Monthly Archives: May 2013

Archive-O-Rama: Case of the Taxi Dancer Who Couldn’t Drive

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According to the bereaved husband’s account, his attractive wife recognized one of the thugs, who whipped out a gun, reached through the car window and fired twice at her. (Illustration by Mel Phillips)

Sunday Mirror Magazine, March 6, 1949


On the surface it appeared to be an ordinary lovers’ lane holdup—until police found some bizarre details on the affirs of the slain red-head behind the wheel

ANY TIME A HUSBAND who has numerous dealings with other women suddenly becomes very attentive to his wife and, just for example, invites her to come along and view the beauties of the Grand Canyon, she had better watch out. He might be planning to push her over the precipice.

Lucille Bolton, a red-haired, dainty creature whom many husbands would nave cherished just for the sake of decoration, if nothing else, accompanied her ladies’-man husband to see a pretty view and, though nothing as spectacular as being shoved off a cliff happened to her, she was effectively done in with a pistol.

Our Lucille was a taxi dancer and her Johnny was a gigolo. Theirs is a story of Hollywood, where life-and death, too, dear reader—can be like a movie.

The  setting of Lucille Boltons’s murder was beautiful. Our mind’s eye can see it clearly, aided by the account meted out in painful phrases by young John Bolton in a Santa Monica hospital bed, after they removed a bullet from his shoulder.

It was deep night, the sky moonless but sprinkled with stars. The place was the Lincoln Highway, at a high point overlooking Santa Monica and the Pacific Ocean, in an unpopulated section of what is called the Hollywood hills, about 10 or 12 miles southwest of Hollywood and Vine. Lucille and John had driven out there alone, sometime in the early morning, from the Los Angeles dance hall where she worked.

Tiny Lucille was only a humble taxi-dancer, but the automobile in which she and her husband were sitting while they enjoyed the ocean view was a shiny 16-cylinder Cadillac sedan–rented, to be sure, but quite a luxury. The Boltons had been around Hollywood long enough to know the value of front.

They were parked in a car port. a widened part of the paving provided especially by the highway builders for automobilists who might want to stop there and enjoy the view. Before them, past rustling trees, the hills rolled down to the broad Pacific.

As Bolton told it later, they were just sitting, smoking and talking quietly about his promotion plans, which mainly concerned his project to raise money to open a dance hall, where Lucille would be the hostess. (That was why the handsome, dark-eyed young promoter was always calling on single, middle-aged women–to raise money for the project.)

They were all alone at the spot for quite a while–most people being in bed at that hour of the night—when another car, a Ford coupe, came into the port and stopped at some distance to the right.

“That was at the side of our car where I was sitting,” Bolton explained to police. “Lucille was at the left, at the wheel. She had been driving, which she loved.”

He paused and grimaced, either because of the pain of his shoulder wound or the pain of the memory of his wife’s sweet foibles. Even policemen felt sorry for him.

“Then,” he went on, “two men got out of the car and walked toward us. It was so dark I couldn’t see their faces very clearly, but one was a tall, thin man, and the other was shorter and heavyset. The tall man had a pistol and wore gloves. He poked the gun into my ribs and told me to hand over my money. I gave him all I had–$25. That seemed to satisfy them and they started back toward their car. But then—“

Bolton stopped again and looked pained.

“Then Lucille spoke up. She said, ‘I know that tall man. I’ve seen him when I was at work. His name is Shor.’”

Alas for chatterers. How often they say the wrong thing. Lucille might better at that point have cried, “What a divine night!”–almost anything else, or, better yet, have kept her pretty mouth shut.

As it was–to continue with the bereaved husband’s account-the tall man whirled around, rushed back to the car, reached through the car window past Bolton and. as Lucille held her hand to her face and screamed, shot her twice, once in the heart and once in the left breast.

“Then he turned the gun on me,” said Bolton. “I struggled and managed to push it away from my face, so that when he fired the bullet hit me in the shoulder. I fell over as if I were dead, and he went away.”


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To Capt. William J. Bright, chief inspector of the homicide bureau in the Los Angeles county sheriffs office, this seemed on the face of it to be a very ordinary crime–a stupid, trigger-happy holdup.

There was nothing to do, apparently, except find the man named Shor.

BUT police in real life don’t solve mysteries by simply proceeding from one logical step to another. They try everything, just in case.

