Saturday, April 30, 2005

Bookie Charges Hold 12 in Raid

April 30, 1947
City Terrace, East Los Angeles

Lt. Carl Pearson of the Sheriff's Vice Squad caught a dozen bookies in their lair behind an upholstery shop at 1435 N. Miller Ave. today, three of them of the feminine variety. The miscreants worked out of a secret room wired with nine telephones, and kept their records on scratch sheets tucked inside a secret wall panel. Booked at the East L.A. substation on suspicion of felonious bookmaking were Alice Melvin, 26, Howard Sternberg, 30, Maurice Bach, 45, Adelbert McLaughlin, 33, Juanita Silver, 34, Sidney Corsen, 38, Harry Faln, 47, Marjorie Burns, 40, Stephen Walsh, 32, Phil Miller, 25, Paul Searle, 22 and David Drobman, 30. It is unknown if the phone company ratted them out.

1435 North Miller To-day

1947—Chinatown’s Keno and Pan had passed into history, as had Cornero’s fleet of floating vice. But it's also pre-Vegas, before lo-ball Bell and pai-gow Gardena, and long before where the Morongo. What's a boy with betitis to do?

Hey, says your buddy. Book joint out in City Terrace. Wire room and everything, whole system of runners, jobbies and sheeties. So you call a comeback to lay a trey to show parlay on a high-stepper. Beats having to actually go out to City Terrace—that place gives you the heebie-jeebies, what with all the signs in Yiddish and all.

Evidence of the area’s Hebraic genealogy is now gone, as is the upholstery shop. (Also removed is the Pacific Electric line a block north, replaced by the 10; the traincars once headed to the mighty PE rail yard, where today stands Cal State LA.) As for those who currently manage the area's funtastic activity, the men who make up CT13 do not, lamentably, make book.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Young Widow Slays Prowler in Self-defense

April 29, 1947

Parking on the street was not an option for 18-year-old assistant theater manager Mrs. Ginerva Knight, but she just didn't like the look of that heavy shrubbery on the way to her garage at 1515 Courtney Avenue. Hence her unusual routine: come home from work after one a.m. and pull her convertible coupe partway into the driveway, enter the living room and obtain her .38 snubnosed revolver (for which she had no carrying permit), return to the car and only then ease it up towards the garage. That's where Thomas Housos, 24-year-old transient, was waiting to wrap his hand around her mouth and instruct "If you scream, I'll kill you. I'm taking you and the car and backing out of here!"

Mrs. Knight was pushed down to the floorboards as Housos lowered his own pistol to begin the delicate process of backing out the driveway. She pleaded loudly in order to drown out the sound of her gun cocking, then shot Housos in the belly. "You killed me!" he screamed, and attacked the woman. They struggled, she banged his head with her gun, and when he wouldn't die finally shot him in the face. He collapsed, and the car lurched into the side of the house. He was declared dead at the scene.

Housos' own car, a black coupe, was found parked at Sunset and Courtney. In it were his identification papers and a document attesting to his marriage last week to a girl in San Francisco. Housos was honorably discharged from the Air Force in December 1943. He was a member of the Oaklawn Jockey Club in Hot Springs, Arkansas, and played a bit part as a jockey in a film in June 1944. In January, 1945, he was convicted in Texas on charges of entering a woman's car at a traffic signal in San Antonio and robbing her. He was sentenced to ten years, but paroled in September, 1946.

Mrs. Knight, a war widow whose husband was killed in the merchant marine, lives at the home on Courtney with her 16-month-old son Ian, her mother, Mrs. Adelaide Boeing, and her grandmother Mrs. Hariet M. Ryer. Mrs. Boeing, whose late former husband was no relation to the aircraft manufacturer, once flew under the name Adelaide Cellina with Amelia Earhart in the Cleveland National Air Races.

1515 Courtney To-day

In the epic struggle between ex-jockeys and war widows, my money’s on the dame every time.

Here we see the moll buzzard-prone driveway that gave Ginerva the willies. And rightfully so. Hollywood is lousy with the also-rans.

And now, with Hollywood Park being demolished – the beautiful 1938 racetrack in Inglewood, child of Jack Warner – LA will be flooded with out-of-work jockeys, attacking war widows like so many flesh-eating zombies.

One hundred acres of Hollywood Park has already been subdivided into gated communities. And yes, they’re building the Wal-Mart. The other 140 acres will be ten-story parking garages and sprawl-malls and endless Tuskan Townehomes. The people of Inglewood sure know what’s good for them.

How many more have to die?

Ladies, get your guns.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Birthday Raiders Strip Apartment of All Furniture

April 28, 1947

Don't rent a room from Mrs. L.E. Manners--she hasn't got any! That's the word from Coast Guard vet Richard Hier and wife Patti, who returned from a birthday party last night to their brand new apartment on the second floor of the home at 5732 Harold Way to find the door off the hinges, their possessions dumped onto the floor, and every stick of furniture--including stove, fridge, even the lightbulbs--gone. Mrs. Manners too was out of the picture. For now Mr. H. is bunking in his old hammock, the same one the torpedo blew him out of during his South Pacific service, while the lady wife tosses on the wooden floor wrapped in a quilt.

5732 Harold Way To-day

After the war the homeowner was free to indulge that American mix of fantasy and modernity. For those unable or unwilling to relocate to new tracts out in the Valley, it was of course possible to remake your stodgy bungalow a la what you saw overseas – a Mansard roof is always nice, or perhaps something Japanesque. And then there was always stucco. Oh, how you could get stucco.

