North East LA
February 3, 1927
It was another olla podrida fulla banditry in Los Angeles, which bubbled over and burned something fierce at El Molino and Ninth when a gent approached Frank Merlo, robbed him of $50 ($551 USD2006) cash and forced him to swap clothing.
Elsewhere, a truck containing $4,000 worth of cigars and tobacco, parked in front of the Glaser Brother’s establishment at 1028 Wall Street, just up and disappeared; a burglar capable of squeezing through a window not more than seven inches wide entered the Wrede Drug Company at 1327 Fairfax and made off with $200; persons unknown jimmied a rear door of Brunswig Drug at 4922 Santa Monica and btained $500 worth of cigarettes and delicious narcotics.
In residential news, Mrs. Elba Burdick was lightened of $1,000 worth of clothing, rugs and pesky jewelry that were cluttering up her place at 232 Carmelina Avenue; Nathan Lack now lacks one $600 diamond stickpin, formerly in residence at 831 South Harvard; Torato Nishlo was relieved of $500 in jewelry from 925 Hemlock; Dr. H. C. Hill of 806 Golden, also relieved of $500 in jewelry; Nathan Berger, of 2010 Brooklyn Avenue, also relieved of $500 in jewelry; and loot valued at less than $300 was pilfered from a dozen other residences, according to police reports.
Daylight is a good time to work as well—Sam Stone got his register rifled while looking the other way, Stone Furniture Company, 2711 Brooklyn Avenue.
But fret not people of Los Angeles! The bulls have pinched (another) gang of li’luns, ages 15 to 18, who now make the Alhambra pokey their new clubhouse. Their leader was busting into the home of an F. R. Lee on North Wilson when popped, and quickly gave up his younger cohorts—they of reputable local families—and location of purloined rugs, cameras, revolvers, and the black masks (cute—last year) they wore during their heists. The youth of these masked marauders may account for the ability to slip through Wrede Drug's tiny window. Unless it was those fabled fascistic interwar little people.
December 14, 1927
The holiday is nearly upon us, and all across the city, citizens are Christmas mad. The Pacific Electric Hollywood car stalled, halfway through the First Street tunnel, and when the wire fell down and sent sparks arcing across the darkened windows, scads of package-laden shoppers panicked and stampeded, despite attempts by train staff to calm them. Several passengers suffered bruised knees, ankles and backs.
There's naught but sadness at 4528 Amber Place, where the John Vernon Rosses mourn the death of their only child, John Vernon, Jr., aged 4. Mother was working days and father nights in downtown shops, to save enough to give the tyke his best Christmas ever, while a neighbor, Mrs. J.W. Loyal of 4600 Topaz Street watched the babe. When mother called for him around 1pm, he was dead in his cot, victim of some mysterious internal hemorrhage. An autopsy was ordered, but if any cause of death was found, it was never reported in the papers.
And down on Wilton Place, the Parker Twins, Marion and Marjorie, whisper together about what to give their father Perry for his birthday tomorrow. They cannot know that tomorrow Marion will be kidnapped from her school by The Fox, and that despite the ransom Perry pays, she will never come home again.
October 25, 1927
Orville Clampitt cannot, it seems, stay out of trouble. First there was that business last year with the euphoniously-named Miss Lucille Swallow out Kansas way, and the San Francisco court martial the then-Army Chaplain (and "Beau Brummel of the Presidio") endured over accusations of "objectionable conduct" in violation of three of the articles of war. These charges were brought by the lady after she discovered that Clampitt, who was otherwise a delightful companion, was married with a quartet of kids.
"I forget when I first met Capt. Clampitt," Miss Swallow told reporters after eluding Army minders, "But he was awfully nice. He used to take me out for walks and to picture shows and to dinners. The question as to whether he was married never came up."
During the court martial, Miss Swallow produced love notes from the accused, and there was testimony that he had deliberately disguised his handwriting. But then several surprise witnesses appeared to claim Miss Swallow was "out to get" Mr. Clampitt because he'd refused her demands for money, and he was found not guilty.
He promptly retired to Santa Cruz, where he registered as "William Jones" in a hotel where a "Mrs. Jones" was also staying. It was bad publicity over this indiscrete act that resulted in Clampitt being dismissed from Army service, and the offer of a $50,000 motion picture contract for himself and his photogenic horse Red Head.
