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Times photographer and reporter trapped in locked building

Times photographer and reporter trapped in locked building

March 12, 1948: Los Angeles Times staff photographer Bob Jakobsen, left, and reporter Jack Geyer greet rescuers with wide grins after being trapped for two hours in a locked building on South Broadway. Said Geyer, “We couldn’t find the key to the situation.”

These two photos by staff photographer Paul Calvert accompanied this story in the March 1948 employee newsletter Among Ourselves:

“Hello, City Editor?”

Smoke Hale said yes and the voice on the telephone said: “Well this may be a gag, see, but I’m walking down the street, minding my own business, when I hear this awful banging on the door of an empty building at 950 S. Broadway. Inside I see some sort of shadowy figure. It points downward and there’s a note shoved under the door. And–well, anyway, here’s what the note says:

“Call City Editor, Los Angeles Times. We’re trapped in this building and can’t get out. Signed Jack Geyer and Bob Jakobsen.”

Hale dispatched his “burglar crew,” Bob Will and Paul Calvert to the scene. After an hour of frantic telephone calls, attempting to locate the owner of the building, Will enlisted aid of police who rescued Reporter Geyer and Photographer Jakobsen via the building’s fire escape, eight stories high!

Said Geyer: “We were assigned to get shots of the new street lights on Broadway. We walked into this building. We went up on the roof. We got our pictures. Then we came down and the building’s empty. Everybody’s gone. The door’s locked.

“We beat on the door. People, millions of people, passing by on the street. You think they’ll pay any attention to us. Yaah! they say. I shove this note through the door. Nobody’ll stop to even read it. Then this guy stops. What a guy. A prince of a fella. A No. 1 American. Let’s run him for President instead of MacArthur.”

Said Will: “We arrive and it’s a music store and we can see Geyer inside. He spots us and starts beating on a bass drum.”

Said Calvert: “With the help of the cops we’re trying to get them down a fire escape. A crowd gathers. I’m taking pictures and this crowd is yelling, “What is it, a murder? a suicide?”

Said Jakobsen: “And we weren’t even on overtime.”

Jakobsen got his photo of Broadway’s new street lights. The photo, at bottom of this post, was published on page one of the March 13, 1948, Los Angeles Times.

The “burglar crew” was a standby reporter and photographer team available to dispatch to breaking news events.

March 12, 1948: Los Angeles Times staff photographer Bob Jakobsen, top, and reporter Jack Geyer descend a fire escape after they were trapped in a building on South Broadway in downtown Los Angeles. Credit: Paul Calvert/Los Angeles Times.

March 12, 1948: The scene on Broadway in downtown Los Angeles as new ornamental lighting units were turned on for the first time, making the street 10 times brighter. While taking this photo from a rooftop, staff photographer Bob Jakobsen was locked in the building. This photo was published on page one of the March 13, 1948, Los Angeles Times. Credit: Bob Jakobsen/Los Angeles Times

For more on Jakobsen’s image, check out my previous From the Archives post New Lights on Broadway.

scott.harrison@latimes.com

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