Thursday, June 30, 2005

Vera West Did Not Pay "Blackmail," Mate Says

June 30, 1947
San Fernando Valley

Film costumer Vera West died in her swimming pool at 5119 Bluebell Ave. over the weekend. She suffered from marital difficulties, but the blackmail to which she alluded in her suicide note was, according to husband Jack C. West, a figment of her imagination. Mr. West claims he was staying at the Beverly Hills Hotel when his wife took her unfortunate dip, following a bad argument, and in anticipation of Mrs. West’s consultation with a divorce attorney.

Assistant county autopsy surgeon Dr. Marvin Goodwin’s initial report was of asphyxia, probably due to drowning, but Dr. Frederick Newbarr, his superior, is refusing to sign a death certificate until additional tests are performed.

5119 Bluebell To-day

Suicide, huh.

So she went to kill herself. By going swimming. No mention in the paper whether she, like some Barney Barnato, decided to, I don’t know, eat something, not wait the Biblical halfed-hour, and then leap in the deep end.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Liquor Hours Change

June 29, 1947
Great State of California

5-4-3-2... just one more day to go until the state's liquor licensing laws roll back to their pre-war state. Yep, it's nearly 6 months after the end of hostilities, and despite several vain attempts by legislators to retain the time restrictions, from midnight tomorrow, bars and package stores may sell joy juice between 6 a.m. and 2 a.m., a welcome change from the 10 a.m. to midnight hours of wartime. So let's have a toast!

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Two Men Killed As Truck Takes 300-Foot Dive

June 28, 1947
Arroyo Seco

Two Pasadena men died tonight when the truck in which they were driving skidded sixty feet, crashed through a guard rail, and plunged 300 feet down the Devil’s Gate Dam bridge near the Rose Bowl.

Driver Ernest Jimenez, 28, of 1993 Linda Rosa Ave. and George Talbot, 32, of 1143 Mentone St. were both dead by the time Ambulance Surgeon Charles A. Wagner and Driver Jack Bradley climbed down to attend them. Firemen cut the victims from the truck cab with torches, and the bodies were lifted to the road in wire baskets.

With the death of motorcyclist David Paul Benjamin, 23, of 1513 N. Western Ave., injured April 6 in a collision with a car at Barham Blvd. and Blair Dr., L.A. County’s traffic fatality count stands at 394 for the year.

Devil's Gate

"The [Babalon] Working began in 1945-46, a few months before Crowley's death in 1947, and just prior to the wave of unexplained aerial phenomena now recalled as the 'Great Flying Saucer Flap'…Parsons opened a door and something flew in.”

-Kenneth Grant, O.T.O.

Rocketry! Space craft! Unspeakable rites unleashing Neosatanic magickal Gnostic deities! Ah, Devil’s Gate, the import of your name is lost on no-one.

(Taken from the historic, abandoned Flint Canyon Bridge.)

Jack “Belarion” Parsons and pals experimented with rocketry here, in the very spot—unbeknownst to them—Goddard had. (Now JPL, aka Jack Parson's Lab, stands a stone's throw to the north.) Parsons lived nearby on Orange Grove…where the cops were often called to break up parties where nude pregnant women danced in fire (and L. Ron Hubbard was shtupping everyone’s girlfriends).

The Gate is also known for multiple unsolved child disappearances. That, and the dangers of motoring near it when the blast from a solid-fuel booster (or tentacle of Cthulhu) can knock you into the Arroyo.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Poison Kills Girl; Fiance May Live

June 27, 1947

Distraught over her pending separation from fiance Billy Allen, 19-year-old Marine stationed at Camp Pendleton, Pearl L. Reid, 16, drank poison today at her home at 2653 Loosmore Street. She died. When Billy saw what she had done he too quaffed the deadly draught, and lies in serious condition in Long Beach's Naval Hospital. His doctors are optimistic for his survival, at least from the immediate threat.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Thrush Splashed, Seeks Cabbage

June 26, 1947
Los Angeles

Judy Janis, 26 year old singer discovered by bandleader Phil Harris, pled with Superior Court Judge Caryl M. Sheldon today to recognize the extent of the damages suffered when a clerk at a Horton & Converse drugstore she was patronizing at 6313 Hollywood Boulevard dropped a gallon jug of acid, splashing her famous gams. The vocalist, known in her radio days as “93 pounds of heaven,” seeks $35,000 compensation.

6313 Hollywood Blvd. To-day

You know him as ol’ Buck House Schindler. Kings Road Schindler. Maybe even Tischler Schindler. But not Sex Shoppe Schindler.

Sardi’s was one sexy restaurant once all right, with an attached pharmacy (note the neon that reads "prescriptions" in the window) should you need to pick up some antacid after a particularly heavy lunch. Not that antacid works to combat butterfingered acid-toting stock clerks.

Of course now, should you venture into the distrubingly named Cave, you risk being splashed with far worse.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Smashed! Blocked!

