Locust Avenue To-day

Commenter Larry is correct in his dissection (eh hem) of the Short-Trelstad dissimilarities. However, there is only tenuous evidence linking Hodel to New Coke. He did, however, utilize MK-ULTRA to convince Angelenos to abandon our electric rail system, and later conspired with Neil Bush and Jaleel White to loot America’s S&Ls.

The question remains, though, had there not been a Black Dahila, would Trelstad have been murdered? Can and should Mary Tate, Jean French, Evelyn Winters, Rosenda Mondragon, Dorothy Montgomery and Trelstad be discussed under the rubric of “copycat killings?”

The death of Laura Trelstad, and the site today:

Derricks have disappeared from our landscape, save for the one constructed atop Oil Patch Liquor in Signal Hill. A mere handful remain in America, in central Texas and southern Oklahoma. (Should anyone know of extant Californian derricks, please contact us.) Derricks have since been replaced by the beam pumping unit:

aka the walking beam pumper, the grasshopper, the horsehead; these can pump out low-pressure wells for decades.

Despite grilling some subsequent attackers-of-women, Trelstad’s murderer was never found. Neither was her shoe, which of course raises another question: white before Memorial Day?

Fight With Police Jails Diana Barrymore, Mate

May 11, 1947
Louisville, KY

If John Robert Howard can’t make his young bride Diana Barrymore behave, why should he think that Louisville’s police can control her? Howard was also in rude form, early this morning, when officers found the couple honking their car horn at an intersection. Patrolmen John Shepherd and Walker Zettooh stopped to ask what the trouble was, and the car sped off, stopping at the next corner.

The officers followed, but found the Howards unwilling to enter into a dialogue. That’s when, if you believe the Howards, officers “knocked down” the lady and hit her husband “with a club.” Police counter that the couple verbally insulted the officers, while an unidentified companion sought to calm them. Diana slapped at the officers, so they started to put her in their patrol car, at which point John protested and in the ensuing scuffle was slapped by Zettwooh.

Released from County Jail today on $100 cash bond each after a three hour visit, the young marrieds returned to their quarters at the Louisville Boat Club, where Mr. Howard was recently hired as the tennis pro.

Diana, Goddess of the Highball

Oh, the alcoholic. The only thing more predictable than the alcoholic is the child of an alcoholic. Resistance is futile. Maybe it’s your juice-damaged genes. Maybe it’s that, after a childhood of abuse and emotional neglect, you just need to share that special feeling with others. Nature or nurture, the events of your life are as precisely mapped as moves on the GAOTU’s tessellated historyboard.

Diana “Too Much Too Soon” Barrymore was no exception. John Barrymore was a kind and caring father, when he wasn’t drunk, which wasn’t often. After he died in ’42 Diana became an actor and an alkie just like daddy. By ’47, after a series of minor film roles, she was off on an alcoholiday with husband number two of her three failed marriages, brawling and slapping cops and generally putting the fun in functional alcoholic, just baby steps on her path to sanitariums and suicide attempts.

The Happy Couple, under arrest:

Diana pens TMTS and sees it made into a feature in ’58; its most truthful element being Errol Flynn cast as boozehound John Barrymore (the bottle killed Flynn a year later). Despite the picture’s Hollywood ending-she’s on the road to recovery!-Diana finally offs herself in 1960 at age 38. When life hands you a lemon, make lemonade. And put plenty of gin in it. And use it to wash down all the sleeping pills in your medicine cabinet.

“What the hell would I want with a dozen gladioli when I could have four roses?”

(Yes, Diana was the sister of John Jr., the rageful child-beating drunk who whupped Drew “Little Girl Lost” Barrymore as a toddler. Drew became a preteen addict, but has thankfully since fallen under the sway of a famous womanizing, stock-swindling, acid-dropping midcentury occultist mysteriously named “Bill W.”)

The Housing Crunch

10 May was a slow news day for crime. But as I put my feet up and vainly perused the paper for evidence of murder and mayhem, an item about a new house caught my eye. Here in 1947, where building costs are high and the housing shortage acute, veteran Clement Cointe has decided to build a miniature dream house, to live in until such time as he can enlarge.

Enlisting architects Harold Bissner and Harold Zook, they’ve come up with a 700sf one-room house with a magnificently modern wall of glass (please note how unobtrusively it fits into the landscape):

Their one room is all-purpose, with closets that open to reveal built in linen and dish storage, card table, bar, coat closet and radio-phonograph. The Harolds included built in bookshelves and desk. The bedroom area-couches of grey upholstery with Mexican cow pony pillows-can be partitioned off with an accordion wall. The whitewashed fireplace in the wall of rough-sawed redwood stakes is a nice touch.

Oh, hell. Since I’ve brought up the housing shortage, I might as well touch on one of LA’s juicier housing stories: in the late 40s the City Housing Authority, its coffers full of federal lucre, pulls an eminent domain on the people of Chavez Ravine. Out come the bulldozers, which level the barrio community. Don’t worry, says the Authority, we’re building you a 3,300 unit high-rise housing project, and you’ll all get first pick of the brand new units! (And it’s designed by Richard-Freakin’-Neutra no less!)

