We’ve Got a Live One


309 S. Flower Street

January 21, 1940


Following his breakfast at the little cafe at 309 S. Flower Street, 25-year-old James D. Bland was full of bacon, eggs, and bad intentions.

He was not armed, but pantomimed a weapon under his coat, and threatened to shoot the waitress, Heide Ogawa, unless she emptied the register. Bland also herded three other cafe employees into a back storage room.

Ogawa handed over the restaurant’s $18 take, and then, for reasons known perhaps only to himself, Bland decided to free the other employees before making his departure.

There are two versions of what happened next, but both make for pretty good stories.

According to police, a Negro dishwasher named Arthur Sanders bashed Bland over the head with the handle of a meat cleaver when he was on his way out the door. Then, while Bland was unconscious, the cafe employees tied him up with cords from a laundry bag, and waited for help.

However, at his court date, it was reported that after Bland released the other employees, Ogawa saw her chance and gave him a good shove. Bland lost his balance and stumbled into the arms of a cook, who shoved him in a laundry bag and tied it shut.

Bland entered a guilty plea to second degree robbery and was sentenced to 5 years probation and 1 year in County Jail.