Matthew 5:16 Goes Electric


captfixitDecember 16, 1927


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?



Brute Jealousy

May 31, 1927

If you needed proof of how the world has changed in 80 years, you need look no further than the news stories surrounding the police search for and arrest of Joe Hordeman, "elderly" war veteran and pipe murder suspect, and of Hordeman’s "December" romance with divorcee Victoria Woods, who he met at an "old folks dance" at the Sawtelle veteran’s home in late 1925.

joe hordeman the pipe slayer

Hordeman was enamored of Mrs. Woods and hoped to marry or go into business with her, but she found other men more fascinating. She enjoyed dancing, something Hordeman was not inclined to do with her, despite their initial meeting place. Recently she had befriended Emma O’Bell, who became her roommate and encouraged her friend’s active romantic life.

Hordeman couldn’t stand it. He bought a lead pipe and went to Mrs. Woods’ home at 109 Brooks Avenue when he thought two of her suitors would be in attendance. But he found only Mrs. Woods and Mrs. O’Bell, sitting on the porch. Incensed, he asked Mrs. Woods to go inside where they could discuss his concerns, and a raving argument erupted. Hordeman pulled out his pipe and beat her unconscious, then took a knife and neatly cut her Achilles tendons to ensure she would never dance again. He needn’t have bothered save for the symbolism; she died of her injuries. Mrs. O’Bell saw the attack through the window and rushed inside, and was herself badly beaten. Saved from injury was Mrs. Woods’ daughter, who had gone to Chicago the morning of the slaying to speak with her father about her parents reuniting.

catherine franklin the dishwashing witness

The whole horrible affair was witnessed by 15-year-old neighbor Catherine Franklin through her kitchen window, but the dishwashing girl was so traumatized that she did not immediately cry out, and the killer walked down the alley and escaped. He turned himself in the next day after registering at a Los Angeles hotel and mistakenly crossing the d in Ford, when he had meant to use the pseudonym Fort; he was convinced this error would lead to his quick arrest. At his trial in August, Hordeman, who had once claimed he dare not confess lest "the Klan" kill him for harming Mrs. Woods, suddenly changed his plea to guilty after Mrs. O’Bell testified, and was sentenced to one year to life in San Quentin.

The decrepit Hordeman was variously reported as being 52, 60 or 62, old lady Mrs. Woods 55.

The Old Men in Blue

Dec. 30, 1907
Los Angeles

James Sullivan, 64, was a prisoner of the Confederates held at Belle Isle, Libby and Andersonville, where he and war correspondent Albert D. Richardson escaped by tunneling for three months with a spoon.

Henry Russell, formerly of the 4th Cavalry, was held at Andersonville and Benjamin L. Gorsuch of the 1st Maryland Infantry was captured and sent to Belle Isle. James Sherwood was with the 10th New Jersey. John Ryan, 77, was with 7th New York Heavy Artillery.

And then there

Further Dispatches from Divorce Court

May 30, 1907
Los Angeles


Call me an embittered divorcée—male though I may be—but it seems I can’t get enough of any tale involving marital disharmony (cf. May 25, or more saliently, May 17).  Those in the thrall of wedded bliss, or, more likely, righteous pique, tut-tut our modern divorce rate.  Well…

Old soldier Alonzo Stuart, 70, met Ida, 38, at a Sawtelle church.  She spoke to him without an introduction (!) and during said discussion he revealed he owned an acre down on Fourth Street.  They took a stroll to go look at the property, whereafter she promised to be a good and loving wife.  He deeded her the acre.  We know where this is going.

A good and loving wife she was not, as was evident on the very day of their marriage.  While eating iced cream in Eastlake Park, the elder Stuart laid his arm affectionately across the shoulder of his new bride, but she moved her chair away, saying she did not care to be slobbered over.  Stuart pal Frank Conckling recounts further tales of newlywedded smoochiness, including this one, after his visit to the Stuart’s Sawtelle home on Sixth:  “She was sitting outside reading a murder story from a sensational paper.  I asked her where Stuart was, and she said:  ‘He’s inside cleaning up his dirt.’  I went in and found him down on his knees, scrubbing the floor.”  Ida also reportedly stated to her husband that she was not going to be dictated to “by any damn man.”

At the trial, Alonzo admitted to being, at times, remorse and sullen, but only because his heart was grieving.  And yes, he did brandish a pistol, but was calm and quiet and in fact perfectly good natured while doing so.

Ida recounted that they argued frequently—for example, she wished to go to the beach without him.  “The last fuss we had was over religion,” she said.  “There are so many different kinds of religion in Sawtelle.”

The value of the disputed property is $1,400.