Loathe Thy Neighbor

Red Wagon Murder principles Galloway & Christian

August 30, 1927
Mar Vista

Little Donald Galloway traded his red wagon to neighbor girl Naomi Christian for a bag of butter beans, but he didn’t tell his mother Madge. When she saw Naomi with her boy’s toy, she was steamed—yet another imposition from those terrible Christians, newly arrived Kentucky farm family, outsiders, interlopers. Wasn’t it enough, how they’d caused such a fuss about the pigeon coop, then insisted the Galloways keep back from the common fence? Well, she’d show Naomi Christian… and she snatched that wagon away! (She’d already cooked the beans.)

Naomi’s mama retaliated by relieving the Galloway kids of a tricycle, and the mothers met in the street and came to blows, Mrs. Galloway coming out the winner. Just another day at 3715 Barry Avenue.

When Walter Galloway, 37, came home that night, his wife had a full report on all the neighborly shenanigans. The next evening, the Galloways prepared to pick their kids up from the golf links, but first Galloway went looking for Christian, and when he couldn’t find him, used some raw language to neighbor Mrs. H.K. Cassidy. (He might have used rougher language still, had he known the Cassidys had loaned Thomas Christian a handgun, "for protection.") Mr. Cassidy objected to Galloway’s caddishness, and the two tussled in the Cassidy yard at 4040 East Boulevard.

Galloway lost. Then he rejoined Madge in the car, where upon they saw Thomas Christian, 52, stomping down the block. Galloway said they might as well see what the fellow had to say, maybe straighten everything out. Christian leaned into the car with one foot on the running board and Galloway asked, "So, Old Man Christian, who’s the boss in your house, you or your wife?"

"I’ll show you whose boss!" said Christian. That’s when he showed the gun. "I’ll show you whether I’ll shoot or not! When I shoot, I aim to kill!" And he did. Mrs. Galloway pulled her husband over to her side and bravely scooted under him and to the wheel, closer to the gunman. "Drive, honey, drive," urged Galloway, and she did, to Culver City Hospital. It took him three days to die, but he did today.

They called it the red wagon slaying, and the trial was notable for little Naomi taking the stand and swearing Mrs. Galloway had told her mother that one day she’d wake up a widow, and for the huge grin the defendant wore in the dock until the judge admonished him to knock it off.

In the end, the jury has to decide if Galloway had opened his car door and led Christian to believe he must shoot in self defense. They didn’t buy it. Or maybe they’d just had enough of the whole crazy neighborhood. The sentence: 1 to 10 years in San Quentin, and yet more ammunition for folks who believe you’d have to be nuts to live west of Western.

1947project podcast #6, August 24 2007

The 6th biweekly 1947project podcast is now online, and can be accessed at the internet archive, at our MOLI.com media page or at iTunes. So don’t say we never did anything for you.

About this episode: It’s time again to travel back to 1927 to see what hijinks our great-great-greats were up to. How’s about long distance swimming feats to celebrate turning 67, petting parties that turn into crime scenes, exploding kegs o’ wine in civic buildings and a very special kind of baked ham? Plus, Crimebo shares his favorite spots for meeting girls and advises a shy young man on how he too can be a Crime Clown,and the meat in a all-gal sandwich!

Winnie, Minnie, and Baby Norman

winniehowardLast week, we learned of a baby found dead in a Main Street flophouse, apparently strangled, with cotton stuffed in his nose and mouth.  Police were looking for the woman who’d registered for the hotel room, a Mrs. W. Howard, who’d left the establishment the day before the infant’s body was discovered.  Since then, things have gone from curious to curiouser.

Police found a bundle of little Norman Howard’s sleepers stashed in a downtown department store shortly after the body was found.  Captain of Detectives Bean said, "The mother is probably wandering around in a deranged condition and I believe she will either attempt to take her life or will put in an appearance at some institution within a few hours."

While they continued to search for Howard, police investigations uncovered some information about the missing mother and her recent activities.  Winnie Howard, 35, and her husband, Frank, had purchased a chicken farm in Norco, but separated soon afterwards; Winnie left the farm when she could no longer make the payments.  Since then, she’d been staying with her baby in hotels around Riverside and Corona, finally going to her twin sister Minnie’s home in Reseda.

 
Minnie Fabbro said that Winnie had left a few days before the baby was killed, and that she’d experienced a psychic vision where she saw her sister’s body floating in the ocean the night before police came to question her.

After days of searching, Winnie Howard was finally found on the evening of August 26, not in the ocean, but at a Sierra Madre campground.  She’d registered there under a false name, but had never claimed her campsite.  Instead, Winnie had spent the four days since the death of her son wandering the hills without food or water.  She was taken into custody, and placed under psychiatric watch.  Upon hearing of Howard’s plight, a group of philanthropic club women took pity on her, and retained Attorney Milton Golden to defend her.

Today, homicide investigator Eddie King files an insanity complaint against Howard, and the District Attorney’s Office warned that if Howard was found sane, they would charge her with murder.  Golden replied that, despite this, they would fight the insanity charge.  He said, "Mrs. Howard is not insane.  She accidentally rolled over on the child in her sleep and caused its death.  If the District Attorney’s office wants to file a murder complaint, we are ready to go to trial."

As far as the Los Angeles Times shows, it never came to that.  On September 6, Howard was declared sane and sent to a sanatorium for two weeks to complete her recovery.  Afterwards, she was released into Minnie’s custody.

Vultures Circle Over Los Angeles

Ill-fated Tour Group

Los Angeles
August 28, 1927

Five days ago, twenty Mexican “rebelsâ€Â descended on a train carrying among its passengers a group of American schoolteachers headed back to Los Angeles after a summer session at the University of Mexico. Eyewitnesses said about 40 shots were fired into the cars, one of which hit 27-year-old Florence M. Anderson of 3414 Third Avenue, Los Angeles, in the left hip. Anderson, a popular member of the travel party, was taken to a hospital in Maztalan. Doctors operated on the stricken high-school Spanish teacher, but peritonitis set in and she died later the same day, the only passenger injured in the melee.

Now comes word that Florence Anderson’s father and a cousin, Mrs. Jean Garrison, are fighting over the disposition of her body, which arrived in Los Angeles early today.

Spokane newspaperman Charles H. Anderson, says that Florence sent him letters from Mexico in which she declared her affection for him. He says he is “puzzledâ€Â by the relationship between Garrison and his daughter, and pointed to news reports which first described them as aunt and niece, then as cousins. At any rate, he intends to have Florence buried “with her ancestorsâ€Â in California—and asked Southern Pacific to release his daughter’s body to him.

Jean Garrison, on the other hand, claims to have her cousin’s will, handwritten less than two months ago on the eve of her departure for Mexico. It states that Florence Anderson wished to be buried next to her mother in a Denver cemetery.

The tiebreaker was an affidavit filled out this morning by Francis Flynn, manager of the ill-fated tour group. “When Miss Anderson was shot and afraid she would die,â€Â Flynn told reporters, “she called me over and told me to send her things to Mrs. Garrison and to notify her about everything, but that her father was not to be communicated with.â€Â There were “strained relationsâ€Â between them and “she had had only two communications from him in recent years.â€Â

The will and affidavit were good enough for Southern Pacific, which released Florence Anderson’s body to Mrs. Jean Garrison. Both are en route to Colorado. It is also being reported that Garrison has “demanded through the State Department $100,000 [approximately $1.2 million today] reparations of the Mexican government for her cousin’s death.â€Â

Postscript. Charles Anderson gave it one more shot. On September 1, 1927, the Times reported that he had retained counsel and asked for a photographic copy of his daughter’s will, which left the bulk of her $10,000 estate (about $118,000 in 2007) for the education of two young cousins, Claire and Arthur Strong (ages 13 and 11, respectively). Perhaps he thought better of it; the Times makes no further mention of this sordid mess.

The Politics of Insanity

Crazed Headline

August 27, 1927
Pasadena

All it takes to be considered insane these days is to assert your First Amendment right to free speech…with a knife. Oppressed Cartoon

According to night watchman F.M. Winchester, he was making his rounds when a man confronted him shouting, “Down with America! Sacco is dead!” The agitated man then lunged at him with a shiv.

The aptly named Winchester fired three shots above the man’s head, at which time the stranger turned and ran off into the night. The shots drew a crowd of on-lookers and police to Miller’s Alley near Marengo Avenue.

Detective Sergeants Cheek, Mansell, and Officer Armer followed the trail of the alleged lunatic, who was subsequently identified as Elias Soto Hernandez. The suspect was arrested at 230 East Union Street and transported to the County Hospital in Los Angeles on suspicion that he may be insane.