June 25, 1947

If you thought the blockades were over, think again. Tonight, 250 of the city’s finest converged on Hollywood in a night-long rampage to break the back of vice. The results: 23 night clubs raided, six intersections gummed up by roadblocks, forty persons taken into custody, including 14 arrests for robbery, two for burglary, a possible bookie, a forger, a man who hit a policeman with a pop bottle, three drunk drivers, six gamblers, six walking drunks, two traffic violators, and a two year old babe in a bar with its parents.

Funny how the Times didn't run the names and addresses of the nightclubs and their owners like they did when they busted up the Central Avenue clubs...

Friday, June 24, 2005

Produce Man Shot to Death on Wedding Eve

June 24, 1947
Los Angeles

M. Cohen… Samuel Miller.. Sol Rosenblatt… Willie Spector… Samuel Tureck… Max Turetsky… Solomon Turk… Sol Turbin… Sol Turkein… Sam Weiss… Sam Wise.

Consider Sol Turkin, 39, produce merchant and groom-to-be, slain two nights ago in his apartment at 638 S. Cloverdale, after dancing all night with his fiancĂ©, schoolteacher Sylvia Schermer of 837 N. Martel. Like Cinderella, the lady needed to be home before midnight—it was bad luck for them to see each other on their wedding day before the appointed time. Turkin dropped her off around 12:20am (oh… that’s bad) and was home in minutes. Around 12:45, a neighbor heard the sounds of a struggle, then four shots—one of which came through the wall.

Police found Turkin dead of a bullet to the groin, his face bloodied, signs of a struggle in the apartment and the dead man’s watch face smashed. On his person, $630, including five c-notes. Must have been an acquaintance, or Turkin would have called out. Maybe lurking in the dark, surprise attack. Anyway, no wedding for Miss Schermer.

Or for Turkin, some of whose aliases scroll above. The bride knew nothing of his police record dating back to 1924, including convictions for grand larceny and fraud, the three years in Leavenworth for impersonating an officer, the bad check that landed him in a New Jersey prison. Det. Capt. Bert Jones of Wilshire Division says it was “the man’s past catching up with him.”

Or his present. Cops picked up Russell Waterman, 36, Montebello grocer who was holding three guns as security on a $300 loan to Turkin, and two of the three guns. Waterman said he sold the third.

And on Martel, a lady weeps.

638 S. Cloverdale To-day

Check out those rounded corner windows. I’m guessing 1938-40 on this one. I know I should go down and pull records, but while ars longa, you know, vita brevis.

Slight eaves with dentils--and those full-height pilasters--give this a Classical touch, but the sort of faux corner tower and arched dormer makes me itch with French Eclectic. Bet Solly boy died on hardwood floors near a nicely tiled bathroom. Now I'm itching to get in a take a look-see.

Poor Sol. As is often said, any friend who would shoot you in the crotch is no friend at all.

Thursday, June 23, 2005


June 23, 1947
Hawthorne, CA

Bernie Shaw of 1224 W. 123rd Street was first on the scene today when a burning car ran off the road while traveling south on Budlong below 123rd, starting a grass fire in a field. Nearby was Dennis Yates, 64, of 602 West 79th Street, his clothes ablaze. Shaw extinguished the man and pulled off his charred clothing, but Yates later died at Harbor General Hospital, Torrance.

Police speculate that sparks from Yates’ pipe may have ignited a fire in his automobile and caused his death.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Tragic Cygnet

June 22, 1947

Swans mate for life, and no amount of publicity-seeking, Trans-American hanky panky can change that simple and profound truism.

You’ll perhaps remember the events of April 17, when Gus the Swan, resident of The Pond, Forest Lawn Memorial Park, and recently left bereft by the death of his beloved Elvira, was flown (via American, actually) to Egypt, Mass. to select a new bride from among the purebred flock at Charles P. Chase’s swan ranch. The droopy bird, nicknamed Gloomy Gus for the obvious suffering in his gait, was put into a cage with four lady swans, a quadrifoil reminder that Elvira was no more. Perhaps to put an end to the obscene display, after six days he made a selection. Henrietta was her name, and the two titular lovebirds flew, or rather were flown, back to the boneyard to honeymoon.

Despite news stories trumpeting (sorry) Gus’ new joy, inside it seems he still grieved. Early this morning his body was found deep among the reeds of his pond. Henrietta is inconsolable. And the men whose business it is to bury the dead in a timely and moderately tasteful fashion seem a tad unsure of what to do next. Hold private rites, and then bury Gus next to Elvira, they reckon.

The Times perhaps cynically suggests that they may not remember where they laid the lady.

Gus' Home To-day

As legend has it, on New Year’s Day, 1917, Hubert Eaton, aka The Builder, stood on a hilltop overlooking the small country cemetery of fifty-five acres which had just been placed in his charge. As he gazed at the sere and brown hillside, at once a vision came to him—that he should build a Memorial-Park worthy of Evelyn Waugh’s mockery.

