News of the Day

December 22, 1927
Los Angeles

Let’s put up our feet and see what’s gone on in the world this day.  Not much.  The odd curiosity or two.   
hemp
According to our concerned friends at the paper, it seems the Mexicans are making a menace of themselves, using flowers of the “hemp” plant as some sort of habit-forming drug (they’re such a resourceful people!).  Apparently the Imperial Linen Products Company has blanketed the Imperial Valley with the stuff.  Well, I’m sure the State will sort this one out to everybody’s satisfaction.

 

 

onelastcigOh dear, here’s another fellow who just couldn’t resist a final cigarette.  Seems J. B. Smith left the wife at his Glendale home and checked into the LaViolette Hotel on North Maclay in San Fernando.  He brought with him a stack of goodbye letters indicating his fears about going mad, and a loaf of bread—not for snacking, but for soaking in water and wadding into the wafty windows and drafty doors (my hat off again to the resourcefulness of our Southlanders).  Of course, no-one banks on the dang’d jets taking so long.  Thankfully J. B. also brought along a pack of smokes to pass the time…the hole blown in the wall was six feet in diameter.  J. B.’s smoldering remains lived long enough to say goodbye to his wife at the hospital, but not much longer than that.

ostrichmanAnd oh my, it seems one of my favorite attractions of the stage, Sidney Barnes the Human Ostrich, has expired in New Orleans.  After complaining of stomach pains, the Homo Struthio underwent an operation to remove a cigar box full of bolts, carpet tacks, razor blades, washers and nails from therein—Barnes did not emerge alive.  Guess growing up to be a carnival side can be rough, kids!

 mistakenidentity

And what do have we here…a Coroner’s inquest will be held at 1:30 today to determine whether Ralph McCoy, in City Jail on suspicion of robbery, actually hung himself in his cell or was killed by fellow prisoners—it seems McCoy bears (well, bore) a resemblance to one William Edward Hickman.

Oh yeah.  Hickman.  Some mention in the paper about him, too.

vaunted thanksfoild

sadfasdfasylummotherfurorfasherimgadfadqueerquirksleepsmosherconfessionescapedattackflaw2flightouttaindictmentsdfasdf hicktaked

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Matthew 5:16 Goes Electric

 shedslight

captfixitDecember 16, 1927
Sawtelle

 

Los Angeles Police Captain W. L. Hagenbaugh feeds more juice into the stills of Sawtelle than he gets from them; after he raids the moonshiners and chops up their contraptions of copper and coil, he fashions fixtures and floor lamps for his new nine-room Spanish job up on Comstock in Westwood.

 

 

Recently, materials from three forty gallon bootleg stills, lined in some very fine silver, have been reclaimed from their sinful ways and turned toward this honest enterprise.

 

This writer’s inquisitive interests now satisfied—yeah, you’re green, I get it—my acquisitive interest takes over:  where are these shades now?

 

 

4:34? No Loophole

runDecember 15, 1927 

Miss Grace Shannon, national secretary of our own YWCA, has just returned from Turkey, and good news:  there’s no Dumb Doras there!  Sure, it’s all right for a man to have four wives (“to which every good Mussulman says ‘Amen,’” chuckles Ms. Shannon), but the crafty gals there under Atatürk (we say atagirl!) have found some loophole that goes on to contradict such (referring to the famous Koranic Koran 4:3/Koran 4:129 Paradox).  Yes, it seems the new republic’s progressive divorce laws and campaigns for women’s sufferage have made it a veritable heaven on earth for the gentler gender.  

Just think, another eighty years of progressive thinking will do a world of wonder for women!

God Granted Him the Serenity

 killsself

francisDecember 8, 1927
Pasadena 

The next time you need to go to a 12-step meeting, or better yet a full detox, or just be hospitalized for that durn’d dementia praecox, do yourself a favor and head on over to Las Encinas. Take in the rolling lawns, the mature trees, and gorgeous hundred year-old shingle cottages.  Watch as Dr. Drew administers kindly words to one or more Osbournes, and perhaps they’ll put you in the bungalow where W. C. Fields drank and breathed his last.  Then tell us if you happened upon the ghosts of Francis Stevens and his sons Georgie and Francis Jr.  

Francis E. Stevens was a Prominent Pasadenan—Vice-President of the First Trust and Savings Bank of Pasadena and the First National Bank of Pasadena, member of Pasadena’s War Finance Committee, a man with a newly built home and a…lovely family.  

