The Case of the Randy Chaplain

Orville I. Clampitt

October 25, 1927
Culver City

Orville Clampitt cannot, it seems, stay out of trouble. First there was that business last year with the euphoniously-named Miss Lucille Swallow out Kansas way, and the San Francisco court martial the then-Army Chaplain (and "Beau Brummel of the Presidio") endured over accusations of "objectionable conduct" in violation of three of the articles of war. These charges were brought by the lady after she discovered that Clampitt, who was otherwise a delightful companion, was married with a quartet of kids.

Lucille Swallow

"I forget when I first met Capt. Clampitt," Miss Swallow told reporters after eluding Army minders, "But he was awfully nice. He used to take me out for walks and to picture shows and to dinners. The question as to whether he was married never came up."

During the court martial, Miss Swallow produced love notes from the accused, and there was testimony that he had deliberately disguised his handwriting. But then several surprise witnesses appeared to claim Miss Swallow was "out to get" Mr. Clampitt because he’d refused her demands for money, and he was found not guilty.

He promptly retired to Santa Cruz, where he registered as "William Jones" in a hotel where a "Mrs. Jones" was also staying. It was bad publicity over this indiscrete act that resulted in Clampitt being dismissed from Army service, and the offer of a $50,000 motion picture contract for himself and his photogenic horse Red Head.

But no, said Clampitt, he wished only to return to Vancouver, where his wife and children waited. That was April. And today, he was picked up by Culver City police, following the arrest of boy burglar Spencer Farley, discovered in the act of looting the Schwartzkoph manse at 1725 Gardena Street, Glendale.

Farley told officers that his home address was Orville Clampitt’s car, in front of Clampitt’s home at 215[?] Silver Ridge Avenue, and that he was stealing so he could give gifts to Clampitt’s 13-year-old daughter. It seems the whole family has relocated, in hopes of starting a new life. Clampitt stated he’d been hired as actor John Gilbert’s double, a claim denied by Gilbert’s studio.

When questioned, Clampitt admitted he was allowing Farley, 15, to live in his car, because the boy claimed his mother threw wild parties and refused to let him sleep at home. While he thought it weird that Farley wouldn’t tell him where he lived, he was sympathetic to the boy’s plight… at least until he discovered that the kid was taking his car out at night! Stolen golf clubs and various trinkets were seized from the Silver Ridge address.

Clampitt will be released tomorrow when it’s determined he knew nothing of Farley’s thefts. Henceforth he disappears from the public record save for an April 1929 theater review of his cameo in Edward Horton’s play "The Hottentot," at the Majestic Theater. Red Head the horse had a leading role as the comic foil to Sam Harrington, who masquerades as the famous jockey who shares his name, and eventually must ride the fearsome Hottentot in a race. After each show, crowds gathered on Broadway to watch Clampitt ride Red Head, now mild as a merry-go-round pony, away from the theater and, we hope, home to his wife and kids.

What Next…a Garter Belt and Stockings?

 

Rubber Heels

August 6, 1927Horse Heels
Los Angeles

 

You’ve been tossing and turning all night, when finally in the wee hours of the morning you drift off to sleep – only to be awakened minutes later by the clatter of horse’s hooves on the pavement outside of your bedroom window. How many times has this happened to you? Well, if you are lucky enough to live along the route of Crescent Creamery your uninterrupted slumber is now assured. The dairy is providing their 600 horses with heels made of corrugated rubber which they say is good for the horse, and better for the insomniac.

“Good night, sweet Prince,
And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest”
– Act 1: Scene 2 Hamlet, Shakespeare

Forget Bird Flu, This Is Serious


March 7, 1907
Los Angeles

A dreadful disease called acute glanders has been discovered in a horse and veterinarian R.J. Ramage ordered that the animal be destroyed immediately.

In addition to rapidly causing death, acute glanders can be spread from horses to humans and there is no known cure, at least in 1907. Apparently several men in Los Angeles County died of acute glanders in 1893.

