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Looking Back: Arrest of former oil company head on grave labor complaint 


Looking Back Paso Robles

Excerpts from the Thursday, October 30, 1930, Paso Robles Spotlight:

Police seize Blanton, ex-superintendent in hotel. Out on $2,000 bail.

Tentative dismissal of officials made by district attorney in earlier cases.

A reverberating echo of recent Upton oil well labor difficulties sounded again in Paso Robles Monday evening with the arrest on “labor theft” charges of B.L. Blanton, former superintendent, the charges being filed by the district attorney’s office.

Arrested by Constable Herman Anderson, Blanton was later released on $2,000 bonds and to appear before Justice of the Peace Lyman Brewer at a date not yet set by the district attorney. Entrance of the State labor commission into the case was forecast by assistant district attorney A.V. Muller in telephone communication here.

Looking Back Paso Robles

Click here to see the full front page of the Thursday, October 30, 1930, The Paso Robles Spotlight.

Fourth arrest

Blanton’s arrest was the fourth made in the Upton case during the last two months. All arrests were outgrowths of labor difficulties. On or about August 7, Bernard Harlihy, Bernard Goodman and Jos Ansley, reputed officials of Latin-American oil company, were arrested on charges of issuing worthless checks.

The oil workers’ petition in the case was presented in a hearing before Justice Brewer. In consequence the three accused officials were given an opportunity to make amends. A total amount of $1,435 was obtained from the men to meet demands of workers in the form of fifteen checks. Charges against Ansley were dismissed and the case against Harlihy and Goodman at a standstill temporarily, according to the district attorney.

Legal aspects of the case militate against the possibility of prosecution of the officials on felony charges, the district attorney’s office implied. No direct evidence that the officials sought to avoid their labor payment responsibilities could be found, it was said.

Blanton’s arrest was seen as a move to effect compensation for the oil workers. Recently Upton well was in a state of virtual siege by indignant workers who demanded payment for back services at the well, now being operated by Ring Oil company.

Felony charges

Blanton’s responsibility, according to informed oilmen, is not quite clear in the matter. It has been held that as a superintendent he was in much the same position as the men he employed.

The charge on which Blanton was arrested is considered a felony, according to district attorney Harry Dubin. It is punishable by a prison sentence.

Doctor; aide, plan research in paralysis

See development here of health pool for affected

Plans towards establishing the new form of paralytic treatment based upon exercises in ‘therapeutic pools,’ recently proved partially successful here by Dr. Benjamin Cunningham and Gus Melgard, were going forward here today.

“The therapeutic pool idea is one that offers tremendous possibilities of success in the cure or alleviation of paralysis,” Dr. Cunningham said today. “We are looking forward to perfecting the method of treatment at Paso Robles Hot Springs. We are convinced that body temperature water, plus exercise, or the tendency of easy motion induced by water displacing body weight, offers a field of activity of promising proportions.”

Recently Dr. Cunningham and Melgard, chief masseur at Paso Robles Hot Springs Hotel, tried a two week experiment with the therapeutic pool idea. In the case of the patient lending himself to the experiment a notable improvement in condition was made.

The pool idea originated at Warm Springs, Georgia and was so successful in restoring crippled person to use their limbs that the Georgia Warm Springs Foundation was established to carry on work.

The pool treatment is based upon the principle that water displaces weight of a body immersed in it. This displacement and consequent lightening of body weight permits ease of motion. The lessened effort in water heated to body temperature is believed to induce motion reactions in partially and, oftentimes, totally paralyzed limbs.

Melgard cited the case of Roosevelt, Governor of New York, as illustrative of the powerful curative combination of water and the encouragement to exercise limbs afforded by the therapeutic pool. Roosevelt, once crippled so badly as to need crutches, now is able to walk rapidly with the aid of a cane only.

Read previous Looking Back articles

This Looking Back view of Paso Robles history comes from one of the hundreds of local newspapers in the Paso Robles Area Historical Society collection, located in the Paso Robles History Museum at 800 12th Street in Downtown City Park. Photography of the old newspapers is by Gigi Greene. News for this column is selected with the assistance of the society’s Vice President Nancy Tweedie and Research Director Jan Cannon. 

Thank you to sponsors of Looking Back

Paso Robles Pioneer Museum – Come take a real look back into local Paso Robles history. Open Thursday through Sunday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. 2010 Riverside Ave., Paso Robles, CA 93446, (805) 239-4556.

Estrella Warbird Museum is an aviation museum dedicated to the restoration and preservation of military aircraft, vehicles, and memorabilia. Woodland Auto Display is also open. Hours: Thursday through Sunday: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.. 4251 Dry Creek Road, Paso Robles, CA 93446,, (805) 227-0440.

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About the author: Reporter Jackie Iddings

Jackie Iddings is a contributing reporter and photographer for the Paso Robles Daily News.