Monday, January 20, 2014

A Puzzlement

Every so often I find things at estate sales that don't seem to belong with the rest of the stuff.  

A good example of this is an autographed picture I found last week.  The gentleman whose estate items were being sold, appeared to have been a Caucasian guy who worked in the film industry.  In addition to the usual sorts of household items, the estate included some Judaica, a box of postcards of classic automobiles, and a large box of black and white stock photos taken on the sets of many "B" movies. 

In the box with the pictures from the forgettable films, there was an autographed picture of four California politicians, which I brought home for 25 cents.  

It's addressed to Los Angeles Mayor Sam Yorty (the second man from the left) by Mervyn Dymally (the third man from the left).  Dymally, a native of Trinidad, was the first black state senator elected in California and the first black lieutenant governor in California.  He also served six terms in Congress.  I think the other two men in the photo are (far left) Billy Mills, a retired Superior Court judge and one of the first three African Americans elected to the Los Angeles City Council, and (far right) Leon Ralph, a former state Assemblyman from Watts who later became pastor of a church.  (Correct me if I'm wrong, and I'll update this blog post.)

It certainly wasn't Sam Yorty's estate; he died in 1998.  And it wasn't Mervyn Dymally's estate; he died in 2012 in another part of Los Angeles County.

I often uncover mysteries at estate sales.  Sometimes I'm able to piece together information about the items I find; other times, they just have to stay mysteries.  Maybe someone found the photo at an estate sale, and added it to their own collection?

Regardless of its travels, the photo is now on its way to the Pat Brown Institute at Cal State Los Angeles, Mervyn Dymally's alma mater.


  1. Thank you for posting. I will have to ask my Uncle if he recognizes the two on the end to be sure...I also think that the one on the far left is Billy Mills as I have seen a photo of him with my parents. My Uncle is till living and since he was active in politics in LA, I will confirm.

  2. Thanks so much -- look forward to hearing what you find out! I asked a professor of politics at Pomona College about it and he thought it might be Billy Mills. The photo is now at the Pat Brown Institute, but we can pass the information on to them if you find out anything.

  3. Greetings! The gentleman on the far right is not Assemblyman Leon Ralph. Please see the photos on the following: