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.
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My sincerest gratitude to all the people have donated to this project. Click here to see a list of This Date in Seal Beach sponsors.
– Michael Dobkins
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May 24th in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1963, an ad ran in the Long Beach Independent for Seal Beach’s Hawaiian themed restaurant on Pacific Coast Highway.

No, not Sam’s Seafood. This restaurant was The Eddie Bush Mauna Kea and was located at 1600 Pacific Coast Highway. 

Readers of this blog might remember that this was the address for the Dovalis 101 Ranch House. The original owner Nick Dovalis launched the restaurant in 1940 as covered in this post.  In late 1963, Bill Smyrniotis and his brothers took over what was now known as the 101 Ranch House and introduced a Greek flair to the menu and live entertainment as recounted in this post.

But briefly between Dovalis and Smyrniotis, Mr. and Mrs. Don Chandler owned the restaurant with entertainer Eddie Bush, and it was remodeled into Hawaiian themed restaurant. It had three nightly floor shows (except for Mondays) featuring island music by the Wally Palmeira Trio (Wally Palmeira, Ronnie Salci, and George Kainapau), co-owner and then Seal Beach resident Eddie Bush, and two Tahitian dancers.

Perhaps the location was bad or the restaurant was underfinanced, but the last mention of Eddie Bush Mauna Kea was in early July 1963 — a bare four months after its soft launch on March 1st. By November, Eddie Bush was performing at Mr. C’s on Pacific Coast Highway.

This is not surprising. Eddie Bush had been a fixture of the Long Beach Hawaiian music scene for years before the ill-fated Mauna Kea, performing mostly at The Hawaiian a few blocks east of the traffic circle. His show biz career spread much wider and including radio, movies, and television. He died in Long Beach in 1969 at age fifty-eight.

Here’s an Eddie Bush recording from a couple decades before Mauna Kea.

After Eddie Bush and Bill Smyrniotis, there would be a variety of new owners, and the restaurant would come to be known as simply the Ranch House Restaurant for most of the seventies before being renamed Rum Runners. Rum Runners lasted through the eighties before the owners declared bankruptcy in 1989. The building was demolished in May 1992.

– Michael Dobkins


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May 23rd in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1954, a story ran in the Los Angeles Times announcing that a second school would soon be built in Seal Beach.

Seal Beach Superintendent of Schools Jerry H. McGaugh had been planning the new school since 1948 to accommodate rising student enrollment. It took some strong arm tactics and behind the scenes wheeling and dealing, but ultimately land bordering between Bolsa Avenue and Bay Boulevard (later renamed Seal Beach Boulevard) was purchased in 1952 for an new intermediate school.

This was the second time McGaugh had spearheaded the building of a Seal Beach school. When the original 1913 Seal Beach elementary school at Twelfth Street and Pacific Coast Highway was severely damaged in the 1933 Long Beach Earthquake, he guided the construction of a new school on the same grounds to completion in 1935.

The new school must have been a dream project for McGaugh. Beyond adding twelve new classrooms for grades six to eight, the layout and facilities seemed more appropriate for a high school with a spacious gymnasium, auditorium, music room, cafeteria shop building, and spacious playground.

When McGaugh retired in June 1955 a few months before the new school opened, the school board surprised him by naming it “J. H. McGaugh Intermediate School,” a fitting honor for a gentleman who guided Seal Beach’s education for nearly three decades and whose influence continues to be felt today in the form of the first-class school he gave the community.

– Michael Dobkins


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May 22nd in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1917, the following ad ran in the Los Angeles Times listing vendors that carried Christopher’s “always dependable Ice Cream.”

What is this ad’s connection to Seal Beach history? Two “wide-awake Merchants” in the vendor list were located in Seal Beach. The Seal Beach Concessions Company, which ran the amusement zone on the east side of the pier, and the Seal Beach Drug Company, located on Main Street.