Hernandez was protesting the execution in Massachusetts of Italian born anarchists and convicted murderers, Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti. Their executions on August 23rd followed two trials of dubious fairness. Both trials were presided over by Judge Webster Thayer who displayed a blatant bias against the defendants. During the second trial, defense motions made by California attorney Fred Moore were frequently denied by the Judge who said, "No long-haired anarchist from California can run this court!" Thayer was also overheard referring to Sacco and Vanzetti as, “…those anarchistic bastards…”.

Sacco and VanzettiWhether or not the men were guilty of robbery and murder remains a topic for debate. What is certain is that their case was the culmination of the first so-called “Red Scare” which began amid the violence, chaos, and political unrest circling the globe during World War I.

World wide protests had failed to save the condemned men from the electric chair, but fifty years later on August 23, 1977, Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis (who became the democratic presidential nominee in 1988) issued the proclamation that the men had been treated unjustly and that "any disgrace should be forever removed from their names."

Persian Pussy Comes to Hollywood

Persian Headline

August 27, 1927
Hollywood

Future dwellers, don’t think we can’t see you smirking. This computational device works both ways you know. Drag your minds out of the gutter and we’ll tell you a cute story about a girl and her…cat.

Lydia Dixon is a stage actress from New York with an unusual reason for coming to Hollywood – her 18 year old Persian cat. The elderly white fluff ball was finding Gotham City winters too harsh, so when Lydia wrapped up a show on Broadway she made arrangements to vacation in Southern California with her favorite feline.

Lydia hadn’t considered working here but after spending a short time enjoying our glorious climate she wasWild Westcotts delighted when she was asked to play a role in the stage comedy, “The Wild Westcotts”. She accepted the part and can currently be seen on stage at the Vine Street Theater.

Lydia has said that she sometimes gets homesick for New York, but until her cat breathes its last she plans to stay right here in Tinseltown.

See, we told you it was a cute story. Shame on you!

Wrightwatch ’27

flwAugust 26, 1927
Madison, Wisc.

Frank Lloyd Wright was a favorite son of Los Angeles, where he threw off the Prairie mantle and began creating his kooky indigenous-flavored block houses (e.g., Storer, Millard, Ennis, Freeman) in contrast to the Spanish Colonial (or, say, Egyptoid Tudor Chateauxesque) prevalent in the Southland’s early 20s, before he said to hell with LA and lit out for his cursed home, Taliesin.  

There was much architectural buzz about Mr. Wright in 1927, as he’d already designed a theater model for Aline Barnsdall, who announced in January that she’d build the structure as part of her eight-acre “city cultural center” gift to Los Angeles of her own FLW Hollyhock House and property.

barnsdall

When the Smart People of to-day tour FLW’s block houses and consider his play of light over form, and gauge its relationship between the zig of Meiji woodblock prints and the zag of Walter Burley Griffin’s green thumb, they probably aren’t informed that ol’ FLW had a lurid past fit for any tabloid-worthy favorite son of Los Angeles.

For example, while married to Catherine Wright, he fell in love with another woman, one Mamah Borthwick.  Catherine wouldn’t divorce him, so Wright abandoned her and the six kids and went galavanting around Europe with Mamah.  On his return, Catherine still wouldn’t divorce him, so Wright brought scandal to Spring Green, Wisc. by shacking up with Mamah.  This was sorted out in short order when one of his domestics decided to utilize a Wrightian architectural principal—one door for all purposes—which made it easy to axe-murder seven people trying to flee a Taliesin you’d just set on fire.  And Mamah was one of those so axed.   

Catherine finally divorced Frank in 1922 on charges of desertion, so he could marry his new love, a morphine addict named Miriam Noel.  They married in 1923, separated in 1924; Wright began seeing Petrograd Ballet dancer Olgivanna Lazovich Milanov (thirty-three years his junior) in 1925 and was thereafter arrested in 1926 for violating the Mann (White-Slave Traffic) Act.  Oh, and Taliesin burned again, though this time without anybody being hacked to bits.

frankgettingpopped
Frank getting popped by the feds, 1926 

divorceThe lucky Wright-drama followers of 1927 were treated to tales of Frank and Miriam’s divorce.  Today, Miriam was awarded $6,000 ($66,179 USD2006) immediately, $30,000 (330,889) in trust, and $250 (2,757) a month for life.  The cash settlement and Wright’s promise that he "would lead a moral life" preceded the court decree.

