Mysteries of the Road

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.  

Mission Accomplished

zazalaNovember 10, 1927
San Bernardino

Kim’s post a few days ago about the ineffectual hammer attack led me to this tale, which ends in what those of the gaming community refer to as a “finishing move.”

Ralph J. Zazala, 37, was sweet on Grace Hardesty, 35.  He’d been seeing her for a spell.  They took a little ride three miles north of Berdoo.  Perhaps he hummed a little tune.  He parked.  Maybe he’d sneak a little smooch!  Oh, and he brought along some things.  

The blood-and-gore stained hammer disclosed that Grace had fought, in the car, long and hard for her life, and eventually escaped.  She was on her knees at the roadside, apparently pleading for mercy, when he put his other tool, the shotgun, in her mouth and pulled the trigger.  He then turned the weapon on himself.

Sheriff Shay found letters in Grace’s pocket indicating that while she and Ralph had been acquainted for some time, she was in fact a Mrs. Grace Hardesty, a fact to which Ralph evidently objected.  

And so ended more love-stained, blood-stained Southern California romantic bliss.

Let’s Hope He Remembered to Cut Her Out of the Will

suicideAugust 18, 1927

Archie Howell had a flair for the dramatic.  

He and his wife divorced after two years of marriage, she awarded her $115 a-month alimony.  Howell had gone to see his erstwhile love at their home, but she refused to see him.

Later Howell was in his auto and saw his wife on the street.  “Come on over to the car, honey, I want to give you some money” he chirped.   The former Mrs. Howell strode over and leaned in, at which point Mr. Howell shot himself in the head.

Cheap Thrills

ten dollar car headline

June 25, 1927
Los Angeles

Johnston car

Mr. H. Johnston has just completed a nine day journey along the National Old Trails Highway from Los Angeles to Philadelphia. Amazingly, he made the cross-country trip in his $10 dollar 1919 Ford! His total expenses, including gasoline, meals, lodging, and one minor $3 repair to the Ford was a miserly $55 ($657.31 USD 2007).

Impressive? Absolutely! But, future dwellers, while we shake our heads in wonderment at how inexpensive it was to live in 1927 America, let’s put on our time travel goggles and look at this feat from a different perspective.

If Mr. H. Johnston went out today and purchased an entry level 2007 Toyota Prius ($22,175.00) it would cost him $265,015.46 in 1927 dollars. Gasoline for the hybrid would take a bite out of his budget to the tune of about $35.83 per gallon!

Nine nights at a Motel 6 (at $69.99 per night) would set Mr. Johnston back a whopping $7,528.14. And that’s if he didn’t rent any movies. At these prices he may lose his appetite, but a man has to eat. Let’s give Mr. Johnston a total food budget of $45 to visit a drive-thru of his choice once each day – that translates into $537.80 in current dollars for burgers, fries and sodas.

Get out your calculators and we’ll do a back-of-the-envelope estimate for Mr. Johnston’s trek in the strange 2007 time machine. The nine day vacation would now cost him approximately $275,052.25.

Your mileage may vary.

More Alligator Rustlin’

May 13, 1927
Santa Ana

One Thomas Little was attempting to raid the fabled Utt avocado groves down in Lemon Heights when he ran afoul of ‘cado guard George Henning.  The two struggled for possession of a revolver while the two careened down a hillside in Litttle’s truck before Little was at last apprehended.

But, with Little having stolen nothing, how could it be proved that the value of what he intended to steal was more than $200?  It was therefore up to Justice Morrison to determine the value of the accused man’s intended grand larcency haul.  Dep. Dist.-Atty. Collins produced the fifteen empty sacks that Mr. Little had in tow; the court estimated these sacks would likely hold fifteen hundred pounds of the bewitching fruit, and further determined that these be worth more than the lowest grand larceny charge of $200.

All that notwithstanding, it was declared at the hearing that Little came quite close to being caught in a bear trap.