Physician, Kill Thyself

February 17, 1927
Santa Ana

zappedThe widow Alice Hanmore has a bone to pick with Evangelists, or, more specifically, the College of Medical Evangelists.  Truth be told, evangelists should be, oh, evangelical, and leave the application of Röntgen rays to the professionals.  

In March of 1926 Alice’s husband M. J. Hanmore, a Fullerton oil worker, began experiencing stomach pains and loss of appetite; Drs. Claude E. Steen, Emerald J. Steen and John A. Whalen of the CME/White Memorial Hospital decided that an intensive course of that ever-beneficial ionizing radiation would do the trick.  Today, Alice is charging in court that “negligent and unskillful” employment of X-rays resulted in severe fatal burns—she’s asking for $30,000 ($348,669 USD2007).

(Our evangelical docs Steen & Steen will make the papers again in March, charged of malpractice by one Mary A. Greene of Fullerton—she goes in for an ingrown toenail, so they take that portion of the nail.  So far so good.  Steen & Steen subsequently amputate her big toe.  Then they amputate much of her leg.  Further operations result in anthropy of Mary’s thigh muscles.  She’ll ask for $25,000.)

4:34? No Loophole

runDecember 15, 1927 

Miss Grace Shannon, national secretary of our own YWCA, has just returned from Turkey, and good news:  there’s no Dumb Doras there!  Sure, it’s all right for a man to have four wives (“to which every good Mussulman says ‘Amen,’” chuckles Ms. Shannon), but the crafty gals there under Atatürk (we say atagirl!) have found some loophole that goes on to contradict such (referring to the famous Koranic Koran 4:3/Koran 4:129 Paradox).  Yes, it seems the new republic’s progressive divorce laws and campaigns for women’s sufferage have made it a veritable heaven on earth for the gentler gender.  

Just think, another eighty years of progressive thinking will do a world of wonder for women!

The Mysterious Madame XYZ

September 4, 1927
Los Angeles

The public stenographer was used to all sorts of crazy jobs, but the one that arrived in the mail last week was a new one for sure. She was to type up, and send to a number of prominent citizens, an appeal for $1500 from a purportedly destitute woman who promised to kill herself if the money was not received by the following Wednesday. The letter was signed “Madame XYZ.” It was all too weird for the stenographer, who turned the request over to police.

Today, an anonymous note showed up at the Central Police Station identifying Madame XYZ as Eunice McMullin of 2674 South Vermont Avenue. Clues given in the note led detectives to the conclusion that McMullin is really Mrs. Frank A. Martin. The 40-year-old Mrs. Martin has been missing since last week, according to her husband, who also said she tried to kill herself three years ago in Oakland.

XYZ/McMullin/Martin was clearly no criminal mastermind; the note, which used her real address, also included details of a railroad accident Martin suffered in 1913. And asking a public stenographer to send her extortion letters? Pure bush league.

Postscript: Police closed the case the following day, after the still-missing Madame XYZ contacted her husband and promised not to take her own life. Detectives noted that Mr. Martin was “not at all concerned” over his wife’s threats of suicide (an attitude apparently shared by the LAPD where Madame XYZ’s attempt at blackmail was concerned).

His wife wanted the money, Mr. Martin revealed to the Times, to “establish a new religious movement.” Neighbors, on the other hand, reported that they hadn’t noticed an upsurge in religious activities by either of the Martins, who were “in a strained financial condition”—or so said the neighborhood busybodies.

The story ended two days later, when Madame XYZ dropped a letter in her husband’s mailbox stating she would return to him only if he joined her in founding her sect. Alas, no details were given concerning the new religion, and, as police reiterated, given Mr. Martin’s “confidence that no harm will befall his wife,” the case was at a standstill.

