The Celebrated Portia

August 15, 1927
Los Angeles

bullock1 When you’re the first female jurist to serve in the state of California, celebrity finds you, whether you want it or not.  Today, police began investigating a series of death threats sent to Municipal Judge Georgia Bullock.  The letters had been arriving steadily for six weeks, but Bullock hadn’t taken them seriously until last week, when she realized she was being followed by a lone figure in a large car.

The most recent missive read, "Leave state at once.  Your life will go and you will get this."  Beneath these lines was scrawled a crude drawing of a revolver.  The note was signed "Black Hand Boston – You Cannot Escape."

Bullock had received similar threats two years earlier, when she received her first appointment as a police judge in December 1924.  Shortly after assuming her post, she was the victim of a half-hearted poisoning attempt, when a "woman of foreign appearance" left a box of strangely-colored fudge in her quarters.

bullock2Happily, the villains never succeeded in carrying out their threats, and Bullock went on to serve as a judge in Los Angeles for 32 years until her retirement in 1955.  She specialized in hearing cases involving marriage, divorce, and homeless children, but her happiest years came at the end of her career, which she spent in the Adoption Department of the Juvenile Court.  Upon her retirement, she said, "I’m going to miss it. I’ll miss seeing the little ones that have been such darlings in my courtroom these last twelve years, and I’ll miss watching that wonderful happiness that childless couples show when they are adopting children."

Bullock died April 29, 1957, leaving two children, five grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

The Killer Slide of Long Beach

August 14, 1927
Long Beach

There was the sun’s blinding reflection on the water and the smell of burnt sugar and salt on the air today at the Silver Spray Pier amusement park in Long Beach. Summer is on the wane, and what should have been just one more seaside frolic before coeds return to campus and office girls to their typewriters ended in tragedy for 19-year-old Annie Navarro of 2805-1/2 North Main Street, Los Angeles. Along with a group of friends, the young woman visited a concession which featured a hardwood slide with a polished surface. When she was about halfway down the slide, however, Annie stopped dead—literally. Upon close inspection, it was discovered that she was impaled upon a foot-long sliver of wood. The makeshift dagger pierced several vital organs, and must have killed her instantly, said Dr. W.R. Palmer.

Silver Spray Pier survived another 21 years before it was torn down in 1948.

This Ain’t No Party…

Petting Party Headline

August 13, 1927
Los Angeles

These days a petting party can be dangerous in more ways than one…just ask Dagmar Carlson.
 Dagmar Carlson
Dagmar Carlson, 324 South Rimpau Street, and her escort, William Wade were necking in his car when a trio of bandits appeared and held them at gun point, relieving William of his wrist watch, billfold and a notebook.

As a witness for the prosecution Dagmar told Judge Baird, “When they stuck that gun in my face and told me to stick up my hands, that’s just what I did.”

Five men have been implicated in a series of petting party hold-ups, but only three have been charged with robbing Dagmar and William. The three men are: Jack Olympus, Clyde Thomas and Elmer Smith.  The remaining members of the gang, Orville Kindig and Maurice Schott, were ordered to be held on two other counts of robbery. Deputy DA Crail said that seventeen more counts of robbery will be filed against the men within the next few days.  Each of the crooks is being held on $10,000 bail ($119,742.53 USD 2007).

Petting party bandits continued to be the scourge of dark side streets and remote lover’s lanes all over the country. One of the most famous criminal cases in the history of Los Angeles would be that of notorious “Red Light Bandit”, Caryl Chessman. Chessman, reform school alum and former prison escapee, would be paroled in December 1947. On January 23, 1948 he would be arrested on seventeen counts of robbery, kidnapping and rape.

Legal maneuvering and numerous appeals, particularly regarding the application of California’s “Little Lindbergh” law, would keep his case in the courts for twelve years. He wrote four books while on death row, all became bestsellers. His case achieved so much notoriety that many famous people including Aldous Huxley, Ray Bradbury, Eleanor Roosevelt and Billy Graham, petitioned Governor Edmund G. Brown (an opponent of the death penalty) for clemency on the death row inmate’s behalf.

Caryl Chessman

Over the years he was granted eight reprieves – but Chessman was finally strapped into the chair in San Quentin’s lethal gas chamber on May 2, 1960. As the chamber filled with cyanide the emergency telephone rang, but the call came seconds too late to stop the execution.

Where Will You Be on March 10, 1933?

where will you be headline

August 13, 1927
Los Angeles

Eminent geologist Dr. Robert T. Hill has stated unequivocally that Southern California is in no danger from earthquakes.

In his keynote address to the Building Owners and Managers’ Association, Dr. Hill told the group that “there is not a thread of evidence on which to hang a prophecy of an earthquake in this district”. He went on to say that “our occasional little earth tremors merely give me a little thrill in the day time or rock me sounder to sleep at night”. Dr. Hill’s assertion that the Los Angeles area is seismically stable was music to the ears of association members who have been vigorously protesting recent insurance rate increases. The geologist characterized the insurance carriers as “alarmist”.

