Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history
Oct. 13-23, 1957
Woody and Eddy's should have been an easy job for two old pros just out of the joint: Sit around and have a drink or two until the place closes and nearly everybody has cleared out, pull the guns, make them open the safe and take the money. Rough up anybody who gets brave.
Thomas Lee Barrington, 29, was living at 155 Bimini Place after being paroled from San Quentin seven weeks earlier. Harry B. Hancock, 50, 1414 E. 60th St., had been out of Folsom since March after spending 15 of the last 22 years in prison. Maybe they didn't know and maybe they didn't care, but Barrington and Hancock weren't dealing with the San Marino Police Department. Instead, the combination restaurant, bar and liquor store at Huntington and San Gabriel was across the street in Los Angeles County, under the jurisdiction of the Temple City substation.
Late in the evening, one of them slipped into the business' office and cut the phone wires. They followed bartender Andrew Gillian and his wife, Genevieve, into the parking lot, drew their guns and forced the couple back into the bar to open the safe At that time, nearly everyone was gone. The restaurant had closed hours earlier and the cooks were back in the sleeping quarters. Bartender Lawrence McDonald was still inside, as were waitress Georgia Gould and her mother, Mary, who worked in the the hatcheck room.
"They were mean and they were tough," Genevieve Gillian said. "They really shoved us around."
In the confusion, one of the women slipped away and called the Sheriff's Department from a pay phone outside the restaurant. While Hancock took Andrew Gillian into the office to open the safe, Barrington followed McDonald, who had tried to escape.
Andrew Gillian said he didn't know the combination and Hancock warned him: "If you don't open the safe, I'll kill you."
At the entrance to the bar, Barrington put his .45 to McDonald's back and shot him just as the first police car arrived with Deputies Harold S. Blevins and Charles E. Covington.
Barrington shot Blevins in the head, killing him instantly, and Covington returned the gunfire, shooting five rounds, The Times said. Barrington was dead when he hit the ground, but in the gunfight, he shot Covington in the chest, with the bullet going through him and coming out his back.
Hancock rushed to a window when he heard the gunfire, and his prisoners fled. More deputies and the watch commander arrived, sealing off the streets to capture Hancock. About 75 heavily armed officers surrounded the restaurant, and on the assumption that Hancock was still inside holding several hostages, shot teargas into the building.
The gas rousted the cooking staff from their sleeping quarters, but failed to flush Hancock from the restaurant. He was finally found hiding in a car parked in front of the liquor store. Deputies had to restrain Andrew Gillian to keep him from attacking Hancock, the Mirror said. "Let me at him!" Gillian yelled. "He hasn't got a gun now."
Hancock was sentenced to three life terms after being convicted of murder, attempted murder, kidnapping for robbery, attempted robbery and attempted burglary. I can find no further trace of him.
Blevins, who was survived by his wife, Barbara Anne, daughters Brenda and Heidi, and his parents, was buried at Resurrection Cemetery after services at All Saints Catholic Church attended by hundreds of police officers.
"Minutes after her husband's casket was carried into the church, Mrs. Barbara Anne Blevins, the deputy's widow, collapsed on the sidewalk as she was being led from a car," The Times said. "A deputy lifted the sobbing woman into his arms and carried her inside."
McDonald apparently recovered from his wounds. Covington and Blevins were honored in a 1959 ceremony for LAPD officers and sheriff's deputies who had been killed or wounded in the line of duty.
Woody and Eddy's, 3007 Huntington Blvd., is now the location of a strip mall that includes a Starbucks and Howe's market.
Burl Ives, who took off more than 40 pounds to play the part of the viciously righteous father in "Desire Under the Elms,' was putting some of it back on the other day at Frascati's and between bites took up the slack on the three years since we last saw each other.
The word from Paramount is that Burl does a masterful job in the Eugene O'Neill play. "I'm a heck of a villain," he confided with a booming laugh.
Furthermore, it appears he'll be doing considerably more acting. He has been offered three important roles.
Despite his switch of emphasis from folk music to acting, Burl remains the same hearty, uninhibited gentleman who gets a great kick out of life.
His private passion is still boats. When he's in the East he lives aboard the one that was reported this week as having gone aground in New Jersey. "There was a 70-mile wind," he said, "but the men aboard were all blue-water sailors." He can't figure what happened, not having yet received a full account.
