Coronavirus has sometimes made us forget that 2020 is an election year. While 2020 has been called one of the most turbulent years in recent memory, 1968 definitely gives it a run for its money. Coincidentally, that was also the year when Cockatoo Inn owner Andy ran for office.

Spoiler Alert

Andy Lococo was nearing the end of his time at the Cockatoo Inn. In 1968, he ran for Hawthorne City Council. Two council seats were up for grabs, and spoiler alert – he didn’t win. The seats were kept by incumbents Hubert L. Cunningham and Champ W. Clark (not to be confused with former Speaker of the House, James Beauchamp Clark).

But while the councilmen captured nearly 70% of the 14,079 votes, the underdogs who ran in this race were notable.

Mr. Hawthorne

First, there was well-known Hawthornian, Walter D. Dixon, who received 198 votes. As stated in the Daily Breeze, Walt was in the Navy and flew over 55 missions all over the world. He taught flying after the war, opened a camera store in 1982, and became Hawthorne’s top historian. He released a book with Jerry Roberts in 2005 called “Hawthorne”. It chronicled the town’s earliest days and most notable figures. (He included the Cockatoo in the book as well.) Walt passed away in 2007. A nice write up of his life can be found at the Leuzinger High Class of 1981 website.

Here’s a photo of Walt Dixon taken a year before the 1968 election, happily performing civic duties.

Walt Dixon, Hawthorne Historian, 1967

Fred T. Morgan

If you went to Hawthorne High in the 60s, you probably know the name of this popular music teacher. If it’s the same Mr. Morgan, he also ran alongside Andy in the 1968 City Council race, garnering a respectable 1,022 votes. He was in the news as recently as 2018 for giving Beach Boys legend Brian Wilson an “F” on a music composition assignment. He later called it the “million dollar F”! (Brian turned in what would become the Beach Boys hit, “Surfin'”!) Brian returned to Hawthorne High in 2018 and had his grade overturned to an A!

Brian Wilson and Dr. Landesfeind at Hawthorne High 2018

Andy Lococo and David Rice

Lastly, there was Andy (who finished the race with 1,389 votes) and David Rice, a friend of Andy’s who frequented the Cockatoo. According to reader Curt Lint, Dave Rice was the District Attorney for the city of Inglewood. He met Rice at the Cockatoo whilst with Dixon Collins, a well-known figure during the golden age of Baja. All four men made waves in Baja, having separate building projects in the Mexican state. (We wrote previously on Andy’s interest in Baja.) According to Lint, Andy did have a property built there. It was a leisure spot for his circle, of which Dave Rice was a part. In the election, Rice captured 1,408 votes.

Not out of the game

When Cockatoo Inn owner Andy ran for office, it was somewhat of a long shot. Despite the election results, Andy remained influential. A few years later, Hawthorne’s political divisions were on full public display. In 1971, Andy found himself at the center of City Manager Richard Pennock’s firing. During that time, Mayor Gregory Page charged that the reason for his firing was that Pennock patronized the Cockatoo Inn with councilmen Hubert Cunningham, Joe Miller, and Chief of Police Coleman Young. He further charged that meetings were attended by Andy Lococo, in which they discussed city business. Mayor Page said Andy’s association with the ‘Cosa Nostra’ and his prior convictions affected the city’s affairs.

In response, Councilman Cunningham praised the Cockatoo Inn:

Neither Miller nor I deny going to the Cockatoo, as does almost everyone else in town. It is one of the nicest restaurants in town. I have been there with a number of people: senators, congressmen, lawyers, judges, and ministers.

H. Cunningham, “Bitter Political Battle Erupts Among Hawthorne Councilmen,” Ray Ripton, LA Times, 1971

Cunningham went on to say that he welcomed a full investigation of the city, and warned that the Mayor would come out worse. He and Joe Miller sought to have the Mayor recalled.

Clearly, Andy still had the trust of local lawmakers and law enforcement. He also had enough clout to draw the ire of other politicians, and was used as a lightning rod in political battles on more than one occasion.

Do you love the Cockatoo? Show everyone what the best midcentury hotel and restaurant were with the official Cockatoo Inn t-shirt!

The official Cockatoo Inn T-Shirt