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Matt Weinstock

January 31, 2008 |  9:27 pm

Jan. 31, 1958

Matt_weinstockd It is generally conceded that newspapermen have an infinite capacity for nonchalance, irreverence and wryness. No one is sure why. Maybe it's the interesting people they don't meet.

Anyway, several reporters were reminiscing the other day and they recalled a couple of minor classics involving this attitude.

One had to do with the time Chris Claussen was assigned to cover an important event at Mt. Palomar. Returning from the observatory, Chris realized he had a deadline problem.

HE STOPPED at a newspaper office in Escondido or Oceanside or somewhere down there and asked if he could use a typewriter. He intended to write his story then phone it collect to his paper, the L.A. Daily News.

As he went to work the staff crowded around to watch. Here was the big-city reporter on display. One young reporter in particular watched intently.

After a few minutes Chris, now with Caltech's Jet Propulsion Lab, inquired softly, "Does it bother you to have me typing while you're watching over my shoulder?"

THEN THERE was Sunday morning, Dec. 7, 1941--the fateful day the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. it was also Darr Smith's first day on the job as assistant city editor.

1958_0131_movie_ads As first reports of the attack came through, Manging Editor Phil Garrison (now ME of the Antelope Valley Ledger-Gazette) phoned from home and asked Smith (now with an L.A. collection agency) if he thought the staff should be rounded up and brought in early.

"Oh, no," said Darr in one of the understatements of all time, "I don't see any local angle to it."

COUNCILMEN Ernest Debs and James Corman yesterday concluded their $1-a-pound wager to determine who could lose the most weight in a month.

Their weights were notarized and Debs, who took off 26 pounds (221 to 195), paid $1 to Corman, who lost 27 (191 to 164).

Any bids on this prime, lean beef?

AN INDIGNANT mother was just on the phone. Her daughter Vikki, 2, suffered a broken nose at play. In filling out a report for the insurance company ma ignored one item on the questionnaire. Now she has been advised she must do the whole thing over.

The question: "Was the patient pregnant at the time of the accident?"

Sometimes you wonder.

IN A PRESS conference yesterday Vice Adm. Harry D. Felt talked about the Navy Polaris missile and remarked that by 1960 its "initial operational capabilities" should be known.

Realizing he'd inadvertently slipped into official-ese, he shrugged, smiled and added, "Whatever that means."

The gobbledygook-conscious reporters thought it was very refreshing.

AN ELDERLY woman passenger got to chatting with a cabdriver, and when she confided she was a tourist here he asked if she were enjoying her visit and what places she'd seen.

"I'm saving my money for a rainy day," she said. After a moment she added, "I really mean it. I'm waiting for a muddy track at Santa Anita. I do my own handicapping and I pick the horses with the biggest feet. They always finish in the money in the mud."

The cabby renewed his resolve to keep his mouth shut.

MISCELLANY -- A man came into the California Bank at 625 S. Spring St. and asked Mary Ellen Miranda where he could find Bingham, Walter & Hurry Co., the investment firm in the same building. Only she'll swear he said, "Bring him water and hurry" ...

Modern medicine tells of a patient with a penchant for practical jokes who sent his doctor a collect telegram, "I am perfectly well." A few days later he received a heavy package with express charges due. Inside was a hunk of concrete and the message, "This is the weight your telegram lifted from my mind" ...

A woman got onto a Metro bus and complained she'd waited 15 minutes for it. The driver, reports Johnny Dvorak, replied, "Fifteen minutes? Heck I waited 54 days to drive this thing" ...

Bob Arbogast wonders if anyone has called the Dodgers office and asked for opening day tickets on the 50-yard line.