Welcome to This Date in Seal Beach History

This blog project is devoted to exploring Seal Beach’s past one day at a time.  It is individually run and maintained and is not affiliated with the City of Seal Beach or the Seal Beach Historical Society.
If you want to share posts or images from This Date in Seal Beach, please credit the site and share a link back to us if possible. The writing is copyrighted and all rights are reserved, so please do not share the work done here as your own.
Each post has a comment section, but you can contact me directly at mike@sealbeachhistory.com
If you enjoy the posts, the vintage photos, and the research shared on this blog, please consider making a small donation of a dollar or more to help defray the online subscriptions and other research costs that make this blog possible.
Donations can be made securely with most major credit cards directly through PayPal by click here to visit my Paypal donation page. Thank you.
This Date in Seal Beach History also has an online store hosted at Cafepress where you can order shirts, totebags, stationery, and other gift items imprinted with vintage Seal Beach images. Visit the online store by clicking here.
My sincerest gratitude to all the people have donated to this project so far. Here’s the current list of the This Date in Seal Beach sponsors. I’ll add more sponsor names as donation come in.

– Michael Dobkins

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June 25th in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1977, The Anglers Tackle Box on Electric Avenue hosted an all-day fishing clinic, featuring Leonard “Straggler” Lussier, noted Baja and Southern California saltwater fishing authority, a movie, prizes, discounts, experts and much more!

June_25_1977_Fishing_Clinic

– Michael Dobkins


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This Date in Seal Beach History also has an online store hosted at Cafepress where you can order shirts, tote bags, stationery, and other gift items imprinted with vintage Seal Beach images. Visit the online store by clicking here.

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June 24th in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1914, a “big auto excursion” left Santa Ana at 10:30 a.m. sharp to visit Seal Beach to enjoy “the surf, fishing, dancing, and bowling” and, representatives of the Guy M. Rush Company dearly hoped, put money down on a newly built home or beach lot.

June_24_1914_Auto_Excursion_to_SB

– Michael Dobkins


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If so, please consider making a small donation of a dollar or more to help defray the online subscriptions and other research costs that make this blog possible.

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This Date in Seal Beach History also has an online store hosted at Cafepress where you can order shirts, tote bags, stationery, and other gift items imprinted with vintage Seal Beach images. Visit the online store by clicking here.

 

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June 23rd in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1946, Fox West Coast Theatres ran this ad in the Long Beach Independent announcing that Seal Beach’s Beach Theatre had been acquired by the chain.

The Beach Theatre had been operating independently since the 1945 Thanksgiving weekend, but the last actual movie listed in the Los Angeles Times Independent Theatre Guide for the Beach Theatre was “Gulliver Travels” on May 4, 1946. After that, the guide only listed an ominous “Call Theatre for Program” for the Beach. After June 25, the Beach disappeared completely from the Independent Theatre Guide.

This is the only known photo of the Beach Theatre. After much squinting and some trial and error searching on IMDB, I’ve been able to identify the double feature showing at the Beach as “Shine On Harvest Moon” (1944) and “Pillow to Post” (1945). This pinpoints the photo as having been taken between March 26 and March 29, 1946.

Both films were Warners Brothers World War II era productions and probably felt old-fashioned to 1946 post-war Seal Beach audiences.

“Shine On Harvest Moon” is a fictionalized biography of early twentieth century Broadway stars, Nora Bayes and Jack Norwoth and stars Ann Sheridan, Dennis Morgan, Jack Carson and Irene Manning with a cast of Warner Brothers stock character actors rounding out the bill.

Although the Beach Theatre showed some films that would go on to become classics, “Shine On Harvest Moon” and “Pillow to Post” are typical of the sort of double features The Beach booked.

“Pillow to Post” is a by-the-numbers wartime comedy starring Ida Lupino as an inexperienced but patriotic traveling saleslady working for her father’s oil rig supply company to take up the slack when he can’t find a male salesman because they’re all in the military. Needing a place to sleep in a small town, the only available slot is at an auto court that accepts only married military couples. She “enlists” a reluctant lieutenant played by William Prince to pretend to be her husband, and complications and hiliarity ensues. Of course, they fall in love and decide to get hitched for real by the end.

The most notable thing about this film is a musical cameo by Louis Armstrong and His Orchestra with Dorothy Dandridge playing at a roadside tavern.

You can see the movie trailer for “Pillow to Post” on TCM’s web site by clicking here.

Over seven decades later, one can only speculate what happened to the Beach. An educated guess would be that the theatre’s operations were under-capitalized, and the construction of the theater had drained the cash reserves to point where the owner couldn’t meet his business costs from box office receipts alone.

