The Daily Mirror

Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history

Category: Temple City

Found on EBay

Here's an interesting curio I found on EBay: A badge purportedly issued by the Pacific Electric Railway. I'm always suspicious of items like this because reproductions are common and frankly I wasn't sure the PE had a police force.


However, a quick trip to ProQuest reveals several stories in 1906 and 1907 about Pacific Electric Police Detective George Churchill, who investigated the theft of copper wire from the trolley system, the mysterious death of a car conductor and chased down a man who threw a rock through the window of Car No. 353 on the Long Beach line. He also arrested two men on the Santa Ana line who amused themselves by ringing up $30 in extra fares when the conductor wasn't looking.

(Given stories like these--and there are many more--I find it a miracle that the streetcar system has acquired sainthood in contemporary Los Angeles. Have you ever wondered what happened when a trolley car hit a horse? Think about it. The carnage on the streets of early 20th century Los Angeles is not to be believed).

And no, I don't get a percentage on this item or anything of the kind. Rather, this is another example of the amazing trove of history that turns up on EBay. It isn't a can of smog or photos of Julian Eltinge, but interesting in its own way. EBay has certainly offered me an outlet for excess cash in procuring copies of Confidential magazine for the Daily Mirror. (And to all of you who have asked: No, to the best of my knowledge no library or archive owns a complete run of Confidential).

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End of watch





Oct. 13-23, 1957
Los Angeles

1957_1013_blevins_pix Woody and Eddy's should have been an easy job for two old pros just out of the joint: Sit around and have a drink or two until the place closes and nearly everybody has cleared out, pull the guns, make them open the safe and take the money. Rough up anybody who gets brave.

Thomas Lee Barrington, 29, was living at 155 Bimini Place after being paroled from San Quentin seven weeks earlier. Harry B. Hancock, 50, 1414 E. 60th St., had been out of Folsom since March after spending 15 of the last 22 years in prison. Maybe they didn't know and maybe they didn't care, but Barrington and Hancock weren't dealing with the San Marino Police Department. Instead, the combination restaurant, bar and liquor store at Huntington and San Gabriel was across the street in Los Angeles County, under the jurisdiction of the Temple City substation.

Late in the evening, one of them slipped into the business' office and cut the phone wires. They followed bartender Andrew Gillian and his wife, Genevieve, into the parking lot, drew their guns and forced the couple back into the bar to open the safe At that time, nearly everyone was gone. The restaurant had closed hours earlier and the cooks were back in the sleeping quarters. Bartender Lawrence McDonald was still inside, as were waitress Georgia Gould and her mother, Mary, who worked in the the hatcheck room.

"They were mean and they were tough," Genevieve Gillian said. "They really shoved us around."

In the confusion, one of the women slipped away and called the Sheriff's Department from a pay phone outside the restaurant. While Hancock took Andrew Gillian into the office to open the safe, Barrington followed McDonald, who had tried to escape.

Andrew Gillian said he didn't know the combination and Hancock warned him: "If you don't open the safe, I'll kill you."

At the entrance to the bar, Barrington put his .45 to McDonald's back and shot him just as the first police car arrived with Deputies Harold S. Blevins and Charles E. Covington.

Barrington shot Blevins in the head, killing him instantly, and Covington returned the gunfire, shooting five rounds, The Times said. Barrington was dead when he hit the ground, but in the gunfight, he shot Covington in the chest, with the bullet going through him and coming out his back.

1957_1013_hancock Hancock rushed to a window when he heard the gunfire, and his prisoners fled. More deputies and the watch commander arrived, sealing off the streets to capture Hancock. About 75 heavily armed officers surrounded the restaurant, and on the assumption that Hancock was still inside holding several hostages, shot teargas into the building.

The gas rousted the cooking staff from their sleeping quarters, but failed to flush Hancock from the restaurant. He was finally found hiding in a car parked in front of the liquor store. Deputies had to restrain Andrew Gillian to keep him from attacking Hancock, the Mirror said. "Let me at him!" Gillian yelled. "He hasn't got a gun now."

Hancock was sentenced to three life terms after being convicted of murder, attempted murder, kidnapping for robbery, attempted robbery and attempted burglary. I can find no further trace of him.

Blevins, who was survived by his wife, Barbara Anne, daughters Brenda and Heidi, and his parents, was buried at Resurrection Cemetery after services at All Saints Catholic Church attended by hundreds of police officers.

