Why Didn’t God Accept Cain’s Sacrifice? Because He Wasn’t Abel.

January 5, 1927
Albany, New York
aliveandwell
Cain is alive and well (jeepers, the life span of these antediluvians) in the land of Nod York, East of Eden, or at least Schenectady…seems that one Harry Cain was engaged in a phone call, and was having some trouble making himself understood to the person on the other end of the line.

Finally the landlady came to the rescue.  “CAIN,” she shouted into the telephone, “C-a-i-n.  You know, the man that killed his brother.”

That set off the other party on the phone all right…murder!  The police were summoned and Harry Cain was in jail in a matter of minutes.  It took hauling the landlady in some time later to explicate the whole mess.

Still, I’d keep an eye on that Lamech character.

News of the Day

December 22, 1927
Los Angeles

Let’s put up our feet and see what’s gone on in the world this day.  Not much.  The odd curiosity or two.   
hemp
According to our concerned friends at the paper, it seems the Mexicans are making a menace of themselves, using flowers of the “hemp” plant as some sort of habit-forming drug (they’re such a resourceful people!).  Apparently the Imperial Linen Products Company has blanketed the Imperial Valley with the stuff.  Well, I’m sure the State will sort this one out to everybody’s satisfaction.

 

 

onelastcigOh dear, here’s another fellow who just couldn’t resist a final cigarette.  Seems J. B. Smith left the wife at his Glendale home and checked into the LaViolette Hotel on North Maclay in San Fernando.  He brought with him a stack of goodbye letters indicating his fears about going mad, and a loaf of bread—not for snacking, but for soaking in water and wadding into the wafty windows and drafty doors (my hat off again to the resourcefulness of our Southlanders).  Of course, no-one banks on the dang’d jets taking so long.  Thankfully J. B. also brought along a pack of smokes to pass the time…the hole blown in the wall was six feet in diameter.  J. B.’s smoldering remains lived long enough to say goodbye to his wife at the hospital, but not much longer than that.

ostrichmanAnd oh my, it seems one of my favorite attractions of the stage, Sidney Barnes the Human Ostrich, has expired in New Orleans.  After complaining of stomach pains, the Homo Struthio underwent an operation to remove a cigar box full of bolts, carpet tacks, razor blades, washers and nails from therein—Barnes did not emerge alive.  Guess growing up to be a carnival side can be rough, kids!

 mistakenidentity

And what do have we here…a Coroner’s inquest will be held at 1:30 today to determine whether Ralph McCoy, in City Jail on suspicion of robbery, actually hung himself in his cell or was killed by fellow prisoners—it seems McCoy bears (well, bore) a resemblance to one William Edward Hickman.

Oh yeah.  Hickman.  Some mention in the paper about him, too.

vaunted thanksfoild

sadfasdfasylummotherfurorfasherimgadfadqueerquirksleepsmosherconfessionescapedattackflaw2flightouttaindictmentsdfasdf hicktaked

 auto

 

 guns

Ruth Snyder’s Date with Death

December 17, 1927
Ossining, NY Ruth Snyder

Mrs. Ruth Snyder has a date with Sing Sing’s electric chair on January 12, 1928, unless her plea for executive clemency is granted.

The seductive blonde and her lover, corset salesman Judd Gray (see photo), were both tried and convicted of murdering Ruth’s husband by caving in his skull with a window sash weight, strangling him with a garrote fashioned out of picture wire and a gold pen, and finally stuffing chloroform soaked rags into his nostrils.

Judd GrayIf there is an explanation for the obvious overkill in the murder of Albert Snyder, it must be that Ruth’s previous attempts to snuff out the life of her husband (twice by asphyxiation and once by poison) had failed – and she wasn’t about to give up. Ruth had persuaded her husband to take out a double indemnity policy, which would pay her in the event of his accidental death. It was the lure of the $97,000 worth of life insurance that compelled her to continue with her diabolical schemes until she succeeded.

Fueled by two bottles of whiskey and profound stupidity, the criminally-challenged duo staged the murder scene as a burglary gone horribly wrong. But their pathetic plan was doomed to failure. They threw an Italian language newspaper on the floor as a false clue to the identity of the killers. They emptied dresser drawers and overturned chairs. And in an act that would eventually help prosecutors to prove her guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, Ruth hid her allegedly stolen jewelry under her mattress, about three feet away from Albert’s battered body!

