Baby Needs A New Pair of Pants

Location: 230 South Olive Avenue
Date: September 3, 1913

Even hardened cops grew misty as they heard the woes of poor Mabel Tracy, the downtown waitress whose every coin earned went into the kitty meant to buy her infirm child Leonard a new suit of clothes.

In the months since Mabel came out from Chicago, leaving behind her deadbeat husband and wee Leo in the charity hospital, she’d made a little home for the tyke in rooms on Bunker Hill. Then she sent for her child, and warned him never to leave the safety of his aerie while she toiled away downtown.

The child didn’t know his weak heart could give out if he ever dared take the steps down by Angels Flight, only that his mother had begged him not to exert himself. And so the child waited, crawling along Olive Street to peep out over the Third Street hill to the teeming town below. His little knees grew raw beneath his shabby trousers, and each night mama put a little more money in her purse, including the penny she saved by walking up the steps, to eventually replace Leonard’s costume.

And then, the unthinkable: Mabel’s boss told her that her own uniform was unsuitable and must be replaced. Of course she could sew the uniform herself, but the cost of the fabric would exhaust Leonard’s clothing fund. And so Mabel did what mothers have always done when the bills exceeded the cash on hand: she went into a department store, milled around cagily, and snatched up the yardage needed to craft her new attire.

But Mabel was no criminal, and her furtive movements attracted the attention of a Nick Harris detective, who delivered the lady to the police department. There, Mabel spilled her sorrows, and the cops and independent detectives all gathered around to marvel at the pretty lady who would rather steal than whore herself–for in her place, any one of them would have taken that easier road. Then they arranged to have the charges dropped, then passed the hat and rewarded their little criminal with $15, a sum sufficient to buy a new uniform.

And then Mabel went back to her little son, and their grim life on Bunker Hill.


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.

Hotel Trenton, 427 South Olive Street

The Hotel Trenton, seven stories of sober brick laced with fire escapes, its yawning central maw somewhere between a gate of hell and a jaunty fireman’s doorway, lurked low on Bunker Hill for many decades. There it is at 10 o’clock in the panorama. It was not a racy hotel, but it had its moments, and left an imprint on the fabric of its times.

And speaking of imprints, it was July 1905 when a lady guest of the establishment marched into to the Los Angeles Times offices to report her dismay at having ruined her long white skirt, white stockings and slippers when she walked over the streetcar tracks at First and Broadway and picked up a liberal helping of petroleum, which the cars’ operators had smeared on the rails to deafen the screech which otherwise came whenever a curve was taken. A snarky Times reporter noted that had the lady been as eager to lift her skirts when crossing the tracks as she was to show off the damage caused by the oil–"and it’s higher up, too!"–she would not be in such a predicament.

In May 1906, town gossips received confirmation of a scandal, but too late to shun anyone involved. Some months earlier, Mrs. Genevieve Hughes arrived in Los Angeles from Denver and took rooms in the Trenton, where she was paid significant attention by fellow guest, Boston lawyer Charles W. Ward. Ward was briefly a Harvard man who took his degree from Columbia, a gymnast, a Knight Templar and a soldier, every inch the eligible young fellow… well, almost. Again and again he would ask that she marry him, and always she would demur–but not refuse his friendship. On February 28, Ward went into his room and shot himself in the head, and the whispers said it was out of thwarted love for Genevieve. The lady, however, had eyes for another, and quietly married A.G. Jones, also of Boston, departing for an Eastern honeymoon before news of the nuptials spread. And as for Ward, he was, it proved, a bounder, having left a wife and children awaiting the return of his health under the Californian sun. He lingered a few days after being shot, but died before his father could arrive by train.

In November 1907, Mexican Secret Service officer (and soon-to-be fink in the trial of revolutionary countrymen Magon, Rivera and Villareal) Trinidad Vasquez left the safe harbor of the Trenton for a meal in a restaurant at Fifth and Olive. He had a ham and cheese sandwich and a cup of coffee, returned to the hotel and walked out again. In front of the Police Station, Vazquez was stricken with symptoms of poisoning and rushed to Receiving Hospital, where his stomach was pumped. Relieved, Vasquez testified that soon after eating he had felt a sense of suffocation, then felt as though his very heart would burst before blackness washed over him. He was soon released, doubtless with a greater respect for the fervor of the anarchist community of Los Angeles.

