Friday, December 30, 2005

The Lonesome Death of Baby Ralford

December 30, 1947
Los Angeles

They met again in Superior Court, Douglas Ralford, electrical engineer of Long Beach, and Dr. W. R. Senseman, Lancaster hospital owner, and his nurse, Alma Carleton. The last time was November 4, 1946, when Vivian Ralford gave birth to an apparently stillborn son.

Alma told Vivian her child was dead moments after his birth; seven hours later, wrapped in paper in the morgue, baby was heard to cry. He was hurried back to the nursery, where he died two hours later of exposure.

The Ralfords were seeking $100,000 in damages, but reached a pre-court deal through Attorney S.S. Hahn and Senseman's insurance company, believed to be in the range of $5000.

1 comment:

Larry said...

I think of it as a report card from the past. For the last few months, the 47P has explored stories that seemed important or unusual, funny or quirky or simply said something about the city and the era.

At the end of the year, George Gallup polled Americans on the top stories of the year. Some will be familiar to 47P regulars and others didn’t get a mention. Let’s see how it went.

Gallup said the following were the 15 most frequently mentioned in order of votes received:

1) High cost of living
2) Russian-American conflict (we know this as the Cold War).
3) Marshall plan.
4) Taft-Hartley labor law.
5) Palestine partition plan.
6) Investigation of Hollywood Communism.
7) John L. Lewis’ difficulties with government.
8) Princess Elizabeth’s wedding.
9) Schoolteachers’ strike.
10) Texas City (Texas) disaster.
11) Hughes-Meyers investigation.
12) Truman food-saving program.
13) Telephone strike.
14) Battle of Georgia governors.
15) Long skirts.

I’d say 47P got nearly half of them, certainly the high cost of living, the future of Israel, Hollywood Communists, Hughes-Meyers investigation (a passing mention, anyway), Truman food-saving and long skirts. Princess Elizabeth’s storybook wedding and the massive coverage it received were far more compelling at the time than to those of us jaded by the ensuing 58 years of petty scandals among the royals, although 47P did carry their wedding poem.

Several stories didn’t register with the public in 1947 and were added by the editors at Associated Press: the independence of India (India and Pakistan, mentioned in 47P) and the Florida hurricane (that one made it). The editors at United Press, which had yet to become United Press International, added airline crashes, also covered in 47P, and the World Series.

On the other hand, nobody in the 1947 poll mentioned television. Or smog. Or mass transit and the automobile. Or segregation. Or law enforcement. Or product safety laws (think of all those stories about children who ate pesticides or swallowed small objects, for example). Or breaking the sound barrier. And those are just for starters. As someone once said (or should have), people living in historic times aren’t always aware of it.

The top 10 sports stories, according to the Gallup poll:

1) Jersey Joe Walcott’s stand against Joe Louis.
2) World Series.
3) Illinois’ one-sided victory over UCLA in the Rose Bowl.
4) Jackie Robinson, first major league Negro baseball player.
5) New York Giants’ new home run record for a season
6) Leo Durocher’s suspension from baseball
7) The Rocky Graziano scandal and his championship victory.
8) Columbia’s defeat of the Army 11.
9) Babe Didrikson (Mrs. Zaharias) becomes first American to win British women’s golf title.
10) Jet Pilot wins Kentucky Derby in upset.

Of course, since 47P is rolling around to Jan. 1, 1947, there’s still time to get Illinois over UCLA in the Rose Bowl. But in all, I think 47P caught most of the highlights. I’ll just have to assume nobody asked newspaper readers about runaway hearses crashing into candy stores or Nathan's famous cafeteria of doom.

Bonus factoid: James B. Beam, Kentucky distiller, dies in bed at the age of 89.

Holy Land death toll: 10 Arabs and 4 Jews.

Quote of the day: “Barring some unexpected supply, such as sea water condensed in huge quantities by atomic energy, that’s the deadline: 1968.”
The Times, on the rising rate of water use in Southern California and the projection of when California would reach maximum consumption of the Colorado River and need new sources of water.