Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history
The Times wrote very little about the case, although police killed two robbers. According to the account, the unidentified men were believed to be part of a five-member gang that robbed the bank Jan. 10, 1969, getting $17,600 ($98,532.55 USD 2006).
A stolen car was found nearby with its engine running, The Times said. The slain holdup men were wearing stocking masks, gloves and "two changes of clothes, one of which apparently was to be discarded after the robbery to hamper identification."
Aha! A little research shows that on July 2, 1969, James "Tayari" Doss and his wife, Carmelita, were convicted in the January 1969 holdup. Doss was the vice chairman of a black nationalist group called US headed by Ron Karenga, the man who founded Kwanzaa. The other three robbers weren't identified, The Times said.
The Times apparently didn't cover the Dosses' sentencing. The only other citation I can find is Pacific Stars and Stripes, July 3, 1969.
There is no further information on the Dosses.
July 25-31, 1957
If he hadn't been turned down by the Police Department, he said, he would have gone straight.
If the FBI hadn't found his juvenile police record,* he might have been hired.
But because of a burglary committed at the age of 15, James Lewis Feldkamp went to the home of David L. Nagin, 1641 Holt Ave., with a loaded gun. Somehow, this seemed like logical reasoning to him.
It was supposed to be an easy job with a three-way split for Feldkamp, Ambrose (Bocho) Lucero and Joel Leyva Villas, a truck driver who worked at the wholesale grocery run by Nagin.
Villas and Lucero met in jail, where Villas was serving a sentence for forgery and Lucero was serving a term for armed robbery. When Villas finished his sentence, he contacted Lucero and they began planning the Nagin holdup. It is unclear when or how Feldkamp became involved.
According to Villas, they failed in two attempts to rob Nagin at his office so they tried his home, knowing that he would have a large amount of cash he planned to deposit the next morning.
On the night of Nov. 12, 1954, Lucero apparently went to the home and asked the Nagins' housekeeper, Marie Jacobs, about the address. Nagin went out to speak with him, returned and told Jacobs to be sure to lock the back door. "We don't know who this kid is or whether he really wanted anybody," Nagin said.
Later that evening, as Nagin, his wife, Maurine, and daughter, Fredericka, watched TV, Feldkamp knocked at the door. Fredericka answered it, thinking it was her boyfriend.
"I didn't want to kill him or anybody else," Feldkamp said. "When I rang the doorbell a young girl answered the door and screamed when she saw my gun.
"Shut that door!" Nagin screamed. "Don't let him in!"
"She shoved the door in my face," Feldkamp said. "I panicked. I shot myself, the man and somebody I didn't see."
Leaving a trail of blood after shooting himself twice in the wrist, Feldkamp went to a nearby car. He and Lucero hid on the floor of the back seat while Feldkamp's 17-year-old-wife, Lucy, drove them to Mexicali and persuaded a doctor to treat the bullet wounds. (Another woman, possibly Lucero's wife, Carmen, may have been with them, police said).
Maurine testified at the inquest: "I remember seeing the man shooting. The flash blinded me.... I saw my husband was hit--I don't know where.
"I tried to hold him up but the weight was too much for me. We fell together and the man was still shooting. I felt I was hit and I cried, 'Oh my God, we're both dead.'
"My husband closed his eyes as we were falling. I called, 'Dave, Dave' and he never opened his eyes again."
The investigation turned up some early leads but then went cold. It wasn't until July 24, 1957, when Feldkamp was arrested in the robbery of a market at 7132 Sepulveda Blvd., Van Nuys, that the case broke. In an anonymous phone call, a man told detectives to talk to Feldkamp about the Nagin killing. Feldkamp denied any knowledge of the case, but Lucy Feldkamp broke down during questioning and admitted that he had killed Nagin.
