Thursday, August 31, 2006

A Nation of Vice

Aug. 31, 1907
Los Angeles

The ugly statistics should dishearten even the most ardent temperance worker. According to federal tax data for the last fiscal year, distillers produced 20 gallons of beer and 1.4 gallons of whiskey for every man, woman and child in America, a 5% increase and 8% increase respectively over 1906.

Cigar, cigarette and snuff production also showed similar increases. “The country being prosperous, cigar smoking grew at an amazing pace,” The Times said. Referring to cigars weighing more than 3 pounds per thousand, The Times said: “The public smoked about a billion and a third more of these cigars in the fiscal year just ended than it did the year before.”

Statistics for cigarettes are even worse: Americans smoked 5,151,862,120 in the last fiscal year. “It is small wonder that the tobacco trust has thrived,” The Times said.

And then there’s the apparently distressing use of oleomargarine instead of butter, 68,988,850 pounds.

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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Dreams of Higher Learning

Aug. 30, 1907
Los Angeles

Led by Rabbi Alfred Arndt of Congregation Beth Israel, the local Jewish community hopes to open what The Times describes as “the only Hebrew university within the entire United States.”

Noting the increased immigration to Southern California (the estimated number of Jews in the state went from 28,000 in 1905 to 42,000 in 1907), The Times said: “For a decade there has been a rapidly increasing Hebrew population in Los Angeles and other sections of Southern California. There is scarcely a place of any prominence within the seven southern counties which has not received a large quota of Hebraic citizens, especially within two or three years.”

Arndt told The Times that he hoped to open the new university soon after Rosh Hashanah, which began at sundown Sept. 8, 1907. The Times notes that Cantor J. Weinstock has been engaged for Rosh Hashanah services of the Independent Sons of Israel.

Unfortunately, there are no follow-up stories about the attempts to found a Hebrew university and very little information about Arndt, except for the footnote that in 1911 he performed a marriage between a Muslim bride (Fanny Alishabron) and a Jewish groom (Charles Levin).

We also know that Rosh Hashanah services were held at Temperance Temple, operated by the WCTU, at Broadway and Temple, a site now occupied by a generating station across from the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.

Jewish Institutions in Los Angeles, 1908-1920

American Jewish Yearbook 5669 (1908-1909)

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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Firefighters' Pranks

Aug. 29, 1907
Los Angeles

Around Engine Co. 20 at Sunset Boulevard and Mohawk Street, Lt. Samuel Dodd is something of a practical joker, so when he left on his honeymoon with his bride, Juanita, his fellow firefighters decided to get even.

They did such a good job plastering the house across the street at 2149 Sunset Blvd. with signs and old shoes that passing streetcars stopped so passengers could get a look.

The Times said: “The cottage is festooned with shoes—shoes of all sizes and kinds, men’s shoes, ladies’ shoes, babies’ shoes and boots. It’s a startling sight. But this is not all. It is also covered with signs—and such signs!

“Don’t Worry, Watch Our Family Grow.”

“Look in Papa’s Eyes and Say Goo-Goo.”

“Compliments of Engine Company No. 20.”

Were the newlyweds upset? After a trip to Coronado and Trabuco Canyon, not at all.

“The young couple stood for a moment and looked,” The Times said. “Then the bride laughed. It was catching. It won the hearts of Engine Company No. 20 on the spot.”

Samuel H. Dodd, retired assistant chief of the Los Angeles Fire Department, died in June 1953, survived by his wife Hazel; sons Samuel H. Dodd Jr. and Donald W. Dodd; and two grandchildren.

Today, 2144 W. Sunset Blvd. is home to Fire Station 20.

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Sunday, August 27, 2006

A Fun Question

Where do most Black Dahlia freaks live? According to Google’s trend search, Irvine, Calif., leads the world in searches about the Black Dahlia, followed by Los Angeles and San Diego. Who knew there was noir behind the Orange Curtain? Can "Fullerton Confidential" be very far away? Maybe it's all those hits from UCI Medical Center. Hmmmm.

The top 10 Dahlia freak locations:

1. Irvine, Calif.

2. Los Angeles, Calif.

3. San Diego, Calif.

4. San Antonio, Texas

5. Tampa, Fla.

6. Phoenix, Ariz.

7. Salt Lake City, Utah

8. Chicago, Ill.

9. Philadelphia, Pa.

10. Orlando, Fla.

Top three cities in searches for Elizabeth Short:

1. Los Angeles, Calif.

2. New York, N.Y.

3. London, U.K.

Top 10 cities for James Ellroy freaks:

1. Los Angeles, Calif.

2. Paris, France

3. Montreal, Canada

4. Stockholm, Sweden

5. Helsinki, Finland

6. Melbourne, Australia

7. New York, N.Y.

8. Milan, Italy

9. Rome, Italy

10. San Francisco, Calif.

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He Lives

Manhattan Beach
Aug. 27, 2006

Retired Episcopal minister the Rev. John Jewett, 83, wanted to die, so while staying with his son-in-law, J.D. Porter, he slit his throat with a razor.

The undertaker was called, but when he arrived with his hearse, Jewett was still alive, although death was imminent. The undertaker went back to his funeral home to wait.

Later that day, the undertaker got a second call to go out to Manhattan Beach and get the body of a suicide victim. When he got there, Jewett was still alive.

“At 9:30 o’clock tonight Jewett was alive and able to talk,” The Times said. “Jewett made a bungling job in attempting to cut his throat. He is in great pain, but will survive, it is now thought.”

The Times said: “No reason is given for wanting to end his days. It is thought his mind has become temporarily impaired.”

California public records list the death of a John M. Jewett in June 1911 at the age of 87.

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