Sailing, Sailing — Off to City Jail!

sailor headline

October 30, 1920

clara bow sailors

“A sailor’s life, it is a merry life…”
Fairport Convention

K.W. Cross (19), C.J. Terry (20), and R.P. Cullison (18), had been sailors for only two months when they came to the conclusion that a sailor’s life wasn’t so damned merry after all. In fact, each of the swabbies was positively desperate to get out of uniform and back into civilian life, so they hatched a plan to get themselves discharged from the service.

The young men had heard that if they were arrested for a crime, their naval careers would come to a screeching halt – so they burglarized a small tobacco store at Fourth and Hill Streets. They made no attempt to flee following the crime, and were busted at the scene by Police Detectives Simpson and Jarves.

It’s possible that Cross, Terry, and Cullison were naive enough to believe that once they’d committed a crime, they’d simply be cut loose from the Navy and put back on the streets to pursue merrier lives. If so, they must have been very disappointed. Although they were immediately discharged at San Pedro as expected, all three youths were then taken into custody, and confined in the City Jail for six months each on the burglary rap.

We hope that the former mariners embraced Samuel Johnson’s philosophy, and enjoyed their stints in the city slammer…

“No man will be a sailor who has contrivance enough to get himself into a jail; for being in a ship is being in a jail, with the chance of being drowned… a man in a jail has more room, better food, and commonly better company.”
Samuel Johnson

Last Shore Leave

Location: 350 Clay Street
Date: June 3, 1946

In the not-quite-twelve hours since John M. Kelly was discharged from the Marine Corps, he somehow took up with Henry Ehlert, 44, and Dwight C. Lester, 23, of this address and John Graham, 43, a Naval chief petty officer stationed in San Diego.

Kelly’s first night as a civilian was a notable one: he and his pals drew the attention of Traffic Officer F.J. Rees, investigating reports of a holdup in an alley between Main and Spring, and when Kelly made a funny move when ordered to put ’em up, Rees shot half his face off.

Kelly survived long enough to be booked on robbery charges in the prison ward of General Hospital, while his pals cooled their heels in County Jail. But the lack of any follow up to this story makes one wonder if Rees had an itchy finger, and the arrests were meant to cover up an accidental shooting of an innocent man.

The previous November 10, hapless Dwight C. Lester, then residing at 300 S. Olive Street, somehow lost his footing, fell under the up-bound Angels Flight car and was dragged about 60 feet before engineer Elmer Miller heard him hollering and braked. He escaped with friction burns and lacerations. Below, a photograph of his rescue.