The Daily Mirror

Los Angeles history

A Kinder, Simpler Time Dept.: The Office of Tomorrow

May 20, 1964, Adding Machine

May 20, 1964. It's portable! It does multiplication! And it's only $443.09 USD 2008.

U.S. Calls for Release of POWs; Lakers' Coach Quits, May 20, 1969

Richard Nixon and South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu agree to meet. View this page

May 20, 1969, Sports The soap opera that was the 1968-69 Lakers had at least one more teary chapter.

Butch Van Breda Kolff resigned, headed to Detroit after two seasons as coach of the Lakers. His decision "for the best interest of all concerned" came after the Lakers blew a 2-0 lead in the finals to the Boston Celtics, losing in seven games.

The Times' Dan Hafner left no doubt why the coach was leaving: "Apparently Van Breda Kolff's days were numbered from the day the club acquired [Wilt] Chamberlain from Philadelphia." Player and coach didn't get along, and when that happens the coach almost always loses.

Speaking of  Wilt, he was called out by the Celtics' player-coach, Bill Russell, for leaving Game 7 with an injured knee. Van Breda Kolff wouldn't put him back in, saying later that the Lakers were "doing well without him."

Russell said in a May 22 story, "Any injury short of a broken leg or back isn't good enough."

Wilt's response, a day later: "He is a man and I suppose subject therefore to his own opinion. Why he has chosen to enlighten the world with it, only he knows."


Tony Conigliaro was getting letters, not about baseball, but about his love life.

"Here's one from a 75-year-old woman," he said to The Times' Ross Newhan. "She writes: 'How an innocent boy like you can get mixed up with somebody like her I don't know. I don't like the idea of you marrying her.' "

Conigliaro, the dashing young right fielder of the Boston Red Sox, had fallen victim to a familiar Southern California curse. He was dating an actress.

Mamie Van Doren's name and photo had been in sports stories before, as the girlfriend of boxer Art Aragon and pitcher Bo Belinsky. She had married and divorced a minor league pitcher, Lee Meyers.  

Newhan wrote: "Conigliaro shook his head and said, "Most of the letters are sad ... you know, from 16-year-old girls who just don't want me to get married."

Conigliaro's life had enough subplots for a movie. He was one of baseball's brightest young stars when he was beaned by the Angels' Jack Hamilton in 1967. His injuries included a fractured cheekbone. He missed all of 1968 but fought his way back into Boston's lineup. He hit  20 home runs in 1969, then 36 in 1970. His reward was a trade to the Angels, of all teams.

It was a disaster. He played only 74 games and hit only four home runs, retiring in a bizarre early-morning news conference in Oakland after a 20-inning, 1-0 loss. Newhan's story in 1969 included assurances from Conigliaro that his vision was OK, but he described things very differently in 1971.

"When the pitcher holds the ball, I can't see his hand or the ball. I pick up the spin on the ball late by looking away, to the side, I don't know how I do it. I kept it away from the Red Sox," he said.

There was one more comeback in 1975. But he hit only .123 in 21 games. Conigliaro suffered a massive heart attack in 1982 and died in 1990.

Newhan's story ended with a discussion of romance and dating amid a batting slump.

"I'm tired," said Conigliaro. "I'm under a strain. I'm not going to have another date for a long time." He was asked to define a long time. He smiled and said: "About a day."

-- Keith Thursby

State Athletic Commission Investigates Boxing, Cartoon Death Match, May 20, 1959

May 20, 1959, Kingston Trio

Isn't the Ambassador Hotel great? Oh wait, we let L.A. Unified tear it down.

May 20, 1959, Cover

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Gangster Squad Officer J.J. "Jack" O'Mara calls on Joe Sica with a subpoena. Unfortunately, the runover of the story didn't get microfilmed. But the sidebar ran in sports.

California leads the nation in car registration -- 7 million in 1958. Teamsters chief Jimmy Hoffa threatens a nationwide shutdown if Congress approves anti-trust laws for unions.

And a Senate panel narrowly approves President Eisenhower's nominee for secretary of Commerce. Sen. Clair Engle (D-Calif.) urges the president to withdraw the name of Lewis L. Strauss to avoid repeating the sort of bitter dispute that was fought over Clare Boothe Luce.

May 20, 1959, Nixon

Herb Klein joins Richard Nixon's staff.  

May 20, 1959, Sports

The LAPD charges that there is "outside influence" in boxing. Subpoenas are issued to Louis Dragna ...
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My 20, 1959, Boxing

 ... boxing manager Don Nesseth and Jack Leonard, boxing promoter at Hollywood Legion Stadium.
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May 20, 1959, Gangbuster

Back in the day when police officers had nicknames like "Lefty" and "Roughhouse."

May 20, 1959, Buses

Streetcars, you are doomed.

May 20, 1959, Oviatt's

Which cartoon strip is more bizarre, "Nancy" or "Ferd'nand?"
May 20, 1959, Nancy

The alternative universe occupied by "Nancy" is well-known and the spartan esthetics of artist Ernie Bushmiller are widely appreciated ...

May 20, 1959, Ferd'nand

..but I think "Ferd'nand" lives in its own parallel world that's just as odd. For example, there's something seriously wrong with this car's windshield.

Midnite Show at the Follies, May 20, 1939

May 20, 1939, Follies

"Political crises, European crises or stock market troubles mean nothing to our busy businessmen. They still heed the call of relaxation...."

Flocks of Sheep Near City Hall, May 20, 1939

May 20, 1959, Sheep

May 20, 1959, Sheep

May 20, 1939, Sheep

Found on EBay -- J.W. Robinson's

Robinsons Purse EBay
This purse from J.W. Robinson's has been listed on EBay. Bidding starts at $5.

Matt Weinstock -- May 19, 1959


Guardian of the Law

Matt_weinstockdOn a recent Saturday about 2 p.m. Mrs. Joan Wheeler, 21, six months pregnant, began having pains. Her husband Ernest, 27, phoned the doctor, who said to take her to the hospital immediately and he would meet them there.

The husband put a robe around his wife, carried her to the car and headed for the West Valley Community Hospital, about three miles from their home in VanNuys.

He drove fast, he admits, but stopped for all the signals against him. Incidentally, he drives between 35,000 and 40,000 miles a year on his job.

About halfway there a motorcycle officer pulled him over. Wheeler said it was an emergency. He indicated his wife, lying on the front, seat, bleeding badly.

mqy 19, 1959, Women THE OFFICER said profanely that it was no excuse for speeding. Wheeler asked him to escort them to the hospital and he could write them up there.

When they reached the hospital the officer wanted to write the citation before Mrs. Wheeler was admitted. Then, Wheeler says, the officer followed him inside and prevented him briefly from seeing his wife. Finally a hospital attache made him wait outside.

Perhaps the officer was not to blame. It seems to be rigid LAPD procedure that writing a traffic ticket must come ahead of everything.

Wheeler, outraged, pleaded not guilty and asked for a jury trial.

When the case came up in Van Nuys court last Thursday the officer said Wheeler had been traveling 65 m.p.h on Balboa Blvd. between Victory and Burbank Blvds. He admitted traffic normally went 45 although it was posted 35.

Wheeler, armed with the hospital records, backed by his employer, had no opportunity to tell his side of the story to the jury, which included eight women. After the officer's testimony the prosecutor chatted briefly with the judge, who dismissed the case.

The outcome was irrelevant anyway. Mrs. Wheeler lost her baby and is still recovering from the ordeal.


ONLY IN L.A. -- Everyone who caters to the whims of blue jays thinks he has the craziest one in town. Comes now a lady named Hilda who reports the clown in her back yard buries bits of bread in a mound of Red Star fertilizer, and when they're too hard to eat when he digs them up he dunks them in a water dish.


May 19, 1959, Nat Cole WISH YOU WEREN'T HERE

If egos weren't so strong,
Meetings wouldn't be for as long.



 A MAN WHO last week turned in his large, heavy, expensive Detroit made car on a sleek little foreign job has already noticed a big psychological difference. Twice in the last few days other drivers have asked for help. One called out. "Hey, buddy, how far is Western Ave.?" Never happened when he sat, a man apart, in the big car.


A TROUBLED young man threatened to leap off the 12-story Broadway Arcade Building last week, you may remember, and when he didn't some of the nearly 3,000 persons assembled below taunted him by yelling "Jump!" and when he didn't called him "Chicken!"

It was morbid, all right, but Mario Corona defends the crowd. This is an impatient age. People, conditioned by the shoot-em-up guys on TV, want action. And here was this youth up there on the building, stalling. What was he trying to do, waste their time?


MISCELLANY -- Recommended reading: Peter Ustinov's short story, "The Aftertaste," in the May Atlantic. Which prompts the question: How can one man have so much talent? ... Reporter Jimmy Wilson didn't know whether he should be prepared for a boy or girl so hecross-filed -- got some of each. The big event happened over the week end. "Anybody want to buy a box of 'It's a girl!' cigars?" he asks ... Suggested slogan for an extermination firm: Is this thrip necessary?

Paul V. Coates -- Confidential File, May 19, 1959

Confidential File

Into Each Life Some Confusion Must Fall

Paul_coatesBeverly Hills is widely advertised in all its Chamber of Commerce brochures as one of the best-policed cities in the nation.

As a direct result, I suppose, the town frequently runs into a serious shortage of criminals with which to cope.

On surface examination, this may seem like an ideal situation. But it isn't.

A lull like this, if it lasts long enough, can become a distinct embarrassment to the police department. I mean, it just doesn't look good.

You have a bunch of cops sitting around in prowl cars with nothing to do but idly file their nails, and first thing you know the taxpayers start wondering about the annual police budget.

After all, how long can you go around proving that a city is well-policed if there's nothing left to police?

