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Past Horrors Await Bus Tour, Provided Today’s Don’t Intervene

Steve Harvey can be reached at (800) LATIMES, Ext. 77083, by fax at (213) 237-4712, by mail at Metro, L.A. Times, 202 W. 1st St., L.A. 90012, and by e-mail at steve.harvey@latimes.com.

“Nightmares of Bunker Hill” is a bus tour for those who revel in the murders, suicides, brothels, gambling palaces and opium dens of 19th century L.A. -- you know, the good old days.

“The city was so strange and wide open back then,” said co-operator Kim Cooper. “But they had a lot of the same problems as we do now. Wild kids ... men and women not getting along.... “

Naturally, it takes a certain mind-set to be entranced by, say, a story about a woman throwing acid in the face of her lover (Chinatown, 1887). But the market evidently exists. The last group who signed up for an excursion were invited by Cooper and partner Nathan Marsak to pick a date. Easter Sunday was chosen. “Oh, you delightful sickniks!” the duo responded on their website, 1947project.com. And so the holiday was observed, in their own way.

The next scheduled jaunt is June 10. Cost for the five-hour experience is $47, which includes snacks and beverages.

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Cooper and Marsak, incidentally, make this disclaimer: “Although it is extremely unlikely, the organizers reserve the right to postpone the tour in the event of extreme weather, riot, act of war or plague.”

We’re talking, after all, about L.A.

Stupid criminal tricks, mid-20th century style: Cooper and Marsak recently completed a project in which they documented, for the fun of it, “the offbeat and criminal history of 1947 Los Angeles.” A few excerpts:

* Busboy James Edwards, 57, who distrusted banks, was conked on the head by a thug and awoke to find $75 stolen from his wallet. What the robber hadn’t noticed was that Edwards was also wearing a cartridge belt holding $3,843, plus $1.17 in change.

* A taxi driver, saying he was “feeling sleepy,” asked his passenger to take the wheel. The passenger, a young Marine named Patrick Crawford, did so -- and drove to the Santa Ana police station. There officers arrested the somnolent man on suspicion of having shot the cab’s real owner earlier in the day.

* When forgery suspect Robert Putter, 49, was arrested in Alhambra, police found in his possession an 18-page how-to booklet for others in the trade. Ironically, he failed to observe one of his own rules: “When you don’t succeed in passing a check, get out of town but fast.”

Now for news from the year 2711: “We can all get rich playing the Fantasy 5 lottery game since we already know the results ahead of time,” said Clyde Doyle, after perusing the California Lottery website (see accompanying). “The only problem is we have to hold on for several hundred years.”

Ooh L.A. L.A.: Roger Small of West L.A. wrote that when he saw the personal service available to men at one carwash, “I decided to give up my Sports Club membership.” (see photo).

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miscelLAny: Gettysburg, Chancellorsville, Antietam and ... Los Angeles? Hmmm. There was something odd about the computerized mailing L.D. McCallister of L.A. received (see accompanying). “Obviously they were using an automatic personalization [of the area] that misfired, so to speak,” McCallister wrote.


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