New Car Blues

new car blues

“… Is that its horn sounding
through the night or something darker
that needs to speak? “New Car Blues” – Charles Fishman

Los Angeles
July 23, 1927

World renowned psychologist, astrologer, palm reader, and clairvoyant Ralph Wagner, is shown in the photograph above being congratulated by his brother after purchasing a sporty new Chandler Royal eight roadster.

Mr. Wagner boasts an impressive roster of achievements as a psychic. He foretold the World War back in 1908, and he predicted the recent Weepah gold strike in October of 1926. During the past five years more than 54,000 Angelenos have consulted the palm reader for advice!

Ralph was dazzled by the performance of the vehicle and having read the palms of dozens of Chandler owners, he considered it a great buy, even though at prices ranging from $1495 to $2375 ($17,901.51 to $28,438.85 USD 2007), it was costlier than many other automobiles. Ralph was so passionate about his purchase that he raved, “…after having investigated the stability of the Chandler factory I knew that I was making no mistake in buying a Chandler, for their financial statement reads as solidly as the rock of Gibraltar.”

Poor Ralph – bad vibes must have jammed his psychic radar…or maybe the stars were out of alignment. By 1929, parts for his snazzy roadster would be difficult to find. Chandler’s best year was 1927 when they sold over 20,000 cars – one of them to our psychic friend. Anticipating continued stellar sales, the car maker expanded too quickly and by the end of 1928 they were over $500,000 ($5,987,126.44 USD 2007) in debt. Chandler was purchased by Hupp Motor Company in 1929 and vanished from the planet.

Will someone please check on the rock of Gibraltar, and give us a call?

“… In time the Rockies may crumble,
Gibraltar may tumble,
There’re only made of clay…” – George Gershwin

Don’t Cross A Fargo Man

August 10, 1907
Los Angeles 

Brockway and Brown, conman and his captor

It was three years ago this week that dapper "Edward K. Earle," clairvoyant medium, tricked J.D. Brown, now 78, into handing over $1000 which he had earmarked for purchasing property at the Devil’s Lake Indian Reservation. "Earle" advised against the investment, but blessed the sum and told Brown he must wear it close to his breast for a full day. But the envelope was neatly switched, and when it was opened, the $1000 was gone.  After Brown’s money took a walk, he came to his senses and insisted he must have been hypnotized to have so foolishly placed his money in a stranger’s hands.

But "Earle" miscalculated when he robbed Brown, for the man had means and nothing better do with his days than to follow the trail of the sneaky psychic. Brown has personally traveled 4,000 miles and detectives have logged another 6,000 in the search. Along the way, Brown fell in love with the Los Angeles climate, and moved his family here–all the while continuing his pursuit as detectives shared the latest sightings of the slippery "Earle," whose true name they reported as Charles Brockway.

But so much time had passed without success that Brown’s ardor for the hunt was dimming… until, that is, his daughter Zoe M. May met a familiar-looking fellow on Spring Street in June ’06. With this news old J.D. eagerly gathered a list of every medium in Los Angeles, then staked out their premises. And one marvelous day he was rewarded with a glimpse of his nemesis as the man, now called "Edward Fay," left his suite in the Hammond Block, 120 1-2 South Spring Street.

A friend back in Fargo found the old warrant drawn on "Earle," and Brown provided a sum sufficient to extradite the con artist. A month passed and papers arrived with local authorities, who promptly arrested the man. He vows to fight extradition, and hopes to return to his business, answering three questions for the princely sum of $1 (and, if past experience is anything to go by, obtaining handsome tips from his more credulous customers before changing his name and fleeing).