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May 29, 1908

May 29, 2008 |  6:43 am

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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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