By C.E. Van Loan
Jim Morleys personally conducted railroad wreck was a great artistic success, but the manager of the Morley amusement enterprises says that from the financial standpoint the show was more or less of a lemon.
The master of the rinks expected to depopulate the City of the Angels, and he did draw several thousand curious citizens yesterday afternoon. . . .
At 3 oclock Walter Hempel climbed the fence, . . . armed with a large pistol which was to give the preliminary signal.
The photographers selected points of vantage, the moving picture man gave his box a preliminary whirl, and the band played something soothing. . . .
But the performance lagged. The engines were all ready, and from time to time they gave short hoots and warmed up down the straightaway.
Walter Hempel was waiting for Jim Morley to signal the arrival of the last dollar.
Professor Megaphone Cook made his appearance on a white horse which wore a coquettish blue ribbon in its tail. . . .
I have been requested by the management . . . to announce that you are to not to enter the enclosure until 10 minutes after the collision. A subsequent accident might happen.
This drew great cheers from the crowd. The accident idea seemed to please everybody but a nervous lady who sat in an automobile. She dismounted and hid behind the fence. . . .
Then Mr. Hempel sat down on the ground and fixed his eye on Jeems Morley. Jeems had a seat in the patrol wagon on the home stretch. From this point he could see every dollar within half a mile of either gate. . . .
At last Mr. Morley arose and took a look at the grandstand, the people on top of the clubhouse, the long line which festooned the fence.
Then he raised his hat, with all the dignity of a real commencer of events.
Walter Hempel unfurled a white flag and waved it violently. It was the signal.
Engine 23 was first under way; [Engine] 13 lingered an instant and then lurched forward, whistle wide open.
The nervous ones sought shelter from flying bolts; the photographers jumped behind their cameras. . . .
A man in overalls swung himself down the steps and Engine 13 was riderless. A few seconds later the engineer deserted 23, which was picking up speed with every revolution of the wheels.
Nearer and nearer they came. . . . Then both engines reared and the crownshears came together with a dull crash, a few black specks flew into the air, and the whole scene was blotted out in a cloud of steam.
Neither engine left the track, but sturdy old 13 plowed her way half through No. 23, and when the steam thinned, the engines were seen to be total wrecks, welded together by the force of their meeting.
The crowd forgot all about Megaphone Cook and the 10-minute limit. Some man with small regard for mounted officers started the rush, and in 10 seconds the human wave was over the inner fence and on the way to the scene of the collision.
It was a good show, but Jim Morley says that if it had been postponed half an hour there might have been more money in the box office.