Chapter 11 ~ Drive-Ins & Hangouts

Hollywood has always been a small town to those who live there. Seems you always run into someone you know when you’re walking down Hollywood Boulevard or sitting in a coffee shop.

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Carpenter’s

In the 1940’s,  Carpenter’s was a popular drive-in restaurant in Hollywood, located at the five points, where Hollywood Boulevard, Sunset Boulevard, Virgil Avenue, Hillhurst Avenue and Sunset Drive all converge. One in a chain of four drive-ins, this Carpenter’s sat on the southeast corner of Sunset Boulevard and Virgil Avenue, where locals stopped for a soda or a sandwich.

You could stay in your car or dine inside. The building was circular in design so automobiles could park facing the restaurant and drivers and passengers could order from car hops, who would bring your order on a tray to the window.   Inside, you could order from the counter man, dressed in white and wearing a  paper hat.  There were stools where you could sit down and order coffee, or fried chicken.

Bob Granas would ditch classes at Marshall High School occasionally and drop by Carpenter’s. He would go inside and order a milk shake and French fries or sometimes stay in his car and smoke a cigarette.

Art Richman, George Bacos and Bob Granas, were students at Marshall High School during the war and  were regulars at Carpenter’s. Lynn Martin, Margie Graham and Beth Short also frequented the drive-in. The five points was a busy intersection and Carpenter’s was a popular stop.

Art, whose father ran an auto wrecking yard on San Fernando Road, met Lynn one day when he was driving around in Hollywood and picked her up. Later, he introduced Lynn and Margie to Bob.  George Bacos recalled meeting Lynn and Margie through Bob at Carpenter’s.  Bob didn’t know Beth, but George did. He said he met her at Carpenter’s.

One evening when he was late for a date with Lynn, George went to her apartment at the Guardian on Hollywood Boulevard. Lynn was gone and Beth was home alone. He had tickets for a radio show, and since Lynn was not around, he invited Beth to the program instead. They were too late to get in, so George drove out to the Strip and up into the hills, where they parked and talked. He was dating Lynn, he said later, and was not interested in Beth.

“I didn’t want to kiss her because of all that ‘goop’ she used on her face.  I’m used to nice, cultured girls.”

When he was shown a photo of her after the murder, George said, “Yeah, that is a pretty good picture of her.  Looks a lot softer there than she usually does.  She looked pretty hard.”

George said, “Lynn seemed to be a nice girl.  She was quieter; not as flashy.” He had a brief sexual affair with her, unaware,  until after the murder, that she was underage, he said.

John Egger, the head usher at CBS on Sunset boulevard, knew George when George was head usher at NBC, down the street. George said he worked at NBC for about a year in 1944 and 1945.  John said, “I don’t like him very well.  He is very conceited; I just don’t care for him myself.  Never very close to him, just speaking acquaintance.”

Brittingham’s

Britt’s, as locals called Brittingham’s Radio Center Restaurant in Columbia Square, was a hangout for the employees of the radio studios.  Egger said, “Bacos would be seen quite often in the Brittingham restaurant cocktail bar, it is right in front of C.B.S., everybody would gather there after work – Bacos would be there quite often.”

John Egger recognized Beth from the times when she would wait in the CBS courtyard to see a radio broadcast. George Bacos also knew Beth from Britt”s. “That used to be my hangout – Brittingham’s Restaurant,” George said.  “I’d see her in there.  I’d say hello, be as nice as possible; try to get away.”  Bob Granas went to Britt’s, too, but he never met Beth Short. Bob also worked as a page at the NBC studios, wearing a dark blue uniform that looked like that of a Navy ensign. Years later, he speculated about why he was interviewed by Finis Brown: “Maybe because I knew somebody who knew somebody who knew her.”

Bob Granas said he and George Bacos were acquaintances since “about the time of high school.”  Bob was in the publishing business. He put out the Beverage Bulletin.  George was in show business. He was originally from Chicago, but stayed in Southern California, attending Marshall High School and later Los Angeles City College before joining the Army Air Corp. He supplied talent to clubs, including the Crown Grill near the Biltmore downtown.  George was also employed at Jay Farber Associates in “Cosmo Alley” in Hollywood. He worked on commission, promoting records and handling publicity. Later, he was a television writer and wrote the book, Warriors Down. His sister, Frances Campbell, was a waitress at the Crown Grill.

