The Daily Mirror

Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history

Category: June 15, 2008 - June 21, 2008

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Found on EBay


Why if it isn't another another envelope sent to our old friend Prof. A. Victor "How to Have Beautiful Hair,"  "How to Be Happy Though Married" Segno. Alas, the money that was in this envelope was spent long ago. The envelope is being sold on EBay.   Hey wait! This envelope was already offered for sale in January!


An artist's conception of Prof. A. Victor Segno transmitting a "success wave."

June 21, 1938





Dropcap_o_1934 ne thing you have to say about Los Angeles Mayor Frank Shaw: He has a sense of humor.

Upon returning from Washington, where he spent the final days of the Earle Kynette trial, Shaw was given a list of written questions.

He was asked for "any comment he cared to make on the conviction of Acting Police Capt. Earle Kynette and Lt. Roy Allen; his position in reference to a resolution by Councilman Hyde asking the mayor, the chief of police and the Police Commission to resign; whether he intended to ask for a reorganization of the Police Department, particularly as to the intelligence squad; an investigation of the squad; will his brother, Joe Shaw, remain with the administration; the $90,000 secret service fund; Dist. Atty Fitts' announcement that he is going after the 'higher-ups' in the Raymond bombing case; and other items."

Shaw said, in part: "Out of 18,000 city employees, three have been charged with crime and two of them have been found guilty. As a public official, sworn to uphold the Constitution of the United States and the charter of the city of Los Angeles, I was required to regard these men with the same presumption of innocence as the law grants to every other citizen....

"Councilman Hyde's resolution calling for resignation of myself, the police commissioners and Chief Davis was clearly the gesture of a candidate for office who must use sensational means to get his name before the voters. The City Council refused to take it seriously. Upon the face of it, it is ridiculous."

Note: On Sept. 16, 1938, it won't be so funny.

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June 21, 1908



Dropcap_r_1922 epublican William Taft gets the news that he has been nominated as the party's presidential candidate. This sequence of photos must have seemed revolutionary for 1908. (And yes, this photo reminds me of one of my all-time favorite headlines: "Says Bad Words Into Phone"). 

Also note the story about fighting in Mexico between Yaqui Indians and U.S. and Mexican troops. Read about Yaqui Easter ceremonies here.

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June 21, 1908






Dropcap_i_vadis_3 nteresting things from The Times Real Estate Section: The changing face of downtown Los Angeles (shout-out to my pals at and a proposed luxury hotel for Hollywood that I don't believe was built.

This postcard at left gives a better view of the observation tower and Angels Flight shown above in the 1908 photo of Bunker Hill. The building just to the left of the tower is the Crocker Mansion, which was demolished in 1908.

As for the hotel, it was the brainchild of Albert H. Beach, a promoter and developer who also had the notion of building a huge cotton mill in Los Angeles in 1909.  According to his 1936 obituary, Beach, 74, was a Canadian who came to Los Angeles in 1881 and was a playwright before he became a real estate developer. Hollywood's Beachwood Park was one of the 150 subdivisions he handled, The Times said.

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Scientist disappears


Albert_clark_reed_1954_0707_crop Dropcap_a_1952_vadis_2lbert and Alfred... Before and after... Lost and found... Found but still missing ... still haunted by something and still walking in a dream. 

I pulled the photos of Albert and Alfred from their old-fashioned paper envelope, slightly tattered and crumbling--the kind The Times used before the library switched to manila folders.

Albert is just another middle-aged man in a coat and tie. He's losing his hair and has a thin mustache, with a pleasant half-smile that looks like he was being coached by some portrait photographer. Albert Clark Reed, 45, looks like any other husband and father from the 1950s. His wife called him a "cool, levelheaded scientist and test pilot."

He graduated from Caltech in 1929 and returned for more studies in 1932. During World War II, he was a flier and worked on classified military projects, The Times says. After the war, he and his wife, Florence, lived in Seattle, where he tested and designed aircraft for Boeing. The Times says he was a consultant and test pilot on the Stratocruiser, a problematic aircraft with a troubling record, like the Romance of the Skies, which crashed at sea in November 1957.

1957_1110_plane Albert and Florence moved from Seattle to Pasadena in 1944 and bought a home near the Rose Bowl at 475 Bellmore Way. A few years later, they had a son, Timothy James. There were some arguments, but apparently nothing serious. And maybe some money problems.

"He loved to bet the horses," Florence said after he disappeared. "Bet them heavily. Even owned two horses once. I don't know. He may have been having financial troubles. He never mentioned finances to me. I know he made a good deal of money. As much as $3,000 ($23,706.89 USD 2007) or more a month. But he never discussed such things with me."

On Monday, July 7, 1952, Albert got in his 1941 sedan with his briefcase and bag of clothing and headed for Caltech. He was preparing to meet with military officials in Washington about some classified matter; it's not clear what it was. He had recently finished work on Project Vista, a controversial program stemming from the Korean War that also evaluated how existing technology--including nuclear weapons on the battlefield--could be used by NATO countries to repel an attack by superior forces of the Soviet Union. (More about Project Vista here).

