Posts about “History” Category
The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power unveiled a monument today for employees who have died on the job. DWP Chief David Nahai said it was the suggestion of a current DWP employee that motivated him to push for a permanent memorial.
David Nahai: “It provided me with what I needed, what my soul told me had to be done, in order to recognize our DWP people who lost their lives.”
The glass monument is etched on one side with the names of 216 workers. Almost 30 of them died in 1928, when the Saint Francis Dam failed catastrophically. DWP estimates that another 40 men died during the building of the Los Angeles Aqueduct – but there are no records of their names.
Nahai says the agency owes it to the workers who are being memorialized to take safety precautions so that no other names are added to the monument.
As Memorial Day approaches, Congress is taking steps to honor two of the most decorated combat units of the Second World War. These veterans fought for their country while their families spent the war in internment camps. KPCC’s Washington Correspondent Kitty Felde reports.
Kitty Felde: After the Japanese navy bombed Pearl Harbor, more than 1,400 Japanese-American men in Hawaii volunteered to fight for the U.S. The 100th Infantry Battalion was sent to Italy, where it became known as the “Purple Heart Battalion.”
Nearly two out of three soldiers in the unit were killed. The Army was so impressed with the unit’s fighting spirit, it recruited Japanese-Americans from California and other mainland states and formed the equally distinguished 442nd Regimental Combat Team.
This week, the House of Representatives unanimously approved a bill introduced by Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff of Burbank. It would award both units the Congressional Gold Medal.
California Democrat Barbara Boxer introduced a companion bill in the Senate. Soldiers from these units have earned numerous awards for their valor, including 21 Medals of Honor.
During the Vietnam War, the U.S. military used a chemical compound known as Agent Orange to strip vegetation from the terrain. Doctors have linked Agent Orange to birth defects and other health problems.
An exhibit at UC Riverside’s California Museum of Photography explores the chemical’s effects on the people and environment of Vietnam. It’s called “Agent Orange – Landscape, Body, Image.” UCR history professor David Biggs is one of the organizers.
David Biggs: “Often when you look at art or photography that describes Agent Orange there tends to be an attraction to the sort of grotesque effects, and that really takes the spotlight away from the people living with these problems who have really triumphed. We don’t want to emphasize the grotesque.”
The Agent Orange exhibit includes films, pop art, and Vietnam War-era photographs. It’s on view through August at UC Riverside’s California Museum of Photography.
The late Dom DeLuise was a ubiquitous comic presence on TV and in the movies for decades. Entertainment Tonight film critic and historian Leonard Maltin told KPCC’s “Patt Morrison” that DeLuise left laughs everywhere he went.
Leonard Maltin: “He worked with Gary Moore and Carol Burnett. And then for the West Coast, he was on the Dean Martin Show. And these places gave him, you know, a platform; a place to do what he did, and also to be versatile. I mean he could sing; he could dance. He could do anything you asked him to.”
The well-rounded comedian also was a frequent guest on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, and he appeared in movies with Mel Brooks, Burt Reynolds, and the Muppets. DeLuise died at a Santa Monica hospital yesterday after a long illness. He was 75 years old.
A longtime football coach and teacher in Los Angeles died yesterday – his first day of retirement from almost 40 years with the L.A. Unified School District. KPCC’s Cheryl Devall has more on the life of Glenn Bell.
Cheryl Devall: As a teacher and a coach, Glenn Bell demanded much from his young charges. He was known to say, “I want higher standards; average is unacceptable.” Failing a course meant expulsion from his teams.
His varsity Dorsey Dons won the L.A. City Section 3A football championship 26 years ago. Bell coached most recently at the Santee Education Complex in South L.A., and also over the years at his high school alma mater Manual Arts, at Crenshaw and at Palisades.
He worked with young people at the Pacific Lodge Boys Home and at L.A. County’s Camp Kilpatrick juvenile detention facility. Last year, the California Interscholastic Federation presented him with its Model Coach Award.
Glenn Bell, who played football for East Los Angeles College and Whittier College, was 61 years old when he died of an apparent heart attack. Former players and colleagues were organizing a tribute dinner to him on June 6th.
Seventeen years ago today, a jury in Simi Valley acquitted four white Los Angeles police officers charged with beating black motorist Rodney King. An amateur video had recorded the incident, and people around the world had expected a different verdict. KPCC’s Cheryl Devall looks back to the reaction in L.A., where large areas of the city erupted in riots.
Cheryl Devall: Shortly after Angelenos heard about the jury’s decision, local civil rights leaders met quickly to urge a calm response. By the early evening of Wednesday, April 29th, 1992, it was clear that wasn’t going to happen.
Live television broadcast images of people beating drivers at South L.A. intersections, looting and burning stores, and facing off against armed shop owners. Officials imposed curfews and many businesses closed during the unrest; the governor called in the California National Guard to patrol Los Angeles streets.
Despite beating victim Rodney King’s televised plea for everyone to “just get along,” more than 50 people of many races died during almost a week of rioting. There are few public commemorations scheduled on this anniversary.
Tonight at 8 o’clock, the Korean Presbyterian Church in Gardena is hosting a multilingual forum for people who want to gather and discuss what happened during and since the 1992 riots.
National and local conservationists have started their battle against the proposed demolition of the Century Plaza Hotel in Century City. Today, the National Trust for Historic Preservation placed the mid-century modern building with the elliptical facade on its annual list of endangered historic places.
Actor Diane Keaton, a trustee of the group, says the gracefully curvy hotel amid Century City’s office towers conveys the appeal of Sophia Loren in a group of tall men.
Diane Keaton: “All you have to do is just look at it. Look at that curve, OK? Look at that bend. Look at that arc. That’s sexy.”
The new owner of the hotel says he wants to tear it down and build two office and residence towers on the site. He told the Los Angeles Times that naming the hotel a historic place is not supported by the facts.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation today named the Century Plaza Hotel in Century City one of the nation’s most endangered historic places. The new owner of the hotel has announced plans to level the hotel and build two office and residential towers on the property.
The trust’s announcement doesn’t carry the force of law. But it does stir public opinion. Linda Dishman, head of the L.A. Conservancy, said she welcomes that.
Linda Dishman: “From star-studded galas to national security meetings to Pillsbury Bakeoffs, the Century Plaza has hosted it all and still does. The hotel is doing fine – there’s just no point in tearing it down.”
The mid-century modern hotel, with its distinctive curved facade, was built 43 years ago. Its architect also designed the World Trade Center towers in New York. The current owner, Michael Rosenfeld, told the Los Angeles Times that the hotel doesn’t meet the stringent requirements for historic landmark status.
A funeral service took place today for Dr. Hassan Hathout, a prominent Muslim leader in the Southland. KPCC’s Brian Watt reports.
Brian Watt: For 20 years Doctor Hathout, a devout Muslim, worked at the Islamic Center of Southern California to build bridges between Muslims, Jews, and Christians. He also co-founded the Interfaith Council of Southern California.
Doctor Hathout was born in Egypt 84 years ago. He studied medicine in Scotland and taught in Kuwait before he emigrated to the United States in the 1980s.
He co-founded the International Organization of Medical Sciences. The group provides guidance to religious and secular professionals on controversial medical issues including abortion and genetic engineering.
Hathout’s Web site calls him a physician, ethicist, and poet, a man of God, and a man of love.
Eleven years ago, he delivered the sermon at the first White House celebration of Eid al-Fitr, the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Dr. Hassan Hathout died Saturday at his home in Pasadena.
A concert at East Los Angeles College last night reunited many musicians active in the Southland rock and roll scene during the last 40 years. Concert organizers wanted to promote a newly published edition of the book “Land of a Thousand Dances” – the first history of L.A. Chicano rock and roll. Co-author Tom Waldman says ethnicity was important to bands such as Thee Midniters and El Chicano – but most audiences don’t pay much attention to that.
Tom Waldman: “We lose sight of the fact that Chicano bands, Mexican-American bands, Latino bands, whatever term you chose perform in English a lot and have made a huge contribution to Anglo-American rock and roll and rhythm and blues, and we wanted to document that story and continue to document that story.”
The book chronicles the careers of L.A. musicians, from teen rocker Ritchie Valens – who died 50 years ago – to singer-songwriter Lysa Flores, who performed at the concert.
Events around the world today honor the millions of Jewish people killed by the Nazi government in Europe during World War II. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez reports that some schools are changing their approach to this grim chapter in history.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: At the private Adat Ari-El Day school in the San Fernando Valley, lessons about the 6 million people killed in the Holocaust begin in the third grade. Orli Kotkin is the school’s Judaic studies teacher.
Orli Kotkin: We read the book, The Terrible Thing, and it actually tells you about animals, it tells you about, it tells you about butterflies, it tells you about bunnies, and this terrible thing came and it took away all these bunnies and the butterflies.
Guzman-Lopez: Until only one bunny remained. Years ago, Kotkin says, the school took a protective approach and wouldn’t spell out the connection between this story and the Holocaust. She says some kids were too young to make the connection, and students who did get it didn’t know enough details to connect the Holocaust with other acts of genocide.
Kotkin: We feel like we can push to the point more at a younger age, from what we’ve seen. They haven’t gone home. They haven’t had nightmares.
Guzman-Lopez: Kotkin says other Jewish schools are making similar changes in their curricula.
Note: Some of Kotkin’s students plan to join thousands of people tomorrow for a Holocaust Remembrance event at L.A.’s Pan Pacific Park.
Forty-five years ago today, Canadian piano virtuoso Glenn Gould walked off the concert stage for the last time after his performance at the Wilshire-Ebell Theater in Los Angeles. KPCC’s classical music expert Craig Curtis described the significance of Gould’s departure to KPCC’s “Patt Morrison.”
Glenn Gould: “He played in public, he played concerts, he played with the New York Philharmonic, he made the rounds all around the world, and everybody thought he was terrific.
“He was famous as a Bach pianist. He played lots of standard repertoire. And then all of a sudden after this concert in L.A. 45 years ago tonight, he stood up and announced that the concert experience was bankrupt and he just wasn’t going to do it anymore.”
Gould, who died 27 years ago at age 50, devoted the rest of his career to studio recordings. He predicted that the relationship between listeners and musicians would become much more direct and interactive – not unlike the music-on-demand culture that predominates today.
The hit-and-run death of Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart today shocked fans. Adenhart had a promising career cut short at the age of 22 by an alleged drunk driver. KPCC’s Susan Valot says long-time Angels fans have been through this before.
Susan Valot: Back in the 1970s, when the team was called the California Angels, separate car accidents killed three players over the course of about five years. KPCC Senior Editor Nick Roman’s followed the Angels for years. He says if you look at any team over time, you find tragedies. For the Angels, two stand out.
Nick Roman: This one, with Nick Adenhart, and the Lyman Bostock death that happened in September of 1978. He was in Chicago, was visiting some friends, was sitting in the back seat of a car with a woman that he didn’t know, he had just been introduced to. He was with some relatives. And the estranged husband of that woman came and fired a shotgun into the car and missed the woman and hit Lyman Bostock.
Valot: Roman told KPCC’s “Patt Morrison” that he believes Bostock would have gone on to be the best player the Angels ever had. But his life was cut short – just as the life of young Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart was, just hours after Adenhart had pitched the best game of his budding major league career.