Well, Dr. Hill, dial ahead six years and set your “alarmist” for 5:55 pm on March 10, 1933 when a sizeable earthquake will devastate sections of Long Beach and kill 115 people.

Dr. Hill was conspicuously absent from local newspapers following the Long Beach quake – not even a “no comment”. We hope he wasn’t spending time in this building – whatever it was.

Long Beach Quake

Death Before Dishonor, Your Honor

 ghost

August 12, 1927
Los Angeles

leapAlice Miller, 24, was hanging out with her buddies Helen Myers, Norman Myers and Robert Wilkenson—the four of them all out on bail on various charges of grand larceny, pickpocketing, and vagrancy—in her little room at the Hillman Apartments, 1010 Ingraham Street.  

There’s a knock on the door.  Seems that Robert Seaner, the bondsman who’d bailed Alice out when she got pinched for pickpocketing in downtown department stores, has just received some disturbing news from Chief of Police Laubenhemer out in Milwaukee.  Was it true, Alice, that back in Milwaukee, where you were known as Mrs. Mary Becker, you escaped from the Industrial Home for Women at Taycheedah?  Would you be so kind as to come with me down to the station so we can sort this thing out?  Sure thing, says Alice, let me go in the other room for a moment and change into my street clothes.

aliceBut the moments come and go and the collected find the room empty.  She’s chosen death over jail:  through the open window, they see her broken body lying four stories below.

Despite the basal skull fracture, broken nose and arm, and assorted internal injuries, Alice survives to stand trial.  On November 26, Alice is freed on the charge of shoplifting, due to insufficient evidence; she is promptly rearrested by Milwaukee officers, who set off with their prisoner.
 taycheedah

Hit Records Make a Splash

August 11, 1927
Los Angeles
blasts

 

 

 

Three terrific explosions ripped through the Hall of Records to-day!  Who could have committed such a dastardly act?  Anarchists?  Bolsheviks?  Theosophists?  Vegetarians?
hor
The twelfth-floor room in which the blasts took place were stained and dripping a deep crimson red.  Surely the blood of the innocent!  Splattered across our noble governing offices by devious dynamiting moustachio’d malcontents!
kegs
On further investigation, all that dripping gore was discovered to be just red wine…for the Hall of Records, it seems, is a pretty swell place to stash some wine kegs. 

Until they burst.

Only in LA: Peat Fires, Mature Mermaids and Baboon Co-Pilots

August 10, 1927
Los Angeles 

At Hauser and Jefferson today, Vernadine Burke and Margaret Goesman, both 16, sank up to their ankles in the burning peat that was combusting merrily away beneath the surface. In trying to extricate themselves, the horrified girls also scorched their hands. They were treated at Receiving Hospital and released.

At the Biltmore, manager and VP James Woods was deftly fending off the insistent demands of Captain J.M. Burman, mariner, aviator and San Pedro resident, that the hotel back his scheme to fly from Japan to Los Angeles with his pet baboon as his co-pilot. Burman states he is ideally suited for such a flight because he knows all the Pacific mountain peaks by which he and his monkey pal would steer.

And in Venice, Mrs. Anna E. Van Skike was planning to celebrate her 67th birthday with a 25-mile swim from Point Dume back to her home shore, in recognition of the good health that regular swimming has brought her. Her doctors declared she had tuberculosis at 55 and would surely die, but swimming chased the lung blots away for the Oklahoma native. Hundreds turned out in 1924 to watch the lady dive off the Venice pier, swim ten miles along the shore and sing the "Star Spangled Banner" from the waves on her return.

This is Van Skike’s seventh birthday distance swim, and her longest, and will be done with the support, encouragement and liberal doses of hot coffee from lifeguards Slert and Kinney, who will row their boat in the wake of the olive oil-coated "aged mermaid." She’ll begin the feat at 2am and hopes to be home in time for dinner, though she often quips she would "rather swim than eat" and avoids fried food and pastry for their waterlogging effects. She prefers the pre-dawn hours for her feats, as the water is calmer then, and she is subject to seasickness in heavy surf. She has founded a distance swimming club, and recommends the activity to all.

anna e van skike

And in cultural insensitivity news…

August 9, 1927
Los Angeles 

The Mexican Consul, F.A. Pesqueira, today filed a complaint against the Los Angeles Police Commission, objecting to the recent arrests on charges of vagrancy of a large number of Mexican men who had been congregating in the Old Plaza near Olvera Street, as their countrymen have been doing since the founding of Los Angeles.

Pesqueira noted that many of those arrested were recently out of work, and had come to the Plaza to meet employment agents, something which was apparently not obvious to the policemen rounding them up.

Captain Hubbs of the vagrancy squad issued a statement that, in future, his men would ascertain how long a Plaza dweller had been without work before taking him into custody.

Bilingual officers wanted. 

Ghastly

August 8, 1927 
Los Angeles
 
daedler
 
Today, 17-year-old Paul Daedler was committed to the Preston School of Industry at Ione on vagrancy charges, and sentenced to remain there until he is 21.  It sounds harsh, until you dig a little deeper.