There was quite a lot of stuff around the car—a fingerprint on the steering wheel; a .22 caliber cartridge shell on the floor beside the front seat; a .22 caliber pistol in the bushes nearby, with the fingerprints wiped off; Lucille’s coat in the back seat–it was a chilly Fall night–containing money apparently overlooked by the robbers, and Bolton’s topcoat beside it, containing a bankbook showing a balance of $4,048–a surprisingly large sum, considering that Lucille’s income wasn’t sumptuous.

Nothing was to be learned from two men who had started out early on the highway to go duck hunting and. seeing Bolton leaning weakly against the Cadillac and signaling for a ride, had taken the wounded man to the hospital.

Nobody connected with the dance hall professed to know anything about Shor. But Bright’s inquiries at the rental agency, made with no particular angle in mind, turned up evidence of a very interesting individual of that name.

“Yes,” said the proprietor of the agency. “I know the car. I rented it to Mrs. Bolton’s chauffeur late yesterday afternoon.”

This staggered the inspector a bit. With thousands of dollars in the bank and a private chauffeur for Lucille, the Boltons were turning out to be a fascinating couple.

“Mrs. Bolton’s chauffeur?” he exclaimed. “What’s his name?”

“I’ll look it up on the forms we require the driver to sign,” said the agency proprietor. “He’s been renting here for weeks.”

He dug out a handful of driver’s receipts and handed them to Captain Bright. The name signed to them was William Shor.

“A tall, thin man with pale eyes and bushy hair,” said the agency man. “I don’t know where you could find him or anything else about him.”

Now Captain Bright had the basis for a new theory. Lucille and Shor had been taking rides together and a romance had developed. The chauffeur had become jealous. Perhaps she had been intending to leave her husband and had changed her mind. Then, knowing her favorite secluded parking place, he had gone there to kill her. When she made the statement about knowing him, she had naturally lied about the circumstances and not mentioned that she knew him as a lover.

But why did Shor at first merely commit a holdup and turn back to shoot the girl only when he heard her speak his name? Maybe he had meant to shoot her at the beginning but had lost his nerve.

At the Bank of America, Bright learned that the Boltons’ bankbook had been doctored to show its large deposit total, apparently for the purpose of impressing prospective dance hall investors. The Boltons had less than $100 in the bank.

Shor was picked up with almost no trouble. A couple of detectives found him with his chauffeur’s cap on, sleeping off a hangover in the back of a saloon. He was inclined to be uncommunicative until Captain Bright said:

“All right, don’t talk then. But Lucille Bolton named you as her murderer before she died, and I’ve got enough information for a murder warrant.”

When he learned it was Bolton who had told the police about Lucille’s recognition of her killer, Shor was furious.

“The double crosser!” he cried. “He’s trying to frame me!”

He now talked freely and produced a perfect alibi–on account of a bit of obstreperousness, he had been in jail the night before, not only while the murder was committed, but all night.

He said he had rented automobiles not only for Lucille Bolton; he had rented them even more frequently for her husband. This turned out to be true, the rental agency proprietor’s information being incomplete. There bad been nothing between him and Lucille, he insisted. So much, Captain Bright thought, for the jealousy theory.

But a radical new turn developed now. Two women relatives of Lucille turned up and said Bolton had always been a worthless fellow against whom they had warned her and that he was lying when he said she had been driving the car. She had never driven, they said.

The only fingerprints found on the steering wheel were Bolton’s. His wound seemed suspicious to Captain Bright. A surgeon at the hospital agreed with the inspector’s doubts and provided the technical information that the wound was made while the arm was hanging at the side, a queer position for it to be in when the man was supposed to be fighting for his life. A woman from whom Bolton had been trying to get money, for the usual dance hall venture, said she had refused to give him the money when she learned he was married. She had expected him to marry her before any capital changed hands.


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DETECTIVES found the hardware dealer who had sold the pistol found at the scene of the murder. The buyer, he said, was Bolton.

On this strong basis of circumstantial evidence, Bolton was convicted, Jan. 25. 1930, three months later, of the murder of his wife, apparently to get her out of the way of his schemes.

At San Quentin prison, where he was sent for life, he apparently began to brood on his brutality to a trusting wife. Within five years his mind had gone completely to pieces and he was transferred to the Mendocino state hospital, as hopelessly insane.

(NOTE: William Shor is a pseudonym used here to protect a person innocently dragged into the investigation.)



