Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Careful Who You Stop For...

When electrician Walter Haselbuch saw two men waving red-bulbed flashlights at the intersection of Jefferson Blvd. and Harcourt Ave., he assumed they were police officers, perhaps operating one of the LAPD's celebrated (and ACLU-defying) crime-stopping blockades. But when he pulled over, the men robbed him of $186 in cash, a $150 watch and a ring valued at $1700.

Suggested listening for prospective flashlight bandits: Waiting for the Electrician Or Someone Like Him (Firesign Theater)

The Corner of Jefferson and Harcourt

Now, according to historical currency conversion, the buying power in Haselbuch’s pocket was $1,638. His watch was worth $1,321 and his ring $14,972.

Can’t help but get the feeling that Haselbuch was something more than an electrician. I don’t know what those fellows were doing with their flashlights on the corner that night, but they weren’t looking for an honest man.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Incident on Primrose Ave.

August 30, 1947

18-month-old Robin Maria Dier found a little piece of metal, a bolt or a screw, at her home at 6323 Primrose Ave., and playfully stuck it in her mouth. Her mother saw her do it, and tried to take it away, but the child toddled off without releasing her prize.

A few moments later, she was gasping and turning blue. The Fire Department inhalator squad arrived and fed oxygen to Robin for 90 minutes, while Dr. Nicholas Mamulario of Hollywood Receiving Hospital performed a tracheotomy. Her condition appeared to be improving, so the technicians prepared the child for the trip to Children's Hospital. Then she died.

Suggested reading: How to Baby-Proof Your Home

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Et in Ann Arbor Ergo

August 27, 1947

She’s home!

Ruth Alice McLaren, 15-year-old runaway, has turned up in Ann Arbor, Michigan after her overly generous tips to a beautician raised the snipper’s suspicions. Now her mother is heading East to reclaim the young lady from the local juvenile hall, while Ruth’s invalid father Russell steams at home at 23 Fano Street.

What of the $2400 in cash (meant for the girl’s college education) that she pinched from the fruit jar last time she left the house? While the girl initially told officers she was a war widow on the run from her in-laws, she quickly ‘fessed up. Seems she met a man in a Pasadena movie theater, and agreed to pay both their ways to Ann Arbor, where her friend said he planned to enroll at the University.

Ruth was a big spender—but mainly on herself. In addition to visiting the beauty parlor, she bought a fur coat, flashy duds and a radio. So who can blame her pal for taking a powder with $1000 of the fruit jar bounty soon after they reached the Mitten State?

But there’s $402 left in the kitty. Which should be just about enough, after travel expenses, to pay Ruth’s way through beauty school, where if she’s very lucky she’ll run into tippers as big as herself.

Suggested reading: Delinquents and Debutantes: Twentieth-Century American Girls' Cultures

23 Fano Street To-day

Aye, wee Ruthie McLaren, a gal after my own heart. Any fifteen year-old with a penchant for thievery, and men met in movie houses, quickens the heart of this tender lad. Sure, she might have been better off at the College of Ave Maria than at Mary’s Beauty College, but with her autodidactic doctorate in Acquiring Fur Coats, apparently she doesn’t need either institution.

Hard to tell from where she hailed, as there’s no 23…the house numbers go from 19 to 25:

And what, pray tell, is the deal with this structure – had it been a modest battenboard-clad house, onto which were built multiple units?

Only Ruthie can tell us now. I picture her as still smelling faintly of delicately toasted host wafers, and sacramental wine, and freshly dressed hair.

Friday, August 26, 2005

My Mother-in-Law is SO Tough...

August 26, 1947
Los Angeles

Mothers-in-law are bad enough—but no one ever told David Richard, 22, what a pain in the caboose his STEP mother-in-law would be.

When young David left his room at 424 N. Alfred Ave. today on his way to the wholesale house where he works, he discovered his wife’s stepmother, Mrs. Rose Wolfeld, 54, snoozing in his car.

In retrospect, he ought to have taken a trolley, but he woke the woman--and was she ever in a mood. She began by berating him for failing to provide a home for her poor grayed head, and when he got behind the wheel she whipped out a metal bar and clocked him a few times on the noggin. He ran to the house with step-mamma in mad pursuit, while wife Louise, 19, watched in horror.

The victim never did make it to work, spending the day at the Hollywood Receiving Hospital getting stitches in his scalp and on his right wrist (defensive wounds). Mrs. Wolfeld meanwhile was booked on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon.

David told police that he and Louise married last March, and had been fending off Mrs. Wolfeld ever since. She insisted the couple provide a home for her, but when they moved into the single room on Alfred Ave. three weeks ago, they made it clear that there was no room for the extended family.

Mind you, if Mrs. W had gotten in a couple more whacks, there just might have been….

Suggested reading: Mothers-In-Law Do Everything Wrong: M.I.L.D.E.W.

424 North Alfred To-day

No bludgeon-toting mothers-in-law hiding out in the Mustang, I checked.

Single room? Maybe that's what they told the old crone. 'Cuz while it's not a big house, Dave and Louise could have fit the fiftysomething somewhere. Provided she was bound and gagged.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

The Case of the Bride in the Bath

August 25, 1947
Los Angeles

Police are investigating the strange death of Mrs. Susanne Smith Castillo, 23-year-old bride of Dr. Manuel De J. Castillo, who operates "medical clinics" at his home at 480 West Vernon Ave. and at 1250 West Santa Barbara Ave. Mrs. Castillo, a native of Charlottesville, VA and widow of a wealthy New York patent attorney, was discovered dead in a half-filled bath at the Vernon Ave. address by Jesus M. Castillo, her brother-in-law and a technician at the clinic. There were bruises on her head and a laceration near her temple. An autopsy is pending

480 West Vernon To-day

I longed to see the lair of the mysterious Dr. Castillo. Where he gave “treatments.” There was no end to the maladies for which one could be treated—while there were many fine physicians in Los Angeles, of course, every quack and quacklet was quick to advertise instant relief from piles, fistulae, nervousness, abscesses, alcoholism, insanity, varicose veins…and while the strange drugs were bad enough, one has to wonder at the claims made for “drugless therapies” which, we can only surmise, involved bathtubs somehow. Like at 480. So I set off.

I got to 450, 460…and then a Burger King parking lot. And then the Burger King.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


August 24, 1947
Los Angeles

On Saturday night, officers B.J. Daily and R. W. Douglas broke up a fight between a couple who were brawling in the middle of Santa Monica Blvd. at Purdue Ave. The man had a gash between his eyes, and both seemed drunk, so while they seemed a little more refined than most of the lushes, down they went to Lincoln Heights Jail with the rest.
Turns out “refined” is the right word—the gent was John D. Spreckels III, 36, debt-ridden heir to the sugar fortune, the lady his 37-year-old wife. Lou Dell Spreckels denied that she was drunk, explaining that they were fighting because she had refused to give John money to go gambling, and so he had struck her. “What are you going to do when someone starts hitting you? So we had a fight.” Makes sense to us!

Both gave their address as a motel at 2500 Santa Monica Blvd. They were each released on a $20 bond and ordered to appear in court at 2pm today to answer the public intoxication charge.

Further reading: Claus Spreckels: The Sugar King in Hawaii

Spreckles on Parade

Here’s where the happy couple were duking it out:

This was originally Sheri’s restaurant, a googie/transitional structure stripped of its original intent and reformed into the mid-late 60s Dolores’. What it was in 1947 I don’t know, as I’m yet to decode the Sanborn fire insurance maps.

I’d be interested in seeing that motel on Santa Monica. Perhaps it looked something like this, which is one block east –

Or roughly like this –

Because now-adays, it just looks like this.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Laurel Canyon Gas Leak Blaze Perils Residences

August 23, 1947
Laurel Canyon

Palmer Ledoux, a DWP worker , set a road work lantern down on Laurel Canyon Blvd. north of Kirkwood Drive today, and ignited undetected natural gas that was seeping from the main beside the road.

Ledoux said, “There was a flash, and by the time I could look around, the fire got out of hand. It seemed that every pocket on the hillside was filled with gas. You never saw flames go faster.”

