Not Exactly the Welcome Wagon

April 13, 1927

Col. Frank Benedict is moving up in the world. Recently named one of six "minute men" prohibition officers and presented with a patrol car capable of hitting 80 mph (!) for late night liquor hunts, he’s also taken possession of a new home on exclusive Terrace Drive in Pasadena, just a jig from Millionaire’s Row.

In the evening, the gentle scents of jasmine, orange blossoms and datura perfumed the air… but beneath them, Benedict detected a heavy, sweet and larcenous odor, the unmistakable tang of sour mash a-brewing. Sniff, sniff, sniff went the revenue man, until he found himself three doors down, outside #146. Local and federal agents were called, and the raid that followed netted Frank Meyers (real name Joseph Mendella) in the act of tapping a 300 gallon still, 140 gallons of steaming mash and equipment valued at $50,000.

Mendella must have had juice, and we don’t mean joy juice. The case lingered until March 1928, when he was convicted of possession of a still and the mash, fined $500 and sentenced to just thirty days in jail.  

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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.

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