The Daily Mirror

Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history

Category: Environment

Jimmie Fidler in Hollywood, Oct. 28, 1941

  Oct. 28, 1941, Shooting Has Started

Oct. 28, 1941, Tom Treanor

Oct. 28, 1941: Did no one note the passing of the widow of once-famous star Harold Lockwood? She'd been working as a studio wardrobe woman, Jimmie Fidler says.

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City Hall Is a Firetrap

 Los Angeles City Hall

The 1889 City Hall on Broadway just north of what is now the Victor Clothing Building. Notice that there are no fire escapes.

April 8, 1910, City Hall

April 9, 1910: A fire that broke out in the janitor’s basement office could have quickly set the whole building ablaze, The Times says. The pipes were insulated with felt wrapped in ordinary paper, which had come loose and was hanging down in long strips. In a later era, the pipes would have been insulated with asbestos, which – as we know now – presented its own problems.

On the jump … Is bad grammar grounds for divorce?

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Paul V. Coates – Confidential File, April 7, 1960

April 7, 1960, Mirror Cover

S. Smith Griswold's Finest Hour at Hand

Paul Coates

    The man's name:  S. (for Sam) Smith Griswold.

    He's 51 years old, married, father of two, and -- by his own admission -- a descendant of Aaron Burr.

    This last fact, I'm sure, weighs significantly in the minds of many.

    Griswold currently holds down a $23,028-a-year appointive position as director of our Air Pollution Control District.  I stress the word appointive.

    In the community it's axiomatic that if you're against smog, you're against Griswold.  So he isn't a man likely to win elections.

    In spite of such political attributes as a thick shock of blond hair and kind face, Griswold is just plain unpopular.

    For years, he's been the target of a rare display of public disfavor, behind which lies an interesting story.

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Vernon Hog Farmer Accused of Ignoring L.A. Garbage Laws

April 7, 1910, Garbage Suit

April 7, 1910: A century ago, hogs were fed garbage, and if you had a lot of hogs, you needed lots of garbage. What better way to get it than what was discarded from Los Angeles restaurants?  P.J. Durbin, a hog raiser in Vernon, scoffed at a contract awarded to Charles Alexander and the new city regulation requiring that garbage be taken five miles from the city. As a result, one of his drivers was charged with collecting garbage without a permit, the other with using a wagon that didn’t meet sanitary standards. 

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March 22, 1910, Oil Wells

March 22, 1910, Oil Wells

March 22, 1910: Oil executive A.B. Cohn says "... the Lakeview gusher can be seen sprouting oil like a miniature volcano for 20 miles across the desert country and it is impossible to approach within a reasonable distance of the well unless one is prepared to take a shower bath in crude oil. The oil, he says, is being thrown from the well in a stream as thick as a man's waist to a height of 300 feet.”

It’s interesting to speculate on the environmental effects of letting these wells gush onto the ground, where the oil was collected in open reservoirs.
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Paul V. Coates – Confidential File, March 5, 1960

March 5, 1960, Mirror Cover
Leonard Warren, 1911-1960

Telephone Girls Belie Propaganda


Paul Coates

    I'm a client, reasonably well paid up, of Pacific Telephone Co.  And I'd like to assure you that my complaint is nothing personal.
    In fact, over the years, I've built up kind of an impersonal affection for the girls who get numbers for me.  Admittedly, they're just voices.  Nothing serious -- like the initiation of a pen-pal correspondence -- has ever come out of my brief conversations with them when I dial 0 or 110 or 113.
    But my empathy has never flagged.
    My complaint is on a policy-level matter.  About the yellow pages. 
    You have, no doubt, seen and read the propaganda which PT&T's Madison Ave. types have been putting out about their fat classified directory.
    They've been claiming that it's possible to find anything from an elephant to a  sunken Spanish galleon to an attractive help-mate who doesn't smoke or drink but loves outdoor sports, children and mah-jongg merely by flipping through the yellow pages.

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Baptismal Records Hold Evidence in Suit Over Pioneer’s Estate

March 3, 1920, Grease 

March 3, 1920: I’m sure the concept of this ad seemed fine. But we have a slightly malevolent fellow spilling grease that turns into a highway. Maybe that’s why we don’t hear much about Gredag these days.

On the jump, baptismal records are introduced as evidence in a lawsuit over the Workman estate because Los Angeles County didn’t keep birth records between 1881 and 1888, The Times says.

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Governor Halts Chessman Execution

Feb. 19, 1960, Times Cover  

Caryl Chessman is prepared for the gas chamber, but gets a last-minute reprieve – for now. 

Feb. 19, 1960, Caryl Chessman
Feb. 19, 1960, Caryl Chessman
Feb. 19, 1960, Nixon at Olympics

Vice President Richard Nixon visits the winter Olympics at Squaw Valley.

Feb. 19, 1960, Nixon at Olympics

Feb. 19, 1960, Compost

An experiment in composting, “one of the disposal systems of the future.”
Feb. 19, 1960: Vice President Richard Nixon says, "My theory is this -- play the game fairly but play it hard. I quarrel with the thought that we shouldn't mind losing. I feel that the loser should be bitterly disappointed, but that he should take his disappointment out on himself, not on his opponent. And this applies to politics, economics and to education as well as sports."

