Thursday, March 16, 2006

Welcome To Our Old House. Feel Free To Poke Around.

On March 13, 2006, 1947project completed its mission to spend one year documenting the offbeat and criminal history of 1947 Los Angeles. You've found our archive site.

Come explore our other time travel blogs:
1947project.com (1907 and 1927 Los Angeles crimes)
On Bunker Hill, a lost neighborhood found
In SRO Land, lost lore of the historic core

Or climb aboard the Esotouric bus to discover the secret heart of Los Angeles

Shop in the Esotouric Emporium of L.A. Lore for fascinating true crime and social history.

Please stop by for all your early Los Angeles history needs.

yours sincerely,
the history fiends of 1947project

Monday, March 13, 2006

Police Grill Pin Boy in Winters Whack

March 13, 1947
Los Angeles

Detectives questioned James Joseph Tiernan Jr., 30, tonight about his movements Monday night, both before and after the time he claimed that Evelyn Winters, 42, left his hotel room at 912 W. Sixth Street. Winters turned up dead just after midnight Tuesday in the railyard at Ducommun Street, her clothes in disarray, with a blood alcohol level of .28, a nearly fatal proportion. According to Dr. Frederick Newbarr of the Coroner's Office, cause of death was blows to the head, exacerbated by the extent of her drunkenness. Tiernan was arrested the next day at the bowling alley at 924 S. Olive Street where he was formerly employed.

Captain Jack Donahoe is following up on Tiernan's story. Tiernan admits to knowing Winters--a former movie industry legal secretary fallen on hard times--for about two years. He says he met her on Sunday at the public library, then took her to his hotel room. They both liked reading, and alcohol. On Monday night, they were drinking together in the Sixth Street room. Winters left alone between 7:30 and 8 pm. Tiernan stayed in, and that was the last time he saw his friend Evelyn.

Confidential to 1947project readers: 1947 has been an incredible year, and we hope to see you over at our new digs real soon, where the subject is 1907.

The Winters of our Discontent

1947—a lot of women-killing, a lot of booze. It’s enough to turn one into a teetotaling sub. Almost.

And here, a woman killing herself. With booze. Nowadays, her family would call up A&E and she’d be on Intervention. Perfect fodder for the show—someone: somewhere once, nowhere now. Our identified family member has hit bottom. Get them into treatment. God, give me the strength to blame those who did this to me, to accuse those who didn’t, and the wisdom to know the difference...a lifetime of coffee, cigarettes and forced clapping after each and every utterance.

Evelyn Winters was described as “brilliant” by those who knew her, a legal eagle for the studio system since she was 23, til her alcholism caught up with her and she was shitcanned from the film colony at 37. Was there sensitivity training in the workplace for those who still suffer? This is 1947. The only place you’ll be happy, joyous and free is in the afterlife. For more information about alcohol, ask a parent or teacher! Or go here.

The elephant in the copy room went to the elephant graveyard: skid row. Where does a homeless 800-lb. gorilla sleep? Anywhere it can. And so forth.

Evelyn’s last known address—September, 1946—was here, at 2822 Rowena:


But in the months prior to her assault and murder she had been living in the beer parlors on Hill and Figueroa, keeping what was left of her belongings in a liquor store.



She was out carousing, divorced, jobless, though with, I’d wager, a mind still keen and ticking, before she was found nearly nude, beaten, and dragged for some way, near the Ducommun Street railroad right-of-way, here:


Evelyn, homeless, now has a homeless encampment on her site.

So, then there’s this Tiernan character.



He’s twelve years Evelyn’s junior. A former employee of the Angelus Bowling and Billiard Recreation Center—


which is now a parking lot:


(for more on prewar bowling alleys, go here)

—he takes Evelyn to the Albany Hotel at 912 W. Sixth. He drinks with her there for a day and change and, if he is to be believed, she departs between 7:30 and 8pm. She is found at 12:10am.

The Albany, where she may have had her last drink, or did not, is gone:


(Sanwa Bank Plaza, AC Martin, 1990)

Never did find a vintage image of the Albany…some flavor of the wiped-out neighborhood—one block west:


And one block east:



But why the hotel room? We don’t know. Tiernan didn’t live at the Albany. He lived at the Armondale, at 728 South Flower.


Its site today:


First off, what, already, is up with the Armondale Hotel? It has that “built on Indian burial ground” cachet that money can’t buy. Perhaps it was simply built over one of those giant magnets. The kind that attract ne’er-do-wells.

