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Matt Weinstock

March 10, 2008 |  6:33 pm

March 10, 1958

Matt_weinstockd In the dark days of the Depression of the 1930s, Police Chief James E. Davis deployed 40 L.A. policemen to the Arizona state line to turn back the stream of jobless people heading for California.

The rumor spread a few days ago that again out-of-staters were flocking here.

This is to report that, on the contrary, there is no mass depression migration from the South.

However, there has been a sharp increase of transients entering California--mostly at Indio--since Dec. 1 of last year--but to escape the severe cold in the South.

During that month one railroad recorded more than 2,100 ejections from freight trains in the Southern California area. That's 90 a day, compared to an average of 40 a day the year before. This is not counting those who managed to escape the scrutiny of railroad guards by jumping off freights in railroad yards.

The influx tapered off during January to approximately 70 a day on this railroad and to about 40 a day in February.

When apprehended, the men are asked to identify themselves and warned that if caught again they will be arrested. Some pay their fare. Ironically, a current gag among railroad men is that some freights carry more passengers than passenger trains.

Incidentally, there's no longer a wetback problem. The strong new fence along the Mexican border seems to be doing the job.

And there's no such thing any more as riding the rods, that is, hiding under a moving car. Transients now prefer freight cars or, in sunny weather, open gondolas. One railroad man said the last time he pulled a hobo from under a car was in 1950.

In fact, most of the freeloaders are friendly and cooperative, just footloose and down on their luck.

WHILE DRIVING in East L.A., Bart Antista, field agent for Pacific Telephone, was waved to the curb by a policeman in a patrol car.

Unaware he'd committed a violation, he was about to ask why when the officer inquired, "Where can I pay my phone bill?"

"You can pay me," Antista said. So the officer counted out the money, got his receipt and drove off.

Now all together--there's a switch!

ONLY IN HOLLYWOOD -- Bill Kiley heard a man in an elevator say to his companion, "Did you go to church last Sunday?"

"No," was the reply, "was it any good?"


AGE OF MIRACLES -- Dora Albert, author of the recently published book, "You're Better Than You Think," recently ordered a table refinished.

When the furniture man delivered it a few days ago and waited to collect the $25 her mother said, "She isn't here but I'll show you where she is." She turned on TV and there on the screen was Dora being interviewed by Al Jarvis.

AT RANDOM -- A list of changes of address of B.F. Goodrich stores throughout the country reveals that the store in Dodge City, Kan., has moved from 110 W. Chestnut St. to 110 W. Wyatt Earp Blvd. That Hugh O'Brian is positively ubiquitous ... Employees at an aircraft factory were given a brochure to read which instructed them to "contact telephonically" certain people. Doubtless written by a member of the Never-Use-One-Word-When-Two-or-More-Will-Clutter-Up-the-Meaning Society ... While looking through the writers' archives at Paramount studio Elma Mixson came upon a number titled "Border Flight," released in May 1936 based on a story by Ewing Scott ... The Let's Have Better Mottoes Association selection for March, reports Secretary E.V. Roberts, is "I've Heard So Much About You--Now Let's Hear Your Side of the Story."