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

Advertisements
Posted in Seal Beach History | Leave a comment

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

Posted in Seal Beach History | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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


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.

Posted in Seal Beach History | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

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.

Posted in Seal Beach History | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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 registers 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 more of 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.

You can find more posts on the Ranch House and its location by clicking on these links:

May 6, 1975
May 24, 1963
August 3, 1967
September 30, 1971
December 16, 1941

– 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.

Posted in Seal Beach History | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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


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.

Posted in Seal Beach History | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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


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.

Posted in Seal Beach History | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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. (If you’re feeling like throwing a commemorative Bay Theatre grand opening party, both films can be seen free in their entirety on YouTube.)

This double feature was replaced on July 19 by a double feature of “The Road to Utopia,” starring Bing Crosby and Bob Hope with “Bell of Rosarita,” starring Tigger and Roy Rogers.

This double feature was replaced on July 21 by “Tomorrow Is Forever” starring Claudette Colbert, George Brent, and Orson Welles with Alfred Drake and Janet Blair (and a very young Sid Caesar in his feature film debut) in “Tars and Spars.” This means that the this 1946 Bay Theatre photo can be reliably dated (and aren’t we all looking for reliable dates?) to July 21 or 22 before the bill was replaced by Gary Cooper and Ingrid Bergman in “Saratoga Trunk” and a “selected short.”

The Bay started out as the independently owned Beach Theatre in November, 1945 and was closed on June 23, 1946 to be furbished and renamed by the new owner, the Fox West Coast theatres chain. You can get a closer look at the box office in this post for December 24, 1955.

The Bay Theatre has been closed for a few years since the death of the previous owner, but it is currently being refurbished with an expected re-re-opening later in 2019.

– 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.

Posted in Seal Beach History | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

July 16th in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1938, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt passed into Seal Beach at 11:40 a.m. on his way to San Diego for a west coast fishing vacation.

The Presidential motorcade stopped briefly in Seal Beach as a Los Angeles County patrol car guard passed escort duties to Orange County police officials for a forty mile trip through the county on a coast highway lined with throngs of cheering crowds and patriotic decorations. Accompanying President Roosevelt on the motor trip was Senator McAdoo and his wife.

– 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.

Posted in Seal Beach History | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

July 15th in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1950, the Long Beach Independent’s Round The Town column mentioned that trombonist Turk Murphy and his Dixieland crew were playing a long-term gig at the Garden of Allah and hoped “the building was a solid as the music.”

Turk’s gig at the Garden of Allah started on July 1st when he took over for Pee Wee Hunt. A July 8 Round The Town column also mentioned Turk by mentioning rumors that “the “Garden of Allah out Seal Beach way is having foundation trouble. That old Dixieland man, Turk Murphy, has had the joint shaking for weeks. Regardless of whether the masonry can stand the jive, the customers never seem to get enough.”

For all you twenty-first century hepcats, here’s Turk’s band playing “Canal Street Blues” in March 1950:

– 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.

 

Posted in Seal Beach History | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

July 14th in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1960, the new lifeguard headquarters went into service on the Seal Beach pier. 

The new headquarters enhanced lifeguard effectiveness in two ways. The higher vantage point from the pier allowed better visibility of distant swimmers and sharks venturing near to shore. The new headquarters and the seven lifeguard towers on the beach were also equipped with telephone for faster and more detailed communications and coordination between the stations. Previously the lifeguards used signal flags to communicate with each other.


2019 Addendum: I received this response from Steve Seymour to this post when it ran originally in 2017:

I think the tower in the pic is the 10th St Hq on the beach. Then it moved to 8th St on the beach, and after that to the current location, except it was single story with a rooftop observation deck accessed from street level where police bldg is now.   The tower on the pier, tower “zero”, was built mid 70’s I believe, and was never a headquarters.

The image above is from a July 14, 1960 Los Angeles Times story. The photo caption identified it as the new pier tower, and the article refers to it as a new headquarters that will help coordinate with the beach towers.

What Steve suggests seems likely when you consider the odd angle the jeep is parked. It makes more sense as being parked on the beach that being awkwardly positioned on the pier. Perhaps an editor who was never on the scene misidentified the photo and assumed that the pier tower was the new headquarters.

As for the pier tower, it might have rebuilt or remodeled in the 70s, but it was definitely there in the sixties as shown in the aerial photos below.


An added benefit for obsessive Seal Beach history buffs (like myself) is that photos showing the pier without a lifeguard tower can now be dated to no later than 1960. For example, this popular postcard was postmarked in 1962, but I’ve always suspected the photo itself was taken a few years earlier in the late 1950s. Now we know it was taken before the tower was built on the pier. 

The tower stood on the west side of the pier as shown in this November 1963 photo.

Here’s a closer view of the pier from the same photo.

This tower was destroyed in 1983 when the pier was washed away by high surf. The current tower on the rebuilt pier was moved to the east side where it still stands today.

– 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.

 

Posted in Seal Beach History | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments