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Finding Aid for the Clifford E. Clinton Papers, 1934-1969
2018  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content
  • Indexing Terms
  • Items Removed from Collection
  • Related Material

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Clifford E. Clinton Papers,
    Date (inclusive): 1934-1969
    Collection number: 2018
    Creator: Clinton, Clifford E., 1900-1969
    Extent: 13 boxes (6.5 linear ft.) 14 oversize boxes
    Repository: University of California, Los Angeles. Library. Dept. of Special Collections.
    Los Angeles, California 90095-1575
    Abstract: Clifford E. Clinton (1900-1969) was a restauranteur active in Los Angeles politics. He was involved with the recall of Los Angeles mayor Frank Shaw and supported Fletcher Bowron as mayor of Los Angeles (1938), helped organize the Citizen's Independent Vice Investigating Committee (CIVIC), and was active in civic reform movements. Clinton ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 1945. He was also involved with Community Food Service Centers, the development of multi-purpose food, and the Meals for Millions Foundation during World War II. The collection contains correspondence, manuscripts, publications, scrapbooks, radio scripts, photographs, and memorabilia related to Clinton's personal interests and business affairs, his restaurants, and Los Angeles politics, government, and social conditions.
    Physical location: Stored off-site at SRLF. Advance notice is required for access to the collection. Please contact the UCLA Library, Department of Special Collections Reference Desk for paging information.
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information

    Restrictions on Use and Reproduction

    Property rights to the physical object belong to the UCLA Library, Department of Special Collections. Literary rights, including copyright, are retained by the creators and their heirs. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine who holds the copyright and pursue the copyright owner or his or her heir for permission to publish where The UC Regents do not hold the copyright.

    Restrictions on Access

    COLLECTION STORED OFF-SITE AT SRLF: Advance notice required for access.

    Provenance/Source of Acquisition

    Gift of Donald H. Clinton, 1973.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Clifford E. Clinton Papers (Collection 2018). Department of Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, University of California, Los Angeles.

    Biography

    Clifford E. Clinton was born in 1900; served in World War I; assumed management of father's six restaurants in San Francisco after marrying Nelda Patterson; moved to Los Angeles and founded the "Pacific Seas" Clifton's Cafeteria, 1931; later founded the Brookdale Cafeteria; became involved with Los Angeles politics in 1936 with John Anson Ford; involved with recall of Los Angeles mayor Frank Shaw and supported Fletcher Bowron as mayor of Los Angeles, 1938; helped organize the Citizen's Independent Vice Investigating Committee (CIVIC) and was active in civic reform movements; published brochure, The clock strikes twelve, 1945; ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 1945; became involved with Community Food Service Centers, the development of multi-purpose food, and the Meals for Millions Foundation during World War II; died, 1969.

    Biographical Narrative

    Clifford E. Clinton was born in 1900 and died in 1969. His father was a restaurant owner and missionary; Clifford Clinton spent part of his childhood in China and early became acquainted with restaurant operations. He served in both World War I and World War II. Upon his discharge from service in World War I, he married Nelda Patterson. Shortly after, he assumed full management of his father's six restaurants in San Francisco.
    In 1931, during the depression, Clinton moved to Los Angeles and founded what was to later become the "Pacific Seas" Clifton's Cafeteria. This cafeteria, and the later "Brookdale" Cafeteria, were operated according to his ideas of management, which included allowing guests to voice opinions on the quality of food and service via a publication distributed at the cafeterias, Food for Thot. Perhaps the most famous of the cafeteria slogans was "Dine free unless delighted." And there was a corollary statement to this: "Regardless of the amount of this check our cashier will cheerfully accept whatever you wish to pay--or you may dine free."
    Clinton became involved in Los Angeles politics in 1936, when working with County Supervisor John Anson Ford in an investigation of waste in administering County General Hospital. Also in 1936, Ford suggested to Judge Fletcher Bowron that Clinton be nominated for the Grand Jury. It was during this period that Clinton, always a promoter of Los Angeles, decided that it should be cleaned up much the same way that New York was being cleaned up by Dewey and LaGuardia. He began a series of investigations into vice and gambling and prostitution. The Grand Jury refused to accept his findings, so he published a minority report, financed a radio program, "The People's Voice," and helped organize CIVIC, the Citizen's Independent Vice Investigating Committee. The culmination of his efforts through this organization was obtaining the recall of Mayor Frank Shaw. Fletcher Bowron, the man whom Clinton supported, became mayor and remained so from 1938 until 1953. During the next two years, a new district attorney, John Dockweiler, was elected and also a new city council, which was more receptive to the kinds of reforms which Clinton envisioned.
    Not even Bowron lived up to Clinton's ideals for Los Angeles, so that in 1945, he published a brochure by Aldrich Blake called "The Clock Strikes Twelve." Clinton decided that he himself would run for mayor. This he did unsuccessfully in 1945. There were 16 candidates in the Primary, out of which Bowron was chosen and Clinton ran second.
    His interest in Los Angeles and its politics did not wane. He supported the idea of putting in parking under Pershing Square. He investigated corruption in the administration of the Coliseum. And he organized tours of the city, so as to best present it to newcomers.
    During World War II, he became interested in the problems of food waste and shortage and worked on these both during the service and after, when he became interested in Community Food Service Centers and the Meals for Million foundation and the development of Multi-Purpose Food.
    The Clinton papers cover this entire range of activities. There are manuscript notes of his childhood experiences in China. There are detailed files and documents relating to CIVIC and its crusades. There are documents and campaign literature from the period of the Shaw recall and Bowron's and Dockweiler's elections. The files from Clinton's mayoralty campaign contain numerous broadcast scripts. There are files of general information about the city of Los Angeles and its history. Finally, there is a large file of materials pertaining to the operations of the cafeterias, including pictures and printed brochures from the now-destroyed Pacific Seas cafeteria, with its neon palm-trees and its rain-hut, where it "rained" every twenty minutes.

    Scope and Content

    Collection contains correspondence, manuscripts, publications, scrapbooks, radio scripts, photographs, and memorabilia related to Clinton's personal interests and business affairs, related to his restaurants as well as Los Angeles politics, government, and social conditions. Includes broadcast scripts from Clinton's mayoral campaign, detailed documents related to the activities of CIVIC, and material from Clifton's Cafeteria and the Brookdale Cafeteria. Also includes manuscript notes of Clinton's childhood experiences in China.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    Clinton, Clifford E., 1900-1969--Archives.
    Citizen's Independent Vice Investigating Committee (Los Angeles, Calif.).
    Restaurateurs--California--Los Angeles--Archival resources.
    Civic improvement--California--Los Angeles.
    Los Angeles (Calif.)--Politics and government.

    Items Removed from Collection

    Fifteen 16" records, primarily KMTR broadcasts for mayoralty campaign:
    • KFI, March 31, 1945
    • One unlabeled
    • One unidentified station
      Date: April 1, 1945
    • One KMTR Apr 2, 19--
    • 2 with information on labels crossed out
    • KMTR, March 5,8,13,14,22,29, 1945; two records March 15, 1945
    [Stored in UCLA Film and television archive in Hollywood (December 7, 1987)]

    Related Material

    The CIVIC Committee in the recall of Mayor Frank Shaw [thesis (M.A.)] / by Jerry Saul Caplan, 1947. Available at University Archives, UCLA.