Santa Monica Pier (File photo)

A county officer died in the line of duty in Santa Monica a hundred years ago this month.

Louis Allison was trying to protect the veteran residents of the Soldier’s Home, many of whom were deaf, according to Los Angeles Times archives, or who did “not watch (as) alertly as younger persons the many automobiles which pass through.”

The road near the Soldier’s Home was brand new, enticing drivers to go fast, the archives said. William Ward, a veteran, was killed by a speeding driver earlier in March 1915.

As a result, the home asked the county to monitor speeding drivers in the area.

Allison was on that beat when a “mystery speeder” drove by. He gave chase on his motorcycle.

As he drew close to the automobile, his bike struck a small stone, throwing him in the air at 45 mph, “as if he had been shot from a cannon,” the Times said.

He turned several somersaults before hitting the road, rolling over and over, ultimately fracturing his skull and sustaining several internal injuries. A bystander drove Allison to St. Catherine Hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries.

Auto-versus-pedestrian injuries were one of the most dangerous incidents of the time. Later in the month, an 84-year-old Santa Monica man was struck by a jitney bus in Downtown Los Angeles. Doctors did not expect the man to survive his injuries.

Squatters tested

Tent-dwellers were challenged by Pacific Electric a century ago. A half dozen squatters lived in tents on a 10-acre strip between the Pacific Ocean and a county road in Santa Monica for more than six years before Pacific Electric claimed ownership, according to the L.A. Times archives.

Pacific Electric had a deed from the Santa Monica Land and Water Company, which got the land from the Reyes estate.

Judge Wellborn would make the final call in the suit.

Pier replacement

City Council gave Ernest Pickering permission to rebuild a “tented city” to replace the burned out iconic Dragon’s Gorge.

Dragon’s Gorge was an impressive multi-block structure, built right on the water, that included, among other things, “The House of Mystery” and a roller coaster called the “Scenic Railroad.” It burned down with the rest of Fraser’s Million Dollar Pier in 1912.

Pickering got a long-term lease of the sand and hoped to get a “pleasure place” up and under construction by the end of the summer.

Notable deaths

Wesley Dow, the father of former Mayor Roscoe Don, died at 80 years old after a life as a seaman, in March of 1915.

Laura Calhoun, whose book “The Law of Sex Determination and its Practical Application” was considered influential at the time but is largely forgotten now, died in the same month at the age of 68.

dave@www.smdp.com

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