A great noir tale, wouldn’t you agree? And only a car can take us there …

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Filed under Cars, From the archives, Noir, The Forties, True Crime

Aerial Hijinx: “Blondie,” 1955

Blondie 1955

This 1955 Blondie cartoon shows how much some things have changed — remember aerials? Or paying  five bucks for a service call? — and how much DIY’ers still face the same pitfalls. Well, some are steeper than others …

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Filed under From the archives, Retro High Tech, The Fifties, Toon Time

A day in the life of a tech nut (1947)

Mister_Breger 1947c

“Mr. Breger” was a comic that began as “Private Breger” during WWII. (Its other name, “G.I. Joe,” later became widely used.) During the war, his cartoons were signed by Sgt. Dave Breger. After the war it became “Mister Breger” and ran until 1970.

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Filed under From the archives, Retro High Tech, Toon Time

Future Visions #2: What 2000 Was Supposed To Look Like (in 1958)

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Cutline: “Catching the 8:07 ‘copter will be a breeze for urbanites, who’ll be whooshed down to the heliport in a space scooter.”

It’s a Wonderful World – Tomorrow!

The Same Science That Has Put Satellites into Outer Space is Working to Make Your Home Out of This World. Here’s a Preview of What’s on the Horizon

By Joan O’Sullivan, New York Mirror Magazine Home Editor

New York Mirror Magazine, May 25, 1958

IT MAY NOT BE PLAUSIBLE but anything’s possible in the world of tomorrow. Your most extravagant daydreams will come true because the same science that rockets Sputniks into orbit is conjuring up a multitude of modern miracles that are strictly down to earth, designed to make everyday living easier.

The progress possible in the closing years of our century isn’t nearly so remote as the moon—and man expects to reach that satellite, go on to other planets, within the next few decades.

The Atomic Age is coming home but to houses that will be far different from any we now know.

Some will be plastic and vinyl rubber. A model, made by U.S. Rubber, resembles an igloo. You’ll buy them deflated, then hunt for a foundation over which to inflate them.

When a job transfer occurs, you’ll be able to deflate the house, fold it into a neat parcel and move it to Pittsfield, Plattsburgh or Kalamazoo.

Other dwellings will be constructed of new lighter, stronger steel, now being researched at laboratories of such companies as Sharon Steel. It will revolutionize architecture, give houses new shapes—triangular, semi-spherical, globular.

You won’t run down to the cellar or up to the attic. Both will be eliminated. New storage areas will be found in extra rooms, cheaply available because homes for the average-income family will be mass-produced prefabs. You’ll be able to put up a house in a day, two at most, which is far less time than it now takes merely to find a vacant apartment in the rent-bracket you can afford.

Furnaces? They’ll be outmoded. Solar heating units will keep the new homestead snug and comfy during the Winter. If the sunshine supply runs out, an auxiliary heat pump will go to work during the exceptional spells of snowy, rainy, cloudy weather. Come season, go season, solar heat and air conditioning will maintain an even indoor temperature of 72 degrees and 50 percent humidity. In Phoenix, Ariz., a completely solar-heated house has just been built, architectural proof of what’s to come.

There will be no need for Pop to snow-shovel the driveway in the year 2000. There won’t be one. The family car by then will have given way to a helicopter, which will land on a plastic roof (it will never leak!) automatically heated to shed snow as it falls.

Transportation, which will definitely include atom-powered boats and planes so rapid you’ll be able to commute daily from Paris to a New York office, will likely produces a space-scooter, a sort of second family car. Mom will use it to scoot after groceries or deliver the kids to school. Pop might hop into it and take off for work.

Such transportation is a long way off but within the next few years will come a local travel change. Helicopter commuting will be as common as bus or train trips. New York Airways even now picks up a few commuters from Stamford and Westchester and delivers them to a heliport on the Hudson River at West 30th St. The company expect to enlarge up this service greatly with a fleet of two-motor ‘copters that seat 15. By 1970 and probably even before that, there’ll be numerous commuter runs daily. Intra-city service, such as New York to Philadelphia, will be scheduled soon, too.


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Just a Hint of What’s to Come

The interior of the modern house will be heavenly form a homemaker’s viewpoint.

Much furniture will be built-in—the trend is already underway—a boon to apartment-dwellers for whom moving day will be reduced to packing a suitcase and a few odds-and-ends furnishings.

John Van Koert, well-known designer, sees quick color changes possible because walls will be replaced by sliding panels. Sick of one color backdrop? Pull out another.

There will be no special-purpose rooms, says  Van Koert, as we know them. Instead, uniformity of decoration   through the house will be thin. Bedrooms and dining rooms will be decorated to look like living rooms. When wall panels are pushed back, the entire house will be furnished suitably to make one huge living area, if such is required for large-scale entertaining.

Many current decorating problems will vanish.

