John Hamilton Part 1
30 Years Ago in Free Venice Beachhead
30 Years Ago in Call
Someplace Paradise and/or Ghost Town
Free Venice Beachhead Archives
Beachhead Archives 1982
Beachhead Archives 1983
Venice in Books A-C
Venice in Books D-K
Venice in Books L-P
Venice in Books Q-Z
Quotations about Venice
Venice in Magazines and other ephemeral
1981 Resistance Celebration
1981 Resistance Celebration
Birth of Venice:
1914-1916 Part 1
1914-1916 Part 4
1914-1916 Part 5
People of Venice (from Beachhead)
Windward Avenue Articles
Art in the Beachhead
from the Beachhead
Destiny's Consent by
Lions and Gondolas
Tales of the Blue Meanie
by Allan Cole
Another Chapter from
Tales of the Blue Meanie by Allan Cole
Venice Historical Society
1969 Police Riots
Jack the Liar
Windward Avenue Sketches Part 2
from Free Venice Beachhead #125 May 1980
(Part 1 is here)
by John Hunt
John Hamilton was a long-time resident of Windward Avenue
and in intimate observer of life on that changing street. The following
is the second part of a tape-recorded "architectural memoir"
he did with the author, John Hunt.
Windward Apartments, N.W. corner Windward and Pacific
Whats the story of that building?
Oh, bad news. Right through that door as you walk directly down the hall
theres a room and there was a guy, 71 years old, Joseph De Loche,
he got all his checks on one of those four day holidays and a couple and
a couple of guys got in there with him and they were running around here
trying to cash the damn checks and no one would cash them. Irma here at
the liquor store wouldnt cash them and they finally did get the
checks cashed, but the checks were signed in three different signatures,
that is, three different writings, two different pens and Joe De Loche
died before the checks were cashed. Old guy, nice guy, nothing important
about him except he was 72 years old and $466 worth of checks. What they
done was kept him on wine and he died of alcoholism while they were keeping
him propped up for the cashing of the check. They overdid it. They had
him in custody really, he was a prisoner.
Who owns that place, do you know?
I think its under Abbott Associates. The way they do it, they change
the ownership every time they run up a big bill or come to a lawsuit,
they change the ownership. Its Abbott Associates this time, its
actually owned by Priscilla Loring and her son Robert Abbott. You ought
to see the back of that building. The windows will never close back there
because the windows aint there
if you go around the backside
youll see even worse than that. The buildings falling into
Now she has welfare tenants. Welfare tenants cant
complain and the moneys good and when they die and speaking of dying,
when they die, she sends in the notice at the end of the month, they die
on the first, why they didnt die, not until the 30th, then she notifies
the Welfare theyre dead, after she gets and cashes the check.
How long has she owned this place?
About 15 mean years. You see this door here? At the bottom of the stairs
thats supposed to be a fire escape, its locked now, you cant
get in and you cant get out. Its kinda come loose at the hinges,
too. At the bottom of those stairs two men were found dead on separate
occasions. One was a barber from across the street. He got up there and
he got stoned stoned and somebody beat him on the head with a bottle and
he came to the bottom of the stairs with glass in his ears and a fractured
skull and dead. And there was another one came to the same end. Small
guy. I had an idea who did it but ideas dont pay off.
While youre down on level - right
behind that sign that says Windward Avenue and this doorway there used
to be a bar called the Pub and it was a hellish bar, too. A great hellish
bar. One day this guy, the bartender, and his old lady got into it and
she had priors (prior convictions), but Ill tell you what she tried
to do. She horsed him into an argument and she went to the back of the
room towards the can and she pulled out a gun and fired one round but
he had known her priors so he had a gun and he put three in her. She shot
him in the balls and he put three in her. He made it. One ball less but
he made it. Shed done the same thing in Texas - horsed a guy into
an argument and then blasted away. In the company of witnesses. Well,
in this case, too late, for her. He was already ahead of the game and
he got her. Of course the guys walking around light on one side.
