Mr. and Mrs. H. E. Huntington’s “Automobile Picnics”

by Nancy Armitage

Sunny day over San Marino Ranch looking towards Mt. Wilson & the San Gabriel Mountains ; which became Huntington Library, San Marino, CA

From 1913 to the 1920’s, Mr. & Mrs. Henry E. Huntington (Arabella) loved to go for long drives in their automobiles. They liked to journey all around Southern California in their many automobiles & limousines. Sometimes, they would drive around their San Marino Ranch, they enjoyed looking at the progression of their land & massive gardens; also the small gardens of their employees cottages. They were interested how everyone grew their cottage gardens of herbs, flowers, or vegetables.

One of Mr. Henry E. Huntington early 1900’s automobiles.

The Huntingtons also traveled to Los Angeles, Long Beach to the Pacific Ocean, Redondo Beach, Santa Monica, & Malibu Beach. Maybe, even catch a lovely sunset or two over the Pacific Ocean. Mr. Henry E. Huntington & Mrs. Arabella D. Huntington owned 1000’s of acres of land in Santa Monica & Malibu, per her estate papers & the ranches owned by Mr. H. E. Huntington in Southern California.

These day trips in their luxury limousine (s), would include a Picnic Basket Lunch, packed for 6 people. The Huntingtons owned many automobiles, about 7-9 cars depending on the year. Two of his cars were limousines that held 7 people each. So if they had houseguests, they could join them on the lovely drive. Sometimes, for these journeys, the Huntingtons would ask the Head Cook to pack a Automobile Picnic with lots of goodies for them.

Mr. Henry E. Huntington’s Automobiles (1916):

1 Lozier Brougham (5 passengers)

1 Lozier Limousine (7 passengers)

1 Lozier Touring (7 passengers)

1 Cadillac Touring (5 passengers)

1 Lozier Limousine (7 passengers)

1 Detroit Electric (4 passengers)

1 Oldsmobile Touring Car (5-passengers)

1 Moreland (2- ton Truck)

1 Overland Delivery Van (1/2 ton)

Document: HEH Coll. MS 8/9 uncat (San Marino Ranch papers) to Superintendent Motor Vehicle Dept. 1916 License Fees. From: Huntington Land & Improvement Co. For: Huntington Household Expenses. Nancy Note: I don’t think that the duplicate Lozier Limousine is a typo. Often, in HEH’s brother-in-laws journals (Burkes Journals) he documented some of these lovely day trip journeys to Bolsa Chica Club, The Bixby Ranch, & Redondo Beach. Sometimes, Mr. Huntington would drive with several people to downtown Los Angeles, while Mrs. Huntington would take the other limousine & driver with Miss Carrie Campbell or her niece, Carrie Huntington Holliday. They would go shopping, or attend a tea party or reception.

The Los Angeles City Hall was once the tallest building in Los Angeles in Mr. Huntington’s time period. The “Old” Pasadena Freeway was called “Arroyo Seco Packway also “Route 66”, also. Then it was called the 11 Freeway, now the 110 freeway heading toward downtown Los Angeles, CA then to the Harbor Freeway and then to the Santa Monica Freeway to get to Santa Monica. Photo Credit: Nancy Armitage

Huntington Luncheon and Automobile Picnic (1916)

Journal Entry: E. Burke Holladay was Henry E. Huntington’s brother-in-law & he wrote about this day (below) in his journal.

Sat. June 24, 1916 [San Marino Ranch to Santa Monica, Automobile ride to Santa Monica (Picnic) Luncheon Mrs. John P. Jones Santa Monica by Canon, Guests: HEH, Belle Huntington, Miss Townsend, Carrie & Burke Holladay.

“Edward [H. E. Huntington], Belle [Arabella Huntington)& Miss Townsend, Carrie & I [Burke Holladay] motored down to Santa Monica & were entertained at Luncheon by Mrs. John P. Jones in the house she is renting on the edge of the Canon [Canyon]. There was also her daughter, Alice McMommis & husband McMorris [MacMonnies] the sculptor, & her daughter, Marian,…we later drove to Belle’s land [Santa Monica & Malibu] on the high point opposite & overlooking the pier- also several miles up the back… Returned home soon after 6.” Document: HEH Coll. MS10968 (Burke Journals Aug. 1914 – Dec.1918) Huntington Library in San Marino, CA Nancy Note: Frederick Wm. Mac Monnies created the “Bacchante” statue (women & holding baby below). Which is located in front of the Huntington Mansion’s Loggia on the Huntington Ranch .

