Posts filed under ‘200 Block Flower Street’

Keep them Medical Advancements Rollin

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Thomas Major Jr., 34, a logger by profession, down from Vancouver to take in the town. He was in the barroom at the Rollin Hotel, Third and Flower, when the cops came in to investigate a brawl, January 24, 1960. They have a funny way of doing things up in British Columbia, apparently, for as the bulls were bracing some other bar patron, Major pulled out a gun, pointed it at the cops’ backs, and began pulling the trigger. The cops heard the click-click of two empty chambers, turned, and fired seven shots at Major.

Major was hit seven times, taking four in the abdomen. Detectives Pailing and Buckland, with Municipal Judge Griffith in tow, made a visit to Major’s bed in the prison ward at General Hospital, where they charged him with two counts of assault with intent to commit murder and one of violating the deadly weapons control law.

The GH docs had pulled all sorts of lead from Major, but there was still the matter of the bullet in Major’s heart. Yes, normally a slug from a Parker-issued K-38 in the ticker is going to put you down for good. But this one found its place there in an unsual way; one of those bullets to the abdomen apparently passed through the liver, entered a large vein and was pumped into the upper right chamber of the heart, passed through the valve to the lower left chamber, an in that ventricle there it sat. Apparently you can’t just leave well enough alone, so someone had to go in and get the damn thing.

Enter Drs. Lyman Brewer and Ellsworth Wareham, of the College of Medical Evangelists. They’d removed plenty of bullets from hearts using the old “closed-heart method,” but here thought they’d try something new—having a heart-lung machine on hand, they thought they’d throw that into the mix. No more working without seeing what you’re doing: with the heart-lung machine, the heart could be drained of blood, and the surgeon can see and feel what’s transpiring.

Dr. Joan Coggin, who assisted, also noted that they’ve established a new approach to heart surgery in that they incised the heart on the underside, and not in the front; the electrical pattern of the heart, as evidenced by their electrocardiogram, has shown that this method results in far less serious consequence to the heart during surgery.

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All this medical breakthrough, and all because some liquored Canuck on Bunker Hill decided to blast away at the heat! Should you wish to know more about this miracle of science, why don’t you ask Ellsworth?

A bit on the Hotel Rollin, as long as we’re here. Its building permits are issued July 9, 1904. Its two and three room suites are each furnished with bath and kitchen.

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Those of you with the eagle eye will notice the Bozwell and St. Regis just in the background:

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(Of course, the Hotel Rollin had a musical combo that entertained guests, and to this day many people remember the Rollin’s band.)

Hotel Rollin image, USC Digital Archives 

January 18, 2009 at 9:22 pm 1 comment

The Old Switcheroo

May 6, 1915. Mr. H. J. Robinson, of 210 South Flower, met long-time acquaintance Ernest Lightfoot at another house Robinson owned at 121 South Flower. While the two were inspecting 121—Lightfoot had proposed Robinson trade him the house for some land in the Imperial Valley—Lightfoot slugged the elderly Robinson, knocking him unconscious.

Robinson recovered consciousness enough to feel someone tugging at his diamond ring—which he’d never been able to get off himself, though Lightfoot was able to do enough of a number on Robinson’s finger to effect removal.

While Robinson recovered in Westlake Hospital, suffering contusions of the head and a concussion of the brain (and a bruised finger), Lightfoot was picked up by detectives. Turns out this Lightfoot was the same charmer who in 1910 was charged with rape and given five years probation, and who in 1914 was arrested for child abandonment.

…210 South Flower?1922Stan

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From the collective neuron firings of OBH readership comes the query where have I heard that before?

 

Why, you read about that just the other day, in Miss Joan’s wonderful tale of the Fry Cook Killa.

Yes, 210 South Flower, which we know as the Stanley Apartments, as pictured here and here.

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jimandbunkerIn November 1979, the Times ran a piece about Angelus Plaza, Bunker Hill’s subsidized housing project for seniors. For the article they dug up one of the original uprooted persons, a Jim Dorr, 73, who’d been sent a notice by the CRA to vacate the Stanley Apartments on November 15, 1965. He’s glad he saved those displacement papers all these years: HUD will give him priority in the otherwise random lottery.

Sez Jim:

“I’ve been around Bunker Hill off and on now for forty or fifty years. They say it was nice once. But they let it run down for years. The Stanley was a very old place, well kept, but they didn’t spend much money on it.”

