Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Recipe for Marital Success

January 30, 1947
Get miffy at tennis pro hubby when a lady tennis player calls to suggest they team up in a tournament match, cry as he splits for the L.A. Tennis Club, drink a shot of iodine, follow it up with an antidote of flour and eggs, then telephone sweetums to tell 'im what you've done. He'll race home and speed your upsy tummy to Hollywood Receiving Hospital for emergency treatment. Game, set and match to wifeypoo.

This is the scenario played out in the third week of marriage by tennis star Tom Falkenburg and his 21-year-old model bride, Bernice Allred Falkenberg, in their home at 523 N. Cahuenga. BTW, fellas, it's a big red flag when your sweetie doesn't just try to poison herself, but administers her own antidote!

Watch Tom's sister Jinx with Rita Hayworth in Cover Girl.

523 N. Cahuenga Avenue To-day

Awwww. The happy couple.

Bernice and camera lock unblinking eye: this is the happiest day of my life, and everything is going to be perfect from hereonin. Tom, he's espied some other skirt already.

Of all the houses on the block—that one on the left a typical example—only the Falkenburg home, right, has a giant wall of flora shielding it from the eyes of man. What are they hiding? The shame, apparently. That energy born and borne as opprobrium’s heir.

Dames sure are dizzy in this town.

Save the 76 Ball!

We, the undersigned, as consumers with an abiding fondness for the striking, historic and uniquely Californian blue and orange ball-shaped Union 76 logo, be it on tall metal poles or car antennae (since 1967), hereby call on ConocoPhillips to reconsider their alteration of the 115-year-old brand, to cease replacing spherical blue and orange 76 balls at gas stations with flattened blue and red disks, and to restore the beloved spheres to the poles where they belong.

If ConocoPhillips does not demonstrate greater respect for the the history and goodwill associated with the blue and orange 76 ball, we will be taking our business to other gas sellers. This petition is being launched on January 31, six days after ConocoPhillips posted fourth quarterly earnings of $3.7 Billion, and we call for a sincere response to our concerns before the announcement of their next second quarterly earnings.

To sign the petition, click here.
To buy various antenna balls (but not for Union 76), click here.
or get vintage 76 antenna balls here.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Middy's Big Adventure

January 30, 1947

"Here, kitty kitty!" was the song of Millwood Avenue as the neighborhood joined in urging pussycat Middy to alight from her perch, 75 feet up in a palm near her home at number 750.

After six days, Middy's mistress Mrs. Don Bowser was at her wit's end, her throat raw and neck sore from craning. Although the fire department declined to assist, Boy Scouts from Venice Troop 75 milled around looking helpful. And perhaps the sight of all those little boys so plump and perfect for scratching did compel Middy to move, for suddenly the recalcitrant cat crashed down through the dry fronds, claws out and howling, and landed on the concrete below.

A neighbor reported that Middy had drunk a little milk, and would be examined by a vet because she'd shown signs of internal bleeding.

Middy's Air Army

This is too damn suspicious. Sure, go ahead and argue it's likely there's some sort of giant feline-bolixing lodestone under Venice sending cats up trees, or a scientist shooting suicidal brainwaves to the pussy population...tell yourself anything you want...but the disturbing fact remains that the last time we blogged about a cat leaping from a tree, it was one block away.

My instinct tells me there is something of the treacherous cat intelligence at work here…there are independent agents of the feline flying corps across Los Angeles (cf. our post of August 9) but to set up an actual base of operations? They are grouping…planning... plotting...waiting...there're 75,000 Mexican Fan and Canary Island date palms in Los Angeles, and probably as many of these beasts…prepare for the sky-darkening clowder of carnivorous cats!

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Did You Want A Fingertip With That Beer?

January 29, 1947
San Pedro

Daniel Baccarat, 50-year-old liquor store proprietor until recently serving customers at 211 W. Ninth Street is on the run after City Health Inspectors discovered that the possibly infectious leper was working with the public. An attorney who called the Health Department to inquire if a warrant had been issued for Baccarat's arrest rang off the line when asked if he represented the man or knew where he was hiding.

Baccarat first received treatment at the National Leprosarium in Carville, Louisiana in 1928, and in 1931 was discharged as an arrested case. But four years later, San Francisco physicians discovered his disease had recurred and he was forced into hospital treatment. When he volunteered to return to Carville, Baccarat was freed... and somehow turned up in San Pedro twelve years later.

If found, Baccarat will be taken to General Hospital to be examined by Leon Griest, Chief Quarantine Officer of the City Health Department, but he can only be shipped back to Louisiana if he agrees to go.

211 West Ninth To-day

The liquor store is now a parking lot. Of course it is. It had to be burned. It had LEPROSY!!!

I can see Baccarat now. His mottled porcelain white-skin. The nasal ulcers. The eyebrows falling off. "You want the pint or the fifth?" His cytokines and activated macrophages raising all manner of lesion and nodule…"your change, sir!"

Ah, leprosy. That most biblical of afflictions. We think of leprosy, ahem, Hansen’s, as some sort of Medieval/pirate-themed/Third World typa deal, but remember, American citizens so diseased didn’t win the right to vote until 1946. Dan had probably been hauled off to Carville in shackles and under armed guard, as many a leper was, while outside the walls kids in catechism class were learning the palindromatically helpful Repel evil as a live leper. (I like to think said wisdom is still so imparted.) Heck, the Japanese still excecuted the children of lepers through the 1950s.