The Fox West Coast Theatres chain shut down the theater “to prepare for our new policy,” a wonderfully uninformative turn of phrase. The Beach Theatre building was remodeled, and the remodeling wasn’t mere cosmetics. A new screen and sound system was installed, which suggested that the Beach’s film presentation was lacking, another factor that may have lead to its demise.

The Beach Theatre was gone forever, but it would soon be reborn, but you’re going to have to wait until July 17 to find out about that.

– Michael Dobkins


Have you enjoyed this and other This Date in Seal Beach History posts?

If so, please consider making a small donation of a dollar or more to help defray the online subscriptions and other research costs that make this blog possible.

Donations can be made securely with most major credit cards directly through PayPal. Just click on paypal.me/MichaelDobkins to go to PayPal. Thank you.

This Date in Seal Beach History also has an online store hosted at Cafepress where you can order shirts, tote bags, stationery, and other gift items imprinted with vintage Seal Beach images. Visit the online store by clicking here.

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June 23rd in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1927, two men were rushed to the Seaside Hospital in Long Beach. Robert I. Gilchrist, 54, of Sunset Beach and David Carlson, 37, of Seal Beach were struck by a car as they crossed the highway. The driver, Lynn Colburn of Long Beach reported the accident to the Seal Beach Police, claiming that he had been blinded by the headlights of an approaching car and did not see the two pedestrians. Colburn was released by the police when news that neither men were seriously injured.

– Michael Dobkins


Have you enjoyed this and other This Date in Seal Beach History posts?

If so, please consider making a small donation of a dollar or more to help defray the online subscriptions and other research costs that make this blog possible.

Donations can be made securely with most major credit cards directly through PayPal. Just click on paypal.me/MichaelDobkins to go to PayPal. Thank you.

This Date in Seal Beach History also has an online store hosted at Cafepress where you can order shirts, tote bags, stationery, and other gift items imprinted with vintage Seal Beach images. Visit the online store by clicking here.

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June 22nd in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1916, fishermen on the Seal Beach pier had a close encounter with a large California gray whale. Not only were the fishermen surprised by the whale spouting a large spray of water over them, but the whale also forced the anglers to take cover by rocking one of the pier pilings while attempting to scrape barnacles from his (or her) back.

After an hour, the friendly aquatic mammal swam out to sea, leaving the fishermen to their normal activities and with a large sea mammal of a tale to share.

Michael Dobkins


Have you enjoyed this and other This Date in Seal Beach History posts?

If so, please consider making a small donation of a dollar or more to help defray the online subscriptions and other research costs that make this blog possible.

Donations can be made securely with most major credit cards directly through PayPal. Just click on paypal.me/MichaelDobkins to go to PayPal. Thank you.

This Date in Seal Beach History also has an online store hosted at Cafepress where you can order shirts, tote bags, stationery, and other gift items imprinted with vintage Seal Beach images. Visit the online store by clicking here.

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June 21st in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1940, The Seal Beach Lions Club held its first annual election after flourishing though its inaugural year of 1939.

Seal Beach Community Church pastor F. Harold Essert replaced founding president of the Lions Club, J. C. Felts. Max Henkey, Dr. Homer De Sadeleer, and Mayor Elmer J. Hughes were elected first, second, and third vice presidents. James Arnerich was elected Lion Tamer and J. S. McLean was re-elected Tail Twister. A. V. Stegen and H. Mendenhall were voted in as new directors while Lee Benno and Frank Moran were holdover directors.

Nearly eight decades later, the Seal Beach Lions Club also remains an active and vital force in  the Seal Beach community. I think everyone in Seal Beach should experience a lively and affable Seal Beach Lions Club at least once in his or her life. If you ever get invited to one, don’t decline the invitation.

You can find out more about the club’s modern-day activities by clicking here.

Michael Dobkins


Have you enjoyed this and other This Date in Seal Beach History posts?

If so, please consider making a small donation of a dollar or more to help defray the online subscriptions and other research costs that make this blog possible.

Donations can be made securely with most major credit cards directly through PayPal. Just click on paypal.me/MichaelDobkins to go to PayPal. Thank you.

This Date in Seal Beach History also has an online store hosted at Cafepress where you can order shirts, tote bags, stationery, and other gift items imprinted with vintage Seal Beach images. Visit the online store by clicking here.

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June 20th in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1966, the Seal Beach McGaugh Pool officially opened. A joint venture between J. H. McGaugh Intermediate School and the City of Seal Beach, the pool cost $118,000.

Students had used the pool during the school year, but June 20th was the official opening for the entire community. The first schedule for recreational swimming  was offer in two sessions on weekdays from 1 to 2:30 p.m and then 2:45 to 4:15 p.m.  The weekend schedule had three sessions from noon to 1:30 p.m., 1:45 to 3:15 p.m, and 3:30 to 4:45 p.m. Swimming instruction was also offered.

– Michael Dobkins


Have you enjoyed this and other This Date in Seal Beach History posts?

If so, please consider making a small donation of a dollar or more to help defray the online subscriptions and other research costs that make this blog possible.

Donations can be made securely with most major credit cards directly through PayPal. Just click on paypal.me/MichaelDobkins to go to PayPal. Thank you.

This Date in Seal Beach History also has an online store hosted at Cafepress where you can order shirts, tote bags, stationery, and other gift items imprinted with vintage Seal Beach images. Visit the online store by clicking here.

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June 19th in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1964, the following ad for Surf Boards By Jack Haley ran in the Los Angeles Times.

This is just one date in time from one man’s notable life. Jack Haley was and remains a Seal Beach institution. In his sixty-five years of life, He was so many things: family man, surfing pioneer, lifeguard, entrepreneur, mentor, and restaurateur. People who knew Jack Haley called him, “Mister Excitement.”

Mister Excitement first came to prominence on September 22, 1959 when he became the first West Coast Surfing Champion. This was in the early long board days of the surfing culture before it blossomed into a multi-millionaire industry. The enthusiasm and personalities of young surfers like Haley, Blackie August, Rich Harbour, and so many others influenced the shape of that culture, and that influence is still felt today.

But surfers need day jobs, and Jack Haley kept close to the waves and beach by becoming a Seal Beach lifeguard in the early sixties. If you’ve ever spoken to Seal Beach lifeguards, you know they have countless stories about their experiences. Two incidents from Jack Haley’s lifeguard days were noteworthy enough into the Long Beach Independent Press Telegram.

The first is a typical lifeguard rescue story. Four surfers had been swept half a mile out to sea on a Sunday afternoon in February 1963. The teenagers lost their surfboards in the breaking waves at the mouth of the San Gabriel River where the ocean tides mixed with river’s current. Three of the surfers, teenaged friends from Whittier, were saved by boat, and it was uncertain when the story was written whether or not the fourth, not part of the Whittier group had made it to shore independently.

“The surf out there was terrible,” said Lt. Lifeguard Haley. “When they lost their boards they couldn’t swim against the river’s current. They were rescued near the oil drilling island, which is a half-mile from shore.”

According to Haley, it was the first time in ten years the waves were breaking beyond the end of the the quarter mile long Seal Beach pier — the sort of detail a seasoned surfer would note. In the newspaper story, Haley seems to be the source for the information about the rescue, but care was taken to also give credit to Seal Beach lifeguards Fred Miller and Tim Dorsey for other less striking and yet important swimmer and surfer rescues under rough conditions.

At nightfall, the fourth surfer had still not been located, and the Coast Guard planned to resume searching the next day. There is no follow up story, so one hopes the surfer made it to shore, safe but unnoticed.

The second story is little more unusual and takes places two months later in April 1963. Under the lovely headline of “Surfboard Terror Arrested At Sea,” the Long Beach Independent Press-Telegram of surfer Terry Lee Gardner of Garden Grove. Gardner had attached razor blades to the skag (rudder) of his surfboard and threatened to “cut to ribbons anyone who got in his way.”

At the time, there were 150 surfers in the newly designated surfing area. Gardner tried to run his fellow surfer down until the Seal Beach police arrived and ordered him to shore. Instead of complying, Gardener paddled out to sea.

Haley set out after Gardner in a rowboat, and the Long Beach Harbor Patrol boats were called out. When Haley and the patrol boats caught up with Gardner, he was frantically trying to remove the razor blades from his board. He was charged with assault with a deadly weapon.

Not every workday in a lifeguard’s life are as dramatic as these, but rescuing, life-saving, maintaining a safe beach and waters, and aiding beachgoers and swimmers are regular events, whether newspapers take note or not. A single lifeguard can have an immeasurable, but significant impact on thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of lives during his or her career.

One would think being the first West Coast Surfing Champion and a Seal Beach lifeguard would be enough for one lifetime, but Jack Haley had an entrepreneurial spirit. Riding the wave of his success as a surfing champion, he opened his own surfboard shop in Seal Beach in 1961.

In 1963, two months after helping nab the Surfboard Terror of Garden Grove, Haley and his brother Mike opened a surfing school.

Next on Jack Haley’s list of accomplishments came in 1965 when he opened Captain Jack’s in Sunset Beach. The first few years of business were a struggle for Haley and his family, but over half a century later, you can still get a table at Captain Jack’s, and enjoy a cocktail and a nice steak or seafood meal with a complimentary basket of bread. Other long-lasting local restaurants like Sam’s Seafood, the Ranch House, and the Glide ‘er Inn have slipped into history, fondly remembered and gone, but Captain Jack’s is still flourishing and is still run by the Haley family.

In 1997, Haley spearheaded a successful campaign to privately fund construction of a lifeguard station at the base of the Seal Beach pier, and the station was named for him. In July 1999, Haley was inducted into the Surfer Hall of Fame.

For all the drive for success and excellence and variety of activities that Jack Haley poured into life, he did not neglect his family: his wife, Jeanette; his mother, Virginia, another notable Seal Beach citizen; and children, Tim, currently manager of Captain Jack’s, Sondra, and Jack Jr., who played two seasons for the Lakers and passed away in 2015.

In a 2015 Los Angeles Times profile celebration of Captain Jack’s 50th anniversary, Tim Haley recalled various family outings like cruises to Catalina on the yacht, Christina, ski trips to Mammoth, and motorcycle rides to Enseneda. The family would have dinner together every night.

On March 26, 2000, Jack Haley passed away at age sixty-five to cancer. True to form, Mister Excitement had planned his own beach party memorial with Hawaiian shirts and mariachi music. “He demanded there not be a tear at the party. He wanted it to celebrate his life,” said Tim Haley in the Los Angeles Times obituary. Later, Tim added, Jack Haley’s ashes would be spread in the sea at Maui and Cabo San Lucas, “so he will continue surfing.”

You can visit Captain Jack’s web site here, or call after 3 p.m. 562-592-2514 for reservations.

– Michael Dobkins

P.S. Because it’s come up more than a few times over the years, Seal Beach’s Jack Haley was not related to Jack Haley, the song and dance man best known for his role as the Tin Man in the 1939 MGM musical, The Wizard of Oz. Or Bill Haley of “Rock Around The Clock” fame. Let’s stop spreading these myths, folks!


Have you enjoyed this and other This Date in Seal Beach History posts?

If so, please consider making a small donation of a dollar or more to help defray the online subscriptions and other research costs that make this blog possible.

Donations can be made securely with most major credit cards directly through PayPal. Just click on paypal.me/MichaelDobkins to go to PayPal. Thank you.

This Date in Seal Beach History also has an online store hosted at Cafepress where you can order shirts, tote bags, stationery, and other gift items imprinted with vintage Seal Beach images. Visit the online store by clicking here.

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June 18th in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1978, the Los Angeles Times reported that Seal Beach had presented its City Beautification Award to the newly remodeled Seal Beach Mall, located at 311 Main Street. Architect Richard Grossgold had designed the renovation for developers Thomas E. Hyams and Richard Doyle.

It had previously an industrial building and home to various tenants over the years, such as California Artists, a greeting cards publisher, the Seal Beach post office, an electronics manufacturer named Trans Com West, a ticket sales call center, and even a gymnastics school. After the remodel, the Seal Beach Mall offered sixteen shops in a 12,000 square foot space and is still in business today over forty years later.

– Michael Dobkins


Have you enjoyed this and other This Date in Seal Beach History posts?

If so, please consider making a small donation of a dollar or more to help defray the online subscriptions and other research costs that make this blog possible.

Donations can be made securely with most major credit cards directly through PayPal. Just click on paypal.me/MichaelDobkins to go to PayPal. Thank you.

This Date in Seal Beach History also has an online store hosted at Cafepress where you can order shirts, tote bags, stationery, and other gift items imprinted with vintage Seal Beach images. Visit the online store by clicking here.

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June 17th in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1947, Seal Beach city maintenance foreman Roy Thomas showed off his “comber” to a Los Angeles Times reporter and photographer.

Thomas had modified a hay rake with a one-half inch mesh screen that left debris windrows of glass, paper, and trash for a second “harvester” machine built by Thomas. The two machines were kept in constant operation and kept the beach virtually free of glass and litter.

Thomas’ innovative solution to the challenge of beach maintenance was so successful, it was already “being copied for use in other areas.”

It was not, however, photogenic enough either alone or with its inventor for the Times, so when the story ran the next day, the editor ran a photo of two young ladies in swimsuits, Sandra Hayley and Dianne Wurm, with the “comber” to lend it some glamor and sex appeal.

 

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