The Daily Mirror

Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history

Category: November 2009

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Found on EBay: the Great White Fleet

Our Fleet
A piece of sheet music commemorating the Great White Fleet has been listed on EBay. The fleet’s visit was one of the major events in Los Angeles in 1908. This sheet music was sold at Bullock’s. Bidding starts at $18.

Matt Weinstock, Nov. 30, 1959


Nov. 30, 1959, Abby

The Education Race

Matt Weinstock     Ever since the Russians launched their first Sputnik there has been a furor in American education.

    It has been charged that students graduate from high school without a knowledge of fundamentals necessary in today's society.

    It has also been stated that they are coddled and that schooling to most of them is little more than a pleasant social experience.  If we are to meet Russia on equal terms, the outcry goes, we must tighten up, particularly in math and science.

    Let us now pay attention to the mother of a child in a west side junior high school.

    The school has an extremely high IQ average.  As a result, this mother says, the courses have been geared to the talents of the "brains" -- the 15% who excel.  She says this is unfair, unkind and undemocratic.

Nov. 30, 1959, Gillman     "You would be surprised at the number of students at this school who are being tutored, just to make a C," she says.  "Of course, the parents of some students can't afford it.  Some tutors ask $5.50 an hour."

    She goes on:

    "One mother took her eighth-grade daughter to a physician because of the girl's nervous state caused by her inability to keep up with her studies.  Now the girl takes tranquilizers."

    The parents, by the way, don't blame the teachers, who frequently sympathize with the youngsters.  They blame "the system."


     IT'S IMPOSSIBLE to  keep up with the accounts of increased real estate values but Ralph Jester has a little beauty.  Ralph, who designed the costumes for Yul and Gina in "Solomon and Sheba," moved to Portuguese Bend in 1934.  Five years ago a parcel of land he knows about there was priced at $800 an acre.  It is now offered at $35,000 an acre.  No, he didn't snap up any of it.


The modern girl is not
With knights in shining
She likes to see her
    suitors dressed
In styles the avant
    garde wear.


    A FEW DAYS AGO a plaintive cry went out from here.  Emil Cuhel had photographed a pretty Eskimo gal -- well, anyway, a pretty gal in a parka -- for a Christmas card.  But no one, not even the people at the libraries, knew how to say "Merry Christmas" in Eskimo.  So the question was asked here.  After all, Alaska is now the 49th state and must assume its proper share of the Christmas madness.

Nov. 30, 1959, Sid Gillman    Well, Hedda Sherman saw the item and suggested that the Eskimos brought down from Alaska for the film "Ice Palace," which her husband Vincent is directing at Warner Brothers, might know.  Sure enough, Chester Seveck, 70, chief herder of the government's 5,500 reindeer near Pt. Hope, has come through.  Merry Christmas in Eskimo is "Chreeseema Ek Pin."


     THE WAY
Betsy Duncan tells it, a jet transport en route from New York to Los Angeles was somewhere over the Southwest when the pilot came on the intercom and said quietly, "Ladies and gentlemen, I think you should know that we have lost most of our power.  We're at 5,000 feet and we're losing 100 feet a second.  However, I have contacted Phoenix airport and a foam coating has been put on the runway.  Ambulances from as far as Tucson are on the way and fire engines all the way from Wickenburg.  I want to assure you that every precaution has been taken for your safety . . . This is a recording."


    AT RANDOM --
The movie and TV scene that irks Leonard Schulman is the one in which the hero, driving a car, unnecessarily twists and turns the steering wheel as if he were on a narrow, winding mountain road.

Paul Coates – Confidential File, Nov. 30, 1959

Nov. 24, 1959, Dickens

Nothing, but Nothing Is Sacred Any More

Paul Coates    It's every reporter's dream to lay aside his battered old felt hat, shred his press card into confetti, turn his World War II surplus trench coat over to the Salvation Army, take his smudgy copy pencils one by one and snap them into little pieces, and -- casting a defiant look at his city editor as he leaves -- go home, strip down to his waist, put on his imported silk smoking jacket, retreat up to the attic with his favorite pipe, wipe the dust off his lonely, long-idle portable, sit down, squeeze into his slippers, and knock out the great American novel.
(And if his novel includes one sentence like the above, he might just as well forget the whole thing.)

    Anyway, that's every reporter's dream -- but mine.
I could do it.  I'm perfectly capable.  I got plots and subplots and protagonists and themes bottled up inside me till they're coming out of my ears.

    But I won't do it.  And I have good reason.

