I want to see the package this comes in.
Another high-profile suicide today in Los Angeles. Helen St. Claire Evens, the wife of writer and former bucket shop operator, Arthur Frederick St. Claire Evens ended her life by swallowing a quantity of antiseptic lotion following a domestic quarrel.
The Evens’s had quarreled a few nights earlier, and were encouraged by a friend of the family to cool their tempers at the Hollywood Police Station. Captain Charles Knowles spoke with Arthur and Helen, then sent the seemingly reconciled couple home. Today, Knowles was summoned to the Evens’s house at 2235 N. Cahuenga Dr. on a report that Helen had attempted suicide. When he arrived, he found her dead on the bathroom floor. Arthur had been working on a scenario for a new film when Helen asked him to take her to a motion picture theater. Engrossed in his work, he refused, and Helen retreated to the bathroom where she consumed the poison.
Police were prepared to declare it a suicide until they received a wire from Albert T. Daniels, the father of the deceased woman, asking if there was anything suspicious about the death, and did they have anything on which to hold Evens? Apparently, he had disapproved of the marriage, claiming to police that Evens had been previously married and that he had served time in prison for shady business dealings in New York City. And Helen had seemed happy enough. Just days prior to her death, she’d written an upbeat letter to her mother saying, "We want to make a success of life, to have a nice home, a few friends (real ones), and an unquestionable position in life."
Evens was further questioned, but his statement was not in doubt, and police had no basis for a charge to hold him. Then Daniels switched his tactics, wiring that "frequent threats to kill Helen" had been made when she lived in New York. An inquest was ordered; however, reports from both the police and the coroner maintained that all evidence was consistent with suicide, and custody of the body was granted to Evens.
Daniels continued to wire the police from New York, demanding that further investigation be made and that custody of the body be granted to him. He even contacted James A. Blake, a relative living in Glendale, asking him to take over the burial, but Blake refused to get involved. For days, Evens’s body lay in the R.C. Dellenbaugh funeral parlor at 630 Venice Blvd., until Evens finally relented, and agreed to send his wife’s body to her family in New York.
Stephen Cooper, author of Full of Life: A Biography of John Fante says, "When Ask the Dust was published in 1939, the young novelist John Fante was living with his wife Joyce at 826 South Berendo. Today the story of Arturo Bandini and Camilla Lopez is widely considered the starting point of Los Angeles literature. If the abandoned apartment building where Fante realized his masterpiece is torn down and hauled away, the neighborhood will be removing an eyesore but the city will be losing a piece of its history. I join with all who urge that this site be recognized in some concrete and permanent way so as to preserve the memory of the incandescent time when John Fante called South Berendo home."
Meanwhile, just a few miles north, a short portion of Berendo has been renamed for another notable L.A. author, L. Ron Hubbard. It would be sweet if the same could one day be said of the 800 South block and Fante.
June 5, 1927
The headlines turned her story into a cliché: a young woman from the Midwest commits suicide by swallowing poison after the Hollywood star machine chews her up and spits her out. But 22-year-old Patricia Marshall’s death today was a bit more complicated than that.
For one thing, though she took part in amateur dramatics back home in Missouri and worked as a film extra since her arrival in Hollywood three years ago, Patricia aspired to a career in business. Until recently she had been a student at the Hollywood Secretarial College.
Then there were the letters in her room. In one, written about a week before she died but never sent, the young woman made a declaration she was ultimately unable to keep: “There are so many suicides in Hollywood one must wear armor and make a vow against self-extinction—in suicide by poison.” In addition to this and a note addressed to her mother (“You are to forget me. Never think of me.”), there were several missives to and from various men. When police contacted one of them, insurance man Harry Rosenberg of Washington, D.C., he called himself an “old friend” of the deceased but insisted there was never a hint of romance between them.
