George Studios in San Francisco and has played over quite a number of California radio stations. He was a member last year of the Walters-Murray orchestra of Los Angeles.
    Two couples dropped out of the contest last evening before it was under way. They had signed contracts to join but later had a change of heart.
    Five couples were pointed out this forenoon as being especially strong, and the contest lies among them, it is thought.
    The barber chair, donated by the Jackson Hotel barber shop, David Peterson, proprietor, was busy this morning, as well as the beauty shop operated there by the Emma Cline shop of South Grape Street.

Medford Mail Tribune, May 20, 1931, page 8

    Sixteen couples entered the Walkathon at the Oriental Gardens last evening, and more may enter later. A handicap arrangement is being worked out for those couples who enter later than 10 o'clock last night.
    All the contestants last night at 12 o'clock were gay and eager, everyone, no doubt, thinking and hoping for victory. All the girls who entered the Walkathon were given beauty treatments by the Emma Cline Beauty Shop, two of the girls, numbers 2 and 11, receiving permanents before the contest opened. Contestant number one received a frock from the Cinderella Dress Shop.
    Many people last night speculated as to whether the girls planned to wear their spike heels throughout the contest. All contestants will be allowed to change shoes as often as they like, new ones being furnished by the various shoe shops in town.
    The American Legion dance, which was scheduled for tomorrow night, has been postponed, but the regular dance will be held. Every night during the duration of the Walkathon a dance will be given, except Sunday night. The hall will be open to the public all day long, with the exception of the hours from 12 to 8 o'clock Saturday night.
    The list of contestants is as follows:
    Couple No. 1, Mae Higley and Roy Brigham; couple No. 2, Velma Endicott and Allen G. Keopp; couple No. 3, Frances Shepherd and Fred Morgan; couple No. 4, Bertha Guches and Truman Schwartznau; couple No. 5, Maebelle Thomas and Gilbert Perry; couple No. 7, Dorothy Mires and Edward Mires; couple No. 8, Marjorie Davies and Tex Garrison; couple no. 9, Marjorie Eagle and William White; couple No. 11, Allen Paul and Billie Emery; couple No. 12, Hazel O'Hara and James Orbin Cooksey; couple No. 13, Ella Anderson and Harry Orelbeck; couple No. 14, Marie Brown and James Anderson; couple No. 15, Ruth Clark and Warren Priest; couple No. 16, Loretta Clark and Jack Tate.

Medford Daily News, May 20, 1931, page 6

Walkathon ad, May 21, 1931 Medford Mail Tribune
Medford Mail Tribune, May 21, 1931

    With 40 hours to their credit, 11 couples were keeping up their determination this afternoon to walk until summer is over in the Walkathon, which began two nights ago at the Oriental Gardens. Fourteen couples started in the contest, but the strain of the first few hours was too much for some of them, and they dropped out. There will be a dance at the gardens tonight in connection with the contest.
    One solo walker, Warren Priest, continues in the competition and is looking for sponsorship from some local business house, as the sole reward for being an entrant. Being without a partner, he is not in line for the prize money.
    Miss Marvel Mason arrived in Medford today from Portland to act as master of ceremonies for programs that are given nightly for the entertainment of visitors as well as the contestants. Miss Mason, a good-looking young woman, is an old hand at the business and will keep things moving. There will be a change of entertainment each night.
    Feeding the walkers seven times a day is keeping Mrs. Gertrude Tetherow busy, as well as a staff of assistants. Food is purchased in case lots and is carefully inspected by Mrs. Tetherow and must also be given approval by Dr. A. F. W. Kresse, who keeps a physical check-up on the contestants. He is assisted by a staff of nurses.
    Yesterday, Mrs. Tetherow reported that there were 257 separate servings of food and drink during the 24 hours.

Medford Mail Tribune, May 21, 1931, page 3

    Ten couples completed 65 hours of walking at 3 o'clock this afternoon in the Walkathon begun last Tuesday night at the Oriental Gardens. Two couples gave up the ghost last evening, but the remainder appear as if they could go on indefinitely.
    Warren Priest, walking a solo, is still looking for a sponsorship by some local merchant, and is willing to keep on walking, although he is not in line for prize money. Tex Garrison, whose partner dropped out last night, is still in the contest and has until this evening to locate another partner.
    There will be a dance at the gardens tonight for the benefit of visitors wishing to see the walkers in action.

