|The Luhr’s Building|
I loved old, downtown Phoenix. There was something real about the taverns, department stores, old hotels and pawn shops that went away when they built the new venues for professional basketball and baseball.
I particularly remember the Luhr’s Buildings, opened in 1924, consisting of the Luhr’s Building, Tower, Annex and Hotel. Marble staircases, transom windows and art deco abounded.
Just East of the Superior Court building, these buildings housed defense lawyers, bail-bondsmen, investigators, court reporters and process servers.
The Hitchcock film Psycho begins with a long camera shot into a room at the Luhr’s Hotel.
I lusted to have my P.I. office down there, but, could only afford to work out of my home. So, I chose the next best thing.
I had my business P.O. Box in the Luhr’s Annex, so checking my mail brought me down into that neighborhood for the cost of mailbox rent and city parking. It was then easy access to the Superior Court records, County Assessor and Recorder. The State Motor Vehicle Building was just a few blocks West, by the Capitol. And the Corporation Commission was across the street from that.
In the pre-Internet world, this was information central.
And, this was the place to be, for anyone who was anyone, in the para-legal world.
Directly around the corner from my Post Office Box, in the Luhr’s Building, was Harry K.
Harry was long-time private investigator. He was a tall, imperial-looking, black gentleman. He had a small office, just off Central Avenue. I don’t even remember what name he had on the door. Whatever it was, it was unremarkable. When I knew him, most of his work was missing persons, gleaned from a daily ad in the Wall Street Journal.
Because, Harry K. was remarkable. Why?
Harry knew everybody. I don’t say this lightly, or with hyperbole.
Every so often, unannounced, I’d pop in to see Harry, after checking my P.O. Box. or checking some county records. He was rarely alone. His visitors were always interesting: the Mayor, the Sheriff, former or current State Attorneys General, civic leaders, businessmen.
Harry always made certain to introduce me. And I was always the lowest on the totem pole in the room. But, I did notice they all called Harry by his first name, and he spoke to them the same way.
One time Harry and I were discussing a mob-related car bombing that had occurred in a nearby city.
He mentioned a name – I’d no clue of whom he was speaking. He laughed, and told me that he’d forgotten, the name in the papers had been the victim’s alias, Harry had known the guy from his mob ties in Chicago, by his given name!
His Rolodex must have been golden.
Harry knew everybody, and it served him well.