Here's the home at 457 S. Serrano Ave., where mystery writer Craig Rice died.
Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history
(Hint: He's not Arnold Stang. He's also not Telly Savalas (2 votes!), Mickey Cohen, Sammy Cahn, Billy Wilder, Mel Blanc, Neil Simon, Jack Dragna, E.H. Land, Harry "Big Greenie" Greenberg, Johnny Roselli or Frank DeSimone).
And, in case you're wondering, he's not Phil Silvers or the Dalai Lama.
It must be the glasses. You can see in this picture he was a dapper dresser. What do you think about our mystery gentleman? Does he seem like a pleasant fellow? Intellectual? Would you want to have a cup of coffee with him? Think he has a family? What sorts of stories do you tell yourself about him? Clearly, if The Times took this many pictures of him he must be someone. Is he a blacklisted playwright? Some sharp producer? Does he own a restaurant on Hollywood Boulevard or an appliance store in the Valley?
And not Matt Weinstock, who looks like this:
Before sipping any, he unlatched a luggage case, extracted a trumpet, poured about half the beer into it and sloshed it around. Some spilled on his clothes, the floor and the bar.
Lou, the bartender, frowned but said nothing. Almost anything goes in this place.
But then the fellow belted out a few notes on the horn, causing other customers to shudder, and Lou said, "no, no, no, no," pointing out the place had no floor show or dance license.
The fellow desisted only to the point of pouring about an inch of brew instead of half into the trumpet from his second, third and fourth glasses of beer before testing it for sound.
Enchanted by this charade, Mike Molony asked why he was pouring good beer in the trumpet.
The young man fixed him with a glassy stare and, instead of answering the question, said stiffly, "In France, they do it with champagne."
Then he lifted the trumpet into position and with a dramatic flourish blasted a moist fanfare, packed up and departed into the night.
PERHAPS it's the Van Gogh influence. Anyway, artist Claire Vadnay recently got the urge to paint some sunflowers. She called several flower shops and nurseries but they didn't have them.
One nurseryman said the only thing to do was plant some seeds and grow her own. He pointed out they grow very fast. This she did and painted her picture, rather elated about this new communion with nature.
If anyone else gets the impulse, there's a large patch of them on Sepulveda Boulevard a short distance north of Ventura Boulevard.
A HUSKY young man wearing a Nazi officer's uniform with swastikas and decorations came into a highway restaurant in Malibu the other morning accompanied by four other youths who kept up a noisy, laughing repartee with him about the costume.
People in the restaurant looked at him but no one inquired if he had a part in a movie or was wearing the uniform as a gag.
A woman of French origin who saw the Nazis at their worst got up quietly and left, unable to finish her breakfast coffee
"I know," she says, "it was 12 years ago and we should forget, but I can't."
VACATION NOTES Jack Jarvis, Seattle columnist, drove his MG to Victoria, B.C., where it attracted considerable attention. An Englishwoman asked, "Is that one of those funny little foreign cars?" "Yes, ma'am," said Jack, "made in England." "Oh," she said....
I didn't see it while I was up north last week but Bill Vernon of the Stenotype Co. here photographed a highway sign between Quincy and Portola stating, "Deer, Keep Off Highway Motorists Are Passing." Yep, the deer up there apparently can read.
MISCELLANY -- Harper's magazine has come up with the word "unnice." Some people just can't bring themselves to say "lousy"...When Bill Hazen passed the place the first letter of a neon sign on Olympic Boulevard west of Figueroa was blacked out and stated "HOTOGRAPHY." A salute, no doubt, to the Inconsequential trial... Mike Kaplan of Variety, who will conduct a UCLA extension course this month in Contemporary Reviewing in the Theater Arts, and Hal Levy, who will give his course in Popular Lyric Writing for the sixth year there, got together the other day for a chat. Conclusion, mutually arrived at: Maybe they should put their two courses together and teach people how to become Al Jarvis...
The Let's Have Better Mottoes Association selection for September is "Think Big"--printed on a card in type so small a magnifying glass is required to read it... Leon Lukaszewski has a suggestion for the gray-haired gent who is driven to a 7th Street office building daily in a chauffeured convertible and has to push the front seat down to squeeze out the door: Come down the ladder one more run and ride in front with the chauffeur.
Here's a third picture of our mystery guest from The Times photo archives. Another photo of him is here.
(Hint: He's not Arnold Stang. He's also not Telly Savalas, Mickey Cohen, Sammy Cahn, Billy Wilder, Mel Blanc, Neil Simon or Jack Dragna).
He almost looks like Igor Stravinsky in this picture. But he's not.
Someone asks: "Is he one of the Marx Brothers?" He's not. But if he were, his name would be "Ammo." Hint. Hint.
