March 16th in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1980, the Los Angeles Times ran this ad for the Rossmoor Park Condominiums at 12200 Montecito Road.

It may be just a nostalgia for earlier times speaking, but real estate ads became very dull and unimaginative towards the latter part of the Twentieth century.
– Michael Dobkins


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March 15th in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1959, The Teeple’s Garden Center advertised its new Seal Beach location in the Long Beach Independent Press-Telegram.

W.J. Teeples and Sons started in 1924 in Wilmington and then shifted retail operations to West Long Beach in 1934 while still using the old Wilmington location for growing grounds. Finally, the company moved to Seal Beach at 600 Bolsa Avenue (600 Marina Drive today).

Many long-term Seal Beach remember this nursery location fondly, both as Teeples and then in the seventies under new owners as the Growin’ My Way Nursery. Today the nursery lot is occupied by the Pacific Inn.

– Michael Dobkins


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March 14th in Seal Beach History

On this date, the Los Angeles Times ran a story on eighteen year old John L. Scott and the baby seal he adopted.

Earlier in March, John had been working in his hot dog stand when he noticed a shimmering shape in the surf. Assuming it was a fish, John, apparently an intrepid soul, charged into the surf to capture it. When he swam closer and heard plaintive bleats, John realized he was not tracking a fish, but was after a baby seal. He took the baby seal home and began nursing it by feeding it milk every two to three hours. John’s theory was that Pat’s mother had been shot by fishermen.

In the days that followed, “Pat” as John named him, would follow and play with his rescuer both on land and in the sea. Their antics attracted local attention and word-of-mouth publicity, and the Santa Ana Register sent a reporter to cover the the unlikely pair on March 5th. That story mentioned that Pat and John would swim together three times a day off Dolphin Avenue between 9 and 10 am, again between 1 and 3 pm, and finally between 4 and 5 pm before retiring to John’s home for the night.

Not to be outdone and knowing a good human (and marine mammal) interest story when they saw it, the editors sent a reporter and a photographer to Seal Beach. Neither the Register or Times saw fit to ask John’s mother or the rest of the family what they thought about his new pet.

It’s hard to tell from the photo, but it appears that Pat didn’t have ear flaps, which would make him a seal and not a pet seal lion as featured in this 1917 post.

There was also never a follow up story covering Pat’s eventual fate, but any marine biologist worth his or her salt water will tell you that adopting a seal or seal lion as a pet is not a good idea and will likely not end well for the critter. We can only hope that at some stage Pat moved on to have a full normal life in the ocean.

(Incidentally, John seemed to be prone to car accidents. When he was fourteen, John broke his leg in Naples when he was thrown from a reckless friend’s car when it overturned while passing another car. In 1933, John was behind the driver’s seat this time and narrowly escaped when the delivery truck he was driving was clipped by a Pacific Electric train at Electric Avenue and Seventeenth Street in Seal Beach. The truck spun around and was knocked 50 feet down the road.)

– Michael Dobkins


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March 13th in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1957, Los Angles auctioneer Ted Gustafson was in Seal Beach to sell the 9-unit motel at 257 Bay Boulevard (Seal Beach Boulevard today) to the highest bidder.

Not described in the Los Angeles Times ad was how the south building of the motel had been built at an angle to the boulevard to accommodate the adjacent Pacific Electric right of way.  When the U.S. Navy took possession of Anaheim Landing in 1944, the red car tracks were rerouted from Electric Avenue at Fifteenth Street to meet Pacific Coast Highway past Bay Boulevard. By 1957, the Pacific Electric red cars were no longer running on the track, but the supply trains used the track as a spur for loading well into the sixties.

There are no details to share of how the auction went, but someone must have won because the motel is still there, converted into apartments under the cozy and inviting name of Snug Harbor.

– Michael Dobkins


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March 12th in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1939, the Los Angeles Times featured this photograph of the Seal Beach pier titled, “Sea Patriarch” by Los Angeles Times staff photographer Robert Jakobsen for its Camera Corner photography column. The photo was highlighted for its artistic composition in “eye-arresting silhouette mode” and was shot with a yellow filter to create the effect.

This was most likely taken during 1929 construction of the pier weeks prior to the grand opening in May. The railing had not yet been constructed, and the nubs of the old pier’s pylons are still jutting up from the sand next to the new pylons.

– Michael Dobkins


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March 11th in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1929, a fire was set in the Seal Beach Methodist Church auditorium.

This was no criminal act of arson, however. The only damage from the fire was to a mortgage note for the two lots at Tenth Street and Central Avenue where the church buildings stood. The mortgage was $2300 loaned in 1923 by Judge John C. Ord, one of the city’s founders (and the church’s neighbor across the Central Avenue.) The mortgage was completely destroyed.