By 1947, he had done just that—Forest Lawn stood magnificently and The Loved One was published. Some have argued that Gus succumbed to mortification, while others feel he had served The Builder's Dream proudly and, having done so, left the body.

In any event, here’s the pond, under the charmingly picturesque eye of the Tudor manor house (seemingly derived from Warwickshire’s Compton Wynyates, especially in the half-timbering) that serves as Administration Building and Mortuary.

And now, a vintage photo of the cob himself:

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Scared Steer Traps Scared Woman in Short Alleyway

June 21, 1947
Lincoln Heights

Mrs. Ruth Twist wasn’t planning on a wild animal encounter when she entered the alley behind her home at 2219 Johnson Street, facing 2226 Griffin Street. But there she discovered an 1800 pound steer, anxious, exhausted and far from its unhappy recent home in a packing house near 700 N. Alameda.

That’s where the animal was first spotted, skidding on the pavement. Police tracked the beast from Alameda and Main, but lost it crossing Griffin, where it knocked Officer Herbert Hansford down.

Then the animal entered the alley, there pinning Mrs. Twist against a fence. The brave lady forced the steer to the alley’s mouth, where officers commenced firing, felling the beast and sending Officer L.P. Walters to Georgia Street Receiving Hospital with a ricocheted bullet to the arm. Mrs. Ruth Twist refused medical attention. And Chief Horrall had steak for dinner.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Bottle of Mayonnaise Costs Life of Child

June 20, 1947

Mayonnaise is rotten stuff, as the parents of little Steven Barrett, 4, discovered after their son was killed today when a car driven by Victor Martinez, 22, of 4321 Elm St., Long Beach, jumped the curb and crushed the tyke as he played on the lawn in front of his home at 5833 Penswood Ave. Martinez reported that he had lost control when a jar of mayo rolled off his bench seat, and he lunged for it. This was apparently considered a reasonable explanation for infanticide, and Martinez was not held.

Steven was #386 in L.A. County’s grim toll of traffic fatalities for the year. Another traffic death recorded today was that of Ellis W. Keim, 73, of 2264 Cedar Ave., Long Beach. Keim was struck in a driveway at 1366 Atlantic Ave. on May 23, and died at his home.

Our Greatest Killer

Do-gooders are forever obsessed with installing traffic lights. As if our freeways weren’t slow enough, they have to slow down our surface streets, the only viable way to traverse town. They seem to ignore the fact that automobiles long to kill in driveways and yards, not asphalt.

And why aren’t they taking on the real killer? Mayonnaise. Didn’t we learn anything from our GIs KIA’d in France?

Stevie Barrett’s home on Pennswood:

Note the kid out front. He and his family may learn the hard way that Dame Fate tempers her unremitting brutality with cruel irony. Of course, the family has built barricades to stop homicidal, mayonnaise-containing Chryslers.

Ellis Keim was hit May 23 in this driveway:

Well, tough to get a bead on where that was, until you turn 180 degrees and see what the neighborhood used to look like.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Jack Scher, Won't You Please Come Home?

June 19, 1947

Frustrated by her husband’s refusal to return to their home, Mrs. Jack Scher had an inspired brainstorm—she’d print up some handbills pleading her case, and hire a couple of strapping lads to distribute them in front of Scher’s fruit stand at 170 S. Marengo.

Were you among Scher’s customers or passersby today, you might have been handed a paper which read: “Mrs. Jack Scher would like her husband, Mr. Jack Scher, of the fruit and vegetable department of the Wonder Shipping Center, to come home to his wife and child.”

The scheme backfired when Scher became incensed, and shot at one of the youths with his .22, nicking the clothing of John Brangard, 127 N. Mentor Ave. His roommate Elrod Swanson was then swatted on his shoulder with Scher’s rifle stock. Pasadena police arrived and booked Scher, 43, for investigation of assault with a deadly weapon, but a sympathetic judge freed the man. Officers hope to get a complaint.

Mrs. Scher reports that it’s now ten days since she and their ten-year-old son were abandoned at their home, 3453 Milton St., East Pasadena.

Scher's Escape

This is the home from which Scher fled, to the safety of his fruit stand:

Maybe Scher liked the quietude of his fruity pals, away from Mrs. Scher. Or maybe he feared for his life back home—hence the necessity of discharging firearms at Mrs. Scher’s minions.

In any event, the Wonder Shipping Center and its fruit stand are gone, although the tree was certainly there in 1947. The strangely pre-Columbian Pasadena Sheraton was built on the site in 1974.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Son Says His Father sired Wife's Children

June 18, 1947
El Monte

After ten years, Lester Jean Burnett is tired of the lies. In 1937, aged 18, he acted as a beard for his father Lester Senior, then 36, and Angelina Pizzuto, then 17, whose parents objected to their February-July romance.

