The Daily Mirror

Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history

Category: January 6, 2008 - January 12, 2008

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Jan. 9, 1908

Daniel Meskil is convicted of fatally shooting Officer Patrick Lyons, the second LAPD officer ever killed in the line of duty. Notice that The Times used an illustration for breaking news instead of a photograph... Searching for moonstones on Redondo Beach... And a free concert of new Victor records (cost: $7.30-$104.33 USD 2006).

 

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Matt Weinstock

Matt_weinstockd Jan. 8, 1958


Monday at 6:30 a.m., as Marvin Hanks of East L.A. walked from his home to his garage to drive to work, he observed that the full moon in the western sky was green--grass green.

"What goes on here?" he asked himself. Later in the day, he referred his wonderment here.

What you saw, Marv, was a celestial phenomenon known as a green flash. It's unusual but not rare and has long been the subject of study.

As Ray Holmes, APCD senior meteorologist, explained it, the light rays from the moon bend as they pass through different atmospheric densities, creating a rainbow effect that can change from pale yellow or orange to blue. The green is more easily seen that the others.

1958_0109_moviesConditions must be exactly right for the green moon. The light must be very bright and the air must be unusually clear. We had both Monday.

See what can happen when the air clears?

THERE'S SUCH a thing as a person being too conscientious, Jim Bloodworth, the writer, will tell you.

As a filip to his proposed visit to his home town, Memphis, over the Christmas holiday, he decided to give a party for his family and friends there. He wired a hotel to reserve a room and addressed Christmas card invitation to 50 persons.

Then he decided against it, canceled the hotel reservation and discarded the invitations.

On his arrival in Memphis, however, a friend congratulated him on his wonderful idea of giving the party. Baffled but in there fighting, Jim hastily called the hotel and retained the room. The party was a great success--$500 worth.

On his return here the mystery cleared. His houseboy said, "I was sure glad to do you that favor. You know, you accidentally brushed all those invitations into the wastebasket before you left. I bought stamps with my own money and mailed them."

BELVEDERE, out in enchilada country, is bursting with pride over the appointment of a local boy, Carlos Mendoza Teran, 41, as a municipal judge.

As a boy, Teran shined shoes and sold papers at 1st and Rowan and attended Belvedere Junior High. Later, he went to Garfield High, where he played end on the football team although weighing only 145, and UCLA, where he was middleweight boxing champion. Incidentally, he almost became a professional boxer.

One sad note dimmed his appointment. His mother died two months ago. He would have liked her to have been present when he was sworn in Monday.

TWO CIVIC CENTER habitues were discussing juries and the suspicion that sometimes they hold off announcing their verdicts in order to get an extra free meal. One observed, "Most of the juries I've seen look like they could use a good meal--especially after the ear pounding they take from those attorneys."

Sustained.

AT RANDOM--While in Tokyo with Bob Hope's troupe, reporter Frank Laro headed into a cafe but was stopped at the door by a polite Japanese who said, "Orientals only." Gave Frank an odd feeling... Ray Southworth nominates for oblivion the politicians' phrase "At first blush." Ray doubts that second blushes are much less embarrassing these days... Speaking of blushing, This Week magazine for next Sunday -- printed in advance--will have an article titled "The First Man Into Space" by Don Dwiggins of this paper. It's about A. Scott Crossfield, North American test pilot who will fly the secret X-15 a hoped-for 140 miles into space. Don wrote it last May... While on that subject, Alberto Diaz overheard a paisano remark, "That vodka really gets you high'... A group of Hollywood writers have tape-recorded a mythical telephone conversation between Mickey Cohen and Chief Parker, very ribald and full of double entendres.


       

Cold War

 

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Nov. 7, 1952

Operation Skywatch was launched July 14, 1952, and used thousands of ground-based civilian observers who volunteered to search the skies around the clock for unidentified aircraft that were undetected by U.S. radar.

According to The Times, the active phase of the program ended Jan. 1, 1958, when observation posts were transferred to the North American Air Defense Command in Colorado Springs.

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Paul Coates

Jan. 8, 1958

Paul_coates There are businessmen in this town whose professed interest in humanity I question.

Among them is the owner of a local tire agency who advertised in an East Los Angeles paper this week:

"If you are riding on smooth tires, you're only fooling yourself. It's bad enough to risk your own life, but how about the lives of your loved ones?"

And then followed his dramatic appeal to the readers' consciences with:

"Planning to buy a new car?

