Say “mother fixation” and dollars to donuts you mean, or are taken to mean, a fixation on your mother. Mrs. Emma Rupe was fixated on being a mother. So much so that on July 5, 1936, the Denver waitress took a fancy to John, the two year-old son of Mr. and Mrs. John Richard O’Brien. John, it seems, looked just like Emma’s own toddler who’d died nine years previous. On the pretext that she was going to take the little darling out to buy him a playsuit (the O’Briens being trusting souls, and near penniless, so how could they refuse?) Emma thereupon took John shopping…as far from Denver as she could get, and with as great a chance of disappearing as possible. Because clichés are born of truth, noir clichés especially, she beelined straight for Los Angeles, Bunker Hill specifically, and checked into the St. Regis.
For ten weeks the FBI combed the States until they were tipped off by an acquaintance of Emma’s, and on September 19 the Feds descended on 237 South Flower. Emma, 30, was pulled from the St. Regis hysterical and weeping; the boy, whom she called “Jackie,” appeared impassive. Emma Rupe broke down again when a Denver jury gave her twenty to life.
The 38-apartment St. Regis opens at the end of 1904.
Much in the way a French Renaissance building might be dubbed the Sherwood, this Missionesque structure is named after a French nobleman—J. F. Regis, tireless converter of Huguenots, and advocate of lacemaking for wayward girls.
The St. Regis leads a fairly quiet life. Other than the aforementioned FBI intrusion in 1936, there was the small matter of the coppers showing up to collect Elmer Hudson, 32, and his wife Betty, 20, in 1928. When two bad guys held up a café at 200 Dillon Street and made off with $300 ($3,554 USD2007), Betty made the mistake of not keeping her bad-guy self in the shadows. Café owner C. V. Anderson recognized her as a former waitress.
What is it about these wayward gals—waitresses both—that can’t keep their clutchy paws off money nor baby? Maybe they’ll learn some lacemaking in the pen. Make St. Regis proud.
The early 1960s were no more kind to this little niche of the Hill than any other. The Bozwell Apartments (which seem to shoot for Greek Revival but, oddly, come off as Monterrey) next door at 245, abandoned, burn on May 22, 1962.
The blaze, reported the Times, was believed to have been “touched off by hobos.”
While firemen kept the conflagration from spreading to the St. Regis, its days were just as numbered as if it were the Bozwell itself.
For these were heady days: the Lesser Festivals of Abandoment, The Princial Feasts of Official Neglect, and the Commemorations of Escalating Mysterious Fires. Obligatory for the observant.
St. Regis photo courtey USC Digital Archives. Smaller images from this piece of greatness.