To Carville's credit, it was there in the 1940s scientists discovered sulfones could cure leprosy...though it wasn't until the late '90s that long-term residents were given the choice of leaving. Forty of them remained. Home is home.

The Hotfoot That Slipped Through The Cracks

January 17, 1947

Gentle readers,

In the excitement of leading the Crime Bus tour, we inadvertently neglected to blog one of the stories that, when first reading the 1947 papers with an eye to writing a book ten years ago, made it obvious that I'd stumbled onto a very interesting shadow L.A. And so we bring you, twelve days late, The Hotfoot That Slipped Through The Cracks.

Thomas Gant, 40, and Thurman Dawson, 27, were prank pals--acquaintances who took great pleasure in torturing each other with increasingly annoying shenanigans. For the past week their activities had been constant and aggressive, with the agonies of the hotfoot featuring prominently in each man's arsenal.

And so might it have continued, until all the shoes both owned were singed, but still wearable, had Dawson not been inspired to add a squirt of lighter fluid to yesterday's performance. Gant said, "Enough already" (after he shrieked like a girl), and sought the aid of the homicide cops near City Hall. They looked at his scorched shoe, laughed and wished him well in his endeavors.

Furious, Gant strode back to the hotel where he and Dawson lived, at 236 E. Second Street, and retrieved a gun. From there, he went to the cafe at 245 E. Second and found Dawson at his afternoon meal. Gant shot Dawson in the gut, killing him, and awaited the arrival of the homicide cops, who obliged by taking him more seriously this time around.
Medium Image

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Zip Guns Aren't Just For Kids

January 28, 1947
Santa Monica

Jack Gillette, 68-year-old aircraft worker, was called into Judge Thurlow T. Taft's courtroom today to answer a charge of firing, without provocation, a miniature gun of his own manufacture at the lower body of Venice cabbie Jack Stewart, 29. The bullet, half the size of a .22, left a nasty bruise on the younger man's hip. Gillette declared that he had merely wanted to see if his invention worked. Judge Taft looked over the seven teeny guns that police had seized and set bail for the incorrigible oldster at $1000.

Friday, January 27, 2006

The Party's Over

January 27, 1947
Hollywood Hills

Harry Babasin, 25, was just sitting down to a chess game with William Haller, 24, when all heck broke loose. Sixteen State and L.A.P.D. Narcotics officers busted into the large home at 5751 Tuxedo Terrace and placed the whole joint under arrest. In addition to Babasin, a member of Benny Goodman's band, and Haller, late of Freddie Slack's outfit, this included Nelson Shelledy, 28, formerly of Charlie Barnett's orchestra, and Haller's lady friend Mrs. Bonaline Stewart, 30, a secretary.

Siezed in the raid was $500 worth of primo gage (aka maryjuana), of which Mrs. Stewart groused, "I'm just a victim of circumstance. I went there on a date with Bill Haller. I was downstairs when I heard all the commotion. What will my boss think, and my family?"

They'll think that you're an older woman who hangs around jazzbos, doll. And we at 47project think you're a-okay!

5751 Tuxedo Terrace To-day

I don’t get the Hollywood Hills. It’s cramped, there’s nowhere to park, and every time you run out of liquor it’s twenty arduous minutes to the store. But I suppose that’s the price you pay for privacy.

Looks private enough—

—and it is an impressive three-story structure…

…but that sixteen narcos would wind there way up there to bust some tea-blowing agony piper, that puts me off the Hills for good.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

A Harborside Mystery

January 26, 1947Terminal Island

Grizzled mariners are baffled by the mysterious development of a perfect lover's knot in the anchor chain of the Navy oiler U.S.S. Caliente. When anchor was dropped in 9 fathoms of water, the chain hung perfectly straight--but when they went to move her into dry dock, the knot made it impossible to weigh anchor.

Sailors cut the knot with torches and moved the ship on her way. The mermaids giggled, and the gremlins guffawed.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Young Lovers in Albuquerque

January 25, 1947
Albuquerque, N.M.

Actor Dean Jagger, 42, proposed to his lady friend Gloria Joan Ling, 24, a Fortune mag staffer. She said yes.

Oh, joyful day! But when the Santa Monica registry office refused to issue a marriage license due to the bride's Chinese heritage, the couple had to roam as far east as Albuquerque, where a call from director King Vidor succeeded in urging clerk May Cleghorn to stay open late to issue the Jagger-Ling license. A handy justice of the peace performed the ceremony in the lobby of the Bernalillo County Clerk's office, and the happy kids were free to return to Tinseltown, married in the eyes of God and Albuquerque, but outsiders in their home.

See Dean Jagger and Robert Mitchum in 1947's

Welcome, L.A. Times readers

It was our pleasure to host the Times' intrepid Cindy Chang on our Dahlia Day Crime Bus tour to sites macabre and fascinating. Her story is a terrific snapshot of the mood of the tour and our aims in writing the blog and dragging folks around the city.