But for the folks along Harold Way, where stood sturdy structures of lathe and plaster, there would be few remaining Sundays replete with well-intentioned if ill-informed home repair. Rather, some suit at the County Regional Planning Commission drew a line across a map. That suit had a brother in the demo business and a cousin who rolled in connivance with the rights-of-way agents. From hell’s heart, the dagger of Imminent Domain stabbed at Harold.

Today, those old palms stand as a faint reminder of the homes that once stood behind them. Of course, the shadow of taking still falls over Los Angeles. Caltrans remains a higher-up in LA’s pantheon; someday they’ll take South Pasadena. LAUSD is the drunken Zeus of them all, conspiring in a shadowy cabal with developers and their minions to take your home or business next. You know, for kids. Just like freeways.

The Hier’s tale should serve to remind one and all that we are merely tenants here in Los Angeles; the Powers That Be our overbearing, morally suspect, property-destroying landlords.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Runaway Cab Helps House Dismantler

April 27, 1947
Echo Park

A household chore turned terrifying today when an unoccupied Veteran's Transit taxicab careened down a hillside and into Mrs. F.C. Plantz' house at 1505 Ewing Street. At the time, Plantz' friend Myron Fales (35, of 530 S. Pasadena Ave in Whittier) was standing on a stepladder peeling off siding. Fales heard the cab coming down through the brush, and was able to jump to safety just before the cab burst through the siding and splintered the house's wall. The driver, Mitchell Parrino of 1731 W. 18th Street, told police he had left his cab parked up the hill in front of 2019 Avon Street.

1505 Ewing To-day

Take a trek up to 2019 Avon (behind those trees at the upper right) and you’ll see, it’s a formidable plunge down the hill for ol’ Ghost Cab.

Accolades to Mrs. Plantz for removing siding from her house—nice to see the Fates lending a hand. Of course, that runaway dimbox could've been headed for Myron himself. (Or perhaps its intended target was a prescient Mrs. Plantz; hence her eliciting Myron.) Such notwithstanding, don’t forget: however and whenever you work on your home, there’s always a friendly yellow 1946 Pontiac coming to pitch in.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Cellar Blasted, 3 Boys Hurt in Hail of Metal From Shell

April 26, 1947
Los Angeles

Darn that Seely boy!

Lee Seely, 11, invited Jackie Cooper (12, of 4172 Yosemite Way) and Charles Gullihur (9, 2838 Delevan Drive) over to his house at 4053 W. Avenue 42 to mess around in the basement. Someone got frisky with one of the 40-mm anti-aircraft shells stored down among the cobwebs and canned peaches, and it blew. The house didn't fare well: the basement door shot twenty feet off its hinges, windows shattered and the walls shifted on the foundations. Strafed with shrapnel, Lee and Jack were rushed to General Hospital for emergency surgery; they were in critical condition this afternoon, Jackie with leg wounds that will almost certainly require amputation, Lee with a gut full of metal.

Charles, who was maybe too little to be trusted with the important task of blowing up a basement and nearly killing himself, was shaken but unhurt.

4053 West Ave. 42 to-day

Los Angeles, in the months after Pearl Harbor, had a serious case of the Jap-jitters. Anti-aircraft batteries up and down the coast were put on Green Alert (ready to fire) every time a whale surfaced. True, the Japanese sub I-17 did shell a petroleum refinery, but that was only to destroy a set of slippery stairs Commander Nishino had slipped on in the 30s, and only in destroying them did he regain face.

In any event, during the morning hours of 25 February, 1942, Angelenos finally went batshit and blew the hell out of the night sky, which may or may not have had some nefarious meteorological balloons floating around in it. Of course, we now know, with sober retrospect, it was just a UFO:

Imagine, here on Avenue 42, peering into the sky and wondering, what would come over the horizon? The Nipponese? Bug-eyed saucer men?

Times were similarly uneasy five years later. Sure, the Axis was vanquished, but now, on top of little green men, we had big Red governments. Worse yet was daddy, who’s been acting all funny. Sometimes the war comes back to him. Then, all of a sudden, boom!

Best to just leave him be and go play in the basement with those funny Howitzer-whoozits. Then, all of a sudden--

Monday, April 25, 2005

Stolen Taxicab Chase Ends in Crash, Suicide

April 25, 1947
Echo Park

Police are still trying to make sense of a last night's mysterious car chase in Echo Park. It all started when Motorcycle Office Carl Ericson spotted a taxicab that has been suspiciously repainted blue. He gave chase, and the vehicle turned onto Echo Park Avenue, racing past the lake and south towards Beverly. In front of 512 Echo Park Ave., the cab collided with a car driven by Walter Cliburne, 35, of 1947 Preston Ave. Cliburne's car ended up atop both the cab and a parked car. An ambulence was called, and the attendants directed their attention to the injured, still-unidentified cab driver. Suddenly he brought a vial of poison up to his mouth and made as to swallow. Attempts to wrest it away were fruitless, and the mystery man said, "I am going to die, so let me die." He did, shortly afterwards, in the ambulence.

512 Echo Park To-day

Cruise down Echo Park Ave. Descend along with the numbers and shine your tear-drop spot at addresses painted on the curb until you hit the 500 block… oh. Who put that there?

When our unknown driver swallowed his last, perhaps the final image burned on his retina was of spires atop once-stately Victorian homes, pointing heavenward from the unmovable earth of Bunker Hill.