The Christopher’s ice cream brand started as ice cream parlor in Los Angeles in the 1890s, expanded to offering their ice cream in concession stands at fairs and exhibitions in the late 1890s, and then shifted to supplying ice cream to drug stores, ice cream parlors, and stands throughout Southern California around the turn of the century.

There are hundreds of Christopher’s newspaper ads during the first three decades of the twentieth century, many of them as well designed and exquisitely drawn as the one in this post. The company that brought the “Cream of Health” to Seal Beach in 1917 seems to have faded away in the late twenties, perhaps bought out by a larger brand.

– 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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May 21st in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1984, the Los Angeles Times ran a feature on the 3rd annual Pageant of the Arts at J. H. McGaugh Intermediate School the previous week.

On May 2nd, 1984 Jame Lapine’s and Stephen Sondheim’s audacious musical, Sunday in the Park with George premiered on Broadway. The first act told the fictionalized tale of how impressionist painter Georges Seurat created his 1884 masterpiece, “A Sunday on La Grande Jatte.” The act climaxes with Seurat bringing all the characters and landscape he’s been sketching into order on the stage “through design, composition, tension, balance, light, and harmony” to create the painting. The musical won two Tonys and a Pulitzer prize.

On the west coast a few weeks later, “A Sunday on La Grande Jatte” was also recreated on stage — this time inside the J.H. McGaugh Auditorium and without a big Broadway musical budget or Sondheim score. Students from Kindergarten through the fifth grade had spent a couple months painting the set, and nine and ten year olds in full costume played the roles of the figures in the Seurat painting. Art teacher Shirley Johns and music teacher Sara Magana guided the project with choreography by Jean Parks.

The Pageant of the Arts has become an annual tradition at McGaugh, and the 37th annual show was staged at the end of March this year. No doubt inspired by Laguna Beach’s annual Pageant of the Masters, the Seal Beach Pageant of the Arts is not satisfied with static recreations of works of art with living actors posing in tableaux vivant (that’s French for living pictures). Our Pageant of the Arts will usually focuses on on a single artist each year and combines music, dance, and spoken commentary. The result is ambitious, colorful, and great fun.– 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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May 20th in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1939, Andy’s Fish Pond ran the following ad in the Santa Ana Register.

May_20_1939_Andy__039_s_Fish_Pond_adWe know some of our readers have firsthand memories of Anaheim Landing before the Navy took over in 1944. Can any of them pinpoint which building in this 1939 aerial photograph was 2000 Coast Highway? (Click on any of these images for a larger view.)

1939 Seal Beach

1939 Seal Beach

Here’s a closer view of Anaheim Landing.

1939 Anaheim Landing Close Up

1939 Anaheim Landing Close Up

Our guess is that Andy’s Fish Pond was in one of these two buildings.

1939-Anaheim Bay-Aerial close up circle– Michael Dobkins


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May 19th in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1916, Seal Beach the Lodge Cafe on Main Street ran this ad in the Santa Ana Register.

May_19_1916_Lodge_Cafe_ad

Adams, Beverly and West were a male comedy and singing trio active in 1916.  After some initial success in Chicago, they were booked on a western tour with stops in Portland, Salem, Oakland (where the Oakland Tribune took favorable note of the trio’s “Mr. Snippy’s Nightmare” by calling it “one of the greatest laughing sketches we have ever seen”), San Francisco, and obviously Seal Beach. They appear not to have stayed together past their brief 1916 season in the sun.

And that’s show biz, folks!

The Lodge Cafe's dining room

The Lodge Cafe’s dining room

A wildly inaccurate view of the Lodge Cafe's Exterior at Central Avenue and Main Street.

A wildly inaccurate view of the Lodge Cafe’s Exterior at Central Avenue and Main Street.

– Michael Dobkins


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May 18th in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1974, Seal Beach threw a Fiesta on Main Street, complete with an artists and merchants sidewalk sale, a Lions Club Pancake Breakfast, a parade, strolling musicians, and a marimba band! 

