Blood & Dumplings in the Pasadena Star-News

Nathan Marsak as Hitler on the 1947project Crime Bus Tour

Why yes, Pasadenans, that was our own Nathan Marsak glowering out at you from page three of the Sunday paper, doing his little AH impression on the former site of the American Nazi Party Headquarters in deepest El Monte, as part of the Blood and Dumplings Crime Bus Tour. To read Molly R. Okean’s story, which oddly enough in the web version doesn’t feature Sarah Reingewirtz’ striking photograph, just click here.

We had a great day exploring the San Gabriel Valley with a bus full of charming passengers, including a stop for dumplings at Monster Park (sorry about the soy sauce shortage!), turn-of-the-century bungalow poetry from co-host Richard Schave, black cats crossing our paths and some truly chilling tales of forgotten crimes and misfortunes. Thanks to everyone who joined us, especially Sister Kelly and Brother Nathan, and watch this space for announcements of upcoming tours, criminal and otherwise. 

1947project at Saving LA event at the Los Angeles Theater, Sunday 3/18

Join us, gentle reader, this Sunday March 18, at the glamorous and seldom open Los Angeles Theater (1931) in the heart of downtown for the Saving LA preservation event. There will be speakers in the main hall and tables hosting representatives from local publishers and historical organizations, including 1947project. Stop by to see one of the most beautiful theaters in the city and to connect with others who care about preserving signs of the past. Linger to hear my visionary husband Richard Schave speak in the 3 o’clock hour about the vast possibilities for community building that can be accessed using free web tools.

Event details: Los Angeles Theater, 615 S. Broadway, 10am-4pm, free.

More info and a full schedule are at the Saving LA blog, 

The Bridge

March 15, 2007
South Pasadena

Here’s the Gold Line, its passengers mercifully unaware that they are zipping along to Pasadena in the “Gorge of Eternal Perilâ€Â beneath “The Bridge of Death.â€Â

Here’s a close-up of a patch made to fix one of the 1907 cracks in the bridge. And yes, the darn thing is still standing. Hm. Maybe I should call it “The Bridge of Hopeâ€Â instead.

E-mail: lmharnisch (AT)

In Which a Ghostly Visitor Returns

March 15, 2007
Los Angeles

“Well, dear boy, I suppose you thought you were through.â€Â

“Yes, I did.â€Â


“Good grief! Do you see this bridge over the Gold Line? It looks like it’s held up with hairpins and spit!â€Â

“Saliva, dear boy. And what is the Gold Line?â€Â

“Well, it’s sort of a streetcar, except it doesn’t run on the street.â€Â

She leaned back in her ghostly chair. “And what did you think of our little year?â€Â

“I was quite wrong, wasn’t I?â€Â

She merely nodded.

“You could have at least told me.â€Â

“Dear boy, you needed to find out for yourself.â€Â

“OK, so there were movie theaters in Los Angeles.â€Â


“And there were comics in the paper.â€Â

“Little Nemo is one of my favorites.â€Â

“I couldn’t believe all the domestic violence. Awful stuff.â€Â

“It was terrible,â€Â she said.

“And getting a divorce was so difficult.â€Â

“That was horrible,â€Â she said.

“And the rotten doctors, the fakes and charlatans, dirty restaurants, the drinking and alcoholism. The exploding gasoline stoves.â€Â

“Well,â€Â she said chidingly, “you didn’t write very much about people who were nice. You newspaper folks never do.â€Â

“Most of all, we haven’t changed very much, have we? I mean, look at our problems with transportation… with sanitation… with growth… with housing… immigration… ethnic discrimination… education… polluting the ocean. A century later, the Police Department is still pleading for more officers. It’s the same story, with different details, that we had in 1947.â€Â

“And why do you think that is?â€Â

“Ma’am, that’s a short question with a long answer. You could tell me, couldn’t you?â€Â

“I could.â€Â

“But you’re not going to, because I have to figure it out for myself, is that it?â€Â

She nodded.

“I’ll miss all of you so much.â€Â

“You know where to find us,â€Â she said.

“Was it a kinder, simpler time?â€Â I asked.

“Maybe in some ways, but mostly no.â€Â And then she paused for a moment. “Go take a picture of your bridge. It hasn’t fallen down yet, has it?â€Â

“Nope, it’s still there. Or at least some bridge is still there.â€Â

I didn’t know what else to say: “Thanks for everything.â€Â

“You are most welcome. And thank you.â€Â

And then she was gone.

E-mail: lmharnisch (AT)

The Celebrity Interview

March 14, 1907
Los Angeles

Harry C. Carr, future author of “Los Angeles: City of Dreams,â€Â visits Fely Dereyne, who is starring in the San Carlo Opera Company’s touring production of “Carmen.â€Â

Accompanied by Times artist Harold R. Coffman, who sketched the singer, Carr conducted a backstage interview with Dereyne with the help of two opera company members who served as translators. As an interview, it is disjointed, poorly organized and frustratingly incomplete; the early work of a green but talented writer who is somewhat smitten with his subject. And yet it is fresh and immediate.

“Dereyne dutifully remarked that she didn’t study Carmenâ€Â as a character, Carr says.

“Just natural,â€Â she said in French. “I am just like that myself.â€Â

“Gee,â€Â said the artist, uneasily, “have you really got a temper like that?â€Â

“Sometimes,â€Â she said, with dancing eyes.