Skyscrapers mark those mansion’s end; Mr. Anonymous' end on Echo Park is paved and rushed over by endless commuters. Freeways divide and destroy neighborhoods: adjacent streets like Lucita and London were wiped away by the 101. A few blocks east were streets like Centennial and Custer, also obliterated, there by the 110.

A police pursuit with a violent end? Would have made for fine live news coverage. Oh, that KTLA had seen fit to purchase Sikorskys.

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Sunday, April 24, 2005

Craig Rice's Mate Wins Divorce on Talkfest Plea

April 24, 1947
Santa Monica

Lawrence Lipton couldn't take it anymore. His wife, best-selling crime novelist Craig Rice, insisted he stay up with her until four or five every morning, while she talked, talked and talked. He couldn't write his own books on two hours of sleep. "It made me ill," he complained. She humiliated him in front of friends and servants, disrupting his attempts at conversation with a lordly, "Don't pay any attention to him." Despite their household staff, she insisted Lipton clean out the fireplaces. And as for having business conversations around her? Impossible. Lipton's witness, Raymond J. Healy of Simon & Schuster told Judge Alfred E. Paonessa that Rice routinely told Lipton to "Shut up," and seemed both personally and professionally jealous of her spouse.

Judge Paonessa granted the divorce decree, noting that under an agreement worked out by the parties, Miss Rice would retain ownership of the 15-room house at 351 23rd Street, Santa Monica, they would own their own copyrights, and maintain joint ownership of collarborative works. The couple were married at Ft. Atkinson, Wisconsin on March 31, 1940, and separated last October 4.

351 23rd St. To-day

The house that Rice built. The house that logorrhea won. Despite her penchant for henpeckery, one has to wonder, was “Mr. Beat” Larry Lipton driven mad by the structure of her incessant motormouthing, as it spewed from her in a surreal and inordinately complex form? This is Craig Rice, after all. Her next husband she met while in the looney bin, so we figure he could take it.

Rice, who outsold Christie and the noir boys (and made the cover of Time in ’46) is largely forgotten today. Like so many words into the ether, the house has since disappeared, replaced by this piece of 1970s architectural fancy.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Wife Beaten, Mate Held After Cutting Throat

April 23, 1947
Echo Park

Clara Anzis, 64, had decided to leave her husband Max, 79. He knew it, and was despondent, angry, lurking in the darkness of their kitchen like a wounded dog. Clara came to the door asking for her clothing. Max made a pretence of pushing it through a tiny opening.

“Don’t come in here, Clara!” But a lady needs a change of clothes when she’s leaving, even if it’s just to an empty apartment in the building they own together at 1225 Boston Street. She came in. Max fell on her with a huge pipe wrench. She got the wrench away from the old man and leaned out the window hollering. Her screams alerted their tenants, who found the pair in the kitchen, Clara bloodied and beaten, Max calmly cutting his throat with the bread knife. Tenant Charles N. Morris told Radio Officers D. K. Jones and F. Batelle that when he divested Anzis of this weapon, his landlord merely picked up the paring knife and continued his excavations.

Mr. Anzis, who is expected to recover, was taken to General Hospital’s prison ward where he was booked for suspicion of assault to commit murder. His wife was treated for three lacerations to her head, and for shock.

1225 Boston To-day

How long had Max and Clara owned and lived in this 1920s complex? Long enough, I’d wager, for Max to be driven to terrible acts out of desperate longing for quieter times, before all the streets and homes and yards and children and birds and even barking dogs were removed, replaced by trucks and steam-shovels and cement mixers, as the Hollywood Parkway began to be carved into the earth outside his front door.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Woman Tells of Love Gifts

April 22, 1947
Los Angeles

Deposed in the office of Attorney Paul Overtorf, newlywed Mrs. Dorothy Evelyn Burks Stoner, 25, denied the claims of cosmetics manufacturer Andrew Norman, 60, that she had relieved him of a $75,000 home and $25,000 in jewels by means of “female arts.” Why, she had been anxious to marry the gentleman, if he would only divorce his wife.

Mrs. Stoner painted a picture of a relationship that commenced in 1943 and continued until September 1946, when the pair went to Las Vegas to attend the wedding of mutual friends. Inflamed by the matrimonial urge, and wearing the seven-karat diamond engagement ring Norman had given her before a June visit to her family in Kansas, Miss Burks spent some evening hours unloading her woes into the friendly ears of C. Earl Stoner, automobile distributor and acquaintance, whom she encountered in a Las Vegas café. On their return to Los Angeles, Burks and Stoner continued the conversation, and two weeks later they were wed.

As for that house at 348 Homewood in Brentwood? A gift from Mr. Norman, made sometime between March and June, as scant compensation for a lass who was wasting her fertility on a stubborn old goat who wouldn’t give her the home and children she craved. Oh, sorry, I meant to say, “I loved him like a father,” as stated by Mrs. Stoner in deposition today.

348 Homewood To-day

A thirty foot setback. Lush vegetation. Reflective security patrol
signage. Life is good in Brentwood.

It’s a solid house, stolid even. The curved entry whispers “moderne.”
A seventy five-thousand dollar home if ever there was one.
Such are the spoils of love.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

One-Armed Painter Injured in Crash

April 21, 1947
Los Angeles

Joseph Scarantino, 39, of 8845 Sepulveda Blvd., Van Nuys, suffered facial lacerations and possible broken ribs early today, when his car was dragged 450 feet by a Southern Pacific train at a grade crossing near his home. Scarantino, a painter, is missing one arm as the result of a similar accident some years ago.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

"No Regrets," Says Boy Who Killed Sweetheart

April 20, 1947
Los Angeles

For as long as there’s been a highway into the hills, young lovers have gone up into Angeles National Forest on Saturday nights to be alone in the dark. Gerald Snow Welch brought his beloved Dolores Fewkes, 16-year-old Montebello High student, to the deserted Horse Flats picnic grounds. He also brought his .22 rifle.

