In the Line of Duty

March 16, 1927
Los Angeles

yummydownonthisIf the drys are gonna catch the wets, they’re gonna have to wet themselves. So to speak.

At the trial of John H. Wyncoop, former chief field agent for the boys of the California/Arizona Federal Prohibition Enforcement Department, Wyncoop said “I knew that if I had liquor in my possession I could more easily get bootleggers to believe that I was handling booze and therefore make it easier to arrest bootleggers.â€Â

Uh-huh.

Wyncoop is on trial because he turned twenty-nine bottles of liquor to his own use, instead of turning it into the government warehouse. Can’t those government know-nothings see that you need that hooch to go under deep cover? That he only took home that demon rum in the solemn performance of his duty?

(Convicted by a jury of illegal conversion, he was given a short term in the county jail.)

The Candy Man Can

candy man headline

March 3, 1927
Los Angeles

"Who can take a sunrise,
Sprinkle it with dew,
Cover it in chocolate and a miracle or two?
The candyman, the candyman can,
The candyman can ’cause he mixes it with love and makes the world taste good."

When local school children crave a hand full of gum drops and a pint of whiskey, where can they go? Rumor has it that if they visit Frank Belioi’s candy store at 5973 South Broadway, they may leave with a few new cavities and a major buzz.

Sgt. Childers was in charge of the squad that raided the local sweets shop, and revealed in court that although the police department had reports that Frank was selling liquor to minors, they had failed to produce evidence against him.

Frank was lucky – the only thing the cops managed to bust him for was the one and one-half gallons of whiskey on the premises. He said he kept it on hand for party guests.

Frank pleaded guilty to the possession charge, and Judge Ambrose fined the candy man $300 [$3,639.31 current USD].

I could go for a pint of gin and a chocolate bar right about now. Are you with me?

Anything for a Bust

February 6, 1927
rumsquad Over the weekend, the District Attorney’s crackerjack Prohibition task force proved beyond the shadow of a doubt their devotion to the cause.
Then again, after the theatrical busts they staged, it’s also possible that rum squad head George Contreras and his men simply craved adventure, danger, or an excuse to wear women’s clothing.
The fun started when Contreras and two of his agents entered a home while dressed as telephone repairmen.  When they were unable to find the hooch inside, they flung open the chicken coop in the backyard, and were greeted by three full-grown lions.
Yes, three full-grown lions.  In a chicken coop.
All three men promptly vaulted over the fence, and sought shelter across the street.  Here, they discovered A. Hernandez’s 25 gallon still, and arrested him.
The lions were pets, they later discovered, though “not particularly fond of strangers.”
After the lion incident, Contreras dressed two more of his agents up in women’s clothing and took them joy-riding to 217 E. 61st St..  Here, he pulled up to the home of a suspected moonshiner, Raymond Manley, and asked for “some liquor for the girlfriends.”  When Manley brought out a bottle, police raided the place and discovered an enormous still, 180 gallons of whiskey, and 39 barrels of mash.
So, to sum up:  a man crafts a tasty beverage by hand, and goes to jail for his trouble, while the man who raises adult lions, in a chicken coop, no less, walks free.  And our rum squad seems to enjoy playing dress-up a little more than the average adult probably should.
Up is down, left is right.  Sheesh.

Everybody Has to Fall Some Time

Luther Green headline

February 4, 1927
Los Angeles

A police dragnet is closing in on the killers of Luther H. Green.  A member of the Los Angeles Stock Exchange, Green was slain outside of his home at 1053 Bonnie Brae, as he attempted to thwart the hijacking of his $10,000 [$120,710.34 current dollars] stash of pre-prohibition booze. He was able to fire a single shot from his rifle before being mortally wounded by the burglers.

According to Chief of Detectives Cline, six men have been implicated in the aborted liquor heist. It is believed that the ringleader of the failed raid may be the notorious crook, Harry “Mile-Away” Thomas. Mile-Away’s mouthpiece, Attorney S.S. Hahn, told cops that he had conferred with his client and, “…he was not only a mile away this time, but sixteen miles away”. Harry and several of his confederates would soon be arrested in connection with Green’s murder, but none of them would ever stand trial for the crime.

