A Poor Choice

The Holy Trinity of Noir: the Tough Hood, the Tougher Cop, and the Dame. The Dame—in peril, and perilous to know.

Tonight’s tale takes this Trinitarian shape, but contains, oddly, but two players.

Our first adherent is Mr. X., aka Tough Hood. He heard the clip-clop of heels reverberate throught the misty night air of February 7, 1944. He followed his prey—the Dame, in peril, to her pad, and once she was inside, he attacked!
madbadanddangeroustoknow
Unfortunately for Tough Hood, Dame in peril, true to form, was perilous to know. She was playing double duty as Tougher Cop. Tough Hood had unwittingly attacked Miss Margaret Maguire, a deputy sheriff. Mr. X ended up with only a purse strap, and a heart pumping blood and terror; Maguire chased him all the way out of the neighborhood.

Maguire lived at the Carleton (across the street from the St. Angelo).

nojokesaboutyourdoorman

With a nod to its severe symmetry, Corinthian columns, and pointy pediment, Hill chronicler Hylen made sure to photograph Carleton’s backside as to juxtapose Neoclassical majesty with good old American tenement living:boweryboyz
Some quick views of the east side of the 200 block of North Grand:

fromthebe1909At left, from the Birdseye, the block in 1909; it’s a bustling part of the world.

Below, the Sanborn Map, 1906.

block06

In 1950, most of the block was gone. Only the Carleton, and a paltry few other structures, remain:

block50

 

By 1952, they’d broken ground on the Hall of Administration. So the 1953 Sanborn Map would have nothing to show for the Carleton’s time on Earth.

block1953

carletontoday

Carleton Apartments images courtesy Arnold Hylen Collection, California History Section, California State Library

The Musical Cure and the Dead Girl – 240 South Grand

Location: 240 South Grand Avenue
Date: September 14, 1904

For about a year, from summer 1902 to spring 1903, Broadway strollers might hear exquisite sounds of healing emerging from the windows at 529 South Broadway, where the "skilled physicians" of The E. M. M. Curative Company practiced their pseudoscientific arts with electrical devices, x-rays, and gizmos that gave off heat, light, musical waves and faradic emanations (gals, you may be familiar with these last if you own a portable massage unit).

Standing for Electro Musical Magneto, and using a unique patented device created by Henry Fleetwood, this interesting agency regrettably failed to leave any evidence of customers satisfied or otherwise. Incorporated in March 1902 with $200,000 in capital stock, the company was run by Fleetwood, D.W. Stewart, Herbert M. Pomeroy, lon [sic] L. Clark and Walter Rose.

It was a partnership quickly marred by tragedy, with treasurer and medical director Pomeroy, 38 and a drug addict, committing suicide by morphine in July 1902, out of an overwhelming urge to flee the world of the living and be with his dead mother again. Pomeroy, of 950 West Washington Street, left a note to his partner and personal attorney Rose asking him to cover up the cause of death and to be kind to the wife and babe he left behind. Rose and Pomeroy’s personal physician O.D. (you can’t make these names up) Fitzgerald tried to honor Pomeroy’s wishes, but in stealing the body away to a private mortuary before the authorities were called so incensed Coroner Holland that he had the contents of the suicide note released to the press.

We next hear of the practitioners of Fleetwood’s methods on September 14, 1904, when young Frederick B. West, a physician who was formerly a prominent fixture at The E. M. M. Curative Company before relocating to San Diego, was arrested at his sister’s home 240 South Grand Avenue on a murder charge relating to the death of Isabella Camello, 19. The girl was alleged to have gone to West in San Diego to procure an illegal operation, the incompetent performance of which resulted in her death. West insisted that while he had treated the girl for a stomach ailment, perhaps with a vibrating wand that gave off flashes of light and musical tones, he had not performed an abortion. The case was not reported on further, leaving us just the briefest glimpse of the world of quack medicine in Edwardian L.A.

The Nugent/New Grand Hotel – 257 South Grand

TheNugeOne cannot help but be enamored of the Nugent. Maybe it’s the big spooky tower. Maybe it’s the Nugent’s corner site at Third Street and Grand Avenue…3rd & Grand just purrs off the tongue, which only seems to further imbue that location with the status as Ground Zero, Bunker Hill.