Medford Mail Tribune, May 22, 1931, page 5

    "How long has this been going on?"
    The contestants in the walkathon had tramped for 51 hours last night at midnight. Ten couples were left, and two solos. Marjorie Davis, the partner of Tex Garrison, dropped out yesterday, and Mr. Garrison will have only until 5 o'clock this afternoon to find a new partner before he is automatically dropped from competition. Warren Priest, a solo, was dropped, but is still walking in the hopes of finding a sponsor, although he is not eligible for the prize.
    Jack Tate was dropped yesterday at 7 p.m., being unable to secure a partner within the 24-hour time limit.
    Miss Marvel Mason, clever entertainer, is now in charge of the dance features in connection with the Walkathon. She is very experienced in this work, having as one of her many recommendations as entertainer three years with the Al G. Barnes circus.
    Those couples still left in the competition are: Mae Higley, Roy Brigham, couple No. 1; Velma Endicott, Allen G. Keopp, No. 2; Frances Shepherd, Fred Morgan, No. 3; Bertha Guches, Truman Schwartznau, No. 4; Gladys Ray, Gilbert Perry, No. 5; Dorothy Mires, Edward Mires, No. 7; Marjorie Eagle, William White, No. 9; Allen Paul, Billie Emery, No. 11; Ella Anderson, Harry Orelbeck, No. 12; and Marie Brown and James Anderson, couple No. 14.
Medford Daily News, May 22, 1931, page 6

    Unable to keep up the pace, Edward Mires this morning dropped out of the Walkathon under way at the Oriental Gardens, leaving nine couples in the contest, which is now nearing 100 hours. Mires' partner, his wife, is continuing to walk, and has until tomorrow morning to find another partner.
    An announcement is to be made soon by the Walkathon management concerning another endurance contest which will be held in a short time. It will be more strenuous than the present competition and will be interesting to watch.
    A dance will be held at the gardens tonight in connection with the Walkathon. Music will be furnished by a local orchestra.

Medford Mail Tribune, May 23, 1931, page 2

    The Walkathon grind is exacting its toll of entrants at the Oriental Gardens, where it has been in progress since last Tuesday, reaching the 135-hour mark this afternoon. Two more entrants dropped out since yesterday, tired of the monotonous routine of placing one foot in front of another and going around and around in a long circle hour after hour, with a 15-minute sleep coming every 45 minutes.
    There were seven couples left today with one determination left in each--to walk until assured of victory. Warren Priest is continuing his solo walk and is still looking for a sponsor.
    Velma Endicott entered the contest with Allen Keopp but last evening was unable to continue. Edward Mires, who was considered one of the strongest of the entrants, dropped out early today, but his wife is continuing. James Anderson is another walker whose partner gave up the ghost.
    Fred Morgan, local taxi driver, and Marjorie Shepherd are going strong. On the Thursday before the Walkathon began Morgan was married to a local girl, Florence Pederson, and figures victory is of utmost importance.
    Gilbert Perry and Gladys Ray, Roy Brigham and Mae Higley, and Harry Orelbeck and Etta Anderson are just as determined. A few of the others appear more haggard, but perhaps they feel just as strong.
    Marvel Mason and Jimmy Parkfield are the main entertainers for the walkers and are planning an interesting program for this evening. Truman (Peanuts) Schwartznau and Bertha Guches are a couple who take turns singing and have some real talent. Tex Garrison is another walker who entertains at times on the harmonica. He walks with Marjorie Eagle.

Medford Mail Tribune, May 25, 1931, page 8

    Eight couples are continuing the grind in the walkathon contest in progress at the Oriental Gardens, passing the 150th hour today. The present contestants are all in good fettle and are determined to walk for days to come.
    Billie Emery and Allen Paul are Gold Hill's contribution to the walkathon and are keeping right up with the rest. They are becoming accustomed to sleeping every 15 minutes and say they like it. However, it will probably be a different story for all of them when the timing is changed so that rest periods will be shorter and walking longer.
    The contestants performed this afternoon over KMED by remote control and staged an interesting program. A dance will be held at the gardens this evening with Dominic Provost's orchestra.
Medford Mail Tribune, May 26, 1931, page 3

Medford Mail Tribune, May 26, 1931
Medford Mail Tribune, May 26, 1931

    Unable to obtain another partner after his own had dropped out the day before, Jimmy Anderson quit the walkathon at the Oriental Gardens late last night, leaving eight couples to continue the long grind, which passed the 180-hour mark today. The remaining contestants are all in good condition, and appearances are that the contest will be carried on indefinitely.
    Dancers at the gardens last night gave Anderson a silver shower when he dropped out. Music was furnished by Dom Provost. There will be another dance this evening, when Elwood Strader and his band will furnish the music. There will also be the usual entertainment by Marvel Mason and Jimmy Parkhill.

Medford Mail Tribune, May 27, 1931, page 2

    If the entrants in the Walkathon, in progress at the Oriental Gardens, had been walking in a straight line, they would have probably covered over 400 miles in the 207 hours they have been tramping in the contest, official figures this afternoon revealed. No entrants have dropped for the past 36 hours, leaving seven couples in the competition, which has been attracting more and more visitors daily.
    There will be a big dance there this evening, with music furnished by Elwood Strader's band, which will also play Friday and Saturday nights.
    Fred Morgan and Frances Shepherd are stepping off the hours in lively fashion, and Morgan today declared he felt just as good as if he had been receiving regular sleep. His partner was of the same mind.
    Peanuts Schwartznau, although he may be a little tired at times, always seems to have sufficient energy to sing four or five songs every day and declares he is ready to keep tramping 2000 hours if necessary.

