September 7th in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1958, the Long Beach Independent Press-Telegram ran a profile of Gene Harding, the manager of the Marina Shores tract in Seal Beach and the 1957 Long Beach Sales Executive Club’s Salesman of the Year under the headline “Blue-Eyed Blonde Bosses Seal Beach Sales Office.” The paper also ran a couple of photographs that reproduce poorly from microfilm.

sept_7_1958_gene_harding_photoThe reporter of this piece, Sterling Bemis, knew a good hook when he saw it and played up the contrast of Gene Harding’s business acumen and success with her smashing good looks. Somewhere while describing her as “a spun-taffy blonde with blue eyes” and making note of her silky tan 35-24-35 figure, he mentions in passing that Gene’s “an alert, intense executive who is in the job up to 12 hours a day, often seven days a week.”

Gene was short for Emogene, which Bemis described as a “curvy cognomen in tune with a 34-year old mother” with a 15 year-old son and a 5 year-old daughter. Gene was married to  a dietary specialist whose vitamin therapy was apparently responsible for her healthy physique, although she admitted that she kept “so busy that an extra pound wouldn’t dare tackle her.”  

sept_7_1958_gene_harding_photo_2I like to think that last line shows that Gene had a sense of humor about the angle Bemis choose for the story, and that as a good “salesman” she realized that the publicity from the article would bring more people to the Marina Shores tract. Whether she realized it or not, she was using an oft-used tactic for promoting Seal Beach real estate with cheesecake. 

Still, it had to feel at least a little disheartening for Gene to be a more than competent manager and salesperson and yet the bulk of her profile was spent focusing on her physical attributes.

You can see an ad for Marina Shores in the post for March 30th in Seal Beach History

– Michael Dobkins

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2 Responses to September 7th in Seal Beach History

  1. Lonnie Brownell says:

    “curvy cognomen in tune with a 34-year old mother”
    They just don’t write ’em like that anymore. Which is good, because my head hurts trying to make sense of it.


    • Michael Dobkins says:

      One of the interesting byproducts of this project is that I keep coming across the same reporter and columnist names in the Long Beach Independent. Sterling Bemis hit the ground running in 1948 with a slew of folksy human interest stories and retired in the early seventies as an associate editor. He had an, er, eccentric writing style, and I can picture him at his desk, hunched over a typewriter with an index finger nailing an uncommon word in an open thesaurus.

      Liked by 1 person

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