Daily Archives: February 22, 2014


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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