Since coming to Hollywood, Burl has acquired a shiny black 1934 Packard phaeton Straight 8, a beautifully restored job with white leather upholstery, red trim and pinstriping. You can't hardly get them like that any more. I was curious about the name "Fosdick" neatly painted on one door. Just a whim, he explained, then added, "Harry Emerson--not Fearless."
What about folk music? It's as big as ever, he said, but in a different way. It's no longer the sort of intellectual cult it used to be. It's now accepted by people in all categories of society: businessmen, professional men, housewives as well as devotees of pure Americana. In a recent concert in Texas, he said, he broke the attendance record.
What's his feeling about being a big actor? It's nice work if you can get it, he said, but it hasn't changed his way of life. He's still a troubadour. For instance, he likes to go out at night and do a little singing with friendly strangers.
And this is our thought for today--bearded Burl Ives, all 300 pounds of him, guitar in hand, lumbering along the elegant Sunset Strip, where he lives, looking in one bistro after another for convivial folk who might like to join him in "Blue Tail Fly," "Barbara Allen" or "Jimmy Cracked Corn"--and finding them.
KID STUFF -- Timmy Deans, 3, is fascinated by all policemen. While his mother waited for a signal to change, a motorcycle officer stopped alongside and Timmy, enchanted, called out, "Hey, police, my mommy drive too fast. Give her a tick!" The officer frowned fiercely, then smiled... A woman with two little girls got on a bus on Catalina Island and the driver asked, "Are they under 6?" The woman retorted menacingly, "Did you ask if my girls are undersexed?"
THE PERIPATETIC publicists are with us today. Al Hix, en route to Tripoli to do the movie "No Time to Die," postcards from the island of Malta that he asked for a Malta milk and the barmaid had to be dissuaded from taking a poke at him... Jack Hirshberg writes from Munich, where Kirk Douglas is making "The Vikings," that he forgot to put his pfennigs in a parking meter and found a ticket under the windshield wiper. Seemed like old times in Beverly Hills. But when he asked a nearby policeman what to do about it, the officer wrote out a receipt, Jack handed him 2 marks--about 50 cents--and that was that.
ONLY IN L.A. -- A man named Scotty gives his Pekingese half a Miltown when it has nervous fits. Brings the Peke right out of it, he says... Civic Center cynics were saying yesterday that it was very inconsiderate of Columbus to have his birthday come this year on Saturday, already a holiday from work.
FOOTNOTES -- An attorney delivering an eloquent oration in an accident case in court the other day had a distressing interruption. The bailiff fell asleep and loudly snored... Agnes Moorehead, who created the classic role 14 years ago, will be doing "Sorry, Wrong Number" for the seventh time on CBS radio's "Suspense" tomorrow... George T. Oussen, supervising the smooth inaugural of Flying Tiger's nonstop freight service with a 43,000 payload, recalled the time in 1931 when another line started a cargo service in Chicago and a live, crated pig got loose during the loading and speaking ceremony, creating havoc, as the saying goes... Mickey Grayson, maitre d' at the Park Wilshire Hotel, has a piece of a $7 pool on which day of the week Sputnik will sputter out and disappear.
Oct. 11-23, 1957
Hey there, men, feeling blue because you can't get a date? You might
try the Clifford Earl Burton method: You don't have to be tall (he was
5-5), highly educated (he could barely read or sign his name) or
particularly handsome (see photo). You don't even have to be a sharp dresser (what is that thing on his head?)
Then what was his secret weapon that drove women wild? How did Clifford Earl Burton manage to get at least nine wives (that's according to police; he lost count) and 10 children (three of them born within a month in 1953)?
He knew how to WELD! (Great pickup line: "Want to come over to my place and see my acetylene?")
OK, enough fun with Mr. Burton. He broke a lot of women's hearts and made many children grow up without a father. There isn't much humor in that.
How did he do it? Mostly he picked on girls in their teens (the oldest was 20 and the youngest was 15) whom he met by hanging around high school football games, police said. One of his wives was the babysitter. He moved around the country: Van Nuys; Lancaster; Tulsa, Okla.; Carson City, Nev.; and Muncie, Ind.
Burton married for the first time in 1941, when he was 16. He married again in 1944, three times in 1946, once in 1950 and 1952 and twice more in 1953, police said. Some of the marriages may have been annulled and he might have gotten divorced, but Burton was vague about the matter. He said he had been married "several times but I can't recall dates or details."
