Rossi case: Roster of Rossi posts

Dahlquist procession a

Posts So Far

(1) ‘Rossi case:  The telling case of Herman J. Rossi’s murder of Clarence “Gabe” Dahlquist — some first few words

(2) “Rossi case:  The proximate instigation

(3) “Rossi case:  Rossi shoots Dahlquist at Samuels Hotel

 (4) “Rossi case:  Clarence Dahlquist’s surprising procession to the Depot

 (5) “Rossi case:  Rossi surrenders his freedom

 (6) “Rossi case:  Rossi’s resume

(7) “Rossi case:  Rossi and the fraternal organizations as agents of pro-Rossi bias

 (8) “Rossi case:  Rossi’s mine holdings, wealth, and networks of contacts

 (9) “Rossi case:  Mabel Strikes Back

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Rossi case: Mabel Strikes Back

Rossi post 9.1:  I’m stepping out of time sequence with this draft post, jumping ahead to after Herman J. Rossi’s murder trial to a brief consideration of the initial situation surrounding Herman’s suit for divorce against Mabel and her vigorous response.  Not to forget:  This is a work in progress.  Comments welcome, as always.

— See Roster of Rossi posts


The Shoshone County judge Mabel would address her appeal for a change of venue to.

Herman J. Rossi, at his murder trial, made a point of declaring, in sworn testimony from the stand, that he’d rather be hanged or sentenced to life in prison than allow his wife’s testimony to save him.  He wouldn’t stoop, his assertion suggested, to having someone he now so thoroughly disdained help him out of his jam.  There was bravado, of course, in Rossi’s declaration.  Yet there was also, one guesses, some false bravado too.  Why wasn’t Mabel present at the trial?  Was Mabel’s nowhere-to-be-found absence a strategic choice made by Rossi and his defense team?  Her absence and her silence certainly harbored weighty rhetorical advantages for Herman’s defense.  He could paint her, in effect, in any way he wished without fear of rebuttal or counter-painting offered in her own trial testimony or even in the press.  Why the prosecution did not think to interview or call Mabel as a witness is not known.  Maybe it never occurred to them.  Or maybe they thought Mabel’s presence would on the whole help Rossi’s defense.  Or maybe they tried and could not find her – or found her and decided her potential remarks at trial would be unhelpful.  She was still Herman’s wife, of course, and thus could not be compelled to testify against him. Continue reading

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French film, Standing Tall


Watched this new French film, on Netflix, last night.  Though by no means a great film, it’s nevertheless an interesting watch for at least two reasons.  First, it offers a sympathetic — as opposed to muckraking and critical — perspective on France’s juvenile justice system.  Catherine Deneuve (pictured above — and incidentally an old heartthrob of mine) plays the wise and forbearing judge faced with what to do with a youth plagued with serious frustration, anger, and self-control problems.  Second, the portrait painted of this troubled youth is quite good — including an intelligence-deprived, too-young mom, trying situations, and an errant sense of bravado-soaked personal honor.  The film’s final resolution, at the end, was perhaps a necessary denouement — although it comes off, I’m afraid, not quite credible.  Still, certainly a worth-watching film.  And Ms. Deneuve, who’s only a month younger than yours truly, is still a knockout!

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Four film recommendations, out of the box

I’ve had unusually good luck with Netflix or Amazon films lately.  All four I’m recommending here deal very effectively with what sociologists since Tomatsu Shibutani call “social worlds” (for more on the concept, download here).  All four are foreign films. Here you go — enjoy!



Out of Iceland, a beautiful panoramic film.



A French film, with endearingly warm and convincing role portrayals by both the lead actress and the male actor who plays her conflicted husband.  The tale is a metaphor for all the fictions we must maintain in order to get by in life.

Last Cab to Darwin


This Australian film is admittedly heavy-handed and overwrought.  But I liked it.  Even a lot.

Mr. Turner


Gruff and tender never had it so good before.

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Roizen family history footnote: entering the U.S.


7501 Leescott Ave., Van Nuys, California (today)

For the record, we entered the U.S. to stay on July 11, 1951 at Seattle.  This means, incidentally, that Dad was 27 years old when he made that move, Mom was 31, I was 7, and Peter was 4.  The family was granted U.S. citizenship in 1956, so Dad must have applied for citizenship very soon after arriving, doubtless in order to ease getting jobs.  Our first residence address in the U.S. – a very short one, presumably just an interim home — was 1948½ New England, Los Angeles, CA; our second was 7501 Leescott Ave., Van Nuys, CA.

