Does Not Necessarily Result in Better-Smelling Bandits

January 30, 1927
Los Angeles, CA
 
banditry 
Today was a good day to be a bad guy in Los Angeles, and a profitable one, too.  Calls to police flooded in from the terrorized, the carjacked, the held-up, and the home invaded, for a total of 16 robberies and 30 burglaries in a single day.

Poor Catherine Schmidt, a clerk at the Van De Camp bakery at 3601 Sunset, was robbed for the second time in a single week.  The scar-faced stick-up man made off with $17, and Catherine recognized him as the same guy who’d rifled through her register just a few days previous.

Drug store owner Charles A. Elliott had already closed up shop when bandits struck, and was spared the indignity of having a gun waved in his face.  However, his safe was cracked and $300 liberated, along with 22 pints of medicinal whiskey.  Pharmacy grade — nice!

John S. Smith was held up at Mulholland and Laurel Canyon, and dragged from his car.  When the thugs discovered that Smith didn’t have any money on him, they swiped his hat and coat and cut his ignition wires.  Jack Olonglin was also stranded roadside when a carjacking pair set up a roadblock at Yale and Wilshire, and took $300 and two suitcases of clothing from him before disabling his auto.

K.E. Winters, laundry truck driver, was stalled at Avenue 37 and Dayton when he was set upon by another would-be robber.  However, as Winters  handed over the money, he whipped up a hard luck story about not being able to cover his bills as it was.  His assailant took pity on him, and returned the money, saying, "Oh well.  I guess I’m too soft-hearted to be a bandit anyway.  Slip me enought to buy a bed and some eats and I’ll let you go."

Can’t believe that one worked, but nicely played, Mr. Winters.

The Dare-Devil Club of Gardena

Get Your Boy Ready for Crime School!January 29, 1927
Gardena

The Artful Dodger would have been nothing without his teacher, Fagin, but the Dare-Devil Club of Gardena didn’t need anybody to train them in the techniques of thievery—they did it themselves. Indeed, the cops called their social club a “crime school.” Today, on the cusp of the club’s first “graduation,” police arrested five of its officers, all between the ages of 10 and 14. The charges? Burglary. The enterprising young criminals first broke into the Gardena schoolhouse. They also plagued Gardena resident T. Tsuchiyare, breaking into his house on three separate occasions and stealing his Kodak camera, jewelry, even the money from his children’s piggybanks. The boys are scheduled to appear before Judge Archibald next week. Further arrests are expected before then.

Cop Killer

cop killer headline

January 28, 1927
Los Angeles

The hunt is on for a cop killer. Traffic Officer Parley Bennett was mortally wounded when he attempted to halt a robbery at Brodin Millinery Company. Bennett was attempting to pull out his revolver when he was shot by the bandit. His weapon discharged as he fell, but fortunately no one was injured by the stray slug. Officer Bennett was dead before he hit the floor.

Services for the slain officer would be held at the Brown Brothers Las Flores Chapel, 935 West Washington Street, and he would be interred at Evergreen Cemetery.

Parley’s widow, Elizabeth, received $1,000 [$12,071.03 USD 2007] worth of police insurance, and merchants on Los Angeles Street (where Bennett died) passed the hat and collected a total of $1,071 for the bereaved woman.

While the fallen officer was being mourned, more that 150 policemen searched in vain for his slayer. Chief of Detectives Cline stated that the search for Parley’s killer would continue indefinitely.

Although 250 suspects would be taken in for questioning, none of them would be positively identified by witnesses to the shooting. There would be the usual sightings of men answering the description of the desperado, but each suspect would ultimately be released. Eventually the leads would dry up, and Officer Bennett’s murder would remain unsolved.

1947project Podcast #13, January 2008

The LA true crime geeks riff on cases from January 1927, including the tale of Bad Bert Best, Mr. Wrigley’s oceanic marathon, the case of the twisted wrist and a near-deadly love triangle. Crimebo shares his economic stimulus package with guest experts Philip Marx and Big Dicky Swazy, plus there are odd ads from the school district, city zoo and the Progressive Party. It’s fun fun fun and gore gore gore for you and yours. Listen at iTunes or Archive.org.