Before slow-speed Bronco chases or local station helicopters, an ordeal that began 60 years ago today helped to establish live television news as a significant medium. Veteran KTLA reporter Stan Chambers was on the scene soon after 3-year-old Kathy Fiscus of San Marino fell into an abandoned well.
Stan Chambers: “It was the first time that a television station went to a scene and actually televised the entire event. We didn’t leave for one second the whole time.
“And of course, we didn’t know what was happening, and we had to stand by and find out – and why weren’t they digging that way, and just the whole thing. Gradually that evolved into an amazing emotional event for the whole city.”
Chambers told KPCC’s “Patt Morrison” that his station stayed on the air for 27 hours, until shortly after rescue crews confirmed that the child had died. The coverage transformed what might have been one family’s situation into a communal occasion for hope – and then grief. For better or worse, the Kathy Fiscus story helped to set the stage for the anything-goes media culture that exists today.
- April 8, 2009 3:02 PM
- Categories: History
California farming magnate J.G. Boswell controlled 150,000 acres of cotton land when he died on Friday at age 86. Journalist Mark Arax told KPCC’s “Patt Morrison” that Boswell, a graduate of prep school and Stanford University, cultivated the image of a cowboy who’d accumulated his fortune almost by accident.
Mark Arax: “He would tell stories about how all this land and all this water just kind of fell into his lap by luck, and he really downplayed the building of an empire. In fact, he took issue with the word ‘empire’ itself. But, really smart guy who really brought a kind of agriculture to California that was different.”
Arax, co-author of Boswell’s biography “The King of California,” said his subject exerted major influence over policies on agricultural water use, farm labor, and business. The privately-held company he inherited from his uncle is the nation’s largest cotton producer.
The world’s oldest person turned 115 years old today. KPCC’s John Rabe went to Gertrude Baines’ birthday party in L.A.’s West Adams neighborhood.
John Rabe: Baines received plaques or letters from politicians and community leaders. Local TV news crews were there. So was someone from the Guinness Book of World Records. Photographers pushed little kids out of the way to get a shot of her.
Baines sat on a wheeled bed, wrapped in blankets, wearing a pretty lavender turban. She kept her eyes closed – and didn’t say a word. Dr. Stephen Coles, who runs the Supercentenarian Research Foundation, says Baines hates the fuss as much as she hates the questions about what she remembers from her 115 years – the first car, the first movie, the first World War.
Dr. Stephen Coles: She is simply not interested in those kinds of stories. But when you get her started on her personal life, like her ex-husband, you know she will go on and on about how he did her wrong. Then you can’t shut her up.
Rabe: To be fair, Baines seemed to like the uniform the Dodgers sent as a gift, and the hand-made cards from a bunch of kids who crowded around her. Those made her smile.
The world’s oldest woman, who lives in Los Angeles, turned 115 years old today. Gertrude Baines’ gifts included flowers, cards from little kids, a Dodger uniform, a huge cake, and letters and scrolls from politicians.
She didn’t speak with reporters during the ceremony. Dr. Stephen Coles, who runs the Supercentenarian Research Foundation, says she’s doing fine.
Dr. Stephen Coles: “Her only complaint, medically, is that she has a touch of arthritis in her left knee, so I’m expecting that we will see her many more years into the future, and that she will hold this record for a long time to come.”
Baines – an African-American born two years before the Plessy versus Ferguson Supreme Court ruling legalized Jim Crow segregation – lives in a convalescent home in the West Adams neighborhood.
At the Los Angeles Police Academy today, longtime customers and friends said farewell to David Briggs. For a couple of decades he operated a shoeshine business at police headquarters in downtown L.A.
LAPD Chief Bill Bratton attended the memorial. He recalled how Briggs – the man he called “Dr. Dave” – loved to play his music on a little transistor radio at his shoeshine stand.
Chief Bill Bratton: “Used to have to tell him to turn the music down a little bit. We had very different tastes in music. (laughs). Dr. Dave and I. I’d go ‘Dave,’ and he’d go ‘I know Chief, I know.’ And he’d lower the radio a little bit. He was just a wonderful presence in the building.”
Briggs died, apparently from natural causes, last month at age 56. Officers raised money to pay for his burial and to bring his son to Los Angeles from South Carolina for today’s memorial service.
A Southland scholar has documented a little-known aspect of the Japanese-American experience during World War II – the U.S. government sent over 100 orphans to an internment camp in California’s Owens Valley. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has the story.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: A couple of years ago University of La Verne professor Cathy Irwin was digging deep into the history of Japanese-American orphanages in the early 20th Century.
Cathy Irwin: As I was doing more research I came across one line from an article that talked about how these children were sent to an orphanage called Children’s Village, at Manzanar. Basically because they were considered a threat to national security like other Japanese-American citizens.
Guzman-Lopez: Adults at Manzanar seethed over the lives the involuntary resettlement had forced them to leave. But Irwin says the Children’s Village kids, interviewed later, remembered internment as idyllic.
Irwin: What was most important to them was the other kids and playing with the other kids, and looking for gophers, and playing marbles
Guzman-Lopez: Family separation was the first trauma they’d overcome. Still, Irwin says, internment didn’t keep these orphans from thriving socially and creating their own family relationships when they grew up.
Note: Cathy Irwin’s collected these oral histories into a book, “Twice Orphaned.” She’ll join survivors of the Manzanar Orphanage in a panel discussion Saturday afternoon at the Japanese American National Museum in L.A.’s Little Tokyo.
- March 18, 2009 4:50 PM
- Categories: History
Neighbors of Griffith Park in Los Angeles are noting the park’s designation as a cultural monument today. L.A. City Councilman Tom LaBonge said the park’s new status gives it more protection against development and change.
Tom LaBonge: “There’s a review now by the Cultural Heritage Commission of anything that’s proposed. There’s certainly infrastructure that will go in here.
“But you won’t see crazy ideas that maybe were thought of before. ‘Cause Griffith Park was so big. They just said go put it in Griffith Park. And that doesn’t belong.”
Park rangers and dozens of activists spoke at a ceremony about Griffith Park’s value for recreation and solace. LaBonge and other Griffith Park lovers unveiled a sign at one of the park’s seven entrances that describes its status as a monument. LaBonge and other city council members unanimously approved the park’s historic-cultural monument status in January.
Philanthropist Leonore Annenberg has died at age 91. KPCC’s Cheryl Devall says the longtime mover and shaker in arts, education, and politics passed away today in Rancho Mirage.
Cheryl Devall: To her half-century marriage to publishing billionaire Walter Annenberg, Leonore Annenberg brought a distinctive style and unparalleled drive. While her husband was ambassador to Britain under President Nixon, Leonore Annenberg commissioned her own decorator to refurbish the official residence in London.
The Stanford University graduate was White House chief of protocol during President Ronald Reagan’s first term – in that role she supervised the details of visits between the president and international leaders. She maintained a high profile on the boards and committees of this country’s leading arts and cultural institutions, and she helped the 20-year-old Annenberg Foundation achieve prominence among American philanthropies.
Leonore Annenberg led that foundation since her husband’s death in 2002. On its Web site, her stepdaughter Wallis Annenberg expressed deep sadness and pledged to continue its commitments to education, cultural, and media projects.
The boxing trainer played by Burgess Meredith in the first three Rocky films was able to utter a fond farewell to someone close to him before he died. The man who inspired that character wasn’t so lucky. KPCC’s Cheryl Devall says that today his daughter appealed for help solving his murder.
Cheryl Devall: Thirty-two years ago this week, two men jumped Howard Steindler a block from his home in the San Fernando Valley. About an hour after the assault, the California Highway Patrol found him suffocated to death in his gold Cadillac along the 101 Freeway near Laurel Canyon Boulevard.
The victim’s daughter, Carol Steindler Ferris, said at a news conference that the pain of his loss hasn’t gone away. She urged anyone with information about the assailants to speak up. Los Angeles City Councilman Dennis Zine’s office is offering a $50,000 reward for that information.
Howie Steindler used to own the Main Street gym in downtown L.A., hallowed ground to Southland boxers. He’s widely believed to have inspired the gravel-voiced character of Mickey Goldmill, proprietor of the fictional “Mighty Mick’s Gym” in Rocky and its first two sequels. Tipsters may call the LAPD with information about the killing.
Architect Frank Lloyd Wright had begun to build his creative reputation beyond Oak Park, Illinois where he lived with his first wife, novelist T.C. Boyle told KPCC’s “Patt Morrison.”
T.C. Boyle: “But in 1909, he left her behind with the six children and a $900 grocery bill to run off to Europe with the wife of one of his clients, Mamah Borthwick Cheney, who left her husband and two children behind. And by God, the press had a field day with this.”
Boyle – who lives in a house Wright designed – re-imagines the architect’s relationships with successive wives and lovers in a new novel, “The Women.”
One of the highest peaks in the Santa Monica Mountains may get a new name. KPCC’s Patricia Nazario says the Los Angeles County supervisors voted today to rename Negrohead Mountain – Ballard Mountain.
Patricia Nazario: The peak that rises about 2,000 feet above sea level near the Seminole Hot Springs is named after the African-American pioneer who used to live there. John Ballard and his family filed homestead claims on 320 acres of that property at the turn of the 20th Century.
He was among the few dozen Blacks who lived in L.A. shortly after the Civil War. Ballard helped establish L.A.’s First African Methodist Episcopal Church. Patty Colman, who teaches history at Moorpark College, told L.A. County supervisors about the information she found in old census records. She said it’s been a very exciting research project.
Patty Colman: And we’re truly starting to see that there was a vibrant, active Black community in Los Angeles in the late 19th century.
Nazario: Her research partner, retired filmmaker Nick Noxon, said that he and Colman hope to find Ballard’s descendants to represent the family when the mountain’s new name becomes official.
Nick Noxon: Perhaps some of them don’t know what an extraordinary ancestor they had.
Nazario: The United States Board on Geographic Names has to approve the change. That process could take at least a year.
- February 24, 2009 4:21 PM
- Categories: History
The Dodgers hold their first workout in their new spring training facility this weekend. But the team is having a hard time tempting L.A. fans to make the drive to Arizona to see the boys in blue work out. Tommy Lasorda is taking a bus to spring training to drum up interest. But the Dodgers have always tried unusual tactics to attract the fans. KPCC’s Special Correspondent Kitty Felde tells of a promotion 50 years ago this week, aimed at the “gentler sex.”
Kitty Felde: The Dodgers were still new in town in 1959, their second season in Los Angeles.
Keith Thursby: The Dodgers, being very smart, figured out that they should do everything they can to publicize their team and bring thousands of people into the Coliseum because they had all these empty seats to fill and they, you know, wanted to build momentum.
Felde: Keith Thursby writes about sports history for the L.A. Times’ “Daily Mirror” blog.
Thursby: So one of the things they did was they had a two-day session at Bullocks downtown, for ladies only, to teach “ladies,” as they called them then, how to understand baseball.
Felde: Dodger announcer Jerry Doggett called a pretend inning while the ladies practiced their scorekeeping and Sandy Koufax danced around audience questions about his social life. And the Dodgers sold more tickets in 1959 than they did in their premiere season the year before.
One provision of the new federal economic stimulus package offers a one-time payment to Filipinos who fought for the United States during World War II. KPCC’s Cheryl Devall says the measure’s generating mixed reviews among the Southland’s Filipinos – and beyond.
Cheryl Devall: The stimulus bill sets aside $198 million for payouts to the surviving Filipino veterans. That translates into $15,000 for each one who became an American citizen and 9,000 for each who didn’t.
Some vets in their eighties and older consider those amounts too little too late. The authorization arrives decades after this country failed to deliver on promised payments to Filipinos in the U.S. military who’d battled Japanese troops during some of the fiercest episodes of the war.
Veterans and their allies note that the measure does not allow further claims for disability payments, and that it provides no money for veterans’ widows.
While Philippine president Gloria Arroyo welcomed the payments as a culmination of “many years of struggle,” news media in the Philippines have made much of the fact that only about 15,000 of the 400,000 men who fought are still alive. All but about 3,000 of them live in the Philippines.
Huntington Beach puts 100 candles on its birthday cake today. KPCC’s Cheryl Devall says the city’s launching a year of celebration.
Cheryl Devall: At the turn of the 20th century, Philip A. Stanton and Colonel H.S. Finley envisioned a West Coast Atlantic city, so they bought up coastal land in Orange County.
They brought in Henry Huntington, the man who owned the region’s electric railcars. He extended the Pacific Electric Red Car rail line to the fledgling beach community – and a few years later, it incorporated into the city of Huntington Beach.
The place really struck gold when drillers struck oil in 1919. It didn’t take long for the population of Huntington Beach to double. There’s still a working oil derrick in the City Hall parking lot today.
In the 1920s, Hawaiian Duke Kahanamoku introduced surfing to Huntington Beach. Now surfing’s ingrained into the Huntington culture.
All of that’s being celebrated today, as Huntington Beach unveils a time capsule that’ll be buried at City Hall. That’s not the end of Huntington Beach’s 100th anniversary party. Events will take place throughout the year.
- February 17, 2009 1:48 PM
- Categories: History
L.A. Unified’s Board of Education has voted to name one of its brand new schools after the people who filed a pathbreaking desegregation case in Orange County. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has the story.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: Lawyers for Felicitas and Gonzalo Mendez successfully argued in 1946 that their children should attend a nearby all-white school in Westminster instead of the segregated school farther away.
The case ended legal public school segregation in California. Eight years later the U.S. Supreme Court made a similar, national judgment in the case Brown versus Board of Education.
L.A. Unified Board President Monica Garcia said a school should carry the Mendez name to shed light on the family’s struggle for civil rights.
The Boyle Heights high school joins many other new L.A. Unified campuses named after noteworthy Latinos, living and dead. The school board’s named schools after the late L.A. Times journalist Frank Del Olmo, Texas painter Carmen Lomas Garza, and former state legislator Martha Escutia.
The Supreme Court ruled today that a defendant convicted by mistake cannot sue a district attorney for the trial error. KPCC’s Nick Roman says the decision comes in a Los Angeles case that dates back 30 years.
Nick Roman: That’s when John Van de Kamp was the L.A. County District Attorney. His office went after Thomas Goldstein, a Long Beach man accused of murder. Investigators didn’t have anything solid on him, so they put an informant in his cell who later testified Goldstein confessed. That cinched the conviction.
Goldstein insisted he was innocent… and after 24 years in prison, he convinced a judge the informant lied when he said he got nothing for his testimony. Turned out he got a lighter sentence for grand theft because he’d testified in other trials.
Goldstein was freed, and immediately sued Van de Kamp and the top prosecutor in charge of D.A.’s office. He claimed the lying informant wouldn’t have testified if Van de Kamp had run the office better.
But the Supreme Court tossed the claim aside. The unanimous ruling says the law already says defendants can’t sue prosecutors who make mistakes during trials… and now the same protection extends to their bosses.
This week marks some of the greatest triumphs - and worst tragedies - in the half-century of the U.S. space program. KPCC’s Nick Roman has the rundown.
Nick Roman: The last week of January is a bad time for NASA. On the 27th, three of the space agency’s Apollo astronauts died in a launch pad fire in 1967. The incident crushed engineers at the old North American Rockwell plant in Downey. They built the command module that burned.
The 28th is the anniversary of the Challenger explosion. Twenty-three years ago, the giant fuel tank on the space shuttle blew up 73 seconds after liftoff. The eight astronauts were killed.
Two Ranger probes that were supposed to snap pictures of the Moon failed in the last week of January. The one in 1962 missed the Moon. The one in ‘64 hit the Moon - but sent no pictures. Turns out the cameras on board were fried just after launch.
But it’s not all bad. The Mars rover Opportunity knocked on the Red Planet’s door five years ago yesterday. Now it’s rolling on its way to explore a huge Martian crater. And there’s Explorer 1 - America’s first satellite. The Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena built it. Saturday is the 51st anniversary of the day NASA sent it into orbit.
President-elect Barack Obama has made improving education an important goal of his administration. He may be surprised to know he’s already inspired students like 8-year-old Cheyenne Clark of Los Angeles.
Cheyenne Clark: “And I’m so happy that Obama becomes the president because that speech that he said, it was so touching. I love that speech where he says “‘yes we can.’ Because when I think I don’t know a answer to a test, I think of his speech ‘yes we can’ and I just write my answer down.”
Clark was one of thousands of people who turned out for the annual parade saluting Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Vendors who sold t-shirts, bobble-head dolls, and other items bearing the likeness of the first African-American president lined the parade route along Martin Luther King and Crenshaw boulevards in South L.A.
The annual Martin Luther King Day parade in south Los Angeles took on special significance this year for Zenora Hicks, on the eve of Barack Obama’s inauguration.
Zenora Hicks: “I’m not just proud to be an African-American, I’m proud to be an American because our president comes from two sides of the world. He’s not just African-American, he comes from two different people, and that’s what being an American is all about. And that’s what I want to show my children. And it gives everyone in this world a fighting chance to be someone.”
This year’s parade featured marching bands from Compton, Inglewood, and Dominguez high schools, Korean folk dancers, and appearances by LAPD Chief Bill Bratton and L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca.
During transitions from one administration to another, it’s tempting to draw comparisons between leaders. Presidential historian John Robert Greene warns against doing that.
John Robert Greene: “The moment will speak for itself. Barack Obama could probably just stand there and stare at the crowd and the moment would fling him into his first hundred days without saying a word – less is more. And I think we are going to hear a un-Kennedy-like address tomorrow; a very laid back patient and prudent type rather than a call to arms.”
Greene noted on KPCC’s “AirTalk” that John F. Kennedy gave a passionate inaugural address 48 years ago that “demanded things happen overnight,” and that historians at the time judged him harshly for it. Greene thinks Obama – whom he described as a moderate – is wise to play down expectations.
From alley walls in downtown Los Angeles to the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., the work of Los Feliz-based artist Shepard Fairey has taken quite a journey. Fairey created a high-contrast, red-and-blue poster of Barack Obama that’s become an icon. During the weekend, the National Portrait Gallery displayed that image on a wall marked “New Arrivals.” At the unveiling ceremony, Fairey had some important people to thank.
Shepard Fairey: “My wife, Amanda, (laughter, applause) for granting me the time right before we were having our second child to make this illustration with our childrens’ future in mind. I mean, I’m glad everyone else could share in all this, but really, I did it for my kids.”
Fairey also thanked Barack Obama for restoring his hope for American politics. The artist is staying in the nation’s capital for a few days to see Obama sworn in – and to attend an inaugural ball.
Los Angeles-based graphic artist Shepard Fairey created a red and blue image of Barack Obama that became an icon. Now, an original is hanging in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. At a ceremony at the gallery during the weekend, Fairey thanked his family for its support, and Barack Obama for his inspiration.
Shepard Fairey: “Mainstream politics are something I’d lost faith in to a large degree. Um, sorry, politicians who are present. Hope’s a perfect word, because Obama restored my hope that this country could live up to its potential. And he’s a great leader, but it’s about all of us. And my poster was a grassroots effort, we all were involved in it. And we all need to continue to be involved.”
Fairey is sticking around Washington for a few days to see Obama sworn in, and to attend an inaugural ball.
Los Angeles-based photographer Bruce Talamon makes a living taking stills of actors on movie sets. But on Inauguration Day, he knows the lights, cameras, and action will all be in Washington, D.C. – focused on Barack Obama. So he’s there, too, ready to capture an historic moment from up close.
Bruce Talamon: “I was assigned by Time Magazine in 1984 to cover Jesse Jackson. 24 years later, this is sort of completing an interesting circle because I don’t think there were a lot of people who thought that Reverend Jackson would get the nomination. Now, here, you’ve got the completion of what started. So for me, it’s kind of nice to be here.”
Talamon and nine other photographers are collaborating on a book about the inauguration.
Four days from Barack Obama’s inauguration, final preparations are underway at the U. S. Capitol. KPCC’s Brian Watt shares this snapshot from Washington, D.C.
Brian Watt: On the Capitol’s West Terrace, carpenters build an all-lumber platform from scratch every four years – just for the inauguration. The platform’s ready to hold more than 1,600 dignitaries.
What’s left are finishing touches - placing mats on the paths the VIPs will take to the stage, running cables for media crews, testing the sound system. Photographers - including Los Angeles-based Bruce Talamon - visit the platform a few days early to check out camera angles from their assigned spots. Talamon knows this event will follow a strict choreography, but…
Bruce Talamon: The nice things are the, you know, some people would call them happy accidents, where some other interesting things happen that make a shot special and/or add to the normal pictures that you would get.
Watt: Talamon is one of 10 photographers collaborating on a book about the inauguration.
- January 16, 2009 3:11 PM
- Categories: History
Only three are known to exist in the world, and one of them is on display at the Los Angeles Natural History Museum. KPCC’s Patricia Nazario has more on the debut exhibition of a rare, red diamond.
Patricia Nazario: It’s known as Kazanjian Red.
The unusual gem was discovered in South Africa 82 years ago. It disappeared during World War II, and American soldiers later recovered it. A private collector bought it in 1970. Now, L.A.-based Kazanjian Brothers, Inc. owns it.
Until the first of next month, you can see the five-carat diamond on display at the L.A. Natural History Museum in Exposition Park.
Gem lovers can also catch a glimpse of the museum’s “Hollywood Jewels Collection.” Among its one-of-a-kind pieces, the collection features the sparkly compact silver screen legend Clark Gable gave to his favorite leading lady, Carole Lombard.
Funeral plans are pending for world-renowned sculptor Robert Graham. He died during the weekend at age 70.
Graham crafted several well known projects in Los Angeles, including the bronze doors on the plaza of the downtown Music Center and at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. In his Venice studio, Graham also created many sculptures of the female figure.
Several years ago, he talked with KPCC’s Kitty Felde about why he liked to sculpt women.
Kitty Felde: “You know ,every culture has its kind of opposite, and one discovers throughout that opposite kind of attraction and everything that comes with it, the eroticism, the sensuality, one discovers a way of looking at the whole world through one figure.”
