|LUMMIS AT HIS DESK AT EL ALISAL|
This week's arts and culture piece begins like this:
Charles F. Lummis (1859-1928) was a complicated figure.
Born and raised in Lynn, Massachusetts, in 1884, Lummis made national headlines by walking 3,507 miles from Cincinnati to Los Angeles in order to take a job at the “LA Times.”
He broke his arm en route and set it himself — then completed the rest of what he called his “tramp.”
Upon his arrival, the fledgling newspaper offered him the new position of city editor. Over time, he became a lover of all things Californian. He served from 1905 to 1910 as city librarian, and founded LA’s Southwest Museum.
He helped save four California missions. He also championed indigenous cultures, living for a time among the pueblos in New Mexico, and traveling to Mexico, Bolivia and Peru.
He was charismatic, a self-taught polyglot, journalist, photographer and historian, a spinner of tales who gathered acolytes around him to execute his feverishly ceaseless orders, projects and plans. An obsessively hard worker, he claimed to get by on two or three hours of sleep per night.
He wore a suit of parrot-green corduroy, wound a length of Mexican-red cloth around his waist and completed the outfit with a soiled Stetson hat.
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