Circus freaks and balloon walks

August 3, 1927

On this slow news day, readers of the Los Angeles Times were treated to a pair of interesting stories on page A8. The first was a five paragraph reprint from American Druggist magazine introducing Ben D. Rinehart, acting pharmacist for the Ringling-Barnum & Bailey circus. You probably never stopped to think that a 600-pound fat lady might need three times the normal dose for a sleeping potion to work, but Ben has. He’s also proud of his rickets treatments for elephants, who consume quarts of cod liver oil and are wrapped in bandages the size of bedsheets.

More whimsical still was the piece entitled "How To Walk On Air." How, you ask? Why, via that new and enervating sport of Balloon Jumping, as proposed in The Forum Magazine. Just grab hold of a big balloon with just slightly less lift than your weight and LEAP, over buildings, lakes and elephants with rickets! Mr. (wait for it) Frederick S. Hoppin is convinced that we’re at the outset of an age of shoulder-mounted gaspacks when everyone will have the ability to gambol about bearing just a portion of their natural weight. "Our whole present-day world would be turned upside-down. Legislatures will be busily engaged in passing laws prohibiting people from leaving the earth too freely, or rules for the right of way up and down and sideways, or regulations against landing on the head of a fellow citizen or planting a foot on any part of him as you rise. And then there would be the new rule of etiquette: should you pass over or around a lady?"

All right, class: discuss. 

Officer C.A. May, End of Watch

Feb. 3, 1907
Los Angeles

About 1 a.m. on a dark corner at East Adams and South San Pedro, the hard, shabby life of William Ross ended when he said, “What in hell are you fellows up to?,â€Â drew a pistol and shot plainclothes Officer C.A. May.

May and his partner, J.M. Hoover, were walking east on Adams when they encountered Ross, described as a “rather roughly dressed man.â€Â Earlier in the evening, Hoover and May, who were working plainclothes as part of a crackdown on burglaries in the area, investigated an incident at 223 E. Jefferson Blvd., where L.C. Kelker had reported that two men were on his front porch.

The officers warned the two men to leave, but did not arrest them as there appeared to be no criminal intent, The Times says. One of the men started into the house, threatening to get a gun and “doâ€Â the officers, but May and Hoover left without taking any action.

Later that evening, May and Hoover encountered Ross and suspected he might have been one of the men they encountered outside Kelker’s home. May threw back his coat to reveal his badge and said: “We want to know who you are and what you are doing here at this time of night.â€Â

Ross said: “What in hell are you fellows up to? My name is Ross and I live just around the corner.â€Â Then he stepped back, drew a pistol and shot May in the shoulder or the chest.

He fired at Hoover, who ducked and shot Ross in the forehead.

Police found some papers on Ross’ body, a little money and newspaper clippings from the Herald, one about a suicide attempt by Mrs. Mary Ross of 383 or 583 Central Ave. over domestic problems and a legal notice of Mrs. Mary Ross suing William Ross for divorce.

May was taken to Clara Barton Hospital, where he initially showed progress, although doctors were unable to locate the bullet.

Investigators eventually found Ross’ room at the Good Samaritan Mission, a homeless shelter at Ord Street and San Fernando near the Plaza, but there were no stolen items or any other evidence that he had been committing burglaries. Police also learned that he had been employed at one time at Pacific Carriage Works, 122 S. San Pedro.

May was sent home to 2139½ S. Los Angeles St. to recover, but the wound became infected and he returned to the hospital. Doctors were unable to locate the bullet and May died Feb. 28, 1907, with his wife and two brothers at his side.

The Times says he “expressed remorse that it had been necessary for the officers to shoot the man, but he said it was a case of kill or be killed.â€Â

As a National Guard member and a veteran who had served in the Philippines during the Spanish-American War, May was given military honors in a funeral at Pierce Bros. Mortuary at Flower and 8th Street. A funeral procession consisting of police officers and National Guard troops escorted his casket to 1st Street and Spring, where they boarded streetcars for the interment at Evergreen Cemetery.

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On the Frontiers of Medicine

Jan. 11, 1907
Los Angeles

A woman living on a hog ranch near the Santa Fe railroad crossing over the Los Angeles River contacted police after seeing dismembered human bodies in the old dumping ground near George Street.

Investigators dug through the dump, retrieving the body of a child that was nearly intact, along with bits and pieces of a man and a woman, including their skulls. In addition to the remains, police found books and papers traced to the University of Southern California Medical School.

“Whoever is responsible for the depositing of the remains on the garbage heap should be severely censured,â€Â Coroner Roy S. Lanterman told The Times.

“It seems quite heartless enough to give up the human body to further science but when the students have finished dissecting the remains they should see that they are interred with the proper respect. I cannot understand the action of those responsible for sending the bodies to the garbage heap.â€Â

For further reading on the sorry state of medical schools at the turn of the 20th century, read Abraham Flexner’s “Medical Education in the U.S. and Canada.â€Â Note that in this era, medical students didn’t even need to be high school graduates.

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A Fatal Can of Beans

Jan. 5, 1907
Los Angeles

Charles Edward Abbott, 23, of Artesia had lived his entire life in California without seeing snow except on faraway mountains and suggested that Mabel Carter, 28, and her father, Henry, 63, join him on a trip to Cucamonga Canyon.

The Carters, who once owned a grocery story at 10th Street and Alvarado before moving to Ontario, and Abbott went to Cucamonga, expecting to spend several days there.

During their stay, they ate a can of pork and beans that had been purchased in September and stored with other provisions in a commissary box under an orange tree in the yard outside the cabin.

Henry Carter was the first to fall ill. Assuming some other cause, he encouraged his daughter and Abbott to take a hike while he stayed behind. They were too ill to go far, however, and returned to the cabin, where they ate another can of pork and beans.

The three victims returned to the Carter home in Ontario. Mabel Carter was the first to die, tended by Abbott, who was next, followed by Henry Carter.

Four physicians attending the victims were unable to explain what killed them.

OMG

Dec. 20,1907
Los Angeles

Mr. C.D. Roberts of 1900 E. Main was feeling a bit unwell. He had bad headaches, an irregular appetite, saw dark spots before his eyes and felt as if something in his stomach was alive.

Not sure what to do, Roberts consulted the European Medical Experts at 745 S. Main St., where he was treated with the secret cure of

The Frustrations of Research


Aug. 2, 1907
Los AngelesThe Times reports the death of Dr. Lucy Hall-Brown, a prominent woman physician who was active in the Red Cross. Although we know where she lived (Vermont and 30th Street), we have no idea where she went to school, her age or whether she had any survivors. Nor are we told why she was buried at the Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, N.Y., rather than Los Angeles.A Google search reveals that Hall-Brown was a frequent correspondent with Clara Barton, but not much more.

Still, it

The Brute!


June 26, 1907
Los Angeles

Fred D. Samuels is a monster and nothing less, according to his aunt, Sister Kostka, assistant mother superior of the Ursuline Convent in Frontenac, Wis. As her mother, Maria S. Bowman, lay dying at her home, 1266 E. Adams, Samuels refused to let Sister Kostka (nee Minnie Bowman) see her.

In fact, Kostka charged, Samuels refused to let a Catholic priest visit Mrs. Bowman and refused to grant her a Catholic funeral. Instead, Bowman received two services, one at St. Patrick