1947project Podcast #10, Thanksgiving episode

Pygmies run amok on Main Street, salvation is dispensed from a machine and Crimebo shares some very special Thanksgiving traditions on this latest edition of the podcastination, also featuring Kim Cooper, Nathan Marsak and Joan Renner.

The podcast is available on Moli, through itunes and ourmedia.

Grapes of Wrath



November 11, 1927
Los Angeles

Mrs. Marie Steen was minding her own beeswax tonight in her home at 8619 Grape Street, when a short, heavy-set man appeared at her door.  He informed her that her husband had been in an accident, and that she’d better board the eastbound R car, go to the end of the line and meet the man who’d take her to her husband.  Marie did as she was told, and at the end of the car line was met by a man in a new automobile who took her north on Eastern Avenue.  When they reached an isolated spot, he, for reasons unknown, ripped her dress open at the neck, struck her over the head, and threw iodine in her face.

She was treated at Gardens Hospital and returned home.

Mrs. Steen certainly looks like she can take care of herself.  On the other hand, Grape Street can be a pretty rough place.

Mission Accomplished

zazalaNovember 10, 1927
San Bernardino

Kim’s post a few days ago about the ineffectual hammer attack led me to this tale, which ends in what those of the gaming community refer to as a “finishing move.”

Ralph J. Zazala, 37, was sweet on Grace Hardesty, 35.  He’d been seeing her for a spell.  They took a little ride three miles north of Berdoo.  Perhaps he hummed a little tune.  He parked.  Maybe he’d sneak a little smooch!  Oh, and he brought along some things.  

The blood-and-gore stained hammer disclosed that Grace had fought, in the car, long and hard for her life, and eventually escaped.  She was on her knees at the roadside, apparently pleading for mercy, when he put his other tool, the shotgun, in her mouth and pulled the trigger.  He then turned the weapon on himself.

Sheriff Shay found letters in Grace’s pocket indicating that while she and Ralph had been acquainted for some time, she was in fact a Mrs. Grace Hardesty, a fact to which Ralph evidently objected.  

And so ended more love-stained, blood-stained Southern California romantic bliss.

Bad dads, loud pygmies and danger on the set

November 8, 1927
Los Angeles

Oddities around town:

World class crumb-bum Joseph Peck returned from a trip to Fort Worth only to discover he was to be made an example by the City Council, seeking to alleviate the costs associated with relief payments provided to mothers whose husbands refused to support their families. Blanche Peck, 42, of 2939 West Avenue 37, has been raising five children, ages 1 to 11, without any help from Joseph since December 1925. Now she’ll be guaranteed $2 a day for a year. That’s Papa Joe’s pay for pounding on L.A.’s new rock pile.

In Griffith Park, camera operator Clifford Shirpser was shooting an exploding airplane for a new William Wellman picture when he stumbled over a stone and went ass over teakettle. The heavy camera went up, then brained the fallen technician. He came to after fifteen minutes. (Shirpser was likely shooting additional footage for Wings, which had debuted in New York in August, but which did not receive its Los Angeles premiere until January 1928.)

And wee, noisy Ill Ill the "untamed, tree-climbing pygmy" barker, recently arrested in front of the Dreamland Palace at 539 South Main Street, copped a guilty plea for violating the city’s anti-ballyhoo ordinance on two occasions, and paid $100 in fines, thus avoiding a tree-free stint in the Lincoln Heights callaboose.

An Affront to God

November 7, 1927

The Department of Religion at Occidental College is up in arms today, but what could it be about?  Gin mills and jake legs?  The divorce rate?  The suicide rate?  The saucily exposed shins of young women?

Naw, it’s the scientists again.  And not just any scientists… social scientists.
Department head Dr. J. Hudson Ballard condemns behaviorist psychology, saying that it "destroys belief in self, in virtue, in immortality, and in God.  It kills the belief in sin, and in the necessity for a Savior, other than as a nerve specialist."