The fire burned a 200 foot path across a steep hill before being brought under control by firefighters, just shy of the home sculptor Rostand D. Kelly is building on the crest.

Monday, August 22, 2005

In Rossian Roulette, the Rules Are Different

August 22, 1947

Benjamin A. Ross, 19, had a peculiar idea of an evening’s entertainment at home with wife Zelda. He occupied himself fitting five cartridges into his six-shot revolver, spinning the barrel, and pointing it at various objects in the living room at 420 N. Moss Street, while the lady wife begged him to stop. Having bucked the odds and avoided shattering any lamps or ottomans, Ross pressed his luck with one final shot, into his own forehead. He died at St. Joseph’s Hospital.

1947project interview at 8763 Wonderland

Our fellow Los Angeles blogger Rodger Jacobs was kind enough to ask Nathan and I a few questions about this project, and the results (be patient, it's now an link) are on his site 8763 Wonderland today. If you click over to read it, we recommend you stay a while and explore some of the contemporary local crime tales Rodger has to share. He'd become a magnet for them--even getting caught in the middle of a bank robber search in Glendale last week.

And because Rodger's blog and ours share a uniquely dark local bent, we've combined the syndicated feeds from 1947project and 8763 Wonderland into a joint feed called LA Noir. We welcome fellow dark Los Angeles bloggers to contact us and join the feed, but for now it's a time-travel true crime anthology, jumping from 1947 to 2005 and back with daily tales of greed, lust and shame.

If you read blogs in a blog reader (I like, here's the RSS feed

If you read blogs on the web, try

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Chemical Plant Blaze Like A Bikini Spectacle

August 21, 1947
Huntington Park

A suspicious fire at the Charles F. Willard Chemical Co. plant at 5810 S. Soto Street today ignited thousands of 5 gallon tins of auramine dye powder, an extremely flammable product extracted from surplus Army flares. The exploding dye sent a mushroom cloud more than 1000 feet into the air, and caused an estimated $100,000 damage to the plant.

None of the five employees on the scene was injured, and Charles Willard stated that he believed the explosion was triggered by burning weeds in an adjacent lot. This explanation was doubted by Assistant Chief W.H. Burwell of Huntington Park Fire Department, one of five municipal fire departments to respond to the blaze, who suspects the fire began inside the yard, and said his department would investigate.

5810 South Soto To-day

After having been blown up and burnt down, Willard Chemical has since, obviously, been replaced:

The heavy industrial concentrated itself further east in Vernon; Huntington Park contented itself with light industrial, packing and shipping, and noodle huts.

The mushroom cloud o’er LA:

Didn’t they learn everything they needed to know after Port Chicago?

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Confessed Killer Locates Victim's Body in Desert

August 18, 1947
San Bernardino

After several days fruitless “searching,” Robert F. Mehaffey, 37-year-old ex-con, finally stopped lying to Sheriff James Stocker when the latter told him that they were going to walk through the desert sands until they found Lewis D. Edds’ body.

Edds was the 65-year-old amateur prospector who vanished in April while on a vacation from his work as a steel plant guard. He was last seen in the company of a younger man. War Bonds belonging to Edds were later tracked from San Francisco to Texas and thence to Mehaffey, a hitchhiker whom the elderly man had befriended.

Following the Sheriff’s threat, Mehaffey replied “That won’t be necessary” and led him straight to a set of dessicated remains, located stuffed in a drain pipe just off the Lancaster-Palmdale Highway, two miles south of Victorville. This was 55 miles from the last spot Mehaffey had suggested.

Pending examination of dental records, the Sheriff assumes they’ve found the missing Mr Edds.

