The Daily Mirror

Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history

Category: San Fernando Valley

Deputies Raid Spahn Movie Ranch; Booed by Fans, Wills Hits Grand Slam

Aug. 17, 1969, Cover

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.   

Aug. 17, 1969, Manson Tick Tock

Aug. 17, 1969, Manson Tick Tock

"Frykowski [fixing the original error] and Miss Folger were involved with strange people. She was interested in witchcraft, Black Masses, that sort of thing, and she and Frykowsky would go to weird, kinky places."

At left, an odd juxtaposition: Dial Torgerson's "tick tock" story on the Manson killings next to the arrests of a group of people "living like animals" at George Spahn's Movie Ranch. 

Aug. 17, 1969, Nancy

Nancy becomes a stalker.

Aug. 17, 1969, Ash Grove

"Somehow the business details were worked out and the Ash Grove not only survived but became the biggest and busiest showplace for folk music in America."
Aug. 17, 1969, Ash Grove

"...the artist does not have to stand up on the stage and look at the audience, as in a nightclub, and ask himself how he can please those people out there. He can reach deep within his soul to find his deepest values and, hopefully, bring the audience along with him."

Aug. 17, 1969, Sports 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."

--Keith Thursby

L.A. Prepares for Olympic-Size Traffic Nightmare

July 1, 1984, Subway

July 1, 1984: Will subways work in Los Angeles?

"But others say Metro Rail will not be heavily used by poor people because it will not take them where they want to go--to jobs scattered throughout the Los Angeles area," The Times' William Trombley wrote.

"The traffic patterns of low-income blacks and Hispanics are diffused," said George W. Hilton, professor of economics at UCLA. "They are highly auto-dependent and are likely to remain so in the foreseeable future." Hilton also said: "We aren't going to run out of fossil fuels. There's no economic point in finding more than a 20-year supply at one one time. As prices rise, other sources will be found."

July 1, 1984, Subway

Mr. Modular was working on these pages. They look like bento boxes.
July 1, 1984, Subway

Well, of course, the subways work in Los Angeles, but nobody knew it in 1984. Tunneling beneath the city was not without problems, as anyone who recalls the partial collapse of Hollywood Boulevard during construction of the Red Line will remember.

And people with long memories will recall that traffic congestion during the 1984 Olympics was much less than expected.

The 1984 Olympics united Southern California residents over a familiar topic--traffic.

Bob Pool's story focused on concerns in the San Fernando Valley with the Games starting in less than a month. "We're going to have problems if 70% of the people going to the Olympics don't take the bus. If 50% of them go by car, we're going to have total gridlock," David C. Royer, senior Los Angeles city transportation engineer for the Valley, West Los Angeles and LAX, told a group of Encino homeowners.

The worries weren't limited to the Valley, of course. Events were scheduled across the Southland so if you lived somewhere in Southern California, you were planning for the worst-case scenario. 

Royer said residents should ask their employers for flexible working hours during the Olympics and people with tickets should start reserving seats on RTD buses.

--Keith Thursby

Streetcar Kills Motorcycle Officer

June 16, 1920, Bradley

June 16, 1920: Motorcycle Officer E. Peter Bradley is killed when he ignores crossing signals and is hit by an inbound streetcar at Ventura and Lankershim boulevards.

Nuestro Pueblo: The Pershing Square Mystery

June 7, 1939, Nuestro Pueblo

"The Last Argument of Kings"
Sept. 20, 1953, Cannon

Sept. 20, 1953: The cannon was moved to Travel Town in Griffith Park.
This simple post about a cannon at Pershing Square has become ridiculously complicated. All I want to know is what became of it!

A longtime gathering place for malcontents and the homeless, the site has been known as the New Plaza, 6th Street Park, Central Park, St. Vincent's Park and Pershing Square. To delve into its tawdry history is to read nearly countless stories of attempts to rid it of rats, pigeons and blackbirds. But I won't get derailed into all of that today.

The cannon in Nuestro Pueblo (which I'll call "The Last Argument of Kings") was captured at Santiago de Cuba and given to Los Angeles by Maj. Gen. William R. Shafter on Thanksgiving Day, 1899.

Dec. 1, 1899, Cannon

This is how The Times depicted "The Last Argument of Kings" cannon on Dec. 1, 1899. Although the artwork is unsigned, I would guess that it might have been done by Ted Gale, staff artist and cartoonist.

And this is Shafter's presentation speech:

Dec. 1, 1899, Shafter Speech

According to a 1947 story, "The Last Argument of Kings" was placed at the northeast corner of the park, 5th and Hill streets.

Jan. 3, 1961, Cannon at Travel Town

After World War II, Pershing Square was excavated to create underground parking and the mature landscaping and fountain were removed. Evidently "The Last Argument of Kings" was considered incompatible with the new landscaping and moved to Travel Town, where it was photographed for a Jan. 3, 1961, Times feature. Bonus fact: Victory House was built at the park during World War II as a USO facility for servicemen.  