But truth be told, the Nugent was never a hotbed of vice, should you be perusing our OBH blog to sate your currish needs. Heck, a 1905 article about the original White Ribboners who fought demon drink back in the early ‘70s mentions that crusading Quaker Josephine Marlatt chose the newly-opened Nugent as her home.

thatlllearnherThe Nugent’s most notable resident was a Southern Pacific brakeman by the name of Walter J. Dean. It was March 10, 1935, and Dean was busy plying his honest trade out in Pomona at a railroad right of way while a train crew was switching freight cars in the local yards. Then some woman, as high and as mighty as they come, decided to drive her automobile across said railroad right of way; this enraged Dean, who pitched his lantern through her car windshield. Unfortunately the woman was Mrs. Lois Browning, wife of Desk Sergeant Browning of the local police force, which might give some insight into her high-and-mightiness.

1940And so, while I’d like to say that every resident was a pill-pushing pedophilic grave-robbing ghoul (or at least you’d like to read such), we’ll just have to content ourselves with pretty pictures. I must admit, my inclusion of the Nugent (which became the New Grand some time in the 1940s, to be pulled down in the mid-1960s by the CRA, naturally, ad victoriam) is due in larg1961e part to the wonderful color image I am fortunate enough to here include.

 

August, 1903:
nuge1903

Sanborn, 1906:

sanborn06

Sanborn, 1950:

notbornofwoman50

(If you really must read of murder most foul, note the Alto [at 253] having been built just the other side of the New Grand.)

entrancegrand

 

Bunker Hill had, without question, the highest per-block concentration of Corinthian capitals in Los Angeles.

 

 

One does have to wonder as to whether the two-story Corinthian columns were always broken up by those fire escapes.

 

 

"Housekeeping/Sleeping ROOMS by the Day-Week or MONTH Phone MA 5-0507"

 

 

 

 

delikorner

kookooretch

The deli has become a KooKooRoo. I had half a mind to march in there and say yeah, gimme a couple of your Landjäger, and a Csabai Kolbász, and a half pound of something Italian, Sopressata maybe, sliced thick, and something Jewish for the wife, say a pound of brisket, then let me have a fist-sized thing of herring, in brine not cream, and a pickled egg to go but of course like the rest of Bunker Hill, there was no-one there.

upgrand

upitnow

holeinone

With the New Grand gone, the 1970s and 80s thrilled to this hole in the ground. (Here, we are facing the other way down Grand from the image above.) At left, the 1982 Skidmore, Owings & Merrill Crocker Tower II and at right, the 1973 AC Martin Security Pacific National Bank Plaza tower, butting up against Third (the road in the foreground would become  Thaddeus Kosciusko).  Then West-LA Nadel Architects (who are at present in charge of designing two thirty-story towers at Third & Beaudry) showed up in 1988 and said here:

 

beingbilt

 

 

 

 

And in went the Grand Promenade Towers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But that’s not why we’re here. Not really. As I alluded to earlier, this post is really all about the Nugent/New Grand, 1952—in color:

theNewGrandinLivingBloodColor

todayisnow

 

 

 

 

 

 

Which now looks a lot more like this.

 

 

 

 

 

Images 1 & 2, Arnold Hylen Collection, California History Section, California State Library; Images 3 & 4, William Reagh Collection, California History Section, California State Library; Images 5 & 6, California State Library; color image of the New Grand, Charles W. Cushman Photograph Collection.

(The IU Archives were very kind in granting us permission to publish their images here on On Bunker Hill. You are advised to go to the Cushman temple and worship accordingly. Exempli…South Main on a Sunday…peering down Harlem Place at City Hall…a length of Broadway, including the Mason Opera House, before it was wiped out by a 1957 parking garage [which itself was recently razed]…and the corner of Wilshire and St. Paul, hardly changed a bit.)

Of Munsters and Bunker Hill

1313They were eastern European immigrants, utterly integrated into the ways of American society. They were doting, loving parents; rarely does television depict such a highly functional family. They were the Munsters, and they existed to teach us valuable, eternal lessons: build hot rods out of hearses and caskets. Let your home be overrun by the Standells and their beatnik buddies. And see that your house is the biggest and spookiest on the block.