For the 1984 Olympic Games, Graham also crafted the “Olympic Gateway,” a sculpture of two headless figures outside the Coliseum in Exposition Park.
Graham died Saturday at Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center. He reportedly had been ill for about six months.
Ellie Nesler - the woman who shot and killed her son’s accused molester in a Northern California courtroom 15 years ago ndash; has died of cancer. KPCC’s Nick Roman reports.
Nick Roman: A spokeswoman for the UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento says the 56-year-old Nesler died there Friday morning. She’d battled breast cancer since 1994. A year earlier, Nesler shot Daniel Driver five times in the head during a break in his preliminary hearing in a Tuolumne County courtroom.
He was about to be tried on charges that he molested four boys ndash; including Nesler’s son Willy - while he worked as a camp counselor. Nesler was convicted of voluntary manslaughter. She won an appeal based on jury misconduct and was out after three years.
Her story became a 1999 TV movie - but that story didn’t end there. Nesler ended up back in prison a few years later after she tried to buy 10,000 cold pills from an undercover officer. Authorities said the pills could have been used to make methamphetamine.
Nesler’s son - the boy who’d been molested - was convicted of first-degree murder three years ago for beating a man to death in a dispute over tools. He’s serving 25 years to life.
Fans of offbeat movies are saying goodbye to a pulp film actress who enjoyed a late-life comeback. KPCC’s Cheryl Devall has more on Ann Savage, who died in Hollywood on Christmas Day.
Ann Savage: From the noirish B movies in which she once said blonde actresses like her were just scenery for male protagonists, Ann Savage carved out one memorable role: as a woman who blackmailed a stranger in the 1945 film “Detour.”
Her ferocious performance put a female character in charge in a way that mirrored social changes on the home front during World War II, but was rarely reflected on film. Under contract to Columbia Pictures, Savage worked in more than 30 films that, by her own admission, were mindless.
Decades later, independent Canadian filmmaker Guy Maddin cast her as another sort of bad girl - the harpy of a mother in his well-received “My Winnipeg,” a quirky personal portrait of his hometown. That recent art-house release directed new attention toward just how mindful an actress Ann Savage was. She was 87 years old when she died in her sleep at a Hollywood nursing home.
Where were you 40 years ago? If you were a teenager back then, chances are you were headed to your local record store. KPCC’s Nick Roman says this week marks 40 years since the Beatles “White Album” topped the Billboard charts.
Nick Roman: This was the first of nine weeks that the “White Album” would spend at the top of the charts. The Beatles’ only double-album is considered a classic … although for many fans, the iffy tracks demote it to an album-and-a-half. But there’s still a lot to cherish on the “The White Album.”
There’s the nod to the Beach Boys’ fun-fun-fun style in “Back in the USSR.” There’s the guitar solo by Beatle-for-a-day Eric Clapton on “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” “Glass Onion” told us “the walrus was Paul”… and that set off crazy speculation that Paul McCartney was dead. He wasn’t.
On the dark side: Not much can match the infamy of “Helter Skelter,” a McCartney rocker that Charles Manson twisted into a call for murder. But that’s on Manson, not the Beatles.
If you want your kids to enjoy “The White Album” on their iPods, good luck; Apple the record company still won’t release Beatles songs for Apple Computer’s iTunes service. My advice? Buy a record player.
As big as the city of Irvine is today, it’s hard to believe that a scant 50 years ago, most of it was still a ranch. KPCC’s Cheryl Devall says it reached a pivotal point in its development on December 28, 1971.
Cheryl Devall: At the end of the 1950s, the owners of the Irvine Company had begun to open small areas of their sprawling property to construction.
The University of California’s acquisition of 1500 acres for its new campus in 1959 jump-started that development. The university’s architects and Irvine Company staff drafted blueprints for a new live-work community that would eventually house 50,000 people.
Within a little more than a decade, many Irvine occupants were feeling the need for elbow room. Those who lived in the villages of Culverdale, the Ranch, Turtle Rock, University Park, and Walnut voted 37 years ago this Sunday to incorporate, and to expand Irvine beyond the original master plan.
Within 18 years, the city did grow, to almost three times the population that plan had envisioned. Now, Irvine’s the fourth biggest city in Orange County. Irvine anticipates 200,000 people on just under 70 square miles within the next dozen years.
Admirers are remembering entertainer Eartha Kitt as a self-made woman who defied the racial and gender stereotypes of her era. Kitt died yesterday at age 81.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson of the Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable interviewed Kitt for the LA Free Press three decades ago; he described his memories of that conversation to KPCC’s Larry Mantle.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson: “She was really a multi-faceted person. She spoke many languages. She was quite a philanthropist, a quiet activist for social causes. When King wanted something, the March on Washington and other demonstrations, she was always there. So, her legacy is a full-bodied legacy that I just feel that we just really have to pay tribute to the legends and the giants that did so much for the cause of peace and social justice.”
During a White House luncheon at the height of the Vietnam War, Kitt denounced President Lyndon Johnson for sending Americans off to die. For years after that, she had difficulty finding bookings in the United States, so she lived and worked abroad.
Funeral arrangements are pending for the man who helped create one of Hollywood’s best-loved films. KPCC’s Cheryl Devall has more on “To Kill a Mockingbird” director Robert Mulligan, who died during the weekend.
Cheryl Devall: The subject matter of Robert Mulligan’s 1962 film was pretty volatile stuff: the rape trial of a black man in a small Southern town. As racial tensions reached a boiling point in this country, the director made a choice: to approach Harper Lee’s story of injustice with the same delicate yet direct child’s-eye view that had made the novel a best-seller.
“The big danger in making a movie of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’” he told the New York Times, “is in thinking of this as a chance to jump on the segregation-integration soapbox. The book does not make speeches.”
It, and the movie, did make a powerful statement that won over critics and fans. The film was nominated for eight Oscars, including one for Mulligan as Best Director. It scored the Best Actor award for Gregory Peck’s quietly heroic portrayal of defense lawyer Atticus Finch, and Best Adapted Screenplay. Robert Mulligan, who also directed “Summer of ‘42,” died of heart disease. He was 83 years old.
Bettie Page, the infamous 1950s pin-up girl who later developed a cult following, has died.
Page gained fame for sexy photographs featuring her in lingerie, bikinis. and sometimes nothing at all.
Author and journalist Richard Foster wrote a book about Page. He told KPCC’s Larry Mantle that she had two very different sides.
Richard Foster: “She had this very fresh face, innocent girl next door look, that men just fell in love with; I mean more than just lusted for, fell in love with. But at the same time, there was a much darker side to Bettie Page both in her professional and her personal life…”
Foster says in the 1950s, Page began doing bondage photography, which was illegal at the time. Later in her life, she was diagnosed with schizophrenia and put in a mental institution. But the pictures lived on, giving Page cult status. She inspired comic books, Web sites, and a movie about her life.
Doctors placed her on life support last week after she suffered a heart attack; she never regained consciousness. Bettie Page was 85.
Historians are poring over the latest batch of audio recordings of President Richard Nixon. Last week the Nixon Library released another 200 hours of tapes, along with 90,000 documents. Former White House Counsel John Dean told KPCC’s “Patt Morrison” that the tapes convey a strong sense of Nixon the man.
John Dean: “There’s times in these conversations when Nixon does not think about the fact that he’s recording himself and if he does he certainly thinks these are materials that’ll never become public. So you do get a full spectrum picture of Nixon from this record and it’s a record the likes of which we will never have again. No other president is ever going to do this.”
You can find out more information about the Nixon tapes at the National Archives website, at Archives.gov.
More than a decade after he was acquitted on murder charges in Los Angeles, O.J. Simpson is going to prison for armed robbery. KPCC’s Debra Baer has details on the sentencing in Las Vegas.
Debra Baer: Calling him “arrogant and ignorant,” Clark County Judge Jackie Glass sentenced the former football star to as many as 33 years in prison for armed robbery. She also said Simpson won’t be eligible for bail during an appeal.
Before sentencing, Simpson fought back tears during a rambling five minute plea for the judge’s leniency. He said, “I’m sorry. I’m sorry for all of it.”
Simpson and a co-defendant were convicted in October on 12 criminal charges stemming from an attempt to recover, at gunpoint, his mementos and heirlooms from memorabilia brokers at a hotel.
In deciding the sentence, the judge said she didn’t consider Simpson’s 1995 acquittal in the murder of his ex-wife Nicole and her friend, Ron Goldman. After the sentencing, Goldman’s father Fred told reporters, “There’s never closure. Ron is always gone. What we have is satisfaction that this monster is where he belongs behind bars.”
President Abraham Lincoln never set foot in California, but he wanted to and probably would have if he hadn’t been assassinated. Susan Ogle is with the Drum Barracks Civil War Museum in Wilmington. Its new exhibit is about Lincoln’s ties to the Golden State. The 16th president greatly appreciated the gold California sent east to help pay for the Civil War.
Susan Ogle: “About $5 million was raised during the Civil War. One fourth of it came from California. Our small population out here gave a quarter of what was raised. I think that’s amazing! It’s just so interesting. So Lincoln said he wanted to come out here and pay tribute and thank the people of California for what they had done.”
Ogle says Lincoln wasn’t just thinking about visiting. He was talking with his wife Mary about moving to California.
The exhibit will run for six months in honor of Lincoln’s 200th birthday in February. It’s free Saturday as part of the museum’s annual Civil War Christmas, a living history event that re-creates the dress, decorations and toys of the time.
Events and exhibit run from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Like that of her husband, former Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, Ethel Bradley’s legacy will continue shaping the city they served for 20 years. KPCC’s Patricia Nazario has more on the funeral of the late mayor’s 89-year-old widow today.
[Sound of organ music]
Patricia Nazario: The organist played and the church choir, dressed in black, swayed as hundreds of old friends, Bradley relatives, and civic leaders filled the pews at South L.A.’s First AME Church.
[Pastor sings: “For everything, there is a time and a season.”]
Nazario: The church’s pastor, John Hunter, presided over Ethel Bradley’s funeral. The city’s former first lady died a couple of days before Thanksgiving at a West Los Angeles hospital.
John Hunter: She was a woman who gave a lot to the city of Los Angeles.
Nazario: Councilwoman Wendy Greuel was among the elected officials who praised Bradley.
Councilwoman Wendy Greuel: She gave up a lot in her life. She shared her husband with the city of Los Angeles, and often the world. She really was the stronghold of the family and took care of the kids. We all want to pay respects. She was an incredible woman and will be missed.”
Nazario: Ethel Bradley and her husband started a foundation 15 years ago, shortly before the former mayor died. Its mission includes awarding college scholarships, especially to minority city kids.
During her time as Los Angeles’ First Lady, Ethel Bradley hosted leaders from more than 100 countries.
Today hundreds of people turned out at South L.A.’s First AME Church for her funeral. They included Libby Clark. She wrote about former Mayor Tom Bradley and his wife Ethel for the African-American weekly, the L.A. Sentinel, during their 20 years at City Hall.
Libby Clark: “She was really the impetus in the community. More so than Tom; Ethel was a community person, because see, she had been a beautician. So, she was very active in the community.”
