Newsflash: win the “People Take Warning!” box set

Gentle reader,

When not trawling the archives for tales of past century misbehavior, several of your 1947project / On Bunker Hill bloggers host Esotouric bus adventures on themes of crime, literature, architecture and rock and roll. You’ll see our upcoming events calendar in the sidebar, but to really stay informed about these popular and provocative tours, you want to subscribe to our weekly email announcement list, packed with sneak previews, links to tour photos, discount offers and contests.

This week’s announcement went out on Tuesday, and includes a drawing to win a copy of the astonishing box set "People Take Warning! Murder Ballads & Disaster Songs 1913-1938," the musical equivalent of one of our crime bus tours. The lucky winner will be picked on July 4, and you still have a chance to enter. Just email and say "put me on the list, I want to win PTW" and we’ll sign you up and send you the most recent announcement, where you’ll also find a discount offer for the July 12 New Chinatowns urban history tour ending with a dim sum /wine tasting, news of a repeat edition of Visionary Hollywood and of the upcoming Crawling Down Cahuenga: Tom Waits LA.

Another good reason to get on the list: when James Ellroy offered his sold out James Ellroy Digs L.A. tours over the Christmas holidays, most everyone who snagged a ticket was an Esotouric mailing list subscriber. By the time word spread out among civilians, the bus was full.

Moving Day!

saltbox moving day

Gentle reader, 1947project has moved… to Bunker Hill. For the next twelve months, our dogged blog team will be exploring this lost neighborhood in all its permutations. Yes, we’ll be reporting on the crimes upon the hill, but we’ll also look at architecture, social life, notable residents, transportation, redevelopment, its mysteries and what small survivors remain from the glory days. With this project, we intend to shine a light on a community that was displaced by a well intentioned but misguided slum clearance plan that tore the heart out of L.A.’s downtown, a blow the city still staggers from. As downtown struggles to be reborn as a city center, we need a history more than ever before. Visit On Bunker Hill this year and share in our discoveries, or join us and contribute your own.

A Second Chance

March 19, 1927
Long Beach, CA

longbeachshootingFred and Lela McElrath had been married for 25 years, and raised three children together, now grown. But just as the couple should have been settling down into contented empty nesthood, a violent disagreement nearly destroyed it all.

Fred wanted to leave Long Beach for Freewater, Oregon, where they owned a ranch; however, Lela was determined to stay put. She moved out of their home at 45 Atlantic Avenue, and Fred spent nearly a week trying to track her down. On March 18, they finally agreed to meet at a neutral location, their daughter’s home at 32 Neptune Place, and try to talk things through.

However, Lela refused to reconsider, and walked away from the argument. As she was descending the stairs in her daughter’s house, Fred pulled out a gun and shot her twice in the back before turning the gun on himself, firing into his mouth. The shots didn’t kill Lena, and when she was admitted to Seaside Hospital, it was assumed that she would recover. However, Fred was barely clinging to life, and in fact, police arriving on the scene initially believed him dead.

Today, things looked drastically different. A bullet was lodged behind Fred’s left ear, but doctors expected that he would make a full recovery — and in all likelihood, be left to stand trial for his wife’s murder. The shots fired into his wife’s back had punctured her right lung, and she was not expected to live. Authorities stood watch at Fred’s bed, waiting to charge him either with murder or attempted murder.

Shockingly, the story has a moderately happy ending. On April 11, a frail Lena McElrath, appeared at her husband’s preliminary hearing and was helped to the stand by her son, where she made an impassioned plea on Fred’s behalf.

"I do not want to testify against my husband, nor do I want him prosecuted. I believe our trouble was caused as much by me as by my husband. I want to go back to him and begin all over."

Judge Stephen G. Long agreed she should have that chance, saying, "This is a very remarkable affair, but if both parties are willing to forgive and forget and to endeavor to patch up their broken lives, I think the kindest thing for this court to do is to give McElrath a chance."

The charge was dismissed, and the McElraths left the courtroom with their arms wrapped around each other. Lena’s wounds were expected to heal completely with time, though Fred would be forever incapacitated by the bullet, still lodged near his spine.

Just An Old-Fashioned Girl … Driving the Getaway Car

An Old-Fashioned GirlMarch 18, 1927
Los Angeles

Police are searching for “bandit queen” Rose Berk with renewed effort after today’s arrest of one of her henchmen, Fred J. Cook. Berk (aka Rose Buckingham, aka Rose Burke) is suspected of masterminding more than half a dozen “feminine lure” robberies during the last week alone. During the course of these hold-ups, Berk pretended to be a helpless female seeking “assistance in starting a stalled automobile.” She was perhaps particularly suited to this role because, “unlike the usual type” of bandit queen, Berk was described by police as “homely, awkward in her manner and so old-fashioned that she still wears her hair long.”

