The Daily Mirror

Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history

Category: January 4, 2009 - January 10, 2009

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Found on EBay -- J.W. Robinson's



Here's an Adrian-designed outfit sold at J.W. Robinson's in Los Angeles, listed on EBay. Bidding starts at $75.

Matt Weinstock -- January 10, 1959

Chinese Puzzle

Matt_weinstockd On a recent excursion to San Francisco, a Hollywood press party with TV executive Ted Galenter as host went to a Chinese restaurant. The food was wonderful but a writer named Jim didn't eat. He said he wasn't hungry.

Afterward the party went to a Chinese nightclub and in the swirl of music and dancing Galenter observed that an incredible repast, enough for half a dozen persons, had been placed in front of Jim at the far end of the table and he was eating.

Galenter called the waiter and asked who had ordered it. The waiter shrugged. Galenter asked him to inquire if Jim had ordered it.

THE WAITER WENT to the end of the table, said something, and Jim nodded in approval.

Next day, still puzzled, Galenter asked Jim, "How come you didn't eat that fine food at the first place and you ordered all that stuff at the second place?"

1959_0110_red_streak "I didn't order it," Jim replied, "I thought you did."

"No," Galenter said, "I sent the waiter over to ask and you shook your head."

"Now wait a minute," Jim said. "All he asked was 'Are you enjoying the show?'"

Inscrutable, those fellows.

* *

DURING THE recent American Physical Society meeting at UCLA a man came into the press room, announced he was a physicist from Greece and said, "I want an interview."

Tom Tugend, handling press arrangements, started to introduce him to reporters but the newcomer said, "No, no, I don't want to be interviewed -- I want an interview, for a job!"

* *


The writers of science fiction
Are daring in their depiction.
Logic says that we must doubt them
But where would we be without them?

* *

AT THE ANNUAL carpenters' picnic a man named Joe was having phenomenal luck at the games of chance, knocking down prize after prize -- until he came to the booth where the prize was a wooden hammer. Try as he might, he couldn't ring one with the hoops. The disappointment showed on his face so much that the booth attendant tried to comfort him by saying, "Just remember, Joe, you can't win a mall."

* *


its problems with drunks, too, Newsweek reports, and to curb them Mayor Takayama of Kyoto has devised a diabolical punishment. Tape recorders are being placed in jail cells and inebriates will be forced to listen to their own wild ravings the next morning.

Mike Molony, the Socrates of Spring Street, came upon an even more fiendish torture the other day in a downtown bar. Two gay blades were working on a friend who had overindulged.

"The best thing for a hangover," one said authoritatively, "is a hot buttered muscatel on the rocks."

"Only," the other put in, "if you add a cold pork gravy float."

* *

A COPY BOY, discussing the SC ban, made a man on the copy desk starkly aware that he was getting old.

"I've followed the Trojans all my life," the young boy said. "Even as a little boy I watched them on TV."

* *

FOOTNOTES -- The space-saving apartment-for-rent ads in another paper were lively the other day. One was, "$95, if decorate 3 crummy rooms w/character." Another, "$57.50. Clean Single Child" . . . Whenever Mattie Rae sees them bury another corpse on "Gunsmoke" she wonders if Marshal Dillon and Chester consider it duty of the beyond call . . . Bill Crago has to watch himself whenever he has to say "Internal Revenue" or it will come out "External." Mental block, aggravated by tax consciousness, he figures . . . Revised smile: As certain as death and taxes and automobile insurance going up.

Paul Coates -- Confidential File, January 10, 1959


Mash Notes and Comments

"Dear Paul Coates:

Paul_coates_2 "We can't forgive you for using the objective case instead of the possessive or genitive case with your verbal nouns or gerunds.

"You're an educated man, so please clean up this little error in grammar and be an example for us in language as well as in tolerance and big mindedness.

"The rule is (Scribner's Handbook of English): 'A noun or pronoun PRECEDING AND GOVERNING a gerund is usually in the genitive case.'

"One indication of correct speech is the use of the possessive form before certain words ending in 'ing.'

"The uneducated and even many educated persons make this mistake:

"'What did you think of HIM leaving you?'

"But it's not what you think of HIM, but rather what you think of HIS leaving that you want to know." (signed) Ruth E. Peters, P.O. Box 308. Hemet.
-I'm just sorry to hear they broke up.

* *

1959_0110_mathis"Dear Sir:

"Confidential Service of Mexico is primarily an efficient, effective correspondence club and translation service.

"Its most important asset is the quick satisfying results it gets for its members, results that begin from the very first moment they receive their first letter from a prettyCSM girl. 

