Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history
Aug. 1, 1979: Gas rationing ... the energy crisis ... and SALT II. "I would rather burn a ton of Kentucky coal than see our nation become dependent by buying another barrel of OPEC oil," President Carter says.
Aug. 1, 1899: A man kills himself after taking elaborate precautions to prevent being identified. He writes: "I read books every day. They act on me as a narcotic. I dope myself with them. They make me forget for a moment, for there is a continual struggle going on -- to be or not to be.... I have tried to get opium but failed."
June 23, 1959: The NAACP urges the City Council to investigate allegations of police brutality toward blacks and Mexicans.
In March 1959, Municipal Judge David Williams made headlines by dismissing charges against 25 African Americans with accusations that the LAPD selectively enforced gambling laws. His action brought an immediate denial and strong criticism from Police Chief William H. Parker.
On a recent trip to the city archives, Daily Mirror intern Devon McReynolds and I found these original documents in City Council file 89512 showing the exchange between Williams, the first African American federal judge west of the Mississippi, and Parker.
||This Quiet Birdmen belt buckle has been listed on EBay. Not much has been written about the QBs, a select group of test pilots, astronauts and other elite aviators, because they were quiet. In addition to this belt buckle, the vendor is also selling a deck of World War II-era playing cards, each signed by a member of this pilot's unit. Bidding starts at $9.99.
Responsibility LawEvery motorist has heard of the financial responsibility law. Today a man named Tom furnishes a horrible example of how it can work.
On May 20 he stopped in the left lane at Sepulveda Blvd. and Vose St., Van Nuys, behind a car which was signaling a left turn.
As he waited, a third car, driven by a woman, crashed with terrific impact into his rear, jamming his car into the car ahead. The skid marks measured 60 ft. before the crash, according to the police report.
Tom suffered a serious whiplash of the neck and lower spine. He has been under treatment since the accident. Curiously enough, he was the only person injured. He has lost 10 weeks' work and his car, although partially repaired, is still a mess.
IT ALSO TURNED OUT that Tom was the only driver of the three who had no insurance, and rather astonishing things have been happening since.
For one thing, he has been getting what he considers pressure from the woman driver's insurance company to settle the claim on what he considers inadequate terms. After all, he keeps pointing out, he was the injured, although innocent, person.
Then the other day he received a notice from the DMV stating he must put up a bond of $760 by Aug. 12 or his driver's license and plates will be suspended.
He has been forced to hire an attorney, and apparently will have to take legal action to have his license restored and his claim settled more equitably.
Tom can't help feeling that the financial responsibility law gives the insurance companies the best of it.
It's no wonder that most motorists wouldn't think of getting behind the wheel of their cars without the knowledge that their insurance is paid up and in force.
THIS IS THE season for letters to parents from their children visiting distant relatives and attending summer camps. Marjorie Mills prizes this one from her daughter Janet, 13: "When are you coming here, Soon I hope. I don't need you, grandma does."
Oh what a tangled web we weave
When first we try to knit a sleeve.
-- TERRI McDANIEL
IN QUEST of information, aviation editor Don Dwiggins phoned a Mr. Sawyer at a big missile-manufacturing plant.
He was out but his secretary called back a few minutes later and said, "Hello, Mr. Wiggins?"
"Dwiggins," Don corrected.
"Oh, I'm sorry," she said. "This is, this is, oh dear, I forgot who I am. Oh yes, I'm Mr. Sawyer's secretary. It slipped my mind for the moment."
It isn't the heat, it's the insanity.
A MOVIE producer who returned from Rome told writer Harry Essex of a crazy thing that happened at a recent big event there.
Seeing a familiar face looking about in bewilderment, the producer went to the head man and said, "That's Tennessee Williams -- can't you find him his seat?"
The head man consulted his guest list and said he was sorry, he didn't find the name. The producer persisted and he looked again. Finally he found it -- "Mr. Williams of Tennessee."
THE LAST WORD obviously has not been heard in the controversy over Goodwin Knight's $3,500 portrait, but some other words have. Goodie, you'll remember, said, "That picture will never hang in Sacramento. I have no desire to be portrayed as a 35-year-old Nelson Eddy."
Eddy, appearing in Chicago, commented wistfully, "I would like to be a 35-year-old Nelson Eddy again." Then he recalled the time a woman stopped him in a hotel lobby and asked, "Weren't you Nelson Eddy?"
QUOTE & UNQUOTE -- One broken-down actor to another in a Santa Monica Blvd. saloon: "You know, pal, your conversation's getting pretty sour lately. Why don't you coin yourself a couple of new cliches?" . . . Tyrone Lopez in the Belvedere Citizen: "Cuba missed a bet in the Miss Universe contest. Miss Cuba should have been a bearded lady."
'Stop the Press,' Cries Flash Reporter Joe
To you, the Laurel Canyon fire may be old news.
But I just heard about it.
And I've got to admit that it's a matter of special embarrassment to me, because I should have been the first to know.
I happen to be the only newspaper columnist in the world with a bona fide personal news correspondent in Laurel Canyon. His name is Joe Oliveira. His age is, roughly, 12.
His loyalty, however, is divided between me and a mimeographed weekly neighborhood sheet which he publishes himself, called The Little Press.
Ordinarily, Joe keeps me up-to-the-minute on Canyon activities, ranging from stray cats and broken windows to juvenile plots to extort fudge bars from Sam, the Ice Cream Man.
However, on the big fire, he saved all of the exclusives for himself. He waited until The Little Press had hit the streets before sending me his dispatches.
Belatedly, I offer you the true story of the Laurel Canyon fire, as written under the double by-line of Joe Oliveira and Scott Harrison, Joe's city editor:
"Before the fire your editor Joe Oliveira was watering his garden while at the same time your editor-in-staff Scott Harrison was swimming at the Larson's pool on the corner of Jovenita and Laurel Canyon Blvd.
"At about 3:30 p.m. smoke came over the hill.
"My sister screamed, 'Look at the sun,' which was covered by black, thick smoke which had risen from over the hill.
"Meanwhile, your editor Joe Oliveira Jr. was putting the garden hose away. He saw black smoke rising over the hill.
"Joe hopped on his bike and flew down the street. Meanwhile, back at the pool, we are all in the car waiting to get home.
"Finally, I get home and jump up on the roof and water it down. Then I jump up on the hill and start to water it down. Then Joe came up to help.
"After the fire Joe and I went around putting out hot spots.
"One spot where we put the fire out the man said thanks, now get out of the way and then they didn't give us enough time and he sprays us and knocks us over with the spray.
"A small fire broke out again when everything was OK when the firemen were settled down for a delicious-looking lunch."
In a nutshell, that's the story of the Laurel Canyon fire.
And, as Joe expresses it so well in his weekly editorial:
"We would like to thank all the firemen who helped us with this fire."
In the same batch of mail with Joe's dispatch, I received my copy of the Border Sentinel -- a periodical put out by the inmates of the Federal Correctional Institution at La Tuna, Tex.
The inmates, obviously well-versed in matters of law, spell it out on Page 2 of their publication:
"The views expressed herein are not necessarily those of the administration, nor do the editors assume responsibility for any plagiarized material."
MIDNIGHT MEMOS: It's a sad fact that, lately, cafe entertainment for the most part has been reduced to an occasional mandolin player in a coffee house.
But things are looking up again. At least they are at the Cocoanut Grove, where Miss Pearl Bailey has brought up in an entourage reminiscent of what nightclub shows used to be.
In addition to her own enormous contribution, Pearly Mae presents a talented company of singers, dancers and musicians. Especially noteworthy is the drum solo work of her husband, Lou Bellson.