Santa Monica Pier (File photo)

You think it’s hard to get filming permits today? Just be glad the occupational hazards have lessened in the past century.

One hundred years ago this month, an angry farmer aimed a rifle at actors and a film crew that had wandered onto his Santa Monica ranch without permission, according to Los Angeles Times archives.

The Rolfe actors were hoping to drive a limousine off the 150-foot cliff abutting the ranchers property. They claimed that, after searching his land, they couldn’t find him, so they took down a wire fence to allow the limo to pass through.

Just before sending the car over the bluff, H. Bowers showed up with his rifle. Mrs. Bowers, at his side, demanded $50 for permission to use the land.

The crew could only come up with $35 so the director, who’d been positioned on the beach below, was summoned up for the additional $15, all while Bowers kept the men in his crosshairs.

After the money changed hands, Bowers said he’d have rented the land for $10 had the men not snuck on.

An L.A. Times photographer showed up on scene and found himself caught in the mix.

“I think it would be rather uncomfortable for you if you took that picture,” Mrs. Bowers told the photographer, gesturing to Mr. Bowers, who was behind a tree, aiming his gun at the group.

The Times did not run a photograph with the article.

The crew opted not to press charges against Bowers and their car was successfully totally wrecked.

Mayor blackmailer arrested

Edgar G. Byron, who was charged with attempting to extort money from Mayor Dudley through a racy letter, skipped bail but was arrested in Eureka 100 years ago this month, according to the Times archives.

Byron offered to sell Dudley a letter, written by Geraldine Hogg, that alleged certain improprieties.

Byron was said to have been the head of blackmailing ring.

Who’s the boss?

Meanwhile, the very power of Dudley’s council was being called into question.

“Does council exist?” reads one heady Times headline from 1915.

Joy Construction Company was considering challenging the power of Santa Monica City Council in court in April of that year.

The dispute stemmed from an improvement contract in the amount of $10,000.

Santa Monicans board doomed Lusitania

On May 1, 1915, the Bretherton family of Santa Monica left port aboard the Lusitania, which would sink a week later thanks to German torpedoes.

Norah Bretherton, who was pregnant with her third child, would survive the sinking, as would her 3-year-old son Paul, but Betty, her daughter who was just over a year old, died in the sinking.

Norah was taking the kids to see her grandparents in England.

Norah was carrying Betty when the explosion occurred but couldn’t convince any passengers to go below deck to wake Paul, so she left Betty with a stranger and sought her son.

When she and Paul returned to the deck, the man no longer had Betty.

The mother and son struggled to get on a lifeboat, and Bretherton placed ads in newspaper seeking information about her baby girl, but Betty’s body was found days later.

The Brethertons would leave Santa Monica after the sinking.

dave@www.smdp.com

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