(Rheba Crawford - 1937 - pure as the wind-driven sludge)
Anyone who has grown up in Los Angeles knows the amount of murky history this town has. Aside from the corruption surrounding City Hall in the 1920's and 30's, there was also the much publicized scandal involving the Evangelical community in the name of Aimee Semple McPherson, sex, alcohol, bribery, corruption, power-plays and hypocrisy.
One of McPherson's trusted associates was a woman by the name of Rheba Crawford who came west after establishing a reputation with the Salvation Army in New York and was dubbed "The Angel Of Broadway". Crawford, it appears, had a number of mummies in her closet and a penchant for wealthy men and assuming roles of authority. When McPherson was involved in a number of sex-scandals (portrayed in the press at the time as "kidnappings"), Crawford made a power grab for the Church which McPherson founded. The ensuing skirmish made headlines and fodder for gossip columns, involved the Grand Jury, muckraker Clifford Clinton, the City of San Francisco, the State of California and a whole slew of casual and uncomfortable bystanders.
Crawford took to the airwaves, and in a fashion that would have embarrassed a first year College Theater Arts major, proceeded to use her air time (fifteen minutes, once a week) to cajole, harangue and wave the victim card.
Rheba Crawford: “I have been persecuted with every weapon available to unscrupulous publicity seeking men who found it joyful to seize upon my sorrow and heartbreak as an opportunity for their Roman Holiday. I had the novel experience in my hospital room of being shadowed, hounded and pursued by one of the employees on the public payroll who came from the courtroom of the Superior Court. This same employee, in view of his responsibility to the County Hospital and misleading statements already sworn to, is in no position to investigate the moke in his brothers eye or his sisters eye until he takes care of the beam in his own. I had the terrifying experience in the small hours of the morning, of being awakened from my sleep in time to see the Special nurses assigned to my room in the Queen of Angels Hospital, pushed violently aside by a perfect stranger who rushed to my bed, wildly waving a paper. When I sat up, this same stranger, with brute force, threw me back into my pillows and held me down, in the name of the County of Los Angeles, while he served a subpoena upon me from the Grand Jury. This individual informed me that his name was Clifford Clinton. I believed him to be the son of the Grand Juror by that name, inasmuch as I could not conceive of any man qualified to sit upon a Grand Jury, daring to physically man-handle a sick woman, prostrated by the death of her husband.”
Church scandals, it appears, are timeless. The hypocrisy that wraps itself as "God's Will" and extols the righteousness of fear and hate has been with us forever. That it seems to come to a crashing, scandal-ridden end should be no surprise either. Sooner or later, you just get caught.