Thursday, March 31, 2005

Alleged Bandit Wounded in Trap Set By Police

March 31, 1947
Los Angeles

The third robbery was the charm today for Sid Greenberg's liquor store at 504 S. Hill. After two recent gunpoint withdrawals, officers William M. Tamanovitch and Clarence L. Eads agreed to hang around the back room and await further developments. Sure enough, a suspect strolled in, brandished iron, and forced Greenberg and clerk Milt Katz into the back. That's where he ran into the officers, who came out firing. The would-be crook was transported to General Hospital in extremely poor condition, where he received the last rites. Officers noted that in addition to a realistic-looking plastic pistol, the robber had a paper bag, which might tie him to the recent spate of crimes attributed to "The Paper Bag Robber."

Liquor No-More

504 South Hill was two doors down, on the right side of the picture, here, ca. 1965.

This funny little building was the oldest remaining structure fronting Pershing Square when it was unceremoniously demolished. It's too bad -- it's a first-rate little commercial block with a sorta restrained but sexy Jugendstijl air.

Pershing Square was sexy once, too. In 1947 it had a grand fountain and unbelievably lush vegetation and Communists bickering with one another. Sure, all that got torn out in the 1950s, but at least they replanted foliage and laid pathways. Thanks to Ricardo Legoretta and Laurie Olin, the late-80s cultural terrorists, Pershing Square is now justifiably known as the Worst Public Space in America.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Suspect in Burglary Try Shot By Neighbor

March 30, 1947
Los Angeles

Career footpad Ray Mathews, 28, 417 S. Boylston St., made the mistake of plying his trade too close to home, when he was observed early today riffling the purse of his across the hall neighbor, Mrs. Harry Schwerberg.

The lady yelled, which alerted another neighbor, Kenneth Craig, who shot Mathews as he tried to flee the building. Mathews then returned to his own apartment, leaving again by way of a ladder out the window. Responding officers found the wounded man hiding in a hedge, and conveyed him to the Georgia Street Receiving Hospital, where he was booked on suspicion of robberies in San Francisco. Also taken into custody was a .45 caliber revolver, allegedly tossed aside by Mathews.

417 S. Boylston To-Day

A guard's gate marks the entrance to the 400 block of South Boylston. Where once there stood an apartment building, one can now, should they be so inclined, shoot a recreation of the shooting on this soundstage.

Los Angeles Center Studios demo'd the block and rebuilt, even taking over the amazing diamond-shaped 1958 Union Oil Center by Pereira & Luckman seen in the background. Bill and Chuck gazed upon on the remnants of 1947 Los Angeles and envisioned glistening new world of aluminum louvers, glass walls and gleaming terrazzo lobbies. Get thee inside and bask in the Future!

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Police Jail 42 in Raids on Crowded Night Spots

March 29. 1947
Los Angeles

In coordinated raids on five South Los Angeles nightclubs tonight, police officers held hundreds of patrons while taking down names and addresses. There were 12 felony arrests and 30 for misdemeanor offences.

Assistant Chief of Police Joseph Reed, director of the operation, told reporters "This is the first in a new attempt to break up the breeding places of crime. The results show that it will be worthwhile for us to continue the raids."

The area's nightclubs gained some notoriety earlier this month, when conductor Otto Klemperer met two Negroes in a jazz club and accepted their offer of a personal tour of the Central Avenue music scene. His adventure ended when the men slugged him, stole his wallet and threw him out of their car at 48th Street and Compton Avenue.

The first club to be raided was the Casa Blanca (2801 S. San Pedro St.), one of the spots on Klemperer's pre-assault itinerary. At the Casa Blanca, reputed owner Stanley W. Morgan (33, 4300 S. Main Street) was taken into custody after police found marihuana in a room to which he had a key. When the Cafe Society (2711 S. San Pedro St.) was rousted, an enraged patron threw a glass at police and photographers. The largest crowd was held by police here, as they checked more than 200 IDs to determine if any minors were in attendance. Other clubs raided include Club Joy (4505 S. Avalon Blvd.), Cafe Zombie (5434 S. Central Ave.) and Lovejoy's (4416 3/4 South Central Ave.).

Among those arrested were Eugene Burnett (21, 105 S. San Pedro St.); Joseph Adolphus Lewis (36, 1335 E. Adams Blvd.) and Mrs. Sandra M. Langston (19, 1735 E. Gage Ave.). Burnett was held on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon for the shooting of officers Dean Bergman and Roy Phelps on March 17. Lewis and Langston were booked on narcotics offenses, musician Lewis after police found marihuana in his guitar case.