The trial of Ruth and Judd would be a media circus, and celebrities such as director D.W. Griffith, and evangelists Billy Sunday and Aimee Semple McPherson would attend. Ruth would be called “ruthless Ruth”, “vampire”, and the “blonde fiend” by the press. Evidently not all men found those appellations a turn-off, because Ruth received at least 160 marriage proposals during her incarceration. DEAD

Unfortunately for Ruth, her plea for clemency would be denied by Governor Al Smith. Her execution would be famously recorded by newspaper man Tom Howard. The ingenious reporter had strapped a miniature camera to his ankle beneath his trousers. Just as the executioner threw the switch on the whimpering murderess, Tom raised the cuff of his pants and snapped the tabloid photo of a lifetime.

The murderers were unexceptional, but their crime inspired art. “Machinal”, a play by Sophie Treadwell was deemed one of the best of 1928-29. James M. Cain’s brilliant novels “Double Indemnity” and “The Postman Always Rings Twice” are said to have been inspired by Albert Snyder’s murder. And, of course, each of the novels translated into two of the finest examples of film noir ever produced.

Stay Away from the City Hall in 1967

fortyyearsNew York
December 8, 1927 

From the Great Men Saying Great Things file…none other than the esteemed Sir Edwin Lutyens, Greatest of British Architects, has asserted that our sky-scrapers will, with certainty, in forty years, tumble.  According to Lutyens, the methods employed in structural steel construction of giving the steel only a “coating of paint or one of mud and water” allows our edifices scant protection from atmospheric penetration.

And boy, was he right.  Who can forget the terrible collapsings of Berg & Clark’s Gillender Building, or Burnham & Root’s Ashland Block or Masonic Temple, or Flagg’s Singer Building, et al?  Damn that atmospheric penetration!  (For more on victims of atmospheric penetration, go here.)

Here in Los Angeles of the future, of course, the atmosphere laughs as it burns paint and mud and water right off our tall buildings.  But stand tall and proud still, they do!

Vultures Circle Over Los Angeles

Ill-fated Tour Group

Los Angeles
August 28, 1927

Five days ago, twenty Mexican “rebelsâ€Â descended on a train carrying among its passengers a group of American schoolteachers headed back to Los Angeles after a summer session at the University of Mexico. Eyewitnesses said about 40 shots were fired into the cars, one of which hit 27-year-old Florence M. Anderson of 3414 Third Avenue, Los Angeles, in the left hip. Anderson, a popular member of the travel party, was taken to a hospital in Maztalan. Doctors operated on the stricken high-school Spanish teacher, but peritonitis set in and she died later the same day, the only passenger injured in the melee.

Now comes word that Florence Anderson’s father and a cousin, Mrs. Jean Garrison, are fighting over the disposition of her body, which arrived in Los Angeles early today.

Spokane newspaperman Charles H. Anderson, says that Florence sent him letters from Mexico in which she declared her affection for him. He says he is “puzzledâ€Â by the relationship between Garrison and his daughter, and pointed to news reports which first described them as aunt and niece, then as cousins. At any rate, he intends to have Florence buried “with her ancestorsâ€Â in California—and asked Southern Pacific to release his daughter’s body to him.

Jean Garrison, on the other hand, claims to have her cousin’s will, handwritten less than two months ago on the eve of her departure for Mexico. It states that Florence Anderson wished to be buried next to her mother in a Denver cemetery.

The tiebreaker was an affidavit filled out this morning by Francis Flynn, manager of the ill-fated tour group. “When Miss Anderson was shot and afraid she would die,â€Â Flynn told reporters, “she called me over and told me to send her things to Mrs. Garrison and to notify her about everything, but that her father was not to be communicated with.â€Â There were “strained relationsâ€Â between them and “she had had only two communications from him in recent years.â€Â

The will and affidavit were good enough for Southern Pacific, which released Florence Anderson’s body to Mrs. Jean Garrison. Both are en route to Colorado. It is also being reported that Garrison has “demanded through the State Department $100,000 [approximately $1.2 million today] reparations of the Mexican government for her cousin’s death.â€Â

Postscript. Charles Anderson gave it one more shot. On September 1, 1927, the Times reported that he had retained counsel and asked for a photographic copy of his daughter’s will, which left the bulk of her $10,000 estate (about $118,000 in 2007) for the education of two young cousins, Claire and Arthur Strong (ages 13 and 11, respectively). Perhaps he thought better of it; the Times makes no further mention of this sordid mess.

