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.

Mysteries of the Road

accidents
January 19, 1927
Santa Monica, Venice

A drained, shamefaced whisky bottle and wrecked car were all officers found tonight at Colorado Blvd and Twenty-Third Street.

A thorough check of the hospitals and morgues revealed nothing further.

In nearby Venice, at Washington and Brooks, an ambulance was summoned when excited folk in the vicinity witnessed an auto turn turtle.  In true 1920s fashion, the two young male occupants righted the thing and drove off, presumably in a crazy zigzag with zany piano accompaniment.  

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.  

Grapes of Wrath

 

ledintotrapsteen

November 11, 1927
Los Angeles

Mrs. Marie Steen was minding her own beeswax tonight in her home at 8619 Grape Street, when a short, heavy-set man appeared at her door.  He informed her that her husband had been in an accident, and that she’d better board the eastbound R car, go to the end of the line and meet the man who’d take her to her husband.  Marie did as she was told, and at the end of the car line was met by a man in a new automobile who took her north on Eastern Avenue.  When they reached an isolated spot, he, for reasons unknown, ripped her dress open at the neck, struck her over the head, and threw iodine in her face.

She was treated at Gardens Hospital and returned home.

Mrs. Steen certainly looks like she can take care of herself.  On the other hand, Grape Street can be a pretty rough place.

With Time Off For Being So Enterprising

May 3, 1927
Pomona 

Some call it extortion; we call it a rather clever short con. C.L. Jackson and R.W. Hedgreth, both 48 and old enough to know better, approached service station operators Harold K. Hemmingway and Norman Bliss in the guise of being Prohibition officers, and asked where ’round here one could wet one’s whistle. After being informed of the details, Jackson and Hedgreth threatened to alert the real Prohibition men of the illegal info being spread, and demanded a pair of tires, gasoline and $25 cash to keep quiet. But Hemmingway noted the serial numbers on the bills and called the law, and the crooks were soon nabbed.

Justice U.E. White must not have thought much of the victims in the case, for he sentenced the men to six months in County Jail, which he promptly suspended for good behavior. 

Meanwhile, in Reno, Nevada’s first short residency divorce was granted to Sophia M. Ross of New York, who braved the desert winds and cultural drought for three months so she could be freed of her Albert, who ate mashed potatoes with his hands.  

How to Meet a Big Movie Star

April 21, 1927actorscar
Los Angeles

Angelenos had a rough time on the road today—Miss Rachel Miller was struck by Joseph J. Reuter as she crossed the 2600 block of Pico, suffering a fractured skull, concussion of the brain, a broken knee and leg; Henry Van De Kamp was struck by I. Tomioka at East Second and harlanpicCentral, fractured skull, concussion of the brain; J. L. Perrine, who admitted his brakes were “not so good,” drove into and off of a 400-foot embankment on Effie in the Moreno Highlands, multiple abrasions; four motorists walked away when the front half of their auto was flattened by the Los Angeles Railway car at First and Hill; and one Miss Mollie Reesor miraculously suffered only black eyes and a nasal fracture after being hurled twenty-five feet by a hit-and-run at the corner of Washington Street and Harvard Boulevard.

Most notable, naturally, was the pedestrian-killing of Mrs. Eleanor Bishop, fatally injured when run down by prolific film star Kenneth Harlan, of 810 Camden Drive.  Harlan, on his way to a benefit at the Alexandria, statedharlanprevost that the woman stepped from behind a parked car near Wilshire and Tremaine.  After he struck Bishop, he drove her to the office of Dr. James Johnston at Sixth and Western, where she nonetheless expired.  Assuming Harlan still had time to make the benefit, his day looked like this.

 

(Here’s Harlan putting the lovey dovey on then-wife [and subject of continued tasteless interest] Marie Prevost.  They divorced in 1927.)