You won’t have to wonder about where to put the television, for example. Its working parts will be so small and so flat, says RCA’s David Sarnoff Research Center, the TV will be installed in a picture frame and hung on a wall.

Lamp wires will be non-existent—and lamps may well be, too. Westinghouse has already developed a method of coating glass, metal and plastic with phosphor which produces light. In the future, it’s expected that this process will be used for window shades, drapes, table tops, even ceilings and walls. They’ll all light up, lamp style.

Housekeeping will be a breeze-literally. You’ll wave a wand and dust will vanish. According to Westinghouse experts, the wand will be electrostatic. Like a magnet, it will draw dust from under beds, behind books and form all the remote crevices and corners where it hides out nowadays, stubbornly resisting the efforts of the homemaker’s dust mop or vacuum.


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A Brave Look Into the Crystal Ball

WHAT WILL MILADY wear in the years to come? It’s a tough question to answer. Predicting fashion changes from one season to the next stumps most experts right now. Sack or chemise, trapeze-look or sputnik-influence, new clothes will be made from wonder fabrics now being researched in laboratories of such companies as E.I. du Pont and Chemstrand.

What will result from these studies is anyone’s guess but here a few predictions:

1. Marvel elastic fibers that will produce doll-size dresses capable of stretching into sizes from 14 to 40.

2. Plastic frocks that will deflate for storage, inflate for wearing.

3. Spray-on waterproofing that will eliminate galoshes and rain gear.

4. Disposable wear-them-one-and-throw-them-away dresses made of specially treated paper.

5. Air-conditioned fabrics that will cool in Summer, insulate in Winter.

6. Shoes packaged with a special solution that will mold them to feet, insure perfect fit without fuss or bother.

7. One-piece undergarments designed to mold the body into Monroe shape sans ribbing or other uncomfortable features.

Whatever results, it’s possible that, instead of cutting dresses, Seventh Avenue will be “pouring” test-tube mixtures into dress molds.

Even beauty is in for some revolutionary improvements, says Madame Helena Rubenstein, who has revolutionized the glamour field over the years. She believes that the creams and lotions we now spread hopefully on our faces will be concentrated in liquids, pills and capsules taken orally. Permanent waves will be speeded into a matter of minutes. A remedy will be found for the male ego’s curse, baldness.

Food preparation even now gets closer and closer to the completely push-button era it will be a few years hence. Frigidaire, Whirlpool-RCA and other companies have designed kitchens that preview what’s to come.

For a meal of the future, you’ll press a selector dial that will move food from freezer to oven at a specified time and guarantee a perfectly cooked dinner at just the right hour.

There’ll be an automatic service cart to take meals from oven to table, from table to cabinet. In the future dirty dishes won’t go into sink or dishwasher but will be cleaned right on the storage racks.

Portability may even be extended to the kitchen itself. Westinghouse has designed a futuristic kitchen unit on wheels. You’ll be able to push it about, plug it in any place there’s an outlet.

Food itself won’t change radically. We’re not headed for an age of capsules and pills—and who wants it? You can’t toast the bride properly with a champagne capsule and perish the thought of putting a candle on a birthday pill. Food will stay as people like it, the way it is.


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Won’t Have to Catch the Waiter’s Eye

It’s a lovely day, tomorrow. You’ll dial Paris to reserve pate de foie gras for lunch at Maxim’s—you’ll actually be able to pick out the portion you want by teleview-phone. Then, you’ll hop a plane and whiz to your luncheon rendezvous abroad. If you miss a must-see TV show, a see-hear tape will record and photograph it for play-back on your return. Of course, that push-button kitchen will have dinner ready and waiting.

It’s going to be an era of togetherness. Time-saving devices will bring mother, dad and the kids together for longer period. There’ll be no need for calm-you-down or pep-you-up pills, for “tension” will be an obsolete word.

If progress continues to jet ahead—and each coming year will turn fantasy predictions into fact—three-to-four week vacations and time to spare. What to so with it? Travel and hobbies are two answers that come to mind. As for us, there are a few books we’ve always wanted to read …


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Illustrations by Bob Bugg

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Filed under From the archives, Retro High Tech, The Fifties

Archive-O-Rama: Switchboard Blues

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New York Mirror Magazine, 1947

Drawings by Michael Berry

OF ALL THE PEOPLE who make daily use of Alexander Graham Bell’s remarkable invention–the telephone–none are screwier than those who call up newspapers. Take it from a newspaper’s chief operator.

One reported her woes to the Telephone Order of Personality and Smiles (TOPS) at a meeting in Bridgeport, Conn.