The lovely “Bacchante” by Frederick Wm. MacMonnies statue is located in front of the Loggia at the Huntington gallery at the Huntington Library. It was purchased by Mr. & Mrs. Henry E. Huntington for their residence at the San Marino Ranch, CA. Photo credit: Nancy Armitage

A Huntington Automobile Picnic (1920’s)

From the Huntingtons receipts, menus, & grocery lists the Huntington Picnic could have been a variety of many ingredients. We also have to remember all the amazing fruit and berries grown at the San Marino Ranch. We know that Mr. Hertrich & Mr. Huntington took a train down to San Diego to purchase massive amounts of flowers for the San Marino Ranch. That “train picnic” was in a tea tin was a thermos of Lipton’s tea (Huntington favorite) with Cheese Sandwich (HEH’s favorite) which he shared, & some homemade cookies & home ground Ranch fruit & berries, & grapes. Maybe, they included interesting French cheeses & water crackers quite simple to tide them over on their long trip south.

But the Huntington’s automobile picnic basket could have been informal or very formal or maybe a French (Mrs. Huntington) theme or English theme (HEH’s theme). Their beverages could have been Lemonade, Orangeade or Homemade Root Beer, Sassafras, or Champagne Punch (which they served on one of the Huntington’s private railroad train car).

The Huntington Picnic Basket or Hamper would include tea sandwiches wrapped up in waxed paper & placed in a tea tin or a picnic basket. The Tea sandwiches could be Ham & Cheese with mustard, Roasted beef, Chicken salad sandwiches, Egg salad sandwich, or Cucumber tea sandwiches or a English ploughman’s lunch.

The tea sandwiches needed to be the freshest possible, so the bread, with the butter & the filling was included in the basket & assembled at the picnic site. The old-fashioned way to make a tea sandwich is to spread soft butter (Ranch sweet butter) on the bread first. A “butter jar” was included in the picnic basket. Then spread the filling on the bread. Place another piece of bread on top. Voila! a tea sandwich, maybe the crusts were removed.

In 1920’s, a location the Huntingtons & their houseguests could have visited in the 1920 was the Cawston Ostrich Farm. It was located about 15-20 minutes away from the San Marino Ranch & people could actually ride the Ostrichs as a adventure!!

Other items that could have been included in a Huntington Picnic Tea were Homemade Buttermilk Biscuits or Scones with Ranch preserves like Orange Marmalade, Raspberry Jam, Loganberry Jam, Lemon Curd or Orange Curd with French Chantilly Cream (whipped cream with super fine sugar).

Fresh Raspberries on the bush. In the summertime, when they are bright red they are ready to pick & are so sweet!!

For dessert: there could be teacakes because they travel well….. like Pumpkin cake, Ginger cake, Lemon Cake or Orange cake, Raisin Cake or Sherry Wine Cake or Rum Pound Cakes would be a nice ending to a automobile picnic. The picnickers could have frosted the teacakes at the picnic or just sliced them and spread butter on the slices. Maybe, the Huntington limousine parked at the Pacific Ocean to see the sunset. Nora the head cook or the Dessert chef Lena, could have made the Huntingtons all kind of sweets, cookies like Oatmeal Raisin, Peanut Butter, Gingersnap, or Irish Shortbread Cookies or English Biscuits. Fruits like Bananas, Apples, San Marino Ranch Oranges, Exotic Mangos or Green & Red Grapes. Or glorious summer Berries like Raspberries, Strawberries, Loganberries, or little mini Fruit tarts, small individual Apple pie, & Pecan Petit Tarts.

A French Nicoise salad with tuna, with arugula or watercress leaves or butter lettuce, tomatoes, hard-boiled egg , capers,& baby chives would be a lovely picnic salad; while at the picnic drizzled with French Vinaigrette with a little garlic.

Huntington’s Picnic Basket for 6 (Miss Campbell’s Automobile Luncheon Tea Set)

I found the Huntington’s “Automobile Picnic Basket with tea set” in H. E. Huntington mansion inventory list. It seems that Mrs. Arabella Huntington’s personal secretary (Miss Carrie M. Campbell) was in charge of filling up the Huntington picnic basket with tea & luncheon provisions. Miss Carrie Campbell lived at the Huntington Mansion on the San Marino Ranch (which is now the Huntington Library in San Marino.) Miss Campbell lived on the 2nd floor of the mansion in the West Wing above the Dining Room.

