September 13th in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1941, Hitler and Mussolini were cooked and eaten by Seal Beach city employees.

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Not a hoax! Not an imaginary story! Now the truth can be told!

I’m not kidding. This is for realsies. I’m as shocked as you.

Okay, the Hitler and Mussolini eaten by city employees were not the dictators pictured above. They were, in fact, pigs. (Yeah, yeah, I know. So were the guys in the photos.) Here’s the truth behind the clickbait headline.

Roy S. Nelson, the manager of a hog farm donated two hogs for the annual city employee picnic six weeks earlier when each hog weighed 50 pounds each. After six weeks of being fattened up with corn at the city yard, Hitler weighed in at 150 pounds while Mussolini hit the scale at 250 pounds. Hitler and Mussolini were handed over to Sam’s Sea Food Cafe and cooked for an expected crowd of 125, including city employees and their families. The picnic took place at night in the Seal Beach Sun Room at the base of the pier.


– Michael Dobkins

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September 12th in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1936, the Los Angeles region experienced a series of power failures, plunging parts of the city into darkness.

The first outage struck at 1:32 a.m. An emergency power plant near downtown Los Angeles restored power to some areas minutes later and then overloaded at 1:40 a.m. Power was finally restored completely to the region by 3:00 a.m., reviving streetlights, factory machinery, and radio stations. No estimate was given to how many Angelenos lost sleep due to electric burglary alarms being set off or how many employees showed up late to work because their electric alarm clocks were reset.

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The culprit for the power outage was a generator inside a steam plant in Seal Beach. According to J. G. Barlow, chief engineer for the Los Angeles Gas & Electric Corporation, a load increase in the line serving the Southern Sierras Power Co. in Imperial Valley caused the generator to lose its magnetic field, and it ceased working. No explanation for the increase was given.

– Michael Dobkins

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September 11th in Seal Beach History

On this date in Seal Beach History, the Los Angeles Times ran a short article on Phyllis Jay and the Seal Beach Marina Players.

Bruce Jay looks on as his mother Phyllis Jay prepares for a performance

Son Bruce looks on as his mother Phyllis Jay prepares for another performance

In March 1959, Phyllis Jay produced and directed a 30-minute parody of South Pacific for a Huntington Beach High School PTA benefit. The performance was to be for one night only, but the response was too good to stop at one performance. As high school trustee Willard Hanzlik put it, “It’s so good it ought to hit the road.”

Jay’s group of amateur players did just that, performing the piece 26 times locally at various benefits for PTAs, scout groups, veteran hospitals, senior citizens, and the mentally handicapped.

Cooperation and adaptability was the key ingredients to the Seal Beach Marina Players success

Marge Tozer, one of the players designed and built the sets to fit into one station wagon with three different backgrounds to be used depending on the size of the stage. The players had to be flexible enough to perform with or without curtains, on small, medium, or large stages, and sometimes at floor level where the actors could literally “reach out and touch” the audience.

A major highlight for Mrs. Jay was a Seal Beach Chamber of Commerce hosted “welcome neighbor” party night. The Seal Beach Marina Players gave three performances in one night in a 300-seat school auditorium (probably the J. H. McGaugh School Auditorium). 

At the time of the article, the group had raised $3,000, approximately $24,000 in 2016 dollars.


– Michael Dobkins

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September 10th in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1966, the Peppermint Playhouse held its last performance of Julius Caesar.

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Today most people remember it as a child care center located at 225 Main Street, but the Peppermint Playhouse provided Seal Beach with local theatrics for years at various locations, including 124 Main Street where Endless Summer now operates and management frowns upon the assassinations of Roman emperors.


– Michael Dobkins

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September 9th in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1938, this ad in the Santa Ana Register offer two choice places for dining, dancing and entertainment, Vivian Laird’s South Seas and Vivian Laird’s Garden of Allah in Seal Beach.  In spite of there being WOMEN CHEFS at South Seas, the people in the illustration for the Garden of Allah look like they’re having more fun.

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There were many owners of the Garden of Allah after Vivian Laird, and the lot has hosted a number of establishments including very briefly a church, a Jack in the Box for decades, and the recently closed Fresh & Easy. 

– Michael Dobkins

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September 8th in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1945, Phillip A. Stanton, founder of Seal Beach and Huntington Beach, died at the age of 77.

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– Michael Dobkins

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September 7th in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1958, the Long Beach Independent Press-Telegram ran a profile of Gene Harding, the manager of the Marina Shores tract in Seal Beach and the 1957 Long Beach Sales Executive Club’s Salesman of the Year under the headline “Blue-Eyed Blonde Bosses Seal Beach Sales Office.” The paper also ran a couple of photographs that reproduce poorly from microfilm.

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The reporter of this piece, Sterling Bemis, knew a good hook when he saw it and played up the contrast of Gene Harding’s business acumen and success with her smashing good looks. Somewhere while describing her as “a spun-taffy blonde with blue eyes” and making note of her silky tan 35-24-35 figure, he mentions in passing that Gene’s “an alert, intense executive who is in the job up to 12 hours a day, often seven days a week.”

Gene was short for Emogene, which Bemis described as a “curvy cognomen in tune with a 34-year old mother” with a 15 year-old son and a 5 year-old daughter. Gene was married to  a dietary specialist whose vitamin therapy was apparently responsible for her healthy physique, although she admitted that she kept “so busy that an extra pound wouldn’t dare tackle her.”  

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I like to think that last line shows that Gene had a sense of humor about the angle Bemis choose for the story, and that as a good “salesman” she realized that the publicity from the article would bring more people to the Marina Shores tract. Whether she realized it or not, she was using an oft-used tactic for promoting Seal Beach real estate with cheesecake. 

You can see an ad for Marina Shores in the post for March 30th in Seal Beach History
– Michael Dobkins

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