Lovely enough, but not entirely.  His wife Elizabeth was prominent socially, certainly, and of his 16 year-old daughter Carol’s charms there can be no doubt.  But his sons…little George, 14, has been almost an invalid since birth, and “backward”.  And as such the entirety of Francis’ hopes and expectations for the future rode on his namesake, Francis E. Jr., 20.  Unfortunately, the star pupil at Univeristy of Michigan, where Francis Sr. had attended school, Francis Jr. crashed his car into a telephone pole near Ann Arbor and suffered a basal fracture that affected his mind, landing him what looked to be a permanent place back in Pasadena…at Las Encinas Sanitarium.

And so Francis Sr. did what any concerned, dutiful father would do.  He went to work at eight a.m., made light and cheery conversation the cashiers, and made certain all was in order; then went home to fetch George to take him off to James A. Garfield Grammar School (once at the NE corner of S. Pasadena and California Street).  This he did, and the two sat outside the school, talking in the car, until about 9:15, according to witnesses.  Then they drove off, to where, we’ll never know.  All we know is that Francis Sr. shot George in the head.  And then arrived at Las Encinas at 10:15.

weeksofplanning

Francis left George’s corpse in the back seat covered in a laprobe, and walked to administration to inquire after his other son.  He chatted with the attendants, then made his way to the bungalows.  He went to the bungalow where Francis Jr. lived with his male nurse, Frank B. Schaefer, and handed Schaefer a well-wrapped package, instructing him “Don’t let anybody have these and don’t open them until you hear from me.”  And with that he and his son took a lovely walk around the grounds.

thetenniscourtThey walked and talked along the shady paths and across sun-dappled lawns until they came to the tennis court in the rear.  It was 12:15 when father pulled out and brought a pistol to his son’s temple and fired.  He was then seen sliding the barrel into his mouth and pulling the trigger, his body crumpling directly next to his son’s.

Some time after the excitement of having the wife and daughter brought to the sanitarium, and the bodies had been removed, that someone thought of having the Stevens sedan hauled away.  It was only then an attendant noticed the slow moving stream of blood oozing over the fender.

The package Stevens gave to Schaefer contained securities, bonds, his will, multitudinous letters to banking concerns indicating that their finances were in order (which checked out just fine), and the ashes of Sylvia Stevens, a daughter he’d lost and cremated some time ago.

The funeral for the Stevens men was held shortly thereafter, though in spirit, the trio were still, of course, at Las Encinas.  

Next Time They Won’t Be So Lucky

 attacked

theattackDecember 8, 1927
Los Angeles

Mrs. Nancy Parrish likes her palm tree.  A lot.  And who can blame her?  This is Los Angeles.  Palms define our city—in shape, in spirit, in soul.  So when she looked out her window and saw someone digging up the palm in front of her home, 419 Court Street, she became enraged, and grabbed the 1927 version of pepper spray, a can of red pepper.  She raced down the stairs and threw it full in the workers’ faces.  

Never mind that it wasn’t really her palm—Nancy’s just a renter—she loved her palm, dammit.  Of course that’s no solace to poor Francisco Rodriquez, one of the diggers, who’s facing the loss of his eyes, according to attendants at Receiving Hospital.  Sidney Kanin, of 828 North Vermont, who’d hired Rodriquez to help him dig out the palm, luckily turned his head in time to avoid the capsicum contents.  Apparently Kanin had purchased the palm from Karl Vmorin, owner of Nancy’s rentahouse.  

After the attack, Kanin summoned policemen William Price and J. L. Willis to the scene, but they refused to arrest Mrs. Parrish; nosy neighbors are reporting that matter to Chief Davis.  A complaint charging Parrish with battery and wrongful acts, and a warrant for her arrest, have since been issued by Chief Deputy City Prosecutor Concannon.

treekillazOn a related note—here in the future—I like my palm tree.  A lot.  And who can blame me?  So when I looked out my window and saw someone chainsawing  up the palm in front of my home, I was close to grabbing something a lot stronger than a can of seasoning.  (Never mind that it wasn’t really my palm—but on an embankment in front of my house—I loved my palm, dammit.)  When the overscale condo development went up across the street from me, they stretched high-tension wires across to it.  And then the DWP decided that the decades-old Canary Island Date Palm had to go; it was too close to the new wires (it wasn’t, but that’s just a matter of opinion).  What’s not a matter of opinion is this:  that was a mature $30,000 tree, and, in the world of palms, the Phoenix canariensis is among the easiest to transplant.  I’m not necessarily saying that the wires should have, could have been moved—that’s perfect world stuff—but the workers could have spent two hours moving the tree five feet to the left instead of spending one hour chopping it down.  I’m deep in the Highland Park HPOZ and cutting down my tree, replete as it was with historic and cultural value, means I’m reaching for my can o’ pepper.  Ed Reyes, I’m gunning for a new tree, and the fact that the “Million Tree March” hates palms makes no never mind!  The palm was the tree of choice for the Franciscan and Jesuit missionaries, Lucky Baldwin, Henry Huntington, and every builder of this city committed to its unique elan…certainly you are in that league, Councilman?  Will he commit to Highland Park’s streetscape heritage, reader?  We’ll keep you posted.