Maurice Clement met Beth about December 1 in Brittingham’s. He said she was broke and he picked up her check. He said he saw her three or four times within the week. Salvador Torres Vara, another acquaintance of Beth’s, worked at Brittingham’s as a dishwasher at one time.

Crown Grill

The Crown Grill was located at 8th Street and Olive Street in downtown Los Angeles, two and a half blocks south of the Biltmore Hotel. The Jewel Room  was a popular night spot with a pianist and live entertainment. Unsubstantiated reports said Beth used to go to the Crown, where Anne Toth was a regular.  Anne said that Beth never told her she went there.  “- as a matter of fact, I used to go down there all the time, so I imagine she would mention it to me if she did.”  Anne said she did not recall Bob Granas, George Bacos or his sister Frances Campbell.  She said, “- I used to meet Leo there quite often down at the Crown Jewel.  Seemed to me that she always repeated a lot of things I said to other people and she may have gone down there because of my going down there with Leo, but I never saw her there.”

When investigators asked Anne about George, she said, “I have heard of him.” They told her, “You see, George Bacos went out with her and that’s not far from where she disappeared, you know, from her last being seen there at the Biltmore.” They said to her, “Bacos ducked us when we first looked for him.” They  also asked if she knew Bob Granas or George’s sister Frances Campbell or John Egger. Ann said, “No.”

Leo Hymes was questioned about the circle of acquaintances, too.  He said he knew the Crown Jewell bartenders Gil, Harry and Al.  He also remembered Carol Fisher, a friend of Beth’s from Camp Cooke, but he couldn’t recall Marjorie Graham, who investigators described as heavy-set, light blond. Leo told them, “I am the poorest  guy in the world on names. If  I see a picture, I never forget.”

The Pig Stand

Marjorie Graham worked  nights at the Pig Stand on Vermont Avenue, just south of Sunset Boulevard. Rose Bone and Irene Grimes also worked there with Margie and remembered Beth as a customer. Bob Granas was another patron. The Pig Stand was a popular hang out for young people.

Robert S. Gessinger, whose business card was discovered among Elizabeth Short’s belongings, told police that he met her in Hollywood in October, 1946. Gessinger, an outdoor advertising firm executive, said he drove Beth to to a drive-in at Sunset Boulevard and Vermont Avenue. He may have been indicating the Pig Stand.

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Michael Anthony Otero, who lived on Marathon Street, a few blocks from Los Angeles City College, dated Elizabeth Short. He said he’d taken her out for dinner and drove her home. She borrowed five dollars from him on two occasions, but never repaid him, he said. Otero last saw her in early December, 1946.

Paul MacWillaim, who lived on Brunswick Avenue, near Los Feliz Boulevard, worked as a movie extra. He knew Beth and Lynn Martin. He saw Beth for the last time at the Gilmore Auto Races near Gilmore Field and the Farmer’s Market. He remembered her referring to a Long Beach man who was “very jealous of her.”

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Ace Cain’s

Ace Cain’s was an established cafe on Western Avenue in Hollywood. It was just one of many such places where Beth Short was seen.

Ardis Green, alias Joy Powers, said she met Beth there on her birthday, August 27, 1946. They were introduced to each other by a camera girl named Loraine. Ardis said Beth was accompanied by a man who was about 6’1″ to 6′ 3″ tall. When investigators showed her a photograph of Leslie Dillon, she said, “I can almost positively say that this is the man that was with Beth Short the night that I was introduced to her, but I can’t say positively until I could see him smile or see him in person.”

Arnold Edmundson, a bartender for twelve years, could not identify Beth or Leslie Dillon from photographs, but his wife recognized both from the pictures, although she did not remember seeing them there together. Joe Cappo remembered Beth from the photograph, but did not recognize Dillon.

On August 27, 1946, the same day that witnesses said they saw Beth at Ace Cain’s, Gordon Fickling and Elizabeth Short checked out of the Brevoort Hotel on Lexington Avenue and separated.

 

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