Jazz Joints To-Day

Some of the buildings survive. None of the clubs do.

Cafe Zombie, for example, stood here:

-- while Cafe Society, former hotbed of reefer-related vice, stands today, as you might imagine, as a cornerstone of Azteca Taekwondo.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Woman Denies $100,000 Gifts to Her Had Strings

March 28, 1947
Los Angeles

When Dorothy Evelyn Burks, 25, eloped to Las Vegas with C. Earl Stoner, automobile distributor, it came as an unhappy surprise to her former admirer, Andrew Norman, 60, cosmetics manufacturer. What about the love tokens with which he had showered the young lady--the home at 348 Homewood Road, Brentwood Heights (valued at $75,000), or the square-cut emerald and diamond "engagement" ring ($25,000)?

Six months after the Burks-Stoner nuptials, the unhappy Norman brought suit against the lady, charging that her "false professions of love" made him a helpless victim of "female arts."

Through her attorney, Hugh B. Rotchford, Mrs. Stoner denied that she was ever engaged to Norman, stated that the gifts were granted "freely and voluntarily" from "a shrewd and experienced businessman of mature years; a man of the world." Furthermore, she noted, Norman has since confirmed her title to the Brentwood Heights home, in which she and her new husband are residing.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Century-Old Eucalyptus to Be Felled in Encino

March 27, 1947
San Fernando Valley

Tree surgeon Joseph M. Varela spent the day cutting limbs from a 120-foot tall Eucalyptus tree at the corner of Ventura Blvd. and Petit Ave., on the old Rancho Amestoy. The hundred-year-old tree, one of the oldest in the San Fernando Valley, must fall to make way for the widening of Ventura Blvd. through Encino.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

'Crime Crushers' Bag 67 Suspects in Blockades

March 26, 1947
Los Angeles

Seven major West Los Angeles and Hollywood intersections were blockaded tonight, and passing cars searched, as part of Assistant Police Chief Joseph F. Reed's "crime crushers" campaign. Wilshire, University and Hollywood Division Police arrested 67 suspected criminals at these stops, among them 31 robbers, 9 car thieves and 5 carriers of concealed weapons.

Curious about the lack of traffic at the Melrose / La Brea blockade, police investigated and found Thomas A. Reeves, 23, of 1200 S. Windsor Blvd., standing at the corner of Melrose and Rossmore Aves. holding a sign reading ROAD BLOCK AT MELROSE AND LA BREA.

While being booked at City Jail for public drunkenness, our hero reported that someone had given him a dollar to hold the sign. Meanwhile, Police claimed success for their campaign, noting that only one robbery was reported citywide, as opposed to eight or nine for a typical Tuesday night.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Dog Torture Still Mystery

March 25, 1947
Antelope Valley

Lendell Leydecker was horrified today to discover the crucified body of a tan dog along a railroad siding west of the Fernando Milling Company. The dog was stretched belly-down between the rails, its feet and mouth nailed to the ties with three-inch nails. Across the animal's back was an iron bar, with which it had apparently been beaten.

Sheriff's deputies from the Lancaster Substation were baffled, their only clue coming from a watchman at a nearby pipe yard who reported seeing a "chunky" boy in his early teens walking along the tracks the previous afternoon. With him was a dog similar to the one found dead.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

A-Bomb Doom to Hang Over Bikini For Decades

March 24, 1947

Today in New York, Col. Stafford Warren, M.D., chief of medical and radiological safety of last summer's Crossroads Operation, now Dean of the UCLA Medical School, predicted that Bikini Lagoon and its twenty islands should remain depopulated for decades, at the very least, until radiation returns to safe levels.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Husband Kills Bride and Self After Quarrel

Douglas Wiggins, 24, a milkman, shot and killed Gladys, his 18-year-old wife of four months, then killed himself Friday night.

Friends and relatives told police that Mrs. Wiggins was suffering from anemia, and had urged her husband to accompany her on a trip home to Colo, Iowa, where they were married. This was the only known source of disagreement between the couple, who lived in a tiny furnished room over Mrs. Georgia Blattenberg's garage (2527 1/2 S. Orange Dr.).

The murder weapon, a .38-caliber revolver, had been taken from its hiding place behind pictures on Mrs. Blattenberg's mantle.

2527 1/2 S. Orange Dr. to-day

Apologies for failing to get a proper shot of the tastefully furnished apartment where Wiggins
opened up on teen wifey with his .38; you can see the window peeking out at the far left. Mrs. Blattenberg is long gone -- locals eyed me suspiciously as I snapped from my idling vehicle. Their nods and glances indicated that they were intending to question me intimately as to my purpose, so I waved like Roosevelt and ambled away.