The family’s civic involvement continues with their Tom and Ethel Bradley Foundation, based at UCLA. Its mission includes annual scholarships, especially for urban kids.
LINK: L.A. Sentinel
Longtime friends, family, and city lawmakers said their last goodbyes today at funeral services for the late L.A. Mayor Tom Bradley’s widow, Ethel Bradley. She was 89 years old when she died last week.
Entrepreneur Barbara Walden, who created her own cosmetics line, described Mrs. Bradley as lady with “class” and strong ethics. Walden recalled a party at which Bradley was her special guest. She said Los Angeles’ First Lady got to the event on her own.
Barbara Walden: “So when she arrived, I said, ‘We were gonna send someone to pick you up,’ and she said, ‘No. I drove myself.’ She said, ‘You know, Barbara, I always want the mayor to be remembered that we did not come into City Hall like our predecessor and use money for special services, special cars, drivers, special limousines.’ She says, ‘I drove myself.’”
Ethel Bradley’s husband, Tom Bradley, died 10 years ago. The only African-American mayor of Los Angeles served five terms, from 1973 to 1993.
If he hadn’t been assassinated, President Abraham Lincoln might have settled in California. That’s one of the facts featured in a new exhibit focusing on Lincoln’s ties to the Golden State.
Susan Ogle is with the Drum Barracks Civil War Museum in Wilmington. She says Lincoln had close friends here, and he was grateful to the state for helping to fund the Civil War. California gold paid for a quarter of the Union’s costs.
Susan Ogle: “The most interesting part for me was that on the last day of his life, Lincoln talked to several people from California. Had conversations about what was happening out here politically, about what was happening out here that he was interested in, and he talked to his wife Mary about settling in California after the end of his presidency. He thought California was the land of opportunity.”
The exhibit opens Saturday at the Civil War museum. It runs for six months to honor Lincoln’s 200th birthday in February.
Tickets are free this weekend to coincide with the museum’s annual holiday activities, which include a re-creation of a Civil War-era Christmas.
A time of economic turmoil – very much like the one we’re in now – launched this day as the start of the holiday shopping season, UC Berkeley economist and historian Martha Olney told KPCC’s “Patt Morrison.”
Martha Olney: “Franklin Roosevelt, as one his moves to try to help the economy during the Great Depression, moved Thanksgiving from the last Thursday of the month to the fourth Thursday of the month so as to make the Christmas shopping season one week longer, and hope to turn those balance sheets into that nice black color instead of the red negative color.”
Olney said that the custom of recording profits with a black pencil in accounting books inspired the name “Black Friday” - the day on which retailers could begin to hope they’d end the calendar year “in the black.”
L.A.’s longest-serving first lady died today. Ethel Bradley was 89 years old. KPCC’s Special Correspondent Kitty Felde offers this remembrance.
Kitty Felde: She was born Ethel May Arnold, and she met her future husband at her father’s church. In those days, Tom Bradley was a newly-minted L.A. police officer.
His political career eventually took him to City Hall, and Ethel Bradley accompanied him to Getty House, the Mayor’s official residence. There, she lovingly tended the many rose bushes and entertained visiting dignitaries, including Nelson Mandela and Queen Elizabeth.
During their five-decade marriage, Tom Bradley once told the Los Angeles Times that his busy political schedule guaranteed only three nights a year he was certain to spend with his wife: her birthday, his birthday, and the Academy Awards.
Ethel Bradley founded a women’s volunteer group called Las Angelenas, and co-founded the Black Women’s Forum.
L.A.’s current mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa, said the city “will remember her as a woman of grace, with a supreme commitment to her family, a tireless community spirit, and the Dodgers’ biggest fan.”
The Anti-Defamation League’s holding its annual meeting in Los Angeles this weekend. For 95 years the group has denounced anti-Semitism and bigotry. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez says that at this meeting it’s honoring a man many people call the “Mexican Schindler.”
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: Austrian businessman Oskar Schindler saved more than a thousand Jews from Nazi concentration camps during World War II. In France, at around the same time, Mexican diplomat Gilberto Bosques Saldivar secured exit visas for several thousand Jewish refugees trying to escape Nazi-occupied Europe.
Fifteen years ago the Anti-Defamation League awarded Schindler its Courage to Care award. At this weekend’s meeting the organization will posthumously honor Bosques Saldivar with the same award. His daughter’s set to travel to L.A. to receive it.
Bosques Saldivar continued in Mexico’s diplomatic corps for decades. He served in Portugal and in Cuba during a tumultuous period. Four years before the 1959 Cuban Revolution, Bosques Saldivar helped two jailed political dissidents – the brothers Raul and Fidel Castro – obtain exit visas to Mexico.
- November 12, 2008 4:58 PM
- Categories: History
Across the Southland, people are remembering veterans today. At the Proud Bird restaurant near L.A. International Airport, retired history teacher Pat Macha helped organize a ceremony to honor World War II Women Air Force Service Pilots – or WASPs. Macha says it has taken generations for many people to recognize these women’s wartime service.
Pat Macha: “And that’s often the way it is in history. We look back, and we say wait a minute, what about these people? We forgot about this group. We forgot about our Tuskeegee Airmen. We forgot about our Navajo code talkers We forgot about our Nisei Americans, the 332nd regimental combat team. We forgot about the WASPS. But they all are being remembered now, and that is so very important.”
Thirty-eight WASPs – who flew military planes in non-combat situations – died during World War II.
- November 11, 2008 1:57 PM
- Categories: History
A feature film several years ago depicted Navajo troops who safeguarded secret maneuvers by “Code talking” during World War II. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez spoke with a Vietnam War veteran about another group’s linguistic contributions in battle.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: Forty years ago Bill Negron was a U.S. Army captain in charge of more than 160 troops in Vietnam.
Bill Negron: This particular battle in 1968, the young Hispanics saved our butt. I am fluent in Spanish. Soy puertoriqueño. And we had a patrol go out and were ambushed, and the North Vietnamese got their radio. So I thought that was kind of dangerous if they knew what we were doing.
Guzman-Lopez: And he had to get his men out of that dangerous area.
Negron: I didn’t want to communicate in English so I told everybody to get me somebody from L.A. or Tex-Mex or Puerto Rican, or somebody, get them on the radio, and we communicated for three or four days in Spanish.
Guzman-Lopez: The remains of one soldier killed during that battle, Luis Palacios, were found and identified last year in Vietnam. Palacios was listed for nearly 40 years as missing in action. Negron traveled to Southern California last week to attend Palacios’s burial in Cypress.
- November 10, 2008 12:57 PM
- Categories: History
The new film “The Changeling” opens today. Based on a true story about a mother searching for her missing child, the movie also tells the story of Riverside County killer Stewart Northcott. In the late 1920s Northcott abducted and sexually enslaved more than 20 children. He killed at least four of them, one with the help of his mother.
A new book documents the killer’s sensational trial and his final days on death row. Author James Jeffrey Paul says there are reasons we’re as fascinated with real-life monsters like Stewart Northcott as we are with fictional ones like Frankenstein or the Wolfman.
James Jeffrey Paul: “Stewart, well criminals in general, are just an extreme manifestation of this little raging demon inside all of us. These elements: human egoism, motherly love, and all these very human ordinarily elements were there in the story But, you could see them so clearly because they were carried to a nightmare extreme.”
That’s true crime writer James Jeffrey Paul. The title of his new book about killer Stewart Northcott is “Nothing is Strange with You.”
Link: The Changeling
Sixteen Southland museums and cultural institutions announced today a major collaboration that’ll lead to a series of exhibitions on Southern California contemporary art. L.A.’s Getty Foundation granted nearly $3 million to mount the shows in two-and-a-half years. Deborah Marrow is the foundation’s director.
Deborah Marrow: “We cared so much about our home region, and yet here’s an area in which our home region was in the vanguard of international art movements, and yet not that many people know that.”
The shows will focus on the groundbreaking work of painters, commercial designers, and video and other artists who worked in Southern California between 1945 and 1980. Each institution will highlight a different topic or set of artists. UCLA’s Chicano Studies Research Center and the California African American Museum will focus on contributions by black and Latino artists.
Some surviving veterans of the bracero program – a guest worker arrangement between the United States and Mexico – are eligible to apply for long-delayed payments starting today. Details from KPCC’s Cheryl Devall.
Cheryl Devall: During World War II, a shortage of agricultural labor in this country prompted the U.S. government to arrange contracts between growers and Mexican workers. Hundreds of thousands of men traveled north to plant, maintain, and harvest crops.
At that time, the Mexican government withheld a portion of the workers’ pay in a savings fund. The idea was to reimburse the men when they returned home. But in many cases, the government never paid that money. Ex-braceros brought a federal class action lawsuit eight years ago, and that’s resulted in a proposed settlement with the Mexican government.
Former braceros from the first four years of the program – from 1942 through 1946 – their spouses and children are eligible to apply for a one-time payment of about 2,800 U.S. dollars. They have two months to file their claims to Mexican consulates or embassies in the United States.
The world’s best known fashion critic has died. Mr. Blackwell spent the last 40 years decrying the clothes worn by top celebrities. KPCC’s Steve Julian has more.
Steve Julian: Mr. Blackwell once said Meryl Streep looked like “a gypsy abandoned by a caravan.” He described Ann Margret as “a Hells Angel escapee who invaded the Ziegfeld Follies on a rainy night.” And of Sharon Stone, Mr. Blackwell said she looked like “an over-the-hill Cruella DeVille.”
As to critics who said he was too cruel, Mr. Blackwell claimed it was never his intention to hurt the feelings of the people he judged, but to put down the clothes they wore. His annual list of the worst-dressed dates back to 1960. It brought him the celebrity he craved, but couldn’t generate as an actor. Richard Blackwell recounted in his autobiography a troubled, poor childhood in which he was a truant, thief, and prostitute.
Mr. Blackwell has died in Los Angeles. The fashion critic was best known for his annual list of the worst-dressed celebrities. KPCC’s Steve Julian reports.
Steve Julian: Mr. Blackwell was born Richard Sylvan Selzer in 1922. He’d hoped to be an actor, but gave up that pursuit in 1958 when he turned to fashion. In 1960, he issued his first faux pas list of fashion, and the celebrity he long coveted was his.
Mr. Blackwell became a regular on the talk show circuit, appearing many times on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, whom he sued in 1992 after Carson claimed Blackwell had put Mother Theresa on his list. Among the celebrities he did skewer are Barbra Streisand, saying she looked like a “masculine Bride of Frankenstein,” and Madonna, calling her the “bare-bottomed bore of Babylon.” Richard Blackwell died of an intestinal infection. He was 86.
A group founded by filmmaker Steven Spielberg has begun a 5-year, $10 million effort to digitize the videotaped testimonies of thousands of Holocaust survivors. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has more.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: The Shoah Foundation’s primary focus has been the preservation and dissemination of survivors’ stories, says the group’s Sam Gustman.
Sam Gustman: From 1994 through 2000, we collected 52,000 interviews from Holocaust survivors and witnesses in 56 countries around the world, and in 32 different languages.
Guzman-Lopez: They’re stories of death and survival during Nazi Germany’s effort to exterminate Europe’s Jews. The foundation had recorded survivors’ voices and faces on analog videotape that degrades over time.
Converting those 235,000 videotapes to digital files is a massive job, even with the purchase of two $1 million machines to automate the conversion. Gustman says the work’s necessary to fulfill the foundation’s educational efforts. The Shoah Foundation is already making lower-quality digital versions available, at a charge, to institutions around the world.
The TV quiz show scandals of a half-century ago failed to tarnish the reputation of host Jack Narz. KPCC’s Cheryl Devall has more on the durable personality, who died yesterday in Los Angeles.
Cheryl Devall: Fifty years back, Jack Narz was the host of “Dotto,” a connect-the-dots quiz that was so popular CBS ran it in daytime while a primetime version aired on NBC. About a year into the show’s run, a contestant went to authorities with his suspicion that some competitors were getting the answers in advance.
The networks quickly dropped the show, and Narz took a lie detector test that proved to a grand jury he hadn’t known the game was rigged. The brother and brother-in-law of game show hosts went on to emcee a succession of programs through the 1970s, including “Beat the Clock” and “Concentration.”
Years after he left the spotlight, Jack Narz surfaced at celebrity golf tournaments and in documentaries about the game show scandals of the 1950s. He lived to see those shows regain their popularity in network prime time. Narz was 85 years old when he died from complications of a stroke.
The founder of the environmental group Heal the Bay has died after a long illness. KPCC’s Cheryl Devall has more about Dorothy Green.
Cheryl Devall: For more than 32 of her 79 years, Dorothy Green made waves to help ensure cleaner waters. She took up the cause during the campaign for Proposition 20, the ballot measure that created the California Coastal Commission.
From there, Green continued her activism through organizations including the Los Angeles Board of Water and Power Commissioners, the L.A. League of Conservation Voters and the California Water Policy Conference. The head of the organization she helped establish 23 years ago, Heal the Bay, called her “The most influential water quality activist in California.”
That group’s forced sewage treatment plants to comply with the federal Clean Water Act, and it launched an annual report card that grades the cleanliness of the state’s beaches. Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa hailed Green’s passion, commitment and brilliance, even during her final days in hospice care. Green died of complications from melanoma.
LINK: Heal the Bay
A public memorial is scheduled tomorrow morning at Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral in Los Angeles for the man known as the “urban Cesar Chavez.” KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has more.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: Activist Dionisio Morales knew the patchwork of farms around Moorpark in Ventura County like the back of his hand. He helped his parents work the fields there, graduated from Moorpark High, and helped farm workers when he worked for a government agency.
In 1963 he founded the Mexican American Opportunity Foundation. His garage in Pico Rivera was the organization’s first office. To reduce the sting of racial discrimination and improve their job prospects, Morales believed, Mexican-Americans needed training, quality child care, and medical care.
Now, the foundation he started operates in more than two dozen California cities and serves about 100,000 people through its children’s day care, senior centers, and job training classes. Over the decades Dionicio Morales nurtured budding politicians, and many sought his counsel. Morales died two weeks ago of natural causes in Montebello. He was 89 years old.
- October 2, 2008 4:41 PM
- Categories: History
Tonight, the Angels take on the Red Sox in Anaheim for Game 1 of the American League playoffs. The Dodgers are in Chicago to open their National League playoff series against the Cubs. KPCC’s Special Correspondent Kitty Felde talked to the Dodgers’ boss about the series.
Kitty Felde: It’s been a long time since the Dodgers won the World Series. Twenty years. But Dodger fans won’t get any sympathy from the Cubs faithful. For them, the championship drought has lasted an entire century.
The last time the Cubs won it all, Teddy Roosevelt was president. Cubs fans believe this is their year. But does Dodger owner Frank McCourt think the weight of history will work emotionally against the Boys in Blue?
Frank McCourt: I suppose if we let it does, it does. On the other hand, we have to use that to our advantage. There’s probably more pressure on them than us because of that hundred years, and we just need to stay focused on, it’s a baseball game, and we need to win the game. And then we play another game, and we need to win that game, and so forth.
Felde: The Dodgers return to Dodger Stadium for Game 3 on Saturday, and maybe Game 4 on Sunday.
The Dodgers and the Angels begin post-season play tomorrow. KPCC’s Special Correspondent Kitty Felde says only once before have both local baseball teams been in the playoffs in the same season.
Kitty Felde: It was four years ago, but the Dodgers and the Angels would just as soon forget about that postseason. In 2004, the Angels were swept by the same team that swept them last year, and will play them this year: the Boston Red Sox.
The Dodgers did slightly better four years ago. They managed to beat St. Louis once. But the Cardinals won the other three playoff games, and eventually ended up in the World Series against Boston. Dodger owner Frank McCourt is more hopeful this time. He’s looking forward to a “Freeway Series.”
Frank McCourt: I think it’s great for Southern California to have both clubs in the postseason. It’s very exciting and it just shows how competitive baseball is here now.
Felde: It’s been 20 years since the Dodgers won the World Series. The Angels’ collective memory of winning it all is a bit fresher. Their one and only World Series title was back in 2002.
Note: The Dodgers visit the Cubs in Chicago tomorrow afternoon at 3:30. The Angels and the Boston Red Sox play in Anaheim at 7:00. And tonight at 8, KPCC airs Kitty’s one hour Dodger special: Bum’s Rush: How the Dodgers Came to L.A.
At Laguna Beach City Hall tonight, historians and baseball fans will celebrate a longtime resident’s contributions to the game of baseball. Here’s the pitch from KPCC’s Molly Peterson.
[Dr. John, singing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game”]
Molly Peterson: Thirty-two years after writing the lyrics to “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” Jack Norworth moved to Laguna Beach. One hundred years ago, the song was a smash on Tin Pan Alley – a vaudeville duet, part sung by a woman who wants her boyfriend to take her not to a show, but to the ballpark.
[Dr. John, singing “I don’t care if I never get back! Let me root, root, root for the home team…”]
Peterson: At an event sponsored by Laguna Beach’s Historical Society, locals can hear from Andy Strasberg, one of three authors of a new book on the song’s first 100 years. The book, “Baseball’s Greatest Hit,” includes a CD of different versions of Take Me Out, including this one by Dr. John.
Historians contend the song wasn’t a staple of the seventh-inning stretch until Cubs announcer Harry Caray made it one in Chicago during the late 1970s. The book and the event also point out Jack Norworth’s contribution to Laguna Beach baseball: he founded the city’s little league 56 years ago.
Note: The event sponsored by the Laguna Beach Historical Society starts tonight at 7:30 in City Hall.
If you’re eager for some old-fashioned movie action, pilgrim, saddle up and ride over to USC for a festival focusing on Trojan standout John Wayne. KPCC’s Cheryl Devall has more on the event starting tonight.
Cheryl Devall: It’s the 100th anniversary of John Wayne’s birthday. The University of Southern California’s paying tribute to the Glendale High graduate who landed a Trojan football scholarship back in the day. His given name was Marion Morrison, but as his tough-guy screen persona evolved, few hombres dared to call him “Marion” to his face.
The films on the festival schedule range from Saturday matinee serials Wayne made in the early 1930s to the roles that established him as a movie icon: the vengeful Confederate veteran in “The Searchers.” The love-struck ex-boxer in “The Quiet Man.” The do-or-die Marine drill sergeant in “The Sands of Iwo Jima.” And many more.
The weekend at USC’s Norris Cinema Theatre also includes panel discussions with filmmakers and critics, film scholars, and people who knew the namesake of the Orange County airport up close and personal. Admission is free, but reservations are required.
Journalists throughout the country are remembering a pioneer who helped open doors for many others in her field. KPCC’s Cheryl Devall says Nancy Maynard died in Los Angeles yesterday.
Cheryl Devall: If not for black women like Nancy Hicks Maynard, this journalist might be doing something else for a living. From childhood, Maynard cultivated an interest in newspapers &nash; and in whose stories they weren’t telling. By the time she was 23, she was the first black woman on the metro reporting staff of the New York Times.
Her contributions to the field extended beyond reporting, into media ownership and training. With her late husband Robert Maynard, she purchased the Oakland Tribune in the early 1980s. To this day, it remains the country’s only major metropolitan daily to have operated under black ownership.
Thirty years ago, the Maynards also launched the Institute for Journalism Education, an organization that’s trained and helped advance the careers of thousands of people from the internship level to upper management. In recent years, from her base in Santa Monica, Nancy Maynard continued to write, speak, and consult widely, always promoting the importance of newsroom diversity. She was 61 years old when she died.
In the days before you could Google “best Thai restaurant in Glendale,” the man to ask about restaurants was Elmer Dills. The longtime radio and TV critic has died. He was 82. KPCC’s Special Correspondent Kitty Felde reports.
Kitty Felde: Long before food writer Jonathan Gold won a Pulitzer Prize for his restaurant critiques, Los Angeles had Elmer Dills. For more than three decades, Dills dispensed restaurant reviews and recommendations on his KABC radio show and on Channel 7. He usually featured inexpensive and unusual restaurants that gave value for the dollar.
Elmer Dills: The ribs, the brisket, the chicken, the sausage, slowly smoked with pecan and hickory wood and spices…
Felde: Dills later broadcast his show on KIEV radio. For more than a decade, wrote a weekly column for the “PennySaver.” He finally retired this year. Dills reportedly developed his love for wining and dining during his 20 years with the CIA. He’s not the only spy with a passion for food: Julia Child worked for the CIA’s predecessor, the OSS, during World War II.
A Southland-based sculptor who crafted internationally-known likenesses of “Roots” author Alex Haley and other prominent African Americans has died in Los Angeles. KPCC’s Cheryl Devall says Tina Allen was 58 years old when she died Tuesday.
Cheryl Devall: When she was five years old, Tina Allen began to paint. Sculptor William Zorach took her under his wing when she was 10.
During her career, Allen won commissions for monumental works like the 13-foot sculpture of Haley in his native Knoxville, Tennessee, and of George Washington Carver for the St. Louis Botanical Garden. She also created abstract works that emphasized African standards of beauty. On her Web site Allen said, “Our children must be able to say, greatness comes out of people who look like me.”
In the Southland, Allen’s public sculptures include a four-story high relief at King/Drew Medical Magnet High School, and a bust of civil rights activist Celes King III at the intersection of Crenshaw and Martin Luther King Boulevards in Los Angeles. Allen’s ex-husband said she died of complications from a heart attack.
Thousands of new American citizens had reason to celebrate on this somber day in the history of their adopted country. Eighteen-thousand people took the oath of allegiance today at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Twenty-four-year-old Raymond Serrano from Canada was one of them.
Raymond Serrano: “I’m not gonna lie. It’s just another day to me. Like, it’s awesome that I became a citizen, but the fact that it was September 11th wasn’t that big of a deal.”
Serrano says voting is a big deal to him. He says that ending the war in Iraq is the most important issue that’ll influence his choice for the White House.
This September 11th is bittersweet for thousands of new American citizens who took their oath of allegiance today in Southern California. KPCC’s Patricia Nazario stopped by the Los Angeles Convention Center for this afternoon’s swearing-in ceremony.