"CSM can get these same results for you too, a potential new member.

"If you are tired of the lonely life and if you are seeking a wife with whom to settle down and raise a family, this letter could be the most important one you will ever receive.

"If, however, you already have a wife or seek none, then you are just wasting your time reading this letter." (signed) Luz ElenaNorte, Director, Confidential Service of Mexico, P.O. Box 2617, Palm Springs, Calif. 

-Let's put it this way. I already have a wife but she doesn't understand me, dear.

* *

BULLETIN (in a manner of speaking), Herman Hover, who's been suffering from chronic frustration lately, had another attack of it last night.

The portly cafe impresario, who made Ciro's one of the world's outstanding supper clubs, only to see it all dissolve in last year's slump that hit the Sunset Strip, has spent his every waking hour in a battle to reopen the doors.

He came close a number of times but at the 11th hour some obstruction -- usually a disgruntled creditor -- would get in the way.

Again last night, Ciro's was scheduled to reopen. This time, as a private with some 600 freshly paid-up members. And again, at the 11th hour -- or more precisely, at 6:30 yesterday evening -- Hover had to get on the phone and frantically call off his invited guests.

"Everything," he explained to me, "was ready. The lights were on. The bar was stocked. But I forgot to get an edible license.

"If you don't have an edible license," he added sadly, "nobody can eat. So, we'll open Monday instead."

I'll wait. But only till Monday. If it doesn't open then, I'm going to let my hair grow and start hanging around in coffee houses.  

Voices -- Christine Collins, June 30, 1931


Dodgers move outfield fence, January 10, 1959




The Dodgers announced they were moving the Coliseum fences in and The Times saw it as a victory for Duke Snider.

The dimensions were reduced in center (425 feet to 410) and right-center fields (440 to 385). The short porch and tall screen in left field weren't changed. The Times' Frank Finch noted that Snider hit 40 or more home runs in five consecutive seasons but hit only six home runs in the Coliseum in 1957.

"Time after time enemy outfielders camped under drives by Duke which would have been home runs in other National League parks," Finch wrote.

But Snider, in a story last year by The Times' Ross Newhan, blamed a 1957 knee surgery more than the Coliseum for his power decline. "That was before arthroscopic surgery and the knee was never the same," Snider said. "I was never the same hitter, I had to change my whole style. I had to try to be more of a contact hitter, a tough adjustment when you've been a free swinger your entire career."

Snider was no fan of the ballpark, however. "Baseball deserves its own identity," he said. "It shouldn't ever be piecemealed into a football and track stadium, which is what the Coliseum is."

One strange thing about the original story: General manager Buzzie Bavasi said the Dodgers wanted to get Manager Walt Alston's approval before making the changes official.

--Keith Thursby

Another Nixon story challenged, January 10, 1959

A strike at a Hollywood supermarket turns into a management lockout involving 1,000 grocery stores across Southern California that lasts for 28 days. The union negotiator charged that the lockout was aimed at crushing the clerks' union and forcing smaller markets out of business in favor of the "Big Dozen."

Richard Nixon's memoirs famously begin "I was born in the house my father built." But his mother told The Times he was born in a hospital!

Above, a father commits suicide on the grave of his young son and a driver gets six months for killing an LAPD officer.

Robert Mangrum admitted running a red light and broadsiding the patrol car of Officers Joseph Bennett and George Burgoon. The impact threw both officers out of their vehicle. Bennett was killed when hit a utility pole 35 feet away and Burgoon was injured when he was thrown under a parked car. Mangrum told police he was doing 35 mph in a 25-mph zone.
Federal courts rule Atlanta's bus segregation laws are illegal.
Back when you could order a World War I 03 Springfield or Colt Government Model ($281.24 USD 2007) by phone--like a pizza!

Update: I stand corrected. The ad says handguns had to be purchased in the store. Evidently only rifles and shotguns were available C.O.D. by phone--like a pizza. So much for my fantasy: "I'd like a Union Switch & Signal .45 in original finish, no anchovies, please."

Found on EBay -- Oviatt's



Here's what appears to be an Eisenhower-style herringbone jacket from Oviatt's, listed on EBay. Bidding starts at $99.99. The Vintage Fashion Guild's label guide has nothing for Oviatt's, but the label, below left, contrasts with a known label from 1955, above. I would suspect it's more recent.

Matt Weinstock -- January 9, 1959

Rugged Fisherman

Matt_weinstockd_2 The telephone rang at 3 a.m. Wednesday in the Venice home of Bill O'Connor. It was Pat Lister, Santa Monica harbor master, informing him that gale winds were whipping the bay and his boat was dragging its mooring.