When Dry Agents Go Wet

April 7, 1927
Los Angelesdryagentsgowethed

A Coroner’s inquest commenced today in an effort to determine just what happened when two inebriates—Frank Farley and George H. Hudson—pixilatedly plowed their car head-on into the auto driven by Union Oil bigwig E. Percy Ingmire & wife near Wilmington.  Two things are certain:  Ingmire is dead, and the two sots being held for murder are Prohibition Agents, drunkenly driving a government car on government business.

Seems our Boys of the Eighteenth, Farley  and Hudson, were out carousing (with liquor in the car on the wrong side of the road and with excessive speed) in the company of three seamen from the steamer Pomona and a Mrs. Margaret “Bessie” McCallister (at whose home they’d earlier had a drinking party) when the accident occurred. ingmire Normally, drunken vehicular homicides under the auspices of Volstead-Feds get swept under the rug, but unfortunately Ingmire was former president of the San Pedro Chamber of Commerce, Past Master of the San Pedro Masonic Lodge, Past Exalted Ruler of San Pedro Elks’ Lodge, President of the San Pedro Industrial Association, ad infinitum.  As such, all and sundry jumped into the fray:  the DA appeared for the State, the Dep US Atty for the Feds, the prohibition administrators for themselves—the last of which entering into a fray with folks from the Customs Dept, who are fond of hampering prohibition enforcement in California.  (The Department of Justice and the Intelligence Section of the Treasury Department are on deck.)

Dry Agent Farley, driver of the killer flivver, is a real catch.  He had been arrested for a street holdup in 1923, was caught sneaking onto the Dutch steamer Eemdyk looking for booze (outside the official capacity of his employment, that is) and, according to Customs officials, was often insolent and acted beyond his authority.  Of course, those Wet Agents from Customs would say that.

bailhead

On September 20, a US District Judge gave Farley one to ten in San Quentin.  Of course, the Federal Comptroller refused to pay Farley’s railroad fare to Q, on the grounds that Farley was a State Prisoner.  The State controller stated that Farley is a Federal prisoner and if anyone was going to pay his fare, it was the Feds.  So Farley stayed a spell in County, where he made pals with one Maj. Donald McRae, on trial for robbing government liquor warehouses.  Inside County they got liquor all the time, until Farley went up north and subsequently testified about his involvement in McRae’s phony alibis, whereafter McRae threatened his life.  And so go our drunken, fallen Feds.

Random Shots From Our 12-Bore

March 9, 1907
Los Angeles

The Insanity Begins

Led by I. Newerf and J.B. Dudley, the automobile owners of Los Angeles are fighting a new city ordinance that bans parking within 40 feet of downtown intersections. Newerf, the West Coast representative of Goodyear Tire Co., and Dudley, a car salesman, received citations for violating the law and have pleaded not guilty.

In April 1909, Dudley pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter after hitting street inspector Woodman J. Thomas on Broadway near 5th Street. He was sentenced to five years’ probation in March 1910.

Disgraced Woman

Hazel La Doux, a.k.a. Hazel Rogers, hid her face with a veil as she was tried on charges of forgery.

“Her downfall is said to be due to a man named William Rogers, an alleged Ascot tout who deserted her,â€Â The Times says. “It is charged that Miss La Doux forged the name of Mrs. John Brink on a check for $120 and cashed it.â€Â

La Doux told police that she and Rogers used a scheme in which she took a job with a reputable employer and passed clients’ information to her lover. La Doux said she worked at a department store in Oakland and a dentist’s office in Los Angeles, turning over names to Rogers, who forged the checks.

“She had been an honest woman, she said, until Rogers’ oily tongue and smooth ways captivated her and she became his mistress and then a thief,â€Â The Times says.

He Paid $40

Restaurant owner Frank Flood stood over his wife, Annie, as she lay on the floor of their quarters at a Spring Street rooming house and said it would be worth the $25 fine just so he could beat her up.

In testifying against him, “She recited a story of shocking cruelty, saying that she had been mistreated, scorned and finally beaten by the man who promised to love, cherish and protect her,â€Â The Times says.

Flood did not dispute any of the charges, refused to cross-examine her (a husband’s right in those days) and pleaded guilty to battery. “He admitted that he struck her and confessed to having assaulted her with his fist as she lay on the floor,â€Â The Times says.

