“Oh, Man!” by Clare Briggs.
|Feb. 17, 1920: Here we have another story about the Bachelors Ball. The Times’ account gives the entire guest list and describes many of the elaborate costumes. One of the highlights of the ball, which was held at the Alexandria Hotel, was a musical number called “The Bachelor’s Sidestep.” It’s interesting that the orchestra played behind a screen of palms, which reminds me of blindfolding the musicians in “Sunset Boulevard.” |
I’m not sure which intrigues me more, a group for wealthy young men dedicated to being single, or the reporter’s attitude that marriage was a trap to be avoided. And yes, the word “gay” had not taken on its current connotation.
Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history
|Feb. 10, 1980: Charles Champlin writes, “The principal complaint, artistically, about 'Cruising' is that it is not very clear at the rudimentary level of exposition of character and event. The problem, as with [William] Friedkin's 'Sorcerer,' which he also wrote himself, is in a script that never seems sure enough what it wants to say or prove.”|
“Somebody Is Always Taking the Joy Out of Life,” by Clare Briggs.
Feb. 1, 1920: The purity squad raids a party at the home of former Mayor Arthur Harper.
|Feb. 2, 1920: If you were a reader of the 1947project, you may remember this incident. Joe Harper, the son of former Mayor Harper, is arrested on charges of taking part in a “degenerate orgy.” |
My posts on the 1947project site have gotten somewhat trashed over the years, with only the first few lines accessible. Here’s the original post:
Mayor Arthur C. Harper happens to be in all sorts of trouble. He’s telling the newspapers that he has had enough of politics and won’t seek another term. The district attorney is trying to shut down the local red light district and eventually these efforts will reveal allegations of City Hall corruption involving Harper, Police Chief Kern, a police commissioner, a police captain named Broadwood and Nicholas D. “Nick” Oswald, one of the biggest leaders of the city’s underworld.
The 1909 Broadwood case is complicated (he was found not guilty, by the way, despite accounts of payoffs from the earnings of Los Angeles bordellos) and in researching the mayor’s life, I came across the following incident.
The word “homosexual” is a rarity in The Times, appearing exactly twice in editorial content between 1900 and 1940: a 1912 review of “The Candle and the Flame” by George Sylvester Viereck; and a 1939 health column by Dr. William Brady.
So what does the paper do when “purity squad” raids the former mayor’s home, 1128 W. 28th St.? Like this, from Feb. 1, 1920:
“Twenty Los Angeles men, some said to be prominent in social and business circles, were arrested last night by police at a stag party in the home of former Mayor Harper and were booked at the police station on the charge of social vagrancy.
“Seven of the men, including the host, Joseph Harper, 24 years old, are alleged by the officers making the raid to have been gowned in feminine apparel.”
After a few paragraphs, the paper says: “According to Police Sergeant Gifford and the officers of the ‘purity squad’ who conducted the raid, a degenerate orgy was in progress when they entered the house.”
The men were taken to jail as they were dressed, meaning that some of them spent the night in women’s clothing. Early the next morning, The Times says, the dresses were taken into evidence, so some of the men were given bathrobes and others draped themselves with jail blankets. Of the 16 arrested, four were released to the Navy (they were in uniform, The Times said) and eight were held in custody because they tested positive “for infectious disease.” And yes, their names or pseudonyms, addresses and occupations were published.
When asked about his son Joe, the former mayor said: “The only party he has given lately that I know of was given by him on Halloween night. His mother was present that night and among the guests during the evening, so I know nothing wrong took place.”
One of the sailors said: “I came in for my liberty and met a fellow at a downtown street corner. He asked me if I’d like to attend a nice party with dancing and girls and refreshments and said for me to bring some of my friends along.”
The Times said: “The sailors declare they did not know for a long time that the ‘girls’ were men and when they did learn of the fact, some thought it was just a good-natured masquerade ‘stunt.’ ”
A later story says: “All the men are charged with lewd and dissolute conduct. Seven were dressed as women and the police say their acts were such that the charges against them can be upheld in court.”
Police said that officers learned about the party several weeks ago. “Arrangements were made to have some of the officers in the house,” The Times said.
“The raiding officers in plain clothes gained entrance to the house and mixed with the strange guests. Several other officers climbed into the house by way of a rear window and concealed themselves beneath beds. After watching the ‘party’ for over two hours, whistles were blown and the raiding party rushed into the residence.”
Two months later, the case against the "Lady Men" was dismissed.
Bonus fact: One of the earliest occurrences of “gay bar” in The Times appears in a Oct. 15, 1953, story about the extortion trial of Jimmie Tarantino and refers to a bar on Market Street in San Francisco.
Akron has remote-control dachshunds -- “a zany plaything.”