Angelina and Lester Junior were wed, but it was Lester Senior who set up house with the girl. Angelina’s children Lester Bryan, 8, and Rose, 6, are supported by and informally acknowledged as the children of the older man. However, on their birth certificates, Lester Junior is named father.

In December 1942, all parties convened in Reno, where Angelina and Lester Junior divorced; Angelina and Lester Senior were married the same day.

Lester Junior entered Superior Court today seeking an official ruling that the two children are not his.

Lester Senior, a refrigeration engineer, resides at 2135 Iola Ave., El Monte, with Angelina and the kids.

Iola Then & Now

So ol’ Lester (nix with the rhyming gag, I get it) snowed the Pizzuti in an effort to snag the fair Angelina. Well, good for him. Ageism is one of the last bastions of intolerance to be toppled in America. Or at least that’s what I’ll tell the judge.

Their love-digs on Iola have vanished in toto:

In 1947, homes and neighborhoods were being bulldozed left and right for freeways. Today, they fall to schools and apartment complexes. 1960, though, was a swinging year in need of a golf course; hence the Whittier Narrows GC, designed renowned and unbelievably prolific California golf course designer William Bell. To be fair, Iola is now the site of the Recreation Area to the south, which is full of artificial lakes and trap ranges and terrifying inline skaters. The whole works pre-Iola was the Rancho Potrero Chico (which had previously been the Gabrielino village of Ouiichinga). RPC was owned by Juan Sanchez, whose 1845 adobe still stands a mile to the southwest. It was built with and still maintains an escape tunnel in case the house is attacked by Indians or, presumably, inline skaters.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Girl, 7, Found Asleep in Car with Her Dog

June 17, 1947
Los Angeles

Joe (or more like Jane) Citizen of the 700 block of S. New Hampshire Ave. just couldn’t stand the sight of the little blonde girl and her dog asleep in the back seat of that car one more night, so on the third incidence she phoned police. Sure enough, radio officers Clyde Giroux and D.R. Lynch discovered 7-year-old Linda Henderson and her dog Butch snoozing in the back of a car parked in front of number 747.

Asked where she lived, the yawning gamine explained “when the sun comes up my mamma comes and takes me to a cafĂ©, but I can’t tell you where I live for we’re looking for a place.” But mamma was nowhere to be seen this evening, so officers left a note on the car. Then Butch and Linda were processed at Wilshire Police Station and the child sent along to Juvenile Hall.

A friend told Linda’s mamma what had happened, and Mrs. Louise M. Carringer (nee Henderson, 36, divorced) appeared, explaining that during her search for housing she only occasionally left Linda alone. Dep. City Attorney Perry Thomas responded by sending mamma, charged with child neglect, over to spend the night in the Lincoln Heights Jail.

Of Butch, who apparently made no move to stop the strange men from removing his charge from the vehicle, we know no more.

747 S. New Hampshire To-day

Leaving a dog in a car like that? Unbelievable.

Here’s where they were parked—

The original windows have been lost, but at least the offending party didn’t have it in them to replace these two flanking little ones:

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Officers Kill Man As Prowler

June 15, 1947
China City

Pity Wanzy Patterson of 1312 W. 37th Street. The night watchman, 29, somehow came to the conclusion that his job demanded he shimmy over the transom of the bar at 777 Quang Yn Court and relieve the establishment of some of that pesky joy juice. This had been going on for some time, so officers C.A. Stromwell and M. Herman secreted themselves within the establishment, guns aready for when the liquor bandit made a repeat appearance.

Soon enough ol' Wanzy dropped in, and laid his paws upon several handy bottles. The cops revealed themselves and Wanzy moved as if to retrieve a gun. Bang! 11 shots pierced the hapless Wanzy, and more'n likely the bottles he so loved.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Husband Jailed After Mate Claims Shotgun Threats

June 15, 1947
Baldwin Park

Memo to Lester Jacob Griffin of 582 Foster Street: next time you beat and menace wife Catherine with a shotgun, make sure son Ronald isn't lurking nearby with a Japanese saber. The 14-year-old laid into his pop's left forearm, inflicting a delicate little cut, but ending the assault on Catherine, who later signed a complaint alleging wife beating.

Lester J. is in El Monte Jail pending receipt of $1500 bail.

582 Foster Street To-day

Li’l Ronnie wielding a Japanese saber? Did his daddy pick up an NCO Shin-Gunto? Or an ever-venerated Nihonto, forged in feudal days by the solitary swordsmith? Whichever, it cut daddy real good. Thousands of swords n' sabers were “liberated” from Japan during the occupation, but probably few saw action on American soil.

Fewer still went into action in Baldwin Park, which is best known as being, in 1948, the birthplace of In-N-Out, noble innovator of the burger-specific two-way speakerbox.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

‘Borrowed’ Plane Smashes in Parkway

June 15, 1947

James E. Fronimos is a man of distinction… but who really wants to be known as the first man Pasadena cops ever booked for investigation of grand theft airplane and drunk flying?

