Matthew 5:16 Goes Electric

 shedslight

captfixitDecember 16, 1927
Sawtelle

 

Los Angeles Police Captain W. L. Hagenbaugh feeds more juice into the stills of Sawtelle than he gets from them; after he raids the moonshiners and chops up their contraptions of copper and coil, he fashions fixtures and floor lamps for his new nine-room Spanish job up on Comstock in Westwood.

 

 

Recently, materials from three forty gallon bootleg stills, lined in some very fine silver, have been reclaimed from their sinful ways and turned toward this honest enterprise.

 

This writer’s inquisitive interests now satisfied—yeah, you’re green, I get it—my acquisitive interest takes over:  where are these shades now?

 

 

The Case of the Randy Chaplain

Orville I. Clampitt

October 25, 1927
Culver City

Orville Clampitt cannot, it seems, stay out of trouble. First there was that business last year with the euphoniously-named Miss Lucille Swallow out Kansas way, and the San Francisco court martial the then-Army Chaplain (and "Beau Brummel of the Presidio") endured over accusations of "objectionable conduct" in violation of three of the articles of war. These charges were brought by the lady after she discovered that Clampitt, who was otherwise a delightful companion, was married with a quartet of kids.

Lucille Swallow

"I forget when I first met Capt. Clampitt," Miss Swallow told reporters after eluding Army minders, "But he was awfully nice. He used to take me out for walks and to picture shows and to dinners. The question as to whether he was married never came up."

During the court martial, Miss Swallow produced love notes from the accused, and there was testimony that he had deliberately disguised his handwriting. But then several surprise witnesses appeared to claim Miss Swallow was "out to get" Mr. Clampitt because he’d refused her demands for money, and he was found not guilty.

He promptly retired to Santa Cruz, where he registered as "William Jones" in a hotel where a "Mrs. Jones" was also staying. It was bad publicity over this indiscrete act that resulted in Clampitt being dismissed from Army service, and the offer of a $50,000 motion picture contract for himself and his photogenic horse Red Head.

But no, said Clampitt, he wished only to return to Vancouver, where his wife and children waited. That was April. And today, he was picked up by Culver City police, following the arrest of boy burglar Spencer Farley, discovered in the act of looting the Schwartzkoph manse at 1725 Gardena Street, Glendale.

Farley told officers that his home address was Orville Clampitt’s car, in front of Clampitt’s home at 215[?] Silver Ridge Avenue, and that he was stealing so he could give gifts to Clampitt’s 13-year-old daughter. It seems the whole family has relocated, in hopes of starting a new life. Clampitt stated he’d been hired as actor John Gilbert’s double, a claim denied by Gilbert’s studio.

When questioned, Clampitt admitted he was allowing Farley, 15, to live in his car, because the boy claimed his mother threw wild parties and refused to let him sleep at home. While he thought it weird that Farley wouldn’t tell him where he lived, he was sympathetic to the boy’s plight… at least until he discovered that the kid was taking his car out at night! Stolen golf clubs and various trinkets were seized from the Silver Ridge address.

Clampitt will be released tomorrow when it’s determined he knew nothing of Farley’s thefts. Henceforth he disappears from the public record save for an April 1929 theater review of his cameo in Edward Horton’s play "The Hottentot," at the Majestic Theater. Red Head the horse had a leading role as the comic foil to Sam Harrington, who masquerades as the famous jockey who shares his name, and eventually must ride the fearsome Hottentot in a race. After each show, crowds gathered on Broadway to watch Clampitt ride Red Head, now mild as a merry-go-round pony, away from the theater and, we hope, home to his wife and kids.

AKA Hydrochloric Hattie

September 21, 1927
West Los Angeles

Oh, Officers? When you decide to go out and arrest a lady who’s been threatening to chop up her neighbors with a carving knife, you might not want to knock on her door and stand there like waiting until she sprinkles your faces and ears with acid from a bottle. Eventually, Mrs. Mary L. Ward of 11014 Santa Monica Boulevard was captured, halted by the effects of tear gas as she prepared another acid bomb from the large store in her bedroom. She’s in the psycho ward at County General tonight, which has a special program in becoming a better neighbor.