But she was dead dead. She left here dead. Curious town, very curious
Lets take a walk. Every step in this town is a damn shame.
When was that?
Oh, about six-four, one-nine-six-four, and where that drain is up there,
thats where Lalla P. Karres came off the roof, right down here to
the edge of the curb where that trash is in the gutter. She ended up right
here in the god-damned gutter! Lalla P. Karres, the daughter of a revolutionary
from Russia, her sister was a judge in South Bend, Indiana. She was just
a fuck-up but she was alleged to have jumped off the roof. She didnt.
She couldnt get that high. She had a broken hip. She couldnt
get over that railing under any circumstances and she certainly did not
come through the side to get this far out. Somebody threw her off the
roof. Thats a great passion here in Venice, throw em off the
roof, get em up on deck and throw them off the roof and if anybody
asks you anything why "she jumped, I asked her not to."
Now lets get back on the roof,
we got another one. Some hype was up there, a big fat tub of a girl and
she o.d.ed up on the roof and the only way they could get her off
the roof they had to call the whole damn Fire Department to throw the
hook and ladder up there and bring her down in a stretcher and park here
in the alley, bring her down in a stretcher cage and get her to the hospital.
She didnt make it.
Townhouse Bar, 52 Windward Avenue
I dont think you really want to know this
Owens, many missions, many missions in "Q" (San Quentin), and
they had a shoot-out at the Townhouse when his brother got hit, he got
hit pretty good, too! The bullet entered here and instead of penetrating
his brain it rambled around the brain pan. Hes got a permanent headache.
Thats another story.
Security Pacific Bank, 121 Windward
& Ace Gallery, on the Windward Circle (formerly Bank of America)
I got to tell you about the holdup. There was this junkie, he held up
the bank one morning, he knocked over that one the second morning, the
fourth morning he knocked over this one again, and the fifth morning
he knocked over that one again. He was shooting $100 a day so hed
come in, hold up the place
The people told me the FBI was sitting
here, two cars, one here and one there waiting for the guy. Somebody said
he walked over here and he went down Horizon. Well, Horizon is only two
blocks long. I said, well, if that son of a bitch went on Horizon he lives
right there - and we were on Market Street and I pointed to the building.
They guy must come here, the street ends, and if hes walking, its
all over. It was beautiful
He knocked over this one twice, he got
the B of A once, the holdup man
It was beautiful
It was beautiful
Mobil Oil Well, 1 Market Street
That was a real put on. It took six years to get that thing squared away
but Standard and Mobil went around signing up every landholder in Venice
for the rights to the oil underneath their property. This is not one of
those covered properties where you dont get the mineral rights.
The landholders here still had their mineral rights and they went around
from here to Lincoln Boulevard buying up mining claims or undersurface
mineral claims. They did, and then while they were mapping this area,
Standard came up short and Mobil went long on their bids. Now Mobils
bid consisted of that they put that oil well there and part of the royalties
from the oil well would go into this recreational area, or most of it
would go into this recreational area. Thats why we have all these
new structures on that oil well. That oil well which looks like its
going straight down, isnt. They have a slant drilling device where
they can go down almost a mile under the ocean. Thats what theyre
doing now, theyre putting in another slant well. They have about
eight now. The first problem we had with the blessed oil well, they were
also putting in natural gas and the natural gas was bowing in the wind
and people were calling the gas company saying theres a gas leak
in my neighborhood. And with this prevailing offshore wind that meant
all the way from here to Washington Boulevard, the smell of gas and it
was dangerous. They finally forced Mobil to capture that leaking natural
- that was part of their pickup - and put it in tanks and haul it away.
Another thing about that oil well was one death related to that structure,
but thats another story. And thats at the end of Market Street.
John Hamiltons House
Heres the script. I must not take drugs, the drugs have a hook on
you. I was 70 days in a brand new VA hospital and all I had to drink was
half and half, milk, water, phenobarbitol and codeine to make me sleep.