In early February 1909 it was revealed that the Trenton’s recently hired night clerk Harry Stevens was in fact Florin G. Lee, a Riverside lad who’d suffered a breakdown from overwork (dry goods clerking by day, electrical engineering study by night) or, some whispered, love unrequited, on December 30 and fled his home, shaking off all memory of his former life. When confronted by old friends, who said they knew him well, Stevens/ Lee expressed astonishment, and mused on his happier times in Iowa and Butte, Montana, and his New Years Day rail trip to Los Angeles over the Salt Lake Route. Conveyed to Riverside, he looked with bemusement upon his aged grandmother and treated the rest of the family with cordial unfamiliarity. He did not recognize the shop where he clerked for nine years, the books he had kept (quite well) or respond to the music which he formerly had loved. For two months, the stranger stayed on in Riverside as those who loved him tried to spark a memory of his past life. And then suddenly, on April 2, while in the dry goods store where he had long labored, Florin’s memory of his accounting work came flooding back. He raced to San Bernardino to share the happy, mathematical news with his father, and we hear no more about him.

On the evening of August 6, 1912, an "elevator pilot" was sent down to the basement to fetch some ice water. On the way up poked he his head out as the cage made its ascent. The ice water went everywhere, and so did the poor lad’s cranium. So complete was the destruction that there was initially some confusion when night clerk E.G. Merrifield came on the scene as to whether the dead man was Charles J. Oberman or his colleague, Earl Ansley. The victim was actually, it transpired, Earl McDonald, 18, from Riverside, who was moonlighting under the name Earl C. Ansley at the Trenton and working a day shift at the Hotel Victoria at Seventh at Hope. It was his first night on the job, and hotel manager R. Hughes was later charged for violating the state law requiring all elevator operators be properly licensed.

On February 3, 1913, S. W. Westmeyer, a successful mining man from Globe, Arizona, visited his wife at the Trenton and wrote her a check for $1025. From there, he went to the Hotel Redondo in Redondo Beach, where, the following evening, he shot himself in the head. Westmeyer left notes giving his personal effects to his wife and asking that his Lodge, Rescue No. 12 of the International Order of Odd Fellows in Globe be notified of his passing.

Later that month, the Trenton figured in the notorious jury tampering case of the great attorney Clarence Darrow, who rang up large charges at the hotel for select jurymen, far in excess of the $9 weekly rate that investigators were quoted–though it was the thirty dollars in ten cent cigars that got the jury’s goat.

In October 1915, resident Marie Kinney announced that she was moving her dressmaking parlor from the Fay Building at Third and Hill to the Trenton, and noted that help was wanted. A year later, she announced her winter reopening in suites 102-103-104, crowing "choicest novelties in stock." Marie must have liked the place, for it was still her home on Valentine’s Day 1941, when, aged 80, she stepped in front of a Pacific Electric car on Huntington Drive near Poplar in El Sereno, and was killed instantly. Her rosary was said at Cunningham & O’Conner at 1031 South Grand, requiem mass held at St. Vibiana’s and she was interred at Calvary.

In October 1917 the Los Angeles Division of the Collegiate Periodical League began a monthly drive to collect 5000 magazines, none older than ten days, for distribution among the servicemen at Camp Lewis. Among the district captains was Mrs. Alice M. Bryant of the Hotel Trenton. Your blogger will now attempt to staunch the drool inspired by the thought of what was gathered.

Late on December 2, 1930, the Trenton was among a trio of downtown hotels robbed by a pair of bandits in a taxicab. After they hit the Stillwell at 9th and Grand for $30 and a pair of guest handbags, unknowing driver George Kruger waited patiently outside the Trenton while night clerk A. E. Finnity and manager Herbert Perry were relieved of another $30. Finally the Victor Hotel at 616 South St. Paul was victim, and again yielded up a lucky thirty simolians. The thieves then paid their ferryman and slipped off into the night.

By 1933, we note that rooms were being let for a modest $3.50 a week. On June 8, 1936, Arnie J. Powers, 42, shot himself to death in his room, having failed to recover his health after coming out from Omaha.

On June 14, 1937 the Trenton hosted its most eloquent suicide, when retired schoolteacher Mrs. Ida Mae Mills, 70, gassed herself with a chloroform-soaked rag alongside an open copy of the book The Right to Die. Her note read, "Remember this–Death should be a smooth finish, not a jagged interruption. There is nothing mysterious nor dramatic about this. Neither was it conceived in a moment of desperation. I think I am as sane as I ever was, but I have long been convinced of the wisdom of mercy killing. Why must I live on, tortured by constant pain, and facing total blindness? My abject apologies to the management for the trouble I am giving them, but I had to have some place to die, didn’t I? I could not vanish into the air."