A chunk of bog and thou

September 7, 1927
Los Angeles

When, oh when, oh when will something be done to soothe the smoldering peat fires that spill noxious smoke and gas from the vicinity of Jefferson and Hauser Streets in the Baldwin Hills? For more than two years the fire has crept inexorably deeper into the peat beds, and now twelve acres are burning just under the topsoil, endangering the health of 200,000 local lungs and the ankles of any local foolish enough to tramp through the booby-trapped fields. Forget the living! What of the mummies?!

Former City Councilman Mallard has issues a plea on behalf of his neighborhood that the City Council take this "rank poison" threat seriously and extinguish the blaze immediately. He even tells them how to do it: through steam shovels that can expose the burning beds, so water can be introduced. Of course, Mallard’s suggestion that the fire be fought in the manner of William Mulholland’s aqueduct project—get it done first, then get the permits—seems in retrospect to be in somewhat less than good taste, but the St. Francis dam disaster is still six months away, and the Mullholland name an untarnished example of Angeleno ingenuity.

*

In New York City, pioneer developer Gaylord Wilshire has died. In recent years, he devoted himself to promoting an electric "health belt" of his own invention, the “I-ON-A-CO.”

Have a Zesty Labor Day!

September 3, 1927
Los Angeles

If you’re planning to escape the heat this Labor Day by going boating on Lake Arrowhead, don’t forget to take along your radio!

Radio

Loathe Thy Neighbor

Red Wagon Murder principles Galloway & Christian

August 30, 1927
Mar Vista

Little Donald Galloway traded his red wagon to neighbor girl Naomi Christian for a bag of butter beans, but he didn’t tell his mother Madge. When she saw Naomi with her boy’s toy, she was steamed—yet another imposition from those terrible Christians, newly arrived Kentucky farm family, outsiders, interlopers. Wasn’t it enough, how they’d caused such a fuss about the pigeon coop, then insisted the Galloways keep back from the common fence? Well, she’d show Naomi Christian… and she snatched that wagon away! (She’d already cooked the beans.)

Naomi’s mama retaliated by relieving the Galloway kids of a tricycle, and the mothers met in the street and came to blows, Mrs. Galloway coming out the winner. Just another day at 3715 Barry Avenue.

When Walter Galloway, 37, came home that night, his wife had a full report on all the neighborly shenanigans. The next evening, the Galloways prepared to pick their kids up from the golf links, but first Galloway went looking for Christian, and when he couldn’t find him, used some raw language to neighbor Mrs. H.K. Cassidy. (He might have used rougher language still, had he known the Cassidys had loaned Thomas Christian a handgun, "for protection.") Mr. Cassidy objected to Galloway’s caddishness, and the two tussled in the Cassidy yard at 4040 East Boulevard.

Galloway lost. Then he rejoined Madge in the car, where upon they saw Thomas Christian, 52, stomping down the block. Galloway said they might as well see what the fellow had to say, maybe straighten everything out. Christian leaned into the car with one foot on the running board and Galloway asked, "So, Old Man Christian, who’s the boss in your house, you or your wife?"

"I’ll show you whose boss!" said Christian. That’s when he showed the gun. "I’ll show you whether I’ll shoot or not! When I shoot, I aim to kill!" And he did. Mrs. Galloway pulled her husband over to her side and bravely scooted under him and to the wheel, closer to the gunman. "Drive, honey, drive," urged Galloway, and she did, to Culver City Hospital. It took him three days to die, but he did today.

They called it the red wagon slaying, and the trial was notable for little Naomi taking the stand and swearing Mrs. Galloway had told her mother that one day she’d wake up a widow, and for the huge grin the defendant wore in the dock until the judge admonished him to knock it off.

In the end, the jury has to decide if Galloway had opened his car door and led Christian to believe he must shoot in self defense. They didn’t buy it. Or maybe they’d just had enough of the whole crazy neighborhood. The sentence: 1 to 10 years in San Quentin, and yet more ammunition for folks who believe you’d have to be nuts to live west of Western.

Only in LA: Peat Fires, Mature Mermaids and Baboon Co-Pilots

August 10, 1927
Los Angeles 

At Hauser and Jefferson today, Vernadine Burke and Margaret Goesman, both 16, sank up to their ankles in the burning peat that was combusting merrily away beneath the surface. In trying to extricate themselves, the horrified girls also scorched their hands. They were treated at Receiving Hospital and released.

