Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history
Otherwise, how do you explain the balloons?
In one of the oddest footnotes in modern professional sports, the Forum's rafters were filled with balloons that would be released when the Lakers won. "They might remain in their roost for some time to come," Mal Florence wrote in The Times after watching Boston's 108-106 victory.
There were plots and subplots galore.
--The Lakers were built around three superstars, with Jerry West leading the way despite an injured leg. He was named the final's most valuable player and got a car instead of a championship.
--Wilt Chamberlain injured his knee and left the game with about five minutes to play just as the Lakers were cutting into the Celtics' lead.
--Chamberlain wanted to get back in the game but was kept on the bench by Coach Butch van Breda Kolff: "I told him that we were doing well enough without him." The Lakers and van Breda Kolff would soon part company.
--Former Laker Don Nelson gave Boston a three-point lead with about a minute left when his shot from the free-throw line "as luck or fate would have it ... hit the front rim, bounced high into the air and then settled into the net," Florence wrote.
--West scored 42 points but took only one shot in the last four minutes.
--Parts of the game were far from pretty. Several players were in foul trouble and the Lakers missed 15 consecutive shots during one part of the third quarter.
You could feel the disappointment in The Times' coverage. Here's my favorite lead, from Chuck Garrity:
"The colorful balloons hung there in the dark rafters of the Forum. ... The USC Trojan band, hired to march around blaring "Happy Days are Here Again" quietly tucked their instruments back into their cases. ... The Lakers were non-champions of the world of professional basketball again."
The fourth quarter of Game 7 has survived on Youtube. Here's a section where the Lakers rally and Chamberlain hurts his knee.
||Mary McCoy, who is exploring Nashville cuisine c. 1964 this week in her Cooking With the Junior League blog, whips up a tomato aspic, at left with robot garnish. She writes that this bit of culinary history is best left unexplored.
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Non-Conformist There is a
widespread belief that conformity has so overwhelmed everyone that even
the hardiest individualists have lost their incentive and inspiration.
There's evidence today that this is not entirely true.
A solid citizen, piqued at some flaw in civilization, went out on the town and, after the bars closed, followed some new-found friends to their home in Beverly Hills.
All of a sudden it was 7 a.m., time to go to work. But when he looked for his car he couldn't remember where he'd parked it.
He took a cab downtown, but decided to stop at a favorite bar for a refresher before going to the office. There he met a couple of cronies and he related his misfortunes. He had neglected to go home, he was late for work, he had misplaced his car and he had been forced to spend $5 on cab fare.
One friend said, "I can solve all your troubles for $6 more."
This sounded like a good deal, and our hero said he'd buy it.
The friend handed him a pawn ticket and, inadvertently coining a new definition of the word sympathy, said, "It's for my 38 revolver -- go shoot yourself!"
SPEAKING OF PARKING, two married couples a few nights ago went to open house at the school their children attend. The husbands let the wives out at the entrance and went to look for a place to park. They drove for blocks without finding a vacant space and then noticed a bowling alley in the distance. The same diabolical thought -- they are avid bowlers -- struck them simultaneously.
This is to report that midway in the open house proceedings a voice came over the public-address system announcing, "For the first time in history our school must report a lost father. Will Mr. Blank please join his wife in Room C-2."
TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT
The modern generation has so much,
Nothing seems to faze or floor 'em.
The only thing they really lack
Is some good old-fashioned decorum.
-JUNE R. DRUMMOND
THE CITY COUNCIL, as you may have read, is considering an ordinance to make it illegal to feed pigeons. Which reminded Cal Crotsenburg of the old story about the hard-working farm boy from Morongo Valley whose parents decided he'd earned a day off.
He was feeding popcorn to the pigeons in Pershing Square when a slicker came by and said, "You're a stranger in town, aren't you?" When the boy said yes, the slicker gave him a fast flash of breakfast food police badge and said, "I figured you were. You know there's a $1 fine for feeding a pigeon in L.A. How many did you feed?" The boy said two and the slicker said, "That'll be $2."
Relating the incident later to his parents, the boy said jubilantly, "I sure fooled him. I told him I'd only fed two but I'll bet I fed at least a dozen."
