Monday, August 22, 2011

Marlene Matchan, 9 Years Old: Parental Alienation - 1952

FULL TEXT (Article 1 of 3): Charges that her own parents have “assumed a proprietary interest” in her 9-year-old daughter, Marlene Matchan, were voiced yesterday by dark-haired, blue-eyed Mrs. Louise A. McBride, 28, before Superior Court Judge William R. McKay.

Mrs. McBride sought a writ of habeas corpus to wrest custody of the girl from the maternal grandparents, Col. George H. Zautner, 74, USA ret., and Mrs. Florence Zautner, 63, who live at 1530 Glenview Ave., Glendale.

The distraught mother, solemn but dry-eyed, said she and the girl lived with the Zautners for several years while her then husband, William R. Matchan, 43, radio singer, was in Army service. Mrs. McBride added that she divorced Matchan in 1956 and the following year was married to Ralph E. McBride, 38, telephone company technician.

~ Answer of Parents ~

For some years after her second marriage, according to Mrs. McBride, she lived in a small apartment and could not take Marlene into her custody. But a year ago, the mother added, she and McBride established a home at 19464 Hartland St., Reseda, and since then she has been trying to regain custody of the child but has met with persistent objection from her parents.

But the Zautners replied with assertions that their daughter has never taken great interest in their granddaughter and is not a fit person to rear the child by reason of her excessive use of alcohol. The grandparents charged that the last time Mrs. McBride tried to visit the girl, she, Mrs. McBride, was under the influence of liquor.

The court also was informed by Mrs. McBride’s attorney, William T. Hays, and the Zautner lawyer, E. M. Clark, that Matchan recently brought another proceeding set for hearing Sep. 8, for custody of his daughter. On the witness stand Mrs. Zautner admitted she advised her former son-in-law to take this step to protect the child.

The hearing may end today.

[“Mother Fights for Custody of Daughter,” Los Angeles Times (Ca.), Aug. 26, 1952, part 2, p. 5]


FULL TEXT (Article 2 of 3): For a few tense moments the tearful protests of a 9-year-old girl, Marlene Matchan, yesterday threatened to thwart the court order which took her from the custody of her grandmother and placed her in that of her mother.

But it took the personal intervention of Superior Judge William R. McKay to reconcile the little girl to the idea of leaving the courtroom with her mother, Mrs. Louise Z. McBride, 28, when the child’s every wish was to remain with her grandmother, Mrs. Florence Zautner, 64.

~ Judge Leaves Bench ~

“I don’t want to live with my mother!” the girl shouted as Judge McKay left the bench after delivering his decision.

The child at the time was sitting next to Mrs. Zautner, Mrs. McBride, who is Mrs. Zautner’s daughter, walked toward Marlene with arms outstretched.

“Get away from me!” protested the child, her brown hair parted down the middle and braided and her bobby sox somehow out of keeping with her plight. “I want to stay with my grandmother.”

The jurist had waited deliberately until Mrs. McBride’s father, Col. George H. Zautner, 74, retired Army officer, had left the court before making the ruling. He did this, the jurist said, because he feared that Col. Zautner, who had testified he suffered from a heart ailment, might be in danger in the play of emotions certain to become evident.

~ Appeals to Lawyer ~

But now Mrs. McBride had the writ of habeas corpus she sought. Yet she stood there, helpless before the child’s resistance. She appealed to her lawyer, William T. Hays.

The lawyer darted into Judge McKay’s chambers, protesting that the child’s emotional outburst seemed to be the result of coaching from the grandmother, who firmly denied the accusation. Judge McKay ordered his bailiff, Archie C. Carter, to escort Marlene into chambers. Still in tears, Marlene complied.

“Hasn’t your mother been nice to you? The judge asked the little girl.

“Oh yes, she has,” Marlene replied. “But I get to do more things I want at my grandmother’s.”

~ Must Go With Mother ~

“Well,” said the judge, “you must now go with your mother and you must be nice to her. Will you promise me that you will do that?”

 “All right, judge,” Marlene agreed as the jurist led her to the side door where he expected her mother to be waiting. But it was Mrs. Zautner who was waiting there. Marlene flew into her arms and tears again streamed down her cheeks. Judge McKay was perturbed.

“You have brutally poisoned this child’s mind against your own daughter!” the judge warned Mrs. Zautner. “If you do not desist from further interference I will see that the proper authorities investigate your activities.”

But even so it was some time before Mrs. Zautner’s attorney, E. M. Clark, could persuade her to take leave of her granddaughter. She left in the company of her friend, Mrs. Edith Conrad. A few minutes later Marlene departed, her hands in those of her mother and her stepfather, Ralph E. McBride, 38, telephone technician.

Mrs. McBride had testified at the outset of the hearing that Marlene was born to her and her husband, William R. Matchan, 43, radio singer, but that much of the time she and the child lived with the Zautners at 1530 Grandview Ave., Glendale.

When she and McBride were married three years ago, Mrs. McBride said, they were unable to take the child into their small apartment and left her with the Zautners.

~ Now Lives in Reseda ~

Since, Mrs. McBride said, sshe has established a home at 19464 Hartland St. Reseda, but her parents refused to give up Marlene.

The Zautners, resisting their daughter’s writ, charged that Mrs. McBride in recent years used alcohol to excess and has become unfit to rear the little girl. But Judge McKay in making his decision held that these accusations were greatly exaggerated.

“Never in my 30 years on the bench.” The jurist said, “have I seen such venom and ill-feeling in a case. It is my hope that the memory of this hearing will be obliterated from the minds of all concerned.”

[“Judge Intervenes to Patch Up Family; Child, Awarded to Mother, Refuses to Leave Grandmother Till Jurist Takes a Hand,” Los Angeles Times (Ca.), Aug. 28, 1952, part 2, p. 1]


FULL TEXT (Aricle 3 of 3): Marlene Matchan, a 9-year-old with a precocious vocabulary, reported to Superior Judge William R. McKay yesterday that she no longer rues the day when the court transferred her custody from her grandmother to her mother.

The bright-eyed, brown-haired little girl who 12 days earlier flailed her arms, stamped her feet and shed bitter tears of protest, called dry-eyed and smiling upon Judge McKay.

She paid the visit in keeping with the request she made herself last Aug. 27 when the jurist granted her mother, Mrs. Louise Z. McBride, 28, a writ of habeas corpus, removing the child from the care of her grandmother, Mrs. Florence Zautner, 64, and Col. George H. Zautner, 74, USA, ret.

The Zautners, Mrs. McBride’s own parents, had resisted with charges that she drank to excess and had neglected the child since her divorce from Marlene’s father, William R. Matchan, 43, radio singer.

But Mrs. McBride, now wed to Ralph E. McBride, 38, telephone technician, denied these accusations. She said she had allowed Marlene to remain with the Zautners only until she could establish a proper home, Mrs. McBride said she now had such a place at 19464 Hartland St., Reseda.

“Are you happy now at your mothers?” the jurist asked.

“Oh, yes,” Marlene replied. “My mother is going to buy me a TV set. Now I can listen to all the politics. Too bad I missed the conventions.”

Judge McKay admonished Marlene that she must continue to love her grandparents and do her best to bring about a reconciliation between them and her mother.

“I love them all,” Marlene observed. “I’ve talked to my grandmother on the phone several times since I’ve been with my mother. But, you know, she is a doting grandmother.”

[“Girl Changes Mind on Custody Ruling; 9-Year-Old Advises Judge She’s Glad Now That He Placed Her in Mother’s Home,” Los Angeles Times (Ca.), Sep. 9, 1952, part 2, p. 1]












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