Posts filed under ‘kim’

A successful, failed bank job

Bank of America, Broadway & 7th (LAPL)

The desperate man walked into the Bank of America branch and crossed the lobby to the second teller window–to Mrs. Joy Holker, 28, the one with the kind eyes. He handed her a brown envelope and a note which read “This is a holdup. Fill up the envelope. Also have a jar of acid.” She obeyed, quickly stacking $540 in $10 bills and passing them across the counter. But as she counted, she gave her robber the once-over. She didn’t buy it, not from this guy. As he turned away, she came out from behind the counter and chased him onto Broadway, screaming “Stop that man!”

victim

A motorcycle cop, Charles Randolph, heard her cries, as did patrolman R. Mierdiercks. They took off after the robber, who had darted east on 7th Street. He turned south down Spring, and tried to hide in a parking lot mid-block. They busted him there, and he surrendered peacefully.

robber

Kenneth St. Onge, 35, had a cap pistol, a bottle of colored water and a sob story. He said he’d come out from Detroit with his wife and seven sons last September, but couldn’t find any work. For three weeks, the family slept in their 1947 Studebaker, until wife Esther found work as a waitress. They’d then moved into a quonset hut at 1480 Landa Street, rent $25 a week plus utilities. After two months, the electric bill came. It was $67, which is how they learned their landlord had wired up an apartment, a trailer and a garage to their meter. With only one pair of decent shoes for all the children, he’d spend his days driving first one, then another child to attend a class or two, then pick up Esther. Whatever she made in tips, that was their dinner fund. Everything else went to the landlord.

Then Esther got pregnant again, and couldn’t stay on her feet all day. They had nothing left.  He didn’t know what else to do, so he did this.  “I guess I knew I’d get caught, but I figured at least the State would have to take care of my wife and kids,” he mused.

Los Angeles briefly fell in love with the sad sack, especially after he appeared on local television bemoaning his fate. Over $1000 in donations poured in, along with clothes for the kids and a job for daddy at City of Hope. The family was offered a furnished home in La Puente for nothing down.

family

Just over a month after his life of crime fizzled out, a proud Kenneth St. Onge celebrated Easter with his wife and children in court, as Judge Thurmond Clarke ruled “Because of your record, your family and your children, I am going to grant you probabtion in this case. For robbing a national bank, I’ve certainly been very lenient.”

“People have been so kind. I know everything is going to turn out all right now. This is,” said St. Onge, “the best break I ever had.”

And all he had to do to get it was to cross over to the dark side. There’s a lesson in there somewhere, we guess, maybe nothing more profound than that most folks like to hear about someone who’s got it even worse than they do.

 

Photos: Bank of America from LAPL, others Los Angeles Times

March 31, 2011 at 10:09 pm Leave a comment

Woken With A Bang

Sleeping Joe Schutton was roused from his rest by an ungodly clash and clatter, and when he lit his lamp found a pair of thrashing man’s legs dangling from the ceiling as the man above made obvious attempts to escape back onto the roof through which he’d broken. Irked Joe would have none of that, and clung to the kicking feet, screaming loudly for aid.

Patrolmen Sweeney and Kierscey were quick on the scene, and taking an accounting of the situation, raced to the roof where they extracted O.W. Coppington, 35, and asked what the hell he thought he was doing.

“I’m the victim here,” swore Coppington, who told a convoluted tale of being halted at Winston near Main by a pair of highwaymen, who he’d eluded by racing up the first stairwell he spied, then out onto one roof, then another, then another–searching for an open skylight he could escape through. But when he leapt from a tall roof to a lower one, the shingles, lath and plaster broke away, waking Joe Schutton and leading to Coppington’s arrest. Skeptical, Sweeney and Kierscey took their prize back to City Jail for further conversation, while Joe Schutton shook the ceiling chips out of his sheets and tried to get back to sleep.

February 13, 2010 at 4:19 pm 4 comments

Flames of Peace

October 15, 1967

Late on Sunday morning, Florence Beaumont, 56-year-old former English teacher, Unitarian peace activist and mother of two, gathered a selection of literature pertaining to her activities in the anti-Vietnam war movement, climbed into her pickup truck with its Peace and Freedom Party bumper sticker and drove from her home in La Puente to downtown Los Angeles.

