On this date in 1941, the American Legion of Seal Beach threw a gala night party to inaugurate the recently finished Neptune Room at Sam’s Seafood Cafe. The fun and frolicking included the Belmont Shore Westerners and Arthur Gibson and his 7-piece orchestra who, as this Long Beach Independent ad promised, “WILL ENTERTAIN YOU WITH MUSICAL RENDITIONS IN A HUGE WAY.”
Gibson had worked steadily throughout the thirties, playing in St. Louis and Kansas City before landing a coveted gig at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel rooftop stage. His biggest success was in Arizona at the Grand Cafe in Phoenix, Arizona, where he also had his own local radio show briefly. Before the Sam’s Seafood Cafe gig, he had returned to the West coast, playing at Palm Springs Hotel and Riverside’s Mission Inn. His engagement in the Neptune Room lasted two weeks.
There’s very little information about the Belmont Shore Westerners. They were a local drill corps of “cow girls” active briefly from 1941 to 1942. Made up of Long Beach high school and junior college students, they were lead by policeman Gene F. Fisher and captained by Jean Soss and amassed numerous awards and trophies .
A little over a month after the Sam’s Seafood gala, The Belmont Shore Westerners were featured at a Santa Claus Parade in Huntington Beach on the night of Saturday, December 6th. The next morning, the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor, and the country changed.
Arthur Gibson and his orchestra seems to have vanished after the Neptune Room engagement. No doubt some of the band members and maybe even Gibson himself entered military service in the next few months, and musical tastes changed during the war years.
As for the Belmont Shore Westerners, there is a brief article in the April 26, 1942 Long Beach Independent about their completing a standard first aid course for the war effort and getting invitation to various local USO shows. After that, they also vanish from public record.
– Michael Dobkins
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