The perpetrators of the blaze were Seal Beach mayor R. E. Dolley and J. Simonson of Long Beach. The two lit the fire in front of a crowd celebrating the paid off mortgage and the completion of a church remodeling that included a larger auditorium, a larger kitchen, modification to the stage and the addition of what was called “a commodious club room.”

Donations made towards the mortgage included $100 plus interest by the Ladies’ Aid Society, $800 from Mayor Dolley, $100 from Mr. and Mrs. D.P. Proctor, $400 from Judge Ord himself, and $1000 in individual gifts from Methodist Churches in Long Beach.

An additional $1000 for remodeling costs was collected through individual donations. The remodeling work had been done by members of the community.
– Michael Dobkins


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March 10th in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1977, The Mandarin House restaurant ran this ad in the Long Beach Independent Press-Telegram.

When the restaurant started in 1974 at 306 Main Street, it was called the Wong House, but when the new owner, Cho Kang Liu took over in 1975, he decided it was the Wong name and rechristened the place the Mandarin House. Liu (who was nicknamed Joe) and his wife, She Ling, served Spicy Mandarin cuisine and milder Cantonese dishes.

Tedd Thomey, writer of the Long Beach Independent Press-Telegram restaurant column,Stepping Out, especially loved the restaurant’s Moo Shi Crepes and Mongolia Beef.

– Michael Dobkins


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March 9th in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1931, a letter from Seal Beach Mayor Frank Wilson was read to Los Angeles Board of Supervisors explaining the Seal Beach city council’s opposition to the Flood Control District’s plans to improve the San Gabriel River channel by straightening it and adding two jetties to catching drifting sands to build more of a beachfront.

In the letter, Mayor Wilson said:

“The residents of Seal Beach for many years have visualized a sixty-foot vehicular bridge across the Alamitos Bay channel and the City Council, as a whole, is now reluctant to commit any official act the would in any wise jeopardize the rights of the municipality.

The Council feels that the plans for San Gabriel flood control should not be approved as requested by Engineer Eaton until some provision has been made for such a vehicular bridge.”

In other words, if you want your flood control, give us a bridge.

There were other concerns expressed in the letter — care for the cooling waters from the Los Angeles Gas and Electric Corporation’s steam plant, a permanent right of access to any beach formed by the east jetty, and the need for the two jetties to be constructed at equal lengths.

But the most important idea was Seal Beach needed an Ocean Avenue bridge for automobiles replacing the rail bridge used exclusively for Pacific Electric red car trolleys.

Negotiations continued until an agreement was reached to include an Ocean Avenue bridge in the project in July 1931, and Seal Beach approved the project. The Los Angeles Gas and Electric Corporation granted a right-of-way for the bridge in September, and the War Department approved the plans in October 1931.

Construction began in early 1932, and the completed bridge was opened to traffic on October 20, 1932. Mrs. Phillip A. Stanton cut the string.

And that, my friends, is how Seal Beach got itself a bridge in a short nineteen and a half months.

– Michael Dobkins


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March 8th in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1914, the Guy M. Rush Company ran an ad for Seal Beach in the Los Angeles Times, featuring cartoonist Henri DeKruif’s indefatigable seals.

This time the seals climb a ladder to a diving board for a “Dive to Briny Coolness.” This was meant to entice potential buyers into buying a house close to the beach because “Hotter days are on the way!” This makes perfect sense. For as we all know, “Seal Beach never sizzles. It’s as cool as a cucumber all summer.”

– Michael Dobkins


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A Few Words of Appreciation

Without going into the personal details, I hit a significant anniversary today, and the response, the traffic, and the support the blog has received the past three days has been very much appreciated — all the more so because of this anniversary.

When I started this blog in 2010, my initial conception for it was to use historical information to publicize the 95th Seal Beach Founders anniversary events. Since then it’s evolved and become much more of a one man show than I ever intended. I won’t lie and say that there have not been major frustrations involved in the project, but whenever I start feeling bitter and resentful, someone or more than one someone generously shares a memory, connects with something forgotten, or shows appreciation.

At those times, doing this becomes extremely rewarding, and I am infinitely grateful to all of you. I’m going to be away from the internet for most of the rest of the day, but I wanted to express that before I left.

Coincidentally, as of fifteen minutes ago, the number of visits to this blog in 2019 bypassed the entire number of visits in 2010. That’s especially gratifying on this anniversary. Thank you for all those eyeballs and for paying attention.

(and sorry about the years and years of typos)

– Michael Dobkins

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