December 24th in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1955, Seal Beachers seeking to relax and get away from the Christmas hubbub could spend their Christmas Eve at the Bay Theatre watching a Saturday double feature of “To Catch a Thief” and “Jupiter’s Darling.”

photo courtesy of Bob Robertson

The Bay Theatre photo above was not taken on Christmas Eve 1955, instead it was taken during the previous weekend when the double feature was “We’re No Angels,” starring Humphrey Bogart, Peter Ustinov, and Aldo Ray and “How To Be Very, Very Popular,” Betty Grable’s last film.  If you look closely at the “Now Playing” display in photo, it has a poster for “We’re No Angels.” 

I still haven’t been able to hunt down the film for the poster in the “Bay” display. It doesn’t seem to be “How To Be Very, Very Popular.”

In the “Next Attraction” displays in the photo, you’ll see posters for “Jupiter’s Darling” and “To Catch A Thief.” This was the double feature showing at the Bay from December 23-26 in 1955.

“To Catch a Thief” was 1955 feature film directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Cary Grant and Grace Kelly.

“Jupiter’s Darling” was a 1955 historical musical set in Roman times, starring Howard Keel as Hannibal and Esther Williams as a captured princess who falls in love with him. The movie was a notorious box office flop.

And yes, that’s the manager, Mr. Cobb, standing next to the box office in the Bay Theatre photo, which was previously featured in one of our earlier posts from 2010, Mermaids and Jewel Thieves. If you click on that post, be sure to read the comments for more Seal Beach folk sharing their memories of the Bay and Mr. Cobb.

– Michael Dobkins


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December 23rd in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1938, Vivian Laird made sure that Seal Beachers knew that they didn’t have to stay home on Christmas because they had dining and entertainment options with this ad in the Santa Ana Register.  At her South Seas restaurant you could get a complete Christmas turkey dinner for 90 cents, but why bother? For a dime more, the Garden of Allah in Seal Beach offered that same complete Christmas turkey dinner plus “two snappy bands for dancing” and “music played the way you like it!”

– Michael Dobkins


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December 22nd in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1949, the Seal Beach Baby Shop at 306 Main Street (next to the post office) opened its doors at 9:30 am to launch a massive sale devoted to “CLOSING OUT OUR ENTIRE STOCK to the PUBLIC at TERRIFIC PRICE REDUCTIONS.”

Forgive us for introducing you to a long forgotten Main Street Seal Beach business just as it’s announcing “Soon We Close Our Doors Forever, ” but it is only at the end that there is any record of the Seal Beach Baby Shop. All there that remains is this one full-page ad in the December 21st Long Beach Independent announcing the “Quitting Business Closing Out Sale” starting the next day.

It’s hard not to admire the elan and gusto that the owners put into the ad copy:

Terrific Price Reductions Throughout This Stock… To Insure A Quick Close-Out To The Bare Walls… A Complete Liquidation Of This Business Must Be Accomplished… Regardless Of Loss

It’s The End… The Finish.

We Are Going Out of Business. Thousands Of Dollars Worth of Fine Infants’ And Children’s Wear… To Be Thrown On The Market… And Sacrificed… At Tremendous Markdowns.

All Prices Slashed 
At Cost! Near Cost! Below Cost!

Our Purpose Is Clear… We Are Quitting Business… It is the End of This Fine Infants’ and Children’s Wear Store… We Go Into This, Our Farewell Sale, With But One Aim… TO LIQUIDATE THIS BUSINESS… NO MATTER WHAT THE LOSS MAY BE… For We Realize That Low Price and Low Price Alone Is the Only Thing That Will Turn This Merchandise Into Cash… Within the Time We Have Allotted Ourselves to Close This Store.

There Will Be No Let-Up to This Sacrifice Until This Store Is Swept Clear of Every Last Dollar’s Worth of Stock… Everything Must Be… Has to Be Sold… This Is One Sale That No Thrifty Buyer of Infants’ and Children’s Wear Can Afford to Pass By Unheeded… This Is a Sale That Will Include Every Dollar’s Worth of Merchandise in the Store… Only Our Own Regular Stock Will Be Presented to You… Nothing Has Been Added for Sale Purposes.