Fronimos, 24, a student pilot with a scant two hours solo air time, decided to take a joyride in a Cub Cruiser he found parked at Montebello airfield around 1:30am. He picked the Cub because it was the only plane on the field with a self-starter. His intent was to circle the field a few times and bring her on home… but the inexperienced pilot’s circle developed an uncontrollable circumference, and soon he was running low on gas.

While in the air, Fronimos had moved from East L.A. to Pasadena, so when he brought her down, it was on the Arroyo Parkway, near California Street. Fortunately, he killed the ignition on the way down, thus only crumpling a wing and scratching up his face when he crashed into a light pole with a “hospital zone” sign on it, and not exploding.

Officers took Fronimos to the drunk tank and towed the plane to the wrecked auto yard at Ward & Son’s Garage.

Fronimos' Landing

You can see how Fronimos would mistake the Parkway for a landing strip, sure. That he would end up crashing it into the light standard is pretty unacceptable. But then, liqour’ll play funny with your trajectory.

He landed here, in front of the Bryan Cleaners (Eliot Construction, 1938) – had he not hit that pole, we might have lost a nice streamline building.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Playhouse Made Office in Building Shortage

June 13, 1947
West Covina

In a township that has only just expanded its zoning to include businesses, it’s hard to find a place to set up shop.

Since Ann Frank, news ed of the West Covina Tribune is a mere slip of a gal (5’ 6”), she’s settling into a child’s playhouse, the temporary home of the three-month-old journal--recently evicted from borrowed space now needed for West Covina’s only market--until a more traditional office can be found.

At present, there’s not a single commercial space for rent within the city limits—and the West Covina Trib can hardly do business in Irwindale!

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Co-ed Whipping Laid to Student

June 13, 1947

Kinky! High School co-ed Joyce Rodden, 17, of 230 S. Paramount Blvd., Downey, told classmate Richard P. Contreras, also 17, of 942 Benares St., that she didn’t want to go out on a date with him. Smart girl, considering his response to the refusal was to lurk at Second St. and Downey Ave. and whip her with an 11 ½ foot long bull whip as she walked to school. The first flick scarred Miss Rodden with an eight-inch welt on her left thigh, number two marked her abdomen, and it was only Miss Rodden’s quick reflexes that avoided the whip that was heading for her face.

Contreras, who admitted he whipped the girl because she wouldn’t date him, was booked in County Jail on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, and when the Times man came round, the injured girl gamely posed for a photo with the offending device and her new friend, Det. Sgt. Sid Jolivette.

The Horribile Flagellum of Downey

Contreras was doubtless, in his attempt to balance Joyce’s humility with her hubris, more deSade than Dominican. Nevertheless, she’s in good company: St. William, St. Rudolph and the aforementioned St. Dominic all had their boys take the lash to ‘em. St. Theresa had it that the birch and the scourge took one to a state of ecstatic mysticism. Did Joyce inch toward St. Anthony-style rapture or, from a more modern standpoint, move closer to integrating her shadow, as Jung might posit?

Or was she just near-mortally embarrassed at having been whipped by a freak-boy on the corner of Second and Downey?

(You’ll have to picture the scene as looking more like this –

as this was once the site of the Ancient Order of United Workmen [who later became Mutual Life Insurance Co.] lodge from 1889 until its demolition 1966.)

Contreras probably had too much passion play infused into his psyche as a lad. Hard to say which home housed his room—the street numbers on this short, quiet street have mysteriously shot to five digits. Was it in one of these that he mixed himself into a potent cocktail of unbearable devotion and manic lust, with a floater of sadistic madness?

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Girls Seized As Police Find Marihuana

June 11, 1947
Los Angeles

“That’s not a pot pipe—it’s a trick back scratcher!”

This was the novel defense provided by Carole June Norell, 20, girl photographer, who with her 18 year-old-model pal Carolyn Vine Fraser was arrested by Det. Sgts.Ed Walker and D.P. Rikalo at their digs at 1810 N. Serrano Ave. after the object and a tobacco tin half-filled with marihuana were discovered in their room. Norell said that while she had purchased the offending weed for $20, she hadn’t put it in the so-called pipe and smoked it.

The two itchy dames are presently in City Jail on suspicion of violating the State Narcotics Act.

1810 N. Serrano To-day

Walker and Rikalo understood the evils of marihuana – when you blow tea, you’re spitting in the face of the corporate oligarchy. Whacky weed had been illegal a scant decade when Carole and Carolyn copped, in flagrant violation of the Fat Cat Protection Act.

The Indian hay’d been nixed by a man named Anslingler, big enchilada at the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs. Anslinger harbored a pathological hatred of jazz music. You do the math.