Suggested reading: Recreational Gold Prospecting for Fun & Profit

Billboard's Top 30 hits for 1947

Francis Craig- near you
Hermonicats- peg o my heart
Ted Weems- Heartaches
Ray Noble & Buddy Clark- Linda
Tex Williams- smoke, smoke that cigarette
Vaughn Monroe- I wish I didnt love you so
Three suns- peg o my heart
Al Jolson- Anniversery song
Larry Green- near you
Sammy kaye- That's My desire
Vaughn Monroe- Ballerina
Art Lund- Mam'selle
Freddy Martin- Managua Nicaragua
Perry Como- Chi-Baba, Chi-Baba
Red Ingle & Jo Stafford- Timtayshun
Ted Weems & Perry Como- I wonder whos kissing her now
Andrews Sisters- near you
Perry Como- When you were sweet sixteen
Jack Owens- How soon
Arthur Godfrey- Too Fat Polka
Eddy Howard- I wonder, I wonder, i wonder
Eddy Howard- My adobe Hacienda
Hoagy Carmichael- huggin and chalkin
Hoagy Carmichael- buttermilk sky
King Cole Trio- I love you for sentimental reasons
Dick Haymes- mam'selle
Vaughn Monroe- you do
Guy Lombardo- Anniversary Song
Bing Crosby- white Christmas

(found on the music trading message group TweedleeDumsDrive-In)

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

On the Pike

August 17, 1947
Long Beach

With his divorce papers burning a hole in his pocket, and his heart, 30-year-old James Parker of 2246 Clifford Street stopped today at Marie Baines’ shooting gallery at 315 W. Pike Street and laid down a 5-spot. He picked up the .22 automatic pistol that was chained to the counter and fired at four targets. The fifth bullet found a home in Parker’s right temple. He died at Seaside Hospital at 6:15pm.

When police examined the court papers found on the body, they discovered Parker’s penciled notes denying each of his wife’s allegations. He was next due in court at 9:30am Friday.

Suggested reading: Long Beach: In Vintage Postcards

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Angeleno Pair Quizzed on His Wounded Hand

August 16, 1947
San Francisco

Speaking on behalf of the citizens of the great City of San Francisco, we'd just as soon you runaway SoCal lovebirds keep your shenanigans South of Tehachapi.

Seems SF police were called to a hospital here to talk with William Farley, 24, of 2217 Cahuenga Blvd., and his flame-tressed friend Mrs. Bobbie Mai Edkins of 1063 1/2 S. Sycamore. Mr. Farley had a bullet in his hand--in their car engine pan, cops found a pistol. The pair claimed they went over a bump and the gun fell from the flove box and discharged (so why the subterfuge?). Later, the story mutated to one of Farley shooting himself to prove his love for Mrs. Edkins. The dope even works with his hands--he's a watchmaker. Sheesh.

And yes, there is a Mr. Edkins, Harry by name, back in LA. Unamused, officers booked the tourists on a joint charge of assault.

Suggested reading: Murder by the Bay : Historic Homicide in and about the City of San Francisco

Monday, August 15, 2005

The Honeymoon's Off

August 15, 1947
Los Angeles

He told the pretty young widow he was getting a divorce, that he was studying architecture and ship building at USC and that he would buy her a yacht that they could pilot on a love-trip once they were wed. So Mrs. Frances Wells O'Donnell, mother of a 4-year-old boy, who lost her second lieutenant Marine husband in the invasion of Peleliu in '44, put $46,000 into a joint account. And Richard Barth, 30, took that "joint" business seriously--he picked up a 52-foot sea-going number called The Otter, and spent another $13,000 on a honeymoon cottage in Woodland Hills.

But when Frances wasn't looking, Richard sold that pad they were to share, remarried his wife, and purchased a home for the two of them at 906 S. Stanley Ave. Frances cried foul when she finally checked the bank book and found $47.50 remaining.

The accused louse surrendered in court today accompanied by his attorney, Sid Kaufman. Bond was set at $3000. Also set into motion was a civil suit on the same matter, originally filed two months ago. Barth denied the charges and insisted his honor would be proven at trial.

Suggested reading: Con Man : A Master Swindler’s Own Story

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Husband Sobs Out Story of Domestic Tragedy

August 14, 1947
Bell Gardens

A hangover made him do it. That's what Frank Vogel, 52-year-old machinist/cement worker and author of an unfinished book on Technocracy, said after turning himself in to police officers at City Hall yesterday.

It seemed he'd just shot his wife. Mrs. Hilda Vogel, 45, a secretary at Bell Gardens Junior High School, in an argument over his belief that she encouraged the romantic intentions of other men. She in turn had spoken of divorce.

He suddenly blacked out, and when he came to found her dead on the kitchen floor of their 3-room home at 5613 Clara Street. He put the gun onto the table and, without even getting his coat or hat, drove his wife's car straight to City Hall.

Mrs. Vogel is survived by Jean Aurand, 18, her daughter by a former marriage. Frank Vogel, inconsolable, is in County Jail, booked on suspicion of murder.

Suggested reading: Technocracy and the American Dream: The Technocrat Movement, 1900-1941

Vogel's house To-day

I’ve had some nasty reactions to the old whiskey and Technocracy cocktail (the “Veblen Cooler”), but I still haven’t stabbed anybody.

Vogel’s house number, 5613, remains marked on the sidewalk, but his house has gone the way of neoclassical marginalist theories of consumption.

Perhaps it looked something like 5614, across the street:

Or so it looked before demolition, anyway.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Woman, Rescuer, Officer Shot in Downtown Battle

August 13, 1947

The morning rush hour today was disrupted with a flurry of gunfire, as a jilted Filipino cook sought vengeance on his former paramour, then ran through the streets shooting, endangering police and citizens.

The fight erupted in a food stand in a parking lot at 526 S. Hill Street, when Benedicto Ilamin (aka Bill Sipa), 25, asked his ex-girlfriend Opal Johnston, 33, for a cup of coffee. As she turned to get it, he aimed his .38 and shot her in the hip. Charles Dubou, a 31-year-old waiter who was a customer, attempted to disarm Ilamin and was himself shot in the mouth.

Ilamin ran from the hot dog stand through the parking lot, where he encountered Edward Hubbell, 51, a special officer, who gave chase. The two exchanged shots, and Hubbell was wounded in the leg. As Ilamin crouched to reload, Hubbell grabbed and disarmed him. At this point, a passing traffic officer, Dean Doolan, appeared on the scene and effected Ilamin's surrender.

From her hospital bed, Johnston explained that she had lived with the much younger man at 721 California Street until about a month ago, when she left him after he tried to knife her. She went to Las Vegas, then returned to Los Angeles, where Ilamin had begun annoying her again. He had been into the stand begging her to come back to him on Tuesday night, then again early this morning. His tears turned to rage and he told her "You won't be working her tomorrow!" before shooting her.

All three of his victims are hospitalized. Meanwhile, Ilamin has an explanation for his rampage: "I wanted to talk to her in a nice way, but she wouldn't let me."

Suggested reading: Street Food (Ryland, Peters and Small International Cookbooks , Vol 1, No 4)

The Tainted Corner

What is this? Some sort of crime magnet? Built on an Indian penitentiary ground? Perhaps an outer-space crime lodestone resides in the subsurface? Yeesh.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Seven in Migratory Family Treated for Food Poisoning

August 12, 1947
Van Nuys

An extended family of seven migratory farm workers was transported from Van Nuys Receiving Hospital to General Hospital today in serious condition after they became violently ill near Agoura after eating a roast chicken. Among the stricken are Lupe Herrera, 45, his 39-year-old wife Frances, their children Sarah, 10, Ernest, 8, Aurelia, 5, the children’s grandfather Jose Murietta, 60, and Lupe’s 43-year-old brother Elesia. The family was en route from Mesa, Arizona to San Jose when they encountered the unsanitary bird.

Suggested reading: How to Prevent Food Poisoning : A Practical Guide to Safe Cooking, Eating, and Food Handling

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Burglar Robs Film Couples

August 11, 1947

In a daring, dawn-time raid, a dashing cat burglar entered the exclusive Sunset Tower apartment house at 8358 Sunset Boulevard and stole cash and jewelry from the homes of two motion picture executives while they and their wives slept.

Gladys Burroughs, wife of George Burroughs, vice-president and treasurer of Monogram Pictures, was relieved of two diamond rings valued at $3000 and $1200 and about $75 in cash. Mrs. Burroughs woke up while the thief, whom she described as tall, swarthy and dark-haired, was riffling her dressing table. When he saw her sitting up in bed, too terrified to scream, he fled before he could find her box of really good stuff.