But he never arrived on campus. 

The years passed. Years of waiting and wondering and investigation by police and the FBI. Years of crackpot calls and false hopes. Until the day she died in 1955, Florence never gave up hope that Albert would return. "I want Al to know that if it's a matter of pride, if he's ashamed to come back, if ... well, no matter what he's done, I want him to know we want him back. No matter what he's done."

Florence couldn't keep up the house payments and without proof that Albert was dead, she couldn't claim any money on his large insurance policies, so she let them lapse. She and Timmy moved to South Pasadena and she got a job selling welding rods and did public relations for a manufacturer until she had a nervous breakdown. The disappearance was especially hard on their son, who had a heart ailment, The Times said. When his mother died, Timmy went to live with relatives back East and took their family name.

Police turned up a few leads: Albert sold his 1941 sedan to a Pasadena car dealer for $100. He sent Florence his driver's license and a handwritten will in an envelope postmarked San Bernardino leaving all his possessions to her with instructions that Timmy was to get everything in the event of her death. The day after he vanished, a woman called Florence and said, "Your husband is being held for information" and added "the plans are in the den." 

In 1955, an acquaintance ran into Albert in San Gabriel and they had a few drinks. Albert said he was going to go home and clear up his family affairs. But he never did.

Albert_clark_reed_1958__0619_crop Photograph by Larry Sharkey / Los Angeles Times

Albert Clark Reed, photographed at his mother's Glendale home in 1958.

Dropcap_a_1952_vadis_2nd here's where we meet Alfred Cole Reese in 1958. He's lanky and muscular; tough and wiry and completely bald. He's wearing jeans and a heavy denim work shirt with sleeves rolled up, exposing muscular arms. Alfred looks like a hardened endurance runner. His face is lean and his eyes are tired and sad, The Times said. 

Alfred could fill in some of the missing pages of his life--what he did after he disappeared--but he couldn't explain why.

After selling the car that morning, he took a bus to Phoenix, where he got a job through the Teamsters moving freight. Eventually, he wound up working with horses and became a racetrack groom, migrating from Del Mar to Santa Anita to Hollywood Park, wherever there was a job.

Horses, he said, are "wonderful, intelligent, sensible creatures. I enjoy working with them."

No one suspected he had ever been a leading scientist, The Times said. In fact, nobody around the racetracks ever showed much interest in what he had done with his life. All they knew is that Alfred had a good way with horses. "One of the best grooms I ever had," his employer told The Times. If it hadn't been for a new law that racetrack employees had to be fingerprinted, Alfred's earlier life might have remained a secret forever. 

In looking at Albert's story, some people saw a rebel courageously abandoning the 1950s rat race run by the men in the gray flannel suits.

A Times op-ed piece by Al Thrasher said: "Albert gave all the normal indications of being perfectly willing to follow the accepted pattern of behavior--hit the ball hard; make as much money as possible; climb as far and as fast as possible and try not to step too hard on the faces of others as you mount; join the right organization and whoop it up for progress and conformity; keep your affairs in order; make a will and be ready to lean quietly forward over your desk and expire from either a heart attack or a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 52.

"But one day Albert Clark Reed looked around him and said: 'Nuts.' "

A reader replied:

"Any major change we make in life, especially a drastic one, takes courage... but to abandon one's family, to run away from any responsibility or obligation can hardly be classed or praised as wise and courageous."

The only man who could actually explain his behavior was at a total loss for why he vanished.

Albert_clark_reed_1959_0707"Time and time again, he closed his eyes for long seconds after a question, his facial muscles working, his tired mind focusing futilely on blurred pictures," The Times said.

"And time and time again, he answered softly:

" 'I can't recall ...

" 'I don't know ...

" 'I'm so confused.' "

At first, Albert said he intended to keep on working with horses. He had a warm reunion with Timmy, but decided that his son was better off with relatives.

By 1959, with some refresher classes at UCLA, Albert was once again in the aerospace industry, at Del Mar Engineering Laboratories, which made weapons training systems for interceptor pilots. He was living with a family in Brentwood and had bought a horse. "It seemed to me that maybe I could contribute something to our national security," he said.

He still couldn't provide an answer to the eternal question of why he vanished.

An anonymous reporter asked whether he thought he might someday return to the stables.

"You can never tell," he said.

And with that, Albert disappeared from the pages of The Times.

Postcript: After Florence died, an attorney handling her estate discovered that she had a secret life as well. Using the name Florence Green, she had hidden $17,500 ($133,571.50 USD 2007) in cash and jewelry in five Pasadena banks.

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Dodgers show patience

June 20, 1958

By Keith Thursby
Times staff writer

1958_0620_dodgers Dropcap_s_1941 ometimes it's best to do nothing.

Baseball teams fire managers all the time but Dodger owner Walter O'Malley publicly defended his manager, Walter Alston, despite the team's last-place standing. "We can't blame Alston for what has happened," O'Malley told the Associated Press in a story carried by The Times. "The move to the coast, the makeshift ballpark, the uncertainty of the [Chavez Ravine] election, these things created an emotional turmoil that affected everybody."