Aside from these eternal lessons, the Munsters also represented something particular to their time—to be exact, Sept.’64-May ’66. (No, I’m not talking about that despite their status as affable, upstanding citizens, the average American really didn’t want to live next door to someone whose skin was a different color.) For our purposes I want to look at another member of the Munster clan, the house itself: 1313 Mockingbird Lane.
MunsterPcard

lightningflashThe Munster manse is important to our topic at hand because it represents the attitude toward Victorian architecture at the time the CRA was in its wholesale frenzy of demolition: in a world blooming with Cliff May and Eichler knock-offs, 1313 was an ungainly, awkward embarrassment. It was, to many, nothing if not downright frightening. And those who would live in such a place? They must be odd in the extreme. Beyond curious. Again, frightening: those who dare knock on that door usually end up vaulting themselves over the gate and running down the street in terror. Besides having skin of a different color (in this case, green), the dwellers therein are, in fact, monsters.

The Addams Family also had a big creepy house, though it was more a museum (as noted in theme song, of course) than mired in decrepitude. If the Addams examination of landed gentry’s eccentricities has any bearing on Bunker Hill, it is only in illuminating the Bunker Hill of yore—therein lies no bearing on the Bunker Hill of 1965. (Interestingly, the shot of the Addams house in the first episode was filmed down at 21 Chester Place [and is now, sadly, demolished].)

The house at Chester Place, and its matte-painted addition:

HousedAddams

theeasywaytoaddon

001CemeteryRidgeNevertheless, while one could view Gomez as a demented Doheny, or a cracked Crocker, perhaps because (Charles) Addams’s work is so associated with the New Yorker, there’s something rather East Coast about the Addamses. After all, the Italianate Addams place was modeled after a house from Chas’s New Jersey boyhood, or a building at U-Penn, depending on whom you ask.

There’s something uniquely Angeleno about the Munsters—when you take the Koach out to Mockingbird Heights drag strip, you can smell the Pomona. The Munsters went to Marineland. Herman hung with Dodger manager Leo Durocher.
TheGreatTour
1313 was every bit Bunker Hill—dig the deep central Gothic-arched porch, the extensive use of shabby shingle, the patterned chimney. The asymmetrical double porches and widow’s walk are a nice touch. Its most notable feature might be the spook-faced gable. And inside; no well-intentioned postwar updates there—all spindlework and heavy drapes and art-glass lamps. The crumbling stone gates, the overgrowth…this was disrepair in all its Gesamkunstwerkiness. The gag, of course, was that 1313 was the one and only of its kind on the block. The standout. The sore thumb. Bunker Hill was a nest of these things.

Making matters worse, a Munster stood for something. A Munster stood for his home, protecting it with his or her life (undead though they may be). In “Munster on the Move,” (Season 1, Episode 27, airdate March 25, 1965) Herman gets a promotion at the parlor whereby the family must sell the house and move to Buffalo. Grandpa inadvertently sells to a wrecking company; when the Munsters find out the house’s fate, they put the good of the house before their own self-interest. When the bulldozers show up, the family is out front, cannons packed with Grandma’s best silver. The head of the wrecking crew shakes his head in disgust, but not disbelief; says it reminds him of the little old ladies who threw themselves in front of the bulldozers when they were tearing down their homes for the freeway system. “Look Jack, I bought this place to wreck it and put in a parking lot. Now move it, because we’re coming through.” After the wreckers see that Herman can swing a wrecking ball around, they turn tail and flee.

Wreckers arrive:

TheArrival

Herman reasons with them to great effect:

ManOfReason

Bunker Hill had its Frank Babcock, but even he was no Herman Munster.

One last thing. In “Herman Munster, Shutterbug,” (Season 2, Episode 4, October 7, 1965) Herman inadvertently snaps a photo of two bandits running out of the Mockingbird Heights Bank. And where do these bank-robbing low-lifes lay low? We see in an establishing shot that they’re staying at “The Grand”—

Munsterwaska

—which we of course we know as none other than the Dome.

DomeoftheRock

Dome Image, Arnold Hylen Collection, California History Section, California State Library; postcards, author; everything else courtesy the beneficent glow of the CRT

CRA Relocation Offices – 232 South Grand Avenue

By the spring of 1968 only three of the great mansions on Bunker Hill were still standing. The Castle (325 South Bunker Hill Ave) and Salt Box (339 South Bunker Hill Ave) were soon to be moved to their new home, Heritage Square in Highland Park (and subsequently burned down by vandals).  The days were definitely numbered for the Victorian beauty at 232 South Grand Avenue and smaller house behind it whose address was 232 ½.  The only reason the residences on Grand Avenue stood as long as they did is because the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) made the front house the location of their Bunker Hill Relocation Project Office. Once the residents had been removed from the neighborhood and the CRA no longer had a use for the mansion, it too was removed.

