December 28th in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1913, the Santa Ana Register ran another Henry DeKruif Seal Beach ad. This time a jolly seal works on his new year’s resolutions of which there is only one — “I hereby resolve to spend the rest of my days at Seal Beach.”

– Michael Dobkins


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December 27th in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1924, the Santa Ana Register ran this photo of the Los Angeles Gas and Electric Company’s steam plant under construction at First Street and Ocean Avenue in Seal Beach.

The photo’s caption gave the following statistics on the new power plant. It was more than 200 square feet and would be 500 feet long when the next units were added to the structure. The main building was 100 feet high with an open steel structure to carry high tension electrical transmission lines 50 feet higher. The soon to be constructed smoke stack would be 375 feet high and would be the largest stack west of the Mississippi.

A view of the completed steam plant after the original smokestack was replaced by a much shorter smoke stack after the 1933 Long Beach earthquake

Click here for more posts on the steam plant.

– Michael Dobkins


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December 26th in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1924, a box of Havana cigars was mysteriously placed on table for the Seal Beach city council meeting.

The Labourdette Building

Before we get to the reason for those cigars on the table, I’d like to remind you that this meeting did not take place in the current city council chambers or even the public meeting room that occupied the second floor of the city hall built in 1929. This meeting took place in on the first floor of the Labourdette Building that once served as Seal Beach’s city hall and stood on the east side of the 200 block of Main Street. I also need to remind you that this meeting took place long before any laws banning smoking in public places, and most public meetings had a London fog hovering above from all the publicly acceptable smoking.

So why was there a box of cigars on the city council table in 1924? Seal Beach City engineer, Captain Hilyard had just become the proud father of a baby girl, and he wanted to celebrate his good fortune by sharing cigars with the council and his peers. Wasn’t that sweet?

– Michael Dobkins


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December 25th in Seal Beach History

Have you ever noticed how most places are closed on Christmas? Well, throughout history some Seal Beach businesses have been open (or at least advertised) on Christmas.

On this date in 1942, you didn’t have to go to a Chinese restaurant if the Bumpus hounds had stolen your Christmas turkey — you could go to Sam’s Sea Food Cafe and enjoy “an adventure in Eating!”

On this date in 1976, the Seal Beach Church of Religious Science offered services led by Rev. Theodora “Dodie” Dyrenforth at 9 and 11 am.

On this date in 1973, the Belmont Realty staff offered a Christmas Wish in this Long Beach Independent Press-Telegram ad. Back in the seventies, The Belmont Realty had an office in what had used to be a very small residential house at 316 Marina Drive.

On this date in 1970, DeBenedictis Realty at 12131 Seal Beach Boulevard offered the Season’s Best to Seal Beach in yet another Long Beach Independent Press-Telegram ad.

On this date in 1955, Seal Beach Lumber offered to deliver dry firewood in this Long Beach Independent Press-Telegram ad, but it’s probably more a reminder for delivery on other days and it seems doubtful that they had a crack team of firewood deliverers eagerly standing by on Christmas waiting for your call.

And finally, on this date in 1919,  one Los Angeles Times ad imperiously commanded readers to come! to Seal Beach Cafes where you could live it up with dancing, entertainment, and the best of “Eats.”


And the Jewel Cafe reminded potential whoopee-makers to make their New Year Reservations. “Bring your own medicine” was a not so subtle code to bring your own booze since the Volstead Act had become effective less than two months earlier on October 28th.

Merry Christmas!

– Michael Dobkins


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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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