At the Biltmore, manager and VP James Woods was deftly fending off the insistent demands of Captain J.M. Burman, mariner, aviator and San Pedro resident, that the hotel back his scheme to fly from Japan to Los Angeles with his pet baboon as his co-pilot. Burman states he is ideally suited for such a flight because he knows all the Pacific mountain peaks by which he and his monkey pal would steer.

And in Venice, Mrs. Anna E. Van Skike was planning to celebrate her 67th birthday with a 25-mile swim from Point Dume back to her home shore, in recognition of the good health that regular swimming has brought her. Her doctors declared she had tuberculosis at 55 and would surely die, but swimming chased the lung blots away for the Oklahoma native. Hundreds turned out in 1924 to watch the lady dive off the Venice pier, swim ten miles along the shore and sing the "Star Spangled Banner" from the waves on her return.

This is Van Skike’s seventh birthday distance swim, and her longest, and will be done with the support, encouragement and liberal doses of hot coffee from lifeguards Slert and Kinney, who will row their boat in the wake of the olive oil-coated "aged mermaid." She’ll begin the feat at 2am and hopes to be home in time for dinner, though she often quips she would "rather swim than eat" and avoids fried food and pastry for their waterlogging effects. She prefers the pre-dawn hours for her feats, as the water is calmer then, and she is subject to seasickness in heavy surf. She has founded a distance swimming club, and recommends the activity to all.

anna e van skike

Angelenos Run Amuck in One Day Crime Spree!

July 30, 1927
Los Angeles and its crime ridden suburbs

This has been a mad, felony fueled day in the Southland, and there isn’t even a full moon! We have four tales of crime including a beating, triple poisoning, robbery and assault, and finally the murder of a policeman in Arcadia by three wayward youths. Read them at your leisure, or devour them all at once.

Mystery Girl

A severely beaten woman was dropped off at Culver City Hospital by three men, who then sped away. The victim’s identity has not been confirmed, but she is believed to be Vivian Edwards of 501 S. Rampart. The injured woman lapsed in and out of consciousness. Finally in a moment of lucidity, she said that she had been assaulted by a man named Dick Burk. No trace of her alleged assailant has been found. The young woman’s injuries are critical and it is feared that she may die.

 

 

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Trio Poisoned

In Glendale, a wealthy couple, Mr. and Mrs. Leroy Armstrong and their nurse, Mrs. M. Woolf, are recovering in the Armstrong’s home at 1311 Rossmoyne, after having been poisoned with arsenic. The couple’s servant, Ray Tayama, is being sought in connection with the crime. The missing domestic had been discharged by Mr. Armstrong earlier in the afternoon, and as a farewell gesture Tayama served the three people coffee laced with arsenic and then vanished.

 

*******

Are these the only cases from the police blotter today? Don’t be ridiculous! The mayhem continues…

Wife Hovers

Ex-con and bail jumper Paul Knapp spent the day in the arms of his lovely wife Josephine, while she tenderly patted his cheek and vociferouslyPaul Knapp declared his innocence of robbery and assault. Josephine may be confident that her husband is guiltless of the charges against him, but his record speaks persuasively to a life of crime.

Paul was a cop in Seattle from 1919 until 1923 when he was dismissed for being absent without leave, refusal to obey orders, and for participating in a liquor hi-jacking. He was busted in Los Angeles in 1924 for attacking a woman, but he fled before he could be tried. By 1925 he was in Portland doing fifteen months in McNeil Island Federal pen for impersonating a Federal officer.

In April of this year, after vowing to shoot it out with the law, he was cornered by police and wounded in the shoulder. He was booked on suspicion of robbery and as a fugitive from justice. As if those charges weren’t enough, he was also wanted in Seattle for jumping bail and in Portland for violation of the Mann Act!

Earlier this month, a court order allowed the bandit to be released into the custody of two deputy sheriffs so that he could visit a dentist – whose office was conveniently located across the street from his mother’s house. Paul asked his custodians if he could be allowed to use the bathroom at his mother’s place. The police acquiesced, and once inside the Josephine Knapphouse the bandit’s cagey spouse and his wily mother engineered his escape through a trap door in the closet of the home, while the clueless officers continued to wait for him outside!

Following his escape, Paul and Josephine reunited and hid out in a small apartment at 1057 South New Hampshire which had been rented for them by an accomplice known to police. On a hunch, Detective Lieutenant Hull of the Central Police Station investigated and found Paul and his wife at the apartment. The couple’s crime partner is being hunted.

Paul’s mother and his wife have been accused of conspiracy for engineering his Houdini-like escape. A glimpse into the future finds Paul sentenced to from sixteen years to life in the state pen. His mother and his wife will seek probation, but no word if they’ll be successful.

 

 

 

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Had enough crime yet? Neither have we…

Police Slaying

Our final story for this summer day in July of 1927 is a tale of flaming youth and flaming guns! Frank Miller

Under arrest for car theft and the murder of Arcadia police officer Alfred Mathias are: Frank Miller, 18 years of age, 820-1/2 West Third Street, accused of the actual slaying; Ray Oddell, 18, Fourth and Beaudry streets, confessed driver of the get away car and Miller’s accuser. Also in custody is William Montfort, 21, 903 West Fifty-ninth Drive who admitted to have been along for the ride, but claimed to be ignorant of his two companion’s hold-up plans.

Ray OddellThe three boys have been friends since meeting in the State reform school at Ione. Both Oddell and Montfort credit Miller with being the brains of the outfit and insist it was he who formed the plan to rob a barbeque stand in Arcadia, which resulted in the shooting death of Officer Alfred Mathias.

The boys were sitting in the stolen automobile when they were approached by Officer Mathias. The cop asked Oddell for the car’s registration. Miller spoke from the back seat and told the officer he had the pink slip. Mathias thought the young man was acting suspiciously and asked “what are you sitting on?” Frank whipped out his gun and demanded that the officer “stick ‘em up”. Mathias bolted and headed for the rear of the car as Frank fired, leaving the policeman dead in the parking lot. William Montfort

Set the time machine for two months hence; September 1927. Frank Miller will plead guilty to murder and auto theft and will be found guilty. He’ll be lucky. The jury will recommend that the youth not hang, but rather spend one year to life in San Quentin. Frank’s partners in crime Ray Oddell and William Montfort, will face similar fates.

 

The flaming youths burned out…and so have we! What a day!

Drink to the Law of Unintended Circumstance

fredthechemistJune 16, 1927
Los Angeles

Chemist Fred Paguilnati had been minding his own business in his home at 1528 Redondo Boulevard when local law enforcement came by for a visit.  Which was understandable, since Fred’s chemistry business was less about mixing Bromos and more about tending to his 200 fredhouseabovecases of assorted liquors, at his home bootlegging operation (complete with full bottling plant).  Proprietor Fred had driven the coppers away with a gun but they’d come back with full force and broken down the door.  And so before Municipal Judge Stafford went Fred, where today he was told he could pay $500 ($5,975 USD2005) or take fifty days.  He took the fifty days.  Ah, this, just a day like any other, here in Volstead-era Los Angeles.

To our left, Fred’s house, center, as perhaps a Prohis Chopper might see it. 

 

In related news…yes, we all know that Prohibition turned ordinary people into criminals, and gangsterism left corpses stacked liked cordwood on our streets, but let’s discuss something serious for once—stick this in your if-it-ain’t-one-thing-it’s-another file:
icecreamncandy

The article notes, just as one example, that cigarette comsumption was up 400%.  Thanks a lot, Wayne Wheeler, for turning us into a nation of fat, toothless, wheezing, cancer-ridden sclerotic emphysemics.   

 

The Oddest, Oldest Fellow

Carl Schmidt

October 9, 1907
Los Angeles

The nation’s most senior Odd Fellow, Carl Schmidt of 2729 West Pico Street, died at aged 95, after a brief illness. Schmidt was born in Germany in 1812, and  emigrated to Philadelphia at 18, where he was known as a locksmith of great facility. He joined the Odd Fellow’s Lodge No. 12 at 21, and in 1852 moved with his wife Joanna to Madison, Wisconsin, then a tiny trading post, where he co-founded Lodge No. 17. He maintained active memberhip in this lodge until his passing.

Joanna Schmidt died in 1900, and the following year Carl moved to Los Angeles to live with their daughter, Mrs. Gus Kleaman. A week before his death, Schmidt gained the distinction of being the oldest person to spend an hour under anesthesia, as surgeons attempted to repair a rupture he had suffered at age 8, which had lain fallow for eight decades before becoming an irritation. He appeared to rally from his surgery, but complications set in, and he died at home surrounded by his family. The funeral was held at his bedside, under the auspices of the Odd Fellows.