But no, said Clampitt, he wished only to return to Vancouver, where his wife and children waited. That was April. And today, he was picked up by Culver City police, following the arrest of boy burglar Spencer Farley, discovered in the act of looting the Schwartzkoph manse at 1725 Gardena Street, Glendale.
Farley told officers that his home address was Orville Clampitt's car, in front of Clampitt's home at 215[?] Silver Ridge Avenue, and that he was stealing so he could give gifts to Clampitt's 13-year-old daughter. It seems the whole family has relocated, in hopes of starting a new life. Clampitt stated he'd been hired as actor John Gilbert's double, a claim denied by Gilbert's studio.
When questioned, Clampitt admitted he was allowing Farley, 15, to live in his car, because the boy claimed his mother threw wild parties and refused to let him sleep at home. While he thought it weird that Farley wouldn't tell him where he lived, he was sympathetic to the boy's plight... at least until he discovered that the kid was taking his car out at night! Stolen golf clubs and various trinkets were seized from the Silver Ridge address.
Clampitt will be released tomorrow when it's determined he knew nothing of Farley's thefts. Henceforth he disappears from the public record save for an April 1929 theater review of his cameo in Edward Horton's play "The Hottentot," at the Majestic Theater. Red Head the horse had a leading role as the comic foil to Sam Harrington, who masquerades as the famous jockey who shares his name, and eventually must ride the fearsome Hottentot in a race. After each show, crowds gathered on Broadway to watch Clampitt ride Red Head, now mild as a merry-go-round pony, away from the theater and, we hope, home to his wife and kids.
September 3, 1927
If you’re planning to escape the heat this Labor Day by going boating on Lake Arrowhead, don’t forget to take along your radio!
Nick Santangelo saw my post about the historic cobblestones exposed when Lincoln Heights was getting its roads repaved, and wanted to share photos of some of the brick streets and gutters in Highland Park and near Union Station. Some of these have already been covered over by insensitive city workers.
Nick says: The brick gutters on Avenues 41 and 45 (on North Figueroa) reminded me of Kim's post. I have tried to get public works to stop paving over them as they are unique and historic but have not had any luck. I even sent some pics to the Highland Park Historical people but I never got a response. The new Homeboy Industries building near Phillipes sits next to a cobblestone street (Bruno, I think).
Sure, on a well travelled street it's probably unreasonable to ask that archaic building materials bear the brunt of multi-ton SUVs... but can't we somehow save the brick gutters in places where they're still holding up so nicely?
She was 52, a mother and grandmother, a vendor of tamales. She lived quietly on the east side of the L.A. River, in an ugly stucco apartment house with concrete all around. Then one Sunday night, as she came home after delivering an order of tamales, she was attacked in the street, stabbed twice and left to die just steps from her home. She was found quickly, but it was too late for any aid. Doña Rosa died, and no one but the killer knew who had done it, or why. Oh, there were rumors, there always are, but for most people on her street, life went on just as it had, just without Doña Rosa's tasty tamales or her soft smile.
This is not a story from 1927. "Doña" Rosa Cruz, wife of Joel Mejía, mother of Nancy, native of El Salvador, was murdered in Lincoln Heights on Sunday, July 22. As of today, this crime has received no coverage in the English language newspapers or broadcast media. It has not appeared on the LA Times' Homicide Report Blog. Detectives were in the neighborhood yesterday, asking questions and looking for an answer. And on the corner of Albion and Avenue 20, the people who loved Doña Rosa continue to gather, bringing fresh flowers and seeking comfort in community, on the open sidewalk where she walked on that last night.
On this blog we remember the forgotten dead from long ago, people who came to Los Angeles and found, not whatever improved life they were seeking, but too often an anonymous or notorious death. We should never forget that these people left families and loved ones, and that these crimes resonate in large ripples out over the decades, in those who knew the victim and far beyond. RIP Doña Rosa, and we hope peace can be found by those who loved her.
Frankie the Fire Goat is on Myspace now, and he would love to make friends with you.
Frankie is feeling awfully proud, since he was on the Channel 7 news live tonight (with his all-showgirl fan club, the fabulous Ashettes) from the Griffith Park community meeting discussing the future of the park post-fire. He very much hopes that future will involve he and his herd munching lots of dry brush so it doesn't get a chance to catch on fire. He got to meet Councilmen Eric Garcetti and Tom LaBonge and encouraged them both to seriously consider looking into creating a managed goat grazing plan for Griffith Park and the rest of L.A.'s wild spaces. If you agree, please sign Frankie's petition and then contact them yourself and ask that they set up a meeting soon to discuss the role goats can play in protecting our parks.
He's really a lovely goat, and his is a good cause. It was a real treat to spend the afternoon with him and see how people, especially kids, responded to his gentle ways and seemingly bottomless hunger. Thanks to Sarah and Hugh from Nanny & Billy's Vegetative Management for taking Frankie off the Getty chomping crew for this public appearance, the lovely Ashettes La Cholita and Paula Baby, the informed and passionate Judy Cairns from Peck Park Goats, Elsa Ramon from Channel 7 for giving so much time to this story, and all the nice folks who came over to meet Frankie and learn more about goats as fire fighters.
We want goats!
Now that the ash from the Griffith Park and Catalina firestorms has settled, citizens want to know what local governments plan do to protect our precious parks from more devastating fires. One solution that's been proposed is simple, inexpensive and ecological: hire herds of trained fire goats to eat the dry brush before it has a chance to burn. The online Fire Goats Petition has been signed by more than 900 people and featured on KABC news, KFI's John and Ken Show, KFWB, KTLK, LA CityBeat and LAObserved.
On Wednesday evening, May 23, community members come together at a Griffith Park Community Meeting called by Councilman Tom LaBonge to discuss the future of the park post-fire and to salute the brave LAFD Officers who served on the fire line. Refreshments will be served. The meeting starts at 6pm, but outside the venue at 5:30pm, members of the public and media will have a chance to learn more about the Fire Goats from a very special group of humans and animals.
Frankie the Fire Goat, animal ambassador for fire safety, will be on hand in his cute little fire hat to pose for photos solo and with his members of his beautiful showgirl fan club, The Ashettes. Also attending is Frankie's shepherdess, Sarah Bunten of Nanny and Billy's Vegetative Management, to answer questions about her nine years experience clearing brush with managed herds, including her current work for the Getty Museum. Kim Cooper, author of the Fire Goat Petition will be present, as will Judy Cairns from Peck Park Goats, a citizens group dedicated to retaining Sarah's herd year-round at San Pedro's Peck Park, where they would be part of an urban farm youth educational program when not clearing brush at other SoCal sites.
Managed grazing by hired herds might sound like an oddball idea, but it's been enthusiastically embraced in Northern California, which has spent the past 16 years since the deadly 1991 Oakland Hills Conflagration largely fire-free, in stark contrast to flame-swept SoCal. Why are goats the best choice to clear deadly dry brush from our hills and canyons? SAVINGS: acre-for-acre, the cost for a goat herd to clear land is about half the cost of human brush clearing, and goats aren't just immune to poison oak, they eat it! EFFICIENCY: a herd of 350 goats can clear an acre in a day, leaving the grass cropped down to putting green height and dangerous dry brush eliminated. Plus they can get into areas that humans can't safely reach. ENVIRONMENT: unlike gasoline-powered brush clearing tools, goats are quiet and nearly carbon-neutral, and they fertilize the land as they work. CHARISMA: goats are so cute, they're a perfect advertisement for fire safety, an issue we all need to be more aware of.
Please come out Wednesday to learn more about this innovative fire fighting technique, discuss the future of Griffith Park and give a big thank you to the fire fighters who did such a wonderful job two weeks ago.
Location: Friendship Auditorium, 3201 Riverside Drive, LA 90027
Time: Weds 5/23 at 5:30pm (Fire Goat meet and greet); 6pm (Community Meeting)
Frankie is looking forward to meeting you!
Frankie the Fire Goat is on Myspace... be his friend?
Please click here to sign our petition demanding fire-fighting goats to protect our city! Please note, protest signatures will not appear or be counted. (Below, Channel 7's Elsa Ramon with Frankie the Fire Goat)
The citizens of Los Angeles are deeply concerned after serious wildfires in the Griffith Park and Hollywood Hills have destroyed vast swaths of urban wilderness and killed or displaced thousands of animals during their breeding season.
