forgery

Scandal at Highland Asylum for the Insane

barbara
29 Aug 2009 - 12:08pm


Second and Spring Streets, ca. 1920
Courtesy Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection

F.E. Howard would have plied his trade as a druggist at Dean’s Drugstore on 2nd and Spring Street in relative anonymity if it weren’t for the outcry raised by nurses at his former workplace, the Southern California Hospital for the Insane at Highland.

Allegations of cruel and inhuman abuse of the inmates at Highland surfaced in the summer of 1903, after San Bernardino papers published a series of investigations into graft and financial irregularities at the institution.  The nurses charged that female patients were routinely operated on without the benefit of anesthesia, and were punished by “protective sheeting” or immobilization in their beds under sheets of heavy canvas, sometimes for weeks at a time.  The nurses also testified to the common punishment known as “giving the hypo”, hypodermic injections of apomorphia, a violent emetic that causes hours of agonizing cramps, followed by hours of vomiting and eventual collapse. The injections were repeated usually twice a day, for five days at a time, for such mild infractions as insubordination and “talking in excess.”


State Hospital at Highland
Image courtesy of USC Digital Archives

Before he signed on as an assistant at Dean’s Drugs, F.E. Howard worked for two years as the druggist at Highland, and kept written records from his tenure that supported the nurses’ testimony.  He supplied the names of over forty victims of the body-wrenching, organ destroying emetic punishment, as well as the date the drug was administered. He also testified that the drug hyosine was used to punish recalcitrant patients, a medication which works on the kidneys and puts the victim to sleep.  He alleged that at least one patient died as a result of a punitive hyosine injection.  


In addition Mr. Howard provided records that supported allegations of graft and fraud in the institution.  Highland’s Superintendent Dr. Campbell, and chief medical officer Dr. Dolan rewarded his whistle-blowing with swift law-suits, accusing Howard of stealing government records.  But they were unable to deflect the public outcry, or the findings of the investigation ordered by the Board of Directors of the state institution.  By the end of the Highland scandal, both men resigned under pressure. Anticipating his own dismissal, a lower level official committed suicide on the grounds of the asylum.  One year after leaving Highland, Dr. Dolan also departed this life.  Whether he succumbed to heart disease or died by his own hand remains a mystery to this day.

Date

July 14, 1903

List of locations from this post

  1. Place of employment
    Second and Spring Streets

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Julian Pete, Loew's State, and "the Decade of Debauchery"

John B
3 Aug 2009 - 5:55am

C.C. Julian was the Bernie Madoff of 1920s Los Angeles, a charming Canadian con man who hit oil in 1923 and then discovered something even more lucrative, over-selling shares in oil syndicates to oil-crazed Angelenos. At its height, Julian's "Million Dollar Pool" attracted investors from Louis B. Mayer to H.M. Haldeman (father to Wategrate's H.R.) And from where did Julian and his trickster associate Jacob Berman run this scheme? Why take a look! CC julian

Yes, Julian worked just above downtown Los Angeles's most glamorous movie theater. So the next time you stroll past this,

Loews state

spare a thought for Julian Pete!

Date

June 27, 1923

Locations from this post

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Spring Street's Monte Carlo

John B
24 Jun 2009 - 3:20am

What was SROland's grandest gaming establishment? Milton "Farmer" Page's El Dorado Club. "Farmer" Page was an unlikely gambling kingpin. His nickname came from "his shambling gait and ill-fitting clothes." He dropped out of school at age 12. But Page was an enterprising fellow. As a newsboy, he secured the lucrative corner of Second and Spring Streets. There he developed a feel for the dice. Younger brother Stanley, a famous jockey, got "Farmer" off the street and made him his personal valet, but Page just took his dice and card games to the tracks. In 1917, he moved back to Los Angeles and opened a game in the basement of the old Del Monte bar on West Third Street. He soon gained a reputation as an "honest gambler." By 1918, he had five gambling clubs. He was now ready for the big-time — the El Dorado Club. Occupying the entire top floor of a Spring Street office building, the El Dorado had a great run, hosting hundreds of devotees of poker, black jack, and dice games. Crowds of 500 or 600 people a night were common. When the police felt obliged to raid the aforementioned establishment, 15-20 "house men" would step forward to be arrested. Page would later bail them out of Central Police Station. Three months was a typical run, after which time Page would let the police shut things down and then move to another location.

 

But by early 1925, things looked bad for Mr. Page. He'd shot a man, in self defense, but the cops were watching him. Customers stopped coming. Now, murmur the "wise ones on Spring Street" the gambling trust is broken. But have no doubt, they say: a new combine will inevitably rise to replace it... We'll see more of Mr. Page and such confreres as "Zeke" Caress, Bob Sherwood, Guy McAfee, Albert Marco, and Charles Crawford, as well as rivals such as Frank and Tony Cornero. We'll also begin to explore the shadowy entity that controlled the Los Angeles underworld and that in time came to be known as "the Combination." Spring Street Monte Carlo Illustration credit: The Los Angeles Times, from the February 15, 1925 article, "Farmer Page—King of Spring Street's Monte Carlo."

Date

February 16, 1925

List of locations from this post

  1. The El Dorado Club
    Spring Street

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