The Daily Mirror

Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history

Category: May 2008

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May 31, 1958

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At left, Marshal Dillon and Miss Kitty! But wait, there's roller derby: the San Francisco Bay Bombers vs. the Los Angeles Braves!

Talk about mind-rotting nostalgia: "Heckle and Jeckle," "Mighty Mouse" and "Howdy Doody."

And, hmm.... "Bowling Time" or "Topper"? Oh, I think I'll watch "Topper."

Tough choice at 8 p.m.: Gale Storm, Perry Como or Spade Cooley.

On second thought, I'll wait until 8:30 p.m. for "Have Gun, Will Travel."

Best of all: "Perry Mason."
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May 31, 1938

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1938_0531_roberts Floyd Roberts of Van Nuys, who gained much of his experience on the dirt track at Ascot, wins the Indianapolis 500.

Roberts averaged 117.2 mph in a four-cylinder car (at left) built and owned by Lou Moore and designed by Harry Miller, both of Los Angeles.

In Oakland, Earl Ortman of Los Angeles sets a record in closed-course speed flying, 265.539 mph.

James Bailey Cash Jr., 5, is kidnapped from his bed in Princeton, Fla. The FBI searches for clues in the abduction and killing of 12-year-old Peter Levine of New Rochelle, N.Y., as the boy's mutilated body is cremated. (Franklin Pierce McCall is convicted of killing the Cash child and executed in the electric chair. The Levine kidnapping was never solved.)

And rumors spread in Vienna as the Nazis round up hundreds -- perhaps thousands -- of Jews, according to incomplete reports.

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May 31, 1908

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Above and at left, the "white and many-pillared mansion of commerce" opens at Broadway and 8th in Los Angeles.

According to The Times, Hamburger's Department Store was the largest building on the West Coast and had California's first escalator.
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In 1923, Hamburger's was sold to the May Co., which renovated the building in 1924.

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May 30,1958

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At left, a quote from a 12-part series running in The Times. Howard Whitman is identified as a "noted writer and commentator." After filing stories from wartime London in 1944 and the D-day invasion, Whitman returned to such fare as "Smoldering Youth" (1946), "Sex Education Grows Up" (1948) and "What Makes Good Girls Bad?" (1949).

"Modern science for the most part views homosexuality as a personality disease, comparable to alcoholism or drug addiction"

-- Howard Whitman," from "Crisis in Morals"

After "Crisis in Morals," Whitman wrote "Our Drinking Habits" (1958), "Frontiers in Living" (1960) and "The U.S. Way of Love" (1964).

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May 30, 1908

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May 29, 1938


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Above, what Los Angeles was reading in 1938--and a shoutout to the Zombie Reading Program over at This Book Is for You.... "When there's no more room in closed stacks, the out-of-print will rise up and walk the earth."

At left, a curious and sensational murder case. Arrested in Chicago on charges of killing a white woman with a brick, an African American named Robert Nixon confesses to a series of similar killings in Los Angeles.

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Nixon (above, a typical headline from the Chicago Tribune) is eventually convicted and electrocuted while his alleged accomplice, Howard Green, is extradited to Los Angeles in the fatal beating of a 12-year-old Marguerite Worden while Nixon killed her mother, Edna.

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May 29, 1908


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May 28, 1908

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May 29, 1908

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We will have to trust the Los Angeles Times when it says Peje Storck was a famous pianist of his day. According to The Times, the pianist arrived in town in 1903 with English violinist Herbert Ritchie, who studied with violin virtuoso Eugene Ysaye. (The Times refers to Storck as Norweigian in some articles in and Swedish in others).

The duo performed many concerts in Los Angeles and received glowing reviews in The Times. "Mr. Storck's art is finished, his tone limpid, lucent, pure, his intellectual force unusual, his execution flawless and his mental attitude that of a poet and idealist," The Times said Nov. 21, 1903.

But we will have to trust the Los Angeles Police Department that Storck was gay--of course even as late as the 1940s, newspapers didn't dare use words like "homosexual."

Instead, The Times tiptoed around the matter, saying: "Storck was arrested in a small private room of the 4th Street depot of the Los Angeles-Pacific Railway Co. Seven other men were arrested at the same time, all charged with vagrancy. The real offense was that attributed to Oscar Wilde."

"... police received complaints ... that a number of well-dressed, well-appearing men were making themselves obnoxious at the 4th Street station. Officers Cline and Cook were sent to the station to watch. They arrested the men one at a time, whenever they could secure direct evidence and Storck was taken with several others."