Dolled as a Dapper Dad

March 31, 1927
Pasadena

paircladFourteen year-old Wilbur Garner had a lady-friend, and an older one at that, his inamoratette a fifteen year-old Eula Rittgers. They showed great attachment to one another at their Seventh Day Adventist School. When they decided to exchange biblical dullsville for the world’s treasures, they outfoxed the Man by turning li’l Eula into aeula boy. Inside a church  wastebasket was found the Eula’s hair, and persons conforming to the two young boys’ description were spotted in Eagle Rock. A fashionable bobbed ‘do meets a Joan of Arc act. Appropriately observant.  Guess they were absent the day they covered Deuteronomy 22:5.

jimmydavisIn yet more fifteen year-old news, or, that is to say, further news of fifteen year-olds, fifteen year-old Jimmy Davis and an unnamed pal of his broke into the Monterey Park home of John W. Hardman, stealing fountain pens and trinkets and, more absurdly, did Jimmy garb himself in Hardman’s best suit, silk shirt and black & white scarf. Figuring himself too conspicuous for his own good, Jimmy and pal returned to the house, threw the clothes on the floor and, afraid of being traced through fingerprints (his being known to local authorities for his repeated burglaries and check forgings), lit fire to the house. The house smoldered for some time before being rescued by the fire department, and Jimmy is now cooling his heels in juvenile hall.

A Tumultuous Season


March 10, 1907
Los Angeles

Someone who opened the Los Angeles Times on this Sunday might be forgiven for wondering what had become of the world, for Page 1 was full of news about the demise of two religious leaders.

The first was the death of John Alexander Dowie, the founder of Zion, Ill., who considered himself the reincarnation of the biblical prophet Elijah. The second was the decline of Mary Baker Eddy, founder of Christian Science.

The Times published some of Eddy’s letters to her son, saying: “These Eddy letters, now carefully guarded in a safe deposit vault at Washington, are confidently expected to invalidate every transaction made by Mrs. Eddy in the last 15 years.â€Â

They are too long to post, but here’s a sample:

“My Dear Son: The enemy to Christian Science is led by the wickedest powers of hypnotism and is trying to do me all the harm possible by acting on the minds of people to make them lie about me and my family.â€Â

Dowie’s history is far more complex and even the highlights of his career defy an easy summary. He arrived in San Francisco in 1888 and moved to Chicago two years later. By 1899 he was mobbed by thugs while staging nightly crusades in Chicago after establishing a divine healing mission and opening a bank and newspaper.

In 1900, he bought the property for what is now Zion and began calling himself “Elijah the Restorer.â€Â

Five years later, he was paralyzed in Zion upon returning from a trip to begin a colony in Mexico. In 1906, he appointed a general overseer, Wilbur Glenn Voliva, who took over the movement and repudiated him.

Dowie’s last words were: “The millennium has come. I will return in a thousand years.â€Â

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The Bible Explained — For $1,000


Jan. 22, 1907
Los Angeles

Since his teens, James Lauer has been studying the Bible. Where others have struggled to parse its meanings, he has found clarity. He wants to write a book that will explain it all. The only thing he needs is $1,000 ($20,523.57 USD 2005).

During his studies of the Bible, Lauer has apparently never encountered anything prohibiting extortion, so to get the money, he has been writing notes to Mrs. Joseph Maier Sr. One was not enough, so Lauer wrote a series of letters demanding money and threatening her life if she didn’t pay.

At the moment, Lauer is in the City Jail under examination by Dr. Quint. Neither Lauer’s conduct nor his appearance is reassuring. “His long red hair and beard are unkempt, his flat-topped skull is peculiarly formed and his painfully strained gaze does not indicate a well-balanced mind,â€Â The Times says.

“During his imprisonment in the City Jail, Lauer talked wildly of his plans for writing a book about the Bible which would clear up all the misunderstanding. He repeatedly declared that while all attempts to explain the Bible have failed, it is quite clear to him, and that he could explain it perfectly to others if he were given opportunity to write his book.

“Lauer, according to his own statement, has pored over the Bible constantly since he was 15 years of age, inventing explanations, and this, it is believed, has turned his brain.â€Â

Lmharnisch.com
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E-mail: lmharnisch (AT) gmail.com

St. James Raises a Church

The Methodist Episcopal congregation, formed from a merger of the Centennial and Central churches, planned a wonderful new building at 22nd Street and Union. Although the congregation studied the idea of a new location, the members finally decided there was no better place than the one they had.

The church was designed by A. Dudley using an old English half-timbered style with a Gothic tower. The vaulted ceiling was highlighted with gold and the pews were arranged in concentric circles around a corner pulpit.

The Times noted: