Note: This is a post from 2005 that originally appeared on the 1947project.
Timothy G. Turner was a prolific, long-established writer for The Times, beginning with a feature on Anna May Wong in 1921. While he retired from the paper in 1954 (having taken a few years off to work in public relations), he continued contributing articles until his death—in fact he wrote a cover letter on a submission to The Times a few hours before he died in 1961 at the age of 75.
He was a bald, lanky man with glasses, and the unsmiling mug shot with his obituary makes him look serious, cold and, in his signature bowtie, a bit eccentric. However, the story says he took delight in poking fun at all pretensions, lived downtown and refused to learn how to drive a car.
For much of his career, Turner covered hotels, which meant interviewing all sorts of celebrities (his final column, on parody, recounts how he infuriated poet Robert W. Service by quoting a once well-known satire on one of Service’s Yukon verses). He also wrote a book about his experiences as an Associated Press correspondent with Pancho Villa’s army, “Bullets, Bottles and Gardenias,” and an anthology of short stories about Los Angeles, “Turn Off the Sunshine.”
Turner was one of those prolific, old-time reporters, turning in 54 columns for 1947 out of more than 1,000 stories in his career at The Times, from long features to a few paragraphs launching a series in 1924 on “The Most Interesting Place in Los Angeles.” (He chose Sonoratown, then located on Main Street between Temple and the old plaza).
And despite his rant on women in slacks, he could be an evocative writer. Here’s part of a column about the park next to the downtown Los Angeles Public Library:
“Library Park once had its tragedy. People at their breakfasts in the many windows thereabouts saw a man, apparently sleeping, on a bench. It was too cold to sleep in comfort and they wondered. The long-legged library gardener finally came up and shook him. Then he went away.
“Then a policeman and a man who wore no uniform came. They threw a sheet over the man on the bench. Then a wagon came and took him away. They also took away the revolver, with one empty chamber, that lay by his side.
“The gardener washed off the bench with a hose and the sun came out and dried it off. I wondered who would be the first to sit down on it. Soon they came, a young man and a young woman, who sat down on the bench and talked earnestly for a long time. Then they sat saying nothing, just sat there holding hands.”