Despite the intercession of many prominent individuals, Storck was sentenced to six months on the chain gang, where he was forced to work with "Negroes, cholos and tramps," The Times said.

After that, Storck vanishes from The Times. All we know is that in January 1909, state Sen. Estudillo of Riverside introduced a bill calling for a year in prison for the "unmentionable offenses" so that "degenerates of his class" would "not get off so easily in the future."

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May 28, 1958


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Above and at left. two World War I planes are parked with a Super Sabre to publicize a flight to Pittsburgh for an air show. Times aviation writer Marvin Miles noted that the planes had machine guns, Vickers on the Nieuport 28 and Spandaus on the Fokker D-VII ...

Also: A three-column picture of Charles Stack and his mother, Rosemarie Bowe, while his father Robert Stack is filming a movie in Spain ... A witness tells a state Senate panel that the Mexican border should be closed to those who don't have passports or visas to curb drug traffic.
"It is no coincidence that a flood of heroin started coming in when the Communists completed consolidation of the Orient," Robert A. Neeb Jr. says.

And the Biltmore Theater at 5th Street and Grand is sold after a 34-year run. The site, at left, was used for expansion of what is now the Millennium Biltmore Hotel. (Note: Google's street view gets horribly confused if you try to follow 5th Street from Spring to Grand in downtown Los Angeles).

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May 28, 1938


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Photograph by the Los Angeles Times

Police chemist Ray Pinker with the steering wheel from Harry Raymond's car, in a photo from the trial of Police Capt. Earle Kynette dated May 4, 1938.

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At left, here's where we see corruption spread through City Hall like cancer: Allegations that defense witnesses in the trial of Police Capt. Earle Kynette were given city jobs. Although one witness denies any such deal, it's interesting to see how many defense witnesses happened to have jobs with the Health Department.

With the jury excused, the judge asks the defense attorneys how much longer they need to present their case.

"It is very obvious that the jury paid little if any attention at all to the testimony that has been offered here this morning. I believe that they think we are wasting their time. I think it is wise to find out where we are going."

--Judge Thomas L. Ambrose


Also: Chief James Davis' rock garden is dedicated at the Police Academy ... downtown is wreathed with colorful banners for the Shriners' convention ... A witness in a lawsuit says he conferred with Joe Shaw, the mayor's brother, about a Mexican radio station but declines to reveal whether the station was going to broadcast gambling results.

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May 28, 1908


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Above and at left, I'm not sure which is more remarkable, the story about Kate Welsh, the sister of prizefighter Fred Welsh, or the byline: Louise M. George.

As late as the 1950s, reporters rarely got bylines, so it's impossible to tell who wrote a story, making it especially difficult to determine how many women writers were working in a newsroom in the early 20th century. The usual assumption is that they were rare and relegated to the women's pages.

But Louise M. George is not only remarkable for being a newswoman, even more noteworthy: she wrote about boxing. Not just this story, but a few others as well. Don't get me wrong, she also wrote a fair number of society stories, but she made occasional ventures into sports.

Here's a sample of her writing about Kate Welsh: "... the boxers (I believe that is the polite name) had on shockingly few clothes but every man straightened himself and forgot the coarse jest on the tip of his tongue when this slip of a girl drew near."

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May 27, 1938


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Photograph by the Los Angeles Times, dated April 13, 1938

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Above, the defendants and their attorneys in the Harry Raymond bombing ... At left, more angry exchanges between Deputy Dist. Atty. Eugene Williams and Police Capt. Earle Kynette ...

Also: The mayor of Santa Monica, accompanied by police, orders the gambling ship Rex to cease operations. The order also applies to water taxis ferrying people to the ship ... A furious brawl breaks out between strikers and police at the Goodyear plant in Akron, Ohio, injuring more than 100 people ...  And Congress begins the investigation of un-American activities after Rep. Martin Dies (D-Texas) reports on gatherings of Nazi sympathizers in the U.S. At one Nazi "camp," a speaker advocated the assassination of President Roosevelt, Dies says, without identifying the camp or the speaker.

On the jump, extensive quotes from Kynette's testimony under questioning by Williams.

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Mystery photo


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Los Angeles Times file photo

Well?

  • Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons? Alas no.
  • Margaret Dumont? Sorry, no.
  • Doris Kenyon and Theda Bara? (Alexa Foreman). Theda Bara yes! Very good. Doris Kenyon, alas no.

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