2017

Welcome to 2017. This Date in Seal Beach History will be a mix of recycled past posts with original posts for dates that the blog hasn’t covered yet. If you see material you’ve seen before, please be patient. I’ll be posting some new Seal Beach history and photos throughout the year. With luck, we’ll finish 2017 with a post for each date in Seal Beach history. Thanks. – mpd

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July 23rd in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1915, the Santa Ana Register ran a short story with the provocative headline, “SEAL BEACH TO INCORPORATE AND BE WET?”
Seal Beach’s incorporation by election was just a little over three months away, and rumors were floating that table liquor licenses would be granted by the newly incorporated city. Temperance workers from Long Beach, a dry town, planned to reach out to dry workers in Orange County to prevent Seal Beach. 

New Years Eve celebrants in the freshly incorporated Seal Beach were forced to ring in the new year of 1916 in a sober state, and the wet/dry conflict would continue to play out throughout 1916. Ultimately serving demon alcohol was too enticing and lucrative for Seal Beach, and the city went wet (to the relief of Long Beach non-abstainers who enjoyed nipping on over to Seal Beach cafes for a nip or two or three or five.)

When the Volstead Act prohibited alcohol to the entire nation, Seal Beach became a prime spot for bootleggers and rum runners with local landmarks the pier, Anaheim Landing, and Alamitos Bay looming large in liquor smuggling legends and tall tales.

 –  Michael Dobkins

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July 22nd in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1906, the Los Angeles Herald ran this ad enticing potential Southern California real estate buyers to check out this exciting new city named Bay City.

Needless to say with a dynamic and distinct name like Bay City, the place was renamed Seal Beach seven years later.

–  Michael Dobkins

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July 21st in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1932 at 12:55 a.m., a southbound Pacific Electric interurban train struck a man and woman on a curve between Seal Beach and the Surfside Colony. Depending on which newspaper account you read, the couple was either sitting on or walking along the tracks when the accident occurred. 

This aerial photo taken on May 30, 1931 shows how the Pacific Electric tracks curve just after the Anaheim Bay bridge and then again as they approach the Surfside Colony. Either curve could be the location of the accident.

The Pacific Electric motorman, Lee Marshall, and conductor J. E. Beardsley told investigators they stopped when they saw what appeared to be a box on the tracks, only to discover the couple. Due to the early morning hour, the only other witnesses were the passengers in the street car.

The male victim was Jay P. Bassett, a 37 year old meat cutter, a prominent member of the Long Beach post of the American Legion and the father of three children. He was taken to the Long Beach Community Hospital where he died from a fractured skull at 2:30 a.m.. He never regained consciousness.

The woman was killed instantly and remained unidentified for hours at Dixon’s Chapel in Huntington Beach. She was described as approximately 25 years of age, well-dressed and wearing a dark brown coat and tan-colored dress, and having beautiful red hair. One newspaper couldn’t resist sharing that her body had been broken, with one foot completely severed and the other foot almost cut off, and that death was probably caused by a jagged hole in her skull.

Blood and gore sells newspapers.

She was identified later that night as Eloise Wilson at Dixon’s chapel by her ex-husband, Harry H. Wilson, and her 18 year old daughter, Marguerite, who fainted when she saw her mother.  Eloise was actually 43 years-0ld and the mother of four.

No reporter from any of the newspapers covering the accident bothered to report how Jay’s wife, Isabelle, reacted to the news and details of her husband’s death.

 Two days later, Coroner Earl Abbey’s jury exonerated Marshall and Beardsley of any wrong doing.

Whatever circumstances brought Jay and Eloise together on that last night of their lives, they’ve been kept separated in the years since. Jay is buried in the Long Beach Municipal Cemetery, and Eloise’s final resting place is in the Westminster Memorial Park. 

courtesy of findagrave.com

courtesy of findagrave.com

 –  Michael Dobkins

 

 

 

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July 20th in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1940, the Long Beach Independent ran this ad for the Dovalis 101 Ranch House Cafe. We’ve posted 101 Ranch House ads before, but this one is from very early in its history, coming only three weeks after the the restaurant’s grand opening on June 28th.