Kneel Before Me… Peasant!

Anna Anderson

August 6, 1927
La-La Land

"A lie told often enough becomes truth." –Vladimir Lenin

On July 17, 1918, Bolshevik authorities, led by Yakov Yurovsky, shot Nicholas II and his immediate family in the cellar of the Ipatiev House in Ekaterinburg, Russia. Since then rumors have circulated that one of the Romanovs, Grand Duchess Anastasia, had miraculously survived assassination.

The woman in the photograph on the right is Anastasia Manahan aka Anna Anderson. Anna was a patient in a mental hospital in Dalldorf, Germany until another patient said that she recognized her as royalty. Anna would spend the next 57 years of her life claiming to be Anastasia. Neither her supporters nor her detractors would be able to substantiate Anna’s claim during her lifetime. Several years following her death, DNA tests would finally prove that she was not a Romanov.

Monkeywrench Today, Pocket Doors Tomorrow

It’s been a while since we’ve checked in with our friends down South.  

floodschools

For horrors beyond your wildest imagination, please go here.

Comrades of the Crescent, if you own a shotgun, I suggest you buy a shotgun.  And I don’t mean the bracketed kind.  Not that I mean to imply you should take up arms against your government, well, yes I do.

Nancy Drew in Venice

July 5, 1927
Venice 

It was April 12, 1924, south of the border down Mehico way, when two brigands confronted Fedosis Alvarado on his ranch near Monte Escobeda, stole $2400 and shot him dead when he tried to defend his property. Arrested for the crime, Santiago Figueroa used the victim’s money to avoid prison time.

Fedosis’ daughter, Maria Alvarado Gomez, was not satified with the verdict, and when she heard her father’s killer had moved to the beach at Los Angeles, she followed, taking a home at 1508 Pennsylvania Avenue, Santa Monica. She haunted the public spaces along the shore, not in a spirit of seaside pleasure seeking, but in single-minded pursuit of the man whose face was burned into her brain.

Last night, as crowds packed the streets of Venice for Fourth of July revelry, she finally saw him and cried out to her friends, "There he is, the murderer of my father, hold him, don’t let him get away!"  But in Spanish, because, you know, everyone involved spoke Spanish.

Traffic Officer Carter happened on the scene and took the players into custody, calling in auto camp manager Howard Wesson to translate. Once the story was explained, an envoy was dispatched to the Mexican Consulate, to determine if Figueroa was wanted in his homeland.

Obviously not, since there was no follow up story on the incident. Poor Maria. Should there be a next time, may we suggest she be prepared to exact her own swift justice on her prey, and not make the mistake of trusting law or nations to supply a daughter’s long overdue justice.

Houdini’s Widow to Receive Settlement

June 13, 1927
New York

houdiniFamed illusionist Harry Houdini died October 31, 1926, but until today, his widow, Bess, didn’t know whether she’d see any of the insurance money.  After months of investigation, the New York Life Insurance Company decided to accept the claim that Houdini died as the result of a blow struck by J. Gordon Whitehead, a McGill University student.  Bess Houdini would receive a settlement of $25,000 ($296,962 USD 2007).

Of course, New York Life had good reason to be confused.  Even today, Houdini’s death is surrounded by uncertainty.  Some accounts say that Whitehead challenged Houdini to take the punch fair and square, while others claim that he and his buddies lambasted the illusionist while he reclined on a sofa.  According to some, the blow to the abdomen could have ruptured Houdini’s appendix, while others today say that this would only have aggravated a pre-existing condition.  Still others speculate that he was actually poisoned by the angry Spiritualists he’d discredited.  As recently as March of this year, Harry’s descendents were seeking to have the body exhumed, while Bess’s sought to block it, claiming that the whole thing reeked of a book promotion stunt.

What’s a humble claims adjuster to do?

The Long March Back

 leveesdynamited 

April 30, 1927 
La Louisiane

no27map

Governor Simpson declared today that the homes of thousands of French Acadiana and Spanish Creoles in St. Bernard and Plaquemines parishes were tomorrow going to be deep underwater.  And not just because nature was being nature, but because Simpson was to dynamite the levees, sentencing a huge swath of hunters and trappers to homeless oblivion.

The folks of  “Evangeline,” who knew exile only too well, trudged away in a debouch forty miles long while the muddy water of thirty-one states poured past. 

floodedhouses4/30