So this Huntington Picnic Basket also included Tea Provisions for 6 people; it was called “Automobile Luncheon set in Wicker Basket”: with 6 plates, 6 teacups, 6 knives, 6 forks, 2 bottles, 2 sandwich cases, a pepper shaker, 1 salt shaker, & butter jars. Document: HEH Coll. MS 38/6 uncat [Huntington Mansion Inventory Book] Nancy Note: The Huntington Mansion Inventory ( most likely created in 1927) doesn’t indicate the fine china patterns. The possibilities are endless…. the fine china in their picnic basket could have been Homer Laughlin “Angeles” (gold & white with pink roses), Minton, or Blue Transferware. Mrs. Huntington could have chose to use her numerous Haviland patterns many were white gold & pink roses, Coalport (blue, white, & gold), or lovely French Limoges or Dresden patterns.

Strawberry shortcake is a wonderful addition to a picnic!

American Picnic Basket or Southern Picnic Basket (Arabella Influence)

Lemonade or Lipton’s Tea and Gingerale or Homemade Rootbeer

Southern Fried Chicken

Buttermilk Biscuits with Ham & Mustard

Ranch Deviled Eggs

Potato Salad or Ranch Coleslaw

Green Salad with Buttermilk Ranch Dressing or Waldorf Salad

Fruit: Mango, Bananas, Mission Muscatel Grapes, (Fruit Salad with Marshmallow Cream)

Berries: Raspberries, Strawberries, Loganberries & Grapes

Chocolate Chip Cookies, Peanut Butter, or Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Strawberry Shortcake or Peach Cobbler or Apple or Boysenberry Pie

Southern Pecan tassies (Petit Pecan Tarts)

Nuts: Pecans, Almonds or Pistachio

Another lovely French Schleiger pattern #87-2 by Haviland set of plates that Mrs. Arabella Huntington purchased at Parmalee-Dohrmann in Downtown Los Angeles, CA. In the Gilded age, wealthy people took fine china plates on their picnics. Parmelee Dohrmann was located at 232-234 Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA. Photo Credit: Nancy Armitage

Parisian Pic-nic Box

If Mrs. Arabella Huntington had her choice she would probably pick a French Picnic Box. The Amieux Frere put a pic-nic box on the market (in 2003). But it has been in society for decades. All one needs to add is a baguette of French Bread with a bread knife, and a assortment of French cheese like brie & camembert or goat cheese. Maybe some fruit like grapes or berries like raspberries to have a wonderful picnic. Also, pretty Parisian or Provencal napkins & a French table cloth or French toile fabric to sit on & a basket. These were the ingredients in the Amieux Frere picnic box: A bottle of Medoc [or Pomerol or Bordeaux], a tin Foie gras pate with truffles, a bottle of champagne, a plate, a fork, a glass for drinking, a tin of sardines with a key, a toothpick, corkscrew, a chocolate bar. Book: Eating Out in Europe, Picnic, Gourmet Dining & Snacks by Jacobs & Scholliers, 2003

Popular American Automobile Picnic Sandwiches (1910)

Bread & Butter Sandwiches

Chicken Sandwiches (with Almonds or Curry)

Cheese on Nut Bread Sandwiches

Lettuce & Mayonnaise Sandwiches

Olive & Nut Sandwiches (with Cream Cheese)

Crystallized Ginger & Orange Peel Sandwich

I found a Southern Pacific Company Dining Car Service Menu (below) from the NY Public Library in the Buttolph Collection. This elegant menu dated 1900-1901 with the Southern Pacific Co. Logo in a bright red circle & the words Sunset, Ogden, & Shasta Routes inside the logo.

A lovely watercolor of a train station in Victorian & Edwardian Days.

It was a Southern Pacific Co. train (1900-1901) luncheon & tea menu & items that might have been popular for picnic at this time period were: Salads: Chicken Salad, Crab Salad & Potato Salad, Sandwiches: Cold Roast Beef, Ham, Cold Turkey, Cold Corned Beef Fruit: California Table Fruits Peaches, Pears, Cherries, & Pineapples, with Orange Marmalade Cheeses: American [Cheddar], Roquefort & Edam Cheese with Bent’s Crackers Pies: Lemon Méringue Pie & Apple Pie Beverages: Coffee or Hot Chocolate, Milk or Cream, Iced Tea, Single pot of Tea, Shasta Water This menu shows us what they ate during this time period of 1900-1901, very similar to a picnic now 100 years later.