Then again, those early behaviorists were an ethically suspect bunch.  One, John B. Watson, was notorious for his 1920 "Little Albert" experiment, in which an 11-month-old boy was conditioned to experience fear when he was presented with a white rat (previously he’d gotten along swimmingly with the critters).  An unfortunate side effect of the experiment was that little Albert also became distressed when presented with a variety of white, furry things including, but not limited to: a dog, a fur coat, and Watson himself.

Apparently, Watson "meant" to uncondition little Albert, but never got around to it.

So perhaps Dr. Ballard was onto something after all — but just wait a few years until he gets a load of a fellow named B.F. Skinner.

We’re a Happy Family-No, Really!

Virginia Lee Corbin

November 6, 1927

Mrs. L.A. Corbin, 45, was rushed to the police receiving hospital today after she telephoned her neighbor and declared, “I have just swallowed enough poison to kill ten men!” While doctors labored to save Mrs. Corbin’s life, her 17-year-old daughter, former child star and current film ingĂ©nue Virginia Lee Corbin, told police she was ready to sign an insanity complaint against her mother. Mrs. Corbin had “taken all the money I’ve made in pictures,” Virginia Lee told detectives. “Mother wanted more money tonight and I wouldn’t give it to her; besides, she wouldn’t let me go out. I guess that’s the reason for all this. Let’s get it over with. If she acted this way before, she’ll do it again.” An ambulance took Mrs. Corbin to General Hospital’s psych ward, while a Times reporter snapped a photo of disgruntled looking Virginia Lee leaving the Georgia Street Police Station.

Two days later, Virginia withdrew her complaint. “She didn’t know what she was signing when she signed the complaint,” explained her adopted sister, Ruth Miehle. “Police Mystified by Action” read the Times sub-head that day; detectives noted that that Virginia had questioned them at length about the ramifications of signing the complaint, and went so far as to ask them to sign the document as complaining witnesses. Virginia herself was conspicuously unavailable for comment, so Ruth explained further: “There is absolutely nothing to the statements that Virginia is angry at mother over money matters.” Virginia’s assertions to the contrary, Ruth reported, were “misstatements by the police. But the police were equally certain that the statements had been made,” reported the Times. At any rate, Mrs. Corbin was moved to the relative comfort of the Rosemeade Sanatorium.

A Happy Family

On November 9, the Times ran a photo of a smiling Virginia and Ruth on either side of their wheelchair-bound mother. “The family life of Virginia Lee Corbin once more is announced as harmonious,” wrote columnist Harry Carr shortly thereafter. “The loving daughters have not only released their mother from danger of going to a cell for the insane, but they have been publicly photographed chucking her under chin. I just don’t see the connection, but I have a feeling that chucking one’s relative’s under the chin is a public indication that you didn’t mean what you said-or something. At any rate, during the long winter evenings that family have much to talk about.” Or not-for despite the apparent reconciliation, Virginia petitioned the court for and was a granted a guardian. She also established a trust fund as a “first step toward recuperating asserted financial losses” due to “maternal extravagances.”

Mrs. Corbin recovered from her suicide attempt. The Corbin family contained to display a flair for drama. In 1929, the Times reported that Virginia was missing, possibly kidnapped, before she showed up on a train bound for New York City. Five years later, Mrs. Corbin instigated a search for Virginia and her family after hearing of “reports” in the British press that they were stranded in Belgium. Again, they were safe in New York.

Virginia Lee Corbin continued to act in smaller and smaller roles. “When the talkies began to displace the silent films, I decided an English accent would be a great help,” she told the press in 1930. Nevertheless, by 1936 the Times included her in an article devoted to the “Many Forgotten Names” of the previous decade. Her first marriage ended in divorce when her broker husband accused her of “habitual drunkenness.” Whether or not it was true, Corbin lost custody of both her sons. She died in 1942 of either heart disease or tuberculosis. She was only 32 years old.

Because Free Love isn’t Free

freeloveNovember 3, 1927
White Plains, New York

Those free love proponents are at it again!  Everybody knows you should pay for love (with your soul).  If we ran rampant with free love—divorced from the constraints of law—the next thing you know we’d have homosexuality and obscenity and, well, divorce!  And eventually…hippies!  And, you know, free love!  And you know where that sort of thing leads.  Female sexual pleasure.