Since glanders is often found in horses’ nasal passages, local veterinarians want to ban wooden water troughs from city streets, saying that they are a breeding ground for the disease.

In 1911, Pasadena authorities ordered that 14 horses owned by the Pasadena Ice Co. be shot to death because they had the disease. The county veterinarian also quarantined a stable occupied by a dozen horses and “a number of Chineseâ€Â after detecting acute glanders.

“The disease is so infectious that it can be contracted by a horse sneezing in one’s eye,â€Â said county Veterinarian W.B. Rowland.

In 1909, Ramage, of 831 S. Los Angeles St., went on a violent rampage at the Alpine Tavern on Mt. Lowe and it took 11 men to get him under control.

“At the tavern, the man created notice by talking continually to himself and created a disturbance by falling on his knees in the ashes of the fireplace; bowing his head down almost to the embers and offering violent words of prayer,â€Â The Times says.

“Two physicians, formerly of the Southern California Hospital for the Insane at Patton, happened to be present and, taking ropes which were brought, demonstrated that they knew how to handle a crazy man.â€Â

After being taken to Pasadena, Ramage was put in a car for the ride to the county hospital. “All the way to Los Angeles, the unfortunate man screamed and struggled, endeavoring to throw himself from the swiftly moving machine,â€Â The Times says.

Eventually, Ramage recovered and told hospital attendants that he had been suffering from mania for years. “He had only a dim recollection of the trouble he went through there.â€Â

Lmharnisch.com
Lmharnisch.blogspot.com

E-mail: lmharnisch (AT) gmail.com




Random Shots From Our 12-Bore

Feb. 11, 1907
Los Angeles

The Eastside gets a new Baptist Church and 2nd Street and St. Louis.

Like Tom and Huck

A large pond 7 feet deep at Normandie and San Marino left by the runoff of recent rainstorms proved too tempting to the boys of the Forrester tract and so they launched a raft to play.

The raft tipped, The Times says, sending 8-year-old Clarence Rhodes of 1004 S. Jasmine tumbling into the water. Hearing the boys’ cries for help, M. Allen rushed from his home at 922 Normandie, plunged into the water and rescued Clarence.

After nearly half an hour’s work, the boy was resuscitated, The Times says.

Abandoned Boy

“His mother dead and deserted by his father, Charlie McDaniel, 6 years of age, has been wandering about the city, picking up a living as best he could, and sleeping in dry goods boxes and nooks and corners,â€Â The Times says. “The boy was found early yesterday morning by a patrolman and he is now in the Detention Home.

“In telling his pitiful story at the Central Station, the boy said that his mother died a few months ago and that his father had gone away with some woman. The police will make an effort to locate the father.â€Â

Last Stop

Mrs. A.C. Newton of 2707 Central Ave. is not expected to live after fracturing her skull when she leaped from a speeding streetcar because it passed her stop.

“According to witnesses, Mrs. Newton asked to be allowed to leave the car at 29th Street. When she saw the coach was running past the street, she jumped. The car crew carried her into a house nearby,â€Â The Times says.

“Several passengers on the car said that it was No. 419. They state that the conductor paid no attention to Mrs. Newton’s signals.â€Â

Note: I was amazed to learn just how many people were injured in 1907 by jumping from streetcars that failed to stop. Without checking further, I would say someone was hurt about once a week.

Bonus fact: The local tourism industry is furious because the state Senate passed the bill banning horses with docked tails. Businesses note that wealthy visitors from the East often bring their teams to Los Angeles at great expense and if their fancy horses are prohibited, wealthy tourists will avoid the Southland in favor of Florida.

Lmharnisch.com
Lmharnisch.blogspot.com

E-mail: lmharnisch (AT) gmail.com




A Bad Way With Horses


Nov.12, 1907
Los Angeles

Half a block from his home at 1131 Westlake, John P. Shumway Jr. was badly injured when the carriage he was driving collided with the 11th Street trolley. Shumway was thrown about 20 feet, striking the pavement head-first, and the horse ran for the stable, pulling what was left of the smashed carriage, witnesses said.