English Picnic Tea “Open Air Parties or Picnics(1880)

First, I want to note that the English people call a Picnic Basket: “a Hamper”. I include this information because the Huntingtons loved English tradition; they also traveled many times to England. Also in the Gilded Age, America very ernestly copied many trends of the English Royalty & what they ate. The is a very elaborate description or a garden-parties or a picnic.

This is a description of Cassell’s Household 1880, of food taken to an English open air party or picnic: “Garden-parties, as we have already observed, are at the present time the most agreeable & fashionable of all summer entertainments. To those who have not the means at command, in the very essential matter of a garden, a picnic is generally easy of accomplishment…. Fowls, Ham, Tongue, Ribs of Beef, Salted Silver-side [Irish Corned Beef], Fore-quarter of Lamb, Raised or Game pies in jars, & Lobsters & Crabs, are amongst the dishes in most general demand at picnic parties. To these should be added Fruit pasties [fruit pie], Cheese-cakes, Puffs of preserved fruit, Sponge [cake], plum [cake], and Pound cakes, biscuits [cookies], dinner rolls, butter, & Stilton cheese, Fresh fruit is indispensable. Strawberries, stone fruits in season, nuts, &c. to which should be added some bonbon crackers for the amusement of the young men & maidens at dessert. Bottled Ale & effervescing beverages are usually in great request, equally so is ice. Someone should be appointed to provide a huge block of Wenham Lake Ice; it can be has far cheaper in large quantities than in small….. Iced water, or water in which ice has been melted, affords the most grateful beverage. Syrup of orgeat [Sugar syrup] orange flower [water] or raspberries, may be added if desired. Plenty of lemons are a capital addition. In the absence of these a bottle of lemon-juice [lemonade] & some loaf sugar, will be found always welcome…. Gentlemen find the wine…procured from one wine merchant…Music is always an agreeable feature at picnic parties. Wind instruments especially are suitable. If dancing on the grass be part of the after-dinner amusement, tea is generally in request.”

Stunning bright magenta azaleas.

Victorian Bread & Butter Sandwich (Recipe)

These tea sandwiches made in the Victorian Era, can be made in a variety of different ways. Victorian sandwiches were very pungent with lots of powerful flavors. The sweet butter used to moisten the bread was sometimes flavored with fish [anchovies or anchovy paste] horseradish, curry or cayenne pepper. Then, they added different fillings like lobster, chicken, crabmeat, egg salad or ham. Or it could be sweet sandwich with butter and orange marmalade or apricot jam.

Delicious French Apricot Marmalade,

Sandwich Butters (1910)

“The sandwich butters are made by creaming ordinary butter and mixing it with finely chopped or pounded parsley, chives, cress, horseradish or cheese, selecting a flavor which is be best suited to the filling”. Book: Light Entertaining, A Book of Dainty Recipes by Helena Judson, 1910

Sandwich filling (1910) great for a picnic

Chicken, Crabmeat, Lobster, Shrimp, Roast Beef, Sardines, Fish Pastes [Salmon or anchovy], Ham, Salmon, Tomato, Cheese, Olive, Spinach, Watercress, and Nuts. Book: Light Entertaining, A Book of Dainty Recipes by Helena Judson, 1910

A still life illustrating a “Alfresco picnic” can include some many wonderful food items: fruit oranges or green or purple grapes, bottles of champagne or wine, cheese or crackers, nuts like almonds or walnuts, pitchers of water.


HEH Coll. MS 8/9 uncat (San Marino Ranch papers) at the Huntington Library

HEH Coll. MS 38/6 uncat [Huntington inventory book for the Huntington Mansion- 1927?]

Book: Cassell’s Household of 1880 by Cassell (found in Mr. H.E. Huntington’s rare book collection at the Huntington Library

Book: Light Entertaining, A Book of Dainty Recipes by Helena Judson, 1910

Book: Eating Out in Europe, Picnic, Gourmet Dining and Snacks by Jacobs & Scholliers, 2003

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