May 19, 1959, Cover Fortunately, however, the protectors of law and order in Beverly Hills are not just hillbilly constables with "Chicken Inspector" badges. They're thinking men. And when there's no crime, they stir up a little.

They launch a crackdown on lady shoppers who push market baskets home and leave them in the streets. Or, they arrest strangers on suspicion of being strangers. Because, let's just settle down and face it, you don't get a BennySiegel slaying every day.

Now, I see by the papers that they are relentlessly after yet another type of criminal -- the sneak who takes his work home from the office.

On June 3, the case of the People vs. Shearer will come to the test before the bar of justice in Beverly Hills.

It all started when Lloyd Shearer, a prominent free-lance magazine writer, was caught red-handed typing up an article in his Beverly Hills apartment.

That's a violation of Section 10- 301, Beverly Hills Municipal Code, which prohibits anyone from conducting business in a residential zone. And it won't do Shearer any good to cop out that he didn't know about it. Ignorance of the Beverly Hills law is no excuse.

 Assume, for example, that Irving Berlin composed "God Bless America" by picking it out on the keys of his parlor upright. If he did, that song's illegal. And how about all of us who cherish cherry pie that is advertised as "home baked"? We're all accessories after the crime.

I'm even leery about my telephone. It rang the other night and when I answered, a not-yet-settled voice told me: "This is Peter, the copy boy down here at The Mirror-News."

That Old Razzmatazz

May 19, 1959, Abby "Is this a personal call or a business call?" I asked.

"No," the voice replied. "This here's Peter down at the paper."

"Peter!" I cried. "How're things? How's the wife?"

"Mr.Coates," Peter said reproachfully, "I'm not married, I'm only 18 years old, I haven't even had a date yet."

There was a brief silence, and he went on: "They told me to call you up because they can't find your tomorrow's column. Where'd you leave it?"

"I can't talk now, Peter?" I whispered hoarsely.

"Why?" he whispered back excitedly. "Whattsamatter?"

"I'm speaking from an R4 Zone," I told him.

And, as for the rest of you -- until the heat is off -- don't call me. I'll call you.

Cashing In on Murder Victims


Every so often, someone decides that what the world needs more than anything else is a grisly "Black Dahlia" doll.

This one is offered by a vendor named "dolls and dead things" and started life as a Barbie. I already complained to EBay about this item, which exploits a victim of violence, but it remains listed. I can't imagine this doll conforms with EBay's purported "community values," but as always, the site is unresponsive to complaints about prohibited material. 

The vendor says that 10% of the price of this doll goes to help deployed members of the military and their families. The vendor also says:
"All bones, both animal and human, used in our pieces are obtained legally, safely and with no harm coming to any living thing. It is safe and legal to own and wear human bone items. There is some legality to transporting human remains into Georgia and Tennessee but no other US states have similar laws."

Gee, I feel so much better.

A Kinder, Simpler Time Dept.: Smog Eyes

May 19, 1961

Soldier Killed, Hundreds Hurt in Holy Land Riots, May 19, 1939

May 19, 1939, Talking Pelican With Machine Gun

I can accept a talking cartoon pelican. I can even accept a talking cartoon pelican that has human hands. But I'm having a hard time with a talking cartoon pelican carrying a machine gun. Maybe it's just me.

May 19, 1939, Cover, Thumbnail

At left, a British soldier is killed and at least 200 are injured by rioting in the Holy Land as Jews protest Britain's plan for Palestine. The British plan to set up an independent state in 10 years "under Arab domination," The Times says.

In Washington, Rep. Martin Dies (D-Texas) of the House Un-American Activities Committee reports an organized campaign against Jews involving a purported plot to overthrow the government.  

And Democratic California Gov. Culbert Olson announces plans to call a special election on the "Ham and Eggs" pension providing $30 every Thursday.

May 19, 1939, PDQ Petrol

Petrol Pete and Agent Q13 capture enemy spies!

May 19, 1939, Runover

"The fact is that the most serious problem confronting America today is just this problem of the Jew and how to get rid of his influence definitely -- locally, nationally and internationally," a hate letter says.
May 19, 1939, Jews

In Jerusalem, Isaac Herzog, chief rabbi of Yeshurun Synagogue, leads the prayer: "If I forget thee, Jerusalem, may my right hand wither." 

May 19, 1939, Dinah's Shack

May 19, 1939, Patrick O'Reilly

May 19, 1939, Theater

Above, Bette Davis in "Dark Victory."
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At left, Dr. Patrick S. O'Reilly, one of the suspects in the Black Dahlia case. Detectives in the Elizabeth Short killing investigated many people with medical backgrounds who had been accused of a sex crime. O'Reilly was eventually eliminated as a suspect in the Dahlia case.

May 19, 1939, Rex
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24-hour gambling on the Rex! Rain or Shine, We Never Close.

May 19, 1939, Sports
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The cropping of this photo is almost beyond belief.

Nuestro Pueblo

May 19, 1939, Nuestro Pueblo

Somehow, this reminds me of the unfinished house in F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Love of the Last Tycoon."