The Daily Mirror

Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history

Category: April 26, 2009 - May 2, 2009

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Los Angeles Prepares for Opening of Union Station, April 30, 1939

April 30, 1939, Union Station

The city made a special effort to examine and celebrate its past during the opening of Union Station. Officials mounted a much more elaborate "parade of progress" than I suspect we would see today.

April 30, 1939, Tarzan

Primitive semi-humans called the Lingoo in "Tarzan."
April 30, Negro

Mob justice in Florida.
April 30, 1939, Job Interviews

Above, job interview tips for women: Save the shoes that expose your toes and heels for other occasions. And if you wear sheer silk hosiery, make sure that your legs are free from unsightly hair." 

Found on EBay -- Angels Flight

Angel's Flight EBay

This 1908 postcard of Angels Flight has been listed on EBay. Notice that it was originally next to the 3rd Street tunnel. Also notice the lookout tower at the top of Bunker Hill. Bidding starts at $3.99.

Matt Weinstock -- April 29, 1959


Money Troubles

Matt_weinstockdThe bitter warfare between those who owe money and those who are trying to collect it goes on and on, with extracurricular activity here and there.

A mother received a call recently from a woman who said she was with an advertising agency, which she named. Her son, she was told, had won a two-week trip to Honolulu. If the mother would furnish his address the tickets would be given to him.

The mother said he had been unemployed but had gotten a new job out of town and didn't know if he would be able to make the trip. The caller said the tickets or the equivalent in cash were his anyway, but had to be presented personally. 

A meeting was arranged at their home, and the young man drove down from Fresno for his prize -- only to have his car snatched. Seemed all this was a ruse. There is no such advertising agency. The address is a loan firm. The young man was several weeks behind on the monthly payment on the car.

So, sadder and wiser but not happier, he took the bus back to Fresno.


April 29, 1959, Space Stewardess ONLY IN L.A. -- Adam W. Truty took an elderly friend into a deluxe saloon. He ordered beer, his friend ordered coffee. The beer was 45 cents, the coffee 25. High. They didn't complain, but another elderly customer did, delivering an eloquent lecture on ethics. The bartender snapped, "You're 86! No more drinks for you!"

Whereupon Adam's friend jumped up and said to his new-found advocate. "Are you 86? You don't look it! I'm 86, too!"



So they can't find the cap from that nose cone?

Now I feel somewhat less of a boob

When I can't, though I look all over,

Find the cap from my toothpaste tube.



LET'S FACE IT, North Young, Malibu artist, has a talent for eliciting secrets from the most reticent of his rather odd friends. One of them, a cemetery caretaker named Moss O'Learn, last week confided this tale:

April 29, 1959, Comics When James Watt, the famous inventor, died, a large box was found among his effects. There was no clue to its contents, only a warning in Watt's handwriting that it was not to be opened until 1959.

 On Jan. 1 of this year the box was opened and found to contain 300 dahlia tubers, each wrapped in tissue and all in excellent condition. With them was a note asking that the corms be planted all around his grave. Relatives sent the box to Moss O'Leam, who planted them.

That very night people passing the cemetery were astonished to see the inventor's headstone bathed in light although there was no artificial illumination in the vicinity.

"How do you account for the phenomenon?" the caretaker was asked.

"No phenomenon at all," he replied, "just those danged 300 Watt bulbs."


REMEMBER the Finn twins, George and Charles, who have been at war with the government for six years over possession of an Army surplus plane and who have a penchant for making citizen's arrests?

April 29, 1959, Abby Well, George has asked Atty. James F. Bolger to incorporate a Citizens' Committee to Make Arrests Police Refuse to Make. The idea is to indoctrinate citizens regarding their legal rights.

Things are likely to liven up any week now.


AT RANDOM -- E.N. Brandt, fiction editor of the S. E. Post, was in town briefly, trying to lure local writers into the short-story fold. Said there's a shortage. Of course, he meant the Post type of story. He also revealed that the Post pays 50% more for a short story than for an article ...speaking of which, the new Erle Stanley Gardner serial in the week's Post has an L.A. locale.

Paul Coates -- Confidential File, April 29, 1959


Pinball Machinery Tilts in El Monte

Paul_coatesI'm no crime-buster.

But every now and then I come up with a morsel about some slightly illegal activity being conducted under the noses of some slightly more than indifferent officials in our cozy community.

And, going on the theory that the officials can read, I print details of the violation.

And, ever so gently, I suggest that maybe somebody with a little authority ought to open his eyes.

Buried deep in the archives of The Mirror News there's a yellowing copy of one of my penny lectures to public servants. It's in a column dated Nov. 12, 1957.

The column dealt with a pinball-machine syndicate which was operating with no apparent interference in a dozen cities throughout Southern California.

The pinball games were nothing more than thinly disguised slot machines, capable of gobbling up a workingman's pay check in the space of a couple hours.

April 29, 1959, Cover In the column I listed the names and addresses of some bars and cafes in the town of El Monte, where the machines were doing land-office business.

An assistant of mine toured a few of them and proved how simple it was to drop $26 in two hours. He came back to the office with the additional observation that adults weren't the only ones who were feeding nickels, dimes and dollars to the syndicate.

High school kids -- lots of them -- were dropping their lunch money and allowances into the machines.

My column was strictly a reflection of my public spiritedness.

And, naive boy that I am, I figured that's how the city fathers of El Monte would take it.

They were incensed, all right. But not at the crooks who were taking money from the kids in their town.

Instead, the solons got mad at me. Me! I never did nothing to nobody (except hit them with a double negative if they weren't looking).

One city councilman pointed out to me a few days later. "Let's face it. Gambling is here to stay."

April 29, 1959, Chavez RavineAnd a second council member added that he was positive that there weren't any payoffs on the machines. "I asked some of the men who owned them," he said.

El Monte's police chief stood before the councilmen a week after my column appeared and begged them to outlaw the machines:

"I know they pay off," he said, "but I just don't have enough men to police every place that's got one."

But the majority of the city fathers were apparently very fond of the pinball operation. Staunchly, they did nothing.

About a month later, though, some citizens started putting the heat on. Why they demanded to know, was the City Council in favor of such a crummy operation which could do nothing but hurt their town?

Neatly, the councilmen about-faced. They didn't do anything so bold as to ban the machines, as lots of other cities have done. But they did vote, 4-1, to put the issue before the people.

There the matter rested until November of last year. Then, in a sudden reversal of course, they brought it up again and voted, 3-2, to let the machines continue to operate.

Finally, the people of El Monte took the matter into their own hands. Church groups, PTA's and other civic organizations began passing petitions early this year demanding the removal of the pinball games.

Things May Work Out

They had the support of Mayor Dale Ingram, who's always been against the machines. Two days ago, a group embracing many of the game operations found a technical flaw in the presentation of the citizens' petitions, but, with Mayor Ingram's help, the people of El Monte finally convinced the City Council that private citizens should have a voice in what kind of corruption they want in their town.

On June 23 a special election will be held -- and, at last, the people will be able to decide for themselves whether they want their kids to contribute their allowances to a gambling syndicate.

I'm not too worried about the outcome.

Nashville Cuisine, 1964


At left, 1964 Nashville is the latest destination of Mary McCoy's Cooking With the Junior League blog. (Mary,  the entertaining voice of This Book Is for You, is spending a year preparing meals from Junior League cookbooks).

Mary writes: Published in 1964 by the Junior League of Nashville, Nashville Seasons has a split personality.  But then again, it was the 1960s, an interesting time in the American culinary landscape where home cooks were quite over casseroles and post-war convenience foods, but hadn’t yet remembered what good food actually tasted like.  As a result, good food was often confused with fussy food.


In the Theaters -- April 29, 1983

April 29, 1983, In the Theaters

Union Station Turns 70

Union Station, Dec. 22, 1935
Los Angeles Times file photo

Los Angeles' Union Station formally opened May 3-5, 1939, with a three-day festival that included parades and displays of historic locomotives and streetcars. The Daily Mirror will be posting photos of the station's construction and the opening celebrations. 

Above, Union Station under construction, Dec. 22, 1935, with City Hall and the Hall of Justice in the background. The photograph shows the completed underground passageway from the depot to the tracks.


Mayor Slashes Budget for Libraries and Parks; Spring Training in Arizona, April 29, 1959

The Senate approves Clare Boothe Luce as ambassador to Brazil, but her husband, Time publisher Henry Luce, asks her to resign, saying that her prestige and authority have been impaired by a political vendetta. During her confirmation hearing, Clare Boothe Luce was harshly criticized by Sen. Wayne Morse (D-Oregon) for a remark during a 1944 campaign speech that President Franklin Roosevelt "lied us into war." Morse also challenged a 1952 political speech that left the implication that former President Truman was a "traitor," The Times said. 

April 29, 1959, Mafia Murders

April 29, 1959, Maywood

At left, the incomplete story giving Police Chief William H. Parker's list of alleged mob killings in Los Angeles. For some reason, the first part of the story was moved from Page 1, so all that was preserved is the runover. I used this material in the map of mob killings I posted previously.

