Monthly Archives: February 2014

old L.A. photos

bicycle police LA 1904 Bicycle police  1904spring and 3rd 1891Spring and Third  1891

spring and 1st 1889Spring and First  1889

spring and 3rd 1905Spring an Third  1905

L A  1906 1906

L.A. 1930 1930

pershing square 1935 Pershing Square area  1935

train station 1875 Train station  1875

train station 1882 2 Train station  1882

Western Ave 1924 n from 1st. Western and First  1924

main and temple 1926  Main and Temple 1926


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lady libertyI happened to pass the Roybal Building in downtown L.A. a couple of days ago . That’s the federal building . There was a string of news cameras on tripods ready to go , pointed at the entry doors .  Small bunches of camera men chatted . I say camera “men” because I didn’t see any women .

I did see one woman reporter out in front of the L.A.P.D. headquarters building across the street and up the block a bit  . She was interviewing a policewoman . The reporter was young and attractive  . She wore a short and tight red dress . Maybe it wasn’t a dress . Maybe she was wearing shorts . I had to look again but try not to be too obvious . Dress , I think .  She looked a little bored . Her trying-too-hard beauty-queen contestant  appearance wouldn’t work so well on a police woman , probably , as on a man . She seemed sorry to have been stuck with a woman to interview this time .  I assume that was the intent of going to that fashion extreme : to get a man’s attention , to woo the poor dumb cluck  for a few minutes , maybe bat the long  eyelashes a couple of times  ,  to coo and to coax a few extra-juicy bits of information out of his mouth and immediately into her receptive microphone   .

I went to the police station to see the old 1920s police car that had been there on display in the lobby last time I dropped by . The desk cops stared at  me as I walked in , watched me as I looked around .  ” There used to be a car here , ”  I said , and they looked at each other . I knew that look . It was a now we gotta deal with another nut case  look , or some version of that .

” A car ? ” one of the cops said , like that was the craziest idea he’d heard all day . They both smiled .1926-1927_Chevrolet-nov27

State senator Calderon was turning himself in at the federal building that morning , one of the cameramen told me . They expected him to come out for a news conference any minute . Another camera guy made a joke that he might bring Miley Cyrus with him , something about twerking , and the cluster of them laughed . They were bored , too , like the cutsie  reporter interviewing the female cop across the street .

I’m retired . I’m just a casual downtown tourist seeing the sights . I started at City Hall , riding the elevator up to the 24th floor , then climbing the marble steps , then riding the smaller elevator up a couple more flights to the observation tower .  The mayor wasn’t up there . The news conference room was empty , so I just walked outside into the air and  looked around the city from above . Good clear day ; but not clear enough to see the ocean .

One of the city councilmen is in trouble , too , at the moment , for fixing up his garage at his home into a real classy office . He did the construction on the taxpayers’ dime as well as obtaining no building permit . When it  came out in the local paper he ducked and weaved ; said council members are entitled to it ; said it wasn’t out of the ordinary ;  said he was paying most of the cost back  as if he’d always planned to ;  then he got a little miffed when the reporters wouldn’t give up on the story .poster save food

Another state government guy was found not to live in the district that he represents . He had a place in the district that he’d claimed was his residence , but no one had ever seen him there ; they  hadn’t seen anyone there within recent memory .

Calderon never came out to face the cameras , I guess , but  I heard that his lawyer did . There was no twerking that I know of . I suppose that they all filmed the lawyer’s statement of outrage that his client  wasn’t being treated fairly , that the timing of the indictment was suspect , that ………..

A report came out today that major corporations pay an average 19 per cent rate of  income tax . I read that some of the most profitable corporations  don’t pay any income tax at all . I watched a documentary about how corporations send their money overseas , often to an address in some non-taxing country where no one remembers ever seeing anyone there ever  in recent memory ; but this is the giant corporation’s  overseas operation , the corporate office , the mailbox where the American -earned profits go so as not to have to pay American taxes on them .milk pasteurizer

I’m reading a history these days , about the 1920s . Woodrow Wilson’s Secretary of the Navy commented that American steel producers were selling steel to Russia cheaper than they’d  sell it to the American government . He called American industrialists  paytriots . I think paytriots fits .

This country’s full of paytriots .

liberty bell


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a few photos of old L.A.

hall of justice 1927 house being moved by truck 1925 oil field 1930 playa del rey Western Ave 1924 n from 1st. 1st ave. 1924 4th and Main inla 1924


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There were houses close enough nearby that anyone inside would hear the shots . A .45 is a big gun . But , after all , it was midnight and most people  would have been fast asleep .police car ford

The cop’s friend  still sitting in the car survived the shooting spree with only a few minor cuts from police-car glass suddenly shattered and scattered by the bullets . The shooter probably emptied the weapon , but his shots were wild . He was panicked , no doubt , crazed . The cop’s friend , the house painter , staggered or ran down the street to a business to call the cops . According to a current Arcadia police officer , the painter called a Pasadena station because Arcadia had no radio facility . That explanation sounds a little fishy to me . Maybe I’m missing something . Didn’t the Arcadia Police have a phone at the station ?  I suspect that the truth might have been that the little Arcadia station was shut down , no one on duty , no one there . There were only four , or maybe six Arcadia policemen in 1927 . As it was , the murdered officer was also the assistant fire chief . This was not Chicago . This was not L.A.Western Ave 1924 n from 1st.