Also victimized was Emanuel Waxberg of RKO, who lost $121 in cash.

It appears the burglar entered through a jimmied patio door leading into the boiler room, took the stairs to the 8th floor, and gained access to the Waxberg and Burroughs apartments through unlocked kitchen doors.

Suggested reading: Memoir of a Retired Cat Burglar
Suggested viewing: To Catch a Thief

The Sunset Tower

Ah, the Sunset Towers Apartments. Home of Howard Hughes, Bugsy Siegel, and the second-best bas relief of a zeppelin in town.

Architect Leland Bryant’s friezes also include Adam and Eve, other mythological creatures, and radiator grilles; some wags have posited Satan himself resides amongst the cast flora and fauna. Look, the Baphomet!

The Towers was the first building in LA to have “all-electric suites” and central AC, and was the first built on rockers to sway with the quakes. Note the prominent mention in Chandler’s Farewell, My Lovely and in its film adapt Murder, My Sweet.

After everyone and his brother tried throughout the 70s to tear down the 1929 landmark, it was finally renovated by the St. James Club in 1986. It became the Argyle in 1994 and was fitted with endless deco from top to bottom. The new owner, New York’s Jeff Klein, has stripped the interior of the hotel of all its renovations. As bad as I'm naturally inclined to make that sound, the new renovation is based on original photographs, and while a little cloying in its adulation of "Old Hollywood," isn't bad at all.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Air Error

August 10, 1947
Los Angeles

Ladera Park was filled with picnickers, friends and families enjoying a lazy Sunday afternoon. One group was comprised of co-workers from Douglas Aircraft. Among them, George Porter, 33, of 531 Richmond Street, El Segundo. Porter decided to leave the party, but not entirely—he returned to Ladera Park later in the afternoon in his two-seater plane and buzzed the ampitheatre down at tree-top level. Three times he circled the bowl, terrorizing those on the ground. Recreation Director George T. Blair squinted at the craft to get the numbers so he could report the reckless pilot. But there was no need: on the fourth go-round, one wing hit a branch and down into the ravine came George Porter and his flying death machine.

Instantly killed were Porter, Mrs. Eula Walters, 29, of 1731 West 51st Place and two-year-old Myrna Lynn Coffey, of 1135 ½ E. 68th Street. The baby was in her mother’s arms when wreckage from the plane hit them both. Also injured was Mrs. Walters’ 4-month-old, Kenneth Dale, whose baby buggy was spattered with engine oil. Mrs. Walters and Mrs. Coffey had just been on the croquet grounds, where their husbands heard the impact and raced to discover the horror.

Porter’s passenger, wife Brownie Belle Porter, survived the crash and is in fairly good condition at Harbor General, with a fractured collar bone, mild concussion, dislocated hip and possible internal injuries.

Captain Sewell Griggers of the Sheriff’s aero squad is attempting to determine from what airport Porter took off, while Vermont subdivision deputy Sheriffs James E. Christian and W.J. Grater examined the wreckage.

Suggested reading: The Illustrated History of McDonnell Douglas Aircraft : From Cloudster to Boeing

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

A Percher's Tale

August 9, 1947
Los Angeles

For the past week, Smokey has been perching precariously atop a 75-foot palm tree at the home of her mistress, Mrs. Gilbert Waters, 145 W. 59th Street. It was this inauspicious spot that the little gray cat chose to go when it came time to have her kittens; three little ones fell dead from the tree.

But Smokey herself remained in the air, despite the cries of family and friends. Yesterday a brave tree climber from the SPCA scaled the palm, and Smokey promptly leapt to the ground and hid under the porch. A few hours later, she came out and permitted Mrs. Waters to feed and water her. “She was pretty hungry and dirty,” said her mistress, “but we’re so happy she’s down.”

145 To-day

Looking down toward the 100 block of West 59th, we see it’s the only one in the neighborhood with these cat-tempting trees. Did Mrs. Waters consider this before she moved in? Apparently not.

Here’s where Smokey (and before her, her kitlets) landed in the grass.