She could not, but sometime in the early 1960s, it seems, the Trenton Hotel did just that. We can only assume the CRA had a little something to do with that.

Postcards from the Nathan Marsak Collection, Vasquez and 1908 advertisement from the Los Angeles Times, panoramic photo from the Los Angeles Public Library.

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).

Lucinda Andrews meets the Long Beach Car

Location: 240 South Olive Street
Date: December 2, 1903

After the dust cleared on the foggy tracks of the Pacific Electric Railway and the smashed Long Beach car was extricated from its unwelcome union with the Whittier car, Motorman F.A. Brewster was asked why the heck he’d stopped dead and allowed his machine to be smashed. The cause, it transpired, was a deranged old resident of the address above, Mrs. Lucinda Andrews, who had bolted from her relatives’ home "while suffering a temporary aberration" and wandered aimlessly through the night before presenting herself "staggering about unsteadily" immediately ahead of the oncoming Long Beach car. Brewster set his air brakes and reversed, but fearing the woman had been struck, stopped and ran back with Conductor A.L. Healgon to see if they could help her. Lucinda was hiding in a nearby field and refused to come when called. Returning to their car, Brewster and Healgon heard the Whittier train approaching and went to start their own, only to hear the crackle of the "overhead" burning out. The Long Beach car was a doorstop, and the Whittier car came on inexorably. Attempts to flag it down failed due to the fog, and the crash followed. Lucinda ended up in distant Dozier a couple days later, where she caught a ride home with Conductor F.M. Bickenstein. When questioned by police she professed complete ignorance of the past days events… though when pressed, confessed the spectacle of the train crash had lingered with her. A call went out to Olive Street, and her relatives came and took the old gal home.

Angels Dictate at 355 South Grand Avenue

Location: 355 South Grand Avenue
Date: 1922-?

When the Angel Michael spoke to Ruth Wieland in 1922, she was a Spring Street taxi dancer living on Bunker Hill. She first heard him as she walked along Broadway, then three days later in her room at 355 South Grand Avenue. Over the next 42 months he dictated the "Lamb’s Book of Life" to Ruth and her mother May Otis Blackburn, speaking occasionally, night and day–but only if they stayed inside and away from the bustle of everyday life.  In time, the handwritten book comprised such vast bulk that, at least according to May, it would have taken sixteen stenographers six months to transcribe it.

Much later, after the women were arrested for hustling oil man Clifford Dabney and their strange tale splashed across the papers, one Arthur C. Osborne appeared to announce he was Ruth’s bethrothed in those heady early days, when he loaned the girl $1500 to help finance her divorce. He told her she was too delicate to work, and that he would pay the bills while she and May worked on the holy book, also known as the Sixth Seal. Then she and mama vanished. He came to see Ruth in jail, but she was cold and told him to talk to her lawyer.

For by 1929, pretty Ruth’s tastes had moved far beyond sad sack guys who loaned cash to taxi dancers. She was the priestess of The Divine Order of the Royal Arms of the Great Eleven, perhaps the wackiest in an era of wack-a-doodle cults and alternative faiths the likes of which continue to color California’s reputation for peculiarity to this day. With Mother May, Ruth commanded a small army of true believers who inhabited "Harmony Hamlet," a retreat in the Santa Susanna mountains, near Moorpark (later the haunt of the Manson Family), where about 100 cult members lived like hermits after driving their cars into the mountains and leaving them to rust as a sign of devotion. But who needs wheels when you have nude, interracial dancing? Not you, mister.

The Great Eleven began on Bunker Hill and found its first faithful there. Ruth and May couldn’t spend all their time taking dictation from aetherial beings. They were social butterflies, the pair of them, and enjoyed sharing philosophy and bossing people around. Before long, both had found new husbands, Ruth with the doomed Sammie Rizzio, likely murdered in 1924 for the sin of striking his bride, May with weird Ward Blackburn, he of the Chinese moustaches, prodigious claws and fondness for collecting rainwater in a coffee can at the corner of Wilshire and Western. And it was likely on the Hill that Clifford Dabney found the ladies and became convinced that their holy book, once finished, would give him the power to discover hidden mineral wealth within the earth, to hold the power of life and death, and to reanimate the corpses he created while chugging along down Broadway in his customized human reaping machine and calliope. He began writing checks, which Ruth and May were only too happy to cash.

