Photo by Wally Gobetz, 2014 and used under a Creative Commons License

Photo by Wally Gobetz, 2014 and used under a Creative Commons License

There's something missing from MacArthur Park's memorial to Harrison Gray Otis, the larger-than-life publisher of the Los Angeles Times.

There’s a rough stone block at the western edge of the causeway that divides what was once Westlake Park. The stone is grouped in a plot next to two others: a taller block surmounted by a bronze general and a smaller one with a bronze newsboy. The general points across Wilshire Boulevard to the northwest. The newsboy, his back to the road, clutching a bundle of papers, shouts the latest headline to boaters on the lake in what is now MacArthur Park. But one block is empty.

But the one block is empty. It once supported the figure of a muscular youth striding past the general, a flag staff and partially furled flag on his right shoulder, calm resolve on his expressive face. He was dressed as an Army volunteer – even then, called a doughboy – in the boots, leggings, cartridge belt, and campaign hat of the Spanish American War. He could have been seen as marching toward battle or away from downtown. Except for the flag, he was unarmed. More