The Daily Mirror

Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history

Category: LAPD

Army Clears Strikers at North American Aviation





  image  

  June 10, 1941, Comics  


  June 10, 1941, North American Strike  

June 10, 1941: Bill Henry files a color story on soldiers using rifles with bayonets to herd strikers away from the North American Aviation plant. Unfortunately, my new optical character recognition software can’t handle these old clips, so I have to post the images of the stories. Henry’s story is worth reading.

Also on the jump, Ethel Waters stars in “Cabin in the Sky.”
 
Jimmie Fidler says: On the newsstands this month is a magazine which features an astrological analysis of Cary Grant's present status and future prospects... The birthday used in preparing Grant's chart was 1909, a date given out in a studio publicity department biography. Cary's real birth year was 1904!

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North American Aviation Strike





  June 6, 1941, North American Aviation Strike  
  Photograph by the Los Angeles Times  

Labor activists picket the North American Aviation plant in a photo published June 6, 1941.


  April 17, 1941, Reds  

June 7, 1941, Industrial Freedom One of the first challenges in studying the 1941 North American Aviation strike is using The Times as source material.

The newspaper had been a vocal opponent of organized labor since the 19th century and became even more strident after the 1910 bombing of The Times Building by union activists. The motto “True Industrial Freedom” appeared on the nameplate for years and “TRVE INDVSTRIAL FREEDOM” is carved into the building.  

April 17, 1941, Reds Given its other pronouncements, I wouldn’t expect The Times editorial page to be impartial, but news stories ought to be a different matter. Here’s what I consider an example of dubious reporting. This April 17, 1941, Times story leads with the statement that a UAW contract proposed for North American Aviation workers would forbid "barring of Communist Party members."

Further down, the story quotes the precise wording of the contract, which is a far broader statement forbidding discrimination on the basis of race, color, creed, political affiliations “or nativity of his parents or ancestors.”  Notice that it doesn’t mention anything about gender. In this era, of course, loyalty oaths were supposed to weed out subversives – but that’s another story. 

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Mayor Accuses LAPD of Spying on Political Supporters





  June 9, 1961, Comics  

  image  

June 9, 1961: Mayor-elect Sam Yorty comes out swinging, with charges that the LAPD was spying on his supporters, and he takes a little shot against The Times. Police Chief William H. Parker quickly disputed Yorty's allegations, saying they were "patently false." 

The relationship between the mayor of Los Angeles and the police chief is one of the most essential – and conflicted – in local  government (think of Chief Daryl F. Gates and Mayor Tom Bradley, who didn’t even speak to each other).  And I cannot recall a honeymoon that was shorter than the one between Yorty and Parker.

ps. That ticking time bomb you hear is the Watts riots, set to explode in August  1965.

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North American Aviation Strike


 



  June 7, 1941, U.S. Ready to Seize Plane Plant  


  June 7, 1941, Comics  


June 7, 1941, North American Strike June 7, 1941: The strike at the North American Aviation plant, in which Army troops dispersed union activists and took over an essential American defense facility,  is one of the landmark events in Los Angeles history.

Because of its importance – and because the details are sometimes mangled –  I’m going to devote several posts to the events that unfolded in the first half of 1941 at  North American Aviation, which was making the NA-73 (P-51) Mustang, the B-25 Mitchell medium bomber and the  AT-6A trainer at a sprawling facility at 5701 Imperial Highway.  Notice that North American is usually described as being in Inglewood, but the plant was actually at Mines Field in Los Angeles.

Although the United States would not enter the war until December, it was clear by the middle of 1941 that America would almost certainly be involved, making aircraft production a vital defense industry not only for the U.S., but for Britain, which was receiving some of North American’s planes. Aircraft workers were deferred from the draft because of the nature of their jobs.

 

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Police Chief on His Way Out




 
 
  June 6, 1941, Hohmann  

  June 6, 1941, Comics  

June 6, 1941: Police Chief Arthur Hohmann and Deputy Chief C.B. “Jack” Horrall are about to trade jobs. 

Horrall will remain chief through World War II and into the postwar period, finally retiring during the Brenda Allen scandal – as did Assistant Chief Joe Reed. It should be emphasized that Horrall was chief during an especially difficult time in Los Angeles history. The LAPD lost hundreds of men to the armed forces and had to relax its hiring standards to get enough replacements. Afterward, the “war emergency” officers had to make way when the LAPD’s regular police returned to duty. Some WE officers (their serial numbers included the letters WE to indicate their special status) remained with the LAPD but many others lost their jobs.

At the same time, remember that under Chief James Davis, Horrall headed the Police Department’s “bum blockade” of 1936, in which LAPD officers were sworn into local departments to prevent Okies and other transients from coming into California during the Depression.  Horrall later headed the vice squad.


After all these years, 9 out of 10 Hollywoodites still pass Harold Lloyd without recognizing him, Jimmie Fidler says.
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Jim Murray, June 4, 1961





   June 4, 1961, LAPD  

  June 4, 1961, Jim Murray  


June 4, 1961: Jim Murray puts in a call to Casey Stengel and says: "I realized I was listening to the Voice of Baseball again. And what it is doing in a bank vault in Glendale instead of a locker room in baseball is something for Dan Topping or Del Webb to answer, not me."
 
Notice the LAPD badge says “Policeman” instead of the current “Police Officer.”

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Yorty Elected Mayor!