More than a decade prior to the invention of Teflon ®, the often busted but rarely convicted non-stick felon would be released on the charges stemming from the Green killing. His lucky streak would end on the evening of April 21, 1927. Harry would be caught in a sting and gunned down by the law as he attempted to steal an expensive automobile from a private garage at 1408 West Thirty-Fifth Street.

Riddled with machine-gun bullets, buckshot, and slugs from police revolvers, Harry staggered from the garage and collapsed in the arms of a uniformed officer. Mile-Away’s last words before he succumbed to his injuries were “Everybody has to fall some time.”

Death Potion No. 5

January 7, 1927
Los Angeles

Death Potion Headline

Bending the Volstead Act to the breaking point is de rigeur among the smart set, with an evening of drinking rarely resulting in anything worse than a queasy stomach and a screaming headache the next day.

Dennis J. Cavanaugh (22) and his companions Walter Scott and “Tex” Scott went out last night to do a little carousing. The young men began their evening by stopping off to buy a couple of pints of rum at a store on East Ninety-Second Street, run by the Henkins brothers, Clay (46) and William (48).

Where the young men went to party after purchasing the hooch is not known, but by this morning Walter was in critical condition at his home, “Tex” was very ill, and Dennis had been found dead on the front lawn of a house at 1847 Roosevelt Street – his body reeking of alcohol.

Whether they knew it or not, the Henkins brothers had sold the boys poison liquor. They are currently in jail facing manslaughter charges.

Buying illegal booze is dangerous – it’s like playing Russian roulette. But it becomes even more frightening when people like Wayne B. Wheeler, advocate of the Anti-Saloon League, come out in support of allowing the government to use poison to enforce Prohibition.

On January 1st of this year, the new government formula (“Formula No. 5”) for denaturing industrial ethyl alcohol went into effect. The formula doubles the amount of poison which manufacturers are required to use. Bootleggers sometimes buy industrial ethyl alcohol and substitute the original label with one of their own. Only three drinks of the libation may cause permanent blindness.

Many in Congress have demanded that the government stop legalized murder. The Secretary of the Treasury recently announced that he is opposed to the use of poison to enforce the law, but that “Formula No. 5” will remain until a non-removable, non-poisonous denaturant can be found by government chemists.

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?

 

 

‘Tis the Season for Rum Running and Shoot Outs…

tis the season headline

December 10, 1927
Los Angeles

According to police there are several rival gangs of bootleggers known to be in the city for the Christmas holiday season, and a full blown gang war may be in the offing.

Cleo Bush, 37 years old, of 813 Flower Street, may have become the first casualty in the battle. In his own words, he was “called out” of the Glycol Products Company at 953 South Bixel Street by two men. Cleo told Captain of Detectives Cahill that he recognized the men as enemies who had been trying to “get” him for the last two years, but in true gangland style he refused to identify them. The unnamed assailants fired five .25 caliber rounds at Cleo, striking him once in the back. Cleo is in critical condition at Georgia Street Receiving Hospital following emergency surgery to remove the bullet that penetrated his right lung.

Cleo advised the cops to stay out of his business. He said he’d settle his own affairs. “I’ll attend to those birds when I get out of here,” he said, “and if I don’t, well, that’s all in the game.”mrs evans

Five people were detained as material witnesses to the shooting: Mrs. Lelia Evans, 28, her husband, Lew Evans, 32, of 508 Union Drive; Jim Riley, 31, of 1130 Trenton Street; Claude Haggle, 27, of 1110 Ingraham Street, and Edward C. Young 34, of 1085 Lewis Street, Long Beach. None of the witnesses were willing to identify the shooters. There was a neighborhood witness to the crime; Mr. G.E. Christie of 945 South Bixel Street. He told police that he heard the shots and went outside in time to see two men flee the scene in a roadster.Omar Lipps

Cleo recovered and was released from the hospital, but he continued to keep mum regarding the names of his assailants. Following an anonymous tip, Mr. Omar Lipps, 28, of 438 South Union Drive, was picked up by cops and confessed to the shooting. A trial date was set but Cleo took a powder and the case never made it to court. Lipps maintained that Cleo owed him $400 [$4,803.13 USD 2007] after losing to him in a craps game, and he was adamant that the shooting had nothing to do with rum running.

opium flutes

 

 

Epilogue

There were no further mentions of Cleo Bush in the LA Times after 1928 – the man knew how to vanish. Omar Lipps probably should have disappeared too, but instead he stayed in the area, frequented the same old haunts, and got into more trouble. He was arrested during a vice raid in April 1930 for possession of a complete opium outfit.