(Just for the record, despite what it says in the caption at right, the Bunker Hill Towers are not on the spot of the Stanley. The Stanley is at the red hatched box below; Dorr’s standing at the blue dot.)

 

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Looking down 2nd toward Hope. (Needless to say, Bunker Hill Avenue has removed itself from the equation.)  (But then, so has pretty much everything else.)

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December 15, 2008 at 6:10 pm 1 comment

Fry Cook Killer

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It was a quiet February day in Seattle, Washington when Frank Lindsay ended the argument that he was having with his wife Audrey by bashing her over the head with a hammer, slashing her throat, sewing her body into a burlap bag, and then burying her behind the barn on their property.

pearl talksGrabbing his 12 year old foster daughter Pearl Grant, and a few hastily packed bags, Frank fled his home and high-tailed it south.  He would later say that he took the girl with him because he thought that traveling with a child would give him a better cover story.  It wasn’t long before he realized that being on the lam with Pearl was a bad idea, and he subsequently abandoned her in a rooming house in Oakland. 

Frank finally landed in Napa, where he befriended the parents of 11 year old Beatrice Dellamore . He picked fruit alongside the family for several days, eventually convincing the couple to turn the girl over to him. Mr. Lindsay said that he knew a woman with money who could provide Beatrice with everything that she lacked as the child of itinerate laborers. In truth, he kidnapped the girl and took her with him to Los Angeles, where he checked in at the Hotel Cecil for a few nights.hotel cecil

Then Frank did what so many other fugitives had done before him – he sought refuge in a Bunker Hill rooming house.

Representing himself as Mr. R.F. Williams, he told people that Beatrice was his daughter.  Lindsay kept the girl for two weeks in the rooming house, and then decided to put her on a bus back to Napa. Upon her return home, Beatrice was able to provide information about Frank, but the elusive spouse slaughterer continued to evade capture.

Audrey’s brutal slaying and speculation about Frank’s whereabouts were big news up and down the west coast.  However, it wouldn’t be professional law enforcement officers who would eventually locate Frank, it would be an amateur detective named William Sanborn.

sanbornFor a few of the months he was on the run, Frank had worked as a fry cook in the restaurant that Sanborn managed on Vermont.  When Frank left the job, William lost track of him. William continued to devour his favorite true detective magazines, and in one of them he read a lurid tale about the grisly murder of a Seattle housewife. In the same magazine he found a description of the missing husband who was being sought for the killing – and William strongly suspected that the wanted man was none other than his former cook!  

It was by chance that William bumped into Frank at another restaurant on Vermont where the absconder was again employed as a fry cook.  Fueled by the spine tingling exploits of the detectives he idolized in his beloved magazines, Sanborn vowed that he would apprehend the killer on his own.  During their past conversations, the restaurateur had learned that Frank was a jack of all trades. Not only was he a cook, he was also an accomplished plumber. Sanborn told Lindsay that he needed some work done at his home and, sweetening the pot with the offer of some under-the-table cash, Sanborn was able to get his plumbing repairs completed before he dropped the dime on the wife killer.

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As an upstanding citizen and detective wannabe, Sanborn needed to be absolutely sure that he was pursuing the right man. He contacted the homicide squad and was handed a photo of Lindsay, which he immediately identified as an image of his former employee.  In a move that was dangerous at best and completely insane at the worst, Sanborn then confronted Frank with the photo at the restaurant where he was working. Frank took the picture and held it in his fingers, thereby conveniently fingerprinting himself. When cops ran the prints, they matched those of the runaway murderer.  Detectives turned up at the Stanley Apartments at 210 South Flower later that evening, and took Lindsay into custody without incident.

There were many facts about which Frank hadn’t been forthcoming – like his real name, which was discovered to be Charles E. Murphy, as well as his place of birth, which was not Massachusetts as he’d claimed, but rather someplace in the UK. We should give the devil his due though, because at least he was truthful about having served in both the British and U.S. armed forces. However, what he’d neglected to reveal was that he had deserted from both.  And if all of those lies weren’t enough, it was uncovered that Frank was already married when he met and married Audrey!lindsay on plane

Because Frank had lied about most of the details of his life, police were skeptical of his claim that it was Audrey’s nagging that had compelled him to spontaneously murder her. And the authorities also didn’t buy his alternate version of Audrey’s murder in which he was not the attacker, but instead was valiantly defending himself from certain death at the hands of his enraged wife!  His story may have been more credible if he hadn’t pre-dug the grave into which he’d dumped Audrey’s corpse.

It took them a while, but police finally untangled Frank’s web of lies. They concluded that when Audrey had accused him of the criminal assaults on several young girls in the Seattle area (including attacks on their foster daughters), and then threatened to turn him in, Frank snapped and murdered her.

Frank was shackled and extradited from Los Angeles back to Washington, where he was tried and convicted for Audrey’s murder.  He was sentenced to 65 years in Walla Walla Prison.

The sound of the prison gates slamming shut behind him should have signaled the end of the story, but Frank would make news again in 1947.

Frank was on his best behavior in prison and would eventually earn trustee privileges. By January 1947, he was working as the cook in the warden’s home.  One day, Frank simply walked away from the prison and vanished. On the run for most of the year, he was finally recaptured in a restaurant in Denver, Colorado, where he was found plying his usual culinary trade.After his unsuccessful escape from prison, Frank would disappear from the newspapers entirely.

 

December 11, 2008 at 12:25 pm Leave a comment

Women and Whisky

barfightThe scene was a bar at 822 West Third Street, the players, a group of hard-drinking Bunker Hill regulars, but the story would turn tragic on July 22, 1956.

Harold J. McAnally of 230 South Flower (the Van Fleet Apartments) tried to buy a drink for a woman in the bar, when he was pushed from his barstool by a jealous rival.  McAnally fell, cracking his head on the bar’s concrete floor and fracturing his skull.  As you can see in the picture here, though McAnally is lying prone on the ground, no one seems to be all that concerned.  Perhaps the regulars were callous, or didn’t care for him, but it’s also possible that McAnally was already dead, and nothing was left to be done.

He arrived DOA at the Georgia Receiving Hospital, and shortly thereafter, Frank Swope, 33, turned himself in to the police, confessing that he was the one who had shoved McAnally at the bar.  Swope hadn’t meant to hurt him; he was just angry about McAnally’s flirtation.

September 23, 2008 at 9:20 pm Leave a comment

The St. Regis – 237 South Flower

StKidnapSay “mother fixation” and dollars to donuts you mean, or are taken to mean, a fixation on your mother. Mrs. Emma Rupe was fixated on being a mother. So much so that on July 5, 1936, the Denver waitress took a fancy to John, the two year-old son of Mr. and Mrs. John Richard O’Brien. John, it seems, looked just like Emma’s own toddler who’d died nine years previous. On the pretext that she was going to take the little darling out to buy him a playsuit (the O’Briens being trusting souls, and near penniless, so how could they refuse?) Emma thereupon took John shopping…as far from Denver as she could get, and with as great a chance of disappearing as possible. Because clichés are born of truth, noir clichés especially, she beelined straight for Los Angeles, Bunker Hill specifically, and checked into the St. Regis.

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For ten weeks the FBI combed the States until they were tipped off by an acquaintance of Emma’s, and on September 19 the Feds descended on 237 South Flower. Emma, 30, was pulled from the St. Regis hysterical and weeping; the boy, whom she called “Jackie,” appeared impassive. Emma Rupe broke down again when a Denver jury gave her twenty to life.

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The 38-apartment St. Regis opens at the end of 1904.

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Much in the way a French Renaissance building might be dubbed the Sherwood, this Missionesque structure is named after a French nobleman—J. F. Regis, tireless converter of Huguenots, and advocate of lacemaking for wayward girls.

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The St. Regis leads a fairly quiet life. Other than the aforementioned FBI intrusion in 1936, there was the small matter of the coppers showing up to collect Elmer Hudson, 32, and his wife Betty, 20, in 1928. When two bad guys held up a café at 200 Dillon Street and made off with $300 ($3,554 USD2007), Betty made the mistake of not keeping her bad-guy self in the shadows. Café owner C. V. Anderson recognized her as a former waitress.

What is it about these wayward gals—waitresses both—that can’t keep their clutchy paws off money nor baby? Maybe they’ll learn some lacemaking in the pen. Make St. Regis proud.

