The Case of the Side Show Murder

1935 - HOLLYWOOD - CALIFORNIA

 

On Vine Street a large crowd jockeyed for position in front of Gruman's Chinese Theater. Shirley Temple, the "Darling" of the Depression, waved to her adoring fans, knelt on the sidewalk and eased her hands into the wet concrete. Flash bulbs exploded as two women passed the festive crowd with apparent disinterest and stopped at the intersection of Hollywood and Vine.

In 1935, the traffic signals did not have lights. They had mechanical arms. In the up position the traffic would come to a halt. As the flap lowered the traffic was supposed to go. But on this afternoon, traffic stood frozen for two reasons. Four young preppies had abandoned their Nash Rambler convertible in the middle of Vine Street and joined the others seeking Shirley Temple's autograph. The second reason was more mundane; the two flaps of the traffic signal were locked together halfway between stop & go. Off duty Officer Thomas Miller had immediately seen the problem and had assumed a post in the middle of the intersection orchestrating traffic.

 

Miller blew his whistle and waved a military arm to cross.

 

People waded through the stalled traffic, over bumpers and dodging protruding hood ornaments.

 

Maggie Lee stepped off the curb glaring at one man heading in her direction. She bit her lip, then screamed at the top of her lungs. "You! I knew I'd find you." She fished in her purse.

Gilbert Glide paused in the middle of the crosswalk and pointed to his chest in confusion. 'Me?' He mouthed.

"Child molester! Son-of-a-bitch!" Maggie pointed a small caliber revolver at Glide and squeezed the trigger four times. The first round hit him in the chest. The second in the throat. The third missed completely and the fourth plowed into the trunk of pale white, 1934 La Salle sedan. The last two bullets were incidental; Gilbert Glide was dead before he hit the concrete.

 

Officer Miller ran across the intersection and tore the weapon from Maggie's right hand, then clamped one cuff around her exposed wrist at the same time slipping its mate around his own wrist. Miller gathered his wits. He looked into Maggie's dark eyes and asked, "Why? You've killed a man. Why?" 

 

Maggie sneered, "He deserved it, officer. More than any man on earth, this one  deserved to die."

 

                                  *****

 

On October 4, 1935, in Los Angles Superior Court, Margaret Lee was found guilty of first degree - premeditated murder.

 

One week later Margaret Lee stood before trial Judge Thomas Aspelt for sentencing. Judge Aspelt, "although you, Miss Margaret Lee, have been found guilty of premeditated murder by a jury of your peers, in order for justice to be served..." Judge Aspelt dabbed the sleeve of his robe across his brow..." I must let you go free."

 

Emma Glide bolted down an aisle. Five children followed in her wake. Emma pushed through the gate and pointed to Maggie.

 

"She murdered my husband, your honor." Her children surrounded her legs like moths to a lamp. Emma patted the head of each child in turn. "That woman," she said. "Has left them without a father. Without the guidance and nurturing a father can provide. Gilbert was a fine man. Hard working and a loving father." Emma pointed a black lace glove at Maggie. "She was after another man. Not my Gilbert...Look at her, your Honor. Look at them. If she goes free, there is something very, very wrong with this system. This is not justice. "

 

(1) Because of the extenuating circumstances, Judge Thomas Aspelt’s decision was the only fair one. But why?

 

(2) Since World War II - a case such as this could never happen again in the United States of America. But why?

 

(3) Maggie wanted to murder Stewart Sayers. His resemblance to Gilbert Glide was uncanny. Maggie had killed an innocent man and was placed into the lifelong custody her sister Mini Lee. Though neither women particularly liked the other; neither seemed to mind the Judge's decision. Again why?

 

 

For more clues contact me.  This is a dozier  and fun to solve! 

 

 

 

 

     

Mystery Trips

Or

Your kids may never hate you again.

 

 

The greatest thing about having children is they are children. Through them you can revisit a world you didn’t pay much attention to when you were growing up. To a child all things are bright and new. 

 

Every taste, with the possible exception of lima beans, is an adventure.  With a shovel and a pail, mud, clay, dirt and sand they created complicated civilizations. Our kids spent most of one summer engineering two discarded cardboard refrigerator boxes into castles, rocket ships, a store, a cave, a maze, a schoolhouse and a little house on the prairie.

 

The real joy of children is the time you get to share with them swimming, hiking, camping, fire works on the Fourth of July, birthdays, holidays and amusement parks. And it was an aborted trip to an amusement park that instigated mystery trips.

 

For weeks Bobbie, I and our girls planned a two day get away to Great America. On the side of our refrigerator, hung a Barney the dinosaur calendar. Bobbie drew a dark red circle around July 12th  with a Sharpie.

From the middle of June on, daily our children would X out a day. As the 12th arrived the Spolter abode vibrated with excitement. The kids were dressed and all systems go.  Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with apple slices were in lunch bags by the front door.  I’d already packed the car when the phone rang. My mom was sick and needed me.

 

I called the kids into a huddle to explain.  They already knew something was up.  I’m convinced kids are born with a primitive sense of  E.S.P.

 

“We’re not going to Great America, are we?” the eldest went into a pre-sob, sob.

 

The youngest looked to her sister then to me for confirmation. “Girls, my mom is very sick.  I have to take ‘Cool Granny’ to the doctor.”  Both girls loved their grandmother, but it’s hard for kids to balance a trip to Great America with that love.

 

I postponed the trip over wails of utter despair “but, but, but you prom… promised, daddy.”

 

“You promised,” chorused the youngest.  “You did, you really promised.”

 

I felt like a creep. This had happened more than once.  Extenuating circumstances arose, emergencies occurred, plans changed and promises were broken.

 

Sometime during the three days with my mom a simple solution occurred to me; all I had to do was STOP being specific. Oh, Bobbie and I continued to plan all sorts of kid events; the zoo, planetarium, Golden Gate Park, a ferry boat ride, canoeing on lakes and rivers, visit to the beach etc., but we never told them where we were going until we were in seat belts and on our way.

 

More than once, a banana split at Swenson’s, or a hike in the woods became a substitute for a water-skiing trip to Clear Lake. .  

 

Our kids loved the Mystery Trips and we never heard the sobbing, or the dreaded, “You…. Prom…. Promised.” Again.  And for the most part we never had to see the abject disappointment in their faces again.

 

Barb and I still plan Mystery Trips for each other. Recently I had to ask Barb if I should pack snow shoes or a bathing suit. It was a bathing suit. I love Hawaii.

 

Recently our oldest daughter blessed us with two incredible grandchildren and Mystery Trips have become tradition.  

 

Mystery trips are another reason we’re at 50 and still counting.  Try them.

FOOTNOTE - I SNUCK THIS ONE IN -- NO MYSTERY BUT A WONDERFUL WAY  TO SPEND TIME TOGETHER

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