Sure, people talk about how rough and tough South Los Angeles is, and I’ve had some exciting moments down there, but I’ve also been in the ghettoes of Gary and Camden and New Orleans and DC, and I’ll take a shingled Craftsman with exposed roof beams and a separate gabled porch any day of the week.

Monday, August 08, 2005

"Crime Crusher" Blockade Status Studied By Court

August 8, 1947
Los Angeles

ACLU representative A.L. Wirin, an attorney, is asking Superior Judge Henry M. Willis to rule that those recent “crime crusher” street blockades are unconstitutional and must be stopped. The search and seizure of property belonging to people who just happen to be driving through a blockaded intersection is, Wirin states, “intolerable and unreasonable.”

Police claim a decrease of 18.2 percent in reported crimes in the blockades sections of the city, and seek to continue the practice. In an affidavit filed at the Court, Assistant Chief of Police Joseph Reed insisted that only cars containing “suspicious characters” were being searched, and that for law-abiding citizens, the stop was no more inconvenient than a traffic light. A side issue is the fact that public funds are being used to finance the blockades.

Judge Willis took the case under submission.

Suggested reading: In Defense of American Liberties: A History of the ACLU

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Shot On Phone Brings Help

August 7, 1947

While chatting with his gal on the phone, Robert Davis, 21-year-old trucker, spun the revolver he’d been cleaning around on his finger. The gun discharged, expelling a bullet into Robert’s gut. Kay Hite heard the explosion, then silence, and raced from her home at 7461 Darby Ave. to Robert’s place, 7348 Jamieson Ave., where she found him lying on the floor. Currently, Robert is at Birmingham General Hospital in serious condition. He’ll be in worse shape when his brother Donald, a Valley Division cop, finds out what the kid did with his .38 Colt Commando.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

A Legal Thorn

August 6, 1947
Richmond, VA

Before Valentine B. Lawless went off to war in 1944, he indulged himself in a little piece of fancy. At 36, he was still as romantic as his unusual name suggested. And so he left a special provision to his will, to be read only in the event of his death by his brother Edward.

After Valentine did die, in a plane crash at Linz in October 1944, Edward discovered that his brother had been hopelessly besotted with a girl who loved another. In death, he wished that his estate--$3600—be used to support the weekly delivery of one perfect, anonymous rose to his secret beloved. It was his idea, he wrote, “to furnish the girl with the pleasure of receiving the rose, not to have her think of me because I sent it to her.”

But just as Valentine’s personal name reflected his character, so did the familial surname reflect sister Margaret’s. She contested the will on the grounds that it was “not practical,” and in so doing caused Valentine’s secret wish to become fodder for the national press, as well as the local rags. It is reported that the unnamed lady of the bequest is married and living in the Virginia Tidewater section.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Youngster Kept Chained to Bed for Five Months

August 5, 1947
Los Angeles

Mrs. Edith Velasquez, 28, can’t handle her son, but her husband can.

Earl L. Daily is 12, and big and strong as a grown man—unfortunately, he still has the brain and impulse control of a child. When husband Florian, a laborer, is at work, Edith cares for her six other children—Marcellina, 11, Florian, 9, Geraldine, 6, Marie, 5, Winona, 4 and Dickie, 3. And she chains Earl, her child by a previous relationship, to a bed in their 3-room house at 19006 Wilmington Ave.

For the past four years, Edith has been trying to get Earl admitted to the Pacific Colony Home, but the institution hasn’t had room for the boy. Lately he’s taken to running away. So he spends his days padlocked to the bed in the room he shares with five of his siblings, with occasional visits to the yard. He’s only unlocked when his stepfather is home and can control him, and catch him if he runs.

It must have been one of those chained stays in the yard that led to the visit from the juvenile division officers, who came to inquire and learned that Earl and his 6-foot length of chain had been intimate for the past five months. They’re working on arranging a formal committal to an institution, which will leave the Velasquez family free to concentrate on their other children.

Edith expressed hope that Earl might fare better in his new home. “It will be so much better for him there. He’s never been to school, and maybe at the right place they can teach him something. Last year he’d try to get on the school bus with my other children. But the driver knew him and would always send him back home. He’s always talking about school.”