I think the meaning they’re hinting at is that they might be going out of business and that the prices might be a smidge lower than usual. Redundant ad copy and eccentric… punctuation… aside, you have to give the owners credit for not using a single exclamation point in the entire ad.

Kidding aside, I know it’s late by at least seven decades, but let’s wish the owners and employees of the Seal Beach Baby Shop the best of luck in their future endeavors. (even if their future is our past.)

– Michael Dobkins


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December 21st in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1913, the Guy M. Rush Company ran a Christmas themed ad for Seal Beach in the Los Angeles Times, starring Henri DeKruif’s indefatigable seals.

This time the aquatic rascals are stuffing the entire Seal Beach tract (complete with the pier) into the “Los Angeles” stocking because, as we all know, “A Seal Beach lot is a gift that grows in value always.”

And remember: No Undertow!

– Michael Dobkins


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December 20th in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1946, 25 judges for the Orange County Coast Association’s “Forty Miles of Christmas Smiles” announced the award winners for the various categories for Christmas decorations along the Orange County coast.  Seal Beach did not go unrecognized.

Seal Beach shared with San Clemente the Best Lighted Small City award.

Seal Beach’s shrine display at the pier shared the Best Shrine Small City award, again with San Clemente.

The Glide Er Inn was one of the winners in The Best Decorated Business Place category.

The South Coast News award for the most artistic display went to R. W. Bender of Seal Beach.

– Michael Dobkins


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This Date in Seal Beach History Contest

As a fun capper to a year of daily posts here on the blog, I’ve decided to do something that has never been done before. There have been all sorts of historical reenactments from Civil War battles to Dickens cosplay to Renaissance fair pageantry, but as far as I know, no one has ever reenacted a limerick contest.

Ninety-five years ago today, The Los Angeles Times ran a limerick contest that challenged readers to finish a limerick that started “There was a young man from Seal Beach…”

Today we’re going to reenact this very same challenge. Come up with your own end to the same limerick:

There was a young man from Seal Beach,
Who held on to his dough like a leech,
He once spent a dime,
All at the same time,
_________________________________________.

E-mail it to mike@SealBeachHistory.com by midnight PST, December 24, 2019. Please include your name, mailing address, and e-mail address. Also include a short bio that tells of your connection to Seal Beach, like so…


Polly Poetess
213 Iambic Way
Seal Beach, CA 90740
Polly@Poetess.net
Polly Poetess is a charter accountant who lived in Seal Beach during from 1961-1973 and now bitterly regrets having moved away.

…or…

Victor Versifier
315 Pentameter Avenue
River City, Iowa 52819
VT@Versifier.org
Victor Versifier used to visit his grandparent in Seal Beach back in the nineties and now makes a living selling belt buckles made of cotton candy on Etsy.

On Christmas Day I will post a poll of all the limerick endings on the blog without any identifying info. Whichever limerick ending receives the most votes by midnight PST on New Year’s Eve will be declared the winner.

Way back on September 15th, I ran a long post about the day the Tom Laughlin filmed Born Losers, the original Billy Jack film on Main Street Seal Beach. In preparing that post, I had to laboriously transcribe the DVD commentary on the Seal Beach sections of the film, and I never want to see that film again. That means I have a spare used copy of the Born Losers DVD just taking up space. Hmm. What do, what to do? Ah-ha!

In addition the glory and honor that will be bestowed upon the winner of our reenactment limerick contest, he or she will receive the very same copy I used to research the Born Losers post via media mail in January. If that’s not motivation to get poetic, I don’t know what is.

Feel free to send as many entries as you like.

– Michael Dobkins


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December 19th in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1924, the Los Angeles Times ran another of its limerick contests, this time about “A young man from Seal Beach.”  The entry form is reproduced below, but, while today’s readers are encouraged to take their own shot at finishing the limerick and sharing it in the comments,  keep in mind that the actual contest with the cash prizes ended almost a century ago.

Back in 1924, Los Angeles Times readers had to wait until December 26th to read the winning entries, but you modern web surfers won’t have to wait that long. The $25 first prize winner was Gladys L. Hoskins, 514 Security Building, Los Angeles, with a holiday-themed rhyme:

There was a young man from Seal Beach,
Who held on to his dough like a leech,
He once spent a dime,
All at the same time,
For Christmas gifts, one nickel each!

