Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Don Smith's Last Ride

December 27, 1947
Los Angeles

He didn't obey the boulevard stop, so cops pulled him over. Donald I. Smith, 50, sat in his car in front of 1640 S. Robertson and eyed the rearview as the officer walked towards him. By the time the man reached the car, Smith was slumped over the dash with a bullet in his head. He died an hour later in Santa Monica Hospital. File under: you'll never take me alive, copper.

It didn't take long to determine that Smith was the man wanted for kidnapping his 14-year-old stepdaughter Sheila Shirley Marilyn Morrison from her aunt's place in Leucadia on Christmas. The girl had already been found safe in a hotel in La Mesa.

Smith must have known they were going to catch him. He left a series of mocking notes in the car. One read: "To John Law--Greetings, John. Our relations to the best of my memory in the past were never overaffectionate. It's all been strictly business, so let's keep it that way. My name is Donald I. Smith. My address is Nebula M-17. Any astronomer can tell you, but it's too far to bother going there. Nebula M-17 is quite a journey and it may tire your flat feet. Happy New Year and may all your kids be born with flat feet. I was educated at three prisons. I've been in jails too numerous to mention. I've got a long prison record."

No one bothered to check to see if Nebula M-17 burned a little dimmer in mourning.

1 comment:

Larry said...

Cost to the Public of the Chronic Drunk

While it is no news that drunkenness is highly expensive to the community, its immensity was highlighted by the testimony of Assistant Chief of Police Joseph Reed that half the police force spends most of its time working on drunk cases. The current city budget provides $15,175,375 for Police Department salaries.

Drunk arrests run to 100,000 in the city annually. Of these it is estimated that 10,000 are regular visitors to the jails, some being in and out 60 times a year.

Reed says that alcoholism is a disease with which the department is not equipped to cope. Within the last year there have been local studies of the problem by research councils, conferences, schools and institutes. Chronic drunks are committed by the courts to state institutions. The trend of thinking seems to be that the person who cannot hold his—or her—liquor should be pitied, excused and accepted as a public charge.

There are varying degrees of addiction and there is need for careful sifting to get the victims in the proper category for punishment or treatment as indicated. But where self-respect and self-control are not entirely lost, the responsibility of the individual is not to be overlooked.

The cocktail bar or lounge which was supposed to be the answer to the determination to prevent the return of the old-fashioned saloon has complicated the liquor control problem as the increase in women drunks and alcoholics shows.

While many of the pre-prohibition saloons were objectionable, there were also saloon and tavern keepers who prided themselves on running places where drunkenness and indecencies were not tolerated and there was no promiscuous mixing of the sexes. Such saloonkeepers were interested in protecting their investment and they kept their patrons in line.

Without considering the alcoholics who need medical attention, the past suggests that a greater sense of responsibility both on the part of the liquor licensees and their patrons is called for. A continued lack of it can be expected to bring a revival of a demand for prohibition measures.

In a letter to The Times in regard to the sympathetic attitude toward the boozehound, Rose Bowers, M.D. made reference to the slogan: “Alcoholics Are People.” “If they are, “ she wrote, “let them behave like people.” The doctor has a point there—one which should keep the problem free from maudlin sentimentality.

Bonus factoid: On Christmas Eve 1947, the LAPD arrested 35 adults for drunk driving, 2 juveniles for drunk driving, and 19 for being drunk in an automobile. Of the 188 other arrests involving drunkenness, one was for speeding, one was for manslaughter and one was for hit-and-run.

Second bonus factoid: Christmas Day toll from fighting in the Holy Land is 24 Arabs and 8 Jews killed; the 48 wounded include 16 Arabs, 28 Jews, 3 Britons and an Armenian.

Quote of the day: “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray thee, Lord, my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray thee, Lord, my soul to take. If I should live for other days, I pray thee, Lord, to guide my ways. Amen.”
Needlepoint pattern offered in The Times. Price, 15 cents.