However out of style she may have been, Berk evaded capture by the L.A.P.D. On April 13, 1927, she was behind the wheel of the getaway car when a group of hold-up men, Fred Cook among them, robbed the Seaboard National Bank on Wilshire Boulevard of $21,000. The hapless Cook was arrested two years later, when in August 1929, he was recognized on a visit to Rose Berk, then jailed in Indianapolis. Alas, her trail goes cold here—we’ll never know if she finally bobbed her hair.

Modeling the “old-fashioned” look is one of the winners of the Times’s Mary Pickford look-alike contest in 1924.

The New 1947project is here

Gentle reader, a fresh manifestation of 1947project has emerged. For the first time, our crime-a-day blog becomes a house-by-house survey, exploring the great lost downtown neighborhood of Bunker Hill. Join us On Bunker Hill to meet the people, homes and peculiarities that called this place their own.And for even more historic LA oddities with regular updates, visit our current blog In SRO Land, lost lore of the historic core.

It’s a Man’s World

 mans world headline

March 17, 1927
Bakersfield

Frustrated at being rejected for employment as a nurse by Kern Hospital, twenty-one year old Gladys Maryon Lindley came up with a plan – become a man!

Dressed in men’s clothing and answering to the name “Billyâ€Â, Gladys presented herself at Kern Hospital once again. Instead of seeking employment as a nurse, “Billyâ€Â applied for the job of a male orderly this time and was hired on the spot.

Gladys went undetected until three months later, when the secret of her identity was revealed by one of her former teachers. Recognizing “Billyâ€Â at the hospital, the teacher ratted her out to hospital administrators. Gladys – aka Billy – resigned immediately.

Perhaps naively, the LA Times reported that “a real desire to do hospital work was given as the explanation of the masqueradeâ€Â.

In the Line of Duty

March 16, 1927
Los Angeles

yummydownonthisIf the drys are gonna catch the wets, they’re gonna have to wet themselves. So to speak.

At the trial of John H. Wyncoop, former chief field agent for the boys of the California/Arizona Federal Prohibition Enforcement Department, Wyncoop said “I knew that if I had liquor in my possession I could more easily get bootleggers to believe that I was handling booze and therefore make it easier to arrest bootleggers.â€Â

Uh-huh.

Wyncoop is on trial because he turned twenty-nine bottles of liquor to his own use, instead of turning it into the government warehouse. Can’t those government know-nothings see that you need that hooch to go under deep cover? That he only took home that demon rum in the solemn performance of his duty?

(Convicted by a jury of illegal conversion, he was given a short term in the county jail.)

Behind Every Great Man…

onanism

 

 

March 16, 1927
Los Angeles

 

 

 

Clarence and Ona Brown were married in 1922, but now Ona wants a divorce. “When I married him,â€Â said Mrs. Brown, while weeping bitterly during her testimony before Judge Summerfield, “he was a second-rate assistant director, and I made a director out of him. That cost me my home, for he got to thinking so well of himself he attempted to boss the house. He went nearly a year without even speaking to me.â€Â

 

 

(She may have a point; see this page under "salary.")

 

Ona’s testimony was neither denied nor contested, and she won her decree.

 

 

Think of that the next time you watch "Garbo’s favorite director".

 

 

 

Grossery Shopping

TSgreengrocers

March 15, 1927
Los Angeles

Traditionally, the term greengrocer refers to a retail tradesperson who sells fresh fruits and vegetables. Should you be down on Temple Street, you might find grocer Edith Green to be a greengrocer of the green meat variety. Mmmm. Heck, even her Temple Street neighbor Abraham Margolis purveys criminally suspect comestibles.

Edith, at 922 Temple, and Abraham, at 937, were both charged with selling adulterated and contaminated foodstuffs. Stock amounting to $2,500 ($29,055 currentUSD) were ordered destroyed, she given thirty and he 180 days in the hoosegow, suspended on the condition that they clean up their act. And their stores.

As much fun as it would be to venture in to those structures now to see what eighty year-old smells lingered from the putrid pigs feet and bad borscht, we’ll have to content ourselves with visualizing such while whizzing under the one-ten:
templest

The Sunday Paper

In the past two weeks, I’ve come to understand why Kim usually waits until Fridays to post her 1947p stories. Ever since this leap year, I’ve found myself with the Sunday paper, which, while jam-packed with Bullock’s ads, real estate ventures, and fashion spreads (this week, an entire section devoted to shoes!), is rather short on crime and mayhem. After all, who wants to dwell on such things on the Christian day of rest?

And after the stories of the past two days, perhaps there’s some sense in that. Unable to top the likes of baby farms and superman love cults, I suppose it’s fair to say that I’m feeling a little blocked.

figlaxative

California fig laxative:  it "can’t harm children."  If that’s not a ringing endorsement, I don’t know what is.

lewtendler

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And take a look at this plug for Jewish boxing legend Lew Tendler, as he prepares for his upcoming bout. Does the "S" stand for Southpaw or sexy?