Rescued from the Clutches of a Superhuman Diagnostician

When your mother goes missing, where would you look first? Why, the home of the nearest hypnotist, of course! That was Mrs. Edna Lehman’s (nee Larkin) first impulse, and she enlisted the help of LA’s finest in her investigation. One evening in June, 1899, Mrs. Lehman and her husband, a 4th street fishmonger, accompanied Officer Bert Smith to room 33 at the Leone Lodging House at 144 South Main, home to one “Dr.” Frank N. Martin. But when the good doctor emerged with his patient, Edna’s mother, both seemed equally indignant at the disturbance to their privacy. Mrs. Larkin, perhaps still suffering from the effects of hypnosis, seemed unsure at first whether she would depart with her daughter. She then claimed that “Dr.” Martin had sworn, “he would kill them all.” Frank Martin denied all “man-killing proclivities” and stated that he and Mrs. Larkin had merely been transacting business. Eventually Officer Smith persuaded Mrs. Larkin to go home with her daughter and son-in-law.

After they left, Frank Martin presented Officer Smith with his card, as proof of his legitimate standing in the business community. It read as follows: “Frank N. Martin Diagnostician of Diseases by Superhuman Power. Can ascertain, locate and describe the disease of any patient without asking a question or even seeing the patient.”

Besides possessing power of superhuman dimensions, Frank Martin also possessed power of attorney signed by Mrs. Larkin, authorizing him to dispose of certain real estate in her name. And here the trail of Mrs. Larkin and “Dr.” Martin takes a decidedly racy turn. As it happens, Mrs. Larkin had come into property in South Pasadena after her husband abandoned her and her daughter. In order to stretch their income, Mrs. Larkin took in boarders at the South Pasadena residence, one of whom was Frank Martin. The couple engaged in intimacies of a closer nature than the usual landlady/tenant variety, relations Mrs. Larkin’s daughter referred to as hypnotism. In time, Mrs. Larkin became so impressed with Martin’s medical acumen that she planned to sell off part of her country estate and use the proceeds to go into partnership with him selling patent medicines. For this reason she granted Martin power of attorney, and visited him in his room on Main street. That she brought her combs and toiletries with her on her visit can only be attributed to the complex nature of their business dealings, which she anticipated would require her to spend the night downtown.

Under pressure from her daughter, Mrs. Larkin revoked the power of attorney, but since Martin had already sold the property, it was unlikely she was able to prevent him from banking the profits. Profits he undoubtedly used to further the pursuit of long distance diagnostics.

Leave a Reply

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