After several years, when all the money was gone, Clifford Dabney’s wealthy uncle Joseph took a break from berating his boozehound employee Raymond Chandler to offer his nephew a bail out, if he’d take those looney women to court. He did, and the story that came out ultimately included the symbolic exorcism of all the madness in the world via abusing a batch of crazy quilts, grandmas happily chained to their beds, ladies baked in brick ovens, poisoned sands, the abiding mystery of the Lord’s Furniture Set and the ritual mummification of a teenage priestess and her seven pet puppies.

But these odd tales take us far from the Hill, and this is not the place for them. If you are curious about the Great Eleven, join us on the Wild Wild West Side crime bus tour, when we will visit the grave of the young mummy and talk at length of the practices of this most original downtown faith.

Photos courtesy the Los Angeles Times and the UCLA Library Digital Collections. 

The Door Busters of Olive Street

Location: 230 South Olive Street

Bounced from Della Davis’ rooming house for excessive drinking, William Thomas Brown (plasterer, 36) vowed to "get" her. On January 16, 1917 around noon, he broke down her apartment door. Inside, Della waited with her trusty revolver, and as William entered, she shot him three times. When Motorcycle Officer Luth came to enquire, he found Della reloading. William, meanwhile, had run down Olive Street in search of a doctor. Taken to the receiving hospital, non-fatal bullets were removed from his right breast and shoulder, and a grazed chin was cleaned. They brought Della down to the operating room, and William promptly identified his assailant. She didn’t deny it, stating "I have no regrets for shooting him. I feared him and when he broke into my room I felt I had a perfect right to defend myself. I hope he does not die, but I can’t see that I did anything wrong." She was released on her own recognizance after a stop at the Central Police Station, and we hear no more of the matter

Something about this address bred door busters. Late on November 11, 1919, resident Frank Murch was popped trying to force entry into his lady friend Ida E. Wilson’s flat at Fifth and Flower. After a day’s society, she’d simply had enough of his company. Frank was loud, obnoxious, and less skilled at the craft than William, so instead of a bouquet of bullets–though Ida did take one crack through the door with her little .22–he merely received a disturbing the peace arrest.

Lewis the Light, accident preventer

Location: 230 South Olive Street

Louis Burgess Greenslade, a native of Devon, England and better known as Lewis, The Light, was already balmy in January 1889, when Doctors Field and Fitch of Bellevue Hospital sent him to the Hart Island asylum, off Manhattan.

He had been institutionalized after his neglected wife came from Pasadena in response to a letter from Louis stating that one of their sons, who was traveling with him, was dying. She sold everything she had to finance the trip, where she discovered her child was quite well, but Louis –not so much.

Some time later Louis left the asylum to rejoin his family in California, where he found his wife had died after telling neighbors she was a widow, and that his children had been put into public care. He moved to downtown Los Angeles, where he grew a long beard, dressed "in fantastic garb," declared himself a messiah and lived on the donations of true believers.

An investigation resulted in him being declared unfit to rear his daughter Calla Lily (aged 14 in 1891), and he went to court seeking her release, then tried to snatch her from Mrs. Watson’s Home. He was tried on grounds of insanity, but freed because the thrifty law required homicidal or suicidal tendencies if a madman was to be cared for in an asylum. He tried to make a speech to the court, was rebuffed, and in January 1892 was determined to be in fact dangerous and committed to the State Insane Asylum at Agnews (a village later absorbed by Santa Clara).

But by June he was reported to be handing out peculiar circulars outside Metropolitan Hall in San Francisco, and in October arrested in that city on a charge of having torched the Turnverein Hall. In April 1894 he was sent back to the asylum at Agnews, a place he claimed was ideal for "resting and fattening up." (Lucky Lewis was not at the trough in April 1906, when the institution collapsed in the great earthquake, killing 117 patients and staff. All were buried on the grounds, which now comprise the supposedly haunted Sun Microsystems campus.)

Satisfied with his care and the width of his belly, Lewis escaped and returned to San Francisco, where he was arrested after ripping open his clothing and asking passersby to witness the divine light that burned in his breast.

For the rest of 1894, through 1895, 1896 and 1897 there was no sign of Lewis the Light. But in January 1898 he made a triumphant return to Los Angeles, tossing down a hand-written message at the feet of the deaf-mute newsstand operator Max Cohn at 124 ½ South Spring Street.

