Murder, Suicide of Couple Seen

May 6, 1947
Los Angeles

The Dorsey house, 6042 Romaine Ave. Usually so quiet, but not today. The dog just barked and barked, and no one came out to walk him. A neighbor finally called the police, who were maybe already wondering why 67-year-old William Dorsey, employee of their traffic division, hadn’t come in to work. Inside they found the reasons: 65-year-old Bernadine, shot through the back of the head as she sat knitting in the front room; William slumped on the divan; the revolver where it fell. Colleagues told the usual tale of longtime ill health and general despondency. One hopes they found a home for the dog.

6042 Romaine To-day

The Dorsey home on Romaine is no more. Whatever it was, it probably soaked up too much spatter to ever be truly clean. In its place:

A sort of dingbat, though not really. Dingbattian in its boxy, stucco’d, cheap construction/maximum density elements, but lacking covered parking between the stilts, and the all-essential facade-affixed architectural eccentricity (interlocking boxes, backlit asterisks, abstracted fish, some anamorphic squiggles) that forced Francis Ventre to spit at Reyner Banham while they were tooling around LA: “My God that’s dingbat architecture!â€Â

The address font is rather somber, although an attempt was made to apply it jauntily. It’s no “Shangri-Lodgeâ€Â or “Seahorse Armsâ€Â in giant fanciful script, but then, something so lacking in sobriety would likely disturb and spur the Dorsey’s ghosts into demoniacal bloodlust. You know, like they got down the street at the Aku Pagoda Apts.

Monrovia’s Pet Seal Dies of Poisoning

May 5, 1947

The community’s children were inconsolable today as word spread of the death of little Oscar, the baby seal that three policemen found wandering on a street several weeks ago, and which had become Monrovia’s unofficial mascot. Officers were working on finding Oscar a permanent home in the Recreation Park wading pool, but failed to protect him from dining on a meal of fish served on a plate that was believed to have been liberally sprayed with fly poison. The unofficial verdict is accidental death.

Toy Balloon Lodged in Throat Causes Boy’s Death at Party

May 4, 1947
Long Beach

A child’s birthday party at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Alvin Gale, 2283 Grand Ave., turned grim today when six-year-old Wayne R. Wilson, son of Mr. and Mrs. Ronald Wilson of 2263 Grand Ave., collapsed outside the Gale home. Mr. Gale and Elmer Alterman of 2282 Grand Ave. rushed the child to Community Hospital, where Dr. John A. Saltman extracted the offending matter–a small rubber balloon Wayne had been given as a party favor. The boy could not be revived.

Fire Threatens Historic Midtown Office Building

May 3, 1947
Los Angeles

A spectacular daylight fire nearly consumed the famed Bradbury Building, Third Street and Broadway, today, but it was saved by the concerted efforts of eighteen fire companies under the supervision of Fire Chief John Anderson. Crowds gathered in the streets to marvel as ladder trucks supported firemen climbing into the burning top floor offices of the Los Angeles Curtain Manufacturing Co. on the building’s Third Street side.

Credit for saving the historic building, constructed at a cost of $500,000 by mining pioneer Lewis J. Bradbury fifty years ago and immediately famous for its grill work, goes in part to courageous elevator operator Minnie Epp, 62, of 123 E. Ave. 35, who remained at her post to ferry firefighters up to the scene of the conflagration. There were two injuries, to fireman Joe Stovall, whose right foot was cut by an axe, and to building employee Gleason Burks, who was struck by a falling hose and knocked from the fifth floor to the fourth, but fortunately suffered only a bruised shoulder.

B.J. Erwig, owner of the curtain company, estimated damages at $8000-$10,000. The cause of the fire is not known.

In other news, it appears 15-year-old Esther Yvonne Brooks is going to be able to keep her nose, which was cut off when she was thrown through the windshield in an auto accident on April 21. The nose, which was missing for more than two hours, was found by Sheriff’s deputies searching the wreckage, and rushed to Wilshire Hospital, where it was grafted back on the young lady’s face. Plastic surgeon Dr. G. J. S. Rambo is cautiously optimistic that the graft will take, and Miss Brooks, of 706 E. Arbor Vitae St., Inglewood, should be back to her old nasal activities by early summer.