The place had trouble attached from the get-go. Dale Carleton, developer and proprietor of the spanking-new 1914 Armondale, is sued by wifey Marie for a sizable share of his $250,000 net worth. Mrs. Carleton names a Ms. Helen Williams—Armondale telephone girl whose duties apparently went above and beyond the working of switchboard—as correspondent.

1919. Wilbert Garrison, 28, son of a wealthy publisher in New York, drove across country with a buddy and they holed up in the Armondale. A week later Wilbert left in his room his money, valuables, and a note indicating that he did not want to be a burden on others, and as such was ending his life. Despite the best efforts of the Nick Harris detective agency (who calls the cops in 1919?), Wilbert is never found.

1930. Mrs. Louis Valenzuella, 40—ex-wife of Deputy Sheriff Valenzuella—is found dead in the Armondale of a suspected drug overdose.

1939. Washed-up boxer Louis Menney, 22, Armondale resident, is tackled by a priest after he sexually assaulted a 62 year-old woman in a church at 9th (now James M. Woods) and Green. Turns out he’d—moletsed? raped?—the papers will only mention “morals offenses”—a nine year-old in the church as well. Moreover, he’d done his business with a six year-old girl on the corner of 11th (now Chick Hearn) and Georgia, and also kidnapped and robbed an Agnes M----- and sexually assaulted a Margaret L----- in a church on West Adams; since the kidnapping charge is death penalty territory, we can only hope the Armondale’s most famous resident ended up in the proper hands.


1948. Francis Sylvester, of the Armondale, works across the street at the Western Union at 741 South Flower. Sylvester wires untold sums in care of himself to small outlying towns, where there are no Western Union offices, and destroys the records of the transactions.

And 1965. Percy Hatch, 65, who had been in the hotel since 1957, started talking crazy-talk. As in, a loggorhea of obscenities for two straight weeks. Behind the Armondale registration desk was manager Nancy Furlow, 62, who, finally fed up with her repeated warnings, reached for the phone, and was shot dead by Hatch with one bullet. Hatch therewith turned the gun on himself.

Shortly thereafter the Armondale was felled and a rather ill-advised Broadway was built on the site. Now a Macy’s, it resembles a Dawn mall on a slow day. For more on this exercise in brown, please go here.

Tiernan had been reading with Evelyn at Central Library for a couple years. They would read, or shack up and drink, and maybe he'd talk bowling and maybe she'd talk law, but probably not. Neither he nor anyone else was ever charged.

And so goes the final post of 1947. Soon there will be another liquor-infused ladykilling, and another, and Evelyn will be forgotten by all but her mother and best barfly pals and her killer, and God willing, she will become part of us.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Down By The River

March 12, 1947
Whittier

Sheriff's deputies have obtained a confession from shaggy-haired Myron Funk, 23, in the shocking slaying of Mae Lorena Lund, the 46-year-old ladyfriend of Funk's father Frank (aka Hardrock).

Lund's strangled body was found in the shallows of the San Gabriel River in Norwalk, several miles from her home at 115 Burton Street, Bellflower. Funk admitted that he had returned alone to Burton Street after he and his father went home to South Gate following a night of heavy drinking. He claimed to recall arguing with Lund, but to be uncertain over what. He knew he had hit her in the jaw, shoved her onto the bed, then wrapped an electrical cord from a nearby iron tight around her throat. He claims he drove her corpse to the river, then returned home to sleep.

The next morning, Hardrock Funk asked his son for a ride to Mrs. Lund's, where the lady's absence received no special mention from Myron. They fed the chickens and left quickly.

Investigations focused on tire tracks in the soft river mud, which led Sheriff's deputies to the Funks' car. Myron was questioned at the Compton jail while his father sweated it out in Whittier. A search revealed human blood on the spare tire.

Myron's confession seems to exonerate his father, who claims he was too drunk that night to remember much of anything.

Bring Us the Funk

We take for granted all that easily obtainable marihuana of our teens, and that ever-so-precious peyote gobbled in our twenties, and all this easily obtainable Xanax of our thirties; back in the day, there was just booze. You didn’t have to go cop, and everything you did score had rigorous quality control. Your only worry was making sure you got to Manny’s Grog n’ Groc before the Tick Tock Lounge called last call. That, and being certain you had a little something stashed for the moaning after.



Liquor should carry a Surgeon General’s warning that it will not make you Fitzgerald or Miller or Hemingway. With a little luck, though, it will neither make you Myron Funk.