    It used to be, before this age of scandal-mongering and expose, that a fellow could bat out a literary classic with reasonable assurance that when he died, he'd be remembered by future generations with some reverence.

    It used to be, I say.  But nothing is sacred any more.

Nov. 30, 1959, Cover     Look what they did to Shakespeare.

    Who knows how many hours he sweated over a line like this, "Alas, poor Yorick!  I knew him well."

    I don't know what it means, but it's obviously solid prose.

    Yet, since he's passed on, they've advanced the rumble that a ham named Bacon really wrote his material.

    Oscar Wilde is another example.  He was a literary genius, but you know what they did to his reputation.  They didn't come right out and say it.  But those little insinuations.  Those damnable little insinuations. 

    Then there's the great Irish playwright, Brendan Behan.  He isn't even dead yet and they're already calling him a drunk.

    That people blasphemed this trio of tremendous talents never really bothered me much.  In fact, I've been on the verge of believing the whisper campaigns against them.

    But last week, the character assassins went one step beyond credulity.

 Nov. 30, 1959, Crime   A London actor named Felix Aylmer published a book called "Dickens Incognito," in which he charged that Sir Charles attacked the morals of the Victorian age merely to cover up an affair he was having with a starlet named Ellen Ternan.

     According to an Associated Press dispatch of last Friday, Aylmer claims that Dickens and Ellen conducted their illicit trysts by sneaking off to Slough, which no decent couple would do.

    I mean, after all -- "Sneaking off to Slough!"  It's like sneaking off to Miami when the summer rates are in effect.

    And I'm personally offended at the charge.  It happens that my family, for generations, has been raised on Dickens' "A Christmas Carol."

    My grandmother read it to my mother.  My mother read it to me.  And I, every holiday season, take it off the shelf to instill the true spirit of Christmas in my own children.

    (To those of you who are a bit fuzzy on the book, its hero, Scrooge, a jolly merchant, teaches the rest of the shiftless townfolk the importance of thrift.)

Now Here's a Custom

    It's been my custom, each Christmas Eve, to sit in front of the hearth, with my children gathered around me, roasting betel nuts and reading Dickens.

    I've raised them to believe that Dickens was the champion of the Victorian underdog.

    Now, I don't know.  If they read Aylmer's book, they're likely to grow up with the gnawing doubt that is suddenly developing within me that Oliver Twist might not have been a pitiful, hungry, mistreated little tyke.

    He might have been a goldbrick who was just looking for sympathy and wasn't pitching in to do his share with the rest of the kids at the orphanage.

A Kinder, Simpler Time Dept.: Your Movie Columnist

Feb. 13, 1938, Hedda Hopper 

Feb. 13, 1938: Hedda Hopper starts writing for The Times.

Drug Addicts Blamed for Crime Wave

Nov. 30, 1919, Drug Addiction

"Ninety-nine percent of the present series of holdups, burglaries, armed robberies and other deeds of violence being committed nightly in this city and sometimes referred too as the 'crime wave' are the work of drug fiends seeking to get narcotics either directly or in order to secure money with which to buy them."

Nov. 30, 1919, Drug Addiction

"Few better examples of the drug fiend as criminal are known to the police than George Leaf, alias Alfred Nyland, who fired a bullet into his own brain after being wounded six times in a gunfight with police Detectives Parsons and Barnes and police Sgt. Cahill and patrolman Lane. The battle took place near 719 S. Olive Street on Sept. 28 of this year."

Nov. 30, 1919: Albert F. Nathan profiles Los Angeles drug addicts and their crimes. Nathan was a reporter who worked at The Times for 30 years, mainly on the police and court beats. A veteran of both world wars, Nathan died in 1945 at the age of 52.

April 5, 1945, Albert F. Nathan

April 5, 1945: The Times reports the death of Albert F. Nathan. In contrast to current newspapers, in which almost every story has a byline, they were quite rare in the first half of the 20th century and were reserved for the more distinguished writers, notably newswomen Alma Whitaker and Sydney Ford and movie critics Edwin Schallert and Philip K. Scheuer.

Nathan covered many famous crimes, including the William Desmond Taylor and Louise Peete cases, but has less than 50 bylines in The Times archives.

April 5, 1945, Albert F. Nathan 


New Symphony Uses Car Horn

Nov. 30, 1909, August Bungert 

Nov. 30, 1909: Perhaps you thought George Gershwin was the first composer to use car horns in a piece of music (“American in Paris”). But no. August Bungert uses an auto horn in his new symphonic work, “Zeppelin’s First Voyage”  or “Zeppelins grosse Fahrt.”   Evidently it was a programmatic work and at the end, the airship is destroyed by fire. How Wagnerian!

ps. Gustav Mahler will have something ready early next year.