With a cushy settlement like that, you’d think that’s the last we hear of Miss Miriam.  You’d be wrong.  She spends the next few years loudly proclaiming Wright’s brutality and repellant morals, with much effort expended in Washington attempting to get Olga deported.  In a typical Miriam moment, July 14, 1928, she is arrested on a charge of malicious mischief after breaking miriaminto FLW’s rented La Jolla home while he’s up in Los Angeles:  “So thorough was the wrecking that the colored maid in charge of the house in Wright’s absence collapsed from the shock and was taken to the Scripps Memorial Hospital.  ‘About fifteen minutes more and I would have leveled the place,’  Mrs. Wright is said to have told police when arrested…damage to the La Jolla home is estimated at about $1000…Mrs. Wright smiling pleaded guilty and following the court action, swore out complaints against her husband and Olga Hinzenberg, also known as Olga Milanoff, charging them with being lewd and dissolute persons.”

Miriam finally expires in 1930.

We’ll keep you posted on all breaking FLW news. 

I’d keep an eye on that Schindler character if I were you. 

Hot Toddy

schoolmarm 

August 25, 1927schoolteaching
Hollywood

It was announced today that a plucky schoolmarm from Back East is cast as female lead in Paramount’s big western outing this year, “The Gay Defender.”  She’ll be working with Richard Dix, who’s portraying Joaquin Murrietta in this colorful Gold Rush saga of ’48, filmed in our own Central California!

Well, that’s an exciting story, you say.  But so began the acting career…of doom!

I was seven years old when I found my purpose in life—to chase braless, acid-tongued women.  And what set me on this career path?  I’d just seen Monkey Business, where I witnessed Lucille Briggs…as portrayed by Thelma Todd.

thelmaandI

 

Thelma and me, 1931. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thelma, you two-fisted, drunken, nymphomaniacal brainiac Yankee; the pinups portray her as syrupy kute, but those of us with Thelma in our blood know you as the sexier, smarmier Dorothy Parker.  And whomever may have a penchant for Hollywood’s Babylonian side couldn’t do better than delve deep into the mysteries of Ms. Todd—did Roland West lock her in the garage, the Lincoln’s motor running?  Was she whacked by Lucky Luciano over sex and gambling interests at her Thelma Todd Café on PCH?  Was she killed by her ex-husband, notorious womanbeating, bootlegging pimp Pat DiCicco?  For all the grime and gore you can shake a stick at, go here.

Though don’t believe everything you read there—like the repetition of that fictitious Luciano business from Hollywood Babylon—and while they mention Thelma’s funeral at Forest Lawn, true, her 3:30pm December 19 private service was at Wee Kirk o’ the Heather, remember, when you see images of her casketed, they’re from when she lay in state at the (recently closed) Pierce Brothers mortuary on West Washington that day from 8am til 1pm (the window behind Thelma is the window on the left).

casketedpiercebrothersmort 

 

Objects of Obscure Significance

Gentle reader, Lynn Peril and I have contributed to a new anthology of stories and photographs of objects which their owners invest with meaning beyond the visible. Taking Things Seriously is edited by Joshua Glenn and Carol Hayes, and includes oddities from the collections of Luc Sante, Tony Millionaire, Bill Griffith and dozens of other living magnets for interesting oddities, among them a bagel burned by Christopher Walken. For more info, or to purchase a copy, kindly click below.

Dead Babies, Death and Dissolution

August 23, 1927
Los Angeles

The news of the day is not especially happy. Film director Josef Von Sternberg’s marriage to assistant director/actress Riza Royce has ended after a year following an disagreement over Miss Royce’s determination to have a nose job. Miss Royce had her nose straightened and collected cash and a car, while Mr. Von Sternberg kept their home at 6252 Drexel.

The first anniversary of the death of screen sheik Rudolph Valentino was occasion for a Catholic mass at the Church of the Blessed Sacrament attended by family and a few friends and fans, in stark contrast to the mob scenes that accompanied his burial. Following the service, the worshippers visited Valentino’s crypt in the Hollywood Mausoleum and strewed flowers around the aisles.

And down at a flophouse at 1104 South Main Street, after a day’s posting, the sign on a door warning the residents not to disturb the baby became an object of curiosity, and the door was opened. Inside, a tiny redheaded boy babe of perhaps 14 months, quite dead, with cotton stuffed in his mouth and nostrils, a bloody nightgown and signs of strangulation on the child’s neck. Police have taken fingerprints from the room and handwriting samples from the note and hotel register, and are searching for a Mrs. W. Howard of Los Angeles. The nameless infant now rests in the County Morgue.