Police got involved in the case in 1954 when a Lancaster woman, the mother of Wife No. 4, saw a TV show describing his three previous wives.
Burton was given five years' probation after being arrested in Jackson, Miss., and extradited to Los Angeles on bigamy charges.
His only explanation: "I was all confused."
They deplored particularly the fact that hardly anyone has time any more to do the things he wants or to see his friends as often as he'd like.
They brought out the stress of holding a job and the strain of driving great distances in traffic and the nerve-racking assaults on what little privacy they have.
They talked of the fierce, insistent competition for people's attention by salesmen, both the blunderbuss variety and the more subtle enticements of soft music, jokes or pretty girls.
And then one fellow came up with a sadistic thought.
"If we aren't careful," he said, "we're going to reach a saturation point. Just imagine if a few thousand people around L.A. decided all at once that they'd had it, that they wanted out of the rat race. And suppose they went down to the beach in a body and meditated upon the beautiful sunset or the elusive grunion and decided they just weren't going to pay attention to anything that commanded their attention."
This beautiful dream of peace and serenity was quickly destroyed.
"They'd never make it," said a cynic. "The traffic tie-up would be awful."
THE EXPRESSION "living it up" means different things to different people. Matt Rivera, 6, swaggered up to his father, Bill, the other day and announced, "When I grow up, I'm going to nightclubs, I'm going to drink beer and I might even go to a Tupperware party or two!"
A COUPLE Herman Sisk knows have been speculating heavily on the stock market, concentrating on wheat. Recently the wife said they ought to sell but the husband disagreed and bought several thousand dollars worth more.
Within a week the price dropped and the blow to his bankroll and ego was such that Herman hasn't mustered the courage to tell him he shouldn't have gone against the grain.
IT SEEMS Louis Armstrong is addicted to elevator irrelevance, too. During a break from rehearsal for next Monday's Edsel show at CBS TV City, he rode up to the third floor in silence. As the door opened and he headed out he remarked to the only other passenger, a solemn-faced stranger:
"If what you say is true, Daddy-O, that satellite is due over any minute!"
SPEAKING OF which, Cy Bloomer, the desert philosopher, muses from Barstow:
"Now that the Russians have built an artificial moon maybe they'll get so overwhelmed with themselves they'll build an artificial earth and get on it. That would do it."
MISCELLANY--A woman in a Wilshire Boulevard stationery store asked for some "vanilla" envelopes--instead of Manila. Happens all the time, the clerk reports...
Jerry Hoffman believes he had the fastest rejection of a manuscript on record. He mailed a short story to a new York magazine on Tuesday and got it back Wednesday. (He'd put it in the self-addressed stamped envelope and enclosed the one addressed to the magazine--instead of vice versa).
Bobby Hogston was enchanted by an ad in a Woodland Hills paper: "Wanted: Guest Heater." Apparently it should have been "gas"--but then again maybe it shouldn't.
Whenever there's smog in the air the phones go berserk at the Air Pollution Control District. The other day John W. Mann, who helps handle them, exclaimed, "You know what we need around here to answer these phones?--an octopus on roller skates!"
A car on Beverly Boulevard had a printed sign, "Made in Las Vegas from old slot machine parts."
Oct. 11, 1957
So I guess there's a pretty good chance that it's true.
Yesterday, a very funny clown came to my office. It wasn't the first time he'd come. But it was the first time in quite a while.
His real name is Bert Whitson.
But all his friends in Pershing Square refer to him as "Popeye."
He was smiling.
"Been riding my bike all over town looking for you," he told me.
We shook hands like old friends and he sat down.
"I'm in the hole right now at four eating places," he started. "I owe maybe a hundred dollars."
He opened his cavernous, toothless mouth and laughed. "But don't get me wrong," he said. "What I want is a good job. That's all. And you know what I've decided?" I said I didn't.
"The entertainment field. That's where I belong. I know you don't just go busting into it, so I'm prepared to do it gradual.
"Start out, maybe, by getting into the studios as a maintenance man. Be good experience. I'll get used to the crowds that way."
He laughed again. The sound was like something you'd expect to hear from a rather frantic chicken.
He went on:
Popeye tucked his lips into his mouth until his nose touched his chin. He removed his pith helmet and scratched vigorously at the top of his bald, veined head.
"I got more gab than Gabby Hayes," he continued, "but what I really need is a sailor suit. Then I'll get a golf ball and cut it in half and stick it in my cheek to puff it out.
