The Daily Mirror

Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history

Category: October 28, 2007 - November 3, 2007

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It was a kinder, simpler time



I cannot believe the way they have commercialized the holidays! All you see is "buy! buy! buy!" It didn't used to be this way when I was young, trust me!

The cloudy crystal ball


Nov. 3, 1957
Los Angeles

I typed the words "Southern California Research Council" and I could already imagine the snoring. What, no crime? Hear me out.

Its question was an essential one: How many people would be in what they called the metropolitan area (Los Angeles and Orange counties) in 1970?

1957_1103_del_coronado The principles sound easy: Projected birth rate plus projected migration minus the death rate.

But it wasn't so simple. The council had revised its estimated figure of 8 million announced 1955. The new projection was even higher: 9.4 million in the two-county area. (If you want to know if the projections were right skip to here).*

First, the birth rate: As I've noted elsewhere on the blog, the U.S. birth rate declined in the first four decades of the 20th century, otherwise known as the "baby bust." This was countered by the baby boom that began in 1946.

Now the death rate: It was declining because of progress in sanitation and health. More people were reaching "the upper age brackets where females outnumber the males." Sound familiar?

And migration. Robert P. Collier of Occidental College, one of the research study leaders, said: "We did, however, assume there would be a continuation of smog and traffic problems. But we did not look for them to get significantly worse. After all, it is possible that the smog situation, for instance, could get so bad that there would be a general exodus of people. But this isn't probable."

(In case you are wondering, the Southern California Research Council wrote many traffic studies in the 1950s. Anyone who thinks traffic in Los Angeles is a new or even somewhat recent problem is merely ignorant of the region's history).

Was the study right? They nailed it: "The composition of the labor force will change, with women and workers under 25 constituting greater proportions by 1970."

*And the magic number? The projection was 9.4 million, bracketed by 9 million on the low end and 9.8 million at the high end. According to the 1970 U.S. census, Los Angeles County had a population of 7,032,075 and Orange County had 1,420,386 for a total of 8.45 million, ahead of the 1955 estimate but below the 1957 revision.    

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Nov. 3, 1957




Nov. 1, 1957
Los Angeles

This is a DC-7 coming in for a landing at Los Angeles International Airport and if you look carefully, you'll notice that the wheels are up. This is bad.

Although it's a relief that it landed safely and that no one was hurt, the real story is buried in the back of the paper.  And that's what's relevant today.

The City of Hollywood, United Air Lines direct flight from New York, circled the airport for more than two hours to burn off fuel and came in on a foamed runway after one of the landing gear got stuck and couldn't be shaken loose. Writer Walter Ames noted that the remote news van of KTTV Channel 11 arrived at LAX and was able to cover much of the incident despite heavy traffic "caused by curious motorists who immobilized streets for miles."

In what was apparently a record in the Stone Age of TV news coverage, the van was hooked up in 9 minutes and began transmitting pictures to Los Angeles viewers.

Although the TV crew apparently didn't get pictures of the landing, they arrived in time to photograph relieved passengers getting off the plane and a station engineer did a live interview with the plane's pilot, Capt. Charles Dent, when KTTV reporter Bill Welsh was stuck in traffic.

"Usually it takes from a half-hour to an hour to go through the intricate electronic maneuvers necessary to tune a remote truck into the transmitting towers," Ames wrote.

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Nov. 2, 1957


Literary diversions

Nov. 1, 1957


Nov. 1, 1957
Los Angeles


I rarely run old editorials because, among other reasons, they usually don't age well and are frequently embarrassing.

Like this one.

Brown somehow overcame this less than ringing endorsement from The Times, which dismissed him as a bland, dithering political upstart from the Democratic Party.

Despite Republican Sen. William F. Knowland's and Gov. Goodwin J. Knight's smug assurance that they could "polish off Mr. Brown with the greatest of ease," Brown crushed Knowland in the November 1958 elections. With 4% of the precincts still uncounted, Brown was nearly 1 million votes ahead of Knowland, according to the Associated Press.

In fact, Democrats swept to power in 1958, controlling both houses of the state Legislature for the first time since 1889 and outnumbering Republicans by the largest margin since 1883.

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Nov. 1, 1957


It was a kinder, simpler time

Nov. 1, 1957
Los Angeles

I can't believe Christmas ads have started running already! It certainly wasn't like this when I was your age!


Trick or Treat murder


Photograph by Larry Harnisch / Los Angeles Times
The "Trick-or-Treat Murder" house, 13236 Community St., Oct. 27, 2007.


Oct. 31, 1957
Los Angeles

1957_1102_fabiano They had planned the murder for months as the vague wish turned into a solid, horrible truth. They played out each variation in the script again and again until every detail was polished and perfect. They thought of everything. One was the brains behind the killing and the other was the willing, gullible stooge. Neither could have done it alone, but the odd chemistry formed a murderous bond between the two women.

The first step took more than a month as Joan laid the groundwork for the killing, continually telling Goldyne that the victim deserved to die. "She painted him as a vile, evil man who wanted to destroy all people around him," Goldyne said. "Although I had never seen him, I built up an intense hatred for him."

Next, they had to choose a method. They decided they couldn't use poison or a knife. They needed a gun.

With a male friend, Goldyne went to a Pasadena gun shop to select a .38 Smith & Wesson "for home protection." Three days later, Joan took her to the store and gave her the money to buy the revolver and two bullets.

Now they sat outside the house on Community Street in the car Joan had borrowed from a friend, carefully rehearsing the final details as they waited for the victim to turn out the lights. Goldyne was wearing the costume Joan had selected for her: Bluejeans, a khaki jacket, red gloves and makeup. She had the gun in a paper bag as if she was trick-or-treating.

About 11:30 p.m., the bedroom lights went out. With Joan's help, Goldyne put on the Halloween mask, then she walked to the door and rang the bell.

The man who had been turned into a symbol of evil answered the door. It took both hands, but Goldyne raised the gun, which was still in the bag, and pulled the trigger, shooting him in the chest. He died soon after.

She ran to the car and Joan drove back to return it to her friend, Margaret. They left the jacket in the car, but burned the rest of the costume. Joan's parting words were: "Forget you ever knew me."

Goldyne kept the revolver, so she checked it in a pay locker at a downtown department store.

The perfect plan unraveled in less than two weeks as detectives arrested Joan Rabel, 40, 7463 Willoughby Ave.,  in the "Trick-or-Treat Murder" of hairdresser Peter Fabiano, 35, who operated two salons in the San Fernando Valley.

Questioning of Fabiano's wife, Betty, 36, revealed that they had recently reconciled after separating over her relationship with Joan, a former salon employee who worked as a freelance photographer.

Joan was released after being questioned, then arrested when detectives traced the murder weapon to hospital clerk Goldyne Pizer, 42, 1323 N. Vista St.,* and found the revolver in the pay locker.  Further investigation showed that Joan had brought Goldyne to one of the salons several times so that she would recognize Peter Fabiano.

The Times, alas, is oddly silent about the friendship of Betty Fabiano and Joan Rabel, showing an unfortunate lack of curiosity about their relationship.



Recall that only 10 years earlier in coverage of the Black Dahlia investigation, lesbians were depicted as murderous degenerates, although the Los Angeles papers would never dare use the L-word in print, preferring tortured, oblique references that the women were "abnormal." For that matter, the relationship between Joan and Goldyne is superficially dismissed as a "Svengali-like influence."

Was this a love triangle? It's simply unclear. All the women involved in this story were divorcees and Betty Fabiano had two children from a previous marriage. Perhaps one of the other local papers will have more information. Stay tuned.

Joan and Goldyne were convicted in 1958 of second-degree murder and sentenced to five years to life in prison. Goldyne was released from prison and by 1971 was an officer in the Miracle Mile chapter of the Professional Women's Club. According to California death records, she died in Los Angeles County in 1998 at the age of 83.

I can find no further trace of Joan Rabel.

[Note: You may read elsewhere on the Internet that the women spent the rest of their lives in prison. Caveat emptor].

A woman named Betty Fabiano died in Riverside County in 1999 at the age of 81.

In addition to his wife, Peter Robert Fabiano, 35, was survived by his father, Paul; two sisters; three brothers; and two stepchildren by his wife's previous marriage: Judy and Richard.

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*The Times erred in saying that this address is in North Hollywood.

Foreign correspondent

Oct. 31, 1957


Oct. 31, 1957



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