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.

1 comment:

Larry said...

An End, and a Beginning

As I box up the files of 1947 Project research, I’m reminded once again of what a wonderful, tragic, crazy year it was: UFOs; the death of golfer Bill Tilden; Patsy Pfeifer, the Polio Girl; the theft of Buick hood ornaments to make bracelets; Arnold Schoenberg writing “A Survivor From Warsaw” and Igor Stravinsky composing “The Rake’s Progress.’

I especially think of the photo of a Civil War veteran watching television, and a pet food company offering a horoscope for dogs. And all the bloodshed in the Middle East.

The research allowed me to make a personal connection with my Times colleagues of another era: Tim Turner, John McGroarty, Lee Shippey and even Kyle Palmer and allowed me to discover writers like Jim Tully. I tried to hit everything at least once, from the chess column to sports, the bridal announcements, religion page, the comics, the crossword puzzle and even the want ads. (Tom Mix glow in the dark spurs? Who knew?)

In the same way, I tried to make sure that however you describe yourself, you would find something familiar: whatever ethnic background, religious faith, straight or gay, young or old—something would resonate with each reader.

It was particularly gratifying to be able to help the relatives of some of the people we discussed. I think we heard from at least half a dozen people who were related to either a crime victim, a criminal and in one case a relative of a test pilot who gave his life by guiding his disabled plane to the ground so it wouldn’t crash in a populated area.

Most of all, I gained a couple of very cool friends in the 1947 Project: Kim Cooper and Nathan Marsak. They are wonderful folks.

I said I was cleaning out the file drawer (my gosh, two boxes?) and I am—to make way for what comes next. All will be revealed in a few days. I think all three of us, Kim, Nathan and I, are very excited about the future of the 1947 Project, which, of course, is the past.

My goal in all of this has been simple: To dispel as much as humanly possible the folk wisdom that the past was a simpler, less complicated time. I don’t think anybody can read the 1947 Project and come away with the idea that people living in Los Angeles in 1947 had an easy time of it. They grappled with some of the same issues we are dealing with today in Los Angeles: Public safety, transportation, education, growth, water and where do we keep putting our trash? Maybe we wouldn’t make the same choices as they did then, but people who allow the Ambassador Hotel to be torn down have no right to feel superior to anybody.

All things considered, it was an incomparable education in the 1940s and about Los Angeles. I wouldn’t trade it for anything and can’t wait to get going on… you’ll just have to wait for it!

Larry Harnisch

Oh hell, I didn’t get around to writing about the chinchilla farms in Inglewood. I knew I forgot something!

www.lmharnisch.com
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