We were thrilled to discover we could sell out two full sized tour busses with only minimal publicity on this and other blogs, and in the L.A. Alternative, and are already planning future Crime Bus and Crime Walk outings to introduce more retro gore hounds to the forgotten weirdness of our city. So sign up for the mailing list* if you'd like to be informed when reservations open for the next tour, and check out this podcast, a sampling of the Dahlia Day route. But be warned: there's a lot of humor, but it is not for the squeamish.

yours in darkest noir (with a cherry on top),

*AOL's browser does not recognize the sign up page. Please use another browser to join.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

A Woman's Home Is A Dentist's Castle

January 24, 1947
West Hollywood

Two days after Eviction Day at the fabulous Mount Kalmia Castle, fancy flophouse at 8311 Sunset Blvd., the 38 hapless lodgers of ex-Follies star "Queen" Patricia Noblesse Hogan continue to hustle for new homes. Back in February, the grand, turreted residence overlooking the Sunset Strip was sold to dentist Manuel H. Haig at auction for $83,000, but Her Majesty had nimbly ignored every order to quit the premises.

Until four days ago, that is, when the Sheriff arrived with a twelve-hour notice to vacate, which was the first any of the tenants--from the $300 a month suite men to the gals who shared the basement barracks for $85/per--heard about the sale. 29 hours after the deadline, moving vans still crawled up and down the hill like ants, bearing away segments of the Queen's $300,000 trousseau, while the tenants sat glumly on hastily-packed trunks awaiting taxi cabs to who-knew-where. And on the driveway, Tootsie Berry, Hogan's daughter, tried to calm her boxers Major and Colonel. Tootsie wasn't worried; the Queen would always land on her feet.

8311 Sunset Avenue To-day

(Since there’s so much to go on [and on] about Mt. Kalmia, check out the comments section for all the fine print.)

When I read that there was a twenty-room Norman castle fronting Sunset Boulevard, of course, I knew it was gone.


And 2006, same view...wait...could something be lurking behind that fifty-foot-high frontage of foliage?

A-HA! Mt. Kalmia lives!

But back to 1947--here are the Sherriff's knights storming Mt. Kalmia Castle, armed with their 12-hour notice, herding evictees to outside the walls:

Two of the Queen's abject subjects, Ann Phill and Bernard Epstein, getting the royal boot:

As I approached Mt. Kalmia's stately gates--

--one of those round portions opened up. A face appeared. It was a a very well-spoken, and very large, African-American gentleman who asked if there was anything he could help me with. I explained, you know, architectural, with the old houses, you see, in what must have sounded like befuddled mid-70s Woody Allen meets Jerry Lewis doing the nebbish. He considered this for a while before closing the little door.

He gave away nothing, but I knew, behind those gates...

1947project in the news

Tomorrow (Wednesday) night, Fox-11 News in Los Angeles features the 1947project Crime Bus Tour during the 10pm newscast. And on Thursday, pick up the L.A. Times Calendar section to read all about the Dahlia Day tour and the folks behind the blog and Crime Bus.

We anticipate a lot of interest in seats on future Crime Bus tours, so please remind your friends who are interested in riding to subscribe to our mailing list, so they'll be among the first to hear when a tour is announced.

yours noirishly,

...I Think I'm Sinking Down...

January 24, 1947

Future singer-songwriter, and mythologizer of a uniquely seedy '70s noir L.A., Warren Zevon is born today.

Monday, January 23, 2006

A contemporary pop interlude from the editrix

Taking a momentary break from historic gore and wackiness, I'd like to extend an invitation to SoCal readers to join me at Book Soup on the Sunset Strip on Weds., February 8, at 7pm for a reading, book signing and q&a for my 33 1/3 book "Neutral Milk Hotel's 'In The Aeroplane Over The Sea.'" This is the oral history of a fascinating and influential psychedelic rock band of the nineties who spun out of a wonderful creative community called Elephant 6.

WHAT: Kim Cooper reads from Neutral Milk Hotel band bio
WHERE: Book Soup, 8818 Sunset Blvd., WeHo CA 90069. Free lot parking.
WHEN: Weds., February 8, 2006, 7:00pm

More info.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled noir.

Florence--change the locks!

January 23, 1947

Theodore K. Oakvid, now 64, was young and spry in November 1928, when he murdered his 12-year-old daughter Sophia with a hammer, then slashed his own throat in a failed suicide attempt. The victim was found by her brother Algird in her bedroom at 7026 Flora Avenue when he went to wake her up.

When revived, Oakvid explained that he had feared for the child's sanity, and had killed her because she would have been unable to navigate the rough waters of adulthood. But Algird told police that his father had first tried to kill Sophy when she was an infant, and over the years and his many comings and goings in the family had constantly harped on the inferiority of girl children.

Alienists declared Oakvid insane and shipped him off to Mendocino and Patton State Hospitals, from which he now re-emerges, having, it is said, been cured. He told reporters that it had been 14 years since he'd seen his wife or son, and that he reckoned he'd head out to San Berdoo to look up some relatives, among them Florence Powell.

7026 Flora Avenue To-day

Oakvid feared his child was not sane. Sometimes we see too much of ourselves in our children.

