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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9 Responses to June 17th in Seal Beach History

  1. Karla Ober says:

    Really?!? The part of the photo used for the “headline” was a blow-up of the ladies’ breasts?!? Quite a departure from the usually high standards and family friendly posts to which I’ve grown accustomed . . .


    • Michael Dobkins says:


      it was not my intention to offend.

      The teaser photo accompanying the headline was not a blow-up of the ladies’ breasts. The edited teaser photo was framed to keep hidden the portion showing the mechanical beachcomber the women were pointing at, and I gave it the tongue-in-cheek caption, “Like Gidget flipped for Moondoggie, chicks really dig this beachcomber.” I’m poking mild fun at clickbait-y headlines and having a little fun at the revelation that the beachcomber they’re pointing at is a mechanical device — not, in fact, “a vagrant who makes a living by searching beaches for articles of value and selling them.”

      This is the clipped teaser image I uploaded. It’s part of a 1947 photo that ran in major newspaper and, as far as I can judge, is PG-rated at best. As a heterosexual male I certainly understand the appeal of two young ladies in the photo, but unlike the 1947 L.A. Time editor, I think the photo was silly cheesecake and deserves to be mocked. To me, this clipped photo is not a salacious “a blow-up of the ladies’ breasts,” but maybe I’m missing something from my male perspective.

      Again, I regret having offended you and apologize, Karl, but after serious consideration, I still honestly don’t see the offense.

      As for high standards, this blog has covered less than high-minded subjects like unpleasant murders, suicide, race-segregated real estate, prostitution, violence, and marital infidelity. Another consistent aspect of Seal Beach history is that cheesecake art and photos of ladies in swimsuits have been used to sell the place from the very beginning. I’m going to continue to include that aspect of the history when I find it, and I probably won’t resist the urge to enjoy mocking them when I do.

      To readers who haven’t a clue about what is going on, I can set an image and caption to show when the link for this post is shared on social media like Facebook.

      Take care,


      • Karla Ober says:

        Thank you for your response, Michael. I don’t think you intentionally meant to offend. However, it’s difficult to live in our society as women and be bombarded daily with hundreds of pictures of “perfected” images of women, and not feel like we are only valued for our looks. The images of women on the beach in bathing suits is not the problem. It’s that only their breasts were in the “header” photo.
        Thank you for all the great photos and articles,


  2. Hi Karla! And wow, I scrolled right by that, jeez, that’s awful.

    That said, I remember a similar contraption doing the exact same thing in the 60’s, but it looked more purpose-built, not a refactored hay rake. It was a good idea.


    • Karla Ober says:

      Hi, Lonnie! I remember after they dragged the beach they dumped it off of PCH and 5th where Suburbia is (was?) now. We would dig through the mounds of sand and find a few bucks worth of coins! My sister found a modest diamond ring once!


  3. Mary says:

    Karla is correct. When you look at this website on the internet, the picture that shows directly beneath the headline “This Day in Seal Beach History” is just breasts. The clipped picture showing on FB is a more complete, albeit clippped, picture showing the faces and pointing arms of the women, but not the machine. The picture at the top of THIS page just shows breasts.


  4. Michael, scroll to the top of the page, https://sbfoundersday.wordpress.com/2019/06/17/tdisbh168 above the post. It’s the banner image, very wide not very tall, and I’m guessing WordPress did an automatic cropping of the teaser image that, as Karla says, seems to zoom in on their breasts. Cringe-inducing.


  5. Michael Dobkins says:

    There’s an inconsistent feature or glitch in the free version of WordPress that takes takes a portion a the featured image for a post (which I set), and replaces the blog header with it (not something I do).

    Sometimes it happens and other times it doesn’t. For instance, the post for the June 16 post didn’t do this, but today’s post did. I would rather the reverse had happened.

    Needless to say, I have no control over this happening, or when it happens. I would prefer to have one single header all the time, but this blog is hosted free.

    Now the complaint seems much less prudish when put in the proper context. I don’t normally look at the individual blog posts to see the changed headers, and needless to say, I didn’t set the, ahem, busom-centric header. I fiddled about with setting for fifteen minutes to change it, and WordPress just doesn’t give me the flexibility I need to fix the individual header.

    Ultimately, I’ve removed the cropped feature image, and the header has reverted back to the default image.


    • Michael Dobkins says:

      I tried one last change to the featured image, and now their legs and the beachcomber are cropped in the header. I’m going to keep it this way so I still have a featured image for social media, but we’re no longer doing a close-up on breasts in the header.

      Someday I’ll move this to its own web site and will have more control of the graphics. Thanks, Lonnie, Marrie and Karla.


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