The Bradbury Building

Mission-style auto courts. Googie bowling alleys. Roadside burger stands. Neon liquor store signs. Stiles Clements buildings. All are remodeled or demo’d with soul-crushing regularity. Of the hundreds that were and the handful that are, maybe, just maybe, should Fortuna bless us with her grace, we will be granted a precious one of each for our progeny to savor.

They are the few out of many. But there is only one Bradbury Building.

Yes, it’s a pleasant sandstone & dressed brickwork Romanesque commercial structure. Gorgeous opal-glass blade sign. And when you go inside—or rent Blade Runner if you’re lazy—there you’ll witness the jaw-dropping skylit interior atrium, the acres of wrought iron filigree, the glazed hydraulic elevators. And you think, where the hell did this come from?

LA, 1890. Bradbury hires famed LA architect Sumner Hunt to design an office building. Hunt gets to work, and presents the finished drawings to Bradbury. Bradbury doesn’t care for them, and so tosses the project in the lap of a young draftsman in Hunt’s firm, one George Wyman. Wyman isn’t an architect, but he has read Bellamy’s recently published utopian novel Looking Backward, which describes buildings of the year 2000 (they’re “bathed in light”). After consulting the Ouija board to make sure he should take the project (his dead brother said to go ahead), the li’l autodidact jumped in with both feet.

This is what he came up with:

Which was of course scheduled for razing in the 70s (as were the Watts Towers in the 60s, another piece of LA both-footism) – and hell, this was a building described in 19-Victorian-demolishing-47 as “historic.â€Â But then mighty State Senator Jim “Mills Actâ€Â Mills championed the California Historic Building Code, which rescued the Bradbury and countless others from the raw maw of demolition.

The building deteriorated until beautifully restored by the late Ira Yellin in the early 90s. Hong Kong real estate mogul Goodwin Yaw has since picked up the building and is planning a nightclub right there on the ground floor. The building that Minnie Epp helped save and Joe Stovall gave a foot for, this building that represents man’s noblest achievements, this building that is actually as close to being alive as any of us – will be rattled by booming bass, doused with sticky drinks, punched full of outlets, tagged and bruised and burnt: does anybody else consider this a really bad idea?

Man Wills Son $10 As “Payment For Beating”

May 2, 1947

Last January 7, Robert C. Sweet told his namesake son that it was high time he supported himself, his fiancee and her two children, rather than expecting his father do so. Junior responded with his fists, and the next day the old man went to his lawyer and drew up a new will. That will was filed for probate in Superior Court today, with the novel bequest of $10 to Robert Jr. as “payment for a wonderful beating.” The remainder of his small estate was left to his widow Hazel, on the condition that she give none of it to Robert Jr. The elder Sweet resided at 304 N. Canyon Blvd., Monrovia, and the pugilistic scion at 930 Monterey Street.

Caretaker Held in Baby Case

May 1. 1947
Los Angeles

All Mrs. Florence Owens wanted was a place to leave 18-month-old Dale and 3-month-old Margaret while she was at her new job–the one she had to take after separating from her husband, the merchant marine. Mrs. Marian Billingsley seemed nice enough, and she said Dale and Margaret would be no trouble; she’d just watch them like she watched the old folks already parked in her nursing home at 1327 El Segundo Blvd.

And so Flo dropped her little darlings off on April 15 and worked two weeks straight, never stopping to visit, even though she lived just five miles away at 1600 Redondo Beach Blvd.

But give a neglectful, overwhelmed mom some credit. When she did finally stop by, she immediately noticed evidence of torture on her eldest tyke– the scarred ears, the scratches, the welts and bruises on his hips and back–and rushed him to the Sheriff’s Vermont substation. Dale was taken to Torrance General Hospital, and Mrs. Billingsley to County Jail on charges of child neglect and unjustifiable punishment of a child.

1327 El Segundo To-day

The hallmark of the American Child after the war was the deep imprint left by consistent indulgence: we fought for the freedom of the planet, and having won, damned if I’m not going to put my kid in the center of it. With a big spotlight on ‘em. But raising whiny, self-absorbed children into a generation of mefirst malcontents is the least of our worries: let those characters sit up nights pecking through eBay, searching for their Rosebud-slash-Stony Smith Sky Commandos. Not every kid was as lucky as you, Chip.

Some kids had to get dropped off with Mrs. Billingsley. Some kids will grow up to buy rope and duct tape instead of vintage action figures.

While tempting to picture a suitably gabled Gothic affair, what was likely a simple shingled nursing home has fallen to the industrial age of metal spinning and deep drawing.