Theodore Oakvid and his little Sophy:

Apparently Theo was under the thrall of Social Darwinism, but took it a little too far. Contemporary accounts note “the patient asserted he sincerely believed that only the fit should live and that his daughter was among those unfit.”

Those who take their Herbert Spencer way too seriously end up in San Bernadino:

...at the Patton State Hospital.

At some point the beautiful 1925 Bell High School enlarged itself to the south and a playing field ate up the east side of Flora.

But the field didn’t stretch all the way down to Florence Avenue, leaving this little house intact. Imagine a collection of these running up the street.

Or perhaps the Oakvid residence looked something like its one-time ‘cross the street neighbor.

Newspaper accounts place Mrs. Florence Oakvid as outside milking the cow during the time of Theodore's murderous attack. Not so many cows in the hood today.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

And you think you've got neighbor troubles!

January 22, 1947
Los Angeles

18 months ago, the tensions between Mrs. Lillian Goldberg, 1921 Garth Ave., and Mrs. Martha Kelly, of 1917, exploded. For more than a year, the families had endured mutual accusations of destroyed fences, ripped up landscaping, tossed rocks and ill-aimed hoses.

Then, under the pretense of making peace, La Goldberg asked La Kelly over to meet a prospective buyer for the Goldberg manse, and share a pot of tea... but as they walked together to 1921, according to La Kelly, La Goldberg grabbed her around the throat and chortled "I've been wanting to do this for a long time!" Soon the two women were rolling around in the flower bed. The residents of Garth Ave., by now used to such hijinx, gathered around to watch the fun.

Then from the Goldberg house emerged a man dressed like a cowboy--actually R. G. Hampton, a private detective hired to stay in the home and observe such incidents--firing a gun and demanding the fighting stop or he'd shoot the combatants! Mrs. Goldberg was arrested for disturbing the peace, with Hampton charged for firing a gun within city limits.

During court time soon after the incident, La Kelly acknowledged that she washed her sidewalk whenever La Goldberg passed over it, telling neighbors that this was a necessary chore whenever "that dirty rat" passed by. But she refused to admit to throwing rocks at the Goldberg house, and painted herself as the innocent victim. This tone continued in today's court session, as she elaborated on the tale of assault, including the allegation that Goldberg's husband David and 16-year-old daughter Norma assisted in the beating.

Mrs. Goldberg is seeking $201,000 damages for malicious prosecution, while Mrs. Kelly considers her own damages worth a comparatively paltry $200,200. The trial continues tomorrow.

L'affaire Garth Avenue

The age-old battle between the Papacy and ZOG for world domination takes many forms, this gladiatorial duel a footnote in that long and terrible struggle.

Each woman's domicile, Kelly house in the foreground.

And it was here, at the Goldberg's, where ladies battered each other, a cowboy emerged to fire his six-gun, and a flower bed was assaulted.

The vicissitudes of the wrestling match had been explicated for four days when Judge Alfred E. Paonessa termed the suit "a travesty on justice and fruitless expense to the taxpayers" before throwing both parties out of his courtroom.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Loose Lips Sink Ships

January 21, 1947
San Pedro

When Jay Dee Chitwood fell in front of a truck near 203rd Street and Western Avenue in August 1944, the coroner thought he had a simple accidental death on his table. But look closer. Cause of death: punctured lung? Hardly a typical injury for someone hit by a car.

Only nobody did look closer until today, when officers picked up Mrs. Helen Chitwood, who had been yapping to a gentleman friend about how she'd stabbed her husband twice and watched him fall into the street, and the dopey cops never noticed the knife wounds. Detectives dropped by Helen's pad at 888 1/2 Hamilton Way to ask if that's how it happened. Sure, she told them, we had a fight and it happened just like that.

Mrs. Chitwood is cooling her heels in the San Pedro Jail, and the coroner has got some 'splaining to do.

203rd and Western To-day

Those Chitwoods. Always stirring the pot. Torrance had had a two-year period of zero traffic fatalities before J. D.'s death that August day in ’44, and as a result the City Council built a decomposed granite sidewalk on the east side of Western, which had heretofore been pavement, which was just fine before the Lumia Trailer Park went up and folks started walking in the street.

And then the pot is stirred again, with some spice thrown in for good measure, when in a bar Helen lets blab that she shivved her hubby and pushed him in front of a car.

One problem though—she didn’t do it. The autopsy revealed that Chitwood’s lung was in fact punctured when crushed in the accident, and there was no evidence of a knife wound on the body, according to Police Chief J. A. Stroh. “I was drunk and didn’t know what I was saying and wanted to make my present hubby angry” revealed Helen Chitwood Schug, who was released to presumably relieved present husband Roland Schug.

In Other News II

A landfill full of splintered spindlework. Endless acres of white oak and Douglas Fir torn asunder, the bulldozer demolishing uncountable Queen Annes and Eastlakes, its unquenchable hunger for turreted towers and gabled gothic left unchecked. Midcentury Los Angeles was hot for Bunker Hill and Orange Grove Avenue and the very street you live on. The widows walk no more.

That was then, and this is now, and now, now we lose postwar LA. There’s a fight for Lincoln Place, there’ll be a fight for the Fabulous Forum, and we’ll have to shove long spiked poles into the graves of Millard Sheets and Welton Becket and Stiles Clements to cease their ceaseless spinning. Bit by bit, structure by structure, it goes. I’ve gone on about this before.

In any event, here are some simple, quiet buildings, wonderful examples of their type which, unlike press-grabbers like the Ambassador, will disappear unnoticed. They’re a lot like the ones in your neighborhood, you know, which, I might add, are probably just as threatened. Soak up old LA while you can.

Ulrich Plaut, 1949:

Architect unknown, 1959:

For the record, I lifted this info and these images from here.

Gary Schaffel hasn’t taken his Albers St. plans to the planning department yet, but he has informally cued his tenants to the impending evict & demolish scene. (Schaffel is the guy taking out the 1950 Stevens Nursery [Laurel Canyon & Riverside]. Turning that into 96 condominiums, via four-story blocks of stucco.)

We hear all about the need for affordable housing, yet Albers Street is another instance of a property owner demolishing (these are rent-controlled) in order to do away with such nuisances. The next time you hear some politico speak on the forthcoming affordable housing mandate, ask them why they don’t maintain the affordable housing they already have?

Should the Valley’s residents had an opinion on the matter—say, they preferred a bit of green space, or "neighborhood" sized buildings that contribute to a livable environment, over an endless chain of forty-foot stucco mountains—they could let the developers of the world know that it'd be appreciated if they stopped trawling around the 'hood.

Friday, January 20, 2006

The Strange End of Mr. and Mrs. Smith

January 20, 1947
Los Feliz

Everyone says Henry R. Smith, 20, was a different boy when he came home after his Navy service. Morose, nervous. Still, two months ago he was all smiles when he married Barbara Anne Chilton, 19. The newlyweds moved into Barbara's parents' home at 1612 Hillhurst. Chester Chilton is a building contractor, and Henry went to work as his assistant.

Last night the young couple was celebrating Barbara's return from a trip to San Francisco. They went out on the town with Chester, and returned to find the house thick with the smell of burning meat; a ham had been forgotten in the oven. (This would never have happened if the Mrs. were home, but she's in Detroit settling a family estate.)

Chester raced to the kitchen to deal with the mess, while Henry and Barbara retired to their bedroom. Half an hour later, a terrible boom split the evening's peace. Henry ran out into the hall, shotgun in hand, and cried "My God, Pop, kill me. I just shot Barbara!"

Chester passed his son-in-law and saw his daughter splayed out on the bedroom floor, shot through the eyes. Henry came up behind him. Chester wheeled and raced out of the house, thinking he had to call the police, get help, get away, do something...

Another shot rang out. Henry Smith had blown his brains out.

1612 Hillhurst To-day

One would suspect that the Chilton home would be gone. Who could live in a house where the terrible smell of cordite and burning meat lay heavy in the air? And as Hillhurst is mostly commercial now, I figured as such. But there, behind those vans, that Enterprise RentACar—

—that’s the Chilton home if ever there was one.

Interestingly, three weeks later one John E. Westover killed a man in a bar fight on Vermont Avenue; Westover’s address is listed as 1612 Hillhurst. Evidently the Chiltons got out and rented to whomever would take the blood-soaked home. Perhaps the house is clean now, Hank’s madness having inserted itself into Westover, with predictable results.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Held Up in Hollywood

January 19, 1947

Stepping from a restaurant at 7050 Hollywood Boulevard towards their parked car, Hollywood Roosevelt Orchestra leader Freddy Rhea, his contractor roommate David Picken and Bunny Gravert, songbird with Rhea's outfit, were robbed by a trio of trash-talkin' banditos who relieved both men of their watches and Rhea of $70 in cash and $2000 in checks. The lady escaped unmolested.

7050 Hollywood Boulevard To-day

7050 H'wood was the 1920s Gotham Delicatessen, which by 1947 had morphed into the Gotham of Hollywood Restaurant and Cocktail Lounge. They went bankrupt in '58 and it subsequently became Restaurant Sweden, fulfilling all your smorgasbord needs. It eventually fell to this character:

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

The Madwoman of South Gate

January 18, 1947
South Gate

Two years ago, when she was 20, Mrs. Elaine Chatt Shedden gave birth to her second son, Robert, and suffered a nervous breakdown. She was voluntarily committed to Camarillo State Hospital, and spent three months there. Her marriage fell apart, and Mr. Shedden moved to Chicago. Elaine and the children settled in with her parents at 9230 Virginia Ave. and for a while things weren't so bad.

Then they were. Mrs. Mabel Vanessa Winters Terwilliger, 46, lurched out into her yard, a knife wound in her back. Daughter Elaine came after her, and plunged the blade into Mabel's side. The older woman was D.O.A. on arrival at Maywood Hospital.

Elaine, weirdly calm as only the mad can be, had changed out of her bloody dress and sandals and was scrubbing her hands when Capt. T.R. Chase and Sgt. Joe Heymans arrived. Sure, she stabbed her mother. The woman had nagged her about doing the dishes, and was plotting with her brother Robert Winters to have her involuntarily committed to a state institution. "I just couldn't stand it," said Elaine.

The children witnessed the incident, and neighbors, hearing screams as Elaine chased her dying mother out of the house and 40 feet onto the drive, called police.

9230 Virginia Avenue To-day

From Nero to Ed Kemper, matricide has sadly been a male-dominated activity. Nice to see the ladyfolk making strides. Perhaps she was a role model for those nice Parker-Hulme girls.

The earth below this grass still has Mater Terwilliger’s DNA soaked thereinto, but the house, and its damned dirty dishes, has been replaced thusly:

Though apparently the developers left the garage. No dishes in there. Madness-free since 1917.

And Mrs. Shedden, she went into the peaceful, non-dish-doing confines of Camarillo.

Now the California State University Channel Islands. Though how the students get any work done with those stabbing pains from Elaine's ghost-knife is beyond me.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Memo to Burglars: Stay off Miz Jessie's Porch!

January 17, 1947
Los Angeles

Mrs. Jessie Founder, all 100 pounds and 64-years of her, betrayed bravery beyond her station when a would-be burglar was spotted on her back porch. Matthew R. Rudolph, 21, armed with a 2 x 4 and a bottle, grappled with Mr. Founder for the latter's gun, so Miz Jessie crept up behind the louse with a lead pipe and started swinging. Rudolph suffered head injuries and died hours later in the prison ward at County General.

The Founders live at 1750 E. 118th Street, ; before his head was caved in, Mr. Rudolph hung his hat at 1644 1/2 Palm Ave.

1750 E. 118th Street To-day

Our leaders may decry black-on-black violence, but they mistakenly discount diminuative pipe-wielding sexagenarian grandmothers. We’re yet to hear Glen Ford of Radio BC address that issue.

Miz Jessie’s home has fallen to the Charles Drew Univeristy of Medicine,

but here’s the house across the street, which likely represents the lost character of the street.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Abandoned Oil Fields Are Unhealthy For Children And Other Living Things

January 16, 1947
Banning Homes, San Pedro

After a lengthy search, the body of 4-year-old Bert F. Long was discovered yesterday in eight feet of water in an open sump hole in the oil field just half a mile east of the housing project where he lived with his parents and five-year-old brother.

It appears that Bert wandered out of his yard while his mother Ola May was at a dentist's appointment, and his grandmother was tending to brother Johnny, who was sick in bed. Local drugstore operator T. R. McQuigg reported seeing a child who matched Bert's description around 4pm Monday, but that was the last anyone saw of the child until two juvenile officers discovered the tiny floating corpse in the hole that had recently been drilled, but left uncovered, by oil line repairmen.

Banning Homes

"Built to last 60 years without serious major repairs, LAHA low-rent homes for war workers are permanent structures." -- Los Angeles Times, October 1942

(Channel Heights, Richard Neutra, 1941-3, demolished)

Wilmington Hall, Rancho San Pedro, Banning Homes and Channel Heights housed 11,000 defense industry workers in the Harbor area. They were, as further described, "bombproof" and "will also stand up against the ravages of earthquakes, contractors say"...that may have been, but in January 1954 Mayor Paulson applied to the Public Housing Administration for Banning's demolition. (This was the time, after all, when subsidized housing had taken on the dreadful taint of Communism...an epithet thrown at Frank Wilkinson when he worked on putting Neutra's plans for Chavez Ravine into action, and we all know how that turned out.) The Times changed its tune regarding warchitecture's permenance; regarding Banning Homes, they wrote: "The temporary dwelling structures were constructed in 1943 as shelters for war workers and provided 1597 apartment units..." Homes for seniors were considered, as was a school, so of course the property was rezoned industrial; returning a Federal property to the tax rolls was of primary importance to Vincent Thomas and his boys on the COC.

Spring, 1959:

Oh, and the Longs?

The Longs asked for $100,000. They were awarded $15,513. Standard Oil did their damndest to get out of even paying that.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Come Ride the Crime Bus - SRO!

NEWSFLASH FRIDAY 1/13 9am: We have 2 last minute openings on the Sunday 1/15 Crime Bus. These are only available to on a first come first served basis to someone who checks their email frequently and can make immediate payment by paypal ($49.74) if told that the seats are being held for them today. Preference will be given to people who want both tickets as opposed to a single. Is this you? If so, email amscray@gmail.com promptly, and await further instructions.
We now sold out for both days of January's 1947project Crime Bus tour, but if you'd like to be on a future tour, please sign up for our mailing list.

On the Crime Bus, each $24 ticket entitles you to a guided 5-hour bus tour through fascinating and forgotten Los Angeles crime, social and architectural history-- including a thorough debunking of the Black Dahlia myth machine courtesy of BD researcher Larry Harnisch-- on the weekend of the 59th anniversary of Elizabeth Short's murder. You'll also get a CD of a rare 1950 Black Dahlia radio play, and a chance to connect with fellow LA history fiends.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Thursday, January 12, 2006

The Case of the Dolt on the Bumper

January 12, 1947
Long Beach

Driving home to 1572 W. Seventh Street with his wife, Frank R. Cross heard a weird rattle in the car.

"Honey," said Frank, "You take the wheel, and I'm going to just hop up on the bumper and see if I can figure out what's going on."

"But Frank, I can't! You know I haven't driven a car in eight years!"

