The Apple Box Kid and Miss “I Love L.A.” of 1927

February 8, 1927
Los Angeles

The fourth in a series of bold daylight robberies of outlying classrooms has been reported at the Lillian School, near Holmes and Slauson Avenues. As a room full of terrorized seven-year-olds covered their ears and quaked, a tall, very slender negro relieved their teacher, Mrs. Ruth Hanna, of her handbag, which contained $20 cash. His weapon was neither gun nor knife, but his horrifying facility with curse words and threats. The criminal is suspected to be one William Tyler, known to police as "Stealing 24" and "The Apple Box Kid."

Meanwhile, in darkest Lankershim, Isabel Suaze, 15, is in hiding after hearing her parents’ plans for the family to return to their former home in Arizona. The girl is such a California booster, she’d rather become a street urchin than leave L.A. Here’s to a most discerning young lady!

Call for Contributors to the new 1947project site

Gentle reader,

1947project, a Los Angeles based time travel blog dedicated to unearthing forgotten crime stories and peculiar happenings from the city’s past, is seeking extraordinary contributors to research and write a blog entry once or twice weekly for one year.

On March 18, 1947project will launch a brand new site that offers a fresh spin on the time travel blog theme. The selected contributors will get a sneak peak at the site in question, to give them a little time to bone up on the material.

Potential contributors should be witty, concise writers and skilled researchers, with a passion for Los Angeles social history and an interest in true crime. We also welcome contributors who can write knowledgably on such subjects as architecture, city planning, entertainment, transportation, business, fringe religion and other topics that have been featured in past 1947project blog entries. Skill using or building digital maps is a big plus. You do not have to live in Los Angeles.

To get an idea of what we do, please browse this site.

There is no pay, but the successful applicant will have the opportunity to promote their other work on the site, be mentioned in press releases, get free seats on occasional Esotouric bus adventures and occupy a central spot on a website that has become a must-read for fans of L.A.’s offbeat past.

To apply for a spot on 1947project, please do the following by March 12:

1) ensure that you can access the ProQuest archives of the historical Los Angeles Times, either through the LA Public Library website (you will need a library card), by using the LAPL in-library computers, or from another source. You can call your local public or university librarian for help. Note that ProQuest access is essential for this project.

2) please submit the following application materials, pasted into our contact form:
a) a writing sample of 300-500 words, in which you take the basic facts of Marie Prevost’s 1937 death (Google it) and turn it into a 1947project-style blog entry. Imagine you are telling the story to a neighbor who hasn’t yet heard what’s happened, writing it up in a letter home, or submitting a story to a scandal magazine—whatever tone feels right to you. Feel free to use snappy period slang, make suggestions about what might have taken place, and place the dead woman into historical context.
b) your resume
c) an explanation of why you are interested in being a 1947project blogger and what you feel you will bring to the project.
d) how often can you contribute, one or two posts a week?

We look forward to hearing from you!

Kim Cooper, editrix
1947project

Second Time’s the Harm

February 1, 1927
Whittier

Family annihilator George Hassell was convicted of killing his wife and her eight children by his late brother, and has an appointment with the Texas executioner shortly. While awaiting his last date, George recalled the wife he killed in Whittier in 1917 and the three children he buried with her beneath their little home at 236 South Whittier Avenue. There seemed no reason not to confess this, so today, with some direction from long-suspicious neighbor Myrtle Lark and a little more from the agreeable killer, Constable Bob Way crawled under the house and unearthed the body of an infant. Its mother and siblings soon followed, thus explaining the wretched odors that had long plagued the spot.

In slightly gayer news, the grand new Mayfair Hotel has opened in the Crown Hill district of Los Angeles, providing the ideal vantage point for a drunken oil company exec named Ray Chandler to hole up for days with his secretary while threatening suicide to all who’ll listen.

The Hot Roddin’ Bartimaeus

January 27, 1927
Los Angeles

elasticizeHayward Thompson toured Los Angeles today, and pronounced on KFWB this evening (through the courtesy of the Times and Gartzman, Inc, your friendly local Oakland distributor) that driving through Los Angeles was going to be a snap.  Without the use of his eyes, of course.  Seems he doesn’t need them—Thompson was blinded when a German shell took out part of his brain at Bois de Belleau, and then miraculously regained his sight—and he’s been able to read, golf, shoot rifle matches, since then, while blindfolded.

Thompson, 47 years of age though who reportedly looks 30, has made 332 paroptic public exhibhibitions, in every great city of America and Europe, and will make this, his Los Angeles trip, at one hundred miles, his last.

Thompson states that he has more competition here than anywhere else in the world.  “Driving around Los Angeles I find a good many blind drivers,” he said.  “I even encountered one who was blind drunk.”

On January 31st, his 333rd exhibition (spooky) Thompson was blindfolded by Deputy Chief of Police Spellman, and did indeed motor one hundred miles through the congested centers of Los Angeles, Hollywood and Pasadena, obeying all signals and laws, without a hitch.

And now he’s ceased.  He’s had to stop because in having only two layers of skin (as opposed to the three you and I have), in conjunction with the fasting he must undergo to sharpen his dermoptic wits, has proven bad for his health.  

In retirement, Thompson plans on devoting the rest of his life to hypnotizing people over the radio, via Mesmer’s system of suggestion.