How did he get the job? His wife’s uncle gave it to him. That guy’s name was Andy Mellon. He had a pal named Hearst. Hearst had cotton textile mills, and endless acres of harvestable trees. Had another pal named DuPont. DuPont had just patented a paper-making process utilizing wood pulp. Also had losta oil, from which one makes plastics and cellophane and whatnot. They banned hemp in ’37, came out with nylon in ’38.

Hearst sold a lot of papers screaming about reefer madness. And C&C went to the pokey. Not that these girls cared whit one about Betsy Ross’ flag being made from hemp. They wanted to take a trip with Mary Warner, and apparently knew her travel agent.

Their potpad (how did the boys in blue gumboots get in there, anyway?) has fallen to this apartment complex. In all likelihood the smoke in this Hollywood hemp hotel is as thick as our smaze-laden air on a summer’s day.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Youth Given Life Term for Slaying Sweetheart

June 10, 1947
Los Angeles

Superior Court Judge Charles W. Fricke today denied confessed killer Gerald Snow Welch, 19, his fondest wish, and sentenced him to life in prison for the April 19 killing of Delores Fewkes, a student at Montebello High School who family members say had broken up with Welch repeatedly due to his peculiar philosophy, Further, she did not believe in suicide.

According to the depressive Welch, Fewkes said she couldn’t live without him; they had attempted suicide together on two occasions prior to their April assignation at the Horse Flats picnic grounds in Angeles National Forest. She broke a date with another boy to join Welch, who told her he had a surprise for her. “This is the time,” he said. “It’s all right with me,” she supposedly replied. So he waited until morning, when it was warmer and his hands stopped shaking, and botched the murder-suicide, later carrying the girl’s body down the mountain to police.

After the verdict, which he described as a “dirty trick,” Welch told the court that he would promptly rectify its failure to sentence him to death by killing himself, so he and Dolores could be happy together.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Father 'Abducts' Grandchildren of Jose Iturbi

June 9, 1947
Beverly Hills

Stephen Hero, former concert violinist and one-time protege of renowned Spanish pianist Jose Iturbi has confessed to “abduct[ing]” his daughters, Iturbi’s grandchildren, and taking them to New York, where his parents live.

Mr. Hero, Maria Theresa, 10, and Maria Antonia, 9, had been living at Mr. Iturbi’s Beverly Hills estate at 913 N. Bedford Drive since their mother Maria shot herself at the home on April 16 of last year. Her father heard the fatal shot while he was practising and discovered his daughter in her room, mortally wounded, her hair in flames from the exploding shell.

Maria was estranged from her husband at the time of her death, and her father had supported the children since their parents’ 1940 out-of-court separation agreement. In 1941 Maria was granted custody, on grounds of non-support from Hero.

In March 1943, Iturbi entered Superior Court seeking custody of his granddaughters, making unspecified claims that his daughter was unfit to raise them. Before going to court, Mrs. Hero took a job in a drugstore and moved the girls out of her father’s house at 707 N. Hillcrest Drive.

In court, father and daughter appeared so chummy that Judge Edward R. Brand suggested they settle their differences out of court, for the sake of the children and to avoid airing the family’s dirty linen publically, but through their attorneys Jerry Giesler (his) and Roger Marchetti (hers), they initially declined the suggestion,

However, following Mrs. Hero’s dramatic collapse in chambers, an out of court settlement was reached which left their mother with custody, provided mother and daughters live in the Iturbi home, the children have no evening visitors, no family members be employed as domestics or live in the home, and their mother may take the children out any Sunday, providing their nurse received advance notice.

Back in New York, Mr. Hero says that Iturbi was so jealous of the girls’ attention that he refused to permit them to show any affection to their father, and further that he lived in fear of physical assault while while chez Iturbi. So when Iturbi departed for Paris to begin a European concert tour, Hero gave the servants the day off, booked a transcontinental flight under the name Frank Swartz and bundled both Marias aboard. Yes, Hero told reporters, their grandfather could give the girls material things, but not the affection that their natural father could give them.

Iturbi’s lawyer, William V. O’Connor, scoffed at Hero’s claims, and stated that a custody battle would commence once his client returned from his tour on the 20th, or possibly sooner.

To Live and Abduct in Beverly Hills

Iturbi’s home on Bedford—fitting he should go for the Spanish style.

The house on Hillcrest:

Incidentally, 1946 accounts have Maria tended to here:

Which has been replaced as such:

This is not Pierce Brothers Beverly Hills Mortuary.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Woman's Shoe Foils Kidnapping

June 8, 1947
Corner of Bixel & 7th Streets, Los Angeles

Nice girls know the difference between a tavern and an automobile. So when Mrs. Deloris Keefer, 24, of 725 S. Bixel Street was propositioned by a fella who suggested she stop waiting for her hubby and hop into his car for a little tipple, she said nope.

The would-be barkeep was insistent, though, and grabbed and choked the lady. This so irked Deloris that she slipped off one shapely pump (a dainty size 5 ½, for those keeping score) and laid into to the stinker. He grabbed the shoe away from her, in the process dropping some identifying papers. There was no way Deloris was letting a perfectly good shoe run off with a masher, so she snatched it away as the befuddled fink took a motorized powder.