Shumway was carried to his home, where his father, Dr. John P. Shumway, treated him for a concussion, bruises and cuts. A year later, the family filed a personal injury suit against the Los Angeles Railway, seeking $10,355 ($204,938.83), although The Times failed to report the outcome of the trial.

Whether Shumway was a troublesome sort before is unclear, but his problems continued. In 1909, he was arrested for passing a forged check for $25 at the Pioneer bar on North Main Street. He claimed that he was given the check for work he had performed and was freed when he promised to repay the money.

A few months later, he was fined $60 for cruelty to a horse. Witnesses said Shumway overloaded a three-horse truck in South Pasadena and

‘This is the kind of a horse’


May 27, 1907
Death Valley, Calif.

George Freeman and his wife of Pasadena, accompanied by Charles Fuller Gates of Los Angeles, were motoring out to Death Valley in a Pierce-Arrow along the old road carved by the twenty-mule teams from the borax mines when they approached a driverless wagon hitched to a skittish horse.

The auto party had taken the route from Johannesburg to Ballarat slowly, stopping to clear the road of large rocks in their path and pausing whenever they encountered a freight wagon to keep from frightening the horses and mules. Because there were only two watering holes on the road, the party had taken an ample supply of water for themselves and the car

A Ghostly Visitor

As I began to write my grand opening about Los Angeles in 1907, I felt a ghostly hand pluck ever so gently at my sleeve.
“Promise me, dear boy, you’ll remember to say that women couldn’t vote in 1907.”
“Yes, of course.”
Now where was I? Ah yes. The street names are deceptively familiar: Broadway, Spring Street and Main. But stand up on Bunker Hill and look at the city below and you might pick out the Bradbury Building and the Alexandria Hotel. Maybe the Pan American building at Broadway and 3rd Street, kitty-corner from the Bradbury and currently undergoing loft conversion, and the Rosslyn Hotel on Main.
Nothing remains of the old City Hall on Broadway but the parking lot between the Los Angeles Times garage and Victor Clothing, otherwise known as the Hosfield Building, erected as an annex for city offices in 1914 and opened in 1915 as City Hall South.
There are no freeways in this alien city. No television, no radio (or “wireless” as it was previously known) and no movie theaters. There aren’t even any comic strips in The Times, let alone crossword puzzles. Luckily, the operatic repertoire hasn’t changed greatly; Angelenos in 1907 could hear “Carmen” and “La Traviata.”
The ghostly hand intruded again, a bit more forcefully.
“Dear boy, remember about women not being able to vote?”
“I’ll get to that.”
There are a few automobiles (or “machines” as they were called) sold by dealers who set up shop on South Main around 12th Street. Reo, Rambler, Jackson, Pope-Toledo, Stevens-Duryea and Overland. Buick, Cadillac, Oldsmobile and Packard are the only familiar names. But machines seem only a bit more common than Segways are today. There are no more than 30 cars listed for sale in The Times classified ads for March 14, 1907, far outnumbered by horses; buggies and wagons, streetcars and bicycles appear to be the main modes of transportation.

Sample ad:
POPE-TOLEDO 24-H.P. TOURING CAR
with touring car body, canopy top and run-
about body. This car has just been thoroughly
overhauled and is in first-class condition.
The BIGGEST bargain offered in
Los Angeles
$1,000 ($20,523.57 USD 2005)
Western Motor Car Company
415 S. Hill
Patent medicine, séances, licensed saloons and something called a blind pig. The pages of The Times are brimming with vintage malfeasance.
“Ow! You don’t need to pinch me.”
“Dear boy, women’s suffrage?”
“Very well.”
Women in Los Angeles couldn’t vote until 1911, when a new law allowed them to cast ballots in the local elections. The 19th amendment, granting women’s suffrage, was ratified by California on Nov. 1, 1919, and proclaimed by the secretary of State on Aug. 26, 1920.  (Not passed by Mississippi until March 22, 1984? Are you serious?)
“I’ll even mention suffragette Rachel Foster Avery’s visit in August 1907. How’s that?”
“Thank you.”