Another shingled Craftsman home sprayed with pink stucco, its double-hung windows replaced with aluminum sliders. Purty gate, too. Special level of hell for all of them.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Husband Kills Self After Phoning Wife

March 21, 1947
Los Angeles

Robert Duff, 27, was looking for his wife, Ruth. He located her by telephone, in her attorney's office where she'd gone to discuss a separation. "So that's where you've gone," he said. "If that's the way it is, you'll never see me again."

Mr. Duff hung up, and William Esterman, his wife's attorney, called police. When they arrived at the Duff home (1116 Waterloo St.) they found Robert Duff's body on the living room floor, a .38 revolver nearby. Elsewhere in the house were the couple's young son and daughter.

1116 Waterloo to-day

Sadly, the home on Waterloo is no longer. All about the Silver Lake neighborhood remain stunning examples of Craftsman architecture. Duff wasn't so lucky. This block stands as his ignominious headstone.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Woman Faces Stabbing Death Trial After Inquest

March 19, 1947
Los Angeles

Ruth "Sunny" McKenzie today was formally charged in the stabbing death of fiance Jack Floyd, and Torrance Police Captain E. M. Ashton provided a Coronor's jury with additional details of the attack. He stated that, according to Miss McKenzie, the pair had just enjoyed a private dinner in her apartment, and were discussing their nuptials, planned for April 13.

"Just think, baby, in another month I'll be a hanged man," whispered the victim.

"No you won't," replied Sunny, "You'll be a stabbed man." She told Ashton that she meant to suggest her beloved would be pierced with arrows of love, but as it happens, she had a knife in her hand at the time.

McKenzie, who declined to testify, also told Aston that with his last breath, Jack Floyd had assured her that he still loved her.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Man in St. Louis Says He Killed Miss Short

March 18, 1947
St. Louis, MO

Melvin Bailey, 25, interrupted his own interrogation for car theft today, telling police, "Let's forget about cars. I've got something hot. Let me tell you about the murder."

Bailey claimed that he had been out on a date with Elizabeth Short in Los Angeles in January, during which he consumed a cocktail of coffee and Benzedrine. When Miss Short declined his offer of a trip to the East, he struck her head with the butt of a Marine combat knife. He then bissected the young lady in the back of a stolen car parked in the manufacturing district, dumping the remains in the notorious vacant lot at 39th and Norton.

From there, Bailey claimed, he drove to the home of acquaintance William E. Hughes (1710 Cerritos Ave., Long Beach), changed into one of Hughes' suits, caught a bus to San Francisco, and later moved on to St. Louis. When reached by police, Hughes said he hadn't seen Bailey in six months, had found no bloody clothing in his home, nor was one of his suits missing. However, Hughes' landlady, Mrs. Ellen Scaife did recall a man matching Bailey's description attempting to enter Hughes' home around the time of Short's murder.

Police Captain Jack Donahoe was quoted as saying Bailey was a "very good suspect."

39th & Norton to-day

Having been to 39th and Norton more times than I care to remember, may I direct you here:


Larry notes: Hi. Despite what you read everywhere, Elizabeth Short wasn't found at 39th and Norton Avenue. She was found between 39th and Coliseum, about roughly the midpoint of the block.

To which Nathan replies: Larry is correct. Here's a shot looking north on Norton, with Coliseum in the distance. I would posit that the action is a bit closer to 39th than halfway up the block, but if so, not by much--Norton is a long block here. One source has her at "54 feet north of the fire hydrant at mid-block" so there you go.

While off-topic for LA47, I still have to ask this, as I'm sure one of you out there knows... Short was bagged in Santa Barbara in '43 (whence came that famous photo, and her post-murder ID) for underage drinking, and what I want to know is, where was she popped?

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Polite Gunman Takes $1251 From Women In Office

March 17, 1947
Los Angeles

A polite young bandit said "Sorry, ladies" this morning, before pointing a gun at bookkeepers Helen Eversole and Geraldine Farris, both employed at Duffy & Co. meat wholesalers, 1603 W. Florence Ave. He absconded with $1251 and bid his victims a gracious adieu.

1603 W. Florence to-day

Ah, Duffy & Company Meat. You can almost see the metal can of the neon sign blinking on the side of what is now the Southwestern Church of God. Dig the glass brick. The International Modern use of form and space. The smell of blood. Befitting a Church of God, I'd say.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Wounded Husband Held After Marital Battle

March 16, 1947
Los Angeles

Navy vet Fletcher E. Talley Jr., 32, hospitalized twice last year at the VA on Sawtelle for psychiatric reasons, was arrested shortly after midnight on suspicion of assault to commit murder after police were called to his home at 1533 1/2 E. 76th Place.