This assertion was refuted by Patricia Marshall’s mother, who testified at a coroner’s inquest that her daughter and Rosenberg were engaged and planned to be married soon. Imagine Mrs. Marshall’s shock when it came out that Patricia’s “fiancé” was already married and the father of several children. Nor was that all—there were those damnable letters. In one, Rosenberg cut off his $15 weekly payments to Patricia; in another, his daughter threatened to have her arrested for blackmail and extortion if Patricia continued to annoy her father for money.
Perhaps with Mrs. Marshall in mind, the coroner discreetly concluded that Patricia committed suicide after a “disappointment” in love.
June 4, 1927
"Whiskey is for drinking; water is for fighting over." – Mark Twain
Pasadena residents Raymond T. Wood and Cleo Wood have been married for three years. In March of this year Raymond decided to seek employment out of town. When he found a job in Ventura, he naturally assumed that Cleo would join him there. That’s when the trouble began.
Much to Raymond’s dismay, Cleo refused to budge. She claimed that she wanted to continue working in Pasadena and told her baffled husband that she couldn’t possibly move to Ventura because of the bad drinking water. Evidently Cleo and Raymond had never heard of Sparkletts.
Raymond doesn’t believe that his wife is being truthful about why she wants to remain in Pasadena. While working in Ventura he had discovered that his wife was spending every night alone together with their star boarder. “She became intoxicated with him.” Raymond said.
As far as Raymond is concerned, his wife’s excuses for staying in Pasadena don’t hold water.
For some time now Francis Grierson, better known in San Diego as Jesse Shepard, has been quietly living at the boarding house of a Hungarian benefactress who had taken in the aged author, spiritualist and improvisational musician and his longtime friend and secretary Lawrence Waldemar Tonner and was forgiving about their inability to pay the rent. Such is so often the fate for one like Grierson, who all his life fought Materialism despite great creative success.
Several days ago, Grierson had just completed one of his extraordinary piano performances, during which he channeled the creative energies of deceased musical geniuses and presented previously unheard compositions from beyond. As the music ceased, Grierson became very still, as was his habit… but after a long moment, his audience grew restless, and Tonner went to the piano to shake his friend. Grierson was dead, aged 79, most probably from heart disease exacerbated by malnutrition.
As a self-taught child musical prodigy he was the toast of Europe, a friend of Whitman and Verlaine, praised by Dumas pére and by Kings and Czars. Of his four-octave voice, the poet Stephane Mallarmé marveled, "It is not a voice, it is a choir!"
He claimed to be a silent partner to Madame Blavatsky in the founding of the Theosophical Society. His books (Modern Mysticism, The Valley of the Shadows) were best sellers, and in San Diego, the High Brothers built a fabulous home for him, the Villa Montezuma, in a vain hope that we would stay and sprinkle his spiritualist stardust over their sleepy burg.
But time moved for him, as it must for all of us, and in recent years he made a bit of a fool of himself, lecturing on "The Secret of Eternal Youth" with his lips and cheeks painted crimson, a toupee on top and a very obviously dyed moustache.
Just last week Grierson took a break from working on his new book of verse and pawned a gold watch given him by King Edward VII. But it wasn’t enough. Tonner went to the Assistance League begging support for the once celebrated man, and they were willing, but the aid came too late. Now they will take over his funeral arrangements, and ensure his disposal is a fitting one.
Francis Grierson (1848-1927) lies in state at Pierce Brothers, Washington and Figueroa. Won’t you go and pay your respects to one who flew so high and fell so far, before he is cremated tomorrow?
Greetings, citizens of the future! Click here to enjoy the debut bi-weekly podcast from your pals from the 1947project.
Featured is a lively and sometimes tasteless recap of recent crimes covered on the blog (including the Bath Township school disaster), recommended events for the next two weeks for listeners in 1927 or 2007, A Moment with Crimebo the Crime Clown, Nathan Marsak’s saucy faux adverts and a sneak announcement of a top secret Crime Bus tour not otherwise available to the public.
On the mic: Kim Cooper, Crimebo the Clown (Michael Perrick), Nathan Marsak, Mary McCoy and Joan Renner. We certainly hope you find this 40 minute podcast to your liking, and thank you for your kind attention.