Stay Away from the City Hall in 1967

fortyyearsNew York
December 8, 1927 

From the Great Men Saying Great Things file…none other than the esteemed Sir Edwin Lutyens, Greatest of British Architects, has asserted that our sky-scrapers will, with certainty, in forty years, tumble.  According to Lutyens, the methods employed in structural steel construction of giving the steel only a “coating of paint or one of mud and water” allows our edifices scant protection from atmospheric penetration.

And boy, was he right.  Who can forget the terrible collapsings of Berg & Clark’s Gillender Building, or Burnham & Root’s Ashland Block or Masonic Temple, or Flagg’s Singer Building, et al?  Damn that atmospheric penetration!  (For more on victims of atmospheric penetration, go here.)

Here in Los Angeles of the future, of course, the atmosphere laughs as it burns paint and mud and water right off our tall buildings.  But stand tall and proud still, they do!

Good Find is Hard to Help

 wereallwoundedbysomeone

December 2, 1927
Hollywood

theclimaxMrs. Margaret Pumphrey, 27, of the Milner Road Pumphreys, was standing in her bedroom of her hillside home, preparing to go downtown, when she was approached by her white-jacketed butler.  He asked if there were any further orders.  Mrs. Pumphrey said there were none.

With that, her servant—Richard R. Ewell, 30—developed an “insane gleam” in his eye and approached further…whereupon Mrs. Pumphrey noticed the .45 automatic in his hand.  

The chase—and fusillade of shots—began!  Mrs. Pumphey fled through a bathroom and into an adjoining bedroom, through a hallway and down the stairs, but there’s no running from the staff.  They know the house better than you do.

The mad pursuit and firearm blasts continued from room to room to room until Margaret managed to lock herself into a downstairs bedroom.  Ewell fired several shots into the door to break the lock, but once he heard the window open, he ran around the house to catch her escaping.  And catch her he did—as he climbed into the window, he shot her in the side as she ran screaming out the door.  

The screams alarmed neighbor Mrs. Johnstone, who came running (with her two maids in tow [also suitably armed?]) and Ewell fired upon them from the home’s entryway—but Ewell, realizing that the alarm had been raised and his game discovered, put the barrel to his head and sent his brains all over the foyer he’d kept so spotless the three months he’d been under the Pumphrey’s employ.

Mrs. Margaret Pumphrey (could Kaufman & Ryskind have scripted a name of greater puffery?) suffered more from shock and fright (as visions of FLW’s former servant surely flashed through her head) than from her injury; she was rushed to Hollywood Receiving and was treated for the superficial wound and released.  

According to LeRoy Bird, with whom Ewell lived at 4307 Hooper Avenue, Philadelphia native Ewell was an industrious man of good character and habits and never had any previous trouble.  Detective Lieutenant Mahoney contends that Ewell had probably been crazed by dope, especially as he’d been out the night before and had acted strangely in the morning.

Ewell leaves a widow, Inez Ewell, in Kansas City.  Because his death was self-inflicted, there was no inquest over the body.  A small notebook was later found in Ewell’s possessions, and it was greatly hoped by Captain of Detectives Slaughter to contain names of prominent Hollywood people and information about dope trafficking; but sadly for Slaughter, “the only names in the book, the officer declares, are those of negresses and it is devoid of anything referring to narcotics or trade in the drugs.”

So why did Richard Ewell snap?  If only we had some sign.

Whew, THAT’S a Relief!

 cityfoundsafe!

December 1, 1927
Los Angeles

A couple decades ago there was the great quaking of earth up in San Francisco—that couldn’t happen down here?  Could it?  Could it?!

World Authority Doctor Robert T. Hill, geologist of International Repute, has spent years investigating the seismicity of Southern California, and today made public his findings.  The business and financial leaders of Los Angeles thronged to the Alexandria Hotel, as guests of Eli P. Clark, director of the Building Owners’ and Managers’ Association, and sat in rapt attention and feverish anticipation of what Hill, Eminent Authority, had to say after his exhaustive study.

