Angels My Eye

waituntilspringbanditosFebruary 3, 1927
Seemingly Everywhere

It was another olla podrida fulla banditry in Los Angeles, which bubbled over and burned something fierce at El Molino and Ninth when a gent approached Frank Merlo, robbed him of $50 ($551 USD2006) cash and forced him to swap clothing.  

Elsewhere, a truck containing $4,000 worth of cigars and tobacco, parked in front of the Glaser Brother’s establishment at 1028 Wall Street, just up and disappeared; a burglar capable of squeezing through a window not more than seven inches wide entered the Wrede Drug Company at 1327 Fairfax and made off with $200; persons unknown jimmied a rear door of Brunswig Drug at 4922 Santa Monica and btained $500 worth of cigarettes and delicious narcotics.

In residential news, Mrs. Elba Burdick was lightened of $1,000 worth of clothing, rugs and pesky jewelry that were cluttering up her place at 232 Carmelina Avenue; Nathan Lack now lacks one $600 diamond stickpin, formerly in residence at 831 South Harvard; Torato Nishlo was relieved of $500 in jewelry from 925 Hemlock; Dr. H. C. Hill of 806 Golden, also relieved of $500 in jewelry; Nathan Berger, of 2010 Brooklyn Avenue, also relieved of $500 in jewelry; and loot valued at less than $300 was pilfered from a dozen other residences, according to police reports.

Daylight is a good time to work as well—Sam Stone got his register rifled while looking the other way, Stone Furniture Company, 2711 Brooklyn Avenue.

IamtheyeggmanBut fret not people of Los Angeles!  The bulls have pinched (another) gang of li’luns, ages 15 to 18, who now make the Alhambra pokey their new clubhouse.  Their leader was busting into the home of an F. R. Lee on North Wilson when popped, and quickly gave up his younger cohorts—they of reputable local families—and location of purloined rugs, cameras, revolvers, and the black masks (cute—last year) they wore during their heists.  The youth of these masked marauders may account for the ability to slip through Wrede Drug’s tiny window.  Unless it was those fabled fascistic interwar little people.  

Demon Liquor

January 23, 1927
Pasadena, CA 
 
latourW.H. Latour, a 71-year-old night watchman at the Lamanda Park Citrus Packing Plant in Pasadena, was propped up with a bottle of white lightning when he caught Tom Clark working on his car on the plant grounds.  When Latour told him to leave, Clark nodded, and prepared to set off on his way.

But then, Latour became convinced that the car was trying to attack him, and pulled a gun on it.  After firing two shots at Clark’s car, Latour raised his arm to wave off the terrifying apparition and fired again — directly into his own hand.

Elsewhere in Los Angeles today, another man paid a less gory price for intemperance.

soberEarlier this month, police were called to Mt. Washington Dr. following reports of a dead body slumped in a car along the side of the road.  But James Proffit wasn’t dead — only dead drunk, and "there were several dead soldiers around him in the form of empty bottles from which the spirits had fled."

Today in court, Proffit had some interesting things to say for himself.  "It’s the holidays and festivities that get me in trouble," Proffit told Municipal Judge Turney.  "I was in jail at Thanksgiving for being drunk, and it was the same thing at Christmas and New Year’s.  I wouldn’t be here now, but my brother got married, and of course, I was there as a guest."

Turns out, Proffit had forgotten his duty to drive the newlyweds home from the reception.  When he swerved off the road and got them all stuck in the mud, the bride and groom decided to walk the rest of the way home, leaving Proffit to fend for himself.  Proffit was fined $200.

Drunken Geezer Shoots Pal, Self

January 22, 1927
Altadena

Mayhem ruled the backyard at 1795 Beverly Drive in Aladena this morning, when two 70-year-old pals ended a friendship of almost two decades with a gun. It all started when little Jimmie Jamison, 8-year-old grandson of George Ehret, heard noises from the cellar. The youngster investigated, and discovered Nicholas Tuck drunkenly stumbling around a pile of boxes in the basement. Tuck usually occupied a cottage at the rear of the lot, but for reasons unknown (but probably having to do with his alcohol-soaked condition) climbed through a small side window into the cellar at the main house. He then discovered all the doors were locked—and he couldn’t get back through window. “Let me out and I won’t hurt you,” he told Jimmie, who obligingly opened the cellar door for grandpa’s drunken buddy.