The story was datelined Brooklyn because O'Malley was in town for business and a checkup, according to previous stories in The Times. Must have been strange to be talking baseball in the town that a year ago was the Dodgers' home.

O'Malley's patience with Alston certainly paid off. Alston led the Dodgers back to the World Series in 1959 and he won two more titles in 1963 and '65. The Dodgers won seven National League titles during Alston's years.

"If I could purchase a policy of insurance for the next 10 years that would guarantee us we'd be within 8 1/2 games of first place by July 4, I'd buy that policy," O'Malley said. "And I'd be willing to wager that we'd win more pennants than we'd lose."

June 20, 1938


609 E. 2nd St. in 1938, above, and the neighborhood via Google street view, below.

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At left, thugs vandalizing Jewish businesses in Berlin observe a day of rest.

Above, D.W. Griffith's "Birth of a Nation" at the Criterion, 7th and Grand. Yes, that's a Klansman, for those who have never seen the movie.

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June 20, 1908

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June 19, 1938


Dropcap_g_1935 ermany begins the systematic roundup of Jews on the pretext of putting them in "protective custody" or claiming that they are foreigners "without proper papers."

"At Buchenwald Concentration Camp, near Weimar, it was reported that 65 army buses were arriving nightly from Berlin, filled with Jews," The Times says. "Other centers sent smaller contingents."

... In the case of two youngsters who are Jehovah's Witnesses, a federal judge rules that it is unconstitutional to force students to salute the American flag if that violates their religious beliefs.

On the jump, a brief follow on the conviction of Earle Kynette in the Harry Raymond bombing ... The American Medical Assn. is divided over a campaign to treat the needy. Dr. Hugh Cabot is calling for the government to pay for preventive medicine, healthcare for the poor and scientific research for the good of the people as a whole, The Times says. The AMA concedes the need to treat the poor, but balks at anything that resembles socialized medicine, The Times says ... A woman says she left her 10-week-old baby in a cafe because she wanted to go to a dance. She says she has three other children, two of whom have been adopted while the other is being cared for by a friend.

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June 19, 1908



Dropcap_n_1932 o surprise as to the Republican presidential nominee: William H. Taft. But selecting a running mate is far more difficult. According to The Times, Taft was going to leave the selection up to the GOP delegates rather than choose one himself.

There's lots below for the 1908 political junkie:
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June 18, 1958



Dropcap_t_1927 wenty years after Ed Ainsworth's series on Los Angeles' congested streets, The Times takes another look at traffic. I (almost) never grow tired of saying that the incredible number of transportation studies performed in Los Angeles would fill a library.

Above, Ozzie Virgil makes his debut with the Tigers. He was traded to the Kansas City Athletics in 1961, and after coaching under Clyde King in Phoenix, joined manager King at the San Francisco Giants in 1968.

Below, Superior Court Judge Stanley Mosk calls for the creation of a crime commission ... Times Education Editor Dick Turpin joins a contingent of Stanford students to establish a campus in Germany. The Stanford in Germany program will continue until 1976 ... Actor Eddie Albert and his wife, Margo, greet 4-year-old Maria, whom they have adopted from Spain ... Rhonda Fleming and Dr. Lewis Morrill are splitsville ...

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June 18, 1938


Dropcap_f_1928_2 irst, we have tragic news from Berlin: Panicked Jews wander the streets in hopes of avoiding mass arrests in which entire families are hauled away in the middle of the night.

"...officials explained that the anti-Jewish activities were necessary because 'the Jews' behavior lately has become provocative, resulting in growing indignation among the population,' " The Times says.

The Times leads with a story about repercussions of Earle Kynette's conviction in the Harry Raymond bombing. The most significant story is on the jump: Councilman Hyde introduces a resolution calling for the resignations of Mayor Frank Shaw, Police Chief James Davis and the entire Police Commission. The resolution was sent to a committee, where it was expected to lie dormant. But by the end of the year, a recall election will have changed the landscape.

Also note Betty Rowland, the "Ball of Fire," at the Follies.


Dropcap_t_1928 he Times concludes its series on traffic in Los Angeles with a call to action: "Are the beaches and the sea to be separated by impenetrable masses of congested cars? Is mankind to stagnate in Southern California, fettered by its own lethargy when a means of release is offered? Those are the questions that must be answered either willingly or unwillingly. They cannot be escaped."

"...The monster of Frankenstein--the motorcar which has wrestled free from its master--must be made a willing and useful slave again!"

To emphasize his point, Ainsworth cites some figures from the Auto Club: Going from 1st to 10th on Broadway took 14 minutes, 12 seconds by auto and 12 minutes, 2 seconds by streetcar. The Auto Club re-created a horse and buggy trip that took 10 minutes, 21 seconds.

Ainsworth also talks about funding the freeways, a subject that I will leave to interested readers.

And yes, the contrast between the Holocaust in Germany and Southern Californians worrying about traffic is pretty stark, isn't it?

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