The Musical Cure and the Dead Girl – 240 South Grand

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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.

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Author: Kim Cooper

Kim Cooper is the creator of 1947project, the crime-a-day time travel blog that spawned Esotouric’s popular crime bus tours, including The Real Black Dahlia. She is the author of The Kept Girl, the acclaimed historical mystery starring the young Raymond Chandler and the real-life Philip Marlowe, and of The Raymond Chandler Map of Los Angeles. With husband Richard Schave, Kim curates the Salons and forensic science seminars of LAVA- The Los Angeles Visionaries Association. When the third generation Angeleno isn’t combing old newspapers for forgotten scandals, she is a passionate advocate for historic preservation of signage, vernacular architecture and writer’s homes. Kim was for many years the editrix of Scram, a journal of unpopular culture. Her books include Fall in Love For Life, Bubblegum Music is the Naked Truth, Lost in the Grooves and an oral history of Neutral Milk Hotel.

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