"If so, let's trade tires. Let us put tires on your old car not quite as good as yours and pay you the difference. It's money found."

And if you survive the trip to your favorite new car agency, let the sucker who gets stuck with your smooth-tired automobile risk the lives of his loved ones instead, I presume.

ALSO ON MY DESK is a handbill showing the recent double-horror attraction for a South Side theater.

It advertises:

"FREE CANDY to all boys and girls attending the show."

And it ballyhoos the "monster" in one of the pictures as

"A teenage titan of terror on a LUSTFUL BINGE that paralyzed a town with fear."

There are psychiatrists who see no damage in permitting kids to attend occasional horror shows.

But I question, sincerely, whether boys and girls lured into a theater by a promise of free candy are going to benefit from viewing a "lustful binge."

It's a pretty sad choice of words. And it took a pretty sad example of an adult to combine them with free candy.

1958_0202_roy_dale_2 TWO DAYS AGO, I reported the frustration of a chemical engineer in Glendora who tried to fulfill his civic obligation by reporting an unidentified flying object.

He tried to contact both Civil Defense and Operation Skywatch offices.

He placed half a dozen phone calls to CD units, to military installations, to Skywatch stations.

His reward was either no answer or no interest. Plus some derision.

He told telephone operators and police of his plight, but they were at a loss as to who else he might try.

So maybe it's a good idea to write down this phone number: SY camore 5-7235.

It's the number of the Pasadena Air Defense Filter Center.

According to Capt. Gordon L. Brock, the center operates 24 hours a day, covers Southern California plus parts of western Arizona and Central California and is prepared to investigate all unusual aerial activity.

He admits that, unfortunately, not many people know it exists.

LAST MONTH, I wrote about a 9-year-old girl from Granite City, Ill., who visited Hollywood with her parents to have a final wish fulfilled before she died.

The wish was to meet Roy Rogers. And a meeting was arranged.

At least, the little girl and her parents were told it was.

But some Hollywood press agentry at its worst fouled up the girl's hopes and left her standing on a street corner for an hour, waiting vainly for Roy to appear.

After the fiasco, it was pretty well determined that Roy never knew of the proposed meeting.

Yesterday, there came a postscript to the story in a note from the girl's mother:

"I would like very much for you to publish our thanks to Girl Scout Troop 156 for the individual greetings they sent her for Christmas. They gave her a tremendous thrill.

"Also, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans made several calls and sent her a lovely gift box for Christmas. Of all her gifts, the one she was happiest with was the costume which they sent her.

"Donna was released from the hospital recently after a third operation on her brain tumor.

"Four doctors had told us that the operation was impossible but somehow God decided to change that. Now, they tell us she will be blind but, thank God, she will live.

"We shall never forget the kindness shown us by everyone."


       

Century City

 

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Jan. 8, 1958
Los Angeles

Here's a wonderful project to put under someone's microscope: 20th Century Fox decides to cash in 176 acres next to Beverly Hills for a massive development of office towers, apartments, an auditorium and a hotel.

Century City offers a microcosm of what was occurring in Los Angeles: Movie studios pressured financially by the intrusion of television, the rising value of open parcels of land and the demise of the city's height ordinance, which stipulated that no building could be taller than City Hall. And cars. Note the reference to 133 acres of parking for 28,979 cars.

Also note the last few paragraphs, which say that Universal Studios was reportedly weighing a real estate firm's  offer for its 448 acres in University City. I suppose we'll hear more about this later.

Alas, there are so many stories and only one Larry Harnisch, so it is beyond the scope of the Daily Mirror to give the Century City project the attention it deserves, but I will try to post updates as they occur.

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Darrall Imhoff

Here's the Laker in our mystery photo: Darrall Imhoff.

 

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Photograph by Ben Olender / Los Angeles Times

The Lakers over the Celtics 123-115, April 26, 1966, tying the playoffs 3-3.  The Celtics, playing in Boston, won the seventh game 95-93, taking their eighth consecutive NBA championship. Several people have asked me the name of the Celtic player to the right. He's not identified on the back of the photo. Feel free to guess.

Update: The Celtics in question have been identified as Larry Siegfried, John Havlicek, center of photo, and Satch Sanders, No. 16 (which Mike Ryerson  notes looks like a 15 because the angle and wrinkles in the jersey).

 

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Los Angeles Times file photo

 

All-American Darrall Imhoff in 1958 with the Golden Bears.


