For a short time in the late ’30s, the waters off the coast of Long Beach played host to one of the Great Depression’s most locally infamous criminals–Mr. Tony Cornero, a former Prohibition-era rum-runner who ran a floating casino called the S. S. Tango.
Near the corner of Ocean Boulevard and Golden Avenue in downtown Long Beach is a small green space called Santa Cruz Park. It’s a “tribute park,” on the site of the original Santa Cruz Park, a dimly lit 1920’s relic where, for decades, hapless sailors would get mugged and rolled after stumbling out of a vanished downtown neighborhood called The Jungle.
At a local smog shop, I noticed a decaying hearse with gothic-metal church panels welded to the sides. It looked to be from the early ’40s, and it had seen many miles of bad road since then. Some quick research revealed one funeral home that matched the name on the hearse’s family crest: Johann and Sons, College Point, New York, in business since 1857.