O'Connor, 47, a former champion swimmer and lifeguard, is now a fisherman. He owns the 30-foot El Salvador.

He dressed and rushed out in the rain to his car only to find his headlights wouldn't work. He grabbed his little girl's bicycle and was off, aided by a strong tailwind. Within minutes he was at the end of the groaning pier.

Still clothed, without hesitation, he jumped into Santa Monica Bay and headed for his boat, pitching in heavy seas 200 yards away. The next time Lister saw him was in the eerie glow of a flashlight on deck.

1959_0109_hostage O'CONNOR SET a stern anchor, reinforcing his mooring lines, put stronger lashings on the deck gear, then too another header into the bay.

As he climbed up the ladder to the dock, a $10,000 catamaran broke loose from its mooring and swept toward the beach. O'Connor and Chad Merrill, assistant harbor master, jumped onto its deck, threw lines to the dock, and swam back to the pier.

After a look around to see that everything else was secure, O'Connor got back on the bike and headed home. Wonder how things are these days with Ernest Hemingway?

* *

THE STRONG WINDS also awakened an advertising executive who suddenly remembered a newly planted 8-foot tree and rushed outside to the rescue.

On reaching up to brace the tree against the wind his pajama pants dropped around his ankles. When he reached down to retrieve them the tree swayed dangerously in the gale. This happened over and over, like in an old Laurel and Hardy movie, and his wife, who watched through the living room window, is still laughing.

* *

Never a letter from a friend or foe,
They're either ads or bills I owe.

* *

REMEMBERED quotes from the lavish Sports Illustrated dinner acclaiming UCLA's Rafer Johnson:

Art Linkletter introduced a celebrity as having "a greater rating than if Brigitte Bardot played 'Lolita' on TV." He also referred to Henry Luce as "the Vic Tanny of the publishing world."

An apt line by Luce: "The test of a high civilization is the pursuit of excellence -- that's why we honor Rafer."

Romain Gary: "I saw Mr. Luce play golf a few days ago in Phoenix. If I were the owner of Time, Life, Fortune and Sports Illustrated I'd hire someone to play for me."

* *

1959_0109_hostage_runover NEW YEARS 33 years ago -- Jan. 1, 1929 -- a young ensign named Edward V. Dockweiler drew the midwatch (midnight to 4 a.m.) aboard the USS Idaho, anchored off San Pedro. This was before the present nine-mile breakwater was completed.

An unwritten rule required that midwatch entries in the log be in rhyme and Dockweiler wrote, "We are anchored in Pedro Harbor, though there isn't much of a fee, and why they call it a harbor, is something I never could see."

Imagine the surprise of Bernard J. Caughlin, general manager of L.A. Harbor, to read this in the January 1959 issue of U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, which reprinted it. Dockweiler, a retired admiral, is the Harbor's chief engineer. Caughlin is his boss. 

* *

MISCELLANY -- Conductor Fritz Reiner's appearance with the Philharmonic orchestra reminded Orlando Northcutt of the time Reiner conducted at Hollywood Bowl. During rehearsal, the orchestra had difficulty mastering tricky passages of a new symphony and after a hectic session Reiner invited them to a beer bust, and unheard of gesture. But it relaxed everyone . . . A group of La Mirada residents have hastily joined forces to oppose incorporation of their community to be voted on Tuesday. They claim Gardena gambling interests are behind the proposal . . . Sign on a market in the 8300 block of Wes 3rd Street: "Tomorrow's fish today."  

Paul Coates -- Confidential File, January 9, 1959


'Madame Guillotine,' Alias Pierre Coates

Paul_coates_2 As a combined result of personal preference and the common sense economics of knowing what side my bread is buttered on, I have a paid-up subscription to this newspaper.

And I recall reading in its pages, many months ago, a series of articles titled "Why Johnny Can't Read."

At the time I thought this scathing indictment of laxity in our educational system would produce favorable results.

But it hasn't. At least, not where I live.

There's a teenage daughter in our household. And don't ask me what I've gone through to see that this kid got the best of everything. I wanted her to have the chance in life that I never had -- to go to Sarah Lawrence and come out engaged to a Yale boy.

The way she's going, however, she'll be lucky to nail a subsidized SC football player.

1959_0109_cover When I came home last night she was sitting at the kitchen table and staring mournfully at the blank pages of a loose-leaf notebook. "Whatsa'matter with her?" I demanded of my wife.