What Welch swore was a suicide pact went awry when both shells he had brought proved necessary to extinguish the young lady’s existence. In fact, he had to beat her roundly with both stock and barrel of his gun to finish the job. Then he carried her body down the mountain to the cops, stated his “purpose in life had been completed,” and expressed impatience for the State to execute him.

From suicide watch in a padded Pasadena Police Station cell, Welch told officers that it was he who wished to die; Dolores had begged to join him. His depression could immediately be blamed on three miserable months spent in the Navy, which culminated in a medical discharge. In service, suffering “religious disillusionment,” Welch came to doubt the things he’d been told in Sunday school. He went to the library and read Plato, Schopenhauer and Emerson. In Schopenhauer, he found justification for suicide. Bu the roots of Welch’s troubles go back a decade, when the then-eight-year-old saw a neighbor, fleeing police after murdering her husband, blow her brains out in front of him.

Welch said he loved Miss Fewkes and longed to join her in heaven. For now, he appreciated the padded cell, a quiet place where he could be alone with his thoughts. And if the State declined to kill him, he would be happy to finish the job himself.

Young Love

Proof positive. Emerson is a loaded weapon in the hands of children. And Schopenhauer, a loaded weapon with a skull-fracturing buttstock.

The Fewkes’ lived in the back house, at 5941 Gage --

and it was here where Dolores lived her life, dreamed her dreams, and let her heart beat for a budding existentialist who had issues with Christianity and women. A potent combo. "In the last five years my mother's attitude toward me changed," said Welch. "There wasn't the same kind of affection as there used to be. And the church didn't live up to what it was supposed to." Who wouldn't adopt what the papers called "the immature philosophy of pessimism?"

Maybe part of his escape to Horse Flats had to do with feeling confined in this newly-dense urban environment. The likes of Huntington Park, Walnut Park, Bell Gardens and South Gate had been, just previous to his birth, endless acres of grazing sheep and cauliflower fields (Amelia Earhart learned to fly in one such South Gate expanse of dirt). In the early 20s cities were incorporated, every inch was parceled out, and frame buildings went up like mad.

Welch lived in this one, at 7501 Whitsett:

And it was here, during his post-Navy freakout, he argued religion, thought his dark thoughts, and formulated a philosophy based on a common youthful misreading of Schopenhauer (seemingly endemic to the postwar geist).

Like get hip. Murder-suicide is no answer in an absurd vacuum, dad.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Parents' Part in Juvenile Delinquency

April 19, 1947
Washington, D.C.

Myron E. Gurnea, the F.B.I.'s Washington expert on matters of juvenile delinquency, released a statement today describing it as the nation's biggest criminal problem.

Gurnea blames the rise in delinquency during the war years, when the stabilizing influence of fathers, mothers and older siblings was lost, as the former went to war and the latter into the factories. Those bad kids are now aged 17-21, and are being arrested in droves.

Pointing a finger at neglectful families who shirk their disciplinary responsibilities and expect government agencies to control their children, Gurnea notes that very few parents accompany their brats into traffic court. The answer may be to hold more parents financially responsible for their children’s crimes, a tact that is stymied by the growing number of broken homes.

Additionally, Gurnea sniffs at fears that returning soldiers are monsters “trained for crime,” stating that it was a big army, with criminals and ordinary people, but the criminals were already so disposed.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Gang Beating Victim Attacked In Own Yard

April 18, 1947
Los Angeles

Arriving at his home at 7143 Hollywood Blvd. tonight, James Utley, 43, tangled with Herbert Robertson, 45, who was lurking in the yard. Hearing gunfire, Utley’s wife and daughter called police. Utley’s is a name well known among crime crusaders, so Detective G.L. Smith went to the scene with patrol officers.

Utley refused to sign a complaint against Robertson, who he admitted had recently written him a letter demanding $500. Nevertheless, police arrested Robertson on suspicion of robbery. Robertson told officers that he was also a resident of 7143 Hollywood Blvd., although the address on his social security card read 1907 W. Sixth Street.

Utley claimed Robertson had pulled a revolver, which Utley deflected, causing the shot to go wild. Robertson countered that Utley had fired the shot. The gun was found in a car parked in the yard.

James Utley is best remembered for a shocking incident on August, 16, 1946, when two men followed him into popular Hollywood watering hole Lucey’s Restaurant (5444 Melrose Ave.) during the lunch rush. While one man held the other diners –among them Joel McCrea, Eddie Cantor, Stephen Crane and Joan Davis—at gunpoint, the other administered a thorough blackjacking to Utley. This was assumed by many diners to be a movie stunt. The assailants then fled through the crowd of autograph hunters outside the restaurant.

Utley, former operator of the bingo concession on Tony Cornero’s Lux gambling ship (and then under indictment for these activities), former investigator for politically ambitious Clifton’s Cafeteria owner Clifford E. Clinton, acquitted in 1939 on charges of extortion and bribery, convicted two years later of violating Federal Narcotics laws and sentenced to two years in prison, refused to identify his attackers, suggest any reason for the attack or in fact to make any statement at all.