The mansion at 232 South Grand Avenue and its backyard neighbor at 232 ½ were built in 1894 by Bernard Sens, a German immigrant who came to Los Angeles and set up shop as a tailor on Broadway. He had initially been residing a couple of doors down at 224 S. Grand, but apparently needed a more suitable dwelling for his wife, four sons, and six daughters. He held onto his former residence and began renting out its rooms, and presumably did the same thing with the house at 232 ½.  

Sens was a well respected tailor about town and had provided the city’s police force with their uniforms. The business was a family one, with the Sens sons contributing at one point or another. Matriarch Kate and her daughters received mention in the society pages and the Sens were a typical Bunker Hill family of the Victorian era. Bernard passes away in 1903 and his widow and their daughter Emma resided in the mansion until Kate’s death around 1923.

Like most of the other neighborhood mansions, in the mid-1920s, 232 S. Grand Ave became a boarding house. Unlike many of the Victorians that were divided into numerous single room residences, the division of the former Sens home provided lodging for only four separate households. Around 1928, Dr. James Green, his wife Elizabeth, their three daughters, and two grandchildren moved in and had enough room for the doctor to also set up his practice.

Dr. Green, who had been born in England and spent time in Colorado before moving west, would serve Bunker Hill residents as their physician for nearly thirty years. Dr. Green seemed to have done a fine job taking care of his patients, with the exception of sixty-five year old Theresa Dawson who, while under the doctor’s care, strangled herself with her own bandages at her home down the street. By 1939, the mansion had once again become a single family home with the Greens as its sole tenants. The doctor was paying a whopping $100 a month (around $1,200 in today’s dollars) to live in and run his business out of the ten room mansion. Dr. Green lived and worked on Bunker Hill until his death in 1956. His wife, Elizabeth, continued living on Grand until her death a few years later.

Since the house was not inhabited by numerous boarders, it proved to be an ideal place for the CRA to set up its relocation headquarters in 1963. It was here that Bunker Hill residents, some of who had lived in the neighborhood for decades, received their walking papers. When the dirty work was completed in 1968, the houses at 232 and 232 ½ South Grand Avenue went the way of the rest of the grand mansions of Bunker Hill.

 

Photos courtesy of the Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection

The Girl Who Knew the Numbers

Location: 220 South Grand Avenue
Date: June 18, 1929

It is a thirsty Bunker Hill that laments the arrest of the bright and brainy Shirley Winters, 23-year-old resident of 220 South Grand, on suspicion of conspiracy to violate the Volstead Act.

Shirley was popped in a South Hill Street hotel room after Georgia Street vice squad Detective Lieutenants Shoemaker and Kearner overheard her take two telephone orders, one for two and another for three quarts of hooch. (In case you’re wondering, it’s $3.50 each for two quarts, and just $3 more for lucky number three.)

Shirley was paid $50 a week, and not just for her lilting telephone voice—her specialty was keeping the day’s orders (including delivery addresses!) in her head until she could convey them to the bottling plant on West Seventh Street. She would have gotten away with it, too, but her boss got popped and spilled everything, and the cops have been picking off the little fish for weeks. Today they caught a live one, the gal with the million dollar hippocampus. She pled not guilty, and in November was sentenced along with other small fry in the gang to  eleven months (suspended).

Bunker Hill Tackles L.A.’s Traffic Problem

auto

In January 1924, inventor Raymond Ragsdell of 202 South Grand wrote a letter to the Los Angeles Traffic Commission about his idea for a collapsible car that would fold down to the size of a go-cart. "With an automobile of this type it will be possible to park millions of cars where we are now able to park but a few hundred."

At around the same time, Eugene Egbert Dobbs of 303 South Hope Street wrote a letter of his own, proposing that all automobiles and street cars be barred from the downtown area (he laid out Sunset, Pico, Los Angeles, and Figueroa as the perimeter). In the letter he stated, "The only objection to this plan would come from those who are too lazy to walk. Now, our modern race is unhealthy due to lack of exercise. This barring of all transportation in the downtown district would force Los Angeles people to exercise, whether they wanted to or not, and thus, increase the length of life of the average citizen."