Above, Ellis Allsop dries the dishes as his wife, Reva, leaves to be sworn in as the mayor of Maywood. And our lede? "Breaking precedent is nothing new for attractive career woman Mrs. Reva Allsop." A political maneuver removed her from office in less than a year.
April 29, 1959, Theater

Tony Randall and Debbie Reynolds in  "The Mating Game."
April 29, 1959, Comics

A mother tells her son that she and her husband are divorcing in "Judge Parker."

April 29, 1959, Sports Sometimes stories take a few decades to come true.

Braven Dyer's column suggested that the Chicago White Sox would be moving their spring training home to Arizona. Dyer said new White Sox owner Bill Veeck lived in Tucson and the team was discussing a deal to move out of Sarasota, Florida.

All this would interest Los Angeles readers because the White Sox apparently wanted another team to move with them to make it an even six teams in Arizona.

According to Dyer, former Dodger manager Leo Durocher was "working with the Arizona people" to get the Dodgers to leave Vero Beach for a spot closer to Los Angeles. Walter O'Malley, who knew quite a bit about moving a team from one side of the country to the other, didn't offer much hope: "Unless we trained in Southern California itself, I don't see any difference it would make where we train."

Dyer, on the other hand, saw lots of potential:

"Pish and tush, Walter. Don't you know that Arizona, California, Nevada and Florida are expected to have the largest population increase between 1955 and 1970? How many of those people will you lure to the Coliseum from Vero Beach? Sell that plant, go to Arizona and you'll find literally thousands of fans coming over to see your Dodgers after the regular season dawns."

Pish and tush?

--Keith Thursby

Coming Attractions -- The Legacy of Allensworth

AllensworthAn upcoming conference will focus on the legacy of Allensworth, a town financed and governed by African Americans founded by Col. Allen Allensworth. The conference is being promoted as the first in the Hidden Stories Series of the California State Parks Foundation.

The conference will be held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on May 4 at Doheny Memorial Library. Registration is $60 and includes meals, an evening reception and membership in the parks foundation.

Sessions include African Americans in the Gold Rush; recreation and beach culture during the days of segregation; a keynote speech by former Assembly Speaker Willie Brown, the former mayor of San Francisco; the history of African Americans in San Diego; and workshops on ways to highlight African Americans' contribution to California.

Information is here >>>

Register here>>>

Matt Weinstock -- April 28, 1959

Stop the Music

Matt_weinstockdIn the event you hadn't heard, music is broadcast over the City Hall loudspeaker system. Maybe not the best music, but music. Now an anonymous city employee asks bitterly, "Why must we be submitted to this torture?"

In a letter to councilmen and other city officials this disenchanted person writes, "We are not workers doing monotonously routine and repetitive tasks during which music would be welcome relief. We are not patients in an asylum who must have music as therapy to rouse us from our stupor or to calm us in our frenzy. We are not sitting in doctors' offices to be soothed while we contemplate our ills and bills; nor are we in some secluded rendezvous whiling away the time. We are in the City Hall, eight hours a day, trying to do a day's work without distraction."

goes on, "Should you enter our beautiful rotunda you are apt to be greeted with the strains of 'Embraceable You' or 'I Don't Want to Walk Without You, Baby' or 'It's Been a Long, Long Time.' This is dignity in the City Hall?"

No, and come to think of it, dignity is pretty hard to find anywhere else in the joint.


April 28, 1959 Cover WHEN SHE arrived home after buying a few secondhand children's books at Westwood Elementary School's PTA luau, Mrs. Austin Kalish noticed what appeared to be a bookmark in one of them. A closer look revealed it was a piece of notebook paper on which was scrawled, "Be sure and beat up Ronnie in the morning."



No matter when I enter a yellow
Behind me comes some other fellow.



A MAN I KNOW is on one of those starvation diets designed to remove excess weight in a hurry. He took off eight pounds the first three days, 15 in two weeks. He simply doesn't eat. Instead he takes with him wherever he goes a thermos bottle containing a mixture of orange juice, milk, raw eggs and salad oil, and several times a day gulps a slug.

On the way home the other day he stopped at a friend's house and after a while looked at his watch, waved his empty thermos and said despairingly, "I've got to go. I'm hungry. It's time for my 3 o'clock feeding."


April 28, 1959, Comics QUOTE & UNQUOTE -- An expensively dressed middle-aged man leaving an Arcadia restaurant was overheard saying to his companion, "Oh well, another day, another 23 cents after taxes!"... Lady named Hilda, turning off a rock and roll program, commented, "If only they didn't sing them as if they were sacred hymns."