Frank insisted, and so they stopped, swapped, and hubby hopped up on the bumper... and promptly disappeared. Mrs. Cross heard a bump, but not a rattle, and drove on for a spell. Then she wondered if the bump might have been Frank, so she stopped--fortunately, since the bump named Frank was being dragged beneath her wheels.

Mr. Cross is in Seaside Hospital tonight with multiple injuries, his condition listed as satisfactory.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Snaring Pigeons in the Park

January 11, 1947
Santa Monica

The day began with two elderly men and a flock of pigeons, all enjoying the breeze in Ocean Park. It ended with one man in police custody and another dead on the sidewalk, a horrified widow and the pigeons frightened away. Madness, sleepy Santa Monica-style.

Harry Jacoby, 53, of 216 Ashland Ave. vehemently objected to 68-year-old watchman Charles LeRoy Bonner of 2829 1/2 Ocean Front's attempts to snare pigeons in the park. After it was all over, Bonner told police that the younger man had twice tried to start a fight over the snaring, knocking Bonner down and then smashing his glasses.

Finally, Bonner fought back, and the two men grappled across the sidewalk. They fell together, but only Bonner got up. Harry Jacoby was dead on the ground, and Charles Bonner taken into custody on suspicion of murder. Mrs. Jacoby became hysterical at the scene and had to be restrained. And above them all, the pigeons wheeled, now careless and oblivious to the tiny men below.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

She Got A Bad Wrap

January 10, 1947
Los Angeles

Sylvia Blomier, 21-year-old gift wrapping clerk in a downtown department store, was ordered held for trial in Superior Court today on five counts of forging her customers' signatures on sales receipts.

The motive: acquiring fancy duds, to the tune of $1479 retail. Judge Edwin L. Jefferson ruled that the girl be held in County Jail, as she was unable to meet a $2000 bond.

Free drinks at Black Dahlia book event, Thursday night

We direct our readers to information on an event hosted by the LA Press Club in Hollywood on Thursday, a reading and reception for Donald H. Wolfe's new book The Black Dahlia Files: The Mob, the Mogul, and Murder that Transfixed Los Angeles (Regen Books). Entrance, parking and drinks are free.

The 1947project bloggers have not yet read Mr. Wolfe's book, but our Larry Harnisch has thoroughly examined the D.A.'s files that form the heart of Wolfe's thesis. He is concerned that there are numerous inconsistancies between the files he read and Wolfe's claims (see below). Still, it sounds like an entertaining night out in Miss Short's old stomping grounds, and we invite any reader who attends to post back in the comments about their experience.

Larry says: Having been through the D.A.’s files on the Dahlia case (I inventoried and indexed every scrap of paper) I can say definitively that Bugsy Siegel, Norman Chandler, Jack Dragna and Brenda Allen are never mentioned.

In fact, the D.A.’s files say 1) Elizabeth Short was not a prostitute and 2) she wasn’t in Los Angeles in 1944 or 1945. According to the D.A.’s files and everything else I have ever found, she arrived in late July or early August 1946.

I chatted with Wolfe while he was going through the files at the D.A.’s office so I know he had the opportunity to find those documents. He apparently just ignored them.

The D.A.’s files, incidentally, aren’t some neat archive. They’re papers that were saved when the D.A. was cleaning house and were just shoveled into boxes. Material from different cases is mixed up, including unlabeled photographs from other murders that got put into the Dahlia material–at least one turns up incorrectly identified in a certain “true” crime book.

Siegel’s voluminous FBI files are online at the bureau’s FOIA site. They are heavily censored but show he was under virtually constant surveillance from at least the middle of 1946. Agents saw him (and Virginia Hill) move out of the Chateau Marmont and into the house on Linden on Jan. 14, 1947, and files say he and Hill left for Palm Springs the next day. I refer specifically to FBI document 62-81518-406 and surrounding material.

I just got the book and haven’t read it yet as I’m getting ready for the Crime Bus tour this weekend, but anything that relies on “Severed,” which is 25% mistakes and 50% fiction, cannot be trusted. I’ll put on my waders and slog through this opus when I get a chance.

Larry Harnisch

Monday, January 09, 2006

While Mom and Pop Are Away

January 9, 1947
Los Angeles

A teenage party at 4156 Rosewood Ave. went terribly wrong tonight when 15-year-old Alan Jerome Gordon was accidentally shot by Edward Eisenhart, also 15, and Gordon's closest pal. It seems Loraine Collins, 14, brought her daddy's automatic pistol to Marcia Bronstein's soiree, and handed it over to Edward. Edward went to demonstrate the safety mechanism, after removing the clip, and squeezed off one unlucky bullet. "I'm shot through the heart," cried Alan, who died.

Police were called and got to hear a fanciful tale of a mysterious prowler who'd climbed through the window, killed Alan and run off, but the truth soon came out.

The dead boy lived at 126 Magnolia Court, Compton, his best friend and killer at 5449 Virginia Ave., and wee gun moll Loraine at 516 Commonwealth Ave.

The Homes of Eisenhart and Bronstein

So Loraine Collins comes from Los Feliz into Hollywood to hand off an automatic, which magically whacks a KA from Compton. Something dirty here. Something involving a young Otis Chandler, a slumming Jean Simmons, and an avuncular Howard Jarvis.

