Men judge us by the success of our efforts . God looks at the efforts themselves ———Charlotte Bronte
I took Metro downtown to the Superior Court courthouse to do a little research on the trial of three kids who shot and killed an Arcadia police officer in 1927. I have been caught in the mistaken belief that the trial records that I wanted to see , if they still exist , were over at the Huntington Library in San Marino .
But I was under a false assumption . The Huntington holds older court records . The ones I wanted to see would still be in the archives downtown . I found this out accidently while asking a few questions to a librarian at the Central Library in Los Angeles .
I first needed a file number for the case . A clerk handed me an old tome held together with big red rubber bands . The pages had torn loose over time .
Make sure the pages are put back together when you give it back , she said .
I wasn’t sure what the book was when she handed it to me . Could it be the court transcript ? No . It was a list of names . Most of them were alphabetically arranged . Next to each name was a date and a file number . I searched for three names and found two . Both had the same date and file number . They had been on trial together .
With the case number in hand I went to another bunker room to see if a micro-film record existed . If one did I could get copies for 50 cents a page .
I pulled a waiting list number , filled out a written request at the counter , and sat in the hallway with fifteen or twenty others . About forty minutes later my name was called . I went back to the counter .
What do you want ? a clerk barked at me .
I heard my name called , I said .
I called it , she growled . What do you want ?
I wanted what I had written I wanted . She told me that she would see what she could find and she disappeared further into the bunker . I went back to my hallway seat and , again , waited .
In twenty minutes or so she called me back . She had two mimeographed pages . Only two . One stated that a trial had been set . One was the guilty verdict .
That’s all ?
So I set off to get a judge’s order .
I walked through the new L.A. central park, Grand Park , and George Washington was staring at me . He was , somehow , whispering toward me about a cherry tree , chopping one down . He didn’t even have to open his mouth . I cannot tell a lie , he said .
I knew what he was doing . He was throwing a guilt trip my way because of the two or three photos I had taken in the bunker under the courthouse . O.K. , it was me ; I took a few ; they are mine . But , when I took them I was not yet aware of the ‘no photographs anywhere in the courthouse’ rule . What ? So I should delete them from my camera ?
Good thing Honest Abe wasn’t there , too . He may have told me to turn myself in . As it was , I got away .
Now I’ve got to go find a judge.