He's also not E.H. Land (of Polaroid fame) or Harry "Big Greenie" Greenberg. Or Johnny Roselli. Or Frank DeSimone.
And, in case you're wondering, he's not Phil Silvers or the Dalai Lama.
Sept. 4-6, 1957
If it's true that a woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle, then author Kate Constance wants every salmon to have a Schwinn. She's written a book on the subject, "How to Get and Keep a Husband," which is being serialized in the Mirror.
In the last three parts of her series, Kate Constance tells the aspiring fish how to get ready for the big date, what to do when you're out with an eligible bicycle and getting him to pop the question!
If you want to land a bicycle, dear fish, you must get into training. You can take 10 years off your age if you get plenty of sleep and rest, exercise and eat properly:
"Usually a woman's diet shows in her face. Unless you are planning your meals under a doctor's direction, you can be sure of a beauty diet if you eat plenty of fruit, vegetables (all colors), fish, fowl, beef, butter, eggs, whole grain breads and cereals and drink at least 1 1/2 pints of milk daily," Constance says.
Next, make a list of your best characteristics and worst flaws. Be brutal, dear fish. Now accentuate your positives and remember that your wardrobe can make all the difference because it combines smartness and illusion!
First of all, dress appropriately and for goodness' sake dress your age. "Nothing is so pitiful as the mature woman who seeks to turn back the calendar by taking the role of the schoolgirl!" Constance says.
"Suppose you are tall, slender, red-haired and past 40, possessing a pensive smile and a quiet manner. Vivid blues, full skirts and dramatically squared-out necklines should be good features for you."
On the other hand:
"If you have lovely gray hair and your figure is on the stoutish side, with average height, you can be exquisite in all black touched with white (not lace!!) to emphasize your hair."
Above all, Constance says, be neat and clean, don't wear too much makeup, choose the right perfume and wear tasteful jewelry. And do your hair!
Now that you're ready for your big date, here's some things to remember, Constance says:
A man is a hunter and wants to do his own seeking for a mate. He prefers not to be pursued.
He has a deep-seated ego for reproduction, which is his vulnerableness to marriage.
His natural sexual urge may trip him into untoward advances. You must know how to deal with his "proposition."
He likes to enjoy the benefits of marriage but is not eager for its responsibilities.
He does not crave marriage when his sexual appetite is satisfied.
He envisions his perfect woman as half mate, half mother, full of love and virtue.
He despises the woman who steps down from her higher standards, even for him.
Don't make the mistake of calling the bicycle, dear fish. Let him call you. Don't phone him unless it's necessary and above all, do NOT call him at work unless it is an emergency. When you're on the phone with your bike, don't say too much. Use your conversations to "stimulate curiosity and an aura of excitement," Constance says.
In dressing for your date, it's all right to show your shoulders and arms, but watch the neckline, dear fish! "Give him a chance to look at you and take in your total charm."
When he picks you up, invite him in for a few moments to see the fish tank. "This closeup view of your home environment will give him a better understanding of the kind of woman you are," Constance says.
Don't let anyone else answer the door. And for heaven's sake, don't let your family interrogate him while you're still getting ready as they are likely to ask all sorts of prying questions.
Keep calm, dear fish. "Maintain an air of composure, even if you are excited," Constance says. "If you are inclined to have romantic jitters, try holding a small, rough object such as a tiny comb clutched in the palm of your hand so tightly that it hurts."
When you're at dinner, don't order the most expensive thing on the menu--nor the cheapest. And do NOT flirt with other bikes!
Go for a walk with the bicycle and take his arm, but don't talk too much. Do NOT dawdle in front of store displays as you may "bore him with a touch of commercialism."
Don't be possessive around his mother and most important, don't do anything to make the bicycle think that you are "hopelessly tied at home," Constance says.
Now let's suppose, dear fish, that you have been dating for several months, keeping in mind your neckline, long walks and the firm rule that the route to the altar does NOT go through the bedroom (remember, the sexually satisfied bicycle has no interest in marriage!) But for some reason, your eligible bicycle is noncommittal.
First, indulge in quiet moments where the conversation grinds to an uncomfortable halt. When the bicycle asks what's wrong, be evasive and hesitant, maybe for an evening, a week or even longer.
Finally, tell your eligible bicycle that you are trying to make a decision--but do NOT tell him what it's about. Be wistfully distracted but still cheerful. Got that?
Usually, this will make a bicycle ask what's wrong. If he doesn't, take the next step and break a few dates. Tell him you're busy but mention ever so gently that you are afraid your friendship doesn't mean anything to him. Don't make a scene.
If he brings up his usual list of reasons for not getting married, listen in silence. "The less you say the more foolish he will seem to himself, for silence has a way of magnifying the important issues and minimizing the small ones," Constance says. Don't seem peeved or hurt!