 

 
 
  June 1, 1961, Times Cover  

  June 1, 1961, Comics  


June 1, 1961: Sam Yorty defeats Norris Poulson in the mayor’s race. Poulson says one reason for his loss was the Memorial Day riot in Griffith Park in which a mob of African Americans attacked a small group of LAPD officers. The riot broke out when the operator of the merry-go-round tried to eject a teenager who had gotten on without paying, The Times said. Two men were eventually convicted in the incident.

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Jimmie Fidler in Hollywood, May 31, 1941





  May 31, 1941, Arthur Hohmann's Son Dies  

  May 31, 1941, Comics  

May 31, 1941 – Arthur Hohmann, the LAPD’s reform police chief, will step down in June, citing the deaths of his son and his mother. He was replaced by Clemence C.B. “Jack” Horrall, who served as chief during World War II and retired in 1949 during the Brenda Allen scandal.

Lee Shippey says: It is strange how masterminds disagree as to whether the president's speech last Tuesday means war. So I think I should clear up the matter for my readers.

The speech does not necessarily mean war. All it means is that we must fight or the Nazis must surrender. I'm not joking. I do not think it impossible that the Nazis will surrender.


Also on the jump:  The Times opposes gasoline conservation, Daylight Saving Time and other measures as the country moves toward  wartime stringency measures. Typically, The Times says that the real way to prepare for war is to forbid strikes by unions!

And yes, The Times’ editorial page featured a Bible quote every day for many years.

HOLLYWOOD AFTER DARK: Carole Lombard grinning apologetically at the Hollywood and Vine traffic cop as her car rolls too far into the intersection, Jimmie Fidler says.

Also From The Times’ Editorial Page:

Don’t Recall Mayor Frank Shaw, 1938
Don’t Change Immigration Quotas for Jewish Refugees Fleeing Hitler, 1938
We Don’t Need a Federal Anti-Lynching Law, 1938
U.S. Shouldn’t Recognize Red China, 1959
Times Endorses Nixon, 1960

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Bullet of Mystery – Part 4




July 11, 1901, Lionel Comport lionel_comport_nd_crop


In case you just tuned in, I’m posting a small case study of research I did with Caroline Comport on her grandfather Lionel Comport for her master’s thesis. Researching Los Angeles is a treasure hunt, and every time I dig into the resources I find something new.


Bullet of Mystery – Part 1
Bullet of Mystery – Part 2
Bullet of Mystery – Part 3
 
In Part 2, we looked at some of the resources for online newspapers ,and in Part 3 we examined sites that have property records on the corner where Lionel Comport was shot in 1901. This time we’ll look at Sanborn maps of the neighborhood.  

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Bullet of Mystery -- Part 3




July 11, 1901, Lionel Comport lionel_comport_nd_crop


In case you just tuned in, I’m posting a small case study of research I did with Caroline Comport on her grandfather Lionel Comport for her master’s thesis. Researching Los Angeles is a treasure hunt, and every time I dig into the resources I find something new.


Bullet of Mystery – Part 1
Bullet of Mystery – Part 2
 
In Part 2, we looked at some of the resources for online newspapers. Caroline was also interested in the background details of the story. What was the neighborhood like?

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Bullet of Mystery – Part 1





  July 11, 1901, Bullet of Mystery  

Nov. 26, 1959, Lionel Comport Los Angeles history in the 1900s is an acquired taste. Most people limit themselves to  the Raymond Chandler era, the 1930s through the 1950s, as if Philip Marlowe moonlighted as a historian. Perhaps they find the city’s horse-and-buggy days too remote, but for me that era is like watching a modern metropolis slowly rise from the dust of a Wild West town.

I revisited 1901 when I met with Caroline Comport on Tuesday to help research her grandfather for a master’s thesis on how personal history shapes a family’s self-image. Or, as Caroline puts it, “How does who we think we are impact who we become?”

After spending years at microfilm machines and in various archives, I am always amazed at the relative ease of doing research these days. Our session was at Foxy’s in Glendale (free Wi-Fi!) and we delved into Los Angeles history while toasting English muffins. Truly the civilized way.
 
To summarize the story of Caroline’s grandfather, Lionel F. Comport was shot in the back July 10, 1901, while delivering milk from a horse-drawn wagon at 20th and Toberman streets in the University Park neighborhood. Police suggested various motives (Robbery? Dispute over a woman? A mad assassin?) but despite an intense investigation, officers never found the attacker.

The bullet  penetrated Comport’s intestines and by all expectations of medical care in that era, he should have died. However, he was rushed to a hospital (as fast as a horse-drawn ambulance would go, anyway) and survived the operation. He died in 1959 at the age of 79.

Here’s a brief case study in how we went about the research:

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From the Stacks – 'Portraits of Crime' (1977)





  Portraits of Crime  


Two years after writing about  LAPD Det. Ector Garcia, I finally located a copy of his book, “Portraits of Crime,” which arrived in the mail from the U.K. while I was on vacation. No one will ever mistake this book for great literature. The editing is weak (as in “Leo” LaBianca) but the rough, raw writing gives “Portraits” a freshness and immediacy that might be missing in a more polished work.

Written by LAPD artist Garcia (d. 1987) and Charles E. Pike, “Portraits” consists of composite sketches and brief summaries of  29 cases from the 1950s to the 1970s. Aside from the Tate-LaBianca and Son of Sam murders, most of the subjects are obscure killings, kidnappings and rapes that could easily be the raw material for several seasons of TV crime shows. 

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