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Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history

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As crazy as two waltzing mice

 

1957_1009_alameda

Oct. 9, 1957
Ventura, Calif.

1957_1009_alameda_pix Renzee Louis Alameda, 36, was the quietest man on the block. The 6-foot-2, 190-pound ex-Marine, a USC graduate, was unmarried and had lived alone at 2412 Ridgeley Drive for the last 10 years. He spent his days as a substitute music teacher with the Los Angeles Unified School District and his nights at home playing the piano by the hour.

He was a member of the Screen Actors Guild, The Times said, and had appeared at the Pasadena Playhouse and in films as Richard Azano.

On the evening of Oct. 8, 1957, Alameda noticed that his landlady had placed trash cans at the curb. Realizing that this was a signal that the Communists were coming, he fled to Santa Barbara, The Times said.

At 7:40 p.m., California Highway Patrolman Robert E. Reed, 36, pulled over a car on the southbound 101 near Point Mugu because the driver refused to dim his lights.

As Reed began writing a ticket, Alameda made a U-turn and sped north on the highway at 90 mph with Reed in pursuit before crashing into barricades on a section of freeway that was under construction. Alameda jumped from the car and began running, but was caught when he twisted his ankle, The Times said.

Reed, Highway Patrolman Dale Fletcher and another officer transported Alameda to Ventura General Hospital for treatment of his injured ankle. A fight broke out when hospital staff tried to put Alameda in the psychiatric ward because he grabbed a bottle of disinfectant from a surgical tray and drank it.

As Reed, Fletcher and two orderlies struggled to restrain him, Alameda grabbed Reed's revolver and shot him in the chest, killing him almost instantly.

Alameda's only explanation: "I couldn't stand the idea of being locked up."

The Times noted that "Alameda admitted homosexual activities in Los Angeles, of being a peeping Tom and other abnormal activities," as if this explained his behavior. The next day, Alameda broke a light fixture in the Ventura City Jail and tried to slash his throat with a piece of glass.

On Oct. 23, 1957, a court ruled that Alameda was insane and committed him to Atascadero State Hospital. He died in San Luis Obispo County on July 28, 1960, at the age of 39. His behavior was never explained.

Reed was survived by a wife, Marilyn, and daughters Janet, 9, and Christy, 4. The Times said he was the first officer killed on duty in Ventura County. Robert Eugene Reed, who would have been 37 on Oct. 16, 1957, was buried at Ivy Lawn Cemetery.

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