Patricia Nazario: Officials swore in about 6,100 people during the 1 o’clock ceremony. It was one of three the convention center scheduled for the day. California Central District Federal Judge Dale Fisher took a moment to thank the group for changing her perspective about this solemn date in American history.
She said that for the last seven years, September 11th has been a sad day. From now on, she told the new citizens, she’ll remember it differently. Many of the new citizens registered to vote in November’s election before they left the convention center. They named the war in Iraq and the lagging economy as factors that would influence their choice for the Oval Office.
Note: More than 18,000 new citizens were scheduled for swearing in at the convention center today.
Events across the nation this week will commemorate the 7th anniversary of the terror attacks of September 11th, 2001 and its 3,000 victims. KPCC’s Debra Baer has details about a walk in Sherman Oaks Sunday with a special focus on the first responders who continue to suffer health effects from the attacks.
Debra Baer: The annual “We Remember Walk” starts at the Sherman Oaks Galleria and ends with a ceremony several blocks away at Los Angeles Fire Station 88. That station’s search and rescue team was the first to travel to New York after the attack on the Twin Towers. Walk organizer Reverend Bill Minson with Tuday Ministries says he’s calling on Congress to pass a measure that’s stalled for years, the 9/11 Health and Compensation Bill.
Bill Minson: Be they a firefighter, first responders, or construction workers, utility people, there are many people that are sick and desperately ill, losing their homes. This piece of legislation would make an enormous difference.
Baer: Reverend Minson produced a documentary about first responders’ heath problems for a foundation that focuses on their needs. He says he’ll deliver a DVD of the movie to each member of Congress this week. Sunday’s “We Remember Walk” begins at 11 at the corner of Ventura and Sepulveda Boulevards.
- September 5, 2008 5:17 PM
- Categories: History
Los Angeles Police Chief Bill Bratton says he’s proud that the number of homicides has dropped in Los Angeles this summer.
Bill Bratton: “This year we had a remarkably quiet summer, remarkable in the fact that we had 84 homicides. It sounds like a lot but in the year 1991 we had 323 in the same period. You’d have to go back literally to 1967 to a time when the city had fewer homicides than what we had this summer.”
Bratton spoke with KPCC’s Larry Mantle. The police chief credits the hiring of more police officers, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s anti-gang initiative, and detailed crime mapping as factors in the smaller number of homicides.
Los Angeles City Councilman Bernard Parks wants the city to post $450,000 in reward money for information leading to the arrest of a serial killer in South Los Angeles. L.A. Police detectives continue their search for a killer they believe committed several homicides during the 1980s, then took a 13-year break before starting to kill again 7 years ago. Mary Alexander is the mother of Alicia Monique Alexander, killed 20 years ago when she was 18.
Mary Alexander: “We miss her very much. We go to the mausoleum and we pray all the time. It’s very hurtful when I see– just to see nieces and her friends, and all growing up and everything, and I think about what, ‘What would she have been like?’ It’s very hard.”
Police believe the suspect, or suspects, killed 10 people, most recently in January of last year. They’re asking anyone with information to call 1-800-LAW-FULL (with two L’s).
A Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who went on to work for Robert F. Kennedy, chair the Los Angeles Ethics Committee, and teach at USC’s journalism school has died. KPCC’s Cheryl Devall says Ed Guthman died from a rare blood disease yesterday at his home in Pacific Palisades.
Cheryl Devall: Of the many distinctions Ed Guthman racked up during his long career, he took particular pride in having been named to president Richard Nixon’s “enemies list” – the roster of perceived political opponents the president’s men drafted in 1971. At that point, Guthman was a national editor for the Los Angeles Times.
He’d been Bobby Kennedy’s press secretary during the New York senator’s fateful run for president 40 years ago. Almost 20 years before that, Guthman won the Pulitzer for national reporting. His story about the Un-American Activities Committee in his native Washington state cleared a University of Washington professor of charges that he’d supported the Communist Party.
Guthman was a decorated World War 2 Army veteran. For 20 years, he taught newswriting and investigative reporting at USC’s Annenberg School for Communication. Ed Guthman was 89 years old when he died.
Happy birthday Los Angeles! The City of Angels turns 227 years old next Thursday, and the big celebration is Monday. More from KPCC’s Debra Baer.
Debra Baer: A nine-mile walk from the San Gabriel Mission to the city’s birthplace at the Plaza at El Pueblo Historical Monument re-enacts the founding of L.A.
History buffs are retracing the steps of the 11 families that founded the little pueblo they called “The Town of the Queen of Angels” in 1781. John Kopczynski is a spokesman for El Pueblo.
John Kopczynski: A lot of people do not realize how the city was founded, how it happened that these 44 individuals, including children, walked from Mexico to the mission, gathered themselves, freshened up, so to speak, and then made it the last nine miles here to form this tiny little dust town, which became today the great metropolitan area of L.A.
Baer: L.A.’s birthday festivities continue through 1:00 at the El Pueblo Monument on downtown’s Olvera Street. The party includes refreshments, free cake, family activities, and more than 40 professional actors dressed in period costumes.
Note: The three-hour walk begins/began at 6:00 Monday morning.
Link: More information at the El Pueblo de Los Angeles Web site
In the 1800s, Rancho Los Cerritos was a 27,000 acre parcel of a huge Spanish land grant. Now, the territory’s home to Long Beach, Bellflower, Signal Hill, and Paramount.
But a 164-year-old adobe house and formal gardens still sit on five of those acres in Long Beach. The national historic landmark is offering free “living history” tours Sunday afternoon. Ellen Calomiris is director of Rancho Los Cerritos.
Ellen Calomiris: “The history of the site really echoes the history of Spanish, Mexican, and American California, and the people who lived and worked here and helped really transform Southern California, from its ranching beginnings to today’s urban society.”
The free tours begin at the adobe every half hour between 1 and 4 Sunday afternoon. You can find out more online at www.rancholoscerritos.org
Almost a quarter-century ago, the killings of several young black women in South Los Angeles perplexed police. The murderer’s trail went cold for years, until new forensic technology helped establish a link between those homicides and more recent ones. L.A. Weekly reporter Christine Pelisek told KPCC’s Patt Morrison that it took a while for an LAPD task force to make that connection.
Christine Pelisek: “And it wasn’t until 2004 that the cold case unit started putting in the DNA, they realized– they started looking at the old task force cases back in the ’80s and then they decided to put in the DNA, and that’s when they realized that these two– there was two cases in 2002 and 2003 matched to a case in 1988.”
Pelisek says that armed with the new forensic methods, detectives are reconsidering thousands of unsolved homicides in the hope they’ll track down the serial killer known as the “Grim Sleeper.”
In L.A.’s Mid-Wilshire district, a groundbreaking ceremony today made way for a memorial to the late Robert F. Kennedy. KPCC’s Cheryl Devall has the story.
Cheryl Devall: The Ambassador Hotel never overcame its notoriety as the site where the Democratic presidential candidate was assassinated 40 years ago, the night he won the California primary. Now that the hotel’s been torn down, three L.A. Unified public schools are under construction on that property. Planners are also setting aside one-third of an acre for a park in Bobby Kennedy’s honor.
It’ll include a granite plaque with a portrait of the late U.S. senator who was also the nation’s attorney general during the administration of his brother, President John F. Kennedy. The groundbreaking ceremony included Korean drummers and Latino dancers representing the multicultural stretch of Wilshire Boulevard that’ll contain the as-yet-unnamed park.
A rare opportunity to see the Emancipation Proclamation in the Southland begins today at the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley. Details on the exhibit from KPCC’s Cheryl Devall.
Cheryl Devall: The document in which Abraham Lincoln declared enslaved Africans “forever free,” at the height of the Civil War, is the centerpiece of the new exhibit. It’s one of three signed copies known to exist. Other artifacts in the exhibit include some of the 16th president’s authentic letters and manuscripts related to his role in leading the Union during the bitterest war in the nation’s history.
A timeline in the exhibit traces the history of slavery from the ancient Babylonian code of Hammurabi to the 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution abolishing the practice in this country. In the early days of the Republican Party, opposition to slavery was central to its ideology.
For decades after the Civil War, many blacks who could vote cast their ballots for the “party of Lincoln.” The exhibit on Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation continues at the Reagan Library through late October. For more information, go online to ReaganLibrary.com.
- August 22, 2008 2:25 PM
- Categories: History
Next Tuesday is “Ladies Night” at the Democratic National Convention. New York Senator Hillary Clinton will lead a list of women headliners. A quarter-century ago, women danced in the aisles at another Democratic Convention. KPCC’s Special Correspondent Kitty Felde has the story.
Kitty Felde: In 1984, Roz Wyman became the first woman, Democrat or Republican, to serve as chair of a national political convention. It was an election in which women played a prominent role.
Roz Wyman: “When I ran the ‘84 convention, our nominees were Walter Mondale and Geraldine Ferraro, which was an exciting night when Gerry was nominated in that convention hall. I’ll never forget it. Women were standing on chairs, just going wild. I remember playing ‘I Am Woman,’ Helen Reddy’s song. The delegates, especially the women – [it] was so meaningful to them.”
Felde: Democrats lost that election, though Wyman attributes the loss less to having a woman on the ticket and more to Mondale’s speech, where he said, “Mr. Reagan will raise taxes, and so will I. He won’t tell you. I just did.”
Note: KPCC’s convention coverage begins Monday morning, live from the Democratic National Convention in Denver, and continues the following week from the Republican National Convention in St. Paul. Full election coverage
The music world is remembering the many contributions of producer Jerry Wexler. He died early today at age 91. One of the artists he helped propel to superstardom, the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, called Wexler “truly one of the great record men of all time.” The originator of the term “rhythm and blues” was about more than just records, Rolling Stone magazine’s Anthony DeCurtis told KPCC’s Patt Morrison:
Anthony DeCurtis: “He could allude just as quickly to a Shakespeare play as he could to a jazz solo as he could to a great soul singer. That was all part of his bag of tricks.”
Wexler played a pivotal role in the careers of Ray Charles, Wilson Pickett, Solomon Burke, Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson. and Dusty Springfield… among others.
Pirates and buccaneers will take over the Port of Los Angeles this weekend. So will battleships and frigates arriving for the Festival of Sail. Theresa Lopez-Adams with the Port says this is the third year the tall ships have set sail for L.A.
Theresa Lopez-Adams: “The other times, in 2002 and in 2005, it’s on a cycle of every 3 years. And this year we’re very pleased to have the U.S. Coast Guard Eagle as one of the participating ships. So that’s a big deal. It’s come from Connecticut to be in this Festival of Sail so it’s very exciting.”
The Eagle is a three-masted cutter the Coast Guard uses to train students in its academy. It’s the only active commissioned sail-powered ship in the country’s maritime services. Fifteen vessels in all will dock at San Pedro through Sunday evening. For more information about the free Festival of Sail, visit online at portoflosangeles.org.
A film set in downtown L.A.’s long-gone Bunker Hill bars and flophouses is returning to a Southland theater today, almost 50 years after it was finished. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has more.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: Director Kent Mackenzie’s film “The Exiles” is a docudrama about American Indians in their twenties and thirties straddling life and love beyond the reservation.
Clip from “The Exiles:” I don’t think I want to take the baby back to San Carlos. I’d rather have him raised out here. I want him to speak English and try maybe go to college and become something.