Meanwhile, George Ehret, armed with a heavy cane, was headed to the backyard to see about all the commotion. When Tuck, climbing out of the cellar, saw Ehret, he pulled a gun (or so Ehret says). As the two men scuffled, “the gun exploded,” lodging a bullet in Ehret’s thigh. Tuck then fired a shot at Ehret, but missed. He ran a few steps, placed the muzzle against his own head and pulled the trigger. He is close to death.

Ehret told police that Tuck was a mean drunk, and had on more than one occasion threatened him with a gun. He is expected to make a full recovery.

God Granted Him the Serenity

 killsself

francisDecember 8, 1927
Pasadena 

The next time you need to go to a 12-step meeting, or better yet a full detox, or just be hospitalized for that durn’d dementia praecox, do yourself a favor and head on over to Las Encinas. Take in the rolling lawns, the mature trees, and gorgeous hundred year-old shingle cottages.  Watch as Dr. Drew administers kindly words to one or more Osbournes, and perhaps they’ll put you in the bungalow where W. C. Fields drank and breathed his last.  Then tell us if you happened upon the ghosts of Francis Stevens and his sons Georgie and Francis Jr.  

Francis E. Stevens was a Prominent Pasadenan—Vice-President of the First Trust and Savings Bank of Pasadena and the First National Bank of Pasadena, member of Pasadena’s War Finance Committee, a man with a newly built home and a…lovely family.  

Lovely enough, but not entirely.  His wife Elizabeth was prominent socially, certainly, and of his 16 year-old daughter Carol’s charms there can be no doubt.  But his sons…little George, 14, has been almost an invalid since birth, and “backward”.  And as such the entirety of Francis’ hopes and expectations for the future rode on his namesake, Francis E. Jr., 20.  Unfortunately, the star pupil at Univeristy of Michigan, where Francis Sr. had attended school, Francis Jr. crashed his car into a telephone pole near Ann Arbor and suffered a basal fracture that affected his mind, landing him what looked to be a permanent place back in Pasadena…at Las Encinas Sanitarium.

And so Francis Sr. did what any concerned, dutiful father would do.  He went to work at eight a.m., made light and cheery conversation the cashiers, and made certain all was in order; then went home to fetch George to take him off to James A. Garfield Grammar School (once at the NE corner of S. Pasadena and California Street).  This he did, and the two sat outside the school, talking in the car, until about 9:15, according to witnesses.  Then they drove off, to where, we’ll never know.  All we know is that Francis Sr. shot George in the head.  And then arrived at Las Encinas at 10:15.

weeksofplanning

Francis left George’s corpse in the back seat covered in a laprobe, and walked to administration to inquire after his other son.  He chatted with the attendants, then made his way to the bungalows.  He went to the bungalow where Francis Jr. lived with his male nurse, Frank B. Schaefer, and handed Schaefer a well-wrapped package, instructing him “Don’t let anybody have these and don’t open them until you hear from me.”  And with that he and his son took a lovely walk around the grounds.

thetenniscourtThey walked and talked along the shady paths and across sun-dappled lawns until they came to the tennis court in the rear.  It was 12:15 when father pulled out and brought a pistol to his son’s temple and fired.  He was then seen sliding the barrel into his mouth and pulling the trigger, his body crumpling directly next to his son’s.

Some time after the excitement of having the wife and daughter brought to the sanitarium, and the bodies had been removed, that someone thought of having the Stevens sedan hauled away.  It was only then an attendant noticed the slow moving stream of blood oozing over the fender.

The package Stevens gave to Schaefer contained securities, bonds, his will, multitudinous letters to banking concerns indicating that their finances were in order (which checked out just fine), and the ashes of Sylvia Stevens, a daughter he’d lost and cremated some time ago.

The funeral for the Stevens men was held shortly thereafter, though in spirit, the trio were still, of course, at Las Encinas.  