The Hot Roddin’ Bartimaeus

January 27, 1927
Los Angeles

elasticizeHayward Thompson toured Los Angeles today, and pronounced on KFWB this evening (through the courtesy of the Times and Gartzman, Inc, your friendly local Oakland distributor) that driving through Los Angeles was going to be a snap.  Without the use of his eyes, of course.  Seems he doesn’t need them—Thompson was blinded when a German shell took out part of his brain at Bois de Belleau, and then miraculously regained his sight—and he’s been able to read, golf, shoot rifle matches, since then, while blindfolded.

Thompson, 47 years of age though who reportedly looks 30, has made 332 paroptic public exhibhibitions, in every great city of America and Europe, and will make this, his Los Angeles trip, at one hundred miles, his last.

Thompson states that he has more competition here than anywhere else in the world.  “Driving around Los Angeles I find a good many blind drivers,” he said.  “I even encountered one who was blind drunk.”

On January 31st, his 333rd exhibition (spooky) Thompson was blindfolded by Deputy Chief of Police Spellman, and did indeed motor one hundred miles through the congested centers of Los Angeles, Hollywood and Pasadena, obeying all signals and laws, without a hitch.

And now he’s ceased.  He’s had to stop because in having only two layers of skin (as opposed to the three you and I have), in conjunction with the fasting he must undergo to sharpen his dermoptic wits, has proven bad for his health.  

In retirement, Thompson plans on devoting the rest of his life to hypnotizing people over the radio, via Mesmer’s system of suggestion.

Belshazzar only had a Thousand

January 26, 1927
Los Angeles

Scientists and composers
, having long toiled in vain to produce color symphonies, have been bested by, of course, an ingenious Angeleno.  

tomorrowtheworldLeo Geasland, an electrician at the El Patio Ballroom, has finally perfected the synchronization of color and music.  

Geasland’s invention consists of a ten-key keyboard on his right, and a switchboard on his left.  These he operate in rhythm to the orchtestra, throwing changing rhythmic combinations to 6,000 incandescent bulbs.  With an unlimited combination of 280 major colors, he controls 1,800 rose, 1,500 red, 1,000 amber and 2,000 blue lights.  (Green was omitted from Geasland’s color scheme because of its effect on the complexion; this we applaud.)  The contraption’s 1,400 wires and 100 circuits is about adequate to light a city of 30,000.  Writes the Times, “As the fingers of Geasland move over the keys, the colors flash and dance on the walls, ceiling and pillars of the ballroom in perfect synchronization to the music, producing an effect of beauty and harmony that is unusual.”

Because there were no contemporary accounts of what it was like to witness the spectacle of the “color piano,” I’m just going to go ahead and make one up:

Woodrow Harrelson, an employee at Imperial Valley Hemp, waxed rhapsodic about the new process.  “It was swell, I’ll tell you.  We heard—saw?—‘Tiptoe Through the Tulips’ and ‘Breezin’ Along with the Breeze’ and such, and some zorchy new rags like the ‘Kinkajou.’  But when they banged out that new Jelly Roll Morton jazz, we said, hotcha!  Even the long-hair stuff was the berries, and how!  Who woulda thought Busoni would make you all nutty?”  Judging from Mr. Harrelson, it is apparent that a peculiar side-effect of the Color Piano is a glassy quality and "bloodshottedness" of the eye.

ElPatio1927In a 1933 article about Geasland’s apparatus, it’s noted that the blind and deaf are admitted for free every Monday evening to the Rainbow Gardens (the El Patio became the Rainbow in 1930, and thereafter the Palomar Ballroom).  The deaf would dance to the base and time beats of the music in rhythm to the lights, as other lights would carry on the harmony.  The blind could just dance to the music, but Geasland declared that they, too, were noticeably affected by the lights they could not see.  “They seem to feel them,” said Geasland.  “Often a blind couple will get right under a circle of the base lights and keep dancing around and around right there.  I have watched them many times, and feel sure they feel they rhythm of the lights they cannot see.”

Geasland goes on to say that in time, big orchestras everywhere will have light players as well as instrument players.  “They make rhythm visible…so they help people feel and appreciate the music.”

Sadly, on October 2, 1939, the bass viol player dropped his resin rag on a 150-watt floodlight during Lionel Kaye’s “daffy auction,” and the Patio/Rainbow/Palomar burned to the ground, Gaesland’s invention therein.

