THE ARCHIVES – Anticipating the new transit options from Los Angeles to the sea, developers pounced on Santa Monica in May of 1914.

“Four avenues to sea stimulate building,” reads one Los Angeles Times headline. Washington Avenue and Pico, Wilshire, and Ocean Park boulevards were all in the works. With the Pico extension would come a train line. Lumber pilings for a new wooden rollercoaster were being pounded into the sand. A hotel was going up on the oceanfront. City Hall issued $262,947 worth of building permits, according to the L.A. Times archive. Construction was everywhere.

 

Resident petition

 

One councilman, H.E. Shauver, found himself on the wrong side of public opinion. Residents collected 163 signatures (they only needed 154) to force a recall election for Shauver’s seat.

It’s unclear what Shauver did to draw the ire of 163 Santa Monicans; the L.A. Times archive doesn’t specify and the story didn’t appear in the local papers. Shauver had replaced Mayor Dow in an election that drew 383 voters.

In June, Dow would challenge Shauver in the recall election but ultimately fail to take back his seat. Shauver’s fellow councilman presented him with flowers following his election victory.

 

Blackmailers

 

Santa Monica police uncovered a massive blackmail ring perpetrated by a gang of conmen and clairvoyants that spread from Portland to San Diego.

Cops arrested Edgar Byron, the alleged ringleader, and a Santa Monica constable who admitted to being in on the action.

Byron was supposedly responsible for the attempted bribery of Mayor Thomas Horace Dudley during his reelection campaign. Dudley got a letter threatening to reveal his unspecified improprieties with a Geraldine Hogg, the wife a wealthy Montana businessman.  They had Hogg’s revealing letters, they said, and they wanted cash. Hogg accused a clairvoyant of hypnotizing her into writing the letters.

Cops recommended that Dudley agree to pay the cash and they orchestrated a sting that ultimately led to the unraveling of the gang.

In another case, one of the gang’s clairvoyants (Professor Bijou) bilked a widow of her life savings through letters written from beyond grave by her deceased daughter.

Byron claimed innocence but the recovery by police of a letter inside his home signed “The Blackmailers” did not help his cause.

 

Church slander suit

 

This reporter stands in awe of this wonderful century-old lede: “Not since the day some ten years ago, when Jim Hagan, a carpenter crushed his thumb while driving the last nail into the First Baptist Church of Santa Monica and swore most vigorously before the congregation assembled, have members of the church been so scandalized as now. And the latter scandal is greater.”

I’ll keep reading.

The latter scandal involves a preacher, a money lending deacon, a mother and her 15-year-old girl.

The preacher brought the congregation together to pray for Mrs. Dorothy Johnson McCartney and her daughter, Estelle Johnson because, he prayed, the mother was seeking to sell the daughter “into sin.”

Johnson McCartney quickly filed a slander lawsuit against the preacher, his deacon, and the deacon’s wife. Johnson McCartney claimed that the story was fabricated because the she refused to sell her property cheap to the deacon, a local moneylender.

The deacon, Johnson McCartney said, kidnapped her grandmother, forcing her to sell her property for $125 dollars and two $10 “charity tickets.”

The lengthy L.A. Times article relays layer upon layer of mudslinging between the two parties and concludes:

“All the misdeeds and past deeds of the battling Santa Monicans have been exposed, and when the action is tried in court it gives promise of being as sensational as any in years.”

 

Stay tuned.

 

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