L.A. Prepares for Auto Show

Jan. 31, 1910, Auto Show  

Jan. 31, 1910, Auto Show 

Jan. 31, 1910: Some grand old names of the past are at the auto show, like Packard and Pierce-Arrow. Buick and Cadillac seem to be about the only survivors. The first Los Angeles auto show was held in 1907 at Morley's Rink, Grand Avenue between 9th and 10th streets. It was the first auto show on the West Coast and the largest west of Chicago. Of the 99 cars on display, two were electric and the rest were powered by gasoline.  Fiesta Park, where the show was held in 1910, was at 12th and Grand.

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Finch Stole Two Cadillacs, Went to Las Vegas

Jan. 23, 1960, Finch Trial 

Betty Jean Behr shows a photo of victim Barbara Jean Finch.

Jan. 23, 1960, Finch Trial

Jan. 23, 1960, Atomic Waste

What to do with the radioactive waste piling up in Long Beach? Dump it in the ocean!

Jan. 23, 1960, Atomic Waste

Mach 22, 1960, Atomic Waste 

March 22, 1960: A judge rules that Long Beach has no right to oppose an atomic waste facility, saying that it is "an indispensable part of both the peacetime and defense uses of atomic energy. Without a continuous and speedy waste disposal program all atomic research and production would stop."

Jan. 23, 1960, Atomic Waste

March 27, 1960: Even an explosion wasn’t enough to deter operations.

Dec. 12, 1960, Atomic Waste

Dec. 12, 1960: The Atomic Energy Commission recommends closing Robert Boswell’s Coastwise Marine Disposal Co. Unfortunately, I can’t find any further coverage in The Times to learn whether the business was shut down.

Jan. 23, 1960: Testimony in the Finch murder case focuses on two Cadillacs that were stolen shortly after Barbara Jean Finch was shot.

One Cadillac was taken from a home at 1847 Citrus St., in West Covina near Finch’s home and abandoned three miles away.

The other Cadillac was stolen from 15418 E. Alwood St., La Puente, and found in Las Vegas, four blocks from the apartment where Finch was arrested.

Defense attorney Grant B. Cooper told one car owner that Finch offered his apologies for the theft.

TV Writers Go on Strike Over Residuals

Jan. 16, 1960, Nancy

“I Wish He'd Finish His Cartoon Before He Takes His Coffee Break.”View this photo

Jan. 16, 1960, WGA Strike

Jan. 16, 1960, WGA Strike

Jan. 16, 1960, Eisenhower

Akron has slipper sox!

Jan. 16, 1960, Ike Goes Hunting

President Eisenhower, the man of the decade, according to a Gallup poll, goes bird hunting.

Jan. 16, 1960, Radioactive Waste

A radioactive waste disposal company in Long Beach has been operating without a permit.

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Jan. 16, 1960, Smog 

“During the past five years we have found the smog in Los Angeles is caused primarily by auto exhaust activated by intense sunlight. We call this photo-chemical smog. We realize crankcase emissions are a smog source, but they are only about 10% of the cause. Most of the rest is caused by exhaust emissions so let's not get too excited about eliminating crankcase vapors,” says W.L. Faith of the Air Pollution Foundation in San Marino.


Jan. 16, 1960, Ford for VP

Rep. Gerald R. Ford (R-Mich.), 47,  is vice presidential timber!

Jan. 16, 1960, Horoscope

Jan. 16, 1960, Jerry Lewis

Everybody knows who Helen Traubel is, but Johnny Unitas has to be identified.
Jan. 16, 1960: “A walkout against major film studios by movie writers is scheduled for 11:59 p.m. today. The strikes follow failure of guild and industry negotiators to reach agreement on a new contract, particularly on the issue of payments to writers for post-1948-films sold to TV, and on inclusion of a payments formula.”

Glorious Southern California!


Jan. 1, 1920, Hiking 

“He who thinks that the Southland's many miles of smooth automobile roads penetrating every beauteous section have relegated the alpenstock to the reverent care of the antiquarian is mistaken. In case you doubt me ask any member of the Sierra Club. He knows. He takes a mountain walk in length anywhere from five to 20 or more miles, almost every weekend. With no more impediment usually than his handy canteen, and often with not even this much, he boards an early morning electric car and journeys to the end of the line, from which he foots it to the mouth of some grass-carpeted canyon whence his ascent begins, makes his journey in a day and is back at the office fresh for the day's work next morning.”


Jan. 1, 1920, Beaches 
“Santa Monica -- Ocean Park has an ideal location for the homeseeker, businessman and the convalescent. Each individual can be suited to their particular walk in life. Situated on the very shores of the great rolling old Pacific Ocean, 'Where the mountains meet the sea,' with unsurpassed scenery and in close proximity to the big metropolis of Los Angeles, makes it a most desirable place to live.”

Jan. 1, 1920, Ripley

Ripley, Calif., land of opportunity and prosperity, at least according to the California Southern  Railroad, which named the settlement in honor of E.P. Ripley, head of the Santa Fe Railway.

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Ripley, Calif., via Google maps’ street view.

Jan. 1, 1920: The Times publishes its annual Midwinter Edition, a special section intended to present life in Southern California in a perfect light.  The stories are overloaded with superlatives, but they still have value as a snapshot of the era, especially as an example of the paper’s boosterism at full throttle.


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