 

 

 

fireforcesfleeThe early 1960s were no more kind to this little niche of the Hill than any other. The Bozwell Apartments (which seem to shoot for Greek Revival but, oddly, come off as Monterrey) next door at 245, abandoned, burn on May 22, 1962.

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The blaze, reported the Times, was believed to have been “touched off by hobos.”

While firemen kept the conflagration from spreading to the St. Regis, its days were just as numbered as if it were the Bozwell itself.

For these were heady days: the Lesser Festivals of Abandoment, The Princial Feasts of Official Neglect, and the Commemorations of Escalating Mysterious Fires. Obligatory for the observant.

St. Regis photo courtey USC Digital Archives. Smaller images from this piece of greatness.

August 15, 2008 at 9:26 pm 1 comment

The Marcella — 223 South Flower Street

MarcellaToday we discuss The Marcella, who once flaunted her classical order on Flower (she is Italian, please be advised the C in her name is not pronounced s as in sell, but like ch as in chin). See how her name beckons, proud but not haughty, from her entablature? She wants to take you in and protect you under that great cornice with her large corbels. Despite her imposing presence, she is warm, and welcoming; the wide porches bespeak grace, and the timberframe vernacular on the bays coo cozy by the fire lad, there’s good feelings in mortise and tenon.

But don’t speak of fire. Fire struck the Marcella in October of 1912, sending well-to-do ladies like Mrs. L. M. Harvey to Pacific Hospital after having leapt from upper stories. Other occupants hustled (stricken with panic; see below) and scantily attired into the street. Marcella owner C. F. Holland states he’s looking at $3,000 ($65,983 USD2007) in damages, $2,000 to the rugs and furniture alone.
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It is reported that a man was seen running from the building a few minutes before the fire broke out. The storeroom, where the fire began, was not locked. The mystery is never solved but Marcella, stout of bay and stalwart of column, cannot be burned away. She perseveres.
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MayI?

 

 

 

The Marcella is a building so lovely she attracts only the comeliest of patrons. She is home to Miss May Long, a lass so fetching that when in May of 1913 she turned her attentions to one Earl G. Horton, he is gunned down by another suitor outside of his apartment house near Temple & Victor.

 

 

 

 

 

Jealousy over a woman causes upset again at the Marcella on October 25 of 1922 when Emergency Patrolman Claude Coffrin went to visit Mrs. Tillie Smith in her Marcella apartment. Not long after Coffrin’s ingress, there appeared Emergency Patrolman Anthony Kazokas and a civilian, Joe Cummins. Kazokas had loaned Cummins his revolver and badge to settle his romantic score with Coffrin over Tillie.

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Coffrin and Cummins fought, and Coffrin gained control of the gun; he phoned the Detective Bureau and over came officers Nickens and Ellis. Cummins at that point grabbed the gun back from Coffrin and stuck it in Nickens’ side, and Patrolman Kazokas jumped on Detective Ellis. Ellis brained Kazokas out cold with the butt of his gun, but Nickens ended up shooting Cummins through the neck.

The lovely Mrs. Smith was arrested on violation of parole; she had been sentenced on the 18th to pay $50 and spend thirty days in jail—suspended—for “social vagrancy”. Apparently, quality of young lady was beginning to decline at the Marcella.
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Other upstanding members of society to grace the Marcella’s rooms were the Jacksons, of whom you read all about here.
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And remember Barbara Graham? What helped send Barbara to the chair was hubby Henry’s testimony on the witness stand. Her last-ditch alibi was that she and Henry were together that night of March 9, 1953—but Henry testified he had already moved out and was living with his mother…at the Marcella. (A mere two blocks down from the Lancaster, scene of Baxter Shorter’s abduction.)

Little Tommy Graham, now five, was living in the Marcella in 1957 when Wanger Pictures gave him $1000 for filming his executed mother’s life story.

 

 

Fire again struck the Marcella, this time in 1962, and this time it meant business. On March 30 a blaze razed the upper two stories of the structure. Twelve fire units quelled the blaze in half an hour; She of 223 South Flower vanished from memory soon afterward.

Here we are looking north on Flower through the intersection of Third, 1965. See the little Victorian, left center? The Marcella was just on the other side of that.
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Today Flower Street makes a sharp turn between Third and Second to avoid the Bunker Hill Towers. The Marcella stood just on the other side of this pool:

MarcellaToday
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Interesting, and, what, perhaps a little unnerving, but certainly instructive, to consider that the image that began this post, and the one immediately above, were taken from the same spot.