7143 Hollywood Blvd. To-day

Ah, Utley. Anyone shot at and repeatedly beaten, who refuses to sign a complaint, is OK in my book. Me and all of Cornero’s boys say so.

Cornero was the rumrunner-turned-Pioneer of Vegas, Father of the Stardust. LA County deputies were fond of boarding his ships off Santa Monica (Cornero often turned the firehoses on Earl Warren’s boys) to hack up roulette wheels for the photographers-in-tow. Cornero survived Cohen-ordered assassination attempts in Beverly Hills the way others survive headaches, until he was finally, in 1955, whacked in Vegas by Moe Dalitz (with a poison 7&7 – how else would you want to go?)…

…the fate of Utley, Cornero’s long-suffering concessionaire, is a mystery. All we've got is that he may or may not have lived with this Robertson character at 7143. The fate of 7143 is, of course, evident. I picture it as a rambling rough-hewn shingle affair with wide eaves and cross gables, maybe replaced in the mid-50s by a short-lived Polynesian themed apartment complex, who knows. All we have with certainty is that in 1965 somebody erected this fourteen-story concrete warehouse, converted in 1990 to the Hollywood Versailles Tower condominium complex.

A taste of old Hollywood: behind the Hollywood Versailles, across a parking lot, hides this piece of American Foursquare Edwardiana. How this pattern-book prairie box survived is another mystery.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Bus Driver Plus Wine Blamed For Wild Ride

April 17, 1947
Santa Monica

Mrs. Thomas Wright of 2425 29th St., Santa Monica, only intended a short trip by bus, but driver F.O. Rogers, 27, was loaded and wanted company. He compelled the lady to remain on his bus as he looped erratically through downtown Santa Monica and back to her home.

"It was the wildest ride I ever had!" said Mrs. Wright, once safely in the company of Officers Robert Chapman and Kenneth Aitken. A bottle of wine was found in driver Rogers' possession, and investigation physician Dr. R. J. O'Donnell determined that he was intoxicated.

Pleading guilty before Judge Thurlow Taft of the Santa Monica Municipal Court (bail set at $250, probationary hearing scheduled for April 30), Rogers blamed his Mr. Toad-like behavior on "war nerves," which had bedevilled him since suffering injury in the South Pacific with the Navy.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Do You Digg Us? Really Really Digg Us?

Greetings, gentle reader.

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Brawl Aboard Airliner Results in Jail Term

April 15, 1947
Las Vegas

William E. Barrett, 33, and Franklin T. Murphy, 32, were in high spirits Monday afternoon, when they boarded a Western Air Lines flight bound for Las Vegas at Los Angeles Airport. Those spirits only rose as the pair began imbibing from an open liquor bottle, in violation of WAL and Civil Aeronautics Board regulations.

The men became rambunctious, and other passengers joined in the fray, some in panic, others in amusement. The fracas was ended by the intervention of off-duty Los Angeles Police Sgt. E. A. Duarte, who presented the men to local authorities when the four-engine plane landed, ten minutes late due to the commotion.

In Justice of the Peace Harvey McDonald's court today, Barrett (of 1123 Pine St., Pasadena) pleaded guilty and was sentenced to six months in the Las Vegas jail, the maximum possible penalty. McDonald stated that he wished he could make the sentence longer. Murphy, of Oklahoma City, denied guilt, and will stand trial tomorrow on a charge of misconduct in a public conveyance.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Don't Light Up in Court if You Hope to Get Divorce

April 14, 1947
Los Angeles

Everything was going swimmingly in would-be divorcee Fanny S. Greenwald's case against jewelry-jobber husband Isador in Superior Court Judge Paul Vallee's courtroom today. She'd just described Izzy's insulting treatment of her before their friends and children, and their 19-year-old son was being sworn in to corraborate. That's when the lady, seated with counsel, lit a cigarette.

"Mr. Clerk!" raged Judge Vallee, "eject this person from the courtroom. You will have to leave the courtroom, madam!"

The Judge continued the case for six weeks, explaining, "I do not want to decide it now. Her smoking so irritated me that I might do the woman an injustice."

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Holdup Men Menace Bel-Air Hotel Guests

April 13, 1947
Bel Air

A pair of snazzy robbers in sports coats, shades and gloves shook down the Bel-Air Hotel's lobby at gunpoint yesterday morning, divesting the hotel and five guests of nearly $2400 in cash.

The theft began when the two men crossed the hotel's bridged moat and accosted bellhop Charles Berg, showing their weapons and demanding to see the manager. The pair vaulted the counter and held employees hostage as they ransacked the office. While stuffing the $1500 take from the till into a laundry sack, the shorter of the men sighed to his associate, "Well, Joe, this haul isn't a very hot deal."

They then turned their attention to the guests in the lobby, relieving Richard L. Casselman (of 15905 Chase Street, San Fernando) of $18, B. Charles Gould (650 Ocean Ave., Brooklyn) of $250, Paul Payette (414 St. James Place, Montreal) of $540, Davis H. Hannah ( 11024 Strathmore Street) of $40 and Charles Carroll (231 N. Oxford Street) of $20.

