A Legal Thorn

August 6, 1947
Richmond, VA

Before Valentine B. Lawless went off to war in 1944, he indulged himself in a little piece of fancy. At 36, he was still as romantic as his unusual name suggested. And so he left a special provision to his will, to be read only in the event of his death by his brother Edward.

After Valentine did die, in a plane crash at Linz in October 1944, Edward discovered that his brother had been hopelessly besotted with a girl who loved another. In death, he wished that his estate–$3600—be used to support the weekly delivery of one perfect, anonymous rose to his secret beloved. It was his idea, he wrote, “to furnish the girl with the pleasure of receiving the rose, not to have her think of me because I sent it to her.â€Â

But just as Valentine’s personal name reflected his character, so did the familial surname reflect sister Margaret’s. She contested the will on the grounds that it was “not practical,â€Â and in so doing caused Valentine’s secret wish to become fodder for the national press, as well as the local rags. It is reported that the unnamed lady of the bequest is married and living in the Virginia Tidewater section.

Published by

Kim Cooper

Kim Cooper is the creator of 1947project, the crime-a-day time travel blog that spawned Esotouric’s popular crime bus tours, including The Real Black Dahlia. She is the author of The Kept Girl, the acclaimed historical mystery starring the young Raymond Chandler and the real-life Philip Marlowe, and of The Raymond Chandler Map of Los Angeles. With husband Richard Schave, Kim curates the Salons and forensic science seminars of LAVA- The Los Angeles Visionaries Association. When the third generation Angeleno isn’t combing old newspapers for forgotten scandals, she is a passionate advocate for historic preservation of signage, vernacular architecture and writer’s homes. Kim was for many years the editrix of Scram, a journal of unpopular culture. Her books include Fall in Love For Life, Bubblegum Music is the Naked Truth, Lost in the Grooves and an oral history of Neutral Milk Hotel.

One thought on “A Legal Thorn”

  1. Two Orientals
    Sue to Block
    Court Writ

    Petitions were filed in the Supreme Court of California here yesterday seeking to restrain the Superior Court from hearing injunction suits against two American-Orientals to restrain them from continuing to occupy their present homes.

    The petitioners are Tom D. Amer, Chinese-American citizen and war veteran, who lives with his family at 127 W. 56th St., and Yin Kim, also a veteran, who is of Korean descent and who lives at 1201 S. Gramercy Place.

    + + +

    This isn’t the first time deed restrictions ended up in court in 1947. On Feb. 6, Judge Ruben S. Schmidt ordered Isabel Crocker and her three daughters to move out of their home at 435 Westbourne Drive in 30 days because they were Native American and their neighborhood was restricted to whites. But it isn’t clear how far they carried their legal battle.

    This time, the issue went to the California Supreme Court, which ruled against Amer and Kim, finding that it was illegal for them to move into homes that they owned in all-white neighborhoods.

    The U.S. Supreme Court overruled racial restrictions in the case on May 10, 1948, one of the decisions that ultimately killed off racial covenants.

    Amer and Kim were represented by lawyers A.L. Wirin and Loren Miller, along with Fred Okrand, whom I interviewed several years prior to his death. In addition to this case, Okrand fought the deportation of Japanese Americans during World War II and brought many legal actions on behalf of the ACLU of Southern California. And on the side he defended Mickey Cohen.

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