April of 1931 would find Omar caught in another police raid – this time of a dope pad at 187 South Alvarado Street. Equipment to accommodate half a dozen opium smokers was confiscated, along with pipes ingeniously constructed from flutes!

Omar obviously had a bad opium jones because he was arrested for a third time on January 3, 1935, for narcotics violations. He was holding a lamp, hose, and a small brown bottle containing yen shee. Yen Shee is the residue left in the opium pipe’s bowl and stem after the opium has been smoked.  Think about THAT the next time you have a “yen” for something.

Hit Records Make a Splash

August 11, 1927
Los Angeles
blasts

 

 

 

Three terrific explosions ripped through the Hall of Records to-day!  Who could have committed such a dastardly act?  Anarchists?  Bolsheviks?  Theosophists?  Vegetarians?
hor
The twelfth-floor room in which the blasts took place were stained and dripping a deep crimson red.  Surely the blood of the innocent!  Splattered across our noble governing offices by devious dynamiting moustachio’d malcontents!
kegs
On further investigation, all that dripping gore was discovered to be just red wine…for the Hall of Records, it seems, is a pretty swell place to stash some wine kegs. 

Until they burst.

The Fiend in Human Form

fiend

May 14, 1927
Long Beach

Miss Madeline Lindsley was on her way home from a party when shortly before midnight, the pretty 19 year old encountered a man who abruptly grabbed her by the neck, and threw her violently to the pavement. The attack occurred in front of 434 Pacific Avenue, one block from the victim’s home and two blocks from police headquarters.

Summoned by Madeline’s screams, four local men: H.K. Klingraef, 111 West Fifth Street; E.E. Peterson, 634 Cedar Avenue; Larry Moore, a Kress Store employee, and M.R. Hodges of 3117 Wilton Street rushed to her aid. The girl’s cowardly assailant fled when he heard her rescuers approach.

The posse gave chase through several streets and unlit alleyways until they nabbed their man. Neighbors telephoned police and the suspect was taken into custody by two detective sergeants, Wright and Dixon.

“He acted like an insane man”, Miss Lindsley told police, following the ferocious assault.

The accused, Mr. Walter S. Pawling, lives with his wife and two children. He confessed to police that he is employed as a professional rum runner, and told them that he had just completed a trip delivering illegal hooch from Catalina Island to San Pedro.

Police discovered two ounces of chloroform and two eighteen inch lengths of rope concealed in Mr. Pawling’s pocket. Accustomed as they are to the various tools of illicit trades, even police were bewildered by his peculiar choice of equipment. Without missing a beat, Pawling glibly explained that he uses the chloroform and rope to defend himself against hijackers while on his late night coastal runs. Police were evidently so stunned by his story that they failed to request a demonstration of the weapons.

Fleeing an angry mob or thwarting an attack by hijackers is a dangerous business, so Mr. Pawling may wish to reconsider the effectiveness of his arsenal. Packing a concealed bottle of chloroform and two flaccid lengths of rope is no way for a grown man to defend himself.

In the future he might consider hurling a snappy bon mot, wielding a rapier-like wit, or brandishing a snub-nosed .38.

Good Help Is Hard To Find

May 11, 1927
Los Angeles

Most liquor raids are tedious affairs, a pack of lit-up salesmen here, a couple sobbing college boys there. But once in a while, officers make a raid that’s just kind of special.

One such operation was on a blind pig at 3120 South Main Street, allegedly run by Mrs. Ocio Walsh. Mrs. Walsh was taken into custody on charges of possession of liquor and contributing to the delinquency of a minor, while 38-year-old Frank Jones was charged with drunkenness and Robert Maschold, 37, with vagrancy.

That delinquency charge? See, Mrs. Walsh has a 14-year-old daughter, Mary Zella. Great kid, really responsible. When Sgt. Kynetto and Officers Wolf and Pound busted in they found a scantily-clad Mary Zella pouring a bottle of hooch down the sink. Mama sent her up to dress, the the clever minx hopped out a second story window and skedaddled.

Where’s she gone? Maybe back to the convent, from which Mama recently removed her to help out with the family business. Like I said, great kid.