Sure, Bunker Hill residents may have had a vested interest in the issue, but in fact, the Traffic Commission received hundreds of ideas for congestion relief that month from people all over the city. Were they an invested citizenry? Untapped urban planners? The ancestors of the City Council that would ban fast food franchises in South Los Angeles over 80 years later?

No.

Unfortunately, they thought they were entering a contest.

An ad had appeared in local publications erroneously stating that the Traffic Commission would give a prize of $10,000 ($128,633 2008 USD) to the person who could solve Los Angeles’s burgeoning traffic problem. There was apparently some confusion, as the $10,000 in question had actually been appropriated by City Council for the formation of a Traffic Commission committee to look into issues of street parking and congestion.

The Los Angeles Traffic Commission was formed in 1922 in response to concerns about the city’s increasingly snarled and woefully inadequate roads. The group’s chairman said, "It is time for Los Angeles to solve her traffic problem… One can but guess at the conditions which will exist here within a few years unless relief is forthcoming."

Preliminary solutions to the problem were eerily similar to today’s: restricting parking in congested areas, requiring vehicles for hire to operate from private property, more one-way streets, and a subway system.

Following a report that traffic congestion on many Los Angeles streets was worse than New York City’s, a traffic relief ordinance was placed on the 1924 November ballot, allocating $5 million for the implementation of numerous streets projects and congestion relief programs, including the extensions of Figueroa and Olive from Bunker Hill into Elysian Park. It passed, but Mayor George Cryer vetoed it, and I promise, you will never guess why.

Actually, Cryer liked the ordinance a whole lot and thought it would be good for the city, but he vetoed it because he said it didn’t provide enough protections and accommodations for pedestrians.

Within a year, a new traffic plan was underway, and the city grid began to look a great deal more like it does today, but it does my Metro-riding heart good to know that even in 1924, someone was looking out for the walking man.

The Pensioner Showgirls of Melrose

By 1952, most of the lovely Melrose Hotel’s 200 occupants were elderly pensioners — elderly pensioners with exciting, glamorous, Auntie Mame-esque pasts.

First there’s the Melrose Hotel’s parttime switchboard operator, Anna Pearce, a former singer on the Considine vaudeville circuit around the turn of the century.

The hotel is also home to Juliet de Grazi, a Swahili-speaking Austrian-born soprano who toured with a Belgian opera company through the cities of East Africa. In 1952, de Grazi was simply passing
through the Melrose. She had recently won a large settlement in an automobile accident, and was planning to return to East Africa where her husband was buried.

And Beulah Monroe was a fixture on the local theatre scene, making her debut in Oscar Wilde’s The Ideal Husband in 1919, opposite Edward Everett Horton. She appeared frequently at the Little Theatre at Figueroa and Pico, and also acted with Florence Roberts, Wallace Beery, and Neely Edwards during her career.

For more on the Melrose and its exciting inhabitants, take a look at what Joan and Nathan have had to say about mysterious fires, rowdy teen girls, and the tragic march of progress.

Dome Wrap-Up

DomeupGrandAfter our initial report on The Dome, we promised there’d be more, and there was—the Little BGirl Who Could, a couple of jumpers, a self-slashing Simons pilferer, even the owner of the Dome itself, who Fought the Power like an Eisenhower-era Radio Raheem, rolling his Grafanola down Grand…

…so now it’s time to sew things up, recounting a collection of other Dome-flavored contretemps:

CookFight
April 7, 1940
. Mike Scaiola, 29, and Rocco Spagnuolo, 35, both cooks, were roomies at the Dome. Over what they argued in their Domeroom is lost to time; all that’s known is what Scaiola later told the cops—during a scuffle he saw the .32 automatic protruding from Spagnuolo’s shirt and attempted to wrest it from him. Oldest story in the world: accidental discharge, someone takes one in the chest, and Spagnuolo’s DOA at Georgia Street Receiving.

jackiejailed
September 18, 1941
. Mrs. Cleo (Jackie) Wooten, 19, was a plucky gal, but take this as a warning: having pluck in spades gets the FBI involved. Cleo was visiting friends in Cunningham, Kan. for some time and was there driving the car owned by Eddie Palzo of that city. He had no objection to her driving the car around Cunningham, but swore out a felony complaint when the Dome resident decided to Dome home. She was picked up at Third and Figueroa when an officer noticed the license on his stolen car list.

