In physical appearance, I favor my mother’s side of the family. The Harvey’s (U.K.) and the Boyles (Cork County, Ireland) from whom I also inherited my thirsty Irish genes.
From my boyhood, I remember my grandfather, Charles Eugene Harvey as a bear of a man, with snow white hair and a big smile, but that’s about all.
Mostly, I remember my mother’s stories about him. Her father was born in Pittsburg, PA. He was one of six brothers, four of whom worked in the coal mines. Mother would frequently retell us three sons the story of how at the turn of the century, these six brothers, all over six-feet tall, would walk into a bar-room, order “sarsaparilla” (a non-alcoholic precursor to “Root Beer”) and look around the room just daring anyone make a snide remark or snicker. Tough, coalminers all.
Mother was born in 1906, in New York’s Central Park West. Three-years later, the family moved west to Los Angeles. Grandfather, got a job with the Los Angeles Examiner newspaper as a linotype operator, where he worked until retirement. His second career began after his divorce from grandmother, when he started teaching printing at Hollywood High School. At age 62, he washed his hands of the printer’s ink, and in semi-retirement, donned the uniform of a doorman, complete with gold buttons and epaulets, at one of Hollywood’s fancy hotels.
Mother had a tremendous love for her father. She spoke proudly of the chess-playing atheist who was a voracious reader, a liberal, a thinker and a scholar. She affectionately described him as a lover of people and life.
My favorite anecdote about grandfather was the story mother told us about when he was a hotel doorman in Hollywood. At the hotel he met a woman, who was staying as a long-term guest. Everyday grandfather would be there to open the door for her as she came and went. The woman was a writer, and being kindred spirits–naturally, they became friends.
One day, she checked out of the hotel and returned to the East. During her stay at the hotel, she had written a play. In November, 1944, it premiered on Broadway. It was a smash hit and ran for nearly five-years. It won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1945. The name of the playwright? Mary Chase. Her play? HARVEY. Based on her friendship and affection for grandfather, the friendly hotel doorman, she honored him by naming her pooka, the invisible 6-6″ rabbit, after him!
It would be nice to end our story about Grandfather Harvey here on this high-note. However, like most twist and turns in my ongoing investigation, it seems there is always something MORE….
In the past ten-years, strangely enough, I had never done any research into my grandfather’s life. A few months ago, I decided to order his death certificate. Here’s what I discovered:
The facts surrounding my grandfather’s death appeared clear and simple. Apparently, on a cold winter morning in December, 1949, he suffered a heart attack at his residence, The Vine Manor Hotel, 1814 N. Vine St., in Hollywood. From there, he was rushed to a nearby medical facility where he died, two hours later. His attending physician,arrived and indicated he had last seen his patient some two-weeks prior on Dec. 9th. The doctor noted a ten-year medical history of “arteriosclerotic heart disease.” Obviously, the death was from “natural causes” and the doctor when filling out the death certificate checked off “no autopsy to be performed.” My grandfather’s body was cremated three days later without further ceremony. End of story. Well, not quite.
“I fear this means that there is some mischief afoot.”
Sherlock Holmes in, The Valley of Fear by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
When I first saw my grandfather’s death certificate my eyes were instantly drawn to the distinctive hand-printed block lettering entered by the doctor in the Cause of Death section. I believed I recognized the handwriting. From there, my eyes flashed to the bottom signature line for confirmation– “G. Hill Hodel M.D.”
So, from the death certificate we learn that not only was George Hodel claiming to be Charles Harvey’s “attending physician” and was at the medical facility soon after grandfather’s initial heart attack but, he also instantly took charge of the body and ordered, ” no autopsy to be conducted,” insuring cremation without any examination or lab tests.
My next surprise was when I read the actual date of death – December 23, 1949. A date already familiar to me from my own investigation. Why? Because that is the very day that Dr. George Hill Hodel was acquitted by a jury of felony child molestation and incest, charges that, for most who knew him and had followed the trial, were convinced would be sending him to prison for a very long time. (Even my father believed he would be convicted. In a conversation with house-roomer, Joe Barrett just days before the verdict, dad reflected on prison life, saying to Joe, “It won’t be so bad. I’ll be able to read and perhaps work in the hospital.”)
Some will say these set of facts are nothing more than “coinicidence.” That may well be the case.
But, let us consider several more known facts. 1) According to both my grandmother and mother, Charles Harvey hated George Hodel. He hated my father because of how dad physically and psychologically abused his daughter, Dorothy. That being the case, he certainly would not have allowed George to be his personal physician. 2) Mother knew the truth of father’s crimes, and most probably had related them to the man she loved most- her father. Grandfather knew some if not all of the details and very likely was aware that Elizabeth Short had been to the Franklin House and had dated George. Despite the jury “not guilty” verdict that very morning, Charles Harvey was still a danger and threat to George. Perhaps, hearing the unjust verdict, grandfather became enraged and threatened to go to the police with what he knew? 3) As we well know, George Hodel had a history of silencing those who threatened his freedom. How? By drugging them! There was Ruth Spaulding in ’45, where LAPD was convinced he overdosed her, but couldn’t prove it. Then Lillian Lenorak in ’50, drugged unconscious and a staged “attempted suicide.” I’m also convinced that Elizabeth Short and others were drugged before he killed them. But, back to grandfather. How easy would it have been for George to have given him a “hot shot” say, amphetamine, which with his bad heart would have readily induced a “cerebral hemorrhage”, coma and death. This followed-up by George claiming that grandfather was his patient and within hours of the death, his filling out the death certificate as “by natural causes- no autopsy.” George as usual, was in complete control.
The really “perfect crimes” are those that are never detected. This could well be such a case.
We will never really know. But, certainly based on what we now know about my father’s M.O., we certainly must, at the very least–consider the possibility.
ALL MY LOVE AND REST IN PEACE – GRANDFATHER..