The Plot to Kidnap Roosevelt

 Nov. 29, 1959, FDR Plot

Nov. 29, 1959, FDR Plot

Nov. 29, 1959: Cornelius Vanderbilt Jr. writes in “Man of the World” about a purported plot by wealthy industrialists to kidnap President Franklin Delano Roosevelt at the time he was reelected to a third term.

Here's a perfect premise for a period suspense film. "In the summer of 1940 ... With the world plunging into war ... The most popular president in history ... Breaking tradition by running for a third term ... Is about to be kidnapped by American businessmen... Only one thing can stop them ...."  The script practically writes itself.

Men in Blue Auto Sought in Attempted Kidnappings

Nov. 29, 1919, Briggs
“Somebody Is Always Taking the Joy Out of Life” by Clare Briggs.

Nov. 29, 1919, Abduction
Nov. 29, 1919: For the fourth time in a month, two men in a blue car have tried to kidnap Mrs. Blanche Fisher, 2343 Scarff St., while she was walking by herself. Police say men matching the description of the kidnappers have tried to abduct women nearly every day in some part of the city.

View Larger Map

Driving Lesson Ends in Crash With Trolley

Nov. 28, 1909, Accidents

View Larger Map
Wilhardt Street and Main, the general area of the first accident between a streetcar and an auto.

View Larger Map
Main and Alameda, the general area of the second accident – and only a block from Philippe!

Nov. 28, 1909: Fred Weber was showing his son Carl, 14, how to drive on their return from an outing to Pasadena when their auto collided with the Downey Avenue streetcar near Wilhardt Street and East Main Street.  (The Times says the accident occurred at Wilhardt and San Fernando, but I’m not able to locate that intersection on any of my maps). The seven people in the car were thrown to the street, and three of them were injured seriously, The Times said.

In another accident, an auto carrying four men hits the Eastlake car at Naud Junction (the general area across Alameda Street from Philippe). The driver was tossed through windshield, hit the streetcar and was thrown back into the auto, The Times says. 

Dave Trayler, an African American whom The Times called "the unluckiest Negro in Los Angeles, dies in a strange accident at 7th Street and Santa Fe Avenue. Trayler was driving a wagon loaded with dirt when it hit a "rough spot in the street." He was thrown to the ground and crushed by the wheels.

Matt Weinstock, Nov. 28, 1959

  Nov. 28, 1959, Steve Roper“Don’t Want Police”

Nature Study

Matt Weinstock

    More than two years ago a certain teen-ager trapped me into attending a school carnival.  She permitted me to buy her a hot dog, a soft drink, ice cream and cotton candy.  She induced me into playing some silly fishing-pole and hoop-throwing games of chance in an effort to win gimcracks I didn't want.  It was all for a good cause, the PTA.

    But this wasn't the real reason she'd lured me to the carnival.  She'd heard baby alligators would be on sale and for reasons which are obscure she wanted one.
Fortunately, by the time she steered me circuitously to the booth, the alligators had all been sold.  We settled for a two-inch salamander, which we took home in a water-filled polyethylene bag.

image    PROBABLY NOTHING in the world is as useless as a live salamander.  It just lies there on a water-covered rock in a bowl, meditating.  It also wriggles when touched or picked up.  This makes little girls scream.

    At first she fed it and changed the water regularly, but as months passed it became apparent she wasn't interested in the salamander's problems, which can be lumped into one big one -- survival.

    But Sal, a friendly if impassive little devil, thrived on starvation and neglect or at least refused to die.

    Now Sal has a new home.  I sneaked it into a fishpond where I'm sure life will be easier.  And I wish to point out that scientists who put mice and monkeys into space missiles may be missing a bet.  They should never underestimate the power of a salamander.  Come what may, it's my candidate to survive.


    THEME OF the new Cole swimsuit line, disclosed at a recent fashion showing, is Tahiti.   Reporting on the event, which featured Tahitian music, dancing and cocktails, Paige Thomas, who is a girl, says, "It was a great success-the sword dancers didn't decapitate a single editor!"


