The Daily Mirror

Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history

Category: November 18, 2007 - November 24, 2007

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Random shot

Here's a detail from one of the photos I found in The Times' archives on Main Street. I can't quite tell whether this man is a street artist or just a panhandler. He appears to have a chair and some artist's supplies. These buildings in the 400 block of North Main were torn down in 1938.


Photograph by Jake / Los Angeles Times

Nov. 21, 1957





Los Angeles Times file photo

Here's a photo of South Main at 4th Street looking north. The theater on the right is the Hippodrome and the title "Shifting Sands" on the marquee allows us to date the image to February 1924.


The Times reported that when it was built in 1913, the Hippodrome had the largest stage on the West Coast. It was torn down in 1952 to make way for, yes, a parking lot.



Main Street


Los Angeles Times file photo

Here's another photo I found while going through the archives on Main Street. This was taken from City Hall, looking south, showing Main Street on the left and Spring Street on the right.



Notice the Los Angeles Times Building under construction at 1st and Spring.



Also notice the Lyceum Theatre. Most commentary on theaters in Los Angeles discuss Main and Broadway but rarely touch on the Spring Street venues. This is the only picture I can recall that shows the Lyceum.

Mental patient flees



Nov. 20-21, 1957
Los Angeles

1952_1210_mary_andrews There are many things we don't know about Mary H. Andrews. We don't know, for example, why Judge Elmer D. Doyle committed her to a Glendale mental hospital in November 1952, the first in a series of psychiatric institutions where she was held for years.

Nor do we know where she kept getting the guns that she used in her escapes.

I haven't quite decided if she was an interesting individual or really, really crazy. Perhaps she was a bit of both. This is her story:

Mary was a licensed airplane pilot and she rode a motorcycle, The Times said.

The newspaper also said she was "mannish looking," 1950s code words for "lesbian."

She ended up on the front of The Times in 1952 (headline above) for what was apparently the first of her escapes. Then 30 years old, she fled the private sanitarium in Glendale and went to the home of her mother, Martha H. Andrews, 2857 Paraiso Way, La Crescenta.

Martha called the sanitarium to report that Mary had come home and sanitarium officials, in turn, contacted Mary's older brother, Randolph H. Andrews, 32, of 479 Riverdale, Glendale.

Randolph headed to his mother's house, having stopped at the sheriff's substation in Montrose to ask for assistance in capturing Mary.

In the meantime, Mary threatened her mother, so Martha gave her a gun. "I gave it to her because it wasn't loaded," Martha told investigators.

Randolph and Deputy Delmer D. Burrow found Mary in her bedroom--armed with the .22-caliber pistol, which she loaded with bullets that she had hidden from her mother.

Mary shot Burrow in the groin and Randolph in the right leg before Deputy John A. Pyle disarmed her. She was charged in the shootings, but The Times failed to follow up on the story. Burrow was hospitalized in serious condition but apparently both men recovered.

It took Mary nearly two years to get another gun and escape, this time from Mendocino State Hospital. Martha had gone to visit Mary and as they were walking the grounds Nov. 2, 1954, Mary pulled a pistol and forced Martha to drive to San Francisco. Once in the city, Mary forced her mother out of the car, saying, "I've got some friends I'm going to see," The Times said.



Informed of the escape, deputies of the Montrose substation put the house on Paraiso Way under surveillance. Deputy William Thorpe said he was especially interested in Mary's motorcycle, which had a dead battery. One day he noticed that the motorcycle was gone and officials issued an alert for it. The motorcycle was located at a repair shop, 4456 Ramsdell Ave., Montrose, and Mary was arrested.

It took her three years, but Mary got another gun and kidnapped her mother from her home in Redondo Beach after escaping from Patton State Hospital. Martha said that she and a friend, Mrs. Nida Bell Priester, were at the home, 601 Emerald St., when Mary abducted the two of them. Mary explained that she had escaped from Patton with two men and needed money "to pay them off before dark or they'll kill me," The Times said.

Martha tried to cash a check for $900 at a savings and loan, but there wasn't enough money to cover the check, so the women went to a nearby bank and got the money.

Near Wayfarers Chapel in Rancho Palos Verdes, Mary forced the women out of the car, a light blue 1949 Chevrolet four-door sedan, California JVY140.

Unfortunately, that's all we know. The Times never reported on whether Mary was ever recaptured. According to the paid obituaries, funeral services were held for Martha on May 10, 1961, at Wee Kirk o' the Heather at Forest Lawn in Glendale.

If anyone knows any more of this story, please Email me

Traffic jam


Los Angeles Times Photograph

This is Main Street, Los Angeles, 1911. I am posting this photo for the benefit of everyone who believes that traffic is a new problem. Los Angeles residents in the early 20th century were already painfully familiar with congested streets, but instead of being caused by autos, the traffic jams involved streetcars. As early as 1907, Henry Huntington experimented with the idea of elevated tracks, but nothing ever came of it.

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Main Street

Several weeks ago, I took this picture of King's Market at 5th Street and South Main while on the L.A. Conservancy's Main Street tour.


Photograph by Larry Harnisch / Los Angeles Times

Then in rummaging through the archives, I found this photo dated Jan. 26, 1912:


1912_0126_main_streetd Los Angeles Times Photograph

The 1912 Times article reports that the building had just been sold for $325,000 ($6,783,870.12 USD 2006), which was then a record, and notes that it was originally considered something of a folly because it was the first business block south of 3rd Street, with nothing but orange groves between 3rd and 5th streets.


The unidentified Eastern developers planned to replace the building with a 12-story skyscraper, The Times said.

I will try to make a larger scan of this picture to show more detail, but the curlicue border drives my scanner crazy. Note the style of street lamp and the electric sign over the drugstore

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Larger scan here: Download 1912_0126_main_big02.jpg

A sign in one of the windows says: "Have some pictures made to-day. You will never be as young again."

Nov. 20, 1957



Brenda Allen

Please welcome this week's extremely famous mystery woman!


Photograph by Bruce H. Cox / Los Angeles Times
  • Ethel Merman? Interesting guess. But no.
  • Brenda Allen? (Steven Bibb) Yes! This is Marie Cash and her husband, Robert H. Cash, during divorce proceedings, photographed March 7, 1961. She was better known as Brenda Allen.

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Times endorsements

Nov. 19, 1957
Los Angeles

Here's something from another era in politics: An endorsement masquerading as a Page 1 item urging people to vote.


And in case people missed it on Page 1, The Times ran another item on Page 4 with the runover of its Page 2 election story. It is truly shocking to see endorsements in the news section rather than on the editorial page.



And who was Lou Cusanovich? A "right to work" Republican from the west San Fernando Valley running against a "closed shop" Democrat, Paul Roest. Not too surprisingly, The Times published a glowing editorial celebrating Cusanovich's victory.  After serving in the Assembly, Cusanovich was elected to the state Senate in 1966. He retired in 1980 after winning by a narrow margin in 1976 and supported former Police Chief Ed Davis as his Republican successor.

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Santa Claus Lane

Nov. 19, 1957
Los Angeles

Hollywood Boulevard gets ready for Christmas.



I'll see if I can find a better photo of this in the archives.

Meanwhile, here's a 1946 postcard that shows the electric Christmas trees, courtesy of Nathan Marsak of the 1947project.




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Nov. 19, 1957



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