Thursday, October 05, 2006

The Curious Dreamer

Oct. 5, 1907
Los Angeles

Hilliard Stricklin is a man with an urgent desire to do something for his fellow African Americans. He says that he came to Los Angeles from Chattanooga, Tenn., about 1895 with a few dollars in his pocket, worked hard and saved his money until he opened a grocery store at 2053 Santa Fe Ave.

What he wants most is to build a facility for the elderly and for orphaned children, naming it the Stricklin Memorial Home for the Aged in honor of his mother.

Two years earlier, Stricklin bought the old Pertinico Winery on Vermont Avenue just south of Pico, paying about $10,000 ($205,235.70 USD 2005). The white neighbors in Pico Heights assumed Stricklin was bluffing with his talk about helping the elderly until the day piles of lumber and a crowd of workmen appeared on the site.

And then they were furious at the idea. Neighbors accused Stricklin of extorting an extravagant price for the property under the threat of bringing blacks into the area.

[Warning: Dialect ahead]

“Followed numerous interviews with Stricklin,” The Times said. “Citizens expressed themselves vigorously. Stricklin sorry that they didn’t like his plans; but somehow the site just seemed to suit him and he kind o’ thought the ol’ folks could be real comfo’ble out there. Reckoned he’d just go ’long with the work.

“Citizens stormed; but Stricklin calmly squinted at the frame of the structure and dropped remarks about the great need of charity and the good he hoped the memorial home would do his brethren and sisters.

“Finally, a great light seemed to dawn. Hilliard Stricklin conceived the idea—remarkable feat—that perhaps the white people of the neighborhood would like to buy him out!”

In fact, according to Mayor Harper, Stricklin made a modest profit on the property, selling it for $13,000. His plan was to duplicate the Vermont Avenue building “in a quarter where it appropriately belongs,” according to The Times.

The location, however, is vague. Some stories say it was at Alamo and Santa Fe, while another lists Alma and St. Elmo, just off Santa Fe, but unfortunately I can’t locate either of them on any of my old maps, which only go back to the 1930s.

Stricklin took out ads for his second project and raised money, but nothing ever came of it except for a lawsuit by the guardian of one of his donors accusing Stricklin of fraud.

“The founder appears to be in hard luck,” The Times said. “His little grocery store at No. 2053 Santa Fe Ave. is tied up under an attachment. He is very discouraged over the collapse of his pet scheme. He lays the blame on poor solicitors but admits his lack of business judgment.”

“If a home for colored people is ever established,” The Time said, “it is believed it will be necessary to purchase ground outside the city limits. To establish such an institution in any residential part of the city would meet with strong opposition from property owners.”

Labels: , , , , ,

Monday, October 02, 2006

On the Frontiers of Medicine

Oct. 2, 1907
Los Angeles

If you have back problems, you might try this method, used by “Dr.” Thomas H. Storey, an unlicensed chiropractor : Have the patient lie down with his head on one chair and his knees on another. Then get on the patient’s back so all your weight is resting on the spine. Next, put your knee in the small of the patient’s back. Then twist the patient’s neck.

And for good measure, you might put a drill between the vertebrae and whack it with a mallet a few times.

Unfortunately, this treatment didn’t help a San Bernardino farmer named Dominick Premus. In fact, it killed him, according to his widow and the California State Medical Board.

But Storey said: “Just allow me to give a practical demonstration of my simple apparatus. I will show that a treatment could not be injurious. I do not use heavy tools. The mallet with which I drive back adhering vertebrae does not weigh more than half a pound. It really doesn’t hurt to any great extent. I have a drill covered with rubber. That is laid against the vertebrae that are pushed up and a blow with the mallet sends the offending ones back into place. In the Premus case, his vertebrae were apparently immovable. I worked on him for some time but, unfortunately, was unable to dislodge the vertebrae.”

“Why is it any worse to tap a man’s spine lightly with a drill and a mallet than it is to use the knife?”

Storey also noted that another doctor was the last one to treat Premus, giving him an injection close to the heart.

“I do not fear prosecution or persecution,” he told The Times. “Jealousy of other doctors has caused me much annoyance, it is true.”

Storey took an impromptu vacation in Mexico and didn’t return to Los Angeles until the next year, when he surrendered to authorities. He was ordered to pay a $500 fine and serve 60 days in jail for practicing medicine without a license, but the sentence was overturned on appeal in 1909.

Labels: , , , , ,

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Bob Belden, Black Dahlia, "Genesis"

Bob Belden, Black Dahlia