In any event, it should come as no surprise that United World Communism has the United States as its target for the promulgation of Free Love.  But fear not, as one lone woman stands stalwart against the Reds and their revolutionary sexuality:  Mrs. B. L. Robinson, President of the Massachusetts Public Interests League, and wife of Prof. B. L. Robinson, professor of botany at Harvard University.  She addressed members of the Women’s Political Study Club of White Plains on the topic of “Alien Propaganda in Our Colleges and Schools.”

Mrs. Robinson denounced the radical groups Fellowship of Youth for Peace and the National Federation of Students, but saved her most vitriolic vitriol for that incendiary demagogue whose unholy mission it is to urge our children to use birth control:  Bertrand Russell.  Unbelievably, stated Mrs. Robinson, Russell’s What I Believe was used in the freshman year English course in Smith College, and over 170 other schools, though the book condones both sex perversion and adultery (Mrs. Robinson was especially peeved with Smith College’s über-lefty Harry Elmer Barnes friendship with Russell and Barnes’ gleeful, secular-humanist demoralizing of twentieth-century womanhood).

Of course, this is 1927, and Russell still hadn’t made his big splash with his piece of 1929 agitprop Marriage and Morals, in which he goes on about how young people can try out intercourse with each other if they so wish before (or without!) getting married—heck, use birth control and get divorced if you wanna!

Now Mrs. Robinson, though Russell was one of those evil lefty one-worlder internationalists (we still fight them to-day!), did you not realize that in discussing birth control he was speaking of population control in general and of preserving your very race, endangered species that it is, in particular?  Surely you thought of that as you spoke to your crowd there in aptly-named White Plains:  

This policy may last some time, but in the end under it we shall have to give way–we are only putting off the evil day; the one real remedy is birth control, that is getting the people of the world to limit themselves to those numbers which they can keep upon their own soil… I do not see how we can hope permanently to be strong enough to keep the coloured races out; sooner or later they are bound to overflow, so the best we can do is to hope that those nations will see the wisdom of Birth Control…. We need a strong international authority.   
            – "Lecture by the Hon. Bertrand Russell", Birth Control News, December 1922

Oh, and by the way Mrs. Robinson, you haven’t all that much to fear from Reds of the Russian variety.  By the end of the 20s Stalin had quashed all the strides made after the October Revolution; you’ve much more to fear from the English and the Lithuanians and the Japanese and the French and the Germans and the Australians

The Origins of the Bundy Method

November 1, 1927
Los Angeles

Trick or treat… or how’s about a smattering of hammer blows about the head?

Such was the reward for would-be good Samaritan C.P. Kirsch, who picked up a shabby fellow who was hobbling along on crutches in the darkness beyond the Adams Street train line. The guest sat in back with Kirsch’s mother-in-law Edith Kneale, and once they were underway, pulled out a hammer and began hitting Mr. Kirsch over the head—but rather gently, since Kirsch turned around and fought back, chasing the would-be slayer away with his crutches under his arm. The victim and Mrs. Kneale both reside at 2353 West 29th Place.

And on the subject of folks hit over the head with more accuracy, R.I.P. Linda Stein. The Ramones curse strikes again.

The Venice Slasher

October 31, 1927
Venice, CA
A gory scene unfolded at the Venice Police Station today as 23-year-old Eddie Berry burst through the front door with a slit throat and passed out on the floor.
An employee of the Venice Speedboat Company, Berry had been working on the Venice Pier when he was accosted by a woman packing a knife in her handbag.   The dame was Berry’s sweet wife.  She began to argue with him, then drew out her knife and slashed him across the throat, narrowly missing his jugular vein.
Berry was taken to the emergency room for stitches, while police went out in search of the estranged wife.  However, the search was later dropped when Berry refused to press charges.
Okay, it’s not much of a Halloween story, but it was this or the story of a few rowdy teens from the Redlands being sent to a YWCA dance to keep them from vandalizing property.  Plus, isn’t "The Venice Slasher" a great name for a would-be murderess?