On November 20, 1907, two thousand people crowded the shore of Long Beach to bid goodbye to the cruisers Colorado, Maryland, Pennsylvania andWest Virginia who were leaving Long Beach after a ten day stay. The four ships of the first division of the Pacific fleet had cordially greeted visitors and performed shore drills. The major purpose of the visit, however, was to meet family and friends who had traveled from throughout the country to meet their sailor kin. Twenty five men had enlisted during the squadron’s stay, five from Long Beach. Two Long Beach lads, Robert Mead and Arthur Letts had signed up so they wouldn’t need to testify against Alice Shorers and her alleged house of prostitution. Thirty others had deserted, often with some ingenuity. Fred Smith of Los Angeles told how he met a sailor at the West Virginia ball who persuaded him to change clothing to see how he looked in sailor’s attire. Smith then said the sailor excused himself for a moment and never came back.
There was one remarkable story involving the fleet visit. Cora Haskell had traveled to Long Beach to visit her brother on board the South Dakota. To her astonishment she ran into an old schoolmate and beau from Dubuque, Iowa. Seventeen years earlier Patrick Burns had enlisted in the Navy. The couple vowed to write regularly but the pair eventually lost track of each other and Burns thought Cora had died. Both were overjoyed; romance again developed quickly and Patrick proposed. On June 9, 1908, Patrick’s enlistment over, he lost no time in marrying his long lost love. The newlyweds decided to make Long Beach, where their lives had again intertwined, their home.
You can find more of Claudine Burnett's stories from the past HERE.