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: (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

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,

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 with any questions.

1947project is moving house on Tuesday 3/14

Henceforth you will find us at our own URL,

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 over the
weekend... some clues might be dropped.

yours faithfully,

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

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


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

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.