These fires feed upon unchecked dry undergrowth, and endanger lives, homes, historic monuments and our enjoyment of the city. It will take decades before Griffith Park is restored to its pre-fire condition.
We the undersigned demand that the City of Los Angeles and the L.A. Department of Recreation and Parks respond to this continued threat by bringing in shepherds with herds of goats to graze on the dry hills, a plan previously implemented with great success by UC Berkeley in the aftermath of that community's devastating 1991 fire.
Goats are economical, ecological fire-fighting machines that produce fertilizer as they clear hills and canyons of weeds, poison oak and dry chaparral. Additionally, the animals are charming, newsworthy ambassadors for fire safety, a subject that needs to be more widely discussed.
We want to save our parks and mountains. We want goats!
Please click here to sign our petition demanding fire-fighting goats to protect our city! Please note, protest signatures will not appear or be counted.
April 12, 1927
Ah, Spring! The time when a man's thoughts turn to trading in his bride for a younger model, and a woman considers murder. Let's see what's happening in the family courts today.
Juanita Fletcher Crosland was granted a divorce from her film director hubby (Frederic) Alan Crosland (The Jazz Singer) on grounds of cruelty and intemperance--she claimed he would stay out until 4am for weeks at a time, and then scream vile, drunken epithets on his return. The couple married in 1917, and resided at 626 North Palm Drive, Beverly Hills. Frederic is keeping the Palm Drive home and a car, while Juanita walks with $500/week alimony, property in Westchester N.Y. and a promise that Frederic Junior's college bills will be paid. (Gaze into the crystal to see where Alan Crosland is today.)
Helen Griffith has been freed of her Oran after telling Judge Summerfield that Oran's language was so foul, the neighborhood ladies slammed their windows and pulled their children inside when he was strolling, and sometimes called the cops.
And in Highland Park, Judson Studios patriarch William Lees Judson, 84, sought to be severed from Ruth Seffern (or Suffern) Judson, described in court as a virago who rented rooms in the family manse to liquor sellers, and who was so abusive to William's students that he was compelled to shut his College of Fine Arts (part of the University of Southern California, founded in 1901). William, who came to California for his health in 1893, would die in October 1928 in his Highland Park Studio, which continues to be run as a family stained glass operation and art gallery today.
(See update below)
How pleased I was, during Sunset Junction week in late August, when the L.A. Alternative published an issue of their free weekly featuring my three-page pull-out crime map detailing the historic oddities and horrors of the Sunset Junction neighborhood. I heard from folks who attended the street fair that it was a big hit, with people walking around checking addresses and shuddering. (The Sunset Junction story can now only be seen right here at 1947project.)
A month after my story came out, publisher Martin Albornoz announced the paper was folding, but that he hoped to continue publishing online. Although at this point I was wondering where my payment was, I still dashed off a friendly email telling Martin that my husband Richard and I would be happy to meet with him and give him some ideas about how to pull this off, as we believed he and his writers had a lot to offer the community. He never replied.
Nor did Martin reply to my repeated emails, as the weeks ticked away with no sign of the $250 payment for the feature. I sent a certified letter demanding the money, which went uncollected. So I finally phoned and left a message, which resulted in the following email on November 27:
Yes, I am aware that you stopped publishing. In fact, you may recall
that I emailed you offering to advise you about your online options,
but received no reply.
Nonetheless, I wrote a story several months prior to the LAA closing,
and am owed $250 for it. I would appreciate your putting me high on
the list of people to be paid. I will extend the courtesy of
additional three weeks to you before pursuing other options. Please
ensure I receive payment by December 18.
I heard from Michele that Lesley thinks she remembers sending me a
check. So it is possible that you have already tried to pay me and the
check was lost in the mail. I would appreciate your checking on this,
and recutting the check if that is the case.
I would also appreciate it if you would mail me a stack of copies of
the issue with my cover story. Bulk rate is fine.
Thanks, and best regards,
It has been three weeks since I last heard that "in a few weeks" you
would be writing checks, and there has been no sign of payment for my
cover story, nor of the copies of that issue that I asked for.
Are you prepared to make good on this debt now, or must I go forward
with the plan for publicizing the non-payment and filing in small
claims court that I spelled out previously [in the certified letter that I later emailed to Martin]?