Of Southern California, Hill declared:  “no other section in the United States enjoys greater freedom from major earthquake perils.”

strataperilfree!Whew indeed!  It seems that the menace of an earthquake disaster is greatly exaggerated, and we’ve erroneous data to thank for that (usually from the prophesies of Stanford’s Dr. Bailey Willis, who, Hill feels, is full of hooey)—and which is responsible for the marked rise in earthquake insurance rates.  Dr. Hill was corroborated in his assertions and supported with geological data by one Ralph Arnold, also a geologist of wide reputation, who went on to say that we have no need whatsoever for earthquake coverage at all in these parts.

Hill spoke long and hard about how the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey conclusively proved that Willis’ predictions regarding the movement of Gaviota Peak vis-à-vis the San Andreas rift are all wrong:  so there.  Moreover, Southern California belongs to the earth structure of Northern Mexico, and, as wholly dissimilar from Northern California geologically, whatever release of earth strain from Santa Barbara upwards has nothing to do with this part of the world.  And so forth.

And who is this Robert T. Hill?  Well, his paper on the Comanche Cretaceous is the foundation of our geological knowledge of the Southwest, and his studies of the Panama Isthmus were responsible for the location of the Panama Canal.  And he was certainly on target with the wholefree from major perilthing.

As one of the great geologists of our or anyone’s time, there’s a middle school named after him.  Which is, by all accounts, a really weird place.

When Does He Find Time to Play Pool?

November 25, 1927
Santa Ana

nexttimenexttime

Those of you who have taken a club to an elderly woman know, that’s six months in County.  Everybody knows that.  And just as those of us who have wielded a pool cue at a mother-in-law are looking at the ol’ six mos and that $500 ($5,515 USD2007) fine, that’s what shoulda faced Anaheim’s Walter J. Jewell—except in his case there were extenuating circumstances.

You see, he’s a man who loves his children.  He wuvs them.  In that bloodlusty kinda way.

Seems that Jewell arrived at wifey’s house (they’re separated) to pick up the kids for the customary week-end visit.  But despite his being a prominent citizen, he just doesn’t see fit to pay his alimony, which sent wifey’s mother—the aforementioned mother-in-law—into a huff.  Crone in question, Mrs. Marion Blake, also of Anaheim, refused to allow Jewell possession of the youngsters.  Enraged, Jewell rushed back to his auto and retrieved his trusty billiard cue.  Back in the house he did, though, stop short at cracking her skull open like a soft-boiled egg.  

The court informed Mrs. Blake that it was “inadvisable” to take the law into her own hands—that would be apparent.  Mr. Jewell was scolded that he was “old enough to know better” than to “assault an aged woman with a club.”  That may be.  In any event, because everyone loves children so durn much, Judge Ames decided to knock Jewell’s punishment down to ninety days and nix the fine.  Awwwww.

GAR Blimey

confessionNovember 24, 1927
Long Beach

Frank E. Foster once stared down the blazing Enfields and Richmonds of Johnny Reb, Bragg’s cannons and Forrest’s cavalry, but it took some punk kid from Long Beach to put him down for good. 

That punk kid is Richard Robert Haver, 16, whose penchant for driving other people’s cars landed him in Chino, where police interviewed him today about a spate of Long Beach robberies last September.  Sure, during one robbery he pushed an old man.  Haver hasn’t been told that the old man died.  

“I saw him coming, although it was dark,” Haver told Detective Sergeants Smith and Alyes.  “At first I tried to avoid him by slinking back against the wall, hoping the man wouldn’t see me.  But he grabbed me by the coat with both hands.”  (Apparently the 85 y.o. Foster figured the whippersnapper wouldn’t be reconstructed.)  “I kept pushing him into the screen porch where he slept.  The door was open as I rushed for it and I pushed the man out of the way.  He tripped on the steps and fell outdoors onto the sidewalk.  Then I ran toward the front of the house and headed for the ocean.  I’m sorry I pushed him so hard, now that I know he is an old man.”  Haver’ll be sorrier once the authorities inform him that, on top of being popped for the eight homes he ransacked while the occupants slept (earning him the sobriquet "The Pants Burglar", in that he stole away with trousers in the night and emptied their pockets), he’s a murderer.

(Haver was sent to the State Reform School to remain until he turned 21, at which point the courts would again pass upon his case; the papers make no mention of that event or its outcome.)

quails!In further news of the Boys in Blue, another Damn’d Yankee, this one in Spokane, has problems of another variety.  “I’m living on borrowed time,” said Enoch A. Sears, 84, “far past my allotted three score and ten, and I only want peace and quiet.”  He has filed for divorce from his wife of one year, and has departed his home, leaving it to his wife, 59, and her mother, 79.  Enoch simply stated he was “too old to become accustomed to living with a mother-in-law.”