Don’t Make Us Use Machine Guns

Tear Gas Headline

September 15, 1927
Long Beach

When members of the Long Beach vice squad got wind of a dice game going on in a pool hall at 1240 California Avenue, they swooped down on the place with tear gas. They hurled a few gas bombs into the building, and then watched as the pool hall belched forth men of color from every door and window as they fled the noxious cloud of gas.

The vice squad thought that employing modern weapons such as those previously used in battle, would be an efficient way to combat criminals. Heck, tear gas worked on the Hun. Alas, gas bombs may be fine for driving a barricaded gangster out of his hidey-hole, but they are not the best weapon for busting a dice game.

It took a very long time for the pool hall to clear of the blinding fumes. When cops were finally able to enter the room they discovered dice and money on the table, but the tear gas had destroyed all evidence of guilt on the part of the suspected gamblers.

The police had several shady characters lined up outside of the reeking building, but with no way of proving their guilt they were released. The only person to roll snake eyes was the establishment’s proprietress, Edith Gilmore. There were still “galloping cubes” and money on the table, and this was sufficient enough for Judge Cook to fine her $5 and give her a suspended sentence of ten days in jail for permitting gambling in her place of business.

A Woman of Many Names—And Almost A New Face

June 26, 2007
Los Angeles

O! What a tangled web some weave when first they practice to deceive their spouses. A few days ago, Theodore A. Kocotis returned home to an empty house—his wife, Carrie, was missing. Five long days later, there came a telephone call:  Carrie Kocotis was desperately ill in a Santa Monica sanatorium, the result of a “face-lifting” operation. Kocotis made haste, but his wife died before he arrived.

The grieving widower hired Attorney Earl S. Wakeman to start probate proceedings. But instead of a few pennies’ worth of pin money squirreled away here and there, Wakeman discovered $10,000 in chattel (almost $120,000 in 2007 dollars). And then there were the aliases. As Carrie L. Brody, Mrs. Kocotis acted as a housemother in a sorority; she conducted other business under the names of Carrie Sullivan and Carrie L. Williams. Her safety deposit box was rented in the name of Carrie Wright, and it was there she stored her jewels and securities.

Wakeman announced today that he intends to see that the events surrounding Mrs. Kocotis’s untimely demise are fully investigated by the District Attorney.

Vice in Venice

August 30, 1907invadelair
Venice

Get talked up by a booster…wend your way through the hall…step on the special stair which emits a loud buzz, warning those you approach.  You’re one your way into the Venice Club, Windward Avenue, Venice, California.

The windows are covered in black oilcloth to keep out light and sound and prying eyes.  Inside there’s a roulette wheel, stacked high with gold and silver, emitting its seductive clicky whir, counterposed by the atonal, plangent clack of chips.  Verdant young society men huddle around the faro layout.  You may or may not notice—they’re all losing.  Certainly your luck can’t be as bad!

Your luck would be bad indeed this night, as Deputy District Attorney John North kicks in the door and announces that everyone is under arrest.  This would not phase the roulette dealer:  “He looked coldly at the officers and his slender gambler fingers toyed idly with the stack of chips at the edge of the table; his little, ratty, sharp face was a slight sneer, half of amusement.”

The Venice Club, run by an aggregation of Arizona sure-thing men, is as crooked as they come.  It is said that the reason the faro dealer has one eye is due to time spent having to look crooked at the bent ends of marked cards.

As the room was pinched, a sudden epidemic of sick wives befell Los Angeles.  But the cops would have none of it, and everyone was hauled in.  The gamblers were allowed to kitty their boodle—some $1486 ($30,498 2006 USD).

The club kept a register of all the tenderfoot gilded youth they’d fished, and, amusingly, the paper printed it in full:
listofbadmen
Ah, would that the story should end there.  The bust of the Venice Club opened wide a scandal that shed no new good light on the already suspect “beach towns.” 

crooksgive 

The Venice police were as fixed as the card games, and got fat from the brace games that lined the seashore.  (During Fiesta week, the same underworld figures who ran the Venice Club ran a crooked [and police protected] gambling hall downtown on Broadway between First and Second.)  Venice men “higher up” had cemented relationships with blind pigs, dens of ruination for young girls, and that special element adept in fixing elections.  Abbot Kinney and (Ocean Park magnate) G. M. Jones battled it out and the cops pledged their various allegiances in the war.

The corruption scandal lingered long and luscious…September 11, 1907: 
knifehilt

Those Sporting Ladies!


Los Angeles
May 15, 1907

Curious neighbors noticed recently that a large number of well-dressed women have been taking the streetcar to the end of the line at 54th Street and South Central Avenue while still others are arriving in automobiles. Upon investigation, Patrolmen Walsh and Murphy discovered that the women are gambling on horse races at a bookie joint set up next to the Ascot Park billiard parlor in a vacant lot surrounded by a high board fence.

Owners J.W. Carr and W.J. Murphy restricted the clientele to women, so police had a difficult time obtaining evidence, but finally officers raided the place and found 50 stylishly dressed women playing the ponies.

More Fun with the Second Amendment

April 18, 1907
Watts
At a poolroom in Watts (where, it is said, liquor is sold without a license), Mr. H. E. Welch became involved in a domestic disagreement with his wife Myrtle.  Accordingly, she beat him with a pool cue and then shot him twice in the head. “I’m used to being shot at,” said Mr. Welch later this evening while being attended to at Receiving Hospital.  “My wife has a lot of disorderly friends and the poolroom is full of these nowadays.  The gun with which she shot me was in my pocket and she took it from me.”