Black Dahlia Photo by Robert Sadler
Elizabeth “Black Dahlia” Short 1946
January 15, 2014
Los Angeles, California
Yesterday, on the spur of the moment, I phoned a friend of mine, Dennis E. and thought it would be fun to take him to breakfast. He was available.
I picked him up, and we drove south from Sherman Oaks toward downtown. Dennis queried, “Where are we going?” I replied, “Secret, someplace old, but new for you.”
Southbound, on the I-5, I took the Stadium Way off-ramp, and climbed up the hill, left at Dodger Stadium and a block more, then left again into the parking-lot of the Los Angeles Police Academy.
Dennis smiled, “You’re right Steve. Never been here. Very cool.
Without any conscious realization of the date, or what day it was, all I knew was that I was feeling nostalgic.
We had an Old School breakfast–hashbrowns, ham and eggs. Our 10:30 A.M. timing was perfect, after the early morning rush of recruits and before the heavy turnout of the lunch crowd of veteran patrol officers and detectives.
Hard to believe it had been fifty-one years ago, almost to the month that I had begun my academy training, but there it was. Unlike me, the restaurant was literally UNCHANGED. Same counter, same seats, almost the same menu.
I showed Dennis the Academy grounds, the swimming pool, the target range, the Academy Lounge, which was one of my old and regular “watering holes,” the Rock Garden Grotto, built mostly by jail-trustees back in the late-1930s. All unchanged. There was one new item. A bust of former police Chief Daryl Gates holding court in the courtyard just outside the restaurant, his stern eye keeping watch on the new police recruits as they marched passed on their way to and from classes.
Also, still there was “my brick” put in place some thirty-years ago as I was just finishing my twenty-four year career and about to retire.
Dennis took a few pictures as I turned around and gave the Academy one last backward glance before returning to the present and driving home.
It was a strange day. I had not eaten at the Academy restaurant in over twenty-years. Even stranger was the fact that it had remained unchanged and the same for the past fifty years. (Actually it was the same from the day it was built and opened in 1937, some 77-years past.)
Last night, as I sat at my computer and began to download the photos taken earlier in the day, for the first time it dawned on me—the date. Yesterday was January 14, 2014. Black Dahlia Eve.
Sixty-seven years ago, almost to the hour, my father had begun the murder of Elizabeth Short at our Sowden House home. (My mother, my two brothers and I were away staying with our uncle for several weeks.) That night and into the early morning hours of today, January 15 he would continue to commit L.A.’s most notorious torture/murder, and then drive seven miles south and pose the body on Norton Avenue, in Liemert Park.
Equally bizarre would be the fact that just sixteen-years after his crime, I would find myself beginning my recruit training at the LAPD Police Academy, and then some thirty-six years after becoming a veteran homicide detective, I would, begin my investigation into and the solving of that crime.