The city has upped the numbering of Bellflower’s Burton Street from three digit to five, so it’s impossible to say which was Mrs. Lund’s home. They likely all have booze and ironing boards, but perhaps the residents are now inside sparking bongloads and playing Illbleed. Like, copacetic.

So we’ll leave you with an image of fingersniffing, ladykilling Funk, a man to have obviously been played by John Belushi in the biopic. Belushi, the man whacked by Cathy Smith, a woman whose body Mae Lund’s soul vengefully haunted.

Easter Sunday Nightmares of Bunker Hill Crime Bus Tour

Oh, you delightful sickniks! After tabulating the votes for the next Crime Bus date, I see that the majority of respondents have asked for the tour to roll on Easter Sunday, 4/16.

And so it shall. If you would like a seat on the Easter Sunday Crime Bus tour, featuring strange and horrible tales from the history of downtown Los Angeles, please visit this site to purchase through paypal.

You may also email me directly to reserve seats and pay by check or money order, if you prefer.

Each seat is $47, and includes a 5-hour guided tour, snacks, beverages and surprises.

Want to hear what some of the passengers said about the last Crime Bus tour? Check out the latest podcast.

If demand indicates, we will be scheduling another downtown tour in the near future. Please email if you are interested in an alternate date.

best regards,
Kim
1947project

Disclaimer: Although it is extremely unlikely, the organizers reserve the right to postpone the tour in the event of extreme weather, riot, act of war or plague. Refunds may be available no more than 72 hours before Sunday's tour departs, and at the discretion of the organizers. You may substitute an alternate passenger's name if you are unable to attend. We regret that there are no refunds for people who miss the bus. Passengers may call Kim at 323-223-2767 or email amscray@gmail.com with any questions.

1947project is moving house on Tuesday 3/14

Henceforth you will find us at our own URL, 1947project.com.

Our RSS feed will be published exclusively through feedburner.

And a whole new adventure begins...

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Lucky Dime, do not disturb

March 11, 1947
Los Angeles

A shiny new dime glinted brieflyat the bottom of a hole at East 58th Street and Naomi Ave. before being topped by a trolley pole, the first of many to planted as part of a new electrical trackless trolley system.

B.M. (Barney) Larrick, L.A. Transit Lines operating manager, dropped the dime as a symbolic good luck offering to the new coach route which, once it opens on June 1, will run up Central Ave. to Fifth Street, west to Beaudry, then east on Sixth. It's hoped the gods of transit safety will be pleased with so paltry an offering. It's the thought that counts!

Friday, March 10, 2006

Not quite cleaned out

March 10, 1947
Los Angeles

James Edwards, 57-year-old busboy in a Broadway cafeteria, is one of those folks who doesn't trust banks. He's been saving for many years with the dream of owning his own home.

This morning, near East Second and Los Angeles Streets, a robber clouted him over the head and emptied his wallet. When checked into the Georgia Street Receiving Hospital, Edwards still wore his cartridge belt, stuffed to bursting with crumpled bills. Nurses and a detective helped the dazed man count his savings for the first time in a long while... $3843 total, plus $1.17 in loose change. The robber got $75.

Word's out, oh frugal friend. You better open a bank account, or take a cab to work from now on!

E. 2nd and Los Angeles, To-day

Lucky Jim Edwards. He had been watched over, from the southwest, by the kindly St. Vibiana’s (Kyzor/Mathews, 1876).


58 years later, he would have been less well looked after from the northwest by the breathtakingly BorgCube Caltrans VII building (Thom Mayne/Morphosis, 2005), its 216,000sf having turned its back to the action.

April Crime Bus Tour: Nightmares of Bunker Hill

Gentle riders,

The 1947project bloggers have been hard at work, uncovering some of the
most ghastly tales ever to unfold in the great central heart of our
city. In April, you can discover these horrors on a little bus tour
we're calling Nightmares of Bunker Hill.

To give us a sense of how much demand there is for seats, we ask your
assistance. If you would be interested in attending this tour, please
visit our online poll and answer three simple questions, as accurately
as you can. Answering will not obligate you to purchase tickets, but
will help up reserve the proper size bus or busses for our passengers.

