Girls Get Gassed

November 24, 1947

Clunk! Gas leaking from a new heater inside a garment plant at 104th Street and Grevillea Ave. poisoned five women, who keeled over their electric sewing machines around 10:30 this morning and had to be carried outside by their woozy co-workers. The women were given oxygen by a Fire Department rescue team, with the most seriously afflicted taken to Harbor General for observation.

After the firemen left, the remaining women returned to work, and soon the vacant lot beside the plant was filled with another round of queasy, disoriented gals. The firemen came back to treat these new victims.

Later still, the women who had been helping the others finally succumbed after eating their gas-soaked lunches, and the firemen came out for a third time. Only then were plant owners Mrs. amd Mrs. Cecil Webb told to shut up shop and fix the damn heater before allowing anyone back to work.

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 “Girls Get Gassed”

  1. Ouch.

    What a horrible thing to have happened on my birthday. 18 years before my birth, but on my birthday, nonetheless.

    Lee Harvey Oswald was also assassinated on my birthday, but in 1963. Again, before I was born. Odd.

  2. He was a shabby little man of 44 when he died with $111 in his pockets and a suitcase full of mystery and drugs. Although some people die without a name, the 145-pound man died with several: Ralph Mazy, Ralph Masey, Ralph Marci and Rapeal Mazy.

    During the war, Ralph worked at Todd Shipbuilding Corp. in Brooklyn, N.Y., but had a prison record as a drug dealer going back to the 1920s. He died on a United Air Lines flight somewhere between Denver and Los Angeles, where his body was taken off the plane. A mortician from nearby Hawthorne, Jordan E. Dunaway, went through Ralph’s unlocked suitcase and found 2 pounds of pure heroin with a value estimated at $500,000 to $3 million ($4,732,092.98 to $28,392,557.91 USD 2005).

    Federal investigators had little luck in backtracking Ralph’s trail. He gave a false address when he bought his ticket, and left most of the talking to a companion, airline officials said. Although his final destination was supposedly San Diego after stops in Chicago, Denver, Las Vegas and Los Angeles, police speculated that he might have been headed for San Francisco. Investigators also said Ralph was probably a trusted courier because there was apparently no one from the drug ring to meet him in Los Angeles.

    The Times never followed up on this story, so there is no further information on the shabby little man or the heroin’s final destination. What’s certain is that drug couriers have come a long way from checking unlocked suitcases as airline baggage.

    Quote of the day: “I saved him from being gassed at the pound and now he saved me.â€Â
    Stanley B. Rybkowski, night watchman, about Zip the dog, who alerted him to a fire that consumed a furniture store at 1315 Wilshire Blvd., killing firefighter Hugh Travers and Rybkowski’s brother-in-law Vance Norlick, who stopped to look for his pants before fleeing.

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