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Matt Weinstock, Aug. 8, 1959

August 8, 2009 |  4:00 pm

Aug. 8, 1959, Forever
Mushroom Trouble

Matt Weinstock For some unknown reason this has been a big year for Lapiota morgani, the poisonous plant resembling the mushroom, which grows on lawns and in shaded places. As a result, about a dozen persons, more than in preceding years, have been rushed to hospitals. However, there have been no fatalities.

The cases follow a pattern. Someone, usually a European who claims to know the difference, eats them or gives them to friends to eat. Result: a stomachache.

Lapiota morgani, the commonest variety, is only mildly toxic. In fact, some people are immune. A San Fernando Valley resident had some growing on his lawn and a visitor said, "How wonderful!" and took them home and ate them with a hamburger without being affected. When the householder ate some he took a fast ride to the receiving hospital. Fortunately, the more deadly species, the so-called "death angel," is rare here.

ONE OF THE STRANGEST recent cases concerned a woman who'd been reading about mushrooms and decided to try some. She came upon a nice batch being sampled by worms and reasoned that if the worms weren't affected she wouldn't be either. She was wrong.

Some mushroom fanciers use what they consider a foolproof test. They cook them with a silver spoon. If the spoon doesn't turn black they're supposedly okay. Don't bet on it, says Frank Listick, who handles food poisoning investigations for the City Health Department. He hopes the summer will come when everyone will eat only mushrooms purchased in markets, grown by experts.


Aug. 8, 1959, Figure Models THE REPORTERS on the astronaut beat foresee some rather frightening space problems ahead.

For instance, when the moon colonists get there Don Dwiggins wonders if they'll sing, "Shine on, shine on harvest earth, up in the sky?" And will their theme song be the "Earthlight Sonata?" And what about moon folks getting married? Will they go on honeyearths?

Man, we're way out there today.


The only difference twixt
    the Strip and Main Street
Are the clothes that you
    wear and the food that you eat.
    -- ED BOUMA


A SMALL private plane was speeding along the runway under full power for a take-off, reports a man who was aboard when a big transport coming in for a landing cut across its path, apparently due to a conflict in signals.

The pilot of the small plane hit the brakes, sending his passengers sprawling, although their seat belts were fastened. When the danger had passed and the little ship taxied back into position for another take-off, the pilot observed wryly, "Well, I guess that proves it's safer to fly than drive."


Aug. 8, 1959, Abby PAUL FIERRO, the debonair actor, was selected for the leading role in the Santa Barbara Fiesta play, "Ole! Jose Lobero's Dream" starting Thursday -- a departure from his usual portrayals of Indians and villains in movies and TV -- and he was asked, "Do you get the girl in the end, for a change, and stroll off into the sunset?"

"Naw," Paul said sadly, "I shoot myself."

It's true. The man he plays, Jose Lobero, California theatrical pioneer, died, bankrupt and disappointed, by his own hand in the 1890s.


FOOTNOTES -- This may tip off a Civic Center worker that he is being chumped by colleagues with an old gag. They've been surreptitiously adding gas to the tank of his Volkswagen, then scoffing when he boasts of his incredible mileage. He is now claiming 65 miles to the gallon. They're about to start siphoning it out so they can hear his moans . . . The Thunderbirds precision flying team from Nellis AF Base, were in town this week end. Guess where they stayed. Yep, at the Thunderbird Hotel near the airport . . . A Beverly Hills store which deals in fancy edibles has a pepper mill for sale -- $300 . . . Bob Arbogast's theme song for the San Fernando sanitarium: "I Love You, Olive View, All of You."