Medford Mail Tribune, May 28, 1931, page 7

Participation Women and Girls in Portland Endurance Test
Against Oregon Law, Says Van Winkle

    SALEM, Ore., May 29.--(AP)--Walkathons in which women and minor girls participate and in the manner in which they have recently been conducted in Portland are in violation of the Oregon statutes, Attorney General I. H. Van Winkle held in an opinion handed down late yesterday. Nine hours' rest are required between successive days under the Oregon laws regulating hours of employment for women.
    The opinion was requested by C. H. Gram, state labor commissioner, who left for Portland today to put into effect the ruling of the attorney general. The complaint was based on the recent walkathon at Lotus Isle.
Held Occupation
    The attorney general made his decision on the basis that women engaged in walkathons were not doing so for amusement but as an occupation for profit and thus were subject to the Oregon labor laws. The ruling followed investigation of the Portland event, where 3000 to 8000 people had paid admissions on successive days to see the contestants.
    In another opinion, the attorney general held that the state board of health has authority to investigate and determine whether such walkathons are injurious to life and health. If they are, the attorney general held, the board of health has authority to regulate them.

Medford Mail Tribune, May 29, 1931, page 1

    Seven couples were still tramping today in the Walkathon contest underway at the Oriental Gardens, where they have been walking for nearly two weeks. The contest opened with 14 couples, and it is thought several will drop out in the next week, leaving the hardiest to continue the struggle against nerves and sleep. The winners of the contest will receive one dollar per hour for each hour walked, providing they have passed the 300-hour mark.
    There will be a dance at the gardens tonight, with music furnished by a local orchestra. Dud Nelson of Portland will be master of ceremonies supreme. Tomorrow night, men contestants will put on a dressing room scene at 10:40. The cots will be moved into the hall and, the entrants will take their rest as they would in their own training quarters.
Medford Mail Tribune, May 29, 1931, page 8

Walkathon To Feature New Entertainer
    Dud Nelson, popular Portland entertainer, from the Lotus Isle ballroom in the metropolis, will be in Medford today to join with Miss Marvel Mason and Jimmy Anderson in entertaining the crowds at the Walkathon dances.
    An interesting feature of the Walkathon Saturday night will be the men's dressing room scene. At 10:45, the regular sleeping time, the beds of the men contestants will be brought into the ball room, and the interesting process of going to sleep and rousing again will be shown for the public, just as it happens in the dormitory.
    Seven couples are left in the contest, and they had gone 218 hours at midnight last night. The ice-sitting contest in which they were to take part was indefinitely postponed.

Medford Daily News, May 29, 1931, page 2

    District Attorney George A. Codding said this afternoon that he was awaiting word from State Labor Commissioner C. H. Gram on what action he would take relative to the local walkathon, under way at the Natatorium.
    The engagement of women in walkathons was recently ruled a violation of the labor laws by the state attorney general, and on this basis Labor Commissioner Gram took action against the walkathon in Portland. The management agreed to bring the contest to an end today. One scheduled to start in the metropolis was called off in the face of threatened legal action.
    District Attorney Codding said that he expected to get in telephonic communication with Commissioner Gram this afternoon and decide what action would be taken locally.
    Completing 304 hours of walking at 2 o'clock this afternoon, six couples and one solo contestant were continuing their tramping about the Natatorium.
    One member dropped out yesterday. The rest were carrying on this afternoon, looking a bit wilted by the early June heat.

Medford Mail Tribune, June 1, 1931, page 8

    State Labor Commissioner C. H. Gram of Salem this afternoon advised District Attorney George. H. Codding that he would name a special investigator to scan the walkathon now under way in the Natatorium and directed that if the report warranted complaints be issued under the labor laws of Oregon.
    In the meantime the local "step-along" will continue to operate.
    There are seven women and eight men engaged in the exhibition here.
    Commissioner Gram advised the local authorities that the Portland walkathon promoters, despite their promise to conclude last night at midnight, were continuing today. The state expects to serve warrants against the Portland operators this afternoon and anticipates that an application will be filed simultaneously for a restraining order.
    This will bring the matter to a quick legal decision and any local action will be based thereon.
    Commissioner Gram is contemplating similar action against a walkathon running in Klamath Falls in which women and minor girls are engaged.
Medford Mail Tribune, June 2, 1931, page 3

    The Medford Walkathon, beset by financial woes and threatened action by the state labor commission, died of its own volition late yesterday, after existing for 329 hours, at the Natatorium. The local public did not support the project with any vim to speak of, so it died on the vine.
    A number of employees of the Walkathon called upon the district attorney yesterday and discussed ways and means of securing their wages. Among the number were Harold (Swede) Anderson, Medford High and Oregon freshman football star, who acted in the capacity of trainer and masseur. No solution was evolved.
    The walkathoners enjoyed an undisturbed sleep last night for the first time since May 30 and probably did a little walking in their sleep. All were reported in good condition, aside from weariness.
    A number of local citizens concerned in the project made light investments which would have been returned sevenfold or more had the enthusiasm been feverish on the part of the populace.
Medford Mail Tribune, June 3, 1931, page 5

Last revised January 24, 2024