Dramatic Disclosures Come After Girl Cashier’s Death

April 20, 1907
Los Angeles 

Pity Miss Alice Chevallier, native of this city, who took too powerful a sleeping potion a few evenings past, and now lays rotting in her grave in New Calvary. She follows her mother and her brother, but unlike them, her death brings with it unwelcome notoriety.

Alice was a longtime cashier at the Ville de Paris dry goods emporium on Broadway, between 2nd and 3rd Streets. At some stage in her career, she developed a system by which she could bring home with her a portion of the day’s receipts. In recent months, it is believed this was as much as $300 a day. A clever girl, she invested her takings in real estate, and built a handsome portfolio.

But her ingrained nervousness and peculiar disposition–she did not care for men, and perhaps not coincidentally suffered ovarian tumors, neuralgia and insomnia–proved the thief’s undoing. She found it necessary to escape to Catalina to rest following an operation, although she must have realized that her absense from the place of her crimes would make discovery likely. And that is precisely what happened.

Alice returned to her home at 226 West Jefferson, distraught from a sustained bout of sleeplessness and the anxiety of meeting the Ville de Paris’ lawyers. Although her real estate holdings were now sufficiently valuable to cover any restitution required and more, she languished in a state of abject horror.

On Sunday evening, Alice told her sister-in-law that she intended to take a sleeping powder, but in fact she took laudanum and chloroform, two drugs with which she had significant past experience. This time, the dose was too much for her weakened system, and the girl lingered until Wednesday before expiring. Her doctors stress that although it might look like a suicide, the true cause was congestion of the brain–the same organic disorder that lead her to steal in the first place.

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.”

White Wife of Celestial Deports Self

March 27, 1907
Los Angeles 

After visiting her Chinese husband in the County Jail, Mrs. Yee Lung (also called Mrs. Frank Chew) spoke of her intention to join her beloved as he was deported, and to travel with him in the train car packed with forty other Chinese deportees for the trip up to San Francisco.

Special permission has been granted by the U.S. Marshall for her to ride with her husband. They will immediately board a boat to Hong Kong, and the woman may never again see her white friends relatives in this country.

Mrs. Lung’s friends have pleaded with her to reconsider, but she insists "I trust my husband implicitly… he wouldn’t go without me, and I wouldn’t be so cruel as to ask him to."

Degeneracy Down In Europe

Spring 1907

In France, the temperence society Le Croix Bleue works gathering nearly half a million signatures on its petition proclaiming that "Absinthe makes you crazy and criminal, provokes epilepsy and tuberculosis, and has killed thousands of French people. It makes a ferocious beast of man, a martyr of woman, and a degenerate of the infant, it disorganizes and ruins the family and menaces the future of the country."

Virtue Stolen, Innocence Lost

March 20, 1907
Los Angeles 

Revealed today, with the arrest of M.M. Martinez, proprietor of the Esmeralda Club at Amelia and Ducommon Streets, is a terrible tale of innocence stolen. Several young girls are willing to testify that their virtue was taken from them by Martinez and club regulars following the introduction of drugged champagne into their tender mouths.

Inside the walls of this vile palace of sin unfolded the debauchery of Miss Nellie McCarthy, 668 Date Street, and Miss Julia Wood, 812 South Wall Street. Both girls are just 17 years old, and are telling their stories to Proscecuting Attorney Adcock, and are willing to repeat these horrors for a jury. The girls are being "sent to Whittier" because their parents do not know what to do with them.

Martinez’ arrest came about at the insistence of the mothers of the broken blossoms, who declared their children were pure and lovely in character before they began attending social events at the noisome venue.  

 

Editrix’ note: "sent to Whittier" is a euphemism that was apparently familiar enough to the readers of the 1907 newspapers to require no further elaboration. By reading numerous c. 1900 stories that included the phrase, most dealing with delinquent and sexually promiscuous youths, I discovered that Whittier was the location of the State Reformatory (above), opened in 1891; it operated as the Fred C. Nelles School through 2004, and is currently being redeveloped as a residential/commercial project. Henceforth I will threaten Nathan that he will be "sent to Whittier" should he misbehave.

No More Tamales

March 19, 1907
Los Angeles 

For the past two years, Mrs. C.M. Gray, elderly owner of the Hotel Gray at Third and Main Streets, has received a $15 monthly rental from a tamale vendor who sold his wares on her front walk. This illegal commerce has been stopped, and Mrs. Gray convicted and fined $50. Just the cost of doing business…

Police Grill Pin Boy in Winters Whack

March 13, 1947 Los Angeles Detectives questioned James Joseph Tiernan Jr., 30, tonight about his movements Monday night, both before and after the time he claimed that Evelyn Winters, 42, left his hotel room at 912 W. Sixth Street. Winters turned up dead just after midnight Tuesday in the railyard at Ducommun Street, her clothes in disarray, with a blood alcohol level of .28, a nearly fatal proportion. According to Dr. Frederick Newbarr of the Coroner’s Office, cause of death was blows to the head, exacerbated by the extent of her drunkenness. Tiernan was arrested the next day at the bowling alley at 924 S. Olive Street where he was formerly employed.

Captain Jack Donahoe is following up on Tiernan’s story. Tiernan admits to knowing Winters–a former movie industry legal secretary fallen on hard times–for about two years. He says he met her on Sunday at the public library, then took her to his hotel room. They both liked reading, and alcohol. On Monday night, they were drinking together in the Sixth Street room. Winters left alone between 7:30 and 8 pm. Tiernan stayed in, and that was the last time he saw his
friend Evelyn.

Nathan’s take on the case is here.

Confidential to 1947project readers: 1947 has been an incredible year, and we hope to see you over at our new digs real soon, where the subject is 1907.

The Winters of Our Discontent

Note: Kim’s take on this case is here.

1947:  a lot of women-killing, a lot of booze. It’s enough to turn one into a teetotaling sub. Almost. And here, a woman killing herself. With booze. Nowadays, her family would call up A&E and she�d be on Intervention. Perfect fodder for the show–someone: somewhere once, nowhere now. Our identified family member has hit bottom. Get them into treatment. God, give me the strength to blame those who did this to me, to accuse those who didn’t, and the wisdom to know the difference…a lifetime of coffee, cigarettes and forced clapping after each and every utterance. Evelyn Winters was described as “brilliant” by those who knew her, a legal eagle for the studio system since she was 23, til her alcholism caught up with her and she was shitcanned from the film colony at 37. Was there sensitivity training in the workplace for those who still suffer? This is 1947. The only place you’ll be happy, joyous and free is in the afterlife. For more information about alcohol, ask a parent or teacher! Or go here. The elephant in the copy room went to the elephant graveyard: skid row. Where does a homeless 800-lb. gorilla sleep? Anywhere it can. And so forth. Evelyn’s last known address–September, 1946–was here, at 2822 Rowena:

But in the months prior to her assault and murder she had been living in the beer parlors on Hill and Figueroa, keeping what was left of her belongings in a liquor store. She was out carousing, divorced, jobless, though with, I’d wager, a mind still keen and ticking, before she was found nearly nude, beaten, and dragged for some way, near the Ducommun Street railroad right-of-way, here: Evelyn, homeless, now has a homeless encampment on her site. So, then there’s this Tiernan character. He’s twelve years Evelyn’s junior. A former employee of the Angelus Bowling and Billiard Recreation Center, which is now a parking lot: (for more on prewar bowling alleys, go here) — he takes Evelyn to the Albany Hotel at 912 W. Sixth. He drinks with her there for a day and change and, if he is to be believed, she departs between 7:30 and 8pm. She is found at 12:10am. The Albany, where she may have had her last drink, or did not, is gone: (Sanwa Bank Plaza, AC Martin, 1990) Never did find a vintage image of the Albany; some flavor of the wiped-out neighborhood–one block west: And one block east: But why the hotel room? We don’t know. Tiernan didn’t live at the Albany. He lived at the Armondale, at 728 South Flower. Its site today: First off, what, already, is up with the Armondale Hotel? It has that “built on Indian burial ground” cachet that money can’t buy. Perhaps it was simply built over one of those giant magnets. The kind that attract ne’er-do-wells. The place had trouble attached from the get-go. Dale Carleton, developer and proprietor of the spanking-new 1914 Armondale, is sued by wifey Marie for a sizable share of his $250,000 net worth. Mrs. Carleton names a Ms. Helen Williams–Armondale telephone girl whose duties apparently went above and beyond the working of switchboard–as correspondent. 1919. Wilbert Garrison, 28, son of a wealthy publisher in New York, drove across country with a buddy and they holed up in the Armondale. A week later Wilbert left in his room his money, valuables, and a note indicating that he did not want to be a burden on others, and as such was ending his life. Despite the best efforts of the Nick Harris detective agency (who calls the cops in 1919), Wilbert is never found. 1930. Mrs. Louis Valenzuella, 40, ex-wife of Deputy Sheriff Valenzuella, is found dead in the Armondale of a suspected drug overdose. 1939. Washed-up boxer Louis Menney, 22, Armondale resident, is tackled by a priest after he sexually assaulted a 62 year-old woman in a church at 9th (now James M. Woods) and Green. Turns out he’d–moletsed? raped?–the papers will only mention “morals offenses”–a nine year-old in the church as well. Moreover, he’d done his business with a six year-old girl on the corner of 11th (now Chick Hearn) and Georgia, and also kidnapped and robbed an Agnes M—– and sexually assaulted a Margaret L—– in a church on West Adams; since the kidnapping charge is death penalty territory, we can only hope the Armondale’s most famous resident ended up in the proper hands. 1948. Francis Sylvester, of the Armondale, works across the street at the Western Union at 741 South Flower. Sylvester wires untold sums in care of himself to small outlying towns, where there are no Western Union offices, and destroys the records of the transactions. And 1965. Percy Hatch, 65, who had been in the hotel since 1957, started talking crazy-talk. As in, a loggorhea of obscenities for two straight weeks. Behind the Armondale registration desk was manager Nancy Furlow, 62, who, finally fed up with her repeated warnings, reached for the phone, and was shot dead by Hatch with one bullet. Hatch therewith turned the gun on himself. Shortly thereafter the Armondale was felled and a rather ill-advised Broadway was built on the site. Now a Macy’s, it resembles a Dawn mall on a slow day. For more on this exercise in brown, please go here. Tiernan had been reading with Evelyn at Central Library for a couple years. They would read, or shack up and drink, and maybe he’d talk bowling and maybe she’d talk law, but probably not. Neither he nor anyone else was ever charged. And so goes the final post of 1947. Soon there will be another liquor-infused ladykilling, and another, and Evelyn will be forgotten by all but her mother and best barfly pals and her killer, and God willing, she will become part of us.