Don't forget, it's just four days until the big changeover from
blogspot to our own URL, and a brand new year of true crime discovery.
If I were you, I'd peel an eye at http://www.1947project.com over the
weekend... some clues might be dropped.

yours faithfully,
Kim
1947project

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Taxi Driver

March 9, 1947
Santa Ana

Flummoxed partway through the ride home to El Toro Marine Base, when the Negro cabbie suggested he come up front and take the wheel as he was feeling sleepy, Patrick Crawford accomodated the snoring driver by delivering him straight to the Santa Ana cops. It was a good instinct on the young Marine's part: investigation revealed that sleepy Mervin Wilturner, 21, was likely the fare who had shot the cab's real owner, Beverly J. Barton, twice in the head earlier this evening. Barton is in critical condition in French Hospital, while Wilturner, a transient, is being held at Newton Street Police Station on suspicion of assault with intent to commit murder.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Those who can't do, teach

March 8, 1947
Alhambra

While busting Robert Chelsea Putter, 49, on a forgery charge, officers made a delightful discovery. Putter had written an 18-page booklet instructing would-be forgers on the rules of the trade. Unfortunately, he had neglected to follow his own advice, and landed in the pokey.

The specific rules not followed? "When you don't succeed in passing a check, get out of town but fast." And "chain markets keep a list of names that have been used in past forgeries."

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Har-de-har-har

March 7, 1947
Portland, OR

In the course of fining a driver who admitted to driving 38mph in a 20mph zone, Judge J.J. Quillin quipped that he admired the fellow's forbearance, for he was the first California driver he'd ever known to drive under 50!

Monday, March 06, 2006

Fatal Heroics

March 5, 1947
Venice

His curtains blazing, Charles Mason, 71, raced towards the heat of the flames and fought bravely to extinguish them. He gave no thought to his blindness and merely did all he could to staunch the fire and save his furnishings--and succeeded, though not without injury. When his roomate William H. Watson came home to the flat at 1126 Washington Blvd., he found Charles terribly burned, and he died soon after at Santa Monica Hospital.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Boo-boo for a Looky-loo!

March 4, 1947
Los Angeles

When two Pacific Electric freight cars derailed near Firestone Blvd. and Maie Avenue, Helen Gil, 25, observed the carnage from a prudent 40 yards away... prudent, that is, until the fence beside which she was standing crumpled under the weight of the cars and collapsed, fracturing her ankle and giving her a possible concussion.

Not Firestone and Maie, To-day

I’ve been thinking a lot about trains since they started building that mighty railroad over in Griffith Park. You know, from the paper three days ago. So I’m on my way down to South Gate to watch the derailed trains roll by, maybe get a piece of fence stuck in me, when I became entranced by some car fire near Hoover and Venice.







When it dawns, do you really want to see another serene scene of some train tracks and their friend the sickly ficus? So I came home and've furnished you with these Examiner images of the Southern Pacific Owl wreck, January 18, 1947, when seven died in the freezing dark north of Bakersfield, after five southbound passenger train coaches were hurled off the track by a broken rail.









Now aren't you glad I spared you the sight of sickly fici. Despite that nagging feeling you have that there's something contemptible, nay, pitiable about your attraction to destruction? Well, beats the landscape of South Gate.

Friday, March 03, 2006

The Case of the Divorcee in the Elevator

March 3, 1947
Los Angeles

Since 1944, Sarah Shirley Ruenker, 32, has suffered crippling claustrophobia, an ailment that today nearly kept her from filing for divorce against her machinist husband Carl. Accompanied by her attorney Barry Woodmansee, she bravely stepped into the tiny elevator at City Hall... then crumpled in tears and had to be carried out by Woodmansee and the operator. After quieting her, Woodmansee rode alone to the 19th floor, where he explained to Judge Paul Vallee the reason for Sarah's nonappearance. A sympathetic man, the judge agreed to hear the case on the ground floor of the Probate Courts Building, and granted the lady her divorce on grounds of non-support.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Lucky Penny

March 2, 1947
Los Angeles

Cabbie Clifford Brown is fortunate to be alive tonight after an encounter with an armed robber at 110th and Central. A fare asked him to wait there while he picked up a buddy, but the buddy came packing heat. Before Brown had a chance to respond, the gunman's finger twitched, and a bullet tore into the cabbie's breast pocket. The pocket was stuffed full of change, which made an improvised shield as its contents flew wildly away from the shocked victim. The original fare, a cool sorta cucumber, suggested, "Don't be so nervous there, Joe. Get down and pick that money off the floor."

Brown, who lives at 1683 1/2 Palm Lane, lost $58 and was bruised around the chest, but is otherwise unharmed.

No relation:
Medium Image

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Whoooo whooooo!