"Just like Popeye."
From his jacket pocket, Popeye removed a tiny package, dressed in a Frito-chip wrapper and guarded tightly by a rubber band.
He placed it on the desk.
"What is it, Popeye?" I asked.
He opened it.
It was a harmonica.
"Only cost 85 cents," he explained. "I used to have a good one--a $21 one, but it got stolen by some Irishman.
"I know who it was, too.
"Back in the old Pershing Square before they redid it over, I used to sing and dance and play my harmonica. There was this Negro fellow with a guitar and we used to have a regular show.
"Lots of people really enjoyed it."
Popeye smiled at the memory.
"We don't have the freedom there now that we did before. Different class of people, too.
"Right after the war, it was a pretty fine crowd. But now there's a bunch of night hoodlums. Daytime people are nice, but I don't like the night people. Hoodlums," he repeated.
He leaned forward, whispering hoarsely:
"Why, one had the nerve to try and sell me dope. Imagine that?"
Popeye was tapping his harmonica in the palm of his hand.
I asked him: "Why don't you play a tune?"
He smiled. "Be glad to," he said.
He did. He played "Lamplight in the Window."
When he finished, he said, "That's an old one, isn't it?"
"I liked it, Popeye," I answered.
"A real nice song," he agreed. "I know a lot of them old ones.
"But I suppose," he added sadly, "if I really want to make a go of it, I should start learning some of them new ones."
Oct. 10, 1957
He quickly thrust it into his pocket, then, as if his curiosity were too great, took it out, admired its sparkle and displayed it to Mary.
It looked like a valuable ring, and Mary was about to suggest that he advertise it in the Lost and Found, but he rambled on about never having found anything in his life and being alone in the world, his wife having died, he said, a year ago.
Suddenly, he insisted she try it on, and when it was on her finger he broke the spell by saying:
"You can have it for two bucks, lady."
Mary handed it back, glared at him, got up and walked away.
Just then another woman sat down and the next time Mary looked, the old guy was admiring the worthless piece of glass on her finger.
But, admits Mary, it certainly had a beautiful setting.
FALL-OUT--No, Virginia, we're not changing the words to "How High Their Moon" or "It's Only a Man-Made Moon."
Quick-on-the-draw note: A letter mysteriously delivered to my desk had inscribed on the envelope, "By Satellite"--with a professional-type sketch of the Russian moon hurtling through space emitting its beep-beep-beep...
"Gosh," he said, "I wonder where they take that from?"
"Didn't you know?" said bartender George Fedor. "From the new satellite!"
G.B. inquires plaintively, "May we also soon expect spherical drive-in stands with pseudo-antenna selling satellite burgers?"
MOZART'S "Haffner Serenade" will be performed at USC's Bovard Auditorium tomorrow night, opening the Music Guild season, and William Steinberg, who will conduct the chamber orchestra, believes he has the explanation for some of its puzzling un-Mozartlike passages.
Critics have long wondered why there are no flutes in the first movement, no oboes in the second and hardly any tympani at all.
Steinberg's research disclosed that Mozart wrote the piece for the wedding of the daughter of Sigmund Haffner, Salzburg burgomaster, in 1776. Well, the musicians at the clambake also served as waiters and they had to take off when the cook called out "Hot food!" As for the tympanist, he was the headwaiter.
OK, SO the Dodgers are coming. Now let's have a moment of agonizing reappraisal.
In luring them here, some of our best people made a sickening spectacle of themselves, indulging in reckless, hysterical, fishwife conduct and thereby holding up Los Angeles to nationwide ridicule.
More than the Brooklyn Dodgers, the third-largest city needs a little dignity or at least less hypocrisy and demagoguery. Perhaps it is too much to expect.
LOOSE ENDS--The new $1 bills are in circulation. They're the same as the old ones except they have the name of Robert R. Anderson as secretary of the Treasury instead of G.M. Humphrey and "In God We Trust" above the big "One" on the other side...
Jan Herd can't help wondering if the exhaust fumes from the additional trucks needed to pick up combustible rubbish will contribute as much to smog as was eliminated by the ban on incinerators...
A brochure for Friendly House, 538 S. Harvard Blvd., which rehabilitates women alcoholics, is titled, "One for the road--back"...
A Rand McNally ad in Time states, "any day now the earth will launch its first man-made satellite..." Oops, trapped by an advance deadline.