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Ovation for Ollie

April 4, 2007 |  8:00 am

April 3, 1957


If you haven’t taken a look at the Civic Center scenery lately—and many longtime residents boast they haven’t been downtown for years—a surprise awaits you.

Except for the public buildings and a few others, it’s hardly there anymore.   

Where remembered buildings used to be, there are now great leveled places. Soon new structures will rise out of the debris. Already the handsome new County Courts Building has taken its place in the revised landscape at the northwest corner of 1st and Hill.

All this brings us around to a letter George Smedley Smith, who has operated a modern apartment house at 2nd and Grand for 18 years, has written to Councilman Ed Roybal.

Smith, who by the way composes brilliant plays which get published, wrote: “During those long years of observation we have become aesthetically appreciative of the wayward and mystic passes, the eye rollings, knee bends, lamp-post leanings, the vague and occasional (sometimes stratospheric) swishes made by the street cleaners in the manipulations of the tool of their profession.”

He continued, “At the moment we are being kicked out of this location by the county, which has purchased this building. Before putting out the cat and the fire for the last time, we would like to record our appreciation of the contemporary street cleaner at the crown and apex of this old quarter. He has done more to keep the streets of this acropolis tidy in the last year or so than all the efforts of his predecessors lumped together.” 


Smith concluded, “Perhaps you would pause in your heavy schedule to point this letter to the proper authority in favor of a conscientious public servant, the contemporary street cleaner of Bunker Hill—Mr. Ottie Phine.” 


Let’s go all the way and declare Ottie Street Cleaner of the Week.

Note: The Daily Mirror is pleased to introduce a new generation of readers to Matt Weinstock (1903-1970), the author of "My L.A." and "Muscatel at Noon,"      and a columnist for the Los Angeles Daily News, the Mirror and The Times.