Five bucks and the second prize went to Mrs. L.H. Dustin, 316 Parke Street, Pasadena :

There was a young man from Seal Beach,
Who held on to his dough like a leech,
He once spent a dime,
All at the same time,
Showing grief as it passed from his reach.

Other last limerick lines entered were:

Twas a sale of hot dogs — nickel each!

To buy a hot dog for a peach.

On a lemon he thought was a peach.

Twas a doughnut treating a peach.

The ad read: A prize goes with each.

Though he stretched it as far as ‘twould reach.

On stamps for last lines — five bucks each.

Money talks, ’twas a figure of speech.

– Michael Dobkins


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December 18th in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1966, the Long Beach Independent ran a multi-page spread on that year’s Forty Miles of Christmas Smiles, including one photo of Seal Beach’s entry for the competition.

Forty Miles of Christmas Smiles was an Orange County tradition that lasted from 1932 to 1975. Businesses, residences, chambers of commerce, and entire communities along the coast “from Seal Beach to San Clemente” would participate in friendly competition by presenting elaborate holiday decorations and Christmas lights. Each year the Christmas decor was judged and prizes, gifts, and trophies were awarded, but the real aim was publicize all the cities along the coast with flamboyant displays of holiday spirit. For over forty years, touring the Orange County coast to view all the holiday decorations was a vital Christmas tradition for many Southern California families.

In 1966, Seal Beach won an award from the Orange County Coast Association, Inc. for the old-fashioned Christmas Village installation on the corner of Main Street and Electric Avenue. The installation was designed and constructed by Vern Leckman and Harold Chestnut (no jokes about roasting on an open fire, please!) on a vacant lot that is now occupied by the businesses at 224 to 250 Main Street.

Personally, I can share that the installation was wondrous. I was only 4 years old at the time, but it was magical and remains one of my all-time favorite Christmas memories.

It must have taken a few days to construct the entire village facade that faced Main Street like the real shops that line the street all year, but in my child’s memory, one day there was a vacant lot, and the next day this Victorian-style village mysteriously appeared.  There were no shops or buildings to enter, it was like a Hollywood exterior set in that only the fronts of the village buildings built and wooden beams braced the front facades from behind.

The Christmas Village was intriguing and had a magnetic draw on my imagination that culminated in an evening performance of Christmas carolers dressed in Victorian garb. There must have been performances every night that the Christmas Village was up, but I only witnessed that one night. To this day, anticipation, mystery, ritual, and festive theatricality is the best part of Christmas to me, and I learned to treasure those qualities that holiday season.

On January 16, 1967, the Seal Beach city council passed Resolution #1508 to recognize Vern Leckman and Harry Chestnut for their efforts as shown below.

– Michael Dobkins


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December 17th in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1953, desperate Seal Beach shoppers with only one more shopping week left until Christmas to find the perfect gift for their loved ones could find inspiration in this Philco Clock-Radio ad from Raines Radio & TV at 127 Main Street printed in the Long Beach Independent.

This was a co-op ad from a bunch of local Philco dealers, so it wasn’t just Raines Radio & TV’s ad. Still, imagine walking down to Main Street to buy a cutting edge state-of-the-art clock radio!

– Michael Dobkins


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December 16th in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1941, Nick Dovalis contributed to the war effort by donating all his receipts from noon to 9 pm at from his Long Beach restaurant, The Olympia Cafe, and his barely 5 months old Dovalis Ranch House Cafe in Seal Beach to the Red Cross.

Pearl Harbor was bombed on the morning of December 7th, and the United States suddenly found itself officially part of a World War. On December 12th, Franklin Delano Roosevelt issued a proclamation for the Red Cross to raise a minimum of $ 50,000,000 war fund and appealed to the American people to help make the campaign a success.  The $ 50,000,000 had been set by the Red Cross back on December 10th, so the proclamation was less an imperious edict and more an effort by FDR to use his bully pulpit to publicize the Red Cross campaign.

Orange County’s quota for the Red Cross was set at $42,500, and Nick Dovalis gave Seal Beach diners a tasty chance to contribute towards the quota.

– Michael Dobkins


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