Wow, we’re one month into ROW80! I don’t quite know where time goes. I feel like summer just started, but now every time I turn on the television I’m seeing “Back to School” advertisements. *shudder* Thankfully, UC Santa Barbara is on the quarter system, which means that I don’t have to go back until the end of September. Till then, I’ll be at my parents’ house, relaxing, catching up with friends, writing, and finishing the 1st draft of my thesis. I miss little things about Santa Barbara — my desk, sunshiney deck, and the beach especially — but it’s always nice to be back home with the family.
My progress update is short and sweet for today. Given that I’m using 750words, I apparently need to bump up my daily writing goal to 750. I’ve exceeded that over the past few days, adding about 2000 words to tell me no lies since the last check-in. At the moment, the MS is about 8000 words long, which isn’t bad for one week’s work. I need to clean some things up and start knitting scenes together (I’m writing in a bit of a hodgepodge fashion at the moment, jotting down conversations and scenes as they come to me, but an outline is going to be necessary to wrangle all my subplots into order), so that’s the goal for the coming week.
I’ve been slacking off a bit as far as Life List Club goals are concerned, chiefly when it comes to exercising, so I’m placing that at the top of my priority list this week. And once I finish grading final exams and essays, I’ll be returning to the thesis.
Anyway, with that out of the way, I turn to the fun stuff: lady criminals from 19th century San Francisco. I ran across a few mugshots by accident, scanning through archives for photographs of SFPD uniforms from the 1880s. These come from the Jesse Brown Cook archives, held by UC Berkeley’s Bancroft Library. Cook was a member of the SFPD from the 1890s to the 1930s, starting off as a beat cop and ending his career as Chief of Police. Only a few volumes of the vast collection of photographs, newspaper clippings, and other miscellany are online, but they are absolutely fascinating to browse.
Mabel Keating is one woman who I ran across in my research. The archives describe her as “a clever pickpocket of this city,” and tell us that she “roamed on Grant Avenue and her prey were men from the Palace and other Hotels, as she was sure that they would not dare to prosecute.” The Cook archive states that she left San Francisco for Chicago (presumably to attempt the same trade) in 1895, though not before being convicted for grand larceny in California.
Likewise, Hannah Landridge (apparently known as “Fat Annie”), also hung around the hotel district and robbed unsuspecting men. She was arrested in 1896 for allegedly stealing $300 from a farmer, Felix Busch, convicted of grand larceny, and spent two years in San Quentin prison. According to this article from the San Francisco Call, there was a great deal of controversy that surrounded Landridge’s case — chiefly, that the money she had stolen had disappeared. Rumors indicated that at least one police officer was involved, leading to the suspension of one, Patrolman Rourke, who was accused of “embracery” (the attempt to corruptly influence a juror, apparently). When interviewed, Rourke indicated that he had “friendly feelings” for Landridge, as she had proved to be a valuable witness in a criminal investigation a few years previous.
Finally, I wanted to include a picture of the so-called “Chinatown Squad,” who are near and dear to my heart. Due to the level of crime and corruption in San Francisco’s Chinatown, the Chinatown Squad was created in 1879. The squad was made up of plainclothes officers who were armed with pickaxes and sledgehammers (!) so that they could get into gambling dens and other centers of illegitimate activities. If my protagonist’s love interest, Adam Davenport, the detective in tell me no lies charged with investigating crimes around the Barbary Coast district, was a real person, he would have been part of the Squad.
Above is a picture of the Chinatown Squad circa 1898. The Chinese man in the middle is the Squad’s interpreter, Dong Tying. Oh, and in case you were wondering, that’s an opium pipe laid out on the floor (evidence, presumably). The men are also armed with their trademark axes and sledgehammers, and while they look rather fierce, I have to admit that their facial hair makes me giggle. Such thick moustaches!
Anyway, that’s just a few of the nuggets that I’ve picked up over the past couple of weeks. I raise my glass to the rest of my ROW80’ers, and encourage all of you to bloghop about and offer words of support as well.