Sailor’s End

January 15, 1927
Los Angeles

The body of a young man, dressed in sailor’s togs, was found today by four children playing in an open field near Eighteenth Street and Point View Avenue. The youngsters reported their gruesome discovery to the police, who identified the man as Henry Von Bulo.

Von Bulo was the third member of a love triangle gone tragically wrong. (Do they ever end happily?) Last month, Curran C. Samuels, age 40, shot his wife, then turned the gun on himself. He died. The missus, though pierced by a bullet that entered her ear and exited her mouth, survived. While in the hospital, Mrs. Samuels told detectives that her husband had probably killed her friend, Henry Von Bulo. She even led them on an unsuccessful search of the vicinity in which his body was eventually found. Mrs. Samuels believes that Von Bulo was killed on December 15, as he did not keep an appointment in Long Beach on that day. Three days later, Mr. Samuels shot his wife near Rossmore Avenue and Wilshire Boulevard "where she was engaged as a box-lunch saleswoman."

Despite the fact that Von Bulo was dressed in sailor’s clothing and Mrs. Samuels’s assertion that he was a member of the merchant marine, Von Bulo’s stepfather declared that the young man had purchased the uniform and shoes last month in Oakland. He also suggested that his stepson might be the victim of a "bootlegger’s war," but declined to further elaborate.

Two Strikes … And The Wife Steps In

December 4, 2007
Los Angeles

Like many people, Mr. and Mrs. Harry Franklin of 181 Griffith Avenue like to have a little nip now and then, a simple pleasure made exceedingly difficult these dry days. Of course, there are ways of getting around the Volstead Act, but these often prove risky. Just what the cops were doing in the Franklin family bathroom on November 2, the Times didn’t reveal, but the lawmen discovered eleven pints of whisky there.

This week, the Franklins came before Municipal Judge Sheldon. In an unusual move, Ludie Franklin, Harry’s wife, asked to be substituted for her husband as the defendant in the case. Harry, it seems, had already been twice convicted on liquor charges. If found guilty a third time, the judge could send him up the river for year or two. Judge Sheldon agreed to this novel plan and Ludie went before the jury, who found her guilty as charged and sentenced her to forty days in the clink. Let’s hope Harry had a nice, dry celebration for her when she got out.

Cupid’s Arrows Bent

October 9, 1927
Ventura County and Beverly Hills

Two stories from today’s paper prove yet again that the course of true love rarely runs smoothly. The first comes from Las Turas Lake (now Lake Sherwood) at Las Turas Country Club, where W.T. Verry, Jr. narrowly escaped death this afternoon when his friends finally figured out that what they thought were flirtatious gestures between Verry and a pretty miss on the pier were actually "frantic signals for aid" from a drowning man. Verry was pulled from the lake by J.E. Bower and revived by artificial respiration.

Meanwhile, 23-year-old Grace Dawson today resumed planning her Tia Juana wedding, cancelled because the bride was in County Jail when she was scheduled to walk down the aisle. Several days ago, detectives searching the Beverly Hills residence of bootlegger and narcotics kingpin "Black Tony" Parmagini turned up an address. A squad under Chief George Contreras then proceeded to 201 South McCarthy Drive where they found Miss Dawson, 25-year-old Alice Gray, and another young woman (who jumped out of Contreras’s automobile at a traffic light on Sunset Boulevard), along with sixty-five cases of mixed whiskies and other liquors. Dawson and Gray were booked for violation of the Wright Act before being released on bail of $1000 each.

Lunch Lady, Give Me a Scotch!

October 2, 1927
Bell

To twenty-first century eyes, the headlines make it sound like a retro-ironic hipster bar for postmodern cocktail sippers: "Liquor ‘Cafeteria’ Found. Raiders Say Drinks Made to Order in Bell House." Anybody feel a spree coming on?

Well, before you round up the gang and head on over, there’s one thing you should know about the house raided under the direction of Chief George Contreras this weekend: the top-shelf booze it poured was fake. That’s right, the "’Scotch’ whiskies of aristocratic highland brands, ‘fine old Kentucky Bourbons,’ ‘Gordon’ gin and other rare liquors of ancient lineage" were mixed up in the back room out of cut alcohol and glycerin—as the customer waited, no less.

Dry raiders found a complete bottling plant on the premises as well as printing plant where labels mimicking those of famous brands were created. Fifty gallons of the alcohol used as a base were secreted underground in the yard.

