July 16, 1895
Miss Bertha Fisher, aged 14, had looked forward to dressing in the latest fashions and attending parties with her friends. Unfortunately for Bertha, her parents had other plans for her future. As strict Salvationists, they thought that she was old enough to don a Salvation Army uniform (which was definitely not Bertha’s notion of a fashion forward frock) and begin trolling the streets of
Frantic over Bertha’s escapade, the distraught Fishers spent hours haunting the local police station hoping for news of their wayward daughter. Police were on the lookout for the reluctant missionary, but Mrs. Fisher became antsy and enlisted the aid of another Salvationist to help her comb the city for the missing girl.
After Bertha had been gone for nearly two days, Mrs. Fisher and her fellow soldier in God’s army got a tip. The two dashed to the cop shop where they breathlessly announced to the assembled officers that they “knew where she was at”. The women had found out that Bertha and Mr. White were occupying room 28 at the Melrose Hotel, and asked Officer Richardson to accompany them to the suspected love nest.
The landlady at the Melrose Hotel told Officer Richardson that the young man had engaged a room for his sister, and because she’d had no reason to doubt his veracity, she’d rented it to him. Mrs. Fisher was doubtless relieved when the landlady went on to say that even though White had rented a room for Bertha, he had never shared it with her.
To avoid arrest Bertha reluctantly went home with her mother, but it’s unlikely that their difference of opinion was settled that day. Bertha was heard to remark, “I’d rather go to the Reform School than stay at home if I have to become a Salvation Army lassie”.
Bertha may have won the battle with her parents, because this item appeared in the Los Angeles Times on March 7, 1897:
Party on, Bertha.