Please spare us both any additional bother and awkwardness and send me
$250 now, or let me know exactly when you will be doing so. I am
willing to work with you, but not to wait indefinitely for payment,
especially if you don't keep me informed of the situation.
Why is it that the only way I can get you to communicate with me is to
send out a mass email and post on my blog? You have had several weeks
in which to respond to my polite request for information on when I
would be paid, and you've ignored me. You never mentioned bankruptcy.
You actually said you would be sending checks out within several
weeks, which did not happen, so I emailed you again, waited two days,
and then went public.
I'm very appreciative of the support of the local press for the
1947project, and am always willing to give time and assistance to
reporters who have questions. But I worked for two weeks writing and
researching a huge story for your paper, which is something very
I wish you only the best, and hope that you will see fit to honor your
promise to pay for this story. And it would be quite a nice gesture of
goodwill if you were to send me those extra copies of my feature that
I have asked you for several times.
I will update the blog entry with any good news you can send, which
should be an added incentive to you to do the right thing.
May 14, 1907
Yesterday's claim by young Merrill "William" McCormick that his mother Janette had been falsely dragged off to the bughouse as part of an elaborate interfamilial inheritance scam has been roundly denied by Arthur Randall, real estate man and the owner of the home on Avenue 66 from which the lady was seized.
Randall not only refutes any cousinship to the unhappy Mrs. McCormick, but insists that she is no heiress, but rather a con-woman with a long history of defrauding innkeepers and imposing upon the kindness of friends.
Mrs. McCormick is described as about 45, and handsome woman and a good talker, who is estranged from her family and separated from her husband. She was a cousin to the deceased husband of Randall's sister, Mrs. H.K. Pratt, who lives next door to her brother and their sister Mrs. Mabel Bennett. Out of consideration for that slim tie, McCormick and her son were recently welcomed into the Bennett-Randall manse when her habit of masquerading as a woman of means in order to secure fancy hotel lodgings for which she could not pay reached its inevitable conclusion.
But after a few days residence, McCormick's odd, oftimes abusive behavior became distressing to the siblings. They believed her to be insane, and while sympathetic, demanded that she find alternate lodgings. She responded with a threat upon Randall's life, so he swore out a warrant for her arrest. The lady ran away ahead of the Sheriff, but returned to break a window, whereupon she was captured.
Randall expressed concern for 15-year-old Merrill, a strong boy who ought to be working rather than following his mad mama from hotel to hotel, absorbing her weird fantasies and parroting them back at police officers. Randall offered to help the boy, but Merrill refused, insisting he would stay with friends and fight for his mother's freedom and the vast fortune of which she was being deprived.
May 13, 1907
15-year-old William McCormick visited the police to make a panicked plea for the salvation of his mother Janette, removed yesteday from 228 South Avenue 66 to the lunatics' ward of the County Hospital. His mother is, William swears, quite sane, and her confinement the result of a family plot to steal her inheritance.
Mrs. McCormick is the primary beneficiary of a million dollar estate based in Denver, although much of the family lives on the west coast, including cousin Arthur Randall, in whose home the McCormicks had been staying.
Although no warrant for the woman's arrest was ever produced, Superintendant Barber of the County Hospital accepted the word of the deputy sherrifs who brought the shrieking woman into his ward that such a warrant was in the hands of the Sheriff, and he refuses to release his captive until the case is investigated today.
Young McCormick explains, "After the death of my grandmother, mother and I came to the Coast. When our relatives learned that the greater portion of the property was left to mother and me, they began to plot. While we were in San Diego, Mrs. Belle M. Auston, who now lives in Black River Falls, Wis, and is my aunt, tried to kidnap me and was unsuccessful."
After this shock, the pair moved on to stay with a lady cousin in Ocean Park, then moved in with cousin Arthur. "He is the one who is making this trouble for mother. She is sane and has never been troubled with any symptoms of insanity. I believe that my uncles N.M. Phelps and A.D. Merrill of Denver have hired Randall to try to get mother in an asylum, so as to get her fortune! Phelps was left only $5000 by my grandmother's will and Merrill was not mentioned. I am not very old, but I don't want to see them harm mother."
The police sargeant told the youngster to contact the District Attorney.