Police used the ID to track down Samuel J. Blight, 22, of 122 43rd Street, Manhattan Beach, and his pal Raymond M. Johnson, 20, of 6121 Citrus Avenue, both of whom are sitting in County Jail on suspicion of attempted kidnapping. Deloris Keefer remained shod at press time.

7th & Bixel To-day

Look familiar? Bears some similitude to that building we blogged on April 12? Palmer apparently elected to hire not an architect but a designer, and hire said designer only once. What other rationale explains the eerie similarity—that whisper of "Tuscan Fortress"—shared by the Visconti, Piero, Orsini, and Medici? This one, for those who can't tell them apart, is the Medici: famous for its thin walls, dismissive management, drunken students and absence of guest parking. (While Palmer didn’t include any low-income units, to his credit, he also didn’t take a nickel in public money.) But enough of the Palmerwatch. There are still some tiny pockets of old LA in the area around 7th & Bix; good times to be had by the urban archaeologist.

Browse our shelf in Powell's Books

One of the greatest independent bookstores in the country is the ginormous Powell's in Portland. They have an excellent online shop where you can find rare and out-of-print titles as well as commonly available books. If you're interested in the subjects raised by this blog, you may wish to visit our custom shelf at Powell's online, where you can browse recommended reading selected by the editors of 1947project, including Kim Cooper's anthologies Lost in the Grooves and Bubblegum Music Is The Naked Truth. They even have Nathan's hard to find Los Angeles Neon book, which is a must for the fashionable coffee table.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Victim Tells Of Thrill in Trapping Jap

June 7, 1947
San Luis Obispo

From his trailer coach home near the campus of Cal Poly, where he is a student, William Leon Bruce--during wartime a Sgt. and resident of a Japanese prison camp—described his shock when he came face to face with Tomoya Kawakita, a functionary in the Oeyama camp, in a department store on South Boyle Avenue in Los Angeles seven months ago.

Bruce froze and stared at his former captor, who was strolling with two teenage Japanese girls. When Bruce moved to go after Kawakita, his wife Jean, 22, held him back and insisted he instead call the FBI. Bruce admitted Jean’s advice was sound, as he didn’t know what he might have done to Kawakita had he gotten his hands on him. Bruce carries the rage of one who suffered sinus injuries and a broken jaw from shrapnel on Corregidor, was carried by his buddies on the Bataan Death March and then spent three years in Oeyama, where Kawakita was the first official he encountered. Kawakita had reacted violently to Bruce’s patriotic tattoos, attempting to twist them off of his captive’s arm while screaming about “’crazy Americans and their symbols of freedom.’”

So rather than roughing up his one-time nemesis, Bruce tailed him as far as his car, and turned the license number and his captor’s name over to the F.B.I. When the name and number matched up, the Feds moved in.

Kawakita, a 26-year-old American residing at 220 S. Hicks St., is under arrest on charges of treason in Los Angeles. He went to Japan with his father before hostilities began, supposedly to resume his studies at Meiji University, Tokyo, and returned to Los Angeles after claiming he had not helped Japan during the war. If found guilty, he faces the death penalty. So far in court he has been answering direct questions about his war experience by claiming not to remember the answers.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s office, there are nearly 100 ex-G.I.s prepared to testify to Kawakita’s sadism, his skill at judo, his camp nickname of “Meatball” (obtained because he grew fat on rations denied prisoners) and his sneering opinion that “I knew you Americans couldn’t take it when the going got tough.”

220 S. Hicks To-day

That’s a lot of flora hiding 220. What—or who—is concealed within?

Monday, June 06, 2005

Man Faces Court Action After Dog Thrown In Tar Pit

June 6, 1947
Temple City

Manir Huelsman, 37-year-old railroad worker, of 1922 Blackley St. is not the kind of guy you want as a neighbor. When he discovered the 15-year-old Alaskan sled dog belonging to Mrs. Marjorie Eastin of 616 S. Encinita Ave. was ill on his lawn, he didn’t call Animal Control or ask Mrs. Eastin to come get her pet, oh no. Instead Huelsman, who told police he didn’t “like” the animal, tossed it into a tar pit at Tyler and Rio Hondo Aves. The dog was rescued by a motorist, but had to be destroyed, and now Huelsman, who pled guilty to a charge of cruelty to animals before Justice Eldred Wolford, is free on $100 bond and awaiting sentencing.

Temple of Doom

God help us should Huelsman have bred. If he did have a children, then a pox upon their houses. Hopefully Judge Wolford imposed some arcane eugenics law, justly used to weed defectives like Manir from what’s left of our civilization.