Talk about foolish questions! Can you imagine asking, “What was the maiden name of Gargantua, the gorilla?” Or, “My canary just laid an egg. What do I do? Separate the parents?”

Folks frequently phone at 2 in the morning to ask where they can get married. then there are executives, who, to show they’re big shots, have four assistants call before they deign to get on the wire … and the girl whose business is so secret she won’t even tell the operator whom she wants to talk to.

Anyway, our cartoonist Michael Berry, using the same deft fingers with which he dials our number to tell us his drawings will be late, depicts some of the situations poor operators are up against.



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Remind Editor’s note: Until the mid-1960s, switchboard telephone operators manually connected calls by inserting a pair of phone plugs into appropriate jacks. Eventually came operator distance customer direct dial calling.  Into the 1980s, companies often used receptionists to screen and funnel incoming calls. Automatic phone systems eventually took over, forever separating callers from live bodies on the other end of the line.

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Filed under From the archives, Retro High Tech

“Having Fun, Wish You Were Here!” — Vintage Postcards Reveal Our Past

Box of Oranges Postcard

By Lucie Winborne

Looking for an affordable pastime that doesn’t require too much space and tells a great story to boot?  How about the increasingly popular hobby of postcard collecting?

In the early part of the twentieth century, these miniature missives were treasured by Americans and Europeans alike, who pasted them in albums that became coffee table conversation pieces.  And while many states today boast colorful cards, “Few states can rival the amazing wealth of Florida material, for depth, breadth, and quality,” notes Sarasota author Liz Coursen.  The Sunshine State’s remarkable transformation from wilderness to vacation hotspot is charted in scenes of horse-drawn buggies, alligator trappers, citrus groves, beachcombers, and art deco hotels.  Cards of photographers like E.G. Barnhill, known for hand-tinting his pictures to give them a unique coloring, are still considered works of art.

But it’s not just pictures, including the infamously cheesy sort, which afford modern collectors entertainment.  Written messages range from the exaggerated (“I am way down in the jungles of Florida”) to the humorous (“What do you think of this hotel?  I tried to get a room here but they wouldn’t have me!”) to the historical (“I just landed a good job picking strawberries.  I will be paid two cents a quart, and that means if I can pick fifty quarts I will earn a dollar a day”).

Ready to start your own collection?  Yard and estate sales are a good place to start, not to mention eBay, flea markets and antique shops, or even vendors of old books.  You’ll want to care for your treasures with postcard sleeves (the rigid variety offers the most protection), keeping them away from humidity or direct sun.

Then gather some friends for an old-time “postcard party” – and enjoy your trip back in time!


Tarpon Springs Postcard


Fisherman's Prayer Postcard


st pete 1940s


Deer Ranch Postcard 1960s










san marino miami beach



Guest blogger Lucie Winborne is a Central Floridian. Check out her blog at Postcards From My Head.

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FROM THE ARCHIVES: $50-An-Hour Models Find It Doesn’t Pay To Be Natural

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Sunday Mirror Magazine, December 2, 1951

Have ever said to yourself, on looking at a photo of a model striking one of those grotesque, angular poses one constantly sees in the slick fashion magazines: “Gosh, she looks silly!”?

We’ve got news for you. The model feels as silly as she looks.

We can offer this exclusive hunk of information on the best possible authority–a handful of the leading models themselves. On a recent trip to Bermuda under the auspices of Catalina, one of the leading manufacturers of bathing suits, the writer made several orthodox shots of the beauties showing off various new swim suits.

Then, more or less as a gag, he said: “Now just pose any way you want to. Let everything go. Relax!”

The reslt is the photo you see above. The girls simply satirized the ridiculous postures they are obliged to take when posing ‘professionally for fashion pictures. Considering they get paid as much as $50 an hour for striking absurd attitudes, the models found it a wonderful relief–if not a profitable one–to be their natural selves.

Lou Campbell, at the extreme left, went into a “dying swan.” Pamela Rank, in white, struck a “la-de-da” pose. Pat Hall, seated, and Ruth Woods, at the right, were struck with the same idea, the Lady-with-her-hands-to-her-head theme. Ann Andrews is the one showing off her panties, while Jo Kuhlman thought up-all by herself-the idea of displaying her pretty legs at a “different” angle.

And it’s not a bad picture, at that.



Model Lee Campbell in an orthodox pose. 

Blog Editor’s note:  Top models today get about $150 per shoot.

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Filed under Beach Party, Then and Now, Vintage Fashion