Yesterday while foodling on the Internet I discovered a retired police detective in San Francisco has been creating Google My Maps of all the San Francisco murders, year by year. Great Murders of 1933, Baffling Murders of 1943, Drive-By Shootings of 1953 – you get the idea. He doesn’t seem to have gone beyond the Fifties yet. This is helpful data for a novelist. And I can learn what neighborhoods not to move to if I go back in time. I hope he reopens and then solves all those cases now that he’s retired.
My grandfather also was murdered (this is true), and it had a huge impact on the family right down to today. Everybody knew who murdered him (it was his business partner) but the guy got off scot free. The D.A. who prosecuted him later went to San Quentin for accepting bribes.
This happened in roaring LA in the 1920s. My grandfather was a man in his forties with a young family – on his way up. Here’s a picture of him in 1922 standing by one of his oil wells.
He was a wheeler-dealer, a millionaire on paper, but he’d built a house of cards only he knew how to hold together. So when the crash came, the family, including all the country cousins who came out from Kansas to work for him, were back on the street – figuratively speaking. We couldn’t even pay the property taxes on our Pasadena mansion.
Over the years I’ve thought of writing a book about the whole sordid story. It has the makings of a bestseller and it would satisfy my itch to know. The shock waves from the murder reverberated through my childhood even though my grandmother and mother would never talk about it. But it’s pretty rough stuff too and I would have to face issues like – was my grandfather a crook like his business partners? I don’t think he was, but what if? Do I want to know?
Once I went to Los Angeles, spent a couple days there reading the newspaper accounts of the 1924 murder and trial in the public library, I went to the Hall of Records and found the will of the man who shot Grandpa down, I went to the morgue to see if they still had a file on the case. They did, but it contained only one sheet of paper.
But I ultimately decided I didn’t want to spend the next five years in the company of some unpleasant people who thought about money all the time while I wrote a book about them. I moved on to the next subject – a strawberry ice cream soda at the Colorado Street Creamery.
I’d still like to read that book if somebody else would write it. Aprilbaby would be a good choice, she needs a new bestseller. But all in all I think I’m glad I moved on to the trippy hippie stuff. My memories are lot more fun.
Footnote: There seems to be no way to link directly to a My Maps map. To see the murder maps, click on my link, which will bring you to Google Maps for San Francisco. In the left-hand column, click on the My Maps tab. Now drag down to ‘Featured Content’, then check the box at ‘Popular user-created maps’. That will bring up a lot of content – drag through it and you will see links to the murder maps.