But uh-oh, here comes the Committee Against Socialist Housing. And here comes HUAC hot on their heels. In 1953 new mayor Poulson kills the whole deal, including the resident’s Right of Return. ‘Round about that time O’Malley couldn’t connive an Ebbets Field replacement out of the borough of Brooklyn, so he went fishing in LA, and found a sweetheart deal if ever there was one. You know the rest. Go Dodger Blue.

Not that I don’t love Captain Emil Praeger’s park-the early 60s stadium is replete with atom-age flourishes-but I hope no-one goes there without recalling this image:

Sheriff’s deputies forcibly evicting Aurora “They’ll Have to Carry Me” Vargas from the Arechiga home; bulldozers razed the structure moments later.

Fugitive Blimp Brought Down After Wild Chase

May 9, 1947
Los Angeles

For several weeks, Harry Hasley has been minding the barrage balloon that floated 300 feet over the Pan-Pacific Auditorium bearing an ad for the current show. It was quiet work, sleepy really… until tonight. The balloon broke free of its nylon tether and while Harry watched helplessly, floated off on the northwest wind.

Numerous city agencies, including the LAPD, Sheriff and Airway Traffic Control began nervously monitoring the blimp’s unpredictable progress, concerned that it might stray into the airspace of Los Angeles Municipal Airport.

When the errant bubble finally bobbed to earth, it was spotted by Sheriff’s Deputies William O’Keefe and Kennth Hancock, who caught up with it at 105th Street and Wilmington, in the Firestone Park district. By the time Harry Hasley arrived, the deputies had released the remaining helium and folded the runaway gasbag for the trip back to the Pan-Pacific.

Zeppelin Attack!

Well, not really. This wasn’t a rigid-framed dirigible airship like Count Ferdinand’s England-bombing namesakes, this was just a gasbag on a journey of freedom, terrible freedom, seeking to join its brethren at Mines Field. Perhaps LA’s curious onlooker recalled the 9,000 incendiary balloons sent to America by the Japanese-though those only managed to kill six picnickers in Oregon, proving again that picnicking is a dangerous activity.

Barrage balloons were part of our air defense system, designed to thwart bombings and low-level air attacks. This one was probably Air Corps surplus, discard of a War Won, finding new use in peacetime America (like the friendly antiaircraft shell, plaything of children; see entry of April 26).

Wife Says Mate, Booked, Threw Knife At Child

May 8, 1947
Los Angeles

It is commonly believed that a wife is supposed to support her husband’s aspirations. 23-year-old Charles F. Coulter was a mechanic who sought to develop his knife-throwing skills–by throwing knives at baby Danny’s high-chair–while baby Danny was strapped in.

Quite an act, and on the first go-round the kid didn’t get a scratch, but that didn’t appease Charles’ grandmother Mrs. S. Nelson or his wife Evelyn, who sought to restrain the would-be carney. In the ensuing fracas, grandma took a tumble. Amidst much screaming, sheriffs came. They booked Charles on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, and so ended a promising career.

677 South Arizona To-day

After a long trek across miles of stucco and security bars, I finally came to the Coulter residence. Could I be hallucinating? A nice side-gable with Doric-columned entry porch. Original board wall cladding and double-hung wood sash windows, bracketed eaves-I considered chatting up the elderly rose-tending gentleman out front, but elected not to when I realized it could in fact be Charles Coulter. And you never know when someone is going to practice the ol’ knife-throwing routine. Explains his needing no security bars.

Shots At Family Laid to Husband

May 7, 1947
Bell Gardens

Miss Ruby Arnold is just a no-good meddler! Why, if J.D. Pullian, 28-year-old cabbie residing at 6000 Fostoria St., wanted to terrorize wife Marguerite, 24, and little Alene, 7, Corrine, 6, and Louise, 4–well, it was his family and he could damn well do what he pleased!

Marguerite knew better than to make a fuss, even after he blackened her eye two nights ago, beat her up again last night, and punctuated it with a blast from his double-barrel 12-gauge shotgun at the wall over the bed in the front room where the Pullian females were cowering.

This morning after Alene went to school, J.D. locks the littlest ones out of the house so he can get some shut-eye. Next thing you know it’s noon, and that Arnold woman who rents the trailer in back has called the cops! Deputies search the house and find the shotgun (and some missing plaster), along with an icepick in Pullian’s pocket. Marguerite told everything once they got her down to the Sheriff’s East L.A. substation. Phooey, J.D. insisted. They just had a little spat, that’s all, and he’d merely shoved his wife. Well, the charge is felony wife beating, and J.D. Pullian remains in the County Jail today.

6000 Fostoria To-day

Your average house. Balloon frame. Stucco. Low hipped roof. Patched-up shotgun blast holes. Textbook stuff.

Before the War, Bell Gardens was known as “Billy Goat Acres,” due to the large number of Okies that’d settled there. The goats and Okies have disappeared into the ether, but the area maintains a certain midcentury quality, especially as-in contrast to this “graying of America” business-the median age of the 45,000 souls who inhabit Bell Gardens is twenty-three.

Plus they still have lots of children and lots of shotguns.