December 5th in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1933, the following ad ran in the Santa Ana Register.

This has to be the saddest and most equivocating piece of marketing I’ve seen for a Seal Beach business. 

“As perhaps most of you know” sets an ambivalent tone for this odd pitch and is immediately followed with “this was one of the most famous rendezvous in Southern California.” It is always great marketing to remind potential customers that a business establishment’s best days are past.

“It is our earnest desire to furnish you with the same high class entertainment and fun for which the this Inn was so popularly known.” They sincerely want to provide you with the same experience that once was commonplace at “The Famous Jewel City Inn,” but they’re not making any promises.

“You May Dine and Dance until Daylight if You Wish.” Or you may not. It’s really up to you. Sheesh.

  In little over two years, the Jewel City Inn and what remained of the roller coaster and the Joy Zone would be completely demolished.

– Michael Dobkins

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December 4th in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1932, the Decatur Herald published this essay by John Richard Phillip, age 8.

Seal Beach Play-Spot For Ocean Wanderers

     Last winter I was in California. I went to Seal Beach. There is a bay there. The seals come into the bay. They rest on the sand. They are rather tame. I could go near them. But I could not touch them.  Once I almost caught a baby seal.

     Down the beach is a fishing pier. If the seals go there they shoot at them. They scare away the fish. But at Seal Beach no one can shoot at them. They lie in the sun and rest. The baby seals play. They bark, “Wak, Wak, Wak!” They flip into the water and out again. They cannot walk for they have no legs. They have flippers. And boy! How they can swim. They go to Alaska in the summer to care for their new baby seals until they are old enough to swim. I wish I could have a pet seal.

Seals contemplating the pros and cons of pet life in Illinois

– Michael Dobkins


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December 3rd in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1913, the South Coast Improvement Association ran this ad in the Los Angeles Times.
The South Coast Improvement Association  formed in 1912 and was comprised of the movers and shakers of Orange County real estate along the coast. Philip Stanton was its first president.

These men saw better roads and infrastructure improvements as key selling features for their individual communities and promoted a regional inter-connectivity and ease of travel to attract homeowners and tourists into the area. They advocated for extended Pacific Electric red car services along the coast and are largely responsible for the Coast Highway that we still enjoy (and sometimes curse) today.

– Michael Dobkins

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December 2nd in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1935, the Los Angeles Times caught up with Seal Beach’s first citizen, Judge John Charles Ord and took this photo.

Ord was Seal Beach’s first mayor, first postmaster, and first city judge. At 94, partially incapacitated by illness, but still “imbued with youthful ambition,” Ord was learning to use the typewriter. He told friends that he never enjoyed life more or felt better.

That must have been one really fantastic typewriter.

– Michael Dobkins

– Michael Dobkins

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December 1st in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1915, a perhaps apocryphal story about Seal Beach real estate appeared in the Des Moines Tribune about an encounter between a extra and Hollywood film director Frank Lloyd.

At the end of a long day of shooting a big crowd scene for “The Gentleman from Indiana,” the extras lined up to receive their pay. The director, conveniently for this anecdote, forgot what the extras were getting paid and asked one how much he had made that day.

The extra answered with a happy grin, “Two Hundred and thirty dollars!” This number far exceeded the standard range of pay for an extra in 1915 was at very best only a few bucks.

The extra explained to the shocked Lloyd that he was a real estate man and had sold five Seal Beach lots to his fellow extras during the day.

This story also appeared in newspapers in Montana and Oregon. I can’t help but wonder. Did this obvious P.R. story come from Paramount Pictures or from Seal Beach itself?

– Michael Dobkins


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November 29th in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1945, Seal Beach film fans could stroll down the the recently opened Beach Theatre on Main Street and catch a double feature of “You Came Along” and “The Kid Sister.” The Beach had only just opened the previous week on Thanksgiving.

“You Came Along” was a tear-jerker about three USAAF officers flying across the U.S. on a war bond tour. The film introduced Lisbeth Scott as the officer’s unlikely chaperone, Ivy Hotchkiss who falls for Robert Cummings, playing Major Robert “Bob” Collins, the rowdiest of the officers who is carrying a tragic secret.

The Kid Sister was a piece of comedic poverty row fluff that clocked in at less than an hour. It starred Judy Clark as a rebellious and precocious teen who gets up to all sorts of mischief and shenanigans, usually at the expense of her snooty older sister.

You can watch the entire film here in glorious black and white.

The next year, The Beach Theatre would be bought by the Fox Theater chain and be reopened as The Bay Theatre on July 17, 1946.


– Michael Dobkins

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November 28th in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1980, the Los Angeles Times ran an ad for the Seafood Broiler restaurant chain, including the newly opened Seal Beach location.

– Michael Dobkins

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November 27th in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1963, Kiko’s of Seal Beach opened the “Very In” room which displayed art by local artists. Owners Betty and Frank Semasko entertained  a crowd of 75 guests, including Mayor Dean Gemmill and Mrs. Shirley Gemmill, Dixie and Dick Swift. Bonnie and Harry Orme, The Don Wolfs, Dr. and Mrs. Tanne Hill, and Vernon and Marilyn Leckman.

Kiko’s was located at 909 Ocean Avenue and is still missed with grand fondness today by its regular customers. Not only were the sandwiches exotic, the sandwich names were exotic. You could order “The Playboy,” “The Hofbrau,” “The Picadilly” and “The Danny Thomas Special,” which was a concoction of round steak, pine nuts, garlic, onion, and Near East spices jammed into a Lebanese roll.

Betty and Frank Semasko sold Kiko’s in 1972 and moved to Estoril, Portugal.

– Michael Dobkins

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Nov 26th in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1954, 58-year old widow Ernestine Goetz refused to be interviewed by reporters and secluded herself inside her home in the Seal Beach Trailer Park.

The West Virginia Supreme Court had just ruled that Ernestine would inherit an equal share of an estimated 4.5 million dollar estate that belonged to an eccentric aunt of her deceased husband. Mr. Goetz had contested the will with two other Goetz relatives, but had passed away in 1953.

Ernestine Goetz was understandably overwhelmed by the situation. “Just say I’m grateful. I have no plans. I’m sorry — I’m a little shy,” she shared from behind the door of her green trailer.

And that was all the reporters got from her. Ernestine continued to live in the trailer park for a couple more years according to voting records, but her trail runs cold after that.

– Michael Dobkins

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November 25th in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1962, the Southland Magazine section of the Long Beach Independent ran a full page ad advertising Seal Beach shops under the following banner:

Here are the ads for the ten individual shops and restaurants:

Village Bazaar at 137 1/2 Main Street

Kiddie Land at 133 1/2 Main Street

Herron’s Sportwear at 214 Main Street

Kiko’s at 909 Ocean Avenue

Fishing Headquarters at the foot of the pier

Ches’ Men’s Store at 211 Main Street

John’s Mens Shop at 322 Main Street

Village Bake Shop at 137 Main Street

Bay Hardware at 215 Main Street

K&R Scandinavian Imports at 322 Main Street

At the bottom of the page, a footer read:
Fifty-five years later only the Bay Hardware is still in business.

  • Michael Dobkins
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