Men's clothing... women's shoes... Herbert Witherspoon sings... and the Friars Club holds a meeting...
Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history
Jan. 10, 1958
A reporter phoned the Bureau of Public Works seeking information on the collection of combustible rubbish. He wanted to know whether a refuse truck, when filled, hauled the load to the dump in Toyon Canyon or elsewhere, then returned to the point on its route where it had left off. Or whether another truck moved in and took up the trash load from there.
"Did you say 'dump?' " he was asked.
"Yes," he replied.
"We call them 'land reclamation projects,' " he was told solemnly.
Then there's the phrase that showed up on Dave Rees' business page in a story about the economic slump. Reluctance at the marketplace this semester is known as "consumer hesitancy."
Oh, yes, that truck full of trash deposits its load at its assigned land reclamation project, then returns to where it left off. Makes two trips a day.
ONLY IN L.A. -- Office workers returning from coffee breaks or lunch are finding a phone message on their desks (placed there by playful colleagues) from a Miss Annette, with a NO number.*
When they call back, a sultry-voiced maiden comes on the line and says, "Hi! Gee, it's nice to hear from you." She goes on to say she hasn't been doing much all day, just some modeling and if you like, she'll send you three poses. "And enclose a dollar," she concludes softly, "just to cover me."
The blow is the realization that Annette is a recording.
Alpheus C. Beane, a partner in the brokerage firm since 1941, is dropping from the lineup. He'll be replaced by Winthrop H. Smith. No, not Psmith, Smythe or Ithsmay--Smith.
As a test run, someone called the number to find out how the crisis was being handled now that the announcement has been made. The result is inconclusive. All the operator said was, "Merrill Lynch!"
Unless the situation improves, he plans to give more attention to Batten, Barton, Durstine & Osborne and Foot, Cone & Belding.
AS HE PAID his auto license renewal fee at his bank, Al Besset of Montebello remarked, "This is my mad money."
"You down to that?" asked the clerk.
"No," replied Al, "it just makes me mad to have to pay it--in addition to the car payment and the gas tax and the insurance and everything else!"
AN EXPECTANT mother named Barbara, a lady with a Machiavellian sense of humor, has been pondering a suitable bon mot for the big moment when her husband, a local M.D., comes in to see her and the baby for the first time. As of now, she plans to say, "Dr. Frankenstein, I presume."
AT RANDOM--Les Wagner overheard this exchange: "Where did winter go--my fruit trees are blooming." "It went to Florida." ... A maintenance supply company has an ad in Sales Executives Bulletin stating, "Please do not scare our salesmen with large orders. Kindly phone them in"... Anyone else struck with the coincidence of a TV station showing "Citizen Kane" the same week Marion Davies donates $1,500,000 to UCLA Medical Center for a children's wing?... A parent dragooned to a Hi-Y installation can't get over the impression created when the boys with flat haircuts bowed for the invocation. They looked like a bunch of Edsels coming down the street abreast.
* Attention young persons: This refers to the ancient practice of using two-letter prefixes with phone numbers.
Jan. 10, 1958
Davie Mack was going to surrender.
If it was true, it definitely was news. Because Davie, according to my sources, was a very wanted young man.
He was a young man whom police officers had been tailing for quite a while. And he was a young man whom these same officers suddenly couldn't find when they got something hot--something they felt was substantial--on him.
The big break for the police came Wednesday when Barbara Burns, 18-year-old daughter of the late comic Bob, was arrested for using narcotics. She had reportedly told officers that Mack had been supplying her.
My source said the surrender was set for 9 o'clock last night at the office of a prominent Hollywood attorney, Harrison Dunham.
I arrived there at a quarter of the hour.
The office was dark and locked. And I began to wonder. But I didn't wonder for long. Because after a few minutes, Dunham showed up. He unlocked the door and invited me in.
"Yes," he admitted, "it's true. I guess you'd like to stick around."
I said I would.
It was 10 minutes to 9 then, so we talked and waited.
I asked him who was coming down from LAPD.
"O'Grady and Santuzzi," he said. "I guess that's who it will be, anyway."
Then he leaned over his desk at me.
"Look," he said, "I don't know what you're planning to write, but this kid is a good kid. He has problems. I'm hoping the law will get him to a good hospital. He needs it bad."
"And his family," he continued. "They're fine people. Maybe you could keep them out of it. It won't help anything by dragging them into it."
The minute hand on Dunham's modernistic wall clock kept moving as we talked.
And at four minutes to 9 the phone rang.
Dunham aswered it, and when he recognized the voice, he shook his head.
"Yes," he said. "I'm here.
"But you've got to...
"It's better this way, David. You've got to trust me. We're going to do everything we can to see you get treatment. Good treatment. Fort Worth...
"Where are you, Davie?... Melrose and Western... Look, boy, you're six, seven minutes away... So get over here. They'll be here any minute now..."
As they attorney spoke, O'Grady and two other narcotics officers walked in.
"Just a minute, Davie, I've got another call..."
Dunham pressed the hold button on his phone. He greeted the officers and asked them to sit down. He explained to them that Davie was on the phone and would arrive in a few minutes.
Then he returned to his conversation with the suspect.
"Davie, you going to come right over? ...
"Davie, what do I have to tell you to make you trust me...
"Davie, there just isn't any other way."
Dunham hung up the phone.
One of the officers stood up and walked toward the attorney. "Look," he said, "if he doesn't give himself up we'll put out an all-points bulleting and..."
"Relax," interrupted another officer.
"Don't worry," said the attorney. "He's coming."
He did, too. About five minutes later.
He was a skinny kid with too much hair on top of his head. He wore horn-rimmed glasses. He didn't look happy but he didn't look sad, either. He studied the group for a minute. Then he walked over to the couch and sat between two of the officers.
The attorney spoke. "Davie, these men are here to..."
"I know," said Davie. "I know."
There was a hard, awkward silence.
Finally, one of the officers spoke. "Well, I guess we might as well go."
Dunham nodded. "You ready, David?"
Davie nodded. He stood up. "I"m ready," he answered.
Pausing only long enough to shake hands with the attorney, the three officers and Davie Mack filed out of the room.
Jan. 10, 1958
This is an old joke, but these are old pictures:
Question: Why don't the British manufacture typewriters?
Answer: They can't figure out how to make them leak oil.
A "widow" from the Azusa Street Revival evicts her husband and says the Lord will be a father to their children... (she's developed the "gift of tongues," which has "driven a score or more crazy in this city")... a dog that's the terror of Sonoratown... an angry patron at the Orpheum... and a spat with the Daughters of the Confederacy. Cut-rate railroad fares from Chicago to Los Angeles: $33 ($688.60 USD 2006).
Jan. 9, 1958
Passengers on a plane en route to Los Angeles from New York a few days ago were in a state of mild excitement over the presence of Lee J. Cobb, the distinguished actor.
Somewhere over the wide-open spaces the young stewardess approached Beatrice Bardacke, an administrator with the Fund for the Republic, and whispered, "See that old man over there in the corner?"
Beatrice looked in the direction indicated.
The stewardess continued, "I think he's a little hurt about all the fuss that's being made over Mr. Cobb. No one has even noticed him. I wonder if you'd go over and talk to him. Tell him you recognize him."
Then she added blankly, "His name's Mischa Elman."
EVERYONE HAS uttered or heard the familiar inquiry, "Where've you been?" And the familiar reply, "Oh, no place."
The reason Chet knows all this is that he had just received letters from Annobon and Fernando P'o. Curiously enough, the Annobon letter was from the city of California. They were responses by amateur cameramen, one on each island, to an article Chet wore for a Spanish trade publication seeking film strips on, of all things, the giant coconut crab.
If anyone anticipates a punch line here, stop dreaming--all this is from nowhere.
AS ANY WRITER will tell you, the New Yorker is probably the most difficult magazine to crack. But not for Richard M. Doyle of San Gabriel.
Last November, he read in the Machias Valley (Maine) News Observer that the Main Central Railroad had discontinued passenger service on its Bangor-Calais branch. As a boy he frequently took that ride.
Recalling E.B. White, essayist and humorist, frequently wrote about Maine, Doyle wrote a reminiscent letter about the old line.
White liked it and it's in this week's New Yorker. It was Doyle's first venture into writing of any kind.
REMEMBER the item here about the housewife who ran out of bread and borrowed some from her next-door neighbor, who wasn't at home, and left a note, "Mice"? Well someone, presumably the neighbor, borrowed some milk when she wasn't home the other day and left a note, "Meow."
SO YOU DON'T think the cops and robbers motif which dominates TV influences children?
Alan Litz, 7, of Montebello has discovered that a croquet mallet can be quite an equalizer in dealings with bigger boys. Apparently they've discovered it too. A neighbor, Bobby Perrenoud, 8, came to Alan's door and said to his mother, "I can stay until 5 o'clock--unless there's trouble."
MISCELLANY -- The Let's Have Better Mottoes Association selection for January is "Coming to work doesn't hurt--it's the long wait to go home"...
Tom Cracraft has figured out what's wrong with TV programs in "compatible color." They don't compat--at least not on his set...
"Where can I send my Christmas cards?" a reader asks. Don't know. The places I checked already have an oversupply. If any further word, I'll report it.
Cully of Culver City postcards: "If we got all the government we pay for we'd be in a heck of a fix"...
In the event you hadn't heard, Take Tea and See Week starts tomorrow...
Councilmen Ernest Debs and James Corman have a $1-a-pound bet on their postholiday reducing campaign. Thought the cottage cheese industry would be glad to know.
Well, that explains it.
Yes, I was trolling EBay again in my continual search for reasonably priced items from the Mason Operahouse. What should I find but a program from a 1917 benefit performance for the family of Maitland Davies, featuring our old friend Julian Eltinge. Plus Charlie Chaplin, Leo Carrillo, William S. Hart, Douglas Fairbanks Sr., and an audience that without exaggeration was an array of the era's stage and screen luminaries.
A little research reveals that Davies was a dramatic critic for one of The Times' competing papers. But having been a critic at one point in my career, it is difficult to imagine such an outpouring of goodwill for someone who reviewed the performing arts.
Aha! Further research reveals that before going to the dark side, Davies was a singer and actor of some renown, although given the sketchy resource material in the early online newspapers, it's difficult to tell whether he was particularly prominent.
Although he died in Los Angeles, he apparently wasn't worth an obituary in The Times, but Davies received a few lines in the New York Times, which noted that he died during an operation "at his home." His obituary in the Chicago Tribune says that Davies was a well-known singer before becoming a dramatic critic for the Los Angeles Evening Express and the Los Angeles Tribune. The Chicago paper also noted that Davies was the brother of the late Acton Davies, for many years the dramatic critic of the New York Sun.
Another EBay mystery solved.
This letter showed up on my desk last week. Note the postmark: August
2007. Apparently "Black Dahlia" and "Los Angeles Times" is almost all it takes to
get a letter to me--eventually--although I don't recommend it. For the record, Elizabeth Short wasn't even in Los Angeles in 1945.
(In case you're wondering: The blurry background is an old New Yorker cover I use to "outsmart" my HP scanner, which insists on cropping pictures for me and usually does a terrible job of guessing what I want. The little green seal shows that my mail was X-rayed and checked for anthrax, a precaution imposed at The Times since 9/11).