Feldkamp and Villas were charged in the killing, but Lucero was tried in Mexico because he had dual citizenship. It is unclear what became of Lucero and Villas, but Feldkamp waived his right to a jury trial and pleaded guilty to first-degree murder.
James Lewis Feldkamp, who almost became an LAPD officer, was executed Feb. 27, 1959.
David L. Nagin's funeral was conducted by Rabbi Jacob Pressman at Hollywood Cemetery.
* Why wasn't his juvenile record destroyed? A good question and I don't have the answer.
I tore a taco the other day with my favorite villain, Paul Fierro.
Chances are that you've seen him in movies or TV without knowing who he was. He's the tall, dark, grim guy who gives the hero trouble.
Mostly he portrays treacherous Indians, with or without clothes or warpaint. He is indifferent on this point. "I can go naked," he says. "I got muscles."
The important thing to Paul and others who play minor character roles is getting enough work so they can live in the quiet [illegible] style to which they are accustomed. Paul has a cottage in Laurel Canyon and his passions are cooking and laughing at life.
Born in L.A.'s "Dogtown," he attended Castelar Street School, Vernon Avenue School, Venice High and Madera High, upstate.
He sold papers at Santa Barbara Avenue and Figueroa Street and fought at a smoker in a Spring Street gym when he was 8. Won, too.
He played football, halfback, at Madera and won a scholarship to North Carolina State, where he played in 1935, 1936, 1937 under coach Hunk Anderson of Notre Dame. "I ran into the Civil War," he recalls.
He can't help being amused at all the fuss over aid to athletes, as if it were something new. He says he got room, board, tuition, books, laundry and $25 a week.
Funny things are always happening to Paul. Not long ago, while driving his old Ford to Madera, he stopped to pick up a soldier near Fresno. As the soldier got in, fear clouded his face and he exclaimed, "Jeepers! Lou Garcia!" Turned out he'd seen a movie at his base the night before in which Paul played a fierce Mexican devil who robbed a stagecoach and kidnapped an old lady. Paul quieted the youth's fear.
"I've never had a kissing role, said Paul, 41, and a stalwart 200 pounds, "but I don't mind." He's reconciled to playing bad guys. Only one thing. He has to watch his weight. "You can't get too round," he explained. "Fat guys can't scare people."
Paul was preparing to leave for Bend, Ore., on location for the Lindsley Parsons production "Rio Bravo." [Note: Not the John Wayne movie. It was released as "Oregon Passage"]. In it he will play, for a change, a friendly Indian scout named, of all things, Nato!
A LADY NAMED Louise reports she spent a sleepless night pondering upon this classified ad in a neighborhood paper in Hollywood: "Diamond ring. Will trade for gun or ?"
She remains fascinated by the "or ? " She reasons, here is a person with a diamond ring which he--presumably it is a he--wishes to unload. He'll take a gun or what have you.
His mention of the gun indicates he's in a surly mood, in which case the question mark would likely mean a gallon of poison, a tree with a noosed rope attached or a do-it-yourself bomb kit.
Tell you what. I'm going to do, Louise. I'm going to ignore the whole thing and try to get some sleep.
Photos courtesy of the Autry National Center.
Gene Autry reboots a Muranian robot deep beneath Radio Ranch.
The Autry National Center is marking the centennial of Gene Autry's birth with a showing of "The Phantom Empire," my favorite movie combining science fiction and cowboys (the other contenders being "Valley of Gwangi" and "Night of the Lepus").
"Phantom Empire" will be shown from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (remember it's a 12-part serial) Sept. 29 at the Wells Fargo Theater at the Autry museum in Griffith Park.
I love the costumes in this movie. It looks like they just raided the wardrobe department for whatever they could find from all sorts of different period pictures.
In the 1969 "Valley of Gwangi," bad things happen when cowboys capture a Tyrannosaurus rex for a wild west show.
In the 1972 "Night of the Lepus," bad things happen when a studio green lights a movie about giant bunnies terrorizing the Southwest.