You see, at the tender age of 14, Paul Daedler was accused of one of the grisliest crimes in Pasadena history.  Paul came from a good family, but it was reported that he attended the Monroe School for Subnormal Children along with his friend, William "Billie" Forrester.  William was adopted, and had been in trouble with the law since he was 12, when he stole $500 from a neighbor and ran off to Arizona.

After school on December 5, 1923, Paul and William were playing with 5-year-old Arthur Martinez, the youngest child of a Pasadena gardener, in an abandoned factory at 950 S. Raymond Ave.  They had a loaded .22 with them.  Exactly what happened in the factory is uncertain, but little Arthur was shot twice in the head and once in the back.  The shots didn’t kill him, though.  Scared that Arthur would squeal on them, Paul and William beat him over the head with a brick, tied him to a pole with wire, and left him overnight.  When they came back to the factory the next day, (to free him, they said), the boy was dead.

Paul and William went to the police and reported that they "found" Arthur in the factory.  However, the police were suspicious of the boys, and after questioning, both confessed.  At the inquest, the two expressed little emotion or remorse for what they had done, though the truant officer sitting near them in the courtroom had them shaking in their boots.

On December 20 hearing, Paul was joined by two lawyers, his parents, sisters, and a bevy of witnesses, while William had only his mother by his side.  Although Paul had signed two confessions of guilt, his lawyers called witnesses to establish Paul’s alibi for the time of the killing.  Paul also stated that he’d attended school on December 5, then rode his bicycle to a confirmation class at his church.  The pastor of Paul’s church testified that Paul had been in class, although his schoolteacher, Miss Anna Crane, said that she had not seen Paul after 2pm on the day of the murder.

William was sent to the Preston State School on his 15th birthday to await trial, while Paul was sent to the Whittier State School.  Their names and school ID numbers are included in the California Youth Authority Name Index for 1924 .  However, a month after being sentenced to Ione, William produced a confession that absolved Paul of all blame in the killing.  In his confession, William said, "I pulled the gun and shot him.  Then I though I would put the blame on someone else, so I shot him two more times.  I happened to think that whenever Paul Daedler got mad, he always threw bricks, so I decided to throw bricks at Arthur so it would appear that Paul hit him."

Later, it was revealed that a person interested in the case of Paul Daedler had visited him at the Preston School earlier and persuaded him to change his confession.  The possibility that Paul’s family pressured the poor and unconnected William to take the rap for his friend is not unthinkable.  As the boys sat in juvenile facilities, the Daedler family and their lawyers sought a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of Paul, saying that he had been confined to Whittier without a trial before a jury.

The judge upheld Paul’s detention.

Finally, after serving 17 months at Whittier, Paul was released into the custody of a judge, who ruled that the boy must leave the state, never to return.  Paul’s father, Louis Daedler took him east so he could begin a new life.  However, less than two years later, Paul was in County Jail on a vagrancy charge, having hitchhiked his way back to California.  And today, he was returned to the juvenile facility.  If the case did come to trial at some point, it was not reported in the Times.

Paul Daedler died in Los Angeles on December 21, 1981.  William Forrester was paroled from the Preston School on November 19, 1925, and disappeared without a trace.

Exclusive! Flapper Fashions Lead to Arrest, Disease

August 7, 1927

Bathing Beauty of 1927

Grandma knew better than to show her ankles on the street, but today’s young Jezebels think nothing of flaunting bare knees, backs, and arms in the public square. In a pair of exclusives to the Los Angeles Times, reporters covered the scourge of flapper fashions.

In woodsy Ellenville, New York, Chief of Police Ross bluntly described the problem facing his village. "They really don’t wear enough clothes, the girls who come here for the summer," he said today. Not that the town fathers objected to "short dresses and low-necked gowns, or even bathing suits" as long as the wearer appeared "to have at least a vague interest in swimming." Herein lay the problem. "Somehow a fad got started . . .," Chief Ross explained, "and now half of the girls are running around the streets dressed only in swimming trunks and blouses." On the streets, mind you, where children and the good town fathers might see them—and where no swimming ever took place. "Others wear some little jumpers that look like men’s track pants, sweaters and sandals," the law man continued, perhaps evidencing a more than professional interest in the topic. But woe to these sun-worshippers and their fans: Mayor Wells plans to call a meeting of city trustees next week to pass an ordinance compelling "the girls to wear more clothes."

Meanwhile, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Dr. Hoye E. Dearholt today announced that "[s]cantiness in women’s dress is primarily responsible" for a rise in "the white plague" of tuberculosis among young women. According to Dr. Dearholt (chief of staff at the Wisconsin Tuberculosis Association), girls and young women between the ages of 15 and 25 who diet to attain fashionably boyish figures and then dress in revealing clothing lower their resistance and set themselves up as easy prey for the disease. "There is a point in the race for scanty clothing at which a girl must stop, lest the body be chilled too much and weakened," the doctor noted before calling for "dress reform." Fashions "somewhere between the petticoat days of two decades ago and the extreme flimsiness of the present day dress would be ideal," he noted.

One only hopes Mayor Wells, Chief Ross, and Dr. Dearholt didn’t live to see the advent of the miniskirt and monokini in the 1960s.