Did Francesca pay Paola
    Or was it the other way
There's little doubt that
        neither, though,
    Were by conventions
    --G.L. ERTZ


   A MARKET IN Monterey Park recently advertised a soap powder at a reduced price and the supply was quickly depleted.  But thwarted women shoppers saw a large stock of the stuff through the open doors of the storeroom and prevailed upon employees to replenish the supply.  Meanwhile, glaring fiercely,  the women poised their carts at vantage points to swoop in on the bargain.

    Reminded Ken Williams of what his folks had told him about the opening of the Cherokee Strip.

    He also recalled how he used to help stir a cauldron of boiling soap made from cracklings and lye.

    "There was the danger of getting burned," he said, "but not of getting maimed in a stampede."


    FOOTNOTES -- Had your confusion quota for today?  The Wisconsin Badgers, who will play the Washington Huskies in the Rose Bowl, will work out at the stadium of the East L.A. College Huskies on Brooklyn Ave. . . .









Paul V. Coates – Confidential File, Nov. 28, 1959


Mash Notes and Comment

 Paul Coates   "Dear Paul,

    "You might remember me.  I'm Memphis Weed's singer friend from Hollywood.

    "Memphis wrote to you once about me and the songs I recorded.  You printed his letter and then you printed a letter I wrote you after that. 

    "I've been reading you regularly ever since.

    "You seem to write  a lot about the problems of people who end up in jail for one reason or another, what it's like and the things that happen to them.
"I remember when I was in the City Jail on a traffic warrant for two days once. 

    "How different it is and how quickly you are forgotten by the public!"

(signed)  Kirk Atello, P.O. Box 233, San Clemente.

image     --You know how it is, Kirk.  Out of sight, out of mind.


    "Mr. Paul Coates:
"In last Saturday's paper, you stated that you knew who was president of the United States in 1875.

    "If you are that well educated and brilliant, why do you stay in the newspaper business?" 

(signed)  Gordon Stuart, 1015 Galloway St., Pacific Palisades.

   --It's that damn printers' ink.  It gets in your blood.


    "Dear Paul,

    "Ho!  Without looking it up or asking somebody, who WAS President in 1875?"

(signed)  J. Farrell, 20452 Ruston Rd., Woodland Hills.

    --Ho, yourself!  Zachary Taylor.


    "Dear Coates:
"In your smug answer to the poor lady who lost the stove, you told her you knew who was president in 1875.

    "But conspicuously absent from your answer to her was the NAME of the man who was
president in 1875.
  "Being the suspicious type, I immediately deduced that (1) you didn't REALLY know who was president in 1875, and (2) you were too lazy to go look it up.
  "After reading your column, I got curious and not being the lazy type, I DID look it up.

    "I'll give you a clue.  He's buried in Grant's Tomb!" 

(signed)  Big Billy, Long Beach.

    -Zachary Taylor?


    "to Paul Coats, the Mirrow News,

    "California 20, Stanford 17.

Nov. 28, 1959, Abby

    "Paul this was big game day at Stanford.  I was with my wife at a greek bar in Palo Alto but I got rid of her, she was giving me a bad time and I jumped in my Taxi and drove in front of the Yellow Cab office Palo Alto.

Looking for Custermer

    "I was looking for a custermer, there was fifty people in front of the Yellow Cab office waiting for a cab, the big game was over, but the Yellow Cab dispatcher wouldn't give me any of his custermers.

    "But there was a party of six from the Mirrow News L.A.  One was John Hall boxing sports editor.

    "He said thats Parkey Sharkey, lets take his cab.

    "They did Paul and took me to a bar on Bayshore Highway for a beer and dinner.  John Hall Mirrow News tipped me a dollar plus two beers.

    "You never gave me any money Paul even though we known each other for years, how come Paul?"  (signed)  Parkey Sharkey, Palo Alto.

    --I don't want to cheapen our friendship by making it commercial.

A Kinder, Simpler Time Dept.: Your Movie Columnist

Nov. 28, 1965, Debbie Reynolds 
Debbie Reynolds – still too busy for bitterness!
Nov. 28, 1965: "You make mistakes in your personal life and you profit by them and you make mistakes in your career. Sometimes advisors counsel you incorrectly, get you into a wrong contract and you end up being used. It's difficult to evaluate things when you're young. I feel if the handling of my career had been disastrous I wouldn't be around. I've had only one agency over all the years; they've made mistakes, so have I."

Note: Hedda Hopper died Feb. 1, 1966, (the next day’s editions of The Times carried obituaries on her and Buster Keaton), so I’ll fill out the month with a few earlier columns. What’s your opinion, Daily Mirror readers? Should Hopper’s column become a regular feature?

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