March 1, 1947
Los Feliz

The long-awaited midget railroad in Griffith Park is nearing completion, and wee tykes citywide can scarcely hold their water as they anticipate the thrill of circling the figure-eight-shaped, half-mile track near the Riverside Drive side of the Park.

The new concession is work of Floyd Wells and Sam Bornstein, its $50,000 cost covered by the city in return for $150 monthly rent and 25% of the gross income. Mr. Bornstein is the proprietor of miniature railways in Cleveland, Kansas City and Toledo. The cost for a ride will be 14 cents for adults, 9 cents for kids.

Floyd and Sam, Your Conductors to the End

No, these men aren’t burying children, they’re building a railroad…for now. Don’t they know what railroads do? Don’t they know that all trains are capable of is buckling and derailment? Wait til they read the papers on March 4 to see what happened to Helen Gil. Here, an earthen roof will be put over this cut to make a tiny tunnel, where a tiny Taggart Transcontinental can…you know the rest.


How many budding Cherryl Brookses will leap from this bridge?


We here at 1947project know only danger and distress whilst bringing you danger and distress, so I took it upon myself to risk riding the Griffith Park “Choo”-“choo” and after making certain we weren’t carrying chlorine gas (though I wasn’t sure some of those kids didn’t have Sarin on them), I boarded, uncertain that there was to be no repeat of Nowy Dwor, 1949; there was not. I was still nervous, though. That whole Auschwitz thing has given me an aversion to mass transit.

Here we are in the Floyd & Sam’s tunnel. Thinking Salerno, 1944.



And crossing the bridge:

I thought of the train that plunged off just such a bridge into the Baghmati River, killing 500. The driver had braked to avoid hitting a cow. So here I was. Praying our driver wasn’t Hindu. (Actually, he and I stood around after and shot the bull about the B-24s that took off from Atwater, and the nearby Rancho stables, and his hopping on the Glendale Red Car to go see movies downtown as a child—you’d go to Broadway, I asked, heck no, he replied, you go to Main Street, and see movies at places where you sat on old crates.)

So that’s the tale of the Griffith Park Train. One last note. I don’t know why, but rolling past these things made me think of some lonely children’s cemetery.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Oh, and that kidnapped girl...

February 28, 1947
near Long Beach

'tis the season for faked abductions, with yesterday's nude 17-year-old found bound in her underpants with a cigarette burn on her wrist confessing to police that she had "dreamed up" the sinister man who attacked her, and had tied and injured herself. She's Jacqueline Mae Stang of 2009 Chestnut Ave., Long Beach, currently in custody of the Long Beach juvenile division as investigators satisfy themselves that there really is not a kidnapper loose in their community.

Must be all that Black Dahlia coverage putting weird ideas in folks' heads.

Monday, February 27, 2006

February 27, 1947
near Long Beach

Fiends are loose in the city, and no girl or woman is safe! The latest victim is a 17-year-old high school girl--found naked and bound with her own underclothes, with a cigarette burn on her wrist--near the Union Pacific underpass at Willow Street. After treatment at Seaside Hospital, which revealed no sign of criminal assault, the shaken girl recovered sufficiently to describe being followed by a strange man and then grabbed in an alley, after which her memory was mercifully blank.

Police records show the same girl reported being followed by a man in a car with no license plates on February 5.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Phoney Baloney!

February 26, 1947
Seattle, WA

Remember Eugene White, the businessman who disappeared on Valentine's Eve, leaving his coat, wallet, bloodstained car and gifts for the Missus? Police speculated he'd been robbed, beaten and tossed into a passing freight car, but it turns out he's fine and well, and camped out with a pal in Seattle. It was the wife of that friend, Jay Stevens, who convinced White to phone his worried wife. She called the cops.

White explained that he was feeling overwhelmed after years of working 14 hour days, and so faked his own disappearance. "I felt I couldn't go on. I wanted to go to sea or work in a lumber camp." So he cut his hand with a razor and stage set his own abduction.

A shocked Mrs. White told reporters that if Eugene didn't come home, she guessed she'd take the kids and go home to mama in Michigan. Then she asked to be left alone to figure things out.
Gifts for the missus.



Awwwww.

May-December Indian Clubs


February 25, 1947
Los Angeles

Juggling-act partners Elizabeth Reinke, 25, and Walter Beemer, 77, married in 1943 and divorced in 1946, stepped into judge's chambers today to re-knot their troth. The lady explained, "It was not the same after our divorce. We both worried. It once caused him to drop an Indian club on my foot." We hope the pair have many happy years ahead of them, with no broken toes in the forecast.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Fat 'n' Sassy

February 24, 1947
Compton

Little Patti Sue Roeder, stricken with polio before she turned two, has become the pet of the Textile Association of Los Angeles. The group vowed to donate the child's weight in ten cent pieces to the March of Dimes. When she stepped onto the scale today, it read 33 pounds... and while the TALA had raised 37 pounds of coinage, they decided to let the difference slide. The total: $8700.

They've vowed to repeat the gesture in 1948, and Patti Sue promises to be quite fat when the next weigh-in comes. The girl lives at 620 S. Chester Street.

620 S. Chester Street, To-day

Perhaps an image of a house in Compton doesn’t make you think of the March of Dimes, but who cares. Look at that curved entry canopy!



On a numismatic note, just last year the dimers had moved from using these—



to these:

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Another victim

February 22, 1947
Los Angeles

Ten hours after the plating factory explosion on East Pico Blvd., 20-year-old Charles Batye turned on a machine at the creamery at 1120 Towne Avenue and was badly injured when a shard of glass, a by-product of the explosion, flew out and hit him in the left eye.

1120 Towne Avenue To-day

Funny, there was a creamery here yesterday.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

A New Club Dedicated To Historic SoCal Dining Lore

A message from our pal Jonathon at the essential L.A. Time Machines site, who is speaking at this March 18 event:

The group we are forming will focus on Los Angeles Restaurant History in general, with an emphasis on restaurant memorabilia collectors, writers on restaurant history and the oral history of classic restaurant employees and owners. Scheduled to speak at our first meeting are Jim Heimann, author of "Out With the Stars" and "May I Take Your Order", as well as countless other books on Los Angeles and Pop Culture of the 30s to 70s. Also Charles Perry, the renown columnist for the Los Angeles Times and Food Historian. And Filomena D'Amore, owner of Patsy's Pizza, whose father Patsy D'Amore owned the Villa Capri restaurant in Hollywood along with Frank Sinatra (and it was James Dean's favorite place). Our first meeting is at the Hollywood Heritage Museum on March 18 at 10AM.
Most of this is on the attachment hopefully. The principal organizer is Chris Nichols who you might know from ModCom or LA magazine.

A Terrible Blast

February 21, 1947
Los Angeles

The city continues to reel under the horrific impact of yesterday's chemical explosion at the O'Connor Electro-Plating Company, 926 E. Pico Blvd., which leveled the factory, damaged 116 homes, injured hundreds and killed more than a dozen persons.

City officials scattered rat poison around the blast site to deter vermin, while others condemned the contents of local restaurants and bakeries, lest glass fragments find their way onto plates. And into the night, the bulldozers made their silent, constant grab at the debris, dislodging severed limbs, dead cats and dogs, and the ruins of countless lives.

The aftermath of the explosion was carried live on local television station W6XYZ, with narration by reporter Dick Lane.

It is believed that staff chemist Robert Magee was experimenting with using volatile perchloric acid to polish aluminum when the blast occurred. The formula was his own secret recipe, and a patent had reportedly been applied for. Magee and his newly-hired assistant, Alice Iba, are both missing and presumed dead.

926 East Pico, To-day

I don't know about you, no, really, I don't know about you, but I get hot for chemical journals what discuss that unpredictably violent and violently unpredictable perchloric acid. You'd think Bob O'Connor, as manager/secretary of O'Connor Electro-Plating Corp., would be similarly obsesssed. You'd think wrong. Bob was a sales and business tool. When some other cat named Bob--they stick together, you know, those Bobs--when Bob Magee told him about the magic to be had from exciting your perchloric stew with electrolytes writ large, Bob O'Connor bit and bit hard. To the detriment of a few city blocks.

Let’s say it was an isolated incident. And let’s say we were wrong again.

Toss a stone in this town. Hit, say, Pasadena. Let’s see what that stone wrought.

A simple plating factory (the Crown City plating factory, at 28 West Union):
very nearly took out all of what’s now “Old Town” on 22 February, 1925. The Los Angeles Times reported that but then the next near mishap, well, that got bumped up a bit:

In quiet little Pasadena, Calif, one day last week a blast almost materialized that would have shaken the sober townfolk out of their skins. Two blocks from Pasadena's busiest corner, Crown City Plating Co. electroplates chromium, gold, brass, silver, copper. A swart little man named Wallace Foreman was mixing sulphuric acid and glycerin to make an electrolyte for plating. Already in the tank were 75 gal. of acid and 2 gal. of glycerin. Thinking to add more acid, Wallace Foreman picked up a 3-gal. container, dumped in the contents. Unluckily the container held not sulphuric but nitric acid....

Time Magazine
, 27 August 1934

I mean, you can mix sulphuric acid with glycerin all you want. Nitric acid, well, that makes nitro-glycerin. The rest writes itself. A smoldering hole three blocks wide.

Here’s where everyone and their brother nearly died:


But we’re not here to talk about happy people eating the iced creams, unaware of the giant smoldering hole from where they couldabeen eating 'em: we’re here to discuss the Continent of Death that encircled the 900 block of Pico that February day in 1947.


And now, from our "nie wieder" files, compare and contrast:





Yes, they've renamed Ground Zero "Lucky."

My people call this “hubris,” though I know not how the Chinese would term such, should they care to. Which they won't.





It had been reported that there was a particularly beautiful, and occupied, house just behind on 14th -- the house was blown apart like so many tragically electroplated child's limbs ----


This was mentioned as a particularly sticky rescue area, given this area had at the time held a giant and absurdly intricate Queen Anne mansion. The developerclass blesses every day which includes Victorian spindlework thrown sixty some-odd blocks as if touched by the Finger of God.

Nigh-on sixty years in, we still talk about this kind of "keep acid under refrigeration" dictate.

Anyone who's been following the ConocoPhillips buyout of Unocal knows that Texans live to oneup Californians...

Monday, February 20, 2006

*Hic!* Zoom!

February 20, 1947
Los Angeles

When Walter John Munro, 29-year-old plumber and amateur pilot, lurched out of his new plane at the Torrance Airport, after an erratic low altitude flight over Hawthorne last December 8, he claimed that air sickness and not alcohol was the cause. He was so anxious to land that he touched down in Torrance, and not Compton, where he'd begun his flight.

Clifford Cottam, manager of the Torrance airdrome, testified before Superior Judge Edward Brand today that Munro had skimmed houses and power lines, and staggered when administered a sobrietry test by sheriff's deputies.

Munro is home at 238 E. 139th Street on $1000 bail pending sentencing on March 13. He faces 1-5 years imprisonment if convicted.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

The Stone Man Burns

February 19, 1947
Pasadena

Harry L. Roberts, 53, died today in a fire that began when a cigarette fell into his bedclothes. The one-time Forest Lawn advertising manager and Tournament of Roses publicist had spent the past four years struggling with a mysterious illness that gradually paralyzed his limbs, and had most recently been laboriously typing a memoir of his sickness in hopes of discovering its cause.

Mr. and Mrs. Paul Murray, in-home aids to Roberts since his wife died two years ago, noticed smoke pouring from the den at 1020 Linda Vista Ave. and called the fire department, but Roberts was already unconscious and could not be revived.

Also destroyed in the fire was his hard-wrought manuscript, which was completed earlier this week.

1020 Linda Vista Avenue To-day

Smoke poured from here. The Stone Man calcified.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

A Mysterious Drive

February 18, 1947
Los Angeles

All evidence suggests that, while driving west on Washington Boulevard under the overpass near Santa Fe Avenue, trucker Robert Frazer was struck by a piece of falling concrete. He then drove more than eight miles, in heavy traffic, before careening onto the sidewalk at his place of employ, at Firestone and Paramount Blvds. Co-workers rushed to his aid, and found Frazer unconscious, with a wound over his eye. On awakening, he had no memory of anything after the concrete bounced off his hood and shattered his window.

Damocles Overpass

Here’s exactly how and where he was driving…tooling west, not a care in the world…


Note the large chunk of concrete beneath the Santa Fe overpass. It tolls for thee.

Friday, February 17, 2006

SMASH! .... SPLAT!

February 17, 1947Long Beach

The truck filled with empty milk bottles hit the car on Santa Fe near 23rd Street yesterday, and both drivers were launched forward through space, where they smashed together as surely as their machines had. Truck driver Abner Teachout, 49, is in Compton Clinic, his condition serious, while 24-year-old Phil Meyers is in critical condition at Seaside Hospital, Long Beach.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Where is the body?

February 16, 1947
Los Angeles

Police and railroad officials continue their search today for Eugene Hamilton White, 31, tool company executive missing since Valentine's Eve, when he cashed his paycheck and left his office en route to his Woodland Hills home.