Bellhop Berg told police that he recognized at least one of men, and the hotel guests said they would be able to indentify their assailants.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Man Hauled Out of Sewer

April 12, 1947
Los Angeles

Citizens alerted police and fire officials today to a person crawling around in the sewer beneath Bunker Hill Ave. and Sunset Blvd. After fighting rush hour traffic to reach the scene, Fireman Gordon Davis heard breathing and lowered himself through the manhole. Within was a half-naked and muddy James W. Holland, 32, of Newport, Tenn. Davis suggested Holland resurface, where he told Officers J.P. Brennan and C.G. Cunning that he had been "looking for my baby." Holland was taken to jail for a shower and additional questioning.

Bunker Hill, Down a Manhole

Let's talk about Bunker Hill for a moment. Not the Bunker Hill of Queen Annes from the Boom Eighties, or of skyscrapers from the other goddamned Boom Eighties. And not the Bunker Hill you'd expect us to go on about, of Fante and Chandler, of Criss Cross and The Exiles and of our addled, baby-misplacing pal James. I want to talk about the Bunker Hill of right now.

The manhole in question:

What else do you see? Nothing. Except Geoff Palmer's Orsini Apartments in the distance. Between that infant-concealing manhole cover and the Orsini, here at the northern end of Bunker Hill, just east of its Fort Moore area, once stood the 1887 Geise Residence. Couple of years ago, a man named Geoff Palmer applied for a demo permit to raze the LAST remaining Victorian structure on Bunker Hill. He didn't get it. Nevertheless, the City had decided to relocate the house. Palmer told his foreman to knock it down anyway. Palmer got a slap on the wrist. The house is still gone, though.

Palmer also knocked down these adjacent structures a few weeks ago:

--which is too bad, as they were a pair of fine early commercial structures, one a Mission style with nice tile work, the other having cool ghost signs that read "Lumber" and "Mouldings" and, in the middle, likely indicating its original purpose, "Auto Repairing." These, and the Geise Residence, were flattened for the forthcoming Orsini Two. And the site for Orsini Three? Across the street to the north:

And thus will serve to fuel the total obliteration of Bunker Hill from our collective memory, in conjunction with the loftifization of the Giant Penny, the Pan-American, Victor Clothing... some will profit, but will it be us? Or our Palmers?

No wonder Angel's Flight lashes out at man -- as does any animal who can no longer recognize its habitat.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Just 'Duck Soup' For Vegetarian To Land In City Jail

11 April 1947
Lincoln Heights

A wayward vegetarian today ensured himself a more traditional diet after Radio Officers B. Gonzales and C.A. Boughton responded to the sound of gunfire at Lincoln Park. There they discovered Trinidad C. Quroz, 29, of 338 Clarence St. and his trusty .22 rifle, both some way out into the lake. Called to shore, Quroz reported that he had become tired of his vegetarian diet and, craving duck, had shot the specimen that floated, yonder. Taken into custody on suspicion of illegally discharging a firearm, Quroz pled guily before Municipal Judge Louis W. Kaufman and was sentenced to a 20-day culinary tour of the City Jail.

In the Soup

Death in a dark city. Murders black and bleak. We wrestle with ourselves as Jacob wrestled with the Angel—and our inner child is Cain, striking down every good brother within and without. God plays favorites. Then abandons us to our own.

‘Course, sometimes LA is just about a vegetable-crazy guy named Trinidad what took his rifle wading into the brack of Lincoln Park lake. Was his offering to be accepted as Abel’s? Or was he just itching to glaze the fowl bastard in honey and lavender, to feel the essence of something once-sentient poured down his throat in the form of pan juices?

We shall not know. Those in the throes of Vegetable Frenzy are beyond comprehension.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Woman Found Stabbed To Death In Home

April 10, 1947
East Los Angeles

Shouting to a neighbor "Look after the kids!," 32-year-old scrap yard worker Efren Saenz bolted from the family home at 4032 Princeton St. yesterday, leaving wife Amelia, 28, dead in a bedroom closet with several knife wounds in her left breast. The couple's daughters Irma, 7, and Maria Teresa, 3, were playing in the yard at the time of the murder.

East L.A. substation Sheriff's Deputies Tommy R. Johnson and Robert E. McHaney told reporters that Saenz, who they were seeking, was also arrested in late March on an assault with a deadly weapon charge for throwing a table radio at Mrs. Saenz.

4032 Princeton To-Day

From up and down the block I could hear running feet and the odd door slam, doors on houses much like this one, unassuming structures in that graveyard-laden grey area between Boyle Heights and East Los Angeles.

While footfall fell and doors slammed, what I didn’t hear were children in yards, yards now universally browned-out or paved over. Also didn’t hear cries of “Look after the kids!,” thank God.

Where was Saenz running? Perhaps a block over to Calvary Cemetery to find solace in meditation? Down Indiana St. to hide in his secret recesses of the scrap yards of Vernon? Or up Whittier Boulevard and into LA, to find whatever he felt was denied him in life?

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Sinatra Arrested And Freed On Bail In Row With Writer

April 9, 1947
Los Angeles

Deputy Sheriffs today broke up a rehearsal in a Vine Street radio studio in order to charge bobby-soxer dreamboat Frank Sinatra with a misdemeanor battery charge, incurred Tuesday night outside Sunset Strip hotspot Ciro's. New York Daily Mirror columnist Lee Mortimer claims someone sucker-punched him, and Sinatra then beat the 42-year-old writer while goons held him down. This effectively broke up Mortimer's working date with Miss Kay Kino, Chinese songbird whom Mortimer was grooming for a role in a show he'd written for New York's China Doll Cafe.