"Minutes after her husband's casket was carried into the church, Mrs. Barbara Anne Blevins, the deputy's widow, collapsed on the sidewalk as she was being led from a car," The Times said. "A deputy lifted the sobbing woman into his arms and carried her inside."

McDonald apparently recovered from his wounds. Covington and Blevins were honored in a 1959 ceremony for LAPD officers and sheriff's deputies who had been killed or wounded in the line of duty.

Woody and Eddy's, 3007 Huntington Blvd., is now the location of a strip mall that includes a Starbucks and Howe's market.

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Pepe Arciga

1957_arciga_3 Aug. 26, 1957

In a recent issue of Variety, columnist Dave Kaufman sends off his piece with an opening paragraph sure to be an eye-catcher. It concerns racial prejudice and the way some writers are unsuccessfully trying to peddle their written wares on same -- to big business.

This is what Kaufman reports: "Racial prejudice is too strong a subject for television... Rod Serling, one of TV's top scripters, wrote a teleplay for U.S. Steel... He was ordered to dilute it.

"This year he wrote a similar story but changed it so that instead of Negroes, the yarn would revolve about Mexicans.

"It was designed for 'Playhouse 90' and producer Martin Manulis was enthusiastic about it... Not so the sponsors, all but one of them rejecting it."

Kaufman went on to explain Serling's holy displeasure because the story wasn't accepted. Reportedly, Serling is supposed to have remarked that it was a story of "prejudice as it exists," that "he was tired of fighting this" and -- bless his crusading soul -- "that he would let someone else do the fighting."

Personally, I'll go on record in saying that "Playhouse 90" is very admirable TV fare, certainly one of my top choices.

Of Serling, there can be no middle ground for discussion. He and Paddy Chayefsky lead the race a mile ahead.

But -- and this is where big business showed a big sense of values -- racial prejudice, whether "diluted" from Negroes to Mexicans or to Jews, or to Manchurians or what have you (if it is generally rampant at all), is not the kind of commodity one bandies around with a price tag. And hoping for the big slice.

If U.S. Steel declined to buy Serling's tale of prejudice for national showings in the quiet of, in the intimacy of, the American home, I, for one, cannot blame them. No, not in the least.

National television, in my way of thinking, cannot and should not be placed in the same category as hardcover book production, paperbacks or cheap pulps.

P.S. "Serling," concludes Kaufman, "did get paid for the story that won't be seen."

Here's a list of Serling's 10 scripts for "Playhouse 90," from the Serling archives at Ithaca College.

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Look to the Skies!

April 11, 1957
Temple City

By Larry Harnisch

Early that morning, about 4:40 a.m., a sonic boom that was perhaps from some secret aircraft shook the San Gabriel Valley awake, setting off burglar alarms and breaking a window at 275 N. Hill Ave. in Pasadena. It was, the Mirror noted, "the first sonic blast reported in the metropolitan area at night."

It was another day of anxiety for Los Angeles residents worried about a Soviet attack. Hadn't they been just been warned that 90% of the people in the metropolitan area would not survive a nuclear blast?

As he left for school that morning, 10-year-old Patrick Murphy noticed a crater 2 feet deep in the backyard of his home at 8831 Greenwood in Temple City, but he didn't say anything to his parents, Oscar, a venetian blind salesman, and Virginia, until that evening when he got home.

At 2 a.m., Capt. Robert Jackson of 551st Ordnance Detachment arrived with three enlisted men and two sheriff's deputies. Jackson's verdict: Possibly a small missile or a meteorite.

Jackson dismissed the notion that the crater was the work of neighborhood children. "If a child had dug it, we'd know it by now," Jackson said. "There would have been knee marks around the crater."

So the men began to dig--carefully, since what was down there could be an unexploded bomb.

More military officers arrived, including two men from Air Force intelligence who said very little, according to The Times, except: "There's definitely a hole in the ground."

The excavation turned up a chunk of concrete marked with yellow paint that was unrelated to anything military, experts at Fort MacArthur said. The men found a rusty baby buggy, a long piece of garden hose and a tin can. After digging in loose, sandy soil for several days, the soldiers excavated a hole 15 feet deep and 10 feet in diameter. Using sensors and a mine detector, they determined that there was nothing of interest to a depth of 10 feet beyond the bottom of the hole.

Although they abandoned the search, Lt. T.D. Smith and Jackson insisted: "Whatever it was, it came from the sky." Smith later said the crater "was probably made by a small meteor which disintegrated after it burrowed into the sandy soil."

Note: Some news accounts give the location as 8831 Greenwood while others report 8331 Greenwood, an address that does not exist.

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