Hal Wescomb and Kermit Higgins lived at the Belmont, and had two other things in common. Both were divorced and both had taken bullets during the war — Hal to his right leg and Kerm to his left hip– necessitating the occasional use of canes, particularly on frosty mornings such as this one in early November of 1968 when they headed together out of the hotel south on Hill to catch the Angel’s Flight up to their polling place on what little now remained of Bunker Hill.
The two were great friends, but stood staunchly on opposite sides of Proposition 9, which sought to limit the property tax rate. In fact, if it wasn’t for their desire to cancel out the other’s vote, they might not have bothered to cast ballots that day.
Proposition 9 was defeated.
TRUTH IS: While the downtown location in the accompanying photo is real, I have no idea who those two fellows are and totally made up what they were doing after finding this photo (from the William Reagh Collection, California History Section, California State Library) in a wonderfully detailed post about the Hotel Belmont here at the On Bunker Hill blog. The year, 1968, is also legit, because I researched when Proposition 9 (shown second from the bottom of the campaign posters stacked on the left side of the image) was on the ballot. And yes it was voted down. The poster above Prop 9’s for Alex P. Garcia, who ran successfully for the 40th District seat in the State Assembly, is also worth mentioning. According to a feature on Latino political representation in state legislatures at the Latino LA Website:
In the 1966 elections, fifteen Chicanos ran for positions on the Assembly and all of them lost. Even, the one Latino incumbent Philip Soto lost his bid for re-election. Another nine Latinos ran for State Senate seats, and all of them lost as well. The result was that the California Legislature – once again – did not have a single Mexican-American in the Assembly or the Senate. Only the election of Alex Garcia to the 40th Assembly District in 1968 brought Latinos back to the California Legislature.