Et in Ann Arbor Ergo

August 27, 1947

She’s home!

Ruth Alice McLaren, 15-year-old runaway, has turned up in Ann Arbor, Michigan after her overly generous tips to a beautician raised the snipper’s suspicions. Now her mother is heading East to reclaim the young lady from the local juvenile hall, while Ruth’s invalid father Russell steams at home at 23 Fano Street.

What of the $2400 in cash (meant for the girl’s college education) that she pinched from the fruit jar last time she left the house? While the girl initially told officers she was a war widow on the run from her in-laws, she quickly ‘fessed up. Seems she met a man in a Pasadena movie theater, and agreed to pay both their ways to Ann Arbor, where her friend said he planned to enroll at the University.

Ruth was a big spender—but mainly on herself. In addition to visiting the beauty parlor, she bought a fur coat, flashy duds and a radio. So who can blame her pal for taking a powder with $1000 of the fruit jar bounty soon after they reached the Mitten State?

But there’s $402 left in the kitty. Which should be just about enough, after travel expenses, to pay Ruth’s way through beauty school, where if she’s very lucky she’ll run into tippers as big as herself.

Suggested reading: Delinquents and Debutantes: Twentieth-Century American Girls’ Cultures

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.

2 thoughts on “Et in Ann Arbor Ergo”

  1. Larry Harnisch to the rescue again! Thanks for the info. I was walking through the Temple-Beaudry neighborhood the other day and saw all the Diamond Street graffiti and it got me wondering about the origins. Like so many other old Los Angeles street gangs from the early 20th Century the original neighborhood gets redeveloped, but the gang lives on elsewhere.
  2. Gang Youth
    Gets Prison

    Earl Bush, 19-year-old member of the Diamond Street Gang, who told probation officers he was “taking a killing rap for the gang,â€Â yesterday was committed to San Quentin Prison for one to ten years for manslaughter.

    The youth pleaded guilty before Superior [Court] Judge William R. McKay to shooting to death Eddie Edward Martinez, 18, member of the Third Street Gang, last May 30.

    Bush reported he has been informed members of the rival gang are planning to “getâ€Â him when he is released from prison. He asked to be sent to Honolulu at the expiration of the prison term.

    + + +

    The origins of Latino gangs are not well-documented in The Times, but the case of Earl D. Bush, 911 Diamond St., appears to be the first mention of the Diamond Street Gang, which is still active and was among those targeted by Officer Rafael Perez during what became the Rampart scandal.

    Bush was arrested May 31, 1947, along with John Vergara, 14, of 1034 Colton St.; Gabriel Gutierrez, 19, of 228 N. Fremont St.; and Julian Delgado (published as Del Gado), 15, 1016½ W. 1st St., all in the Temple-Beaudry area near the junction of the Harbor and Hollywood freeways.

    Martinez, 18, of 141 Bloom St., in the area between Main and the Los Angeles River north of Chinatown, was found shot to death behind an apartment building at 141 N. Flower, on a hill overlooking Figueroa.

    Helen Schroder, a resident on Flower, told detectives she saw three youths on Flower exchanging shots with three youths behind a billboard on the Flower Street hillside. When one of the youths behind the billboard saw her, they fired at her, she said. Bush was arrested after a .22-caliber rifle was found in his possession.

    While these members were Latino, another 1947 news story reports the death of a black youth, also living in the apartments at 911 Diamond St., who was a gang member. According to a 1950 lawsuit brought by the victim’s father, Eddie Hines was shot July 22, 1947, by a man guarding a warehouse 114 S. Beaudry. While the victim’s father said the 13-year-old was playing hide and seek, Clarence D. Dawson said Eddie threatened him after being confronted over the attempted burglary. Dawson and his employer, geophysicist Walter A. English, who kept scientific instruments in the building, said Eddie was a member of the Diamond Street Gang.

    “Both defendants told the court that the area is plagued by the activities of the Diamond Street Gang, the First Street Gang and the Third Street Gang, which were in continual warfare against one another and kept the neighborhood in terror. Within a few weeks before Eddie’s death, the defendants declared, one of the gangs had killed another boy and an elderly woman,â€Â The Times said.

    There’s no record of what became of Bush, and whether he ever made it to Hawaii. His companions’ names are so common that it’s difficult to determine whether they are still alive.

    But not all members of the Diamond Street Gang remained in criminal life. In a tribute to Betty Plasencia, who worked with at-risk youths in Temple-Beaudry before her death in 1981, Carlos Mancilla said: “She got me out of gang activities and into sports.â€Â Frank Gamboa said: “One time a bunch of us painted graffiti all over the walls, and Betty got mad. “You’re gonna paint, she told us, and we painted. She knew how to talk to us.â€Â

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