Sometime on Sunday evening, December 10, 1961, Long Beach State College psychology professor Robert E. Farley, 35, picked up Robert Lee Stofle, of the USS Paul Revere, one of Long Beach’s many thousands of sailors. This sailor and Farley had a few drinks at a bar in Compton. Then they went back to Farley’s house on The Toledo in Long Beach where they had some more drinks. From then on, we only have the sailor’s side of the story because nobody cares about Farley’s.
The sailor said he got really, really drunk on screwdrivers. The sailor said that Farley made “improper advances.” The sailor said he had no choice but to hit Farley in the head with a heavy object. (He couldn’t have just said no.) The sailor called the police. The police took the sailor’s side of the story, and took Farley to a hospital for stitches, then to jail.
Farley managed to raise the $525 bail ($4,215 today) from his state college professor’s pay. He was charged with lewd conduct and sex perversion, and for contributing to the delinquency of a minor. His lost his state college professor’s job that very same day. The sailor was under 21, and you know how innocent those sailors under 21 can be. What would a sailor know about lewd conduct? What would a sailor know about sex? The sailor who committed assault and battery was entirely innocent and his upstanding all-American reputation was fully protected.
Farley’s name was again in the papers two days later when his body was found in the Veterans Hospital laboratory. He had worked there as a lab technician several years earlier. An open can of chloroform lay next to his body.
In Pocatello, Idaho, Ed and Bethel Farley packed their car and began the 900 mile trip to Long Beach to claim their son’s body. Before they left, they put an obituary notice in the Idaho State Journal. It said simply, “he collapsed in a classroom.”
On the Timeline:
December 13, 1961: Long Beach professor’s arrest leads to suicide.
Headlines for December 13, 1961: Police in Albany, Georgia, arrest another 198 African-American demonstrators, protesting the trial of eleven Freedom Riders. Albany police have arrested 466 in the past three days. Long Beach carhop accuses Municipal judge of making improper sexual advances. Beloved folk artist Granda Moses dies at 101. Retired Marine Col. Mitchell Paige tells a right wing Project Alert gathering that Chief Justice Earl Warren should be hanged.
On the radio: “Big Bad John” by Jimmy Dean, “Please Mr. Postman” by the Marvelettes, “Goodbye Cruel World” by James Darren, “Runaround Sue” by Dion, “Fool #1” by Brenda Lee, “The Twist” by Chubby Checker. “Walk On By” by Leroy Van Dyke, “Tower of Strength” by Gene McDaniels, “I Understand (Just How You Feel)” by the G-Clefs, “Crazy” by Patsy Cline, “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” by the Tokens.
On television: Wagon Train (NBC), Bonanza (NBC), Gunsmoke (CBS), Hazel (NBC), Perry Mason (CBS), The Red Skelton Show (CBS), The Andy Griffith Show (CBS), The Danny Thomas Show (CBS), Dr. Kildare (NBC), Candid Camera (CBS), The Garry Moore Show (CBS), My Three Sons (ABC), Sing Along with Mitch (NBC), Lassie (CBS), The Ed Sullivan Show (CBS).
New York Times best sellers: Fiction: Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger, The Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stone, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Non-fiction: The Making of the President 1960 by Theodore H. White, A Nation of Sheep by William J. Lederer, Living Free by Joy Adamson.
“LBSC Prof booked on lewdness charged.” The Independent (Long Beach, California. December 12, 1961): C-4.
“Prof facing morals trial takes life.” The Independent (Long Beach, California. December 14, 1961): 1.
Obituary: Robert E. Farley. Idaho State Journal (Pocatello, December 14, 1961): 2.