If he still hasn't proposed, start making other plans, even if it's with your fishfriends. Give a few parties and don't invite him.
Unless he is an incredibly dim and obtuse bicycle, "when he discovers that you are leaving him out of your life, most likely he will ask questions," Constance says.
Here's where you've got him, dear fish. Tell him you're disappointed that he hasn't proposed. You don't want to see other bicycles, but you don't think he is too poor, too busy, too old, too young or too anything--whatever his feeble excuse is--to get married.
"Tell him that you like him above all men and that he has your first interest. You would prefer him above all others," Constance says. "But you want to be fair to him and to yourself, and also practical. Tell him that you want to know where the friendship is leading."
If he doesn't pop the question immediately--or very soon--dump him at any old bike shop, because this is the fish version of a marriage proposal.
"He is not for you," Constance says. "You should drop the whole so-called romance and work toward new opportunities!"
[Note: I have been unable to find any biographical information about Kate Constance. "How to Get and Keep a Husband" was published in 1957 by Dorrance and Co., a vanity press. The book has never been reissued, but is sometimes available from antiquarian book dealers and on Ebay. HTGAKAH apparently had the subtitle "A Christian Business Woman's Answer to One of the Most Perplexing Problems of Our Time," that the Mirror did not use.]
[And in case there is any doubt, let me add: As with the horoscopes, this is for entertainment purposes only.--lrh]
Sept. 6, 1957
Last week while driving between Cortez and Durango, Colo., Paul Weeks turned on the radio to relieve the monotony.
After a while it came through his consciousness that the station, KWIK in Farmington, N.M., was playing the same song over and over.
The announcer would say that the next number would be Nat Cole or Paul Weston or the Hi-Lows or Joel Gray, and there would be an occasional news flash, but the guy kept playing the same tune. Paul has since identified it as "White Silver Sands" by the Lennon sisters.
This went on for more than an hour, and Paul became increasingly intrigued, particularly when sounds of someone pounding on a door and a phone ringing came through the interminable refrain, "When the deep blue pearly waters wash upon white silver sands."
As he arrived in Durango, the tune was still being beaten to death. Fascinated, Paul sat in his car for half an hour awaiting the denouement.
Finally, it came. A different voice broke through and said sharply:
That's all Paul knows about it.
Well, maybe so. Me, I'm suspicious, especially of mysteries. I can't help thinking Johnny was deliberately creating consternation among his listeners.
MONTHS AGO, presumably, someone strolling along the north side of 2nd Street, just west of Main street, eating his lunch decided he didn't want the tomato he'd brought along and flung it into the rubble of the building which had just been removed from the site.
The desolate, gaping excavation is still there. The level part of it is used by the State Highway boys to park their cars.
But lately, a luxuriant tomato plant, unwatered and untended but loaded with fine green tomatoes, has sprung up out of the brick and debris.
Once they get ripe they won't be there long. Things get a little hungry around 2nd and Main.
WHILE selecting a prepared, wrapped sandwich at a Spring Street lunch counter, Hank Frank came upon one labeled "Mah" and, being a curious fellow, asked what a Mah sandwich was.
"Meat and pickle," the girl replied. Then she explained, "The meat is pork shoulder and they can't call it ham so they call it mah--ham spelled backward."
Makes sense to me. However, I've been feeling a little irrelevant all week.
THE PROLONGED hot spell isn't doing people any good. A large lady in the Valley Ranch Market sighed, "I wish we would have an earthquake." Manager Paul Anter asked why. "Because," she replied, "it would take my mind off this terrible heat."
AROUND TOWN--As Spud Corliss signaled a left turn on Cahuenga Boulevard and Selma, the strap broke on his wristwatch and it fell into the street. Several cars passed over it by the time he stopped and retrieved it but it was undamaged and still running. Spud says he knew it would be safe--he won it in a national safety contest.
Notice on the Crescent Heights Methodist Church: "People who live right never get left."
Remembered from somewhere: Nowadays a baseball player not only has to know how to hit, run, field and throw but he better know how to shave.
Definition for today: An old-timer is a person who remembers when Chavez Ravine was intended as a municipal housing project.
Sept. 6, 1957
Because if you don't, people don't hear. Or, at least, they don't pay attention.
It concerned conditions at County General Hospital.
Too many employees there felt that their services to patients should be regarded as favors, rather than duties.
And, as a result, too many patients were receiving indifferent, insufficient care.
Today, I hope, I'm through hollering.
Because, from reports I've received during the past week, lots of things have been happening. Things which point toward much-improved conditions at the institution.
There have been people fired.
There have been some changes made to facilitate handling of patients and to alleviate personnel shortages in certain sections of the hospital.
Before I start pecking away at County General's treatment last July, stories illustrating its faults had been popping up in papers for years.
