As long as I have been alive I have heard my mother tell the story about how she had to bail Dad out of jail on Christmas Eve 1956 (yes, my very first Christmas) because he was drunk and dressed like Santa Claus. Details were never forthcoming, however. It was - understandably - a sore point with her.
A discussion with my half-brother many years later indicated that there was a story in the local paper about it; the arresting officer was surnamed "Angel," and so the press came up with an "Angel of Mercy Books Santa Claus" angle to the story.
Yesterday I learned that we have a Proquest account at work that allows searches of major city newspapers, and so I tried a test, searching for the term "wesley" appearing between 20 Dec 1956 and 20 Jan 1957 in the Los Angeles Times. I found the article immediately. (Proquest does an optical character recognition scan of text in images - amazing!) Here is the shabby story, from the 25 December 1956 edition of the Los Angeles Times. My father is the Harry Wesley Clark mentioned in the story. My parents lived in an apartment on Virginia Street in Los Angeles when I was first born, but as far as I know this didn't influence me to later live in Virginia... The apartment building is still there but I've never visited it. My first home. Weird.
Anyway, my former babysitter Kitty adds that Dad used to tell that story a lot, and that Mom would get seriously annoyed whenever he did. Also, he was in the cell with a number of other guys, all dressed like Santa...
My pal Angela took me to task when reading yesterday's blog entry about old L.A. television stations, as I forgot to include the Roller Derby games we used to watch on KTLA (channel 5) in the early 1970's - the sport's heyday.
How could I forget those monumental mental slumming sessions? Angela and I used to eat popcorn and watch the televised games every Sunday night. The local team was the Los Angeles Thunderbirds ("Go! Go! Go!"). Shirley Hardman, the feisty little number pictured here, had the charming habit of brandishing (and using) a baseball bat in "discussions" with the New York Bombers, the Texas Outlaws, or whomever.
Hardman died tragically in 1973 of drowning. Commemorative gold (or so they claimed; I can't see anyone melting down Krugerrands for this purpose) Shirley Hardman coins were then issued by a bereaved Thunderbirds organization. During one of those televised interviews the scapegrace New York Bomber Danny "Carrot Top" Reilly once memorably suggested hocking his in for quick cash - outrage! - which, of course, made the T-Birds play all the harder. But wait! A few games later during a dispute with his manager Danny becomes a T-Bird! How can this be? What drama!
Geriatric announcer Dick "Whoa, Nellie!" Lane (shown above in an "interview" with Raquel Welch and some other lady skater in the movie "Kansas City Bomber" from 1973) was a memorable part of the Roller Derby mania of the era, too. I once saw him at the L.A. International airport, and he looked even older in person than he did on the air, if such a thing was possible. My dad told me he also used to do the narration in the Freddie Blassy era (1940's and 1950's) televised wrestling, so he was an L.A. TV icon for over four decades! The most memorable character of this bunch for me, however, was Ronnie "Psycho" Rains. In demeanor he was sort of a predecessor for wrestling's "Rowdy" Roddy Piper - if you remember him.
So I must credit KTLA for bringing us the roller games along with Melody Ranch, the Happy Wanderers Polka Show, televised bowling and other low rent programming.
I just got an e-mail from my YDNA testing lab... somebody surnamed Broome just matched my sample. That means we share a common ancestor. I'll send him an e-mail and ask about his family, but my hopes for new information are not high. This common ancestor could have existed well before the use of surnames, in which case any genealogical information he'd have for me would be useless. But maybe he's adopted, and knows his biological family. Hmmmm...
Tonight I once again attempt to take the Webelos scouts to the neighborhood pool. I hope it stays open. I tried last Wednesday, but somebody defecated in the pool - the lifeguards gave me lurid stories - and the pool was subsequently closed (county law). I hope the lightning and thunder stay away; that will close the pool as well.
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