When I was leaving the VA hospital at the end of 70 days I had my truck
out there, they offered me a 6 months supply of codeine, opium paregoric,
the whole bit. I could keep it up till I fell over. I didnt fall
over, I cut it cold turkey.
How long have you been drinking?
I had to go into ____ in 1950 because I refused to take drugs and aspirin
dummies me up for two days
.Two beers, Im dummied up for two
I cant stand up on my toes
would you believe a one
arm officer? Would you believe that? Could you top that? I get semi-paralyzed
according to the time of day and sometime the time of day
and one leg but I did it. I was flight commander, I had 20 planes in the
air, 10 planes on the ground, I cant lose anybody. Thats important.
What did you do in the war?
I got six stitches in my ass. I was in the Quartermaster Detachment at
that time, the 838, it was spread out all over the world and it was number
Now, weve been out an hour, so
turn five degrees to the north. Anything that goes north, take it, and
well go there. We did and we got back to the base and this silly
second lou, he said, "How come you know all this?" I said, in
the dark you have to go by the stars and the stars will change 5 degrees
against you per hour and you will have to do it.
How do you know all that?
How do I know, God gave me quite a good grace. Each time fortune hits
"In Shaallah" God is in his heaven. Im
a flyboy. I didnt die and I didnt lose anybody. Thats
the important thing. If you lose somebody then you have a guilt. Youre
not very good for the next flight. I didnt lose anybody. I was a
first pilot. I dragged two instructors, one out of a plane and one I took
him in the 68 journey, he didnt like that. He wasnt worth
shit when I pulled a 60 split ass an him. I was first pilot on that flight.
He was supposed to be checking me out but he threw us into the wrong spin,
its a redling spin and upside down spin, in a Stearman. I bugged
him, I pushed my button and said this is one helluva spin you got us through.
We were only up at 3500 feet and I racked it and I racked it and we ended
up 100 feet off the deck and we had smoke pots going out on the field
and I said do you want me to follow the pattern or do you just want to
get in. He said, he weighed 260 and I weighted 160 and I put her down.
Did you see combat?
Didnt have to, they wouldnt let me go. They gave me 20 chuck
companies at a time. I was a training sergeant. I was big man. Just like
Black Dick Pershing.
How long have you been out here on Windward Avenue?
How did you get to Venice?
Im standing here and I knew she was selling it and some small quiet
person with brown hair said.. I said I would have to leave for LA and
she said "Dont go to LA, go to Venice." I said where in
the great merry hell is Venice? Well, she told me to go and you get on
the Washington Street bus and when you get to the end of the line, thats
Venice. I did it. It worked. It was beautiful.
Do you think its going to be a good year?
I dont know, the birds didnt sing this morning as they should
have. If you want to know about Venice, you need two backpackers and three
cameras. I read pretty good. The backpackers are for the batteries and
What do you think about taping this stuff?
Someone has to know. I dont want to go to my grave knowing that
someone does not know. I dont want the dust to go unremarked and
I dont want it unremarked that there were not some pretty people
here as well. They grew up and I was here. I was playing the drum in there
for a while for the white human race. Darwin endeavored himself upon the
etymology and the entomology and where we came from, and me, black like
I am, I got an inside start. They didnt know I was observing carefully
biological specimens. They just happened to be white. It worked out all
right, it worked out beautifully , so I have my white biologicals. There
are more ways to conduct investigations than with a badge or a white coat.
So you consider yourself a doctor then, in a way?
How about a novelist, they tell a story the way you do.
Yeah, but they dont see it. Ive lived it. Im not sorry.
Im not glad, but if you read it correctly, if you do it as it should
be done, you have been a friend, or in some cases a foe, but his is the
How can you back off from that? Remember, Im
an airplane driver
You dont back off from something like that
because you dont like it. No! You get with it! In the Air Force
we have a procedure and a procedure takes place. You go through the procedure
and if the procedure dont work, youre free to do what the
fuck you can to stay alive
and then, give us the word on how you
Elizabeth Freeman, Susan Sullivan and Marilyn Emerzian
helped prepare this remembrance. Copyright 1980 by John Hunt