 

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Photograph by Ben Olender / Los Angeles Times

 

Imhoff and Jerry West as the Lakers beat the St. Louis Hawks 109-105, in a photo published Nov. 28, 1967.

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Jan. 8, 1958

Here's a relic of headline writing: "H'wood."

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Jan. 8, 1908

Oil at 40 cents a barrel ($8.36 USD 2006), overcrowded jails,  a road from the San Gabriel Valley to Long Beach (the stirrings of a freeway, perhaps?), a near-lynching and a lady of the stage who had led a colorful life. A gritty portrait of life in Los Angeles a century ago.

 

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Man kills son

 

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Jan. 7, 1958
Los Angeles

1958_0107_eula "Dear mother," the note from 9-year-old Jimmy began.

They weren't his words, of course. They were dictated by his father, David James Darr, a 34-year-old machinist who was apparently holding a .45 to his son's head.

Jimmy told his mother that he hated visiting his father; the boy was terrified of him. But the judge ruled that as part of the divorce and child custody agreement, Jimmy had to go, so he did.

"Once, before he went, Jimmy told me: "Mommy, if I call you up and tell you something, don't believe it because he makes me do it," Eula, 28, told The Times. "I told him, 'I know, darling, I know.' "

David and Eula had been married in Yuma, Ariz., in 1947, but 10 years later, whatever love there might have been had turned into a nightmare of hatred and legal battles that led to a February 1957 divorce.

According to The Times, David threw battery acid into the car of a man who testified on Eula's behalf in the divorce. He put sugar in the gas tank of another friend's car, broke into Eula's home and slashed the furniture, splashed her house with red paint and put rock salt on the lawn to kill it.

Then there was the court fight over Jimmy. Eula petitioned the court to have alternate visitation rights canceled because David kept threatening to kill her and their son. One time, he sent Jimmy back home to Colton, where Eula worked in a drugstore, carrying a bullet for his mother.

On Jan. 4, 1958, a Saturday, David called and threatened to kill Jimmy and himself unless Eula came to see him. "Then he called yesterday and said it was too late, that he was going to do it," she said of his last phone call, which came on Sunday.

She called the deputies at the sheriff's Norwalk station and asked them to check at David's apartment, 12616 Lambert Road, where David lived with a teenage son from a previous marriage. But deputies couldn't find Jimmy or David.

About 2:30 a.m., Jimmy finished his note and his father shot him in the head with the .45, then went into the bathroom and shot himself. A neighbor said she heard gunfire and moaning, but added: "I haven't got a telephone yet and I didn't know what to do."

David and Jimmy weren't discovered until the next morning, when Abner M. Fritz, a teacher who lived in an adjoining apartment, broke in after seeing a bullet hole in his bathroom wall and a .45 slug in the bathtub. He was joined by David's teenage son, who had spent the weekend with a relative.

Jimmy was lying between a bed and a wall while David was sprawled in the bathroom, The Times said. They both died a few hours later at General Hospital.

"I wish now that I had gone to him when he asked me to," Eula wept. "Then maybe he would have killed me instead of shooting Jimmy."

Although The Times never followed up on this story, California death records show that Eula Fae Chabot died March 3, 2000. She was 70.

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Main Street

Trolling EBay, I found this 1908 postcard showing the Jonathan Club when it was on the roof of what is now the Pacific Electric Lofts, 610 S. Main.

 

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Here's a detail shot from the former Jonathan Club, taken on the L.A. Conservancy's Main Street tour:

 

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Photograph by Larry Harnisch / Los Angeles Times

Ethnic humor

Jan. 7, 1958
Los Angeles

A model of ethnic sensitivity from The Times.

 

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Mystery photo

Who is missing from this picture?

 

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Photograph by Ben Olender / Los Angeles Times

Guess ONE name at a time, please.

  • Elgin Baylor? No.
  • Jerry West? No.
  • "Hot Rod" Hundley? Nope
  • Harold "Happy" Hairston? Nope.
  • Gail Goodrich? A good guess. (But no).
  • LeRoy Ellis? An excellent guess from Nathan Marsak--I would have never imagined my crime buddy is a Laker's fan. (But no). Happy Foot!
  • Ray Felix? Nope.
  • Dick Barnett? Good guess. (But no).
  • Darrall Imhoff? (My longtime colleague Keith Thursby, who explains: "You have to be of a certain vintage and a certain sports geekiness to immediately recognize Rudy LaRusso at the Sports Arena.") Absolutely. I'll post the complete photo tomorrow.

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