Vice raids, World War II week by week

Posted by David Middlecamp on September 6, 2013 

September 1, 1943 marked the fifth year of war in Europe.


It was the beginning of the fifth year of war in Europe, and the tide was slowly turning against Hitler. As the dictator moved troops to Italy, Rome was considering quitting the war. Russians followed up recent victories and were advancing.

In San Luis Obispo most troops were fulfilling their duty at Camp Roberts or Camp San Luis Obispo, but the massive influx of men also brought problems. This was the local lead story Sept. 1, 1943, in the Telegram-Tribune:

Police raid off-limits S.L.O. Hotel

Police conducting a raid of the Elmo rooms Tuesday night found the place unspeakably "filthy and dirty" littered with empty and broken bottles, blood in one room and dirty bed clothing rags scattered about. The raid by officers George Treanor and Lee Johnson followed a call from neighbors at 117 Santa Barbara St. who complained that soldiers were fighting in creating a disturbance in the place which is off-limits for military personnel.

Fights reported

Upon investigation they found Ruby Owens in a night dress going up the stairs of the Elmo rooms from the yard next door where a disturbance had been reported. Neighbors said that soldiers had been fighting and going back and forth from the rooms to the yard. Mrs. Owens was placed under arrest for investigation. She stated that she was registered at the Elmo rooms in that her husband was at camp San Luis Obispo. Police tried to check the registry but reported that Terrence Smith manager of the rooms was too drunk to find it. They aroused Mrs. Martha Dillon the proprietor who is also unable to find the registry and who was reported by police as stating to "hell with the army and the police both" and that she would go to the FBI and give them a bad time. Smith let police into Mrs. Owens room where they found Pvt. Sam Drayo in her bed. He was arrested for drunkenness. He reportedly cursed civilian and military police and said he would never tell what was going on at the Elmo rooms. He admitted that the MPs had taken him out the day before and had ordered him to stay away.

Room littered

The room was littered with bloody rags and towels. Statements were obtained from soldiers who had attempted to obtain rooms at 11 PM saying they had not noticed the off-limits sign on the door. They said Smith did not tell them the place was off-limits but showed them to a room which they told him was too filthy to sleep in. Another room was being fixed up for them when the police arrived. When they returned to the police car officers found that Mrs. Owens had escaped. A woman in the neighborhood said that a soldier had opened the rear door of the car and they had left together. Steps towards revoking the license of the Elmo rooms was taken by the city Council at their meeting August 16. Hearing on the matter is set for September 7.

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