JoeSlasher
July 4, 1942
. The character of Dome resident Joe Barron, 28, cook (another cook? Too many cooks really do spoil the pot), did not reflect well on the Dome’s nobility. He was strolling down Fifth Street and passed between one William O. Smith, 37, and Smith’s 21 year-old wife Dorothy when he elected to make an off-color remark to the wife. That didn’t go over well with Mr. Smith, a recent transplant from Arkansas, who slashed Barron’s throat, severing an artery. Luckily, Dorothy instructed William to press his thumb on the artery to stanch the flow of blood, and they hauled Barron into a room at 107 E. Fifth until medical aid could be summoned. Barron survived, we trust, wiser and more gentelmanly.

LeonasPurse
December 21, 1942
. Mrs. Leona Smith was followed home from a café last November 7, only to have her purse snatched—a purse containing $1600 in cash and checks and $4800 worth of jewelry ($6400=$89,216 USD2007). After a month of searching by cops based on Leona’s description of the man and his car, they finally popped Clifford Allen Payne, 32, at the Dome. He took them to the 3500 block of Helms in Culver where he dug up a glass jar containing the checks and jewelry. The real mystery is what she was doing with that sort of booty in her purse.

afbarshootMarch 11, 1961. Alfred Carrillo, 33, was a Dome resident in good standing who had the bad luck to be sitting in a bar at 301 South Hill Street one early Friday morning. Victor F. Jimenez, 26, unemployed truck driver, shot Alfred and then drove off, later to be arrested at his home. (The bar at 301 South Hill, by the way, was the bar at the base of Angels Flight—seen here with Lon Chaney Jr. in the 1956 outing Indestructible Man🙂

chaneywalks

That’s what we have for now. Can’t promise it’s the last of it, as tales and details may still bubble up from the cracked core of time. What about you? Remember your great aunt Nell? The one you socked away at Shady Pines? (The rest home, not the cemetery.) She may harbor descriptions of devious Dome debauchery from back in the day. Go find out before you have to shift Shady Pines.

Photograph courtesy the Arnold Hylen Collection, California History Section, California State Library

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

Hotel Melrose 
July 16, 1895

Bertha headline
Miss Bertha Fisher, aged 14, had looked forward to dressing in the latest fashions and attending parties with her friends. Unfortunately for Bertha, her parents had other plans for her future. As strict Salvationists, they thought that she was old enough to don a Salvation Army uniform (which was definitely not Bertha’s notion of a fashion forward frock) and begin trolling the streets of Los Angeles for souls in peril. Bertha preferred saving dance cards, party invitations, and lovely corsages to saving souls, so she ran away with a young man named Mr. White.

Frantic over Bertha’s escapade, the distraught Fishers spent hours haunting the local police station hoping for news of their wayward daughter. Police were on the lookout for the reluctant missionary, but Mrs. Fisher became antsy and enlisted the aid of another Salvationist to help her comb the city for the missing girl.

After Bertha had been gone for nearly two days, Mrs. Fisher and her fellow soldier in God’s army got a tip.  The two dashed to the cop shop where they breathlessly announced to the assembled officers that they “knew where she was at”.  The women had found out that Bertha and Mr. White were occupying room 28 at the Melrose Hotel, and asked Officer Richardson to accompany them to the suspected love nest.
 

The landlady at the Melrose Hotel told Officer Richardson that the young man had engaged a room for his sister, and because she’d had no reason to doubt his veracity, she’d rented it to him.  Mrs. Fisher was doubtless relieved when the landlady went on to say that even though White had rented a room for Bertha, he had never shared it with her. Hotel Melrose

To avoid arrest Bertha reluctantly went home with her mother, but it’s unlikely that their difference of opinion was settled that day. Bertha was heard to remark, “I’d rather go to the Reform School than stay at home if I have to become a Salvation Army lassie”.

Salvation Army lassies 

Bertha may have won the battle with her parents, because this item appeared in the Los Angeles Times on March 7, 1897:   

 society header Bertha party

Party on, Bertha.