OFFHAND, anyone would say that Webster's unabridged is above and beyond slang. Which makes all the more interesting Frances Hov's discovery that on Page 955 the word fishify is defined as "to change to fish; to make like a fish."


AT RANDOM -- Oops, the student-printed program for the play "Detective Story" presented by the L.A. City College theater arts department noted that the cast was "directly supervised and assisted by the Faulty Staff." The faculty is laughing ... Understand a man inToluca Lake bought a Scoutarama ticket for $1 from a Boy Scout, then tried to turn it in on some mints when a Girl Scout came to the door ... Photog John Gaines saw a bunch of colleagues as he went into the Redwood House and said, "Give all those fellows a drink and gave the religion editor a glass of water and let him perform a miracle" ... Received a five-page press release from Philadelphia dedicated to the proposition that diapers are more important than you think. Sometimes a person in the business gets the feeling that it won't be long now.

Paul Coates -- Confidential File, April 28, 1959


A Fellow to Whom We Should Subscribe

Paul_coatesNormally, I don't go around hawking newspapers.

Especially other people's newspapers.

But today, I make an exception.

Right now, this minute, I'm hustling sheets. At no commission.

Like I say, it's not The Mirror News I have tucked under my arm.

It's smaller. Only a four-page weekly. It's put out in the little Mississippi town of Petal. (If you've heard of Petal, you're a well traveled individual.)

The paper, appropriately, is called "The Petal Paper."

It's a one-man operation -- written, edited and printed by 37-year-old native Mississippian by name of P.D. East.

1959_0428_gaysNot so appropriate is the fact that the paper's readership in Petal is, according to today's Audit Bureau of Circulation, zero.

Five years ago, it was 2,300.

 But it was shortly after that, that Mr. East began writing the news as he saw it -- not as his advertisers wanted him to see it.

News that included some pretty shocking copy about the "rights" of Negroes in his home state.

With naive honesty, he reported the facts. All of them.

And, when he felt that his fellow townspeople were becoming overly emotional to the point of mob violence about certain race issues, he told them so, editorially.

That's how he fell out of favor.

He was branded a traitor, damnyankee and a few other things not quite so genteel.

But P.D. East kept on cranking his printing press. And, gradually, he built up a circulation outside of Mississippi. It's back to the 2,000 mark now.

Yesterday, I met P.D. East for the first time, and if you want my first impression of the man, the folks down in Petal have mislabeled him, Badly.

 Yet, I made a similar misjudgment. I called him a crusader.

"I'm not a crusader," he informed me indignantly.

"I'm not an integrationist, either," he added. "I'm simply against discrimination."

East told me that his troubles began in 1954, right after the United States Supreme Court ruled on integration in the public schools and he began using his paper in the battle against racial hatred.

"And why the fight?" I wanted to know.

"Well," he began, "it was mainly a matter of conscience. I couldn't keep still and let people tear down this country's constitutional government.

East didn't make any home town friends when he published a picture of a Mississippi school for white children alongside one for young Negroes and asked his readers to guess which was which.

The answer was all too obvious. One was a bright new facility; the other little more than a dilapidated shack.

"What kind of social life have you led since you make your views public?" I asked East.

"On Christmas Day of 1956, my wife and I were invited out. That was the last time," he answered bitterly.

I asked him about old friends.

"There are several people," he explained, "People I went to school with. They won't even say hello when we meet on the street. "And I sure wish they would," he added, "because I'd like the privilege of ignoring them."

Living Always Takes Eating

There are some who wonder how East has managed to stay alive. Why some rebel hothead hasn't mowed him down.

"I wonder myself sometimes," he confesses, but adds that he hasn't much time to consider threats of physical violence.

"But what about your wife?" I said.

"She just wishes the whole thing were over and done with. That everybody, including me, would shut up."

But P.D. has refused to be stilled. He wants to continue shouting in print. And he wants, most of all, your help.

He wants you to join the other 2,000 subscribers. It'll cost you five bucks a year, which seems a small price to pay for somebody else's courage.

Bob Oates on O.J. Simpson, October 12, 1973

Oct. 12, 1973, Bob Oates on O.J. Simpson

Oct. 12, 1973: The late Times sportswriter Bob Oates interviews O.J. Simpson, who was playing for Buffalo.
Oct. 12, 1973, Bob Oates on O.J. Simpson

Oates: You say ball carrying can't be taught. Do you mean this literally?

Simpson: You never hear a great running back say, "I'm going out to work on this or that." All he says is, "I'm going out to work out" or "I've been working out."

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