December 8, 1927
Mrs. Nancy Parrish likes her palm tree. A lot. And who can blame her? This is Los Angeles. Palms define our city—in shape, in spirit, in soul. So when she looked out her window and saw someone digging up the palm in front of her home, 419 Court Street, she became enraged, and grabbed the 1927 version of pepper spray, a can of red pepper. She raced down the stairs and threw it full in the workers’ faces.
Never mind that it wasn’t really her palm—Nancy’s just a renter—she loved her palm, dammit. Of course that’s no solace to poor Francisco Rodriquez, one of the diggers, who’s facing the loss of his eyes, according to attendants at Receiving Hospital. Sidney Kanin, of 828 North Vermont, who’d hired Rodriquez to help him dig out the palm, luckily turned his head in time to avoid the capsicum contents. Apparently Kanin had purchased the palm from Karl Vmorin, owner of Nancy’s rentahouse.
After the attack, Kanin summoned policemen William Price and J. L. Willis to the scene, but they refused to arrest Mrs. Parrish; nosy neighbors are reporting that matter to Chief Davis. A complaint charging Parrish with battery and wrongful acts, and a warrant for her arrest, have since been issued by Chief Deputy City Prosecutor Concannon.
On a related note—here in the future—I like my palm tree. A lot. And who can blame me? So when I looked out my window and saw someone chainsawing up the palm in front of my home, I was close to grabbing something a lot stronger than a can of seasoning. (Never mind that it wasn’t really my palm—but on an embankment in front of my house—I loved my palm, dammit.) When the overscale condo development went up across the street from me, they stretched high-tension wires across to it. And then the DWP decided that the decades-old Canary Island Date Palm had to go; it was too close to the new wires (it wasn’t, but that’s just a matter of opinion). What’s not a matter of opinion is this: that was a mature $30,000 tree, and, in the world of palms, the Phoenix canariensis is among the easiest to transplant. I’m not necessarily saying that the wires should have, could have been moved—that’s perfect world stuff—but the workers could have spent two hours moving the tree five feet to the left instead of spending one hour chopping it down. I’m deep in the Highland Park HPOZ and cutting down my tree, replete as it was with historic and cultural value, means I’m reaching for my can o’ pepper. Ed Reyes, I’m gunning for a new tree, and the fact that the “Million Tree March” hates palms makes no never mind! The palm was the tree of choice for the Franciscan and Jesuit missionaries, Lucky Baldwin, Henry Huntington, and every builder of this city committed to its unique elan…certainly you are in that league, Councilman? Will he commit to Highland Park’s streetscape heritage, reader? We’ll keep you posted.