See also: A history of the National Association for Retarded Children (ARC)

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Monkey, Free for Week-end, Brought Home

August 4, 1947

Monkey on the loose! Tiny Chris, a Panamanian Rhesus monkey recently mailed to Pasadena as a household pet, spent the weekend swinging around the 1100 block of Rose Avenue, ignoring the increasingly frenzied calls of owner Mrs. Ruby Whitehead. The little guy spent his freedom hopping from tree to tree, occasionally dipping down to harass a chicken in its coop.

Neighbor Pearl Scanlon spotted him at 1151 Vinedo Street and called the police. The cops turned the matter over to the Humane Society, but they couldn’t catch him, either.

Chris’ lost weekend came to a natural end when he got weak from hunger and hung listlessly from a eucalyptus. When Ruby came by, Chris permitted her to bring him home to 1103 Rose Ave., where he feasted on grapes and bananas and was repeatedly reminded what a bad little sweet wee rotten monkey darling he was.

Suggested reading: The Complete Adventures of Curious George

1103 Rose To-day

Here’s the house at 1103, whence came all the dingdang monkeyshines.

While any eucalyptus along the 1100 block of Rose seem to have disappeared long ago, there is no shortage of oaks for our simian brethren to cavort amongst. The absence of automobiles probably has something to do with the locals’ wish to keep hurled feces from spattering their cars.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Ex-Murder Hoax Figure Back in the Papers

August 3, 1947
Woodland Hills

Remember Eugene H. White, the 31-year-old engineer who apparently vanished out of his blood-splattered car over the Valentine’s Day weekend, only to show up two weeks later in Seattle-town with an eight page manifesto blaming his troubles on a civilian version of combat fatigue? Well, Geno’s in the news again today.

Seems city inspectors complained that the addition he was putting on the White manse at 22304 Providencia St. sported a ceiling that was five inches too low—fine if he was building for snakes, not so good for a growing family. So Eugene, unemployed since the Seattle incident and harried from housebuilding while wife Elizabeth and the kids summered with family in Ann Arbor, did what any frustrated home builder would do: he set the house on fire.

As it burned he became remorseful and tried to stop the licking flames with his handy hose, but by then it was too late, and neither Eugene nor the combined hoses of four Reseda and Canoga Park fire companies could save the six-room structure. Arson officers arrested Eugene as he watched it burn.

Down at the Van Nuys Jail, he told reporters that the house had been a jinx all along. We’ll see if his wife agrees when she returns from Michigan.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Champ Crow Hunter Boasts Kill of 1423

August 2, 1947
Los Angeles

The crows and ravens of the Santa Barbara orange and walnut groves cower on the wing before the 20-, 16- and 12-gauge shotguns of Richey Haddon, bloodthirsty claimant of more bounties on the pesky avians than any other Californian. Fish and Game pays 15 cents a bird, so Haddon shoots them out of the sky--4681 since the bounty was enacted in September 1945 (that’s $213.45 in crow cash).

Haddon doesn’t just shoot crows—he eats them, and sleeps on a mattress stuffed with their pin feathers.

The Killer of Crows lives at 1209 W. 38th Street, an address migrating birds will want to avoid (or perhaps crap on, under cover of night).

Monday, August 01, 2005

Quarts & measures

August 1, 1947

The state is growing, but it's becoming less thirsty--or so it appears from a State Board of Equalization report issued today, which pegs the May 1946 liquor consumtion rate at 1,891,669 gallons of the hard stuff, May 1947 a paltry 1,192,228. The liquor industry is nervously suggesting a return to the 25¢ cocktail.... but mayhap the numbers aren't what they seem to be. We can think of any number of misleading reasons for such a drop. Take the poll below to chime in with yours (multiple answers are okay).

Why might it appear less sauce was sipped in May '47?
Free drinks for returning servicemen.
Slippery accounting practices.
B-girls' beverages don't count.
Numbers accurate; matched by surprising spike in soda orders.
More liquor smuggled in from TJ now that gas rationing finito.
Soused barman can't count so hot.
Other (email your answer to and I'll add it to this entry)

Free polls from
Additional comments: Elisabeth says "I think Larry's got it: All those drunk driving busts thinned the herd."