His bloodstained car was discovered near a Southern Pacific loading spur and warehouse, between 50th and 51st Streets, Long Beach Avenue and Alameda Street, its top ripped open and window shattered. Inside, the man's empty wallet, eyeglasses, overcoat and jacket, a heart-shaped box of Valentine's candy, a silver belt, and a blood-soaked handkerchief wrapped around the end of a tire iron.

Police suspect the man was beaten and robbed, then thrown into a passing freight car. His distraught wife Elizabeth, waiting at 22034 Providencia with little Bette Gene and Eugene Jr., says her husband was devoted to the family, and she can think of no reason for him to disappear.

And on this day in 1929....

Our friends at the LAist are blogging one of the more notorious crimes in Beverly Hills history, the mysterious Ned Doheny killing, when the son of the oil heir ended up dead steps away from his similarly gun-shot male secretary. Was it a simple murder-suicide, a lover's quarrel, or the work of Doheny's spurned bride? Carolyn Kellogg looks into the mussed clues and controversy, and shares an especially awful photo on the LAist flickr feed.

If you haven't visited Greystone (now a public park, though the house is off limits save for special events bookings), do!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

You Never Know

February 15, 1947
San Fernando

Leila Nichols, 18, had dated 22-year-old William Hunter once prior to their interaction this evening. Hunter, who spent 3 1/2 years in a Japanese prison camp, accosted the girl as she crossed a vacant lot after midnight, en route to her home, bashing her in the head with a lead pipe. The assault was interrupted when Nichols' brother-in-law John T. Rust drove by and heard her screams. Hunter ran home to his mother and said, "I just killed a girl with a pipe; I don't know what prompted me to do it." Mom turned him in.

Leila Nichols is recovering in San Fernando Hospital, while Hunter has been charged on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon. He has refused to say anything but his name, rank and serial number. The girl lives at 11327 Tamarack Street, her assailant at 15431 Romer Street.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The Men Who Loved Jeanne French

February 14, 1947
Los Angeles

Alcohol is a terrible drug. It lured Jeanne French, mother and wife, out to gin halls, where, in the words of her sobbing son David Y. Wrather, "She made friends easy, awful easy. She went out alone sometimes. She's gone now, and I'm sure she would want me to say the right thing. She made a lot of her own trouble. Her husband tolerated a lot from her. He was a tolerant man, a very tolerant man."

After the inquest, officials exonerated Jeanne's husband Frank F. French of any suspicion in her beating murder, leaving police to continue their search for the nameless, dark-haired man seen with the woman at a drive-in at 3992 Sepulveda Boulevard around 2am Monday. French's body was found on a hillside early the next morning, and the presumption is that her date was likely her killer.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Tony Cornero's Wife Is A Real Firecracker

February 13, 1947
Beverly Hills

Sheriffs' officers came all the way from Fresno today to arrest Barbara Land, 27, the gal who married gambler Tony Cornero Stralla last fall, after which they divorced and subsequently remarried.

The charge is burglary of the Snow Line Lodge, near General Grant Park. Miss Land and her pals Elaine Rodgers, 29, and Robert Cabaniss, 31, allegedly visited the tavern, but found it closed. They entered after Miss Land "accidentally fell through a glass back door" and whooped it up with a few drinks.

The Goldilocks Gang claim to have left a check for $25 to cover their entertainment and damages, but owner Paul Haney reports no check was left, and $110 was missing from the till. Land and company deny the charges.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Hey, Mister! Mister!

February 12, 1947
Los Angeles

Nightclub owner Paul Rubin is a cautious fellow... at least he likes to think he is. So when he stopped at the bank near his club at 1571 W. Washington Blvd. to withdraw two $500 bills, he put his antennae up. While shopping in the drugstore around the corner at Washington and Vermont Ave., those antennae detected a strange man who seemed inordinantly interested in his activities.

Rubin darted off to his club, highly conscious of the grand in his pocket. The stranger followed close. As Rubin slipped in the front door, he pushed a buzzer that told employees to call the cops. The stranger stepped inside as the buzzing died in the air, two green portraits of William McKinley in his hand. "Say Mister, you dropped these in the drugstore!"

1571 West Washington To-day

No surprises here—didn’t see any honest men (or even Diogenes) or Rubin’s club, but as you may possibly note in the photo, our tale's drug store is still down on the corner in its current incarnation as a Rite Aid.


Down the street, though, I did see my Fave House in LA, dear to me not only for her architectonic charms, but for the shocking disconnect between her and her surroundings. Like that auto dealership over there.