Professor Cairo is Coming

The Joy Zone – Early 1916


click on the image for a larger view

It’s late 1915 0r early 1916 in a new city named Seal Beach,  and workers are busy constructing a new amusement strip along the beach to be called “The Joy Zone” in the hopes that it will be just as successful the original “Joy Zone” at the recently ended San Francisco Panama Pacific International Exposition.   Founding father Philip Stanton has used his political pull to acquire the derby roller coaster from the Joy Zone and the famous scintillators to attract visitors to Seal Beach. In addition to those two worthy diversions, another marvel would soon come to Seal Beach from the San Francisco exposition.

The banner reads, “Professor Cairo, The World’s Greatest Palmist, Family From Three Centuries Back, Direct From Frico (sic) Exposition, Open April 29th.”  So early Seal Beach not only had palm trees, but it also had palms read.  (Forgive me, it’s late.)

It’s difficult to find verifiable information about Professor Cairo, but an 1918 article in the Journal of the American Medical Association briefly mentions an advertising astrologer in Portsmouth, England, Professor Cairo who sold mail-order courses in hypnotism.  I also found a description of radio soap opera actress Elia Braca as “a darkly exotic woman with large Middle-Eastern eyes and a tumble of black hair – her mother was Turkish and her father an Egyptian fortune teller, the Professor Cairo of the Oscar Wilde circle” in Edward Field’s “The man who would marry Susan Sontag: and other intimate literary portraits.”

Is this the same Professor Cairo?  I have no idea.  Although the next time I’m on Main Street, I plan on finding out whether the Seal Beach Psychic has a family from three centuries back.

Be sure to check back each week for more historical photos and stories of Seal Beach.

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