At 1:05pm, after climbing the steps of the new Federal Building, Florence poured most of a can of gasoline over herself, put the can down on a wall and lit a match. She immediately erupted in flames, let out a cry, and walked about 40 feet before collapsing, an unrecognizable charred mass. Over by the gas can was her purse, with a card taped to the front which read “Hello, I’m Florence Beaumont.”

Federal Building guard Ben Brown heard a scream, ran outside and saw the woman in flames. He returned to his post for a fire extinguisher, but arrived too late to help her. Retiree John Osberg was sunning himself on the steps nearby and heard a moan, looking up to see Florence burning and walking along the veranda. “There were flames all over her. She didn’t say anything, she just moaned. She was burning from head to foot.”   

Two nights earlier, Florence had told a friend, Ada Pettigrove, that she had been thinking of immolating herself. Ada told her not to talk like that, and put off mentioning the conversation to Florence’s husband George because she had to leave for San Diego to retrieve a lost dog. “I really didn’t think she would carry it out. I guess I really didn’t know her that well.”

On Tuesday, Florence’s widower George held a press conference at the Greater Los Angeles Press Club, where he read a prepared statement saying that he had not known what she planned to do. He said his wife had been deeply troubled because it seemed that elected officials didn’t care about her concerns.

She had “a deep feeling against the slaughter in Vietnam… She was a perfectly normal, dedicated person, and felt she had to do this just like the [monks and nuns] who burned themselves in Vietnam. I never felt she would take this road, but I can see how she might have felt she had to do it…. This was no suicide. There were no indications of escapism or frustration. This was an immolation, a supreme sacrifice to humanity, to peace and freedom for all mankind. In a sense, it was a religious rite far beyond the hypocritical posturings of orthodoxy… The barbarous napalm that burns the bodies of the Vietnamese children has seared the souls of all who, like Florence Beaumont, do not have icewater for blood, stones for hearts. The match that Florence used to touch off her gasoline-soaked clothing has lighted a fire that will not go out–ever– a fire under us complacent, smug fat cats so damned secure in our ivory towers 9,000 miles from exploding napalm, and THAT, we are sure, is the purpose of her act. “

Exactly one week after her death, 500 people gathered at the site of Florence’s immolation to honor her memory. She was one of five people who died after setting themselves ablaze in America to protest the war in Vietnam. Eight years later, the war ended.

image credits: Los Angeles Times

January 20, 2010 at 5:09 am Leave a comment

“Captain” Wolf Takes A Trip

“Captain” Maximilian Wolf, self-styled, was a visionary of early Los Angeles. He arrived from San Francisco with a colleague who planned to host a fair at Hazard’s Pavilion at 5th and Olive, went mad for a spell, was freed, then entered into a period of creative mania.
  
In 1896 he sought to demonstrate the efficacy of his theories on alternative transport by way of a Water Bicycle, a device comprised of two fifteen-by-two-foot pontoons on each of which a bike was placed. By pushing the pedals, a series of cogs revolved, eventually powering two fishy fins beneath each pontoon. Put an awning up, and one could enjoy a cigar or cool tea on the open water. A rudder, at the front of the device, turned with the handlebars–but Wolf refused to tell reporters what would happen if the two riders wished to go in different directions.

Perhaps this is a design flaw the good “Captain” should have paid more mind to, as the planned date for his demonstration ride in early 1896 slipped always over the next wave. For machine shop owner S.D. Sturgis, who had built the marvel “on spec” was now holding the craft hostage in the back of his store, insisting Wolf pay for the work before any lakeside show was put on. When Sturgis appeared, a nervous Wolf scurried off, mid-interview with a man from the Times.

Months passed, and there was no report of the wonderful Water Bicycle ever getting wet. Wolf turned instead to designing an air ship and told all who would listen how marvelous it would be when completed.

Then in September, Wolf took a most peculiar cab ride with a hack called H.A. Lowell. He asked first to be taken to County Hospital, complaining on the way of blood poisoning. But on learning there were no private rooms available, he asked Lowell to continue on to Boyle Heights, to his old friend Mrs. Hollenbeck’s home where all the old folks stayed. He wrote a letter in German for the lady, but she claimed not to know him and turned him away.

From there, Lowell was compelled to convey Wolf to a nearby nursery, where the German proprietor reluctantly admitted to knowing the passenger, but refused to loan him $5. Then Wolf asked to be taken to the Masonic Hall, but the exasperated Lowell took him instead to jail, where he was relieved of his gold-headed cane and the lunacy commission called in.