Johnnie Ray says he just invited a friendly undercover officer up to his room for a nightcap. Nothing indecent about that.
Mr. Flynn, would you like gold plating on that nude statue of your “protege?”
Three of bookstores accused of selling obscene materials are in the 500 block of South Main.
The Fiat Bianchina ($9747.94 USD 2008) gets 40 mpg and has a heater!
“I could have a baby now, but I prefer to wait until I’m 100,” says Dr. Barbara Moore.
Brigitte Bardot in “A Woman Like Satan.” Free Bardot hairstyles and makeup to the first 25 women who attend the showing at the Iris Theatre matinee!!
Ernie Bushmiller -- An early influence on Bill Watterson?
Is Sid Gillman leaving the Rams? And who might take his place?
“When a Feller Needs a Friend,” by Clare Briggs
|Nov. 21, 1919: Lucille Howell seeks a divorce from her husband, an Army captain who likes to wear a girdle. |
"You know I always wanted a form like yours. You just wait until I accomplish the development that I want to. I tell you, honey, you will have quite a girl for your hubby,” Capt. Clarence Howell wrote. Capt. Howell appealed to the head of the Daughters of the American Revolution to arrange a reconciliation, but the attempt failed.
In one letter, Mrs. Howell called her husband a “sissy.” "He replied that if he got the figure he wanted, he did not see that it called for mean things on his wife's part," The Times said.
Dr. Alice Bush of Oakland sues for divorce, charging that her husband, R.K. Morgan, failed to disclose something rather important.
|Nov. 15, 1909: The lynchings in Cairo, Ill., are endorsed from the pulpit and in the press. Saying that lawlessness was common in the area where a woman was killed, the Rev. George M. Babcock of Church of the Redeemer, Episcopalian, says: “This defiance of law and order made the lynchings necessary to secure justice.” F.A. Thielecke, editor of the Cairo Bulletin, says: “Cairo’s disgrace is not the mob, but the conditions that made the mob necessary.” |
After a long time, I crossed orbits again the other day with Peter O'Crotty, writer, beachcomber and enthusiastic fugitive from civilization. Pete, a fun-loving, charming gentleman to whom crazy things are always happening -- with his help, it must be added -- disappeared into the desert below Tucson about five years ago.
The last I heard he had built a adobe house and announced he was holing up in it until the world came to its senses. He calls his place Rancho Despoblado, which means deserted spot or wilderness.
What was Pete, a man with a talent for being happy though broke, doing back in L.A. in of all places, a luxurious bungalow at the Beverly Hills Hotel?
Well, when he bought the first 200 acres for his house he found it was inadequate for the needs of his one cow, which died. So he kept buying land and he wound up with 67 square miles of desert. Makes nice running room for his horse and the rattlesnakes, which abound there.
ONE DAY NOT LONG AGO a man came out to his place with a magnet or something and informed Pete his land was loaded with iron ore. This was no world-shaking discovery, as iron ore deep in the desert, even Pete knows, is about as worthless as anything you can think of.
However, this man and his associates thought otherwise and a deal was made whereby they plan to develop it. They also have some television interests in which Pete, who once wrote a screenplay for Howard Hughes, is participating.
With his new wealth Pete promptly bought a new car and put in a 40-foot swimming pool. The car comes in handy when he gets the impulse to go fishing in the Gulf of California, about 70 miles away, and where, by the way, tequila is only 90 cents a quart.
The pool is fine except that rattlers like to curl up on the filter. This presents quite a problem. There's the danger of shattering the tile if you shoot them. So his sons coax the snakes out of the pool, then dispatch them. In fact, his boy Mike presented Pete with a silver-plated rattle off a four-footer as a birthday gift.
"THE FUNNY thing is that I'm still a beachcomber -- a desert beachcomber," Pete said. "I find all sorts of shells on my place. It used to be the bottom of the ocean, you know."
Pete could hardly wait to finish his business here to get back to his desert hideaway. But he's beginning to wonder about his Rancho Despoblado.
"It's even getting too civilized there," he said sadly. "In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if one of these days someone will be subdividing the Grand Canyon."
A LADY WHO lives in a modern home in South Bel-Air phoned a professional window washer and asked if he could come over and clean her windows.
After she explained the nature of the job he said, "I'll have to send a man out for a consultation."
"Consultation?" she asked. "What for?"
"Well," he replied, "we have men who wash big windows and men who wash small windows."
"You better send a man who has at least a Ph.D.," she said. "I've got 86 windows to clean, all sizes."
WHEN A doctor told Al Diaz he'd have to reduce Al said, "I'm not overweight, doc, I'm underheight" . . . And Marge, 13, summed up the situation for everyone when she was taken to a doctor for treatment of a sore throat. "If it's going to hurt," she said nervously, "tell me now so I'll faint before I feel it."
