Lacy Underthings and Seagull Wings


October 23, 1927
Los Angeles

John A. Horn was born to be a poet but Fate (O! cruel mistress she!) decreed he make his living as a lingerie salesman. Worse, he was married to a woman who did not understand the lyricism of his delicate artist’s soul. So he left his wife—but not before explaining himself in verse.

Martha Horn, seeking a divorce upon the grounds of desertion, recently handed her errant husband’s scribbled magnum opus to Judge Gates:

"I’ll wait here ’till the sun sets," I told her
"If you are hungry, there’s a stand upon the pier."
She nodded. "You can wait. I won’t be long."
And saying this, she left me with the sun.
I sat upon the sand and watched the gulls
Skimming the restless water striped with gold.
The rolling waves tossed foam upon the beach;
"The lacy underthings the Old World wears,"
I told myself, then smiled quite satisfied:
Not many a clerk in a department store
From seven to six could say such clever things.
. . . . the sun
Was almost gone, the rounded golden edge
Was sinking out of sight when my wife called
"John." I saw her coming down the beach
Munching a bun. "I’ve one for you," she said.
I turned. The sun had sunk into the sea.

"And when I gave him the hot dog, he got sore," Mrs. Horn clarified for the court.

"This is just another example of the ancient controversy between rhyme and reason," chortled Judge Gates before granting a divorce to the long-suffering Mrs. Horn.

His Bags are Being Sent

sewerratOctober 3, 1907
Los Angeles

During tonight’s dinnertime—the fashionable hour for society at the Hotel Van Nuys at Fourth and Main (Morgan & Walls, 1896) a furry friend decided to hobnob with the upper crust.  Strolling in through the Fourth Street entrance like the most gracious of chaps, of which there were many in the lobby, came a great husky sewer rat.  vannuys

Pandemonium ensued:  “Dainty Parisian lingerie and open-work stockings appeared on view.  Gallant gentlemen dropped their cigars and ladies jumped on chairs, but still the rat stood his ground.”

Porters and elevator boys descended, and Mr. Rattus fled the scene through a hole in some missing wainscoting (the Van Nuys undergoing some changes to the lobby).  Immediately the house ferret, kept in the engine room for just this sort of affair, was thrust into the opening.  

A loud, chilling three-round bout ensued inside the wall, and the ferret emerged bloody and beaten.  The rat stuck his nose out his hiding place as if to challenge all comers, and another ferret, this one less soft and over-weight, was sent in to dispatch the venturesome intruder. 

The story headline says the rat was killed, but the actual tale makes no such mention.  Without a body, I’d say Mr. Ferret merely bragged about besting his opponent, and Mr. Rat went off to the Rosslyn, or perhaps the King Edward.

(The Van Nuys became the Hotel Barclay in the 1930s [adding a magnificent art deco neon blade sign]. The Barclay is now one of the many “28-day-shuffle” transient hotels in the area, where monthly rent is $360.)