The boys drove east  instead of  back toward Los Angeles . Maybe they thought enough ahead to realize that they could be caught at the Colorado Street bridge , the “suicide bridge” of local fame , the beautiful bridge across the deep arroyo that , evidently , made a spectacular place to jump to one’s death , if that’s what one decided to do . You could fly free for a few seconds, drop through a few hundred feet of air  before you hit the low brush and the hard  canyon floor .

The boys would know that  any  road back home to downtown L.A. would be a little difficult to find if they wanted to avoid the Suicide Bridge .The bridge , therefore ,  would be a good place for a police roadblock . Did they think that far ahead and drive east instead of directly back toward home ? Is that why the painter called the Pasadena police ? The Colorado Bridge is in Pasadena  .suicide br. 1920

Frank Miller , the shooter , said at trial , according to the papers : ” When I saw he had a gun I was scared “, about the cop . What ? A self-defense plea ?   He was caught , though . His friends turned on him to save themselves . Miller plead guilty . They all plead guilty .buick 1925 2

I came across one report that said the owner of the barbecue joint witnessed the murder . I have yet to find the barbecue joint , if there was one .  I’ll try the court archives again , request this time witness depositions .  There’s always a chance ; it’s worth a try .

Down in the courthouse bowels , they will give me a weird look .  A 1927 case ?  they’ll ask .  I’ll say 1927  and let them wonder .


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1927 chevy coupeI’ve been investigating the 1927 murder of the Arcadia policeman which occurred about two blocks from here . I found him listed as “plstr” in the old city directory from 1925 . I thought “plstr” meant ” plasterer”. The old directories listed occupations .

It seemed reasonable to assume that “plstr” meant plasterer . There was a civilian friend of his in the police car when the murder occurred . When I found that the friend was a house painter I thought that I was on to something .

But , of course , he wasn’t a plasterer in 1925 . He had been a policeman for six years . Somehow  ” plstr” means , obviously , policeman . I have to ask a few more questions .

What I am  finding is that some  guy knows a fact or two about the murder ; that woman can tell me a bit ;  the police department has this information ; the museum has a record of that ; the courts’  archive has this ;  the building department can tell me that ; but nobody has collected all the information together , sorted it ,  pasted it all together yet .

I’m trying to find what buildings were on the street in 1927 . The three boys convicted of the crime were planning to rob ” a barbeque place ” nearby .  The Arcadia Building Department had all of their files digitalized , but , evidently , not all of them survived the transfer from paper . If there was a building on the corner where the murder took place there is no record of it in the city file any more .

I think , guessing , that the plan was to rob Slemon’s Orange Wigwam , a thatched snack -shop business about two blocks down the street . There is a McDonald’s there now .  I’ll find a photograph , eventually , of the area . Insurance companies keep good records of things like that , I hear .  I suspect that that stretch of Foothill Blvd ( White Oak Blvd. , in 1927 )  , at the city limit , was pretty bare at the time .

I know that my house wasn’t there in 1927 . None of them on my block were .  ” It was all chicken farms ,” my former neighbor , Rex, told me .  I should have listened to my old neighbor more carefully . Rex was right . Arcadia exported 5000 eggs a day  in 1926 . The 1928 city directory lists 153 poultry breeders  .

I’m reading a new Bill Bryson book : ” One Summer , America 1927 ” .  I’m going back there for awhile . It was the time of Calvin Coolidge , Charles Lindberg , Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig , Al Capone , and Clara Bow , of flappers and flivvers .  Ronald Reagan was working at his local hometown pool as a lifeguard . Inventors were developing television . Talkies were beginning with films such as The Jazz Singer starring Al Jolson .lee_miller_vogue_3_1927

For the last  few days that July , before the murder , Arcadia had been having a heat wave . The temperature on the 18th had been over 90 .  At about midnight the cooler night air must have been a pleasant relief . The two men might have been talking about baseball or the weather as they drove slowly past a row of Spanish style houses on  Laurel Ave. , vacant land across the street , as they  turned left onto  North View heading toward White Oak , patrolling  the eastern edge of  the sleepy little community  .

There was a  car parked on the west side of  North View with three nervous young men sitting inside .  What’s up ? The policeman stopped his car , stepped out , and walked over to check .President-Reagan-as-a-lifeguard-in-1927

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Iowa (2)

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USS Iowa

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