"Max: Read this intelligently and with interest! Deaf mutes are caused by the unnatural crime of rebelling against Lewis the Light! All nature, together with humanity, groans for lack of using Lewis the Light! Whilst people are such unnatural fools as to breed mules, there will also be deaf mutes to suffer for it. Greater than the ram’s horn is the horn of the he-goat." LEWIS THE LIGHT

He was at this time living at  230 South Olive Street with two of his sons who worked as messengers and supported the family. By July 1898, the L.A. Times already sounded sick of him when reporting "Los Angeles is again afflicted with [his] prophecies."

Lewis the Light, you see, what a newspaper reader and a letter writer. He’d comb the papers for reports of some personal catastrophe, then send a note (or many notes) preaching doom and damnation to the unfortunate sufferer, with the promise that future traumas could be avoided if they could only consult him, and tithe accordingly. (That fire in San Francisco was just another subject that drew his interest, but only after the fact.) Hence in July ’98, E.T. Earl had to contend not only with the loss of his Wilshire boulevard home to fire, but with an original missive from Lewis, The Light:

"Armageddon, allegorically and literally. Now Earl: count yourself as having been subjected to one variety, at least of Fire, and liable to many others through utterly failing to do your duty in personally and practically recognizing and rendering his due to the Lord of Life. Deut. 3-15, 32-22."

The message was signed with a rubber stamp showing a horse and an invitation to visit "Lewis, the Light, accident preventer" at this address. Mr. Earl called the cops, and Louis was warned to knock off with the nasty notes (particularly the letters to women, which were especially racy) or he’d be shipped back to the bug house. A record was made of his business card, which read, "Accident preventer, central civilizer, longevity promoter; subject to nothing; terms a tithe."

In May 1899, one of Louis’ sons, his 22-year-old namesake, flipped out after reading too deeply in the scientific section of the public library. The young man, who fancied himself an inventor, went into the basement offices of his employers, the California District messenger service beneath the Los Angeles National Bank and began smashing windows, furnishings and bicycles. He was subdued and taken to the County Hospital, where he raved he had "been doped." Facing the judge, young Louis frothed maniacally and tore at his chains while the father calmly answered questions about his son’s mental state. The boy was committed to the Highland asylum after becoming so unruly he had to be removed from the courtroom.

On March 2, 1901, at 2pm, there was a conflict in Central Park (now Pershing Square), when Lewis the Light’s prediction of the second coming of Christ was scheduled for the same hour as a concert by the Catalina Marine Band. This disrespect so incensed Lewis that J.M. Garrison, the park foreman, called for police protection at the holy hour. According to a petition then circulating (with 800 signatures to date), the park had become something of an eyesore due to the "[infestation of] loafers an bums to such an extent that its usefulness to the populace as an airing-place is destroyed."

The petition read: "We, the undersigned, residents of Los Angeles, respectfully petition that legal means be employed to abate the public nuisance of the large gathering of men and boys daily in the band stand at Central Park. We are persuaded that the public haranguing at the park destroys the attractiveness of the place, interferes with the rights of the public, and exercises an immoral influence, especially upon the young boys, whose minds are constantly filled with false views of nature and of life. Much of the talk at the band stand we believe to be blasphemous, although a few conscientious men do endeavor daily to antidote this poison, we believe their efforts are in the main futile, and we believe its abatement a great necessity." It was filed in city council, alongside a contrasting petition presented by John Murray, Junior of the Socialist Democratic Party, in support of free speech. And of course, Lewis the Light had an opinion about the matter.

As could be expected, the September 1901 assassination of President William McKinley drew the attention of Lewis the Light (then age 49), and after he penned some of his typical missives (signed "Umbilical Cord of the Universe, Potentate of Prosperity") convinced the Eastern recipients that he was a dangerous anarchist. Local detectives knew him as a harmless crank, but nonetheless took him into custody as a courtesy to their colleagues in the east. Arrested at his Olive Street abode, Louis snapped "You can’t do me any harm, for I am Jesus Christ." In court he proclaimed his opposition to anarchy, and claimed he was the only person to speak out against Red Emma Goldman during her visit to Los Angeles. Unimpressed, Judge Shaw proclaimed him insane

In 1907, Lewis the Light crossed paths with author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who inquired with Los Angeles police about some mysterious letters sent in his care to George Edalji, whose conviction false on charges of animal cruelty Doyle helped eradicate via a most Holmesian investigation. The Edalji family’s troubles had begun with anonymous letters, but local police were able to soothe their concerns when they assured Doyle that neither their local crank nor his recent roommate Frank Sharp had anything but an idle interest in their affairs. One side effect of Doyle’s interest was the discovery that Louis Greenslade had left England after annoying a Sir Henry Knight with weird letters.