So I claim no credit for having unearthed anything new.
A few days ago, I discussed the hospital's shortcomings with four of its top officials.
All of them have ideas which could turn General into one of the better hospitals in this area, in spite of its size.
At the meeting, Director Robert J. Thomas told me:
"The hospital has definitely fallen behind.
"In employee development, in modern procedures, in our physical plant, we are not up to date."
He added, however, that things are starting to happen. There are probably close to a hundred projects and reforms now either started or in the mill.
A sampling of them:
The present, poorly planned admitting room will receive a $62,000 ($444,247.59 USD 2006) face-lifting designed to speed up patient processing.
Stricter, more organized employee-control methods are being put into practice.
"Before," Thomas said, "we graded a new employee only once--at the end of his six-month probationary period.
"Now, we'll do it monthly."
To improve patient morale, visitors will be allowed to come to the hospital every day between 7 and 8 p.m. Previously, visits were permitted on Wednesday and Sunday afternoons only.
To cut hours of waiting for outpatients, the hospital is setting up a staggered schedule of appointments in many of its clinics.
Its elevator system is to be overhauled. New X-ray film processing equipment is being installed to cut the present delay of 45 minutes down to six or seven. A system to expedite filing and movement of patients' charts will be in effect in two or three weeks.
But one problem which is being tackled right now, Thomas said, is the shortage of registered nurses.
A few months ago, there were 214 vacancies.
A recent nationwide "enlistment" campaign by the hospital cut the figure by 80.
"We're going to make General a better place to work for people who want some satisfaction out of their jobs," Thomas told me. "And as for the dead weight--the Civil Service Commission has yet to turn us down on a request for dismissal of an employee."
The human element in any business is a major one.
If General Hospital can whip some enthusiasm into its personnel, the problem should be well on its way to [being] solved.
In case you have never seen one, this car was called a Studebaker. This model was the Silver Hawk.
Studebaker's West Coast assembly plant was at 4530 Loma Vista Ave. in Vernon. The factory resumed postwar auto manufacturing Oct. 18, 1946. The plant closed indefinitely June 8, 1956. It was producing 64 cars a day.
The site was later occupied by St. Regis Paper.
Here's what I heard from Ben Eckart, one of the collectors who has posted a photo of an En-Ar-Co bucket on his website:
Sept. 6, 1957
Kindly, mild-mannered and quiet, The Traveler, 51, was the last person anyone would suspect of a crime. He seemed more like a Sunday school teacher, which he had been, or perhaps an itinerant newsman. In fact, he had worked at newspapers throughout the West, including jobs as a reporter, rewrite man and copy editor in Oklahoma City and Salt Lake City.
But beneath that disarming facade, The Traveler was a bitter, vindictive man. Wrongly accused of writing a bad check in 1942, "he determined to revenge himself by becoming a forger," The Times said. For the next 15 years, The Traveler crisscrossed the nation, writing half a million dollars in bad checks in nearly every state before being arrested in Middleburg Heights, Ohio.
"Why, he didn't look like he had that much intelligence," Fay Branch told detectives. "I thought he was a real nice guy but a complete failure in life."
Being nondescript worked to The Traveler's advantage and he used a simple but effective method: He always stayed 20 miles from where he committed his crimes and earned a victim's trust by paying cash for a few minor items before making a larger purchase with a bad check for $65 to $85 ($465.74-$609.05 USD 2006).
A success at crime, The Traveler was hopeless in the business world. At times, he tried to go straight and ran a hamburger stand and prospected for uranium, but when those efforts failed, he returned to easy money. "I was well aware of what I was doing, but it was a conflict between my conscience and expediency," he said.
"I wasn't particularly smart. It was just that merchants are so careless. Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley are among the toughest places in the country to cash phony checks. Cooperation between police and merchants is very close," he said.
The Traveler perhaps got careless in Oregon, where Lane County sheriff's investigators noticed him staying in a motel about the time a number of bad checks were reported. Oregon investigators sent his license plate number to the LAPD for further inquiry.
Although The Traveler wasn't home, information led Sgt. D.R. Sheldon of the Valley Division to The Traveler's storage sheds in Sylmar. In a cache that eventually measured 6 feet high, 6 feet wide and 100 feet long, police found photo equipment, canned good, appliances, record albums, electric guitars and scores of road maps, The Times said, along with a copy of "How to Use Your Imagination to Make Money." The LAPD also found information indicating that The Traveler was in Ohio.
The Traveler was convicted in Los Angeles and sentenced to one to 14 years in prison. Although he used 350 aliases, police said, his real name was Charles Robert Speedie.
We don't know what happened after that. The Social Security Death Index shows that Speedie died June 4, 1988, in Jessup, Ga. But I wonder: Did he retire or was he at the federal prison there?