Talley claimed his recent gunshot wounds (through the right leg above the knee and through the right thumb) were the result of accidental horseplay. His wife Virginia, 33, countered that Talley had ripped off her blouse, tried to strangle her with a light cord and had pulled the phone from the wall. Fletcher admitted he had spent part of the evening dissecting the living room divan with a paring knife, but denied Virginia's claim that he had said "As soon as I finish this, you will be next." Virginia said she then retrieved the gun, hidden in her daughter's room, and fired three times at Fletcher.

Virginia Fletcher was not held.

1533 1/2 E. 76th Place to-day

Whoever stucco'd this house should have their hands cut off. I don't say that to be funny or cute. Stucco, aluminum windows, crappy gates... I hope you're all happy. And handless.

I'm certain terrible things happen in this house all the time. But we're not here to postulate such.

We've got 1947 to bring back.

Imagine the smell of cordite hanging in the air. The aroma of electrical cord against flesh. Bits of sofa wafting about along with these scents.

The only thing I love more than this house is accidental horseplay.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Drive Launched by Jurist to Help "Psycho" Veterans

March 15, 1947
Los Angeles

Superior Judge Dudley S. Valentine, head of L.A. County Superior Court's psychopathic department, announced today a campaign to force the V.A. to admit metally ill ex-soldiers in greater numbers. Presently, the V.A requires proof that a veteran's illness is service-connected before providing treatment. At the V.A. hospital on Sawtelle, there are 1750 beds and a waiting list of more than 1200.

Valentine told the L.A. Times that 25% of those sent to state prisons from the L.A. County courts are WW2 veterans, many of them psychopaths ineligible for treatment by the V.A. Those convicts sent to state mental hospitals are forever barred from civil service employment due to rules forbidding ex-mental patients from applying; this does not hold true for patients in V.A. hospitals.

Monday, March 14, 2005

West Covina Police Chief Shot in Mystery Gun Duel

March 14, 1947
Los Angeles

West Covina Chief of Police John T. Brown, 30, of 820 Channing Street, was shot in the side this evening, while seeking to question two men driving a sedan containing what Chief Brown believed to be the bound body of a woman in the back seat. Brown, who became Chief 18 months ago after serving in the infantry, claims that several nights earlier he had found a woman's nightgown and some gunny sacks hanging in an orange grove in the Vanderhoff tract, 1/4 mile south of Garvey Blvd. For several nights, he had staked the location out, awaiting suspicious activity.

Shortly after midnight tonight, Chief Brown arrived at the location and saw a 1937 or 1938 sedan parked in the area. Drawing his revolver, he crept up and peeked into the back window, seeing the woman, which he could not identify as being alive or dead. One story holds that the driver then pulled out a revolver and fired, striking Chief Brown with what proved to be a flesh wound. Another version of the incident has the driver disarming Chief Brown and shooting him with his own gun.

Authorities noted that murder victims Betty (Black Dahlia) Short, Mrs. Jeanne French and Evelyn Winters were all transported from their death scenes to dump sites by automobile, and speculated that the West Covina pair might be involved in those cases.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Man Stabbed Fatally As He Protests Fidelity

March 13, 1947

Ruth "Sunny" McKenzie, 29, of 1221 El Prado Ave., Torrance, was being held at the Torrance City Jail on suspicion of murder after an incident in her third floor apartment. McKenzie was arguing with her fiance, 30-year-old salesman Jack C. Floyd, about his fondness for another girl at the chemical plant where they both worked.

McKenzie claimed that Floyd fell to his knees while McKenzie sat in a kitchen chair, hugging his assailant and proclaiming that he loved only her. "I was just playing around with the bread knife, which was lying on the drainboard within reach of my hand. I really didn't mean to stab him. It was an accident."

Floyd, who lived with his mother in an apartment on the second floor of the building, was allegedly awaiting finalization of his divorce from Mrs. Muriel Floyd of Gardena before marrying Miss McKenzie. Two nights before her son's death, Mrs. Faye Marie Floyd expressed missgivings about Miss McKenzie, to which she says he replied "Don't worry, mother. I have no intention of marrying the girl."

1221 El Prado to-day

The official motto of Torrance, California is "A Balanced City."
Really. I'm not kidding.

Despite its official reputation as an industrial wasteland of oil
refineries, the overtly balanced Chamber of Commerce wishes you to know that the charming downtown area is in no way sullied by love-addled dames on a knife-stabbing frenzy. Heck, it was an accident.