Huelsman’s house, and Mrs. Eastin’s just around the corner on Encinita:

The tar pit was likely adjacent Rio Hondo Wash, now site of the Arcadia Par-3 Golf Course. Or it could have been about here, at Tyler and West Hondo Parkway:

Doubly disturbing is the distance between the two points – three and a half miles of lo-speed driving. Huelsman motoring along, the dog on the seat next to him…did he talk to it? Did it whimper? Did it lick him? Hell, he may have even walked it there.

Obviously documenting this post was a difficult task. Luckily, driving down Encinita I could take some small solace in Quonset huts and a ’49 Ford.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Firemen Rescue Woman Locked in Cafeteria

June 4, 1947

Gloria Hale’s first day on the job at the Los Angeles County Employees Cafeteria ended dramatically when she got herself locked into the second floor dining room at 224 North Main Street after closing time. She rapped on the interior door for a couple of hours before attracting attention; somebody summoned police.

Unfortunately neither of the keys obtained from the County Employees offices on Maple Street fit the locks, so Sgt. Goldsberry called the hook and ladder men, who proposed an aerial escape. A crowd gathered as the ladder was extended to the Cafeteria window. But Miss Gale wouldn’t dream of descending. If she was wearing slacks the ladder would be no bother, but, really... all those looky loos would see right up her skirt!

No problem: a fireman went down rung by rung just behind her, protecting the lady’s modesty. Miss Hale called her rescuers angels and scurried home to 953 Arapahoe Street to sleep off her embarrassment.

224 North Main To-day

Good for Gloria. She hasn’t gone the way of those slacks-wearing ladies. Why, women who garb themselves in pants likely smoke and perforce drink and, for the love of all that’s holy, back Henry Wallace. Of course, there are concessions to be made. Mashers are always wandering the city looking for ladies trapped in cafeterias, whose underthings could well be visible during ladder descent...but the alternative...trousers? (The winter of our time indeed, Mr. Yockey!) Thank heaven for the wide-quadricep fireman, who presses ever so close to Gloria on her rescue:

But what of the cafeteria itself? Note the buildings bottom center here:

Which have been replaced thus:

With this:

The covered skybridge has a semi-fantastic air to it, though that is unlikely what A. C. Martin & Assoc. intended in ‘66.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Bad Good Bowler

June 3, 1947
Los Angeles

Max Stein may be the American Bowling Congress all-events record holder, but that hasn't stopped Charley Bragg, president of the Los Angeles Bowling Association, from suspending Stein's membership.

The trouble started during the recent $10,000 tournament at Hollywood's Sunset Center, when Stein was found to have listed two fake (and doubtless high scoring!) names among the leaders. These names were discovered before the close of competition, and all winners were paid off.

Stein was called before L.A.B.A.'s executive committee on May 28 based on a complaint filed by the tournament's sponsor, Mort Luby. Luby is publisher of The National Bowler's Journal and Billiard Review. During the hearing, Stein admitted inserting the fictitious names. The transcripts are being forwarded to the A.B.C.'s head offices in Milwaukee for a final ruling on Stein’s status. Stein himself is en route to St. Louis, and plans to drop in on the A.B.C.’s leaders to discuss his case.

The Belleville, Illinois-bred Stein settled in Los Angeles in 1939, and has been employed as an instructor at the Sunset Center alleys. His lifetime average in 1939 was 202, and he averaged 231 when he set the all-time high score record for nine games in 1937. Reporting on his astonishing 855 series rolled at Pico Palace in October 1939 (the second highest score in forty years of A.B.C. record keeping), the Times dubbed him “the sensational Jewish kegler.”

The sensational Mr. Stein seems to have felt he was too good a bowler to be limited to a single prize package. We’ll have to wait and see if the bosses of bowldom agree.

Sunset Center et al

We tend to think of bowling alleys as full of googiefied grandeur, replete with folded-plate roofs and flagcrete walls, tapering pylons and swiss-cheesed I-beams, the assorted amoeboid whatnot and odd illuminated starburst, surmounted, or course, with a giant neon bowling pin. (America’s arguably most famous of such bowling alleys, the giant neon bowling pin-surmounted Hollywood Star Lanes, star of The Big Lebowski, was recently demo’d by the LAUSD to build Planet-Killer Elementary #6.)

But there was a time when bowling alleys were of Italianate design, or Moderne, or, in the case of the Sunset Center, grand Neoclassical affairs with giant fluted columns.

The eagle-eye’d may ascertain where the coffee shop neon was once affixed to what is now the HQ of Tribune Entertainment:

There are fewer bowling alleys in LA than bald eagles, and’re twice as endangered. An endangered, passing world. A world you’ll never know. A world where the damn rep from Red Crown Ten Pins is late; he’ll wanna try and talk you into replacing your Ebonites with his Mineralite balls again, and the American guy hasn’t fixed the Backus pin spotter so you’re gonna call Brunswick for a quote on a 20th spotter and a Telescore projector while you’re at it, and hey, maybe that cat from Acme Billiard who plays league games Tuesday can give you the skinny on refinishing your maple.