July 5, 1935, Old Ironsides Cannon

But one cannon wasn't enough for Pershing Square. On the Fourth of July, 1935, a second cannon was placed in the park, at the southwest corner, Olive and 6th Street. The "Old Ironsides" cannon remains in Pershing Square.

Dec. 11, 1975, Cannon

In the meantime, "The Last Argument of Kings" has become a plaything for children at Travel Town, as photographed by Boris Yaro, Dec. 11, 1975. 

I may have to make a field trip to Travel Town and see if it's still there.

Love Triangle Killings at Burbank Trailer Park

May 29, 1959, Everything's OK

"Everything's Okay, Honey, Go Back to Sleep, Huh?"

May 29, 1959, GOP

May 29, 1959, Trailer Murders

May 29, 1959, Editorial Cartoon

May 29, 1959, Audrey Hepburn

May 29, 1959, Unwed Mothers

May 29, 1959, Disney

May 29, 1959, TV


May 29, 1959, Bud Abbott

May 29, 1959, Marriage

May 29, 1959, Zen

May 29, 1959, Pachmayr

Nuestro Pueblo: Pumpkin Church

May 26, 1939, Nuestro Pueblo

Below, Strangler Lewis vs. Toots Mondt at the Philharmonic, Aug. 14, 1924. Notice the byline: Braven Dyer, who retired from The Times in 1964 and died in 1983 at the age of 83.

Aug. 14, 1924, Strangler Lewis

Enemy Agents Kidnap Book Publisher, May 14, 1939

May 14, 1939, Circulation  
May 14, 1939, Cover

Publisher George Putnam, former husband of the late Amelia Earhart...
May 14, 1939, Putnam Kidnapping

... releases a book titled "The Man Who Killed Hitler" ...
May 14, 1939, Putnam

... and some mysterious men with German accents don't like it ...
May 14, 1939, Putnam
... They grab him at his home in North Hollywood and take him to Bakersfield.

Jordan's King Hussein Visits L.A.; Rams to Play Night Game, April 4, 1959


The Times' art department retouched Neil Clemans' photo of Marlon Brando giving the finger to photographers. Let's see if we can get a copy of the original.

At left, King Hussein of Jordan waves to photographers in Palmdale after flying a Lockheed F-104D over the Mojave Desert. The Times emphasized that Hussein was "Islam's sworn foe of communism" and said he "scorned Soviet aid to the Middle East and offered a three-point plan to save the cradle of religion from the 'sweep of atheism.' "

 Communists and Peronists riot in downtown Buenos Aires ... Princess Grace's appendectomy is Page 1 news ... and Judge Martin Katz of Van Nuys asks a woman charged with advertising fortune telling whether she can predict his verdict. She couldn't. And Katz fined her $25.

And the weather? "Smog today."
Elizabeth Duncan is sentenced to die.
Hey, it's "On Stage" by Leonard Starr. Haven't seen that one in years.

1959_0404_rams  Even in Southern California, football fans deal with the weather.

The Rams announced plans for a Saturday night game to open the 1959 season. "For the last four seasons the Coliseum temperature has been in the high 80s," general manager Pete Rozelle said. "We feel that Ram fans would prefer a night game while the weather is still warm."

You have to wonder if Rozelle, the future commissioner, also was envisioning a future of night games and prime-time television audiences for the NFL.

--Keith Thursby

Body of Girl, 16, Dumped at Burbank Hospital


1959_0324_brenda_emerson_3 Half a century cannot dull the tragedy.

Her name was Brenda. When they found her lying in the grass outside St. Joseph Hospital in Burbank they guessed she was 21, but she was only 16. A man called to say she was there. He didn't give his name.

Brenda was still warm and fully dressed in a black coat, cream-colored blouse and red print pedal pushers. All the labels had been removed.  She was wearing a 14-karat gold wedding band and an engagement ring, a gold locket and a cheap wristwatch. Her pink shoes were nearby.

She was identified by her uncle, Sheldon Grossbart, as Brenda Blonder Emerson. She was a bride of nine months who eloped to Arizona with Stephen Emerson, 20, against the wishes of her parents, Mr. and Mrs. William Blonder, 9606 Cresta Drive, Fox Hills. She had a needle mark in her arm and another in her buttocks. 

The medical examiner found that she died from 3.4 grams of sodium pentothal, administered as an anesthetic before undergoing an abortion. A preliminary examination suggested a false pregnancy, but later tests determined that she was pregnant, The Times said.   

Brenda and Stephen had been living at 9645 1/2 Olympic Blvd., Beverly Hills. He wasn't working and it's not clear what she did for a living, but Brenda managed to get $600 ($4,223.87USD 2007) for the operation, The Times said. 