1947project nominated for a Capote Award

I grew up with a big ol’ hopeless crush on Tru, so it’s a thrill to see that the In Cold Blog community has nominated 1947project for a Capote Award for Best True Crime Blog of 2007. The voting is a little odd in that they are asking people to vote daily until the polls close.

There are a bunch of fine blogs in the running, so I’ll just send you to that page and suggest you vote early and often if inclined. Thanks, ICB! 

We’re so hungry, we could eat a sheep

eat a sheep headline

January 14, 1927
Taft

Hut, two, three, four – an army of field mice is on the march in Taft, and like most armies, this one travels on its stomach.

Despite being low on the food chain, or maybe because of it, field mice are crafty little creatures, and they can rapidly assess a situation before taking action. While cutting a wide swath through Taft, the mouse invaders spied a small sheep that was confined in a pen and unable to escape. Hundreds of rodent soldiers felt their mousedar vibrate. They swarmed the helpless animal and devoured it on the spot.

Not all mice are evil sheep snacking marauders. On November 18, 1928, Walt Disney would introduce an adorable animated anthropomorphic mouse in the cartoon, “Steamboat Willie”. Nobody would ever look at a mouse in quite the same way.

Is a Woman Ever Really Sorry?

shotbywife 

January 13, 1927
Los Angeles

mabelGeorge and Mabel Drummond had nothing if not a tempestuous wedded life.  Married ten years, hitched when George was fifteen and Mabel twenty-one, their stormy union included many a sterling instance, including the time a jealous Mabel held George in a chair at gunpoint for three hours while she threatened to shoot him with every passing moment.

Today, after the usual morning argument in their Alhambra home, George announced he’d had his fill, and moved his stuff out to go shack up with…a widow.  Tonight Mabel followed George to 335+1/2 West 42nd Street, where George was involved with one Mrs. Helen Salyer. 

Along for the ride Mabel had taken her old friend the pistol.

In fairness, Mabel did, on the sidewalk in front of Helen Salyer’s house, give George one last chance, asking him to come back to her.  George approached and said, firmly, no.  With that, Mabel shot him in the stomach; the force of the blast turned him around and Mabel shot him again in the back.  Mabel walked back to her car, got in, and sat calmly there until authorities arrived.  

helenMabel was arrested by Detective Lieutenants Brown and Adams of University Station, who found her composed, and that she could only comment that if she couldn’t live with him, no-one could.  When asked if she felt any regret, she replied:

“Is a woman ever really sorry?”

(With no defense offered other than the “unwritten law,” on May 19 she was ordered held to Superior Court for trial by Municipal Judge Rosencranz on charges of assault with intent to commit murder.  She told the court “I shot him because I loved him” and reiterated “sure I shot him—if I couldn’t live with him I wasn’t going let anyone else live with him.”  The jury, out an hour, gave her a full acquittal on May 24.)

Cowboys and Indians

January 10, 1927
Unincorporated Los Angeles

Sheriff’s officers responded to a desperate cry of murder after a corpse was found by oil field workers digging ditches in Brea, but when they investigated they determined it was merely the aged skeleton of an Indian, disinterred from his ancient grave. The corpse was reburied without ceremony, and the diggers advised to avoid the spot in the future.

And in another Sheriff’s case with a fresher body, the peculiar suicide by gun of Charles Norton, shopkeeper at 1760 East Slauson, was explained away rather ingeniously. Why was the man found dead in his bed in the store’s back room, when his brother said he had no reason to do away with himself? Deputy Sheriff Hackett believes the cause was a nightmare, triggered by the story "Shooting Mad" in the Wild West-themed magazine lying beside the dead man. Hackett suggests Norton dozed off while reading, dreamed a gunman was in the room, reached under the pillow for his own weapon and inadvertently shot himself. Stranger things have happened in Los Angeles.

Poison—Everybody’s Doing It!

poisonJanuary 8, 1927
Los Angeles

Yesterday’s news told of poison booze victim Dennis Cavanaugh. Now it looks like everybody’s trying to get into the act. Take, for example, Mrs. Helen Delamere, who in court papers filed today claims that her husband, P.F. Delamere, has been trying to poison her for several years. First there was the time he tried to get her to eat some poisoned pie. Mrs. Delamare’s nurse wouldn’t let her—but when the nurse ate it (waste not, want not!), she became ill. When on several occasions Mrs. Delamere consumed chicken and soup prepared by her hubby, sickness followed. And when Mrs. D, her sister, and mother nibbled on sandwiches made by the sinister Mr. D—-you guessed it—-the ladies were seized by illness.

Even Aimee Semple McPherson has been gripped by the poison fad. Suspicion was aroused today when a man hurried into a downtown messenger bureau carrying a brown package tied with purple string addressed to the evangelist and marked “rush delivery.” The man then refused to leave the office until the package was dispatched. Due to his erratic behavior, the delivery service sent a messenger boy out with the package, but instructed him to double around the block. The sender (who paid in cash and did not state his name) followed awhile, then disappeared. In the interim, the police were called.

The officers immediately suspected “an infernal machine,” but when the package and a burning dynamite cap were placed side by side, nothing happened. The cops thereupon opened the box and discovered it was filled with candied figs—sweetmeats now suspected of being poisoned. They await analysis by the city chemist.