Guzman-Lopez: The backdrop is downtown L.A. in the late 1950s – its packed sidewalks, liquor stores, and bars booming with jukebox rock and roll, where the Native American protagonists while away the hours.
Clip from “The Exiles:” Give me a swig. Gracias amigo. [Speaking in Native American language.]
Guzman-Lopez: UCLA’s Film and Television Archive has restored the film. It’s organized a week-long run at the Billy Wilder Theater in Westwood.
Local TV host William Stulla has died. For more than a decade, he was “Engineer Bill” each afternoon on KHJ Channel 9. You probably watched “Engineer Bill” – and so did KPCC’s Special Correspondent Kitty Felde.
Kitty Felde: William Stulla had a lot of careers… stockbroker, radio announcer, host of a show called “Parlor Party.” But kids who grew up in Southern California 50 years ago knew him best as “Engineer Bill.” From 1954 to 1966, Stulla donned overalls and a grey-and-white striped railroad engineer’s cap for his “Cartoon Express” show.
Two children would usually join “Engineer Bill” in studio to watch cartoons and play games – and when I was five, I was one of those kids. We played “Red Light, Green Light,” where you gulp an enormous glass of milk when they’d shout “Green Light!”
There was also “Name It and You Can Have It.” The kids competed for toys by shouting the complete name of each item first. It may not surprise you that I took home a car full of toys that night. I still feel bad for that other shy kid. William Stulla, “Engineer Bill,” died Tuesday night at his home in Westlake Village. He was 97.
For the next week, UCLA’s Film and Television Archive is screening a groundbreaking but rarely seen film about American Indians living in downtown Los Angeles. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has details on the film opening today.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: The film’s called “The Exiles.” Director Kent Mackenzie finished it in 1961, but he never secured wide release. The black-and-white film is both drama and documentary.
Film voiceover: What follows is the authentic account of 12 hours in the lives of a group of Indians who have come to Los Angeles, California.
Guzman-Lopez: Chris Horak runs UCLA’s Film and Television Archive.
Chris Horak: The first really striking thing about this film is to see how this group of Native Americans, who are at the lower end of the social, economic scale, are trying to survive in this intensely urban environment of downtown Los Angeles.
Guzman-Lopez: Mackenzie’s camera follows the Native Americans, all in their twenties and thirties, from rundown apartments and grimy late-night bars to reckless speeding through downtown L.A.’s tunnels – past neon signs, liquor stores, and streetscapes long lost to redevelopment.
The next time you visit the Redondo Beach Pier, don’t bother looking for that bronze statue of surfing pioneer George Freeth. KPCC’s Debra Baer says someone’s made off with it.
Debra Baer: The bronze bust memorializing the man known as “the father of modern surfing” was a fixture at the Redondo pier for 31 years. The city’s chamber of commerce boasted that surfers visiting from around the world frequently adorned the statue with Hawaiian leis.
Sergeant Phil Keenan with Redondo Beach police says the statue was stolen sometime Thursday. He thinks he knows why: copper. Bronze, Keenan says, is 88 percent copper. That makes it a hot property.
George Freeth moved from Hawaii to Redondo Beach in the early 1900s. Land baron Henry Huntington hired him to demonstrate the new sport of surfing to vacationers. Freeth became the region’s first lifeguard. He died when he was only 36 – a victim of the great influenza epidemic of 1919. Redondo Beach police want to find the thief and the statue… and they’re asking anyone with information to give them a call.
Today’s earthquake prompted a reminder about what’s likely ahead for Southern California. Few said it better than Los Angeles City Councilman Greig Smith.
Greig Smith: “The big quake has yet to come. It’s going to be a 7.9 to 8.1 on the San Andreas fault in the next decade that will bring significant damage throughout the region. In 1994, our police and fire departments were able to call on mutual aid from other cities. We will not have mutual aid if that quake hits as predicted. We will be on our own as a city and as individuals. And everybody must be prepared in their home. You must have water. You must have canned foods. You must have a flashlight with batteries and a transistor radio to keep informed of what’s going on because you may be on your own for up to three or four days.”
Geologists say an earthquake capable of causing widespread destruction is 99 percent certain of hitting California within the next 30 years.
A study published earlier this year said a 7.8 magnitude quake could kill nearly 2,000 people, injure 50,000 more, and damage 300,000 buildings.
The quake occurred on a fault where one side was thrust up over another side. A fault is a fracture along which the blocks of crust on either side have moved relative to one another parallel to the fracture. Thrust faults are one of three major kinds of faults, the others being strike-slip and what’s called “normal.”
Also from the USGS: the earliest recorded earthquake in California was 239 years ago. Each year the Southern California area has about 10,000 earthquakes. Most of them are so small that they are not felt. Only several hundred are greater than magnitude 3.0, and only about 15 to 20 are greater than magnitude 4.0. If there is a large earthquake, however, the aftershock sequence will produce many more earthquakes of all magnitudes for many months.
It took fifty years, but the man who brought the Dodgers to Los Angeles half a century ago will finally be inducted into baseball’s Hall of Fame. Walter Francis O’Malley joins five other baseball legends who’ll be honored Sunday in Cooperstown. KPCC’s Special Correspondent Kitty Felde has this brief profile.
Kitty Felde: Brooklyn Dodger owner Walter O’Malley was at the end of his rope, trying to build a new stadium in New York. Los Angeles had been fishing for a major league team for years. It seemed like a marriage made in heaven. But in an interview taped three decades ago, the late owner said the relationship was rocky from the start.
Walter O’Malley: “We did not have an idea that we would be received as well as we have finally been received. We immediately, on coming here, ran into all sorts of political problems: a referendum, lawsuits. How we ever survived all of that, I don’t know, but we did.”
Felde: O’Malley, with his oversized glasses and ever-present cigar, watched his Dodgers win 5 World Series titles and draw over three million fans a year in Los Angeles. O’Malley’s son Peter, daughter Terri, and a large extended Dodger family are in Cooperstown Sunday to honor the man who brought major league baseball to L.A.
Link: More of Kitty Felde’s Dodgers series
Link: Baseball Hall of Fame article on O’Malley
The Dodgers and the city of L.A. kick off a free shuttle service between Union Station and Dodger Stadium tonight. The shuttle starts a little after 6 p.m. The last shuttle back to Union Station leaves an hour after the last pitch. KPCC’s Special Correspondent Kitty Felde says the “Dodgers Trolley” harkens back to the team’s name in Brooklyn.
Kitty Felde: The Dodgers got their name because of the trolleys that criss-crossed their Brooklyn neighborhood. Fans would have to “dodge” the various trolleys to get into the ballpark. But it was the automobile that prompted the Dodgers’ move to L.A., according to the late Dodgers owner Walter O’Malley.
Walter O’Malley: In Brooklyn, we didn’t have a single parking lot. We parked in the driveways of people who had homes in the vicinity. The day of the Brooklyn trolley dodger was over. And we had to reckon with the automobile.
Felde: And now the team has come full circle, offering an option to fans who don’t want to take their car to Dodger Stadium. The free Dodger Trolleys runs the rest of the season.
This month, Mexico set aside millions of dollars to pay pensions promised to its citizens who worked in the U.S. as part of a guest worker program from 1942 until 1964. They were known as braceros, and they numbered in the millions. A couple of dozen braceros who became U.S. citizens gathered in Los Angeles today to praise Mexico’s action. They also said there’s more to be done. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has the story.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: The braceros worked in the Southwest and Midwest picking fruits and vegetables, and working for railroad companies. The U.S. government sent 10 percent of their wages back to Mexico to be held in a pension fund. Seventy-one-year-old Ramon Navarro Machuca says he never saw that money, and he’s angry.
Ramon Navarro Machuca: Yo no estoy bien seguro si agarraron ese dinero o lo mandaron.
Guzman-Lopez: Navarro Machuca arrived in Arizona in 1958 to pick cotton. He stands to receive three to four-thousand dollars. About 40,000 braceros live in California. L.A.’s bracero group says Mexico hasn’t allocated enough money to pay all braceros. The group also says Mexico should allow braceros living in the U.S. to do the necessary paperwork at consulates, instead of requiring them to travel to Mexico. Mexican government officials say that’s a possibility.
Nearly two dozen Southland residents who participated in the Mexican guest worker program more than a half century ago gathered in Los Angeles today. The “braceros,” as they’re known, praised Mexico’s decision this month to fund pensions promised to them years ago, but never delivered. Attorney Juan Jose Gutierrez advises the group.
Juan Jose Gutierrez: “We’re very happy that after a long struggle that’s already going on 44 years, the Mexican authorities have acknowledged their responsibility in providing fair compensation to the nearly five million ex-braceros that from 1942 to 1964 came to work in the United States.”
Gutierrez says about 40,000 former braceros live in California, the bulk in Southern California. He says most haven’t received the three to four-thousand dollar payments. They’re elderly, Gutierrez says, so the Mexican government should move quickly to set aside more money and open up Mexican consulates in the U.S. to file paperwork. Officials from L.A.’s Mexican consulate were not available for comment.
Some big museums would like to see your stuff. Something of historical or cultural importance might be hiding in your attic or basement. KPCC’s Brian Watt says tomorrow, there’s a day of presentations and activities on how to keep those things from just collecting dust.
Brian Watt: Antiques Roadshow, this isn’t. The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture wants people to bring old items to the Japanese American National Museum in downtown L.A. There, they can learn from experts, not how much the items will fetch on eBay, but how to take care of them.
Charmaine Jefferson runs the California African American Museum, another sponsor of the event. She says old farm tools, documents, and military uniforms can tell future generations a lot about where they come from. She recalls being invited recently to look at the belongings of a deceased friend of a friend.
Charmaine Jefferson: “They had some wonderful photos of some children from 1900. Waving flags and celebrating the 4th of July. It was just priceless! And it was just something in somebody’s home.”
Brian Watt: The photos, said Jefferson, might wind up on display at her museum. But the first step was to take them out of an old photo album for safer storage in a dust and acid-free sleeve.
Note: The free event starts at 10:00 tomorrow morning and ends at 4:30 in the afternoon. People with items for review must call and reserve a spot: 1-888-249-8033
Depending on where in the Southland you are, it’s probably pretty warm. KPCC’s Cheryl Devall suggests it’s probably not as sizzling as it was 95 years ago today in what’s become known as the nation’s hottest spot.
Cheryl Devall: They don’t call it Death Valley for nothing. Wagon-driving pioneers and present day motorists figured out from hard experience that if there’s not plenty of water along for the ride, they’re goners. Especially at this time of year, when the temperature routinely tops 115 degrees.
The Infoplease Almanac notes that Death Valley set a record for the country on July tenth, 1913 when the mercury peaked at 134 degrees. In that pre-air conditioned era, some intrepid National Weather Service drone stuck around to take note of the record.
Three years later, in 1917, Death Valley set another, during a 43-day stretch the Guinness Book of World Records says is the hottest continuous spell ever logged in the United States. Every day during that six-week stretch, the temperature reached or exceeded 120 degrees. Compared to that, the rest of the Southland is chillin’.
- July 10, 2008 1:40 PM
- Categories: History