AT RANDOM -- The scene in TV Westerns that irks a gal named Vallette is the one where the hero says to a listless, bereaved friend, "You've got to snap out of it, Joe, she wouldn't want it this way." At which Joe says, "Thanks, Mac, I'll be all right now" . . . Jack Perkins thinks the networks should televise Charles Van Doren's appearance before the congressional committee investigating quiz show rigging. Should have as big a rating, he figures, as the original show.
Rex Harrison and Richard Burton play two hairdressers who live together in "Staircase." No, it's not on Netflix.
Before the Rally Monkey there was Halo Harry.
The Angels didn't have many fans in 1969 but they did have a cheerleader of sorts, a regular guy who got fed up with his fellow fans acting as if they were in a library.
"I just got sick and tired of watching everyone just sit there," Jay Freese told The Times' Dave Distel. So one day he started wearing a straw hat with a halo attached by a wire.
I remember seeing Harry at the Big A, walking through the ballpark trying to get people to clap or cheer, anything. He certainly wasn't an in your face cheerleader, threatening your manhood because you didn't want to help him start The Wave. I hate those guys.
Distel pointed out that Harry seemed to have a winning effect on the team, just as today's Angels broadcasters love to trumpet the Rally Monkey's impact.
He certainly wasn't improving the attendance. A day after the story appeared, the Angels played their final home game in front of only 5,728 people.
Sept. 3, 1969: Ho Chi Minh is gravely ill -- in fact, he's dead ... the Massachusetts Supreme Court postpones an inquest in the death of Mary Jo Kopechne ... searchers in the Holy Land find the wallet and passport of Dr. James A. Pike, former Episcopal bishop of California ... and a nondupe by Noel Greenwood!
"The Italian Job" starts today!
One panel that will never appear in the legacy version of "Dennis the Menace."
That broke the Dodger record set in 1916 by Zach Wheat, who was 81 in 1969 and had sent Davis a good-luck telegram. It also was one game closer to the National League record of 37 games by Tommy Holmes of the Braves in 1945. The Times didn't even mention Joe DiMaggio's 56-game streak.
Davis didn't get a hit with the game on the line and the Dodgers lost to the Mets, 5-4. "I got my hit at the wrong time," he said. The Dodgers' center fielder came up in 1960 and was with the team through 1973. He went to Montreal in a trade for reliever Mike Marshall, then bounced to Texas, St. Louis and finally the Angels.
As for Wheat, he told the Dodgers' Red Patterson that his streak should have reached 41 games but he "was robbed of a hit by the first-base umpire. I still remember it."
Being on the Dodgers meant there was more than baseball--you could be on TV! Here's a '60s classic with Willie Davis watching Mr. Ed's tryout at Dodger Stadium.
The Buffalo Bills' rookie was heading back to L.A. to play the Rams and said all the right things during an interview with Mal Florence.
" 'I'm really looking forward to it,' said Simpson, making no effort to conceal his enthusiasm. 'In fact everyone on the Buffalo team is looking forward to it. War Memorial Stadium is OK, but there's nothing like the Coliseum. It's synonymous with football. I know I won't have much time there but I still hope to see my friends and get over to USC and visit with the team."
It's hard to find profiles of Simpson from this era that don't include his comments about his plans after football.
"Someday when I retire, I want to come back to L.A. and be just another USC alum--taking in those football games at the Coliseum on Saturday afternoons."
Aug. 17, 1969: I suppose we at the Daily Mirror HQ should be talking about "Amerika" and how the military-industrial complex sucks the blood of the Woodstock Nation. But we're not. The only thing up against the wall here are the filing cabinets. Coming up in October: The Moratorium peace march!
South African golfer Gary Player is pelted with ice by civil rights protesters at the PGA championship ... and the Fire Department has fewer blacks than it did in 1956.
Nancy becomes a stalker.
Maury Wills returned to Canada for the first time since leaving the Expos so he could return to the Dodgers. There were plenty of boos to go around, almost all of them directed toward Wills, who in the long run didn't let it bother him.
""It's as if the fans here thought I played poorly because I wanted to be traded and now I'm playing good because I was traded," Wills told The Times' Ross Newhan. "Unfortunately I'm not that good of a player to do one thing one day and another thing the next. I also have too much pride."
There was plenty to be proud about against the Expos. Wills singled twice, scored two runs and stole a base in the Dodgers' 9-2 victory in the first game of the series. Then he hit the first grand slam of his career in a 9-3 victory.
Gene Mauch, the Montreal manager and future Angel manager, had an interesting perspective on Wills' short stay with the Expos: "When Maury first came to us from Pittsburgh the fans expected him to be perfect. They booed him when he wasn't and he became tense. Then he tried to meet it with indifference and that certainly isn't Maury Wills."