Now we'll have to figure out a new ending.
QUOTE & UNQUOTE -- When people ask how he feels, a man who recently underwent surgery replies, "Well, at first I was miserable but now I'm merely uncomfortable" ... It's odd how the same expressions keep cropping up through the years ... A man noting a repeated street excavation remarked, "They didn't find the boss' watch the first time so they had to dig it up again" ... Remember the observation here by a man recently restored to bachelorhood that the most amazing thing was how long a tube of toothpaste lasted? A gal who now lives alone has a different impression: "The nights last longer."
AROUND TOWN -- A friendly young man named Drew Howard is known as the good Samaritan of 1st and San Pedro Streets. He tells the near-sighted ladies waiting there whether the approaching buses are on the SierraMadre or Sierra Vista line. They sometimes get on the wrong one ... Wildlife question for today: Why do baby birds flutter their wings when their patients feed them?
Elizabeth Ann Duncan crosses her fingers during her murder trial.
Frank S. Duncan Has Come to TownIn a sparsely furnished office on the floor of a modernistic Sunset Boulevard office building, a young attorney opened up shop yesterday.
There was no celebration -- no party to announce that he had joined the ranks of this town's multitude of lawyers.
His debut was most inauspicious.
But that -- except for the fact that no clients were knocking down his door -- is the way he wanted it. Lately, he'd been in the limelight a little too much.
The 30-year-old attorney, Frank S. Duncan, son of convicted killer Elizabeth Duncan, answered his own phone when I called him yesterday afternoon.
"I don't have a secretary yet," he explained. "In this business, you've got to have clients before you hire secretaries."
Then he laughed.
"I don't quite know where I'd put her, anyway," he said. "I just got my own desk and chair moved in today."
He added that the office furniture wasn't his own. The desk, a telephone stand, couch and volumes of law books were turned over to him by a friend who used to practice here.
"You should see the place," he told me. "Books all over. What a mess."
"If you'll excuse a blunt question," I asked, "are you broke?"
"I haven't been active for quite a while, as you can imagine," he said. "I've used up my savings, if that's what you mean."
That he should choose Los Angeles, so close to the scene of his mother's trial, to go into practice also bothered me.
"The story was played up all over the country," he told me. "No matter where I went, it would follow me.
"Besides, I like it here in California. It never really occurred to me to move anywhere else."
I asked him how much of a hindrance he felt the notoriety would be.
"It's not going to do my business any good," he admitted. "But how much harm it's going to do, I'll just have to wait and find out.
"To be perfectly honest, I'm quite confident that I'll do all right here. I have a good background in divorce work and criminal work. That's the area I'll stay in."
With Duncan, it isn't the usual case of building up a reputation. With him, it's living one down.
"I had new business cards printed up last Wednesday," he continued. "Plus 200 printed announcements. I picked them up today.
"I'll send them out this week," he added. "Things might be slow at first, but you expect that when you branch out on your own and move into a new town."
Inevitable Question Is Asked
"Your mother?" I asked Duncan. "Have you seen her lately?"
"I've been visiting her every week," he said. "She's at the California Institution for Women at Corona. She's in solitary."
Frank Duncan paused.
Then he continued: "It's not very pleasant there. They treat her very well -- but it's just that being alone. Four cold walls to look at. When I go, I take her little presents, but with regulations what they are, there's not too much I can take.
"Like next Sunday, I'll take her a couple of jigsaw puzzles. She likes those.
"Next Sunday," Frank Duncan pointed out, "is Mother's Day, you know."
Photograph by the Los Angeles Times
March 15, 1939: At a luncheon at the Biltmore Hotel to plan the opening gala for Union Station, R.E. Southworth stamps the tickets of A.D. McDonald, president of the Southern Pacific; J.R. Hitchcock, manager of the board that supervised Union Station, and W.M. Jeffers, president of Union Pacific.
March 15, 1939: A huge park from Alameda to Spring Street is proposed across from Union Station.
How the area actually appears on Google Earth.
This is a slightly different perspective on the origins of Union Station, which is usually limited to the displacement of Chinatown.