In 1908, Lewis the Light was charged with vagrancy and sentenced to thirty days after annoying citizens who he threatened should they refuse to pay a tithe. This would be the last appearance of this colorful character in the pages of the L.A. Times, and before long, his name, once an object of glee and fascination, sank into obscurity.

Carelessness, deadly and not

Location: 121 North Flower Street

On December 10, 1925, road crew worker W.A. Conway of this address demonstrated exactly how tough were the inhabitants of Bunker Hill. He began the day getting blasted in the head by a misplaced explosive charge on the Edward Lynch property on North Louise Street in Glendale, resuming work after receiving six stitches. Not long after his return, steam shovel engineer Tom Adams told powder man L.J. Starkey to set off a charge of black powder in the hole. The explosion destroyed the steam shovel, sent rocks and debris raining down, and was dropped souffles all over Glendale. Conway was unhurt by this second blast, but we hope he took the hint and found a more careful crew to work with.
On January 3, 1935, A.E. Kelly of this address had the dubious distinction of being the agent of death for Harold Wilburn, aged 60, who stepped in front of Kelly’s automobile at Fifth and Wall Streets.  The accident was explained as caused by the victim being "confused by traffic," but the location of the incident (the corner anchored by the notorious Hard Rock Cafe) suggests Mr. Wilburn may have been lit up like a Christmas tree before stepping out into oblivion.

More exquisitely apt advice


Eddie Quette here again, with another installment of my ongoing campaign for excruciatingly appropriate behavior.

Our first question comes from to us from a Carol Gwenn, who writes

Q. "Mr. Quette, you simply  MUST help me! I’m a person of interest to
several major law enforcement agencies, for reasons you will deduce
below.  I must beg you, under no circumstance are you to reveal my
identity in your blog!

A. Thank you, Carol Gwenn, I’ll see what I can do. Now what was your question?

Q. Oh, I am SO relieved!  I knew I could count on you Eddie! 
Anyway, when preparing to divest oneself of a troublesome tenant,
(those room renters of the lower sort), is it appropriate to arrive
bearing arms or is it acceptable to pick up whatever the lowlife have
to hand (gun, knife, etc.)  Also, must one wear a hat – as well as
gloves — for such an occasion?  These may seem like unimportant
issues, but it’s the small things, the grace notes,   that make life
worth living.

A. You are so right!  I opt for the BYOW approach (bring your own
weapon) as so often the gats and pieces encountered in such wretched
conditions are encrusted with microbes, bacteria, or even (in the worst
scenarios) COOTIES!

Gloves and hats are always tasteful in such circumstances, and this
being summer, you can’t go wrong with white, cream, or eggshell
shades.  Whatever you do, avoid loud colors or horizontal stripes in
your attire, as in LAPD booking photos these simply SCREAM  "I just
pigged out on white chocolate cake at Bernard’s at the Biltmore!"  The
LAST thing you need is to draw even more attention to yourself, Carol

Q.  I’m the Mother Superior of the Monastery of the Angels, a
Dominican convent located near the foot of Bunker Hill.  We are
considering moving from here to Hollywood, to escape the noise, sin,
and depravity of the downtown area. Do you think this advisable? 

A.  You’re moving to HOLLYWOOD to escape depravity?  Isn’t that sort of like moving to Phil Spector’s house to avoid gunplay?

Q. I’m a wealthy oil baron here in L.A., with extensive petroleum
leases throughout California.  Recently an acquaintance, May Otis
Blackburn, requested that I transfer all my oil stock to her at the
behest of the Angel Gabriel, who speaks to her occasionally on her
lunch hour.  Is this wise?

A. Well, my expertise is in etiquette, not stock tips.  But it just
so happens that last night I was channeling my own Spirit Guide, the
Archangel Michael, over at the Aetherius Center, and boy have I got the
straight skinny for you, Bud.

Keep half that oil stock in the ground, and invest the rest of it in
California real estate until around 2007, when something called the
sub-prime real estate crisis will render it worthless. But by that time
you will have put everything BACK into oil, which by June of 2008 will
be worth 135 smackeroos a barrel! Trust me on this, and pretty soon you
will be raising tankards of Pouilly Fuisse in my honor!

Do you have a question for Mr. Eddie Quette?  Write him care of this
, and he will either answer, or, if he deems you beneath his
station, he will issue a hearty YAWN on your behalf.