The Daily Mirror

Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history

Category: October 26, 2008 - November 1, 2008

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Nazis stop expulsion of Polish Jews, October 30, 1938



What's wrong with the movies these days? Hedda Hopper knows! Too much boy meets girl with too much sugar and too many contrived obstacles standing between the young couple and happiness.

Saying grace at the table used to be a novelty--now it's in every movie! Filmmakers have also disclosed too many secrets and audiences don't fall for special effects anymore!

In sports, Loyola and Centenary play a brutal game in Shreveport, La., in which Loyola takes 150 yards in penalties. Recall that there was bad blood between the teams over African American player Walt McCowen of Loyola.   

Westerns stay clear of censorship for foreign audiences.
1938_october_30_sports UCLA defeats Stanford Indians.

Changeling stories -- Part IV

Los Angeles Times file photo

Louisa Northcott, the mother of Gordon Northcott, isn't portrayed in "Changeling," but played a key role in the actual case. Above, she's booked in jail.
Los Angeles Times file photo

Louisa Northcott with one of her attorneys (she was represented by Norbert Savay, A.H. De Tremaudan and J. McKinley Cameron).
Los Angeles Times file photo

Deputy P.H. Peterson and his wife escort Louisa Northcott to San Quentin for her role in the killings.

Los Angeles Times file photo

Louisa Northcott, December 1928. She was paroled in 1940.

Frank Lloyd Wright home -- $2.7 million

Photograph by Scott Mayoral

The Fawcett residence, built for Randall and Harriet Fawcett.
Frank Lloyd Wright's 1959-1961 Fawcett residence in Los Banos, Calif., has been offered for $2.7 million. A memoir about the home is here. The realty agents' website is here.


New pope elected, October 29, 1958


Pope John 23rd, 1958-1963

Angelo Cardinal Roncalli, patriarch of Venice, is named Pope John 23rd. At 77, he defied expectations that he would be an interim figure before a younger man took over, according to The Times' Robert Hartmann.

On the jump, a brief history of those puffs of smoke associated with papal elections ... And we give the pope a picture page.

The Times publishes a front page editorial for Proposition 18 on organized labor, calling it "the essential article in labor's bill of rights."

In sports, police arrest athletes in an investigation of gambling at the University of Michigan.

Changeling stories -- Part III

Photograph by Tony Rivetti Jr. / Universal Pictures

Above, Colm Feore as Police Chief James Davis, "Changeling," set in 1928.
Los Angeles Times file photo

Above, Police Chief James Davis, 1926.
Northcott signs confession.
I don't care much for the press passes in the reporters' hats (at top), in fact they make me cringe, but costume designer Deborah Hopper did a nice job on Chief Davis' uniform, taking a small liberty to show a bit more of his tie.

At left, Gordon Northcott admits killing five boys, including Walter Collins. Northcott says he made Walter kneel at an improvised altar before killing him and kept his body around the house for several days. Northcott later told Christine Collins that he didn't kill her son.

Below, Northcott's mother is given a life term in the killings.

"I kept his body around the house for three days before I buried it."
"The old fool is crazy! There aren't
any bodies!"
"My boy never had anything to do with the murders.... It was all my fault."
"It is only because you are a woman that I do not sentence you to be hanged."

Vintage fashions on EBay -- Irene Lentz


I promised I wouldn't go off the deep end on vintage fashions, but I did post something about menswear and don't want to be biased. Here's an Irene Lentz number from the 1950s priced at $349


Colts win over Rams, October 28, 1968


1968_1028_sports I wondered if somewhere during my tour of the Rams' 1958 and '68 seasons I'd find the same name pop up in a story, 10 years later. What were the odds, given that length of time and two very different eras in the NFL?

Well, we have a winner: Earl Morrall. In 1958, he had a small part in the Detroit Lions' first game against the Rams. Ten years later, he was the star as the Baltimore Colts handed the '68 Rams their first loss of the season, 27-10.

Player of the game: Morrall was playing for a sore-armed legend, Johnny Unitas. He threw for two touchdowns and scored another as the Colts built a 20-3 halftime lead.

Quote of the game: "There were no tricks or any magic," Colts Coach Don Shula said in the game story by The Times' Mal Florence. "We just played a fine football game."

--Keith Thursby


Mayor investigates honorary LAPD badges, October 28, 1938



Above, Police Chief James Davis turns over a list of more than 7,800 people who have received honorary badges from the Los Angeles Police Department. Recipients include Shirley Temple, Clark Gable, Louis B. Mayer, Joe E. Brown, King Vidor, Bela Lugosi and Leo Carrillo.

So many old-style badges like one the at left and the one in the Daily Mirror sidebar were handed out that the department replaced them with the current design and these are tightly restricted.

The old badges (usually with the rank of captain or chief) can sell for a fair amount of money, even though thousands of them were given away.

Changeling stories -- Part II


The "Enigma Boy" who fooled police into believing that he was Walter Collins is identified as Arthur Hutchins Jr. of Iowa. Read Part I of The Times reports on the story that formed the basis of "Changeling."

Enigma Boy identified.
Enigma Boy lured by Hollywood.
Christine Collins accuses Capt. J.J. Jones of forced hospitalization.
"Tell your mother how you have almost made a wreck of the Police Department."