The Case of the Twisted Wrist

January 25, 1927
Los Angeles

"Wanna make some easy money? Come over here. Hang on a sec, let me just fix my coat, and now… here we go, will ya look at that! Looks like my wrist’s broken, eh? Naw, I just popped it out of the joint. It’s easy if you know how, especially if it’s been broken as many times as mine has. Now about that money. See, I’ll get a ride in your taxi, and while we’re riding, I’ll yell and come up with the broken wrist. Your boss’ll pay me to go away! You do the talking, and I’ll do the yelling. I can make my face look green, too, if I concentrate. And what we make, I’ll split with you. I’ll take nothing less than $2500. It can’t lose!"

Alas, poor Calaway Rice and his gal Ruth Richardson, they thought Yellow Cab driver Paul C. Alexander had a dishonest face, but they were very wrong. Alexander took the scheme straight from Rice’s downtown hotel room to his boss, who told him to go through with the charade. It went on under the scrutiny of a police escort, who broke in on the Main Street doctor’s splinting party to put ol’ Popped Joints Rice and Miss Richardson in irons.

The charge was conspiracy to commit fraud. And while Rice would be convicted of this crime, the lady was acquitted, which gave Rice’s attorney the opportunity to appeal to the judge—how could a man conspire alone? It was a good point, and on May 9, our loose-limbed hero was turned loose to scam again.

Demon Liquor

January 23, 1927
Pasadena, CA 
 
latourW.H. Latour, a 71-year-old night watchman at the Lamanda Park Citrus Packing Plant in Pasadena, was propped up with a bottle of white lightning when he caught Tom Clark working on his car on the plant grounds.  When Latour told him to leave, Clark nodded, and prepared to set off on his way.

But then, Latour became convinced that the car was trying to attack him, and pulled a gun on it.  After firing two shots at Clark’s car, Latour raised his arm to wave off the terrifying apparition and fired again — directly into his own hand.

Elsewhere in Los Angeles today, another man paid a less gory price for intemperance.

soberEarlier this month, police were called to Mt. Washington Dr. following reports of a dead body slumped in a car along the side of the road.  But James Proffit wasn’t dead — only dead drunk, and "there were several dead soldiers around him in the form of empty bottles from which the spirits had fled."

Today in court, Proffit had some interesting things to say for himself.  "It’s the holidays and festivities that get me in trouble," Proffit told Municipal Judge Turney.  "I was in jail at Thanksgiving for being drunk, and it was the same thing at Christmas and New Year’s.  I wouldn’t be here now, but my brother got married, and of course, I was there as a guest."

Turns out, Proffit had forgotten his duty to drive the newlyweds home from the reception.  When he swerved off the road and got them all stuck in the mud, the bride and groom decided to walk the rest of the way home, leaving Proffit to fend for himself.  Proffit was fined $200.

Drunken Geezer Shoots Pal, Self

January 22, 1927
Altadena

Mayhem ruled the backyard at 1795 Beverly Drive in Aladena this morning, when two 70-year-old pals ended a friendship of almost two decades with a gun. It all started when little Jimmie Jamison, 8-year-old grandson of George Ehret, heard noises from the cellar. The youngster investigated, and discovered Nicholas Tuck drunkenly stumbling around a pile of boxes in the basement. Tuck usually occupied a cottage at the rear of the lot, but for reasons unknown (but probably having to do with his alcohol-soaked condition) climbed through a small side window into the cellar at the main house. He then discovered all the doors were locked—and he couldn’t get back through window. “Let me out and I won’t hurt you,” he told Jimmie, who obligingly opened the cellar door for grandpa’s drunken buddy.

Meanwhile, George Ehret, armed with a heavy cane, was headed to the backyard to see about all the commotion. When Tuck, climbing out of the cellar, saw Ehret, he pulled a gun (or so Ehret says). As the two men scuffled, “the gun exploded,” lodging a bullet in Ehret’s thigh. Tuck then fired a shot at Ehret, but missed. He ran a few steps, placed the muzzle against his own head and pulled the trigger. He is close to death.

Ehret told police that Tuck was a mean drunk, and had on more than one occasion threatened him with a gun. He is expected to make a full recovery.

1947project nominated for a Capote Award

I grew up with a big ol’ hopeless crush on Tru, so it’s a thrill to see that the In Cold Blog community has nominated 1947project for a Capote Award for Best True Crime Blog of 2007. The voting is a little odd in that they are asking people to vote daily until the polls close.

There are a bunch of fine blogs in the running, so I’ll just send you to that page and suggest you vote early and often if inclined. Thanks, ICB!