Innovation – Yay or Nay

April 3, 1927
America 

The world is changing, sometimes for better, others for worse. In Chicago, the Western State Bank has responded to the concerns of its late night poker playing constituency by installing an ingenious device in the wall of their newest branch. This gadget permits an account holder to relieve himself of his attractive burden by way of a secure "cash chute," a heavily armored tube alarmed with electrical and radio wave protection, thus protecting his winnings from street thug or wife alike.    

But in the nation’s capitol, the baggage handlers of the Union (Station) Transfer Company are crying poverty, blaming the flimsiness of fashionable ladies garb for the reduction in trunks being shipped ahead. Why, travelers simply stuff their wardrobes into suitcases and pack them in their cars! Accordingly, UTC is requesting permission to apply a rate increase to those sad saps who didn’t get the suitcase memo… but while they can gouge their customers, they can’t hold back the sands of time. 

Only Your Studebaker Knows For Sure

April 2, 1927
Los Angeles

tonyheadlineOn this Spring day in 1927, investigating officers were pavement-pounding in the Italian neighborhoods, attempting to scare up information about the April Fool’s Day discovery of one murdered Antonio (Tony) Ferraro.  But there was no talking to be had, and the crime scene revealed nothing in the way of tell-tale fingerprints or any such evidence, and so Tony Ferraro remains another unsolved Los Angeles gangland slaying.

Tony Ferraro was 34, married, and an erstwhile bootlegger.  He had given up the bootlegging game back in January when officers knocked out his elaborate still at 532 South Soto St.  Thereafter he had gone into the olive oil business–the evening of March 31 he set out from his home at 2724 Cincinnati St. with six one-gallon cans of the unctuous stuff (only to return for his funeral a week later).  On the morning of April 1 a passerby’s attention was attracted by the stream of blood pouring forth from the back seat of Ferraro’s Studebaker, parked at 659 Kohler St.  

ferraroandwifeRobbery was not the motive, as Ferraro’s diamond ring, watch, money clip and olive oil were unmolested.  Persons unknown entered Ferraro’s car, where he was beaten with a tire iron (his bruised hands indicating he put up a strong fight) and then shot in the head once with a .38 and twice with a .32.  The body was then pulled from the front seat and lain across the olive oil in the back.

Ferraro was a Matranga relative and Los Angeles bootlegger who had had some problems with his business partners.  In September of 1925, someone dynamited a vacant two-story building Ferraro owned at 2729 North Main; eight months later the home of his cousin, Victor Pepitone, 317 West 77th St., was dynamited; five months thereafter the home of Jim Mussacci, Ferraro’s business partner, 675 Lamar St., was destroyed in a dynamite explosion.  The news from April 2 hints that Ferraro may have recently talked to authorities and implicated two former liquor trade associates, resulting in their arrest, but that clue went nowhere.  Attempts to quiz the widow Constance resulted in her continued protestations that Tony had no enemies anywhere.

ferraroscarOn April 5 the Times reported a rumor that Ferraro’s car had been seen the night of the 31st in Chinatown between when he set off from home at 6 p.m. and when the car was first spotted at 10 p.m. at Sixth and Kohler, but placing the killing in Chinatown didn’t make solving the murder any more possible or probable.  That day Ferraro was released from the Coroner’s to his home once more; the cinematic mind must imagine properly florid gangland sendoff, with bouquets from those Wright Act violators Tony double-crossed.  

And up in heaven, the special cloud reserved for unsolved LA homicide victims—Harry Katz there waiting with a martini—added one more.

ferraroburial 

Vaseline Burglars, Beware!

April 1, 1927
Los Angeles

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The fifteen year-olds just won’t stop! (Cf. yesterday’s post.)  When the Vaseline Burglar (no, not one who steals Vaseline, nor are there untoward connotations) broke into the home of Mrs. Julius Rehak to grease up Mary Rehak’s engagement ring-encrusted hand, telling her “keep quiet or I’ll throw acid in your face,” little did he know he’d come in contact with redoubtable 15yo Wilma Rehak, who told him to throw up his hands.  As he was not immediately forthcoming, from her steady hand a six shooter erupted with a terrific explosion, missing the interloper by inches, and sending him into precipitous flight.

Dolled as a Dapper Dad

March 31, 1927
Pasadena

paircladFourteen year-old Wilbur Garner had a lady-friend, and an older one at that, his inamoratette a fifteen year-old Eula Rittgers. They showed great attachment to one another at their Seventh Day Adventist School. When they decided to exchange biblical dullsville for the world’s treasures, they outfoxed the Man by turning li’l Eula into aeula boy. Inside a church  wastebasket was found the Eula’s hair, and persons conforming to the two young boys’ description were spotted in Eagle Rock. A fashionable bobbed ‘do meets a Joan of Arc act. Appropriately observant.  Guess they were absent the day they covered Deuteronomy 22:5.

jimmydavisIn yet more fifteen year-old news, or, that is to say, further news of fifteen year-olds, fifteen year-old Jimmy Davis and an unnamed pal of his broke into the Monterey Park home of John W. Hardman, stealing fountain pens and trinkets and, more absurdly, did Jimmy garb himself in Hardman’s best suit, silk shirt and black & white scarf. Figuring himself too conspicuous for his own good, Jimmy and pal returned to the house, threw the clothes on the floor and, afraid of being traced through fingerprints (his being known to local authorities for his repeated burglaries and check forgings), lit fire to the house. The house smoldered for some time before being rescued by the fire department, and Jimmy is now cooling his heels in juvenile hall.