He paid $40 ($837.08 USD 2005).

Flood skipped town in September 1907. “He made the acquaintance of a fast sot and spent plenty of money, too much, in fact, for a man of his means. Late suppers at swell cafes cost Flood much cash. Then he became possessed of a desire to take long journeys in touring cars. He paid his bills with other people’s money, the new restaurant manager says, by levying on the cash drawer of the restaurant, which is owned by a company,â€Â The Times says.

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Speaking of the Weather


Feb. 22, 1907
Los Angeles

Here’s how The Times weather stories read a century ago:

“For all the daylight hours yesterday, the rain drizzled down, much of the time like a heavy Scotch mist, but toward nightfall the storm deepened and the rain began to fall in earnest. For two hours in the early part of the night there was a constant downpour that soon set the gutters running full and brought about the usual results to the streets near the hill district.

“The wash from the highways intersecting the hills poured down onto the streets of the business section and deposits of sand and gravel caused much inconvenience to electric cars. At several of the intersections on Broadway and Hill streets, men were stationed with shovels to keep the tracks passable for cars.

“The rain disarranged schedules for several of the car lines and much trouble was experienced on both the Belt line and the Brooklyn Avenue line to get the cars around the numerous curves overwashed with gravel.â€Â

“No special damage was done by the storm in Garvanza, although the streets were cut up in some cases. At Highland Park, a swift current flowed down Pasadena Avenue, cutting that street badly in several places.

“Right in the midst of yesterday’s rain, a water pipe on Broadway in front of the Ville de Paris broke and when workmen made excavations to mend the pipe, the water got beyond control and shot up into the air on a level with the fourth story of the building. Hundreds of pedestrians stopped in the rain to watch the great fountain play and it added much to the waters rushing down the street.â€Â

Normally, I don’t like to merely copy what ran in The Times, but sometimes it’s impossible to rewrite the stories and preserve the original flavor.

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Random Shots From Our 12-Bore

Feb. 11, 1907
Los Angeles

The Eastside gets a new Baptist Church and 2nd Street and St. Louis.

Like Tom and Huck

A large pond 7 feet deep at Normandie and San Marino left by the runoff of recent rainstorms proved too tempting to the boys of the Forrester tract and so they launched a raft to play.

The raft tipped, The Times says, sending 8-year-old Clarence Rhodes of 1004 S. Jasmine tumbling into the water. Hearing the boys’ cries for help, M. Allen rushed from his home at 922 Normandie, plunged into the water and rescued Clarence.

After nearly half an hour’s work, the boy was resuscitated, The Times says.

Abandoned Boy

“His mother dead and deserted by his father, Charlie McDaniel, 6 years of age, has been wandering about the city, picking up a living as best he could, and sleeping in dry goods boxes and nooks and corners,â€Â The Times says. “The boy was found early yesterday morning by a patrolman and he is now in the Detention Home.

“In telling his pitiful story at the Central Station, the boy said that his mother died a few months ago and that his father had gone away with some woman. The police will make an effort to locate the father.â€Â

Last Stop

Mrs. A.C. Newton of 2707 Central Ave. is not expected to live after fracturing her skull when she leaped from a speeding streetcar because it passed her stop.

“According to witnesses, Mrs. Newton asked to be allowed to leave the car at 29th Street. When she saw the coach was running past the street, she jumped. The car crew carried her into a house nearby,â€Â The Times says.

“Several passengers on the car said that it was No. 419. They state that the conductor paid no attention to Mrs. Newton’s signals.â€Â

Note: I was amazed to learn just how many people were injured in 1907 by jumping from streetcars that failed to stop. Without checking further, I would say someone was hurt about once a week.

Bonus fact: The local tourism industry is furious because the state Senate passed the bill banning horses with docked tails. Businesses note that wealthy visitors from the East often bring their teams to Los Angeles at great expense and if their fancy horses are prohibited, wealthy tourists will avoid the Southland in favor of Florida.

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