It’s All Fun Until Somebody Gets Shot

September 18, 1927
Inglewood

“A huge bowl of punch made from high-proof bootleg whisky” stood at the center of a drunken brawl that left one man near death and another on the lam early this morning. When an employee of the automobile wrecking plant located at 10636 Hawthorne Boulevard arrived for work around 8:00 a.m. today, he found Inglewood real estate developer H.C. Mitchell lying in a pool of blood at the back of the garage. Though badly wounded, Mitchell identified plant owner A.H. Van der Mark as his assailant. Officers have yet to verify that Mitchell, who remains in critical condition at Milton Hospital with gunshot wounds to his right lung and leg, is a former official of the Ku Klux Klan. Meanwhile, Van der Mark has disappeared.

Eyewitnesses told different stories, but all agree the shooting occurred after a long night of heavy drinking at Van der Mark’s home (also the site of the wrecking plant). Mr. and Mrs. Charles Proctor told police the party was in full swing when they arrived, with guests freely partaking of the whisky punch. By 3:00 a.m., only the couple, Mitchell, Van der Mark, and Grace Haynes (a widow and the “asserted sweetheart of Van der Mark”) remained. Everything was rosy until Van der Mark allegedly told Mitchell that the latter’s habit of reporting bootleggers to the authorities “would make no difference in their regard for each other.” Apparently these were fighting words, for a scuffle began shortly thereafter. The combatants were separated, but Van der Mark returned with a .22 caliber rifle. The fight recommenced, three shots rang out, Mitchell fell to the kitchen floor, and the Proctors skedaddled. Police believe Mitchell then walked from the kitchen to where he was found in wrecking plant. Neither of the Proctors was held after making their statements.

Grace Haynes, on the other hand, is being held in County Hospital as a material witness. She claims the severe bruising about her head and body was caused by Mitchell, who she says arrived at the party looking for trouble. He had several fistfights with partygoers smaller than himself, including Van der Mark, who wound up knocked out—and presumably unable to avenge his lady’s honor. Haynes’s brother (he wasn’t there, but the Times was happy to interview him anyway) says his sister told him Van der Mark was passed out, not knocked out, but either way, “He was cold when Mitchell pitched into another member of the party and this man got a rifle and shot him.” And who was this man with the rifle? Why, none other than Mr. Charles Proctor. Haynes also told her brother that while everybody else at the party was more or less blotto, she herself was completely—totally!—sober.

To recap, of the five people present at the end of last night’s wild party, three claim Van der Mark shot Mitchell, one claims Proctor did the deed, and the fifth hasn’t been seen since the incident occurred.

In perhaps not unrelated news, the Times reports that the state now holds sixth-place in the nation for the number of “feeble-minded” persons admitted to institutions this year—or, as a headline summed up: “CALIFORNIA IDIOTS GAIN IN NUMBERS.”

Is Nothing Sacred?

July 10, 1927
Los Angeles

Is nothing sacred?

First peanuts and now the All-American ice cream cone. Is there no treat safe from the bootlegger’s evil maw? Assistant Federal prohibition administrator Frank E. Benedict today announced the discovery of what was called "one of the most completely equipped distilleries" ever found in Los Angeles, hidden in the innocent guise of an ice cream cone factory.

A curious fact brought the plant (located at 354-1/2 West Manchester Avenue) to the attention of eagle-eyed prohibition agents: business appeared to be flourishing, yet no deliveries were seen leaving the building. Further investigation ensued. When proprietor James Kanich was informed that the interior measurements of the shop matched those he previously provided to agents, his response was "a flippant remark" that led Benedict to measure the building’s exterior as well. A twenty-three foot discrepancy was thus discovered. Benedict returned inside, sounded the wall with a hammer, found a weak spot, and chopped into the wallboard. Behind it stood a 500-gallon still in full operation. Four thousand gallons of mash were ready for use at the top of a nearby stairway, and forty five-gallon cans of grain alcohol were packed in heavy paper cartons ostensibly used for freshly baked ice cream cones. The distilling room was accessible only through a narrow closet door which, when closed, appeared to be a solid wall. Meanwhile, a thorough check of the main building yielded stale ice cream cones and cone-making machinery filled with cobwebs.

Both Kanich and his wife, Mary, denied knowledge of the still. Mrs. Kanich told agents that she and her husband were the innocent victims of a group who financed the cone factory, led by a man she could identify only as "Harry."

The Kaniches were arrested for violation of the Volstead Act. Benedict promised further arrests would be made.