Top image courtesy Arnold Hylen Collection, California History Section, California State Library; center images courtesy William Reagh Collection, California History Section, California State Library

 

July 12, 2008 at 7:01 pm 1 comment

Van Fleet Apartments – 230 South Flower Street

Here was the Van Fleet, a three-story frame apartment house built in 1911 by Garrett & Bixby for citrus man Nelson Van Fleet. The 29 apartments were split between two- and three-room models, and it was in one of them on March 22, 1912, that Marie Higginson, 40-ish "and quite prepossessing," having failed to shoot herself in San Pedro last week, gassed herself in the kitchen. Her groans alerted Mrs. Francis Passmore across the hall. Found unconscious on a blanket on the kitchen floor with the oven door removed,  Marie’s purse revealed the gun and a copy of Walter Malone’s poem "Opportunity"—a popular verse among self annihilators, for Joseph N. Vincent recently blew his brains out on Silverwood Hill with the last stanzas in his pocket.

Marie, though, did not die, and on awakening, confessed that in San Pedro her hand had shaken so that she had missed her mark. "I didn’t shoot a second time because I feared I might not hit a vital spot and would die a lingering death." The cause of it all was her unhappiness with the mining man who was her companion, so she was trying to remove herself from the equation while he was away in Maricopa. Her miner returned to news that Marie was going before the lunacy commission, but we do not know how she fared there.

An L.A. Times article surveying the freakishly high cost of rents (up as much as 400% in four years) and the difficulty in finding a place that would accept children noted that a two-room apartment with a bath and kitchenette at the Van Fleet would set you back $75 a month in October 1920.

On New Years Eve 1932, 28-year-old entertainer Matthew Tormino left his apartment at the Van Fleet for a booking at the Verdugo Trout Club Lodge in Verdugo Hills. At some point while Tormino, James W. Curtis and Inez Stewart were amusing the guests, a large man became incensed and the talent made a dash for the door. Tormino was the last one out, and took a bullet to the hip. When questioned by police, all anyone could say was that the shooter was "a big guy." Tormino was expected to recover, but we suggest he work on his act.

June 29, 2008 at 11:14 am Leave a comment

Bunker Hill: A Hotbed of Spiritualist Fraud!

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On October 16, 1924, Los Angeles Times reporter Charles Sloan took rooms at the Alexandria Hotel under the name of Dr. Chamberlyn Snow, and arranged a meeting with William A. Jackson, President of the National Independent Spiritualist Association, Inc. (NISA).

He wanted to set up practice as a spiritualist and medium in Los Angeles, he told Jackson, but was unable to get a permit under the city’s ordinances regulating the operation and advertisement of spiritualist practice. That license would require that "Snow" be ordained by a recognized spiritualist organization, and the problem was, he told Jackson, "I don’t know a damn thing about spiritualism."

This was, Jackson said, no problem at all. All Snow needed to do was to produce a check for $175, and he could be ordained as a spiritualist minister and healer. Snow gave his money to Jackson’s wife, Lois A. Jackson, secretary of N.I.S.A., and all was in order.

On November 7, 1924, acting on Sloan’s information, warrants were issued for the arrest of the Jacksons, the 8 other directors and officers of NISA, and 36 mediums and spiritualists in Los Angeles, on charges of criminal conspiracy, attempts to obtain money by false pretense, larceny by trick and device, and other related charges.

lankershim building The NISA headquarters were located in the Lankershim Building at 3rd and Spring, and many of those arrested lived right on Bunker Hill.

Besides the Jacksons, who resided at 223 S. Flower Street, were Professor Bernard of 316 1/2 S. Broadway, Mabel Tyler of 318 W. 3rd Street, and Michael Crespo, BS, MS, and PhD, the so-called "miracle man," who lived at 145 S. Spring.

The bust led to an investigation of over 200 spiritualist groups, 48 of them located in Los Angeles. The cities of Alhambra and Long Beach set about passing ordinances that would make the practice of spiritualism illegal.

Crespo was the easiest target and first major conviction of the bunch, found in violation of the State Medical Practice Act, and guilty of performing illegal marriages and divorces.