“Well, then, I hope you like this picture.â€Â

“Oh,â€Â she said airily. “Sometimes I am ver—how do you call it? Ver’ nice.â€Â

“Like the little girl that had the little curl?â€Â

Dereyne looked troubled. “I don’ know zee ladee; who is she, please?â€Â

“This was a great moment in Dereyne’s career,â€Â Carr wrote. “She was about to learn the tragedy of the little girl who had a little curl. It took two newspapermen, an opera manager and a second tenor to do it.â€Â

Dereyne, an incredibly obscure figure today, was described in The Times as “one of the best Carmens who has ever been seen upon the local stage, for with her vigor and vivacity she never loses sight of the vocal demands of the role. At all times she sings. Her stage work and byplay are constantly assertive.â€Â

She made her Metropolitan Opera debut in November 1907 as Musetta in a performance of “La Bohemeâ€Â with Geraldine Farrar and Enrico Caruso. Her last Met performance was in 1908 as Nedda in “Pagliacci.â€Â After that she seems to have vanished from the stage.

And there you have it; a moment backstage in a theater (Philharmonic Auditorium) that is gone with people who are, except for Carr, entirely forgotten. That’s what I love about research.

E-mail: lmharnisch (AT)

Farewell, Faithful Companion

Feb. 12, 1907

Don had rushed up San Juan Hill with the Rough Riders, fearless in the face of enemy fire. But he could not survive a speeding driver on the otherwise placid streets of Whittier.

A present from Teddy Roosevelt to Hamilton Fish, Don was the mascot of Company B of the Rough Riders. Don was given to Col. William Wallace. When Wallace died in Whittier, Don was given to Wallace’s physician, Dr. Hadley.

“Since that time the big dog had had the freedom of the Quaker town and had never walked through the streets without receiving much attention from small boys and girls to those of larger growth,â€Â The Times says.

Death came from “a big touring car containing four persons, going around a corner at so high a speed that the old dog, which was walking quietly along, could not get out of its way.â€Â

E-mail: lmharnisch (AT)

1947project seeks historic crime blogger

3/28/2007: The deadline below has passed, but we’re still open to considering suitable additions to the 1947project team. If interested in being part of the site, please feel free to go through the steps below and send the answers our way.

1947project, a Los Angeles based time travel blog dedicated to unearthing forgotten crime stories and peculiar happenings from the city’s past, is seeking between one and three extraordinary contributors to research and write a blog entry once or twice weekly for one year.

On March 23, following the previous night’s 1907 Centennial Celebration party in downtown LA, 1947project will announce the secret year to next be blogged on the site. The selected new contributors will get a sneak peak at the year in question, to give them a little time to bone up on the period.

Potential contributors should be witty, concise writers and skilled researchers, with a passion for Los Angeles history and an interest in true crime. We also welcome contributors who can write knowledgably on such subjects as architecture, city planning, entertainment, transportation, business, fringe religion and other topics that have been featured in past 1947project blog entries.

To get an idea of what we do, please visit: (current site, blogging the year 1907) (archive site, blogging the year 1947, with visits to the scenes)

There is no pay, but the successful applicant will have the opportunity to plug their other work in a URL at the bottom of their entries, be mentioned in press releases, and have a central spot on a website that has become a must-read for fans of L.A.’s offbeat past and has been widely covered by the local print, radio and television media.

To apply for a spot on 1947project, please do the following by March 20:

1) ensure that you can access the ProQuest archives of the historical Los Angeles Times, either through the LA Public Library website (you will need a library card), by using the LAPL in-library computers, or from another source. You can call your local public or university librarian for help. Note that ProQuest access is essential for this project.

2) pasted into the body an email (no attachments), please submit the following application materials:
a) a writing sample of 300-700 words, in which you take the basic facts of Thelma Todd’s suspicious 1935 death (Google it) and turn it into a 1947project-style blog entry. Imagine you are telling the story to a neighbor who hasn’t yet heard what’s happened, writing it up in a letter home, or submitting a story to a scandal magazine—whatever tone feels right to you. Feel free to use snappy period slang, make allegations about possibly guilty parties, and place the crime and its victim in context.
b) your resume
c) an explanation of why you are interested in being a 1947project blogger and what you feel you will bring to the project.
d) how often can you contribute, one or two posts a week?

We look forward to hearing from you!

Kim Cooper, editrix

A Tumultuous Season

March 10, 1907
Los Angeles

Someone who opened the Los Angeles Times on this Sunday might be forgiven for wondering what had become of the world, for Page 1 was full of news about the demise of two religious leaders.

The first was the death of John Alexander Dowie, the founder of Zion, Ill., who considered himself the reincarnation of the biblical prophet Elijah. The second was the decline of Mary Baker Eddy, founder of Christian Science.

The Times published some of Eddy’s letters to her son, saying: “These Eddy letters, now carefully guarded in a safe deposit vault at Washington, are confidently expected to invalidate every transaction made by Mrs. Eddy in the last 15 years.â€Â

They are too long to post, but here’s a sample:

“My Dear Son: The enemy to Christian Science is led by the wickedest powers of hypnotism and is trying to do me all the harm possible by acting on the minds of people to make them lie about me and my family.â€Â

Dowie’s history is far more complex and even the highlights of his career defy an easy summary. He arrived in San Francisco in 1888 and moved to Chicago two years later. By 1899 he was mobbed by thugs while staging nightly crusades in Chicago after establishing a divine healing mission and opening a bank and newspaper.

In 1900, he bought the property for what is now Zion and began calling himself “Elijah the Restorer.â€Â

Five years later, he was paralyzed in Zion upon returning from a trip to begin a colony in Mexico. In 1906, he appointed a general overseer, Wilbur Glenn Voliva, who took over the movement and repudiated him.

Dowie’s last words were: “The millennium has come. I will return in a thousand years.â€Â

E-mail: lmharnisch (AT)