– Michael Dobkins


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May 17th in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1924, the Santa Ana Register cited an unnamed report that claimed that the colony of 300 seals residing in Alamitos Bay were consuming “some twelve tons of fish a day” and would soon deplete the bay. Local fishermen reported that they were still catching “extra fine specimens” of “the finny tribe.”

The article concluded with the observation that the seal colony, oblivious to the human dispute over fish supply, watched with wonder the construction of the Los Angeles Gas and Electric steam plant on the shore of the bay, “undisturbed by rumor or roar of machinery.”

– Michael Dobkins


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May 16th in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1969, this Long Beach Independent ad offered sport fishing from the G.W., the Valencia, and an offshore barge from the Seal Beach pier.

The ad also featured a crude rendition of Solly the Seal (he may have been known as Salty originally), a Walt Disney designed mascot that had been adopted by Seal Beach in 1944 and used on city stationery and other promotional materials.

 – Michael Dobkins


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May 15th in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1954, two “kangaroo men” — as they were named in a headline in the next day’s Long Beach Independent — escaped from Seal Beach Police. John Johnson, the owner of the drugstore at 141 Main Street, was leaving work for the night when he heard noises from the roof above his store.

Johnson called the police department, and the dispatched officers scaled the building and confronted two suspects. The two men surprised the officers by leaping twenty feet to the ground and making a clean getaway in a car parked nearby. 

Unfortunately, there were no wandering minstrels nearby to witness this and turn it into a famous folk song.

The Seal Drug Co. was located at 141 Main Street on the west side of the street where Bob’s Rexall did business for years and where Stitch and Feather has operated a “women’s boho boutique; a Dame’s Market” since 2013.

This photo can be dated within a seven year period from 1946 to 1953. Along the edge of the left side behind a street lamp, there is a glimpse of the Cole’s Market sign. Cole’s Market opened their Seal Beach location in August 1946 and included the address in advertisement until August 1953. By November 1953, a “Food King Mkt.” occupied 148 Main Street. (The market’s name expanded to John’s Food King later.)

This photo is filled with long-gone Seal Beach businesses that are little bit easier to see if you click on the image for a larger view.  Also, note the Pacific Electric red car tracks paved over down the center of Main Street.

Next to Seal Drug Co. was the Seal Beach News, an anti-gambling rival newspaper to the Seal Beach Post and Wave.  The short-lived Seal Beach News started circulating in 1946, but didn’t last long. It was gone before 1954 when a Baptist church took over that address.

On the other side of the Seal Drug Co. was a jewelry store (probably the actual target of the “kangaroo men” and The Friendly Nook, a yarn and wool store, at 137 1/2 Main.

Further down the street towards the pier is Frosty’s Shop, specializing in “Ladies and Gents Wear” and helping you “Look Your Best” and “Look Well-Dressed” with “Careful Cleaning,” according to the ad copy on a Frosty’s Shop matchbook. Frosty’s was owned by John C. “Frosty” Felts, an active member of the Seal Beach community and one-time president of the Seal Beach Lions Club. His name is spread across newspaper stories about Seal Beach community events from the thirties to the fifties.

If you ever rode on the merry-go-round that was installed on the east side of the pier, you’re familiar with his work. He spearheaded the 1947 fundraising and installation of the “flying wheel” as the chairman of public welfare committee of the Seal Beach Lions Club. “Frosty” Felts lived at 502 Central Avenue and passed away in 1956.

And, if you look carefully just past the Frosty’s sign, you can see the sign for the Circle Cafe. There are other stores and signs that unfortunately didn’t photograph sharply enough to read. One final curiosity is an advertisement for the Hollywood Record Club on the side of one of the Main Street buildings. This wasn’t a Seal Beach business, but a mail order record outfit similar to the Columbia House Record of the Month Club.

Even though this photo was taken before the rooftop chase described in today’s post, the Main Street it shows would have still looked much the same when those elusive “kangaroo men” made their dramatic twenty foot leap into Seal Beach history back in 1954.

– 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.

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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