If you’re new to Mystery Dancer, welcome! The best place to start is at the beginning and go from there.
As the drama of the shocking crime and its aftermath faded from the headlines in autumn 1928, routine life resumed for Ursula and her fellow Honoluluans (with the exception, I’m sure, of the Jamieson and Fukunaga families). By October 9, the day after the young murderer was sentenced to death, media attention had shifted to a more benign drama: The New York Yankees had swept the World Series in game 4 with “a record shattering orgy of home runs, three of them by Babe Ruth.” (Honolulu Star-Bulletin)
Three weeks later, Ursula said goodbye to her good friend and roommate Elizabeth Everhardy, who was setting sail for San Francisco aboard the steamship Wilhelmina to meet up with her mother in the continental U.S. But Ursula still had her new Honolulu pals Betty, Marie and Anita, who lived nearby in a house at Waikiki Beach.
In November, they invited Ursula to another evening bridge party—men included this time—at their Haulani Court cottage in honor of their friend Doris Strinsky, who had just arrived in Honolulu on a 325-passenger Pacific Northwest cruise from Tacoma, WA. Ursula and the other party-goers probably would have heard all about her trip, as Doris and her fellow travelers had experienced rough weather much of the way. At one point, the choppy sea surged over the bow, enveloping the navigating bridge, smashing two windows and sweeping away two of the ship’s ladders! (Honolulu Star-Bulletin, November 14, 1928).
In addition to her social life, Ursula kept busy at her job as a typing instructor at the Honolulu Business College. Her commute likely consisted of a short walk to the Waikiki Beach streetcar line, where she would have boarded a trolley destined for downtown Honolulu, where the college was located.
I have wondered how Ursula came to work at the school. Recently, upon rereading the newspaper article that revealed her occupation, I discovered a California connection with the college and would not be surprised if that’s how she was introduced to it. One of her fellow teachers, Edward Himrod, was, like Ursula, a UC Berkeley alumn. A graduate of the class of 1922, he was a senior there when Ursula was a sophomore. With a Master’s degree in language teaching, Mr. Himrod served as advertising manager of Honolulu Business College and provided practical training in news writing, advertising and salesmanship.
I came across a description of a scenario, which perhaps his coworker Ursula was privy to, about his work there. According to the Honolulu Star-Bulletin (October 20, 1928), he had “started to make records for the Dictaphone to be used in giving instructions in the typing and shorthand classes. Disaster came to the enterprise early, as the first record…was broken during the first lesson.”
December would have been a hectic month for Ursula and the other college staff as they prepared to relocate the college to a new, larger facility, due to its rapid growth. On December 22, the Star-Bulletin announced that the opening of the new location would be celebrated on the evening of Wednesday, January 2, 1929 with a reception including refreshments, entertainment and music, including a student singing “charming native Hawaiian melodies” and a rendition by Mrs. Isobel Cassidy of “Carry Me Back to Old Virginny.”
Just three days after the reception, the “Honolulu Business College News” column in the Star-Bulletin announced that Ursula was taking a leave of absence. Indeed, according to the next day’s paper, “Miss Ursula Cheshire, Hollywood,” had left Hawaii on January 5 on the glamorous steamer S.S. Calawaii bound for Los Angeles, where she would reunite with her mother.
Had she arranged this trip far in advance, or did something happen to make her suddenly long for home? I don’t know, but I found it curious that her beau left Honolulu less than two weeks later.
On January 17, 1929, Samuel B. Riddick climbed aboard the Dollar Steamship Line’s President Jackson, ultimately destined for Japan, China, Hong Kong and the Philippines—but as a member of the crew, not a passenger. He started work officially at 12 noon the next day, when he signed on as a “wiper,” a job that mainly entailed cleaning and maintaining the engine room and equipment, and assisting the deck crew as needed—a big change from working as an auto salesman! Perhaps he was heartbroken at Ursula’s absence and hoped to arrange a California visit with her along the journey; the first ports of call would be San Francisco and Los Angeles, where the ship would deliver passengers, mail and cargo before heading to Seattle, back to Honolulu and then on to “the Orient.”
I don’t know if they met up again that January. In looking at the U.S. Customs Service records (Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at New York, New York, 1820-1897), I do know that Samuel continued to work for the Dollar line for a couple months, switching to another of its ships, the President Polk. He ended his brief career as a wiper on April 2, 1929, when, upon arriving in the Port of New York by way of Kobe, Japan, the Polk discharged Samuel, along with 22 other seamen.
Samuel and Ursula’s paths would cross again, but not for several years. In the meantime, I’m sure her voyage to Los Angeles was much more comfortable than his!