Sinatra initially admitted involvement in the fracas, noting "For two years he has been needling me. He called me a dago --------. I saw red. He gave me a look. I can't describe it. It was one of those 'Who do you amount to?' looks. I followed him outside. I hit him. I'm all mixed up." Later, through his attorney, Albert Pearlson, the story became one of an unprovoked name calling and physical attack from Mortimer--who has written searing columns on the singer's relationship with gangster Lucky Luciano--on the sheepish Sinatra.

Judge Bert P. Woodward set bail at $500 and trial for May 28. Sinatra pled not guilty, and hopped a flight to NY to receive the Thomas Jefferson Award from the Council Against Intollerance in America.

Ciro's To-Day

Ah, Ciro's, the club that made Sammy, the club that made Martin & Lewis. The place to catch Cugat. To buy drinks for the Holmbly Hills Rat Pack. To rub elbows with Rothstein and Luciano. To sock a writer in the nose. All worthwhile pursuits.

But the Sunset Strip couldn't compete with the Vegas Strip by the late 50s, and Ciro's -- along with the Trocadero, the Mocambo, et al -- disappeared, leaving the horror that is today's Strip in its wake.

The Modern facade has been destroyed by the Comedy Store. I suppose they think that's funny.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Crowd Perils Attack Prisoner

April 8, 1947
Los Angeles

Robert Ahlberg, 21, late of Denver, was happy to see police officers M. C. Jacobsen and L.O. Sheets early today, even as they handcuffed him.

Alerted by his victim's cries, two students in a nearby hotel saw Ahlberg attacking a 46-year-old woman in City Library Park (Fifth and Hope Streets) and dragging her 75 feet into the bushes. A crowd several dozen stong gathered at the scene, but did not rescue the woman, telling arriving officers they were afraid her attacker might have a gun.

Officers Jacobsen and Sheets dragged Ahlberg from the bushes, divesting him of a knife with which he had threatened his victim. At this point, the crowd became brave, and cried out "Let us have him!"

Ahlberg was booked into Central Jail, where he gave his local address as 621 1/2 W. Sixth Street, just a short stroll from the assault scene.

Library Park and the Roughly Analogous

Mr. Ahlberg dragged our vic into the park on the lower left of this image. Middle-aged women of 1947 were, then as now, ripe for sacking and rape and other unglorious ends. Once and a while, angry mobs say enough is enough and no means no, usw. So was screamed for this park and its library.

The Edison Building (there, over the shoulder of the Library, Allison & Allison) has withstood its attackers since 1931 (she maintains the finest lobby murals in town). The Fruit Exchange seen across from Library Park (Walker & Eisen, 1935) wasn’t hardy enough to prevent calamity. (And is, at present, site of the Tallest Building West of the Mississippi.)

Library Park fell to the pavers:

and then, that Grande Dame, the Library herself, was set for sacking and rape and, worse yet, outright murder. The developers and city colluded to whack her big-time. They’d sold her air rights for some late-80s AC Martin/SOM knock-offs when they set fire to her. Twice.

But the onlookers screamed and yelled and nearly took apart the evil-doers: so was borne the Los Angeles Conservancy. The Library thus stands as a potent metaphor--yes, They might have a gun. Whether or not it's too late, whether you have the guts to yell "Let us have 'em!" during or after an attack, for God's sake, yell, yell, and don't fucking stop.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Fumes Kill Girl Re-Enacting Scene From Film

Cheyenne, WY
April 6, 1947

On Sunday, 10-year-old Irene Josephine Spirk watched a movie in which a nurse anesthetised a patient. Today she acted out the scene with her little brother, substituting a bottle of cleaning fluid for ether. Irene inhaled more of the fumes than the little fellow, and died in the hospital of chemical poisoning.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Woman Near Death in Accidental Shooting

April 6, 1947
Los Angeles

Mae Romero, 45, divorced wife of former police detective Frank Romero, and her 22-year-old daughter Mrs. Doris Burrell accepted a ride home from a party last night with Officer Horton Putman of the Highland Park Station. Mrs. Romero was still talking when the ambulance arrived at 3716 McKenzie Ave. to take her to General Hospital with a bullet wound in her chest, but her condition quickly deteriorated.

Officer Putman reported he had decided to show his gun to the lady, and it discharged. Panicking, Officer Putman tossed the gun and three live cartridges onto the front lawn, where they were recovered by investigators. Mrs. Burrell awoke to the sound of gunfire, and discovered her wounded mother in the kitchen, Officer Putman calling for aid.

Police are terming it an accidental shooting.

3716 McKenzie to-day

So Officer Putman escorts the former wife of a fellow officer home at 1:30am. Shoots her, throws the gun on the lawn.

An accident. When I have an accident, I've usually just cut my finger opening a can.

Again with the stucco and window job. Why is it people stucco? It's applied via inherent sloth. They're told you'll "never paint again -- painting looks bad in twenty years!" So they have chicken-wire stapled to their craftsman shingle and swimming pool gunnite shot the hell on their houses. It looks like shit when it's sprayed on and it looks just as shitty twenty years later. If that isn't cultural progress, I don't know what is.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Hundreds Fathered by G.I.s

April 5, 1947
Frankfurt, Germany

According to Mrs. Jean McCool of the newly-incorporated American charity Orphans, Inc., 450 abandoned babies are living in terrible conditions in local orphanages where there is little or no milk, food, medicines, linens or clothes for the infants. More than half of the foundlings are the illegitimate children of American servicemen.

Monday, April 04, 2005

April 4, 1947
Los Angeles

On March 19, after his third grade classes at Allesandro School, 9-year-old Murl Duncan Cooke, Jr. failed to return to the home he shared at 2910 Gilroy Avenue with brother Newton, 10, and their widowed mother Pearl.