Loraine, her crocodile tears turning evil intent into soggy relief:

Or maybe not. Maybe it's just a tragic accident. Eisenhart kills his buddy and has to live with it the rest of his life. He walked from his place here:

To go to the party here, where a heart beat strong and innocently in his pal's chest.

And those characters outside? Tragic accident or not, they're about to be set up as some “crawled through the window with a gun” killers.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Drown A Cold, Feed a Fever

January 8, 1947
Lincoln Heights

Streetcar motorman Jesse Viscarra, 33, is not one to suffer a cold lightly. Returning home to 2403 N. Broadway on his lunch break after sneezing and wheezing all morning, he told his wife that his Army buddies had always sworn by "the old reliable" when a bug struck, and he reckoned he'd do the same.

So after snorting a snootful, Viscarra returned to his route and promptly crashed into a car driven by Mrs. Olga Milosevick, of 733 Bernard Street, at the corner of College and North Broadway. Arriving officers got a whiff of Viscarra's breath and whisked him off to the Lincoln Heights drunk tank, while Viscarra moaned that he'd never had an accident before, and that the lady had turned in front of him.

Well, so what if she did? He's still admittedly guilty of California Penal Code 367F, operating a streetcar while inebriated.

College & B'way, To-day

Rrraar! Yeah, you better run.

Drunko the Streetcar-Drivin’ Man is loose.

Jesse’s place, where he delved into the medicinals:

Corner of College and Main, where a plowed Viscarra plowed into poor Olga.

For whatever reason, Little Joe’s is one of this author’s favorite buildings in Los Angeles. There’s something about that 60s Mansard/Spanish lamp/engaged arch thing…so now, I digress, because I can.

Little Joe’s grocery opened at 5th and Hewitt in 1910, moving to this location in 1923, adding the restaurant in ‘27. The neighborhood was 110% Itay at the time, ‘til Union Station displaced Chinatown and the City concocted a new one here (note the curved rooflines behind LJ's giant backlit signage). The Nuccio family, the waitresses in red, white and green outfits, the sawdust on the floor, the Piedmonte food, hung on til 1998.

Take a look while you can, folks; Little Joe’s is being demolished by the city, in cahoots with developer Larry Bond, to become a parking structure serving the forthcoming Chinesque “Blossom Plaza” mall.

(Behind Little Joe’s is the 1831 Capitol Milling complex, slated for major additions in its morph into yet another mixed-use behemoth. Since LA is lousy with major, untouched pre-Victorian structures, the bastardization of these is just no big deal.)

Saturday, January 07, 2006

The Child Army of San Pedro

January 7, 1947
San Pedro

Police have arrested eight youngsters on charges of burglary related to the brazen theft of weaponry from the Fort McArthur armory. The boys sawed through a lock and entered the building where returning troops' weapons were stored, making off with a veritable arsenal of a dozen automatic pistols, four carbines plus jungle knives, bayonets and ammo.

The thieves were discovered when they returned to the area to dig up their plunder, which they had hidden for later pick up.

Friday, January 06, 2006


January 6, 1947

The four boys who rented ponies for an hour's canter from the Rocking Horse Stables at 470 Riverside Dr. seemed like nice kids to manager Roy Brown, but a day after they saddled up he's yet to see the front of 'em. The names and addresses they left were false--one is a Van Nuys funeral parlor--and Brown can offer few clues save that one of the quartet walked with crutches. With the horses and their gear, Brown is out $6000--an expensive lesson in the low moral character of the youth of 1947.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

The Hun in Hollywood

January 5, 1947

The Nazis were afoot tonight, making yet another assault on the walls of the Temple Beth El synagogue at 1508 N. Wilton Place. Alert Hun-hunters will recall that the edifice was streaked with oil in a 1937 incident, and defaced with swastikas and graffiti reading "Heil Hitler" and "Viva Il Duce" the following year.

The modern anti-Semite works quicker, and in potentially more deadly fashion. Witnesses told investigating officers that a man pulled his car in front of the Temple and fired 14 rifle shots into the front door, then sped off. Bullets were later recovered from the back wall of the building.

Temple Beth El To-day

You’d think after the whole Holocaust thing, you’d cut us a little slack there fella. (My grandparents went to Auschwitz and all I got was this lousy nation of Israel.)

You know, we had real Judeophobes then. Henry Ford! Charles Lindbergh! Walt Disney! Patton! And we've got who, now, the French? Puh-leeze.
And in '47 there were no namby-pamby Abramoff scandals; there were real Jews to hate and fear. Walter Rothschild. Henry Morgenthau. Bernard Baruch. Kirk Douglas.

Maybe Mr. Bang-Bang is upset about the whole Communism thing (conveniently ignorning the Yevsektsiya purges). Course, Communism didn’t work out so well...but wait’l the Hebrews get ahold of the Civil Rights movement...that will give ol’ sharpshooter a kick in the nutzies!

Anyway...Hollywood Beth El was founded in 1920, the Wilton temple consecrated in 1923. After having gone through the tagging and the oiling and now this rifle business, they busted a move and were in a brand new modern building on Crescent Heights by the High Holy Days of 1952.

The Wilton Place structure stands:

Although there’s no evidence of past unpleasantries.

It is also, uh, no longer a synagogue.