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Probably not secrecy, based on the minutes of a 1942 meeting

Note:  I wish to thank Paul Roman, Tom Babor, Gabor Kelemen, and anonymous reviewers for comments on an earlier draft of this article.  Ron


Yale Summer School of Alcohol Studies, special seminar, 1943

A single, seemingly inconsequential document has shed a little new light on an old mystery.

But first, a little background.


In 1993 I presented a paper at the Alcohol and Temperance History Group’s international conference in London, Ontario, Canada (Roizen, 1993).  The paper’s full title was, “Paradigm Sidetracked:  Explaining Early Resistance to the Alcoholism Paradigm at Yale’s Laboratory of Applied Physiology, 1940-1944.”  I saw it as a continuation of the historical story I’d recounted in my dissertation, completed just two years earlier (Roizen, 1991).  My dissertation had taken the early history of the “modern alcoholism movement” and the so-called “new scientific approach to alcohol” from Repeal (in 1933) to what I regarded as a pivotal historical moment in 1939.  What particularly interested me about the new Yale-based alcohol science group, in the following 1940-1944 period, was its preference for a quite different paradigm, namely an “alcohol problems” paradigm, over an “alcoholism” paradigm.  That same preference, I argued in my paper, revealed how fragile and open-ended paradigmatic evolution was in the alcohol social arena in this period.   The post-Repeal ascendancy of the alcoholism paradigm, as Yale’s experience from 1940-1944 showed, was anything but a foregone and ineluctable historical inevitability.  This was meaty stuff for my larger project – namely, my attempt at a sociological reconstruction of the development of a new scientific specialty around alcohol in the U.S. in the aftermath of Repeal.

In the course of researching my “Paradigm Sidetracked” paper I delved a little into the longstanding mystery surrounding the Yale alcohol group’s sources of funding support.  The issue wasn’t central to my investigation, but – and in due course – it would take on added significance in a special way, which significance I’ll briefly discuss in the concluding section of this report.  In any case, I got very lucky.  My query about the group’s funding to the Yale University Library resulted in a welcome reply letter from library staff member Susan Brady, enclosing four illuminating documents.   These were four letters written in 1943 (see L-1, L-2, L-3, & L-4), the substance of which included revelatory discussions of two salient subjects: (a) the handling of outside donations to the Yale alcohol group’s then-new Summer School of Alcohol Studies and (b) the generosity of one Guido R. Rahr.  Rahr, these letters showed, was a generous backer of the Summer School and other enterprises at Yale’s alcohol group.  L-2, from Rahr to Haggard, revealed that Rahr was supporting the School at a rate of $5,000 per month for three months — summing to $15,000 (or about $208,000 in 2016 dollars).  These amounts, wrote Rahr, would “…completely cover the work which you are undertaking.”  L-3, from Haggard to Yale University Secretary Carl Lohmann, noted that Rahr had supplied substantial contributions in the past for the support of the alcohol group’s periodical, the Quarterly Journal of Studies on Alcohol (QJSA), which commenced publication in 1940.     Continue reading

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Marijuana’s and alcohol’s differing paths toward domestication

Note:  This commentary ran in the Coeur d’Alene Press on November 30th, 2016 (link).


Report being burned in Virginia’s Capitol’s furnace, April 26, 1938

It’s interesting to contrast marijuana’s current cultural journey toward legalization with beverage alcohol’s experience in 1933 and the years immediately following, when national prohibition was repealed.  Today, recreational marijuana use is being legalized piecemeal and state by state, thus creating a number of nettlesome problems for neighboring states that still ban it.  Alcohol’s prohibition, on the other hand, was done away with in one fell swoop, with the passage of the 21st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  Well, not quite.  Many states also had statewide prohibition laws or even state constitutional provisions.  These had to be repealed too.  And that process, of course, took some time.  But alcohol’s wave of historical change in the 1930s was arguably more compelling than marijuana’s is today.  For one thing, three-quarters of the U.S.’s states had to have already approved the 21st Amendment, repealing Prohibition, before Repeal could become the law of the land.  Nationally, Repeal was a cultural done deal in 1933 even though a minority of states, chiefly in the nation’s southern and midwestern “Bible Belt,” were reluctant to abandon their statewide measures.

In our present circumstance, regarding marijuana, a patchwork of varying state laws and dispositions may become an argument for a new national consensus, perhaps ultimately facilitating broader legalization of pot across the nation.  Regarding alcohol, on the other hand, it was a patchwork of state laws in the years preceding the passage of national prohibition that caused dry states to cry out for relief from alcohol’s availability in neighboring wet states.     Continue reading

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