1959_0324_haskins_2 And somehow she found Ruth Haskins, 42, a hard-boiled pro of the business who had worked with her brother, osteopath Philip Victor Ames, until he ran off to Mexico in 1957 to avoid being sentenced for nine counts of performing abortions. Haskins' career dated at least to 1936, when she was sentenced to a year in jail for illegal operations. With her brother in Mexico, Haskins had begun working with his former chauffeur, Edgar Schrater, alias Edgar Salgado.

On the day she died, Brenda apparently claimed she was going to a family reunion at her parents' home. Stephen told police the last time he saw her was in Hollywood at 4 p.m., three hours before her body was found. The Times said Brenda's mother took her to a rendezvous with Mrs. Michael Smythe for the trip to Burbank, where the abortion was to be performed.

Because it was unclear whether the LAPD or Burbank police had jurisdiction in Brenda's death, Los Angeles homicide detectives joined the investigation. 

1959_0323_bodyLAPD homicide Detectives Danny Galindo and Paul LePage, accompanied by Haskins' son-in-law, Bob Kane, went to Tijuana to find her. The detectives arrested her after Kane pointed her out at the Tijuana Airport, where she was en route to Mexico City to join her brother, the Mirror-News said. Haskins was carrying $945 in cash and an address book "containing numerous names," the Mirror-News said. 

When another woman was wrongly indicted, Smythe admitted her role in Brenda's death and received 75 days in jail. Haskins pleaded guilty and was sentenced to prison, although The Times didn't report the terms.

Schrater surrendered to LAPD homicide Detective Herman Zander in the Hollywood office of attorney Jules Covey and was booked on suspicion of murder. He served five years after pleading guilty to manslaughter and was arrested in 1968 on charges of running an abortion ring in the Chicago suburbs. 


Brenda was given a pink casket and buried in a beige satin dress at Mt. Sinai Memorial Park.

At her funeral, Rabbi Jacob Pressman of Temple Beth Am said: "Oh God, we do not pretend to understand the reason of thy ways .... She was little more than a pretty child playing at the grownup game and now she suddenly lies in our midst in the stillness of death." Although the details of her death were known only to God, he said, "the vivid present must give way to the sweet memories of her happy past."

The Times said: "In the tearful graveside rites, the girl's father, near collapse, joined Rabbi Pressman in singing the Kaddish, the mourner's prayer. At the conclusion, Brenda's maternal grandmother, Mrs. Rose Beim, threw herself on the casket and kissed it.

"And then they left Brenda on the slope ..."

Burbank Time Capsule Revisited

Cinda Cates, Burbank public information specialist, passes along the images that were recovered from the 1959 time capsule placed in the Magnolia Boulevard Bridge. The anonymous photographer recorded the city's civic buildings (City Hall, a fire station, etc.) and took quite a few pictures of the new bridge.

Spend a moment on the predictions of Kenneth E. Norwood of Burbank's Planning Department. He envisioned a city where only 12% of the people lived in single-family homes, with 88% in multi-unit garden apartments made of plastic that were incorporated in commercial complexes. "These complexes are supposed to be the ultimate in urban living, combining offices, hotels, apartments, shops, restaurants, etc., in one continuous complex of buildings, malls and arcades," he wrote.

There would be no overhead wires or antennas, he said. Instead, Burbank would use underground atomic power with electricity distributed by waves.

"Rapid monorail routes connect metro centers, with pickup stations at the Lockheed Air Control Center, and at each of the main malls in Burbank," Norwood wrote. "Unlike auto parking in 1959, there is no parking on streets or open lots but in fully automatic parking units located at each main destination point."
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Nuestro Pueblo -- March 1, 1939


Above, a quirky sentinel welcomes visitors to Sylmar. Below, a 1949
feature on the Olive Festival.


Burbank Finds 1959 Time Capsule

Photograph by Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times

The 50-year-old time capsule about to be freed from the Magnolia Boulevard Bridge.
Jia-Rui Chong
Times Staff Writer

With a hammer and a chisel, a Burbank city worker this morning carved out a tiny silver time capsule 50 years after it was first tucked into the base of the Magnolia Bridge.

"It was there -- we found it," said deputy city manager Joy Forbes, excitement and relief bubbling through her voice.

City officials did not know the capsule was due to be opened on Feb. 5, 2009, until Larry Harnisch at the Times' Los Angeles history blog e-mailed them over the weekend. City workers hustled to find the location of the time capsule. When they pried off the dedication plaque on the base of the bridge, near 1st Street and Magnolia Boulevard, they found a darker patch of cement.

Read more >>>

Stan Lynch, who attended yesterday's event and the original ceremony in 1959, told the Burbank Leader:

There were already film studios in 1950s Burbank, but the shutdown of Lockheed’s manufacturing plants by the end of the 1980s has changed the city the most, Lynch said.

“When I was 14, it wasn’t unusual for 75% of the classmates to have family that worked for Lockheed,” he said. “The mall on Magnolia Boulevard is the biggest change after that. We finally got a mall.”


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