I Scream, You Scream

November 14, 1927
Pasadena 
 
toxicicecreamOver 100 Pasadena residents are clutching their guts today, the victims of a recent outbreak of food poisoning.  Those affected had all eaten a batch of tainted French vanilla ice cream sold by a local catering company.  At first, the toxins were suspected to have come from the copper mixing vats used by the unnamed company; however, after questioning some of its employees, City Bacteriologist C.W. Arthur and City Chemist Frank Marks (how ’bout those job titles!) uncovered the true culprit.

It seems that the ice cream recipe called for an egg mixture which the company only bothered to make about once a week.  Unfortunately, the ice cream was frequently made several days later.  Arthur and Marks found that a scoop of the toxic French vanilla contained about 20 times as much bacteria as a sample of raw sewage.

Oh, careless confectioner, what have you wrought!

Have a Zesty Labor Day!

September 3, 1927
Los Angeles

If you’re planning to escape the heat this Labor Day by going boating on Lake Arrowhead, don’t forget to take along your radio!

Radio

The Politics of Insanity

Crazed Headline

August 27, 1927
Pasadena

All it takes to be considered insane these days is to assert your First Amendment right to free speech…with a knife. Oppressed Cartoon

According to night watchman F.M. Winchester, he was making his rounds when a man confronted him shouting, “Down with America! Sacco is dead!” The agitated man then lunged at him with a shiv.

The aptly named Winchester fired three shots above the man’s head, at which time the stranger turned and ran off into the night. The shots drew a crowd of on-lookers and police to Miller’s Alley near Marengo Avenue.

Detective Sergeants Cheek, Mansell, and Officer Armer followed the trail of the alleged lunatic, who was subsequently identified as Elias Soto Hernandez. The suspect was arrested at 230 East Union Street and transported to the County Hospital in Los Angeles on suspicion that he may be insane.

Hernandez was protesting the execution in Massachusetts of Italian born anarchists and convicted murderers, Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti. Their executions on August 23rd followed two trials of dubious fairness. Both trials were presided over by Judge Webster Thayer who displayed a blatant bias against the defendants. During the second trial, defense motions made by California attorney Fred Moore were frequently denied by the Judge who said, "No long-haired anarchist from California can run this court!" Thayer was also overheard referring to Sacco and Vanzetti as, “…those anarchistic bastards…”.

Sacco and VanzettiWhether or not the men were guilty of robbery and murder remains a topic for debate. What is certain is that their case was the culmination of the first so-called “Red Scare” which began amid the violence, chaos, and political unrest circling the globe during World War I.

World wide protests had failed to save the condemned men from the electric chair, but fifty years later on August 23, 1977, Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis (who became the democratic presidential nominee in 1988) issued the proclamation that the men had been treated unjustly and that "any disgrace should be forever removed from their names."

Ghastly

August 8, 1927 
Los Angeles
 
daedler
 
Today, 17-year-old Paul Daedler was committed to the Preston School of Industry at Ione on vagrancy charges, and sentenced to remain there until he is 21.  It sounds harsh, until you dig a little deeper.

You see, at the tender age of 14, Paul Daedler was accused of one of the grisliest crimes in Pasadena history.  Paul came from a good family, but it was reported that he attended the Monroe School for Subnormal Children along with his friend, William "Billie" Forrester.  William was adopted, and had been in trouble with the law since he was 12, when he stole $500 from a neighbor and ran off to Arizona.

After school on December 5, 1923, Paul and William were playing with 5-year-old Arthur Martinez, the youngest child of a Pasadena gardener, in an abandoned factory at 950 S. Raymond Ave.  They had a loaded .22 with them.  Exactly what happened in the factory is uncertain, but little Arthur was shot twice in the head and once in the back.  The shots didn’t kill him, though.  Scared that Arthur would squeal on them, Paul and William beat him over the head with a brick, tied him to a pole with wire, and left him overnight.  When they came back to the factory the next day, (to free him, they said), the boy was dead.