"She's got to do an essay on the French Revolution for her homework. And she needs your help. She doesn't know enough about it."

I spun around angrily and faced the child. "Why do you wait until you get home to do your homework?" I shouted.

"Daddy," she replied, "I wanted to wait until you were here. There are some things I don't know about the French Revolution."

"There are some things a lot of people don't know about the French Revolution," I said mysteriously. Then, pacing up and down irritably, I challenged: "Go ahead. Ask me."

"Well," she asked, "like what caused the French Revolution?"

"Politics," I said.

"And who was Robespierre?"

"Yes," I nodded sagely, "He was one of them."

1959_0109_runoverI rubbed my chin thoughtfully and continued: "The major engagement of the French Revolution was known as the Battle of Concord."

"Concord? That's in America," she said.

"France," I snapped.

"But, Daddy," she pleaded, "wasn't the Battle of Concord in the American Revolution?"

I shot her a glance that would wither a lesser child. "My dear," I said coldly, "let me answer a question with a question. What is France's leading product?"

"Wine," she said.

"Very good," I commended in a tone that oozed sarcasm. "Now then, if you please, from what is wine made?"

"Grapes," she replied.

"Excellent. And," I hooted triumphantly, "I suppose you never heard of Concord grapes!"

That victory won, I warmed up to the subject. "Make notes while I talk," I commanded. And, pacing furiously, I went on:

"The mother of the French Revolution was an old lady named Madame Chere who was known affectionately to the unwashed hordes as 'Ma Chere.' She used to sit in the bleachers at the guillotine and knit while they were knocking off the Royalists.

That Same Old Revolution

"It was in this same revolution that Marie Antoinette, upon being advised that the peasants were storming the palace courtyard made the now historic remark: 'If they don't like it here, let them go back where they came from.'"

1959_0109_simcaAfter giving her a few basic facts, I dismissed her with a gentle reminder that while I was glad to help her, I wouldn't be here forever, and she must learn to think for herself.

Obviously, she'll get a good grade on her essay. And she's informed now about the French Revolution. But you can't thank our school system for that. If you want to thank anybody, thank me. 

Voices -- Christine Collins, June 19, 1931


Movie star mystery photo

Los Angeles Times file photo

Our mystery woman has more than 150 credits on IMDb. Update: She is Blanche Sweet, whose career spanned 1909 to 1960. In this undated photo, she is returning to the U.S. on the ship Pennsylvania.

Los Angeles Times file photo
Lots of guesses about our mystery woman, but none of them right. Here's another photo.

Update: Two correct guesses so far. Dewey Webb and Nick Santa Maria have identified the mystery woman, but I'm not going to publish the answer yet to give other people a chance. Keep checking back throughout the week for more photos and the answer on Friday!

Update: Blanche Sweet in 1927
Los Angeles Times file photo
Update: We have correct guesses from Mary Mallory and mmullen98. Congratulations!

Update II: Blanche Sweet in 1926.
Los Angeles Times file photo

One thing we can never get enough of at the Daily Mirror is photos of movie stars posing with a Studebaker. Here's our mystery woman on the running board of roadster. (Did you know Frances Bavier--Aunt Bee from "The Andy Griffith Show"--drove a Lark Daytona? It's true!)

Los Angeles Times file photo

Blanche Sweet in a photo for the 1926 film "Diplomacy," when movie publicity consisted of having someone drive across the country carrying the film cans. One of the men in the photo is director Marshall Neilan, Sweet's husband at the time (I believe he's the gent on the right). The other fellow is, alas, unidentified. Clifford Street, as seen in the photo, intersects with Glendale Boulevard north of downtown.

'Hair' cast kicked out of Mexico; Stars lost in darkness, January 9, 1969


1969_0109_sports The ABA and LA should have been a good fit. The game was wide open, with lots of dunks and three-pointers. The team even had a perfect name for the town--the Stars. Definitely a better match than the previous season when the franchise was called the Anaheim Amigos.

But things were not going well at the Sports Arena. According to The Times' John Hall, "The entire scene gave me the feeling I'd just stumbled into the midst of a sinister secret society."

Attendance was dismal, with counts under 1,000 in three of the last four home games. The franchise had started cutting back, taking the team off the radio and dropping halftime shows and the team band.

Later in January, The Times' Dan Hafner was more optimistic after a season-high crowd came out on a night "when radio stations periodically were telling people to stay home because of adverse weather."

The record crowd was all of 4,003. By the 1970-71 season, the Stars had moved on to Salt Lake City.

--Keith Thursby


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