The new restaurant was owned by Nick Dovalis, a Greek immigrant who was born in Sparta in the Attika province on Christmas day in 1886. The 1930 census lists Dovalis as having immigrated to the United States in 1924, but other historical records show a Nick Dovalis working in the confectionary trade in the country much earlier. Maybe there was more than one Nick Dovalis working as a confectioner, but it seems unlikely.

The earliest notice of Nick Dovalis is from 1909 in a brief newspaper story about his selling his half of the Olympia Candy Co. in Austin, Minnesota to his business partner. Next Nick Dovalis shows up in 1913 to marry Ethel Dellert in Iowa, and then Ethel Dovalis shows up in the Muskogee, Oklahoma 1917 city directory married to confectioner Nick Dovalis who later registered for the draft in 1917. Finally in 1922, a Nick Dovalis without an Ethel, is listed in the Long Beach city directory as working at a soda fountain on Pine Avenue.

Restless Nick Dovalis may not have settled down permanently with Ethel, but he did settle down in Southern California for the rest of his life. At some point in the thirties, he open a Long Beach restaurant named the Olympia (just like the candy company) at Ocean Avenue and American Avenue (now Long Beach Boulevard).

One intriguing tidbit about this period is that the Coca-Cola company once filed an injunction against Dovalis in 1932 for selling his own soda formula in his shop under the trademarked brand name of Coca-Cola. He was later fined $250 and given a suspended sentence in 1934 for ignoring the injunction against his selling his own special “Coca-Cola” mix.

Dovalis expanded his restaurant empire by opening the Dovalis 101 Ranch House Cafe (one hopes with legitimate brand name sodas) on Pacific Coast Highway at 16th Street. Seal Beach must have agree with him because he bought a home on 13th Street and lived there until his death in 1967. The 101 Ranch House stayed in business until the mid-seventies.

–  Michael Dobkins

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July 19th in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1973, the following ad ran for The Hungry Hamburger in the Long Beach Independent, promising “A SMILE IN EVERY BITE” to diners visiting 12161 Seal Beach Boulevard in the Rossmoor Center.

Yet another long gone Seal Beach eatery, The Hungry Hamburger was managed by Jack Hughes and the staff was made up of “pretty girls who serve a smile with each hamburger.” (If you’re not keeping track, that’s a smile on the side in addition to the smile in ever bite.) Some of the menu items served were the Little Hungry, the Hungry, and the Big Hunger (a monster hamburger with a 1/3 pound choice ground sirloin patty), hot dogs, shakes, soft drinks, and french fries. 

As is too often the case with these posts, The Hungry Hamburger didn’t last long past 1973, and thus we are all forced to console ourselves with the cuisine offered at In-N-Out Burgers, Five Guys,or any of the other fine local establishments serving burgers to a sad and hungry crowd .

Dr. Norman Pokras and Jack Hughes didn’t just co-own
The Hungry Hamburger, they also ate there.

 

– Michael Dobkins

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July 18th in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1948, the Long Beach Independent shared that good news that any lady with a paid escort and the following ad could enjoy fishing on either the Super Express boat or Fishing Express boat every Friday — for free! The Horseshoe or Hunting Flats fishing spots were only 15 or 40 minutes away! Lady anglers rejoice!

July_18_1948_Fishing_Boats-Ad

– Michael Dobkins

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July 17th in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1946, the Bay Theatre had its grand opening at 5:30 p.m. with a double feature of John Payne and Maureen O’ Hara in “Sentimental Journey” with “Miss Susie Slagle’s,” starring Sonny Tufts and Veronica Lake.

July_17_1946_Bay_Theater_grand_opening

The Bay started out as the Beach Theatre, but the Fox West Coast Theatre chain bought, modernized, and renamed it.

June_23_1946_Beach_Theatre_Acquired

– Michael Dobkins

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