©Larry Harnisch 1999
My next step was to check the clip files at the Los Angeles Times for anything on Barbara Lindgren. I found nothing. Then I checked the city directories for the 1940s; again, I found nothing. Looking through various Internet phone directories, I located a Barbara Lindgren in Southern California. When I finally made contact with her, she said that she knew nothing about South Norton Avenue, but added that many years before, there had been another woman in Los Angeles named Barbara Lindgren who used the same bank and that their bank accounts were frequently confused.
Finally I went to the Los Angeles County Hall of Records. In a dark subbasement, I found an answer in the large plat books in which deeds are recorded. The room is not in the least like the scene in "Chinatown" in which Jake Gittes visits the Hall of Records to find out who is buying the northwest San Fernando Valley. In reality, the books are kept in a huge, dark room about the size of a school gymnasium, and are stored flat in racks that tower over your head. With help, I found the most recent plat book for the 3900 block of South Norton Avenue and worked my way back through the previous books until I reached the 1940s.
Since the deeds are recorded by lot number, rather than by street address, there was a trick to converting between 3959 S. Norton Ave. and the lot number. Eventually, though, I located the property owner: a woman named Ruth Bayley (who as it turned out was Barbara Lindgren's mother).
I went back to The Times clip files and got a chilling surprise.