NISA records revealed that the organization boasted a membership of over 235,000 people, and held property valued at $112,000; more importantly, they had ordained approximately 5500 people. In many cases, they had not followed the organization’s rules that those ordained would have to "demonstrate the gospel, philosophy, and science of continued existence after so-called death according to some commonly accepted or approved methods of the NISA."

On February 26, 1925, the Jacksons were found guilty of issuing certificates to unqualified persons, allowing them to circumvent city ordinances regulating the practice of spiritualism. William was sentenced to 90 days in prison and a $500 fine, and Lois to 30 days in prison and a $250 fine.

City Prosecutor Friedlander said of the proceedings, "If this prosecution… has done nothing else, it has at least stripped the highly colorful veneer of an organized group of religious imposters who were preying upon a class of credulous, superstitious, and unthinking people and brought to the surface a detailed and elaborate method of fraud."

When NISA’s charter was revoked by the state on December 2, 1925, Harry Houdini wired his congratulations to the staff of the Times, saying "It was well done. You have thrown an obstacle in the path of fraudulent spiritualism which will last for years to come."

Image from the Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection

May 13, 2008 at 2:46 pm Leave a comment

Susie Miller on the Loose

Date: July 3, 1904
Location: 200 Block of Flower Street

susie115-year-old Susie Miller was a pretty brunette with a vivacious disposition who loved to play the violin. She also loved Willie Miller, a 15-year-old butcher’s apprentice, and he loved her — the two were already talking about marriage. But Susie’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Miller disapproved of the match so strongly that they uprooted the family from their home in San Francisco and moved to Los Angeles in the hopes of squashing the love affair.

The family settled in at a pretty little yellow bungalow on the southwest corner of Flower and Second, and Susie’s brothers quickly found work — although the Times was quick to point out that they only took jobs to occupy their time, not because they needed the money. Samuel Miller was somehow affiliated with the streetcar business in San Francisco and described as "a man in good circumstances." Even little Susie got in on the fun, taking a job as an operator at the Home Telephone Company, just down the street.

And then, on the morning of July 3, 1904, Susie Miller disappeared.

She told her mother that she’d asked to work the 6 a.m. shift at the telephone office in order to have the 4th of July off, and left home at 5:30 that morning. However, when Susie didn’t come home for lunch, Mrs. Miller began to worry. She called the telephone office and was informed that Susie had, in fact, tendered her resignation on June 28, and that there was no 6 a.m. Sunday shift. The family began to panic, and called police to report her missing. However, they just as quickly lied and told the police that she’d returned home, not wanting the story to be reported in the paper.

By July 5, there was still no word from Susie, and they decided to come clean.

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Yes, there was Willie in San Francisco, but Susie also had another beau in the wings, a man named Harry, last name unknown. Mrs. Miller said, "Susie met him over the telephone in conversation to begin with and afterwards saw him and told me he was an awfully pretty boy and that she could almost love him." All they knew about Harry was that he claimed to be from San Diego, and that his father owned a gold mine. Their suspicions were heightened when Willie sent a telegram from San Francisco saying he had not seen Susie.

Millie Leach, one of Susie’s co-workers at the Home Telephone Company, told police that she’d accompanied Susie to the train station that Sunday morning. Susie told her she was going to San Diego, but when she purchased her ticket, Millie swore she heard her say, "Frisco."

So, where was she? Had she run off with the derelict son of a gold miner, eloped with her hometown sweetheart, or fallen prey to a worse fate?

The Times wrote, "The scheming of a Sherlock Holmes could not have more successfully covered her tracks."

But where police and reporters alike were stumped, Susie’s family rose to the occasion and worked to track her down. Samuel Miller went to San Francisco, and submitted young Willie to some hard questioning, during which the boy cracked. Susie had gone to a San Francisco hotel owned by her aunt, a woman with whom the family did not keep in touch. Once she heard her father was on the way, she crossed the bay to stay at the home of another aunt in Vallejo.

After being recovered and returned safely home to Los Angeles, Susie explained herself saying that she meant to write home, but after taking off, it seemed like "a good joke" to let her family wonder where she was. Then, once the police got involved, she was too scared to tell them where she was. Outsmarting the LAPD is one thing, but dear old dad is quite another.

May 6, 2008 at 12:51 pm Leave a comment


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