Wolf then vanishes from the record, and his marvelous, futuristic craft with him.

January 14, 2010 at 7:56 am Leave a comment

A Dead Man’s Chest

Two weeks ago, the tearful relatives of Raymundo Reyes, 74, gathered at Calvary Cemetery for his burial. Not a week later, Reyes turned up, very much alive.

Who then had died, this man who looked so much like Reyes that the whole family was fooled? No one had a clue until today, when Adam Kryst, an elderly pensioner, was reported missing from a rooming house at 224 Boyd Street.

Police Sgt. Tom Anderson of the missing persons bureau obtained the three keys found on the dead man’s person and went to Boyd Street, where he opened the front door, the door of Adam Kryst’s room, and a chest inside it. A fingerprint technician matched prints found in the room to those taken from the corpse.

And so the mystery was solved, but one awkward problem remained: Kryst’s family, coming from Florida, must reach some agreement with the Reyes family regarding the somewhat decayed man occupying their relative’s grave. Let’s hope at least he was a Catholic!

December 9, 2009 at 4:22 am Leave a comment

Anna’s Voices

Pity Mrs. Anna Mulloy, who dabbled in the psychic sciences and discovered that the world of shadows and secrets is no place for a flesh and blood woman to linger.

Anna first looked to the mysteries back home in Manitou, Colorado, where her husband M.E. was busy with his work as a contractor. She found she had a gift for hearing the voices of the dead, and what else could she do then but to listen? “He’s cheating on you,” the voices said, “he loves another.” And so in August 1899, Anna took her four little children and went to California. M.E. Mulloy sent her regular checks.

But now the voices sang a new tune. “Take the children,” they said, “Go to the grandest hotel you can find, and stay the night.” Sometimes the voices were so insistent that Anna checked her brood into the Westminster itself – at a lordly cost of $2.50 a night!
Westminster Hotel (USC collection)
But it was in more modest lodgings in SRO land from which Anna penned the inspired missive that would bring her exhausting journey to an end. It was twelve pages in length and barely coherent, and when she had finished it, she placed it in an envelope addressed “Policeman, Los Angeles, CA” and asked one of her little ones to deliver it. Officer Zeigler accepted the packet, and soon Humane Officer Craig arrived, to take Anna away to the County Hospital on a lunacy complaint, and the little children to the Home of Mercy, just down the way on Boyd Street, to await instructions from their father in Colorado.

November 25, 2009 at 1:40 am Leave a comment

Book collectors of old L.A.

Shopkeeper William “Scotty” Manson, 47, lived alone behind Acme Stamp and Hobby, supplying used books and collectable stamps to the passing trade. Any customer was potentially a worthy one in the SRO Land of 1956, as Bunker Hill was crumbling and the detritus of human life washed ever further each morning onto the streets surrounding Skid Row.

When two gents came in together and asked for a quantity of books to be boxed, Manson thought he’d made his grubstake for the day. Alas, the fellows had a further request: could he just be so kind as to place all his money in the box as well? A flash of a long knife accompanied the suggestion.

Like any savvy shopkeeper of his place and era, Manson was armed, with a .45 caliber revolver in his pocket. He stepped back and drew his weapon, but the young man with the knife was quicker, and slashed his chest and belly. The would-be thieves turned and ran as Manson unloaded his weapon, then collapsed in the door of his shop. At General Hospital, where he was taken in serious condition with three deep cuts, he told police what had happened.

But even without Scotty’s report, the scene on the street told the tale. One robber, Charles Brooks, 28, resident of a hotel at 224 Boyd, reached 1st and Broadway, then fell, gushing blood. He survived part of the ride to Georgia Street Receiving Hospital, where he was DOA.

The second miscreant, Eugene Sparkman, resident of a hotel at 534 Wall, made the acquaintance of a motorcycle cop a block from where Brooks went down, and was popped. Taken into evidence was the book he’d kept hold of as he fled, reform-minded prison warden Lewis E. Lawes‘ “20,000 Years in Sing Sing,” with its heartwarming dedication “To those tens of thousands of my former wards who have justified my faith in human nature.” We can only hope he ran into as enlightened a prison manager as Lawes, in his unreported but inevitable next stop.

November 18, 2009 at 4:52 pm Leave a comment

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