Neutra house -- $12.975 million

Photograph by Scott Mayoral

The 1946 Kaufmann house in Palm Springs.
October 26, 2008

By Diane Wedner

Richard Neutra, a pillar of 20th century Modernism, is known for his sleek, glass-sheathed designs that take advantage, to beautiful effect, of the surrounding natural landscape.

The Kaufmann house in Palm Springs, commissioned by Pittsburgh department store magnate Edgar J. Kaufmann, was built in 1946 and is considered one of the Viennese-born architect's greatest works. Its sleek form, sliding panels and glass-and-stone aesthetic helped shape the postwar Modernism movement.

Read more >>>


Voices -- Tony Hillerman, 1925 - 2008

On the Case With the Navajo Tribal Police

A THIEF OF TIME by Tony Hillerman

Photograph by Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times
Mystery writer Tony Hillerman poses at the foot of Sandia Mountain near his home in Alburquerque, NM, in 2003.
3 July 1988

By Charles Champlin

Tony Hillerman's mysteries featuring Lt. Joe Leaphorn and Officer Jim Chee of the Navajo Tribal Police are unique in American crime fiction.

They combine a deep and sympathetic knowledge of ancient Navajo beliefs, a poet's power to evoke the peculiar austere beauty of the Navajo country and a wire service reporter's sad awareness of the greeds, hates and schemings of the modern world.

In Hillerman's beautifully constructed plots, the ancient beliefs sometimes seem to have a bearing on present dastardly events, and they certainly color the thought processes of his policemen. But in the end, the crimes are very much from time present, as real and ugly as corpses and never falling back on the mystical to explain the inexplicable.

"A Thief of Time" is Hillerman's ninth novel and the eighth of his Navajo mysteries. (His second novel, "The Fly on the Wall" in 1971, was a first-rate thriller about political corruption, drawing upon his days as a wire service bureau chief in two state capitals.)

A feisty young woman, an anthropologist digging near the ruined cliff-dwellings up Chinle Wash off the San Juan River, disappears. Joe Leaphorn, although still demoralized by the death of his young wife, takes up the search. It leads him into the world of the pot-stealers, the thieves of time who ransack burial sites and other traces of the Indian past for relics to sell to collectors. Leaphorn flies to New York to seek a clue from one such collector.

The trail leads him as well to a previous case and a bitter old man whose son Leaphorn identified as a multiple killer. The young man, a paranoid schizophrenic, is presumed drowned, but was he?

Crime series have a way of running down, the fleshings-out ever less able to conceal the bare bones formula. But Hillerman, it is admittedly a cliche to say, gets better all the while. "A Thief of Time" builds to a socko finish, with bow and arrow and helicopter metaphorically colliding among the tortured cliffs.

Compassion was central to Hillerman's point of view from his first novel, the first of the Navajo mysteries, "The Blessing Way," in 1970. But the feelings seem to run even deeper now: Leaphorn dealing with his private sorrow but dealing as well with a father's grief over a son lost to madness if not to death.

Hillerman was born and reared in Oklahoma and attended an Indian school for the first eight grades. As he has said, Native American beliefs run deep into his own life, and he has studied them ever since. After a series of newspaper and wire-service jobs in Oklahoma and Texas, he joined the Sante Fe New Mexican and was finally its executive editor when, in 1963, he went back to school, as journalism professor, assistant to the president and student, at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.

His Joe Leaphorn is an individual with claims to being an archetype-an American Indian trying to straddle the old ways and the new, caught in a kind of limbo between mystical tradition and later rationality, between symbolic feathers and walkie-talkies. The two worlds are joined, as Hillerman demonstrates in the books, by an enduring family feeling that transcends all else, including material possessions.

By now, Hillerman's sensitive handling of Indian ways and the Indian past, his summoning of the sights and sounds of the land and his understanding of the often uneasy and abrasive meeting of cultures have won him a place in American letters and not simply among crime writers.

But in less solemn terms, as a storytelling inventor of plots and generator of high suspense, he has no exact equal among the writers about crime either.

Like Elmore Leonard and other writers who worked for years to a small but steadily growing coterie of admirers before breaking out into wider attention, Hillerman now seems poised for the big acclaim. "A Thief of Time" begins with a 50,000 cloth print order-not Leonard country yet but impressive-heavy advertising and a 10-city tour for the author. It's time.

Tony Hillerman on the
Hopi-Navajo land dispute
Tony Hillerman on desperadoes
of the old West.

Cardinals vote on new pope; Lions win over Rams, October 27, 1958


1958_october_27_sports The Rams lost their rematch with the Detroit Lions, 41-24, who finally looked like a team that won the NFL title in 1957.

Players of the game: The Lions' defenders, or as The Times' Cal Whorton called them, "the pilfering Detroiters." Rams quarterback Bill Wade had six passes intercepted and rookie quarterback Frank Ryan added another in the game's closing minutes.

Paragraph of the game: "The crowd did an unusual thing when the Rams were unable to work up a head of offensive steam. They started booing." Really, booing the home team was unusual in 1958 Los Angeles?

--Keith Thursby


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