Since then, the boy has been sleeping rough, eating whatever people gave him. Juvenile Officers W.B. Smith and J.W. Scheck finally spotted the kid huddling in a liquor store doorway near where Beverly meets Vermont last night, and brought him into Georgia Street juvenile division for a big slice of banana cream pie and a warm cot.

Why was little Murl alone on the street? The next morning, he told officers, "I ran away once before. I didn't go home till after 8 o'clock and I got a whippin' for it. That's why I didn't want to go home this time." He was returned to his mother's care.

Sleepytime at Beverly and Vermont

Christ in the desert never had such a forbidding landscape. Here we are spending all this money on schools, and we can't even afford some decent plantings for wandering kids to sleep in. Giant rocks and cacti? Nice. Let's plant some damn cushy ivy! It's for the kids! If you hate ivy, YOU HATE CHILDREN!!!

The aforementioned liquor store may have been located in the brick building on the right. As for Gilroy Avenue, that disappeared completely. The child-beating evil that was Mrs. Pearl Cooke evidently sucked the whole street into Hell.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Fireman Injured in $230,000 Fire on Miracle Mile

April 3, 1947
Los Angeles

Fanned by high winds, a two-alarm fire that started today on the kitchen roof of the Melody Lane Cafe (5351 Wilshire Blvd.) spread to five other businesses and did extensive damage to their second stories. Affected were the storerooms of the Pig 'n Whistle candy and pastry shop (5353), Randall Optomotrist (5355), McKlernan's Fashions (5357), Horton & Converse Pharmacy (5359) and Staber's Beauty Salon (5361). Fire Captain Noble Swanson suffered back injuries and abrasions when a section of roof collapsed, and damages to McKlernan's store alone were estimated by owner M. J. McKlernan at $30,000, despite rubber blankets laid down by firemen.

Melody Lane...then.

I couldn't go shoot the Melody Lane building now. It's a tough part of the world to visit. Can't bear the destruction of Clements' Mullen & Bluett. The loftivization of Desmond's. The open pit that is Coulter's.

Developers in cahoots with the Miracle Mile Association delight in tearing down original Modern strutures and replacing them with faux-Miami-Deco. What gives?

A shot of the Mile in happier times, despite the flames that lay in wait for the Melody Lane.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Police Hold Six After Dope Raid

April 2, 1947
Los Angeles

Latest residents of the City Jail are two young women and four men arrested by Central Vice Squad officers in East Hollywood early today on suspicion of violating the State Narcotics Act.

Det. Sgt. J.A. DiBetta and Officers Paul Stevens and Joe Aguirre state that they observed a group inside a home at 504 N. Westmoreland Ave., among them Betty Thomas, 19, a model, who was seen injecting fluid into her arm. At this point, the officers entered the home, where they arrested Thomas, Sherry Kenton (23, phone operator, Riverside), Roman Mapili (51, 504 N. Westmoreland Ave.), Theodorico Mangosing (38, 821 Thayer Ave.), Cleto Edwarte (45, 439 N. Lake Ave.) and Felix Benigno (39, a transient). Taken into evidence were assorted narcotics and accessories, among them heroin with syrettes, amytal, nembutal and unidentified pills.

Following her arrest, Miss Kenton became hysterical, threatened suicide, and managed to slash her left wrist with her compact mirror before being restrained. Perhaps she was worried she would lose her phone operator gig if news of the arrest made the papers.

Mapili's house to-day

504 is pretty well off the street; Betty must have assumed she was beyond the prying eyes of the clap-shoulders. A gal & her pal "shooting fluid" in the wee hours with four men twice their age? Couldn't it have been one of the wild Hollywood insulin parties so whispered about? Those diabetics and their hysteria.

Betty Thomas' last known address. Her murphy bed and corner sink soon replaced by spa tub and skylight. Stuff that, as the slums of the future, won't last nearly as long.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Wife Slaying Case in Court

April 1, 1947
Los Angeles

Hermenegildo G. Robles Jr., 25, scion of a Mexican soap manufacturer, had recovered sufficiently today to appear at a preliminary hearing before Municipal Judge Leo Freund. Robles stands accused of a fatal assault on his pregant, estranged wife Guillermina, 26, last February 4.

His head swathed in bandages, Robles heard testimony from his mother-in-law, Mrs. Mary Doolan, 128 1/2 W. 43rd Place, who stated that she left her home for a few minutes on that date, and returned to find her daughter dead in the bedroom.

"A few minutes later some police officers came to the house and said that Hermenegildo had shot himself," she said. "I took them into the bedroom and said, 'He shot her, too.'"

After shooting his wife, with whom he had quarreled about money, and from whom he had been separated for two weeks, Robles boarded a streetcar outside the home, alighting at St. Agnes' Church at the corner of Vermont and Adams. After praying, Robles stood on the steps of the church, pulled out a .32 caliber revolver, and shot himself beneath the chin.

Officers said that they had found scribbled notes in Spanish in Robles' pockets in which he confessed to the crime and asked forgiveness. The suspect was taken to General Hospital, and on regaining consciousness arrested.

128 W. 43rd Place to-day

The house where Guillermina met her end:

I know what you're saying. At least her untimely demise spared an unborn child from ever having to see this fake brick.

The streetcar line no longer goes to a church on Vermont and Adams. Please attempt penance, and suicide, elsewhere.