Paul and William went to the police and reported that they "found" Arthur in the factory.  However, the police were suspicious of the boys, and after questioning, both confessed.  At the inquest, the two expressed little emotion or remorse for what they had done, though the truant officer sitting near them in the courtroom had them shaking in their boots.

On December 20 hearing, Paul was joined by two lawyers, his parents, sisters, and a bevy of witnesses, while William had only his mother by his side.  Although Paul had signed two confessions of guilt, his lawyers called witnesses to establish Paul’s alibi for the time of the killing.  Paul also stated that he’d attended school on December 5, then rode his bicycle to a confirmation class at his church.  The pastor of Paul’s church testified that Paul had been in class, although his schoolteacher, Miss Anna Crane, said that she had not seen Paul after 2pm on the day of the murder.

William was sent to the Preston State School on his 15th birthday to await trial, while Paul was sent to the Whittier State School.  Their names and school ID numbers are included in the California Youth Authority Name Index for 1924 .  However, a month after being sentenced to Ione, William produced a confession that absolved Paul of all blame in the killing.  In his confession, William said, "I pulled the gun and shot him.  Then I though I would put the blame on someone else, so I shot him two more times.  I happened to think that whenever Paul Daedler got mad, he always threw bricks, so I decided to throw bricks at Arthur so it would appear that Paul hit him."

Later, it was revealed that a person interested in the case of Paul Daedler had visited him at the Preston School earlier and persuaded him to change his confession.  The possibility that Paul’s family pressured the poor and unconnected William to take the rap for his friend is not unthinkable.  As the boys sat in juvenile facilities, the Daedler family and their lawyers sought a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of Paul, saying that he had been confined to Whittier without a trial before a jury.

The judge upheld Paul’s detention.

Finally, after serving 17 months at Whittier, Paul was released into the custody of a judge, who ruled that the boy must leave the state, never to return.  Paul’s father, Louis Daedler took him east so he could begin a new life.  However, less than two years later, Paul was in County Jail on a vagrancy charge, having hitchhiked his way back to California.  And today, he was returned to the juvenile facility.  If the case did come to trial at some point, it was not reported in the Times.

Paul Daedler died in Los Angeles on December 21, 1981.  William Forrester was paroled from the Preston School on November 19, 1925, and disappeared without a trace.

Not So Meek

June 21, 1927
Pasadena 

"Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands’ necks. Anything can happen." -Raymond Chandler

Subject to what was described as "a subtle malady," Mrs. Katherine Dwyer, 50, stocky, determined, crept up behind husband George, Pacific Electric Railway gateman, as he stood at the kitchen sink eating his lunch at 184 Carlton Street, and neatly drew a razor ’round his throat.

Dwyer’s gurgling drew the attention of housekeeper Miss Slade, who called George Spiegel of #146 for aid. Together they wrestled the blade away from Mrs. Dwyer, Miss Slade gaining a slash to the scalp for her trouble. Policeman A.O. Boyd arrived as the second victim was attacked, and promptly signed an insanity complaint, sending the lady the psychopathic ward of General Hospital.

George Dwyer may die. The couple had quarreled about their daughter, and Mrs. Dwyer, while never previously violent, had been treated for mental problems in the past.  

Water, Water Everywhere — Except in Ventura

Bad Water

June 4, 1927
Pasadena

"Whiskey is for drinking; water is for fighting over." – Mark Twain

Pasadena residents Raymond T. Wood and Cleo Wood have been married for three years. In March of this year Raymond decided to seek employment out of town. When he found a job in Ventura, he naturally assumed that Cleo would join him there. That’s when the trouble began.

Much to Raymond’s dismay, Cleo refused to budge. She claimed that she wanted to continue working in Pasadena and told her baffled husband that she couldn’t possibly move to Ventura because of the bad drinking water. Evidently Cleo and Raymond had never heard of Sparkletts.

Sparkletts

Raymond doesn’t believe that his wife is being truthful about why she wants to remain in Pasadena. While working in Ventura he had discovered that his wife was spending every night alone together with their star boarder. “She became intoxicated with him.” Raymond said.

As far as Raymond is concerned, his wife’s excuses for staying in Pasadena don’t hold water.