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Friday, October 24, 2014

Neighborhood Fixture: A family tragedy haunts the past of an Angeleno Heights grocery

The former Smookler Market in Angeleno Heights | Marni Epstein

The former Smookler Market in Angeleno Heights | Marni Epstein

By Marni Epstein

ANGELENO HEIGHTS —  Angeleno Heights has played host to a great many neighborhood markets over the years, including one connected to a tragic family incident.

The neighborhood’s small stores have included Bob’s Market, which has  been in business since 1926 (although under a different name and ownership), and B&K Market, which  operated on West Edgeware Road  until 1984.  Over at  at 954 East Edgeware Road, an obscure little house with the crescent-encrusted front door  was once the grocery store of Harry Smookler, according to Big Orange Landmarks the  The two-unit property was built in 1899, according to a 1939 WPA census, and in 1906 Smookler acquired the property from Charles M. Stimson, a local philanthropist (he opened the Los Angeles Orphans Home in 1908) and real estate broker. The front building (954) housed Smookler’s grocery while the back house (956) is where Harry and his family lived.

Smookler became known around the neighborhood for his market, but it was a tragic event for which Smookler and 954 East Edgeware will be remembered. According to a 1912 LA Times article, Harry discovered the lifeless body of his son, Willie, in a vacant lot near their home on the morning of December 20, 1912.

Standing over the body, the elder Smookler was nearly arrested by police for the murder of his son. Although Harry was not responsible for pulling the trigger, it is believed that a distraught Willie put the revolver in his mouth after a chastisement the previous day from his father. Willie had stayed out all night after the argument, and, when he returned home in the early morning,  found himself locked out. Feeling rebuffed, Willie ventured to the lot to take his life with a gun he borrowed from a friend.

Tthe WPA census indicated that Smookler had vacated his grocery store by 1939.

Marni Epstein is an entertainment, music, and lifestyle Journalist and resident of Echo Park. She has previously worked in the film and digital media industries with FOX and Sony Pictures Entertainment. She is currently also pursuing a Masters in Historic Preservation.

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2 comments

  1. The feel-good story of the century!

  2. Tragic dude might have vacated by 1939, but this place was still operating as a little neighborhood market until around 1992 if I remember right.

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