3629028583_dcffc4fbb5.jpg

The freaks of old Main Street

In November 1927 Mary Fraser was sued by her landlords over seven months unpaid rent on the Roma Hotel, upstairs at this address. In court, Mrs. Fraser complained that she had been unable to make a go of the property due to the freak show, The World Museum, on the first floor at 508 South Main. The constant noise from the Museum that frightened off her boarders included shrieks for liquor every 15 minutes, presumably from the side show geek. She said in seven months she’d lost $1260 trying to run to hotel, and her weight had plunged to 80 pounds. The leasing agents had assured her it was “a nice, quiet place.” A month before Mary Fraser was sued for back rent, the World Museum was raided and barker Carl Martin and musician Sam Markian arrested on a charge of advertising on the sidewalk. Markian was nabbed while playing a banjo in a Hindi costume, and was not allowed to change clothes before being booked. The raid was precipitated by a complaint from the Downtown Business Men’s Association that the antics in front of the World Museum were lowering property values and keeping the better class of citizen away. The World Museum finally shut in May 1930 under pressure from the City Prosecutor Nix’s Office and its crackdown on sleaze on Main Street–the operators had been told if they weren’t closed in 24 hours, everyone on the premises would be arrested. 510 s main world museum sword swallower delno fritz 1924 Our photo shows Delno Fritz, retired circus sword swallower who settled in at the World Museum in 1924 to offer beginners’ lessons in downing table knives and desk shears, with advanced courses in sabers. (Delno Fritz clipping: Los Angeles Times)

Published by

retro

Kim Cooper

Kim Cooper is the creator of 1947project, the crime-a-day time travel blog that spawned Esotouric’s popular crime bus tours, including The Real Black Dahlia. She is the author of The Kept Girl, the acclaimed historical mystery starring the young Raymond Chandler and the real-life Philip Marlowe, and of The Raymond Chandler Map of Los Angeles. With husband Richard Schave, Kim curates the Salons and forensic science seminars of LAVA- The Los Angeles Visionaries Association. When the third generation Angeleno isn’t combing old newspapers for forgotten scandals, she is a passionate advocate for historic preservation of signage, vernacular architecture and writer’s homes. Kim was for many years the editrix of Scram, a journal of unpopular culture. Her books include Fall in Love For Life, Bubblegum Music is the Naked Truth, Lost in the Grooves and an oral history of Neutral Milk Hotel.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *