Tag Archives: Pasadena

VinFiz

orville wright in flight wilbur wright 1909

 

Cal Rogers had talked Orville Wright into giving him 90 minutes of flying lessons in 1911 . At age 32 , Rogers had become interested in flying . William Randolph Hearst was offering a $50,000 prize to the first aviator who could fly across the country in less than thirty days .calbreath rogers 1911

 

 

Rogers got Armour , of Armour Meats , to sponsor him . Armour produced a soft drink called VinFiz . Rogers named his plane Vin Fiz . He took off from Sheepshead Bay , New York , on September 17 , 1911 , headed toward Chicago .cal rogers transcontinental flight 1911 cal rogers 2 From Chicago he flew south toward Texas in order to avoid the Rockies . From San Antonio he headed west and landed at Tournament Park in Pasadena on November 5, 1911 . He had made the first ever transcontinental flight . But do the math on the 30 days . No , he  didn’t get the prize , but 20,000 people were there in Pasadena to watch him land .

The next year Cal Rogers was making an exhibition flight over Long Beach . The watching crowds saw  him fly into a flock of birds and , suddenly , crash into the sea .  Cal Rogers was dead . That was April 3, 1912 .1911 cal rogers on phone

 

cal rogers

 

 

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witnesses

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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