June 14th in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1936, the Arizona Republic ran this ad for the Surfside Colony from the Ord Land Company. 

Imagine facing daily triple digit temperatures in Phoenix in a decade where air conditioning is mostly a feature in offices and department stores. You open the newspaper, and there on page 24 is an ad for a place called Surf Side Colony (even the name sounds cooler) that promises an affordable private beach home with swimming, fishing, and boating enticingly ensconced on the ocean front side of Coast Highway between Seal Beach and Sunset Beach. How could you resist?

–  Michael Dobkins

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June 12th in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1966, the Long Beach Independent Press-Telegram ran this classified ad for Audrey’s Antiques. 

Most people remember Aubrey’s Antiques at 132 Main Street (with the waist-high “Audrey’s Antiques” sign inviting pedestrians to step inside and browse), where the shop did business for decades.

This ad was for an earlier location at 827A Ocean Avenue.

– Michael Dobkins

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June 11th in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1962, Long Beach Independent columnist Ralph Hinman Jr. recounted his search for a disappearing breed, the bearded beatniks, “devotees of Zen Buddhism and Jack (On The Road) Kerouac” who once dwell in cold-water pads in the seaside communities south of Long Beach.

After being told by a Seal Beach bartender that beatniks don’t hang around Seal Beach anymore and the corner espresso house* is only open nights since they left, Hinman ventured southward to four other establishments in Surfside and Sunset, but apparently all the beatniks have Ferlinghetti-ed out-of-town. (Sorry. Shameless, I know.)

Faced with the awful prospect of coming up with a new concept for his column, Hinman shifts his focus from writing about an encounter with beatniks to two burning questions. First, were beatniks “for real,” or were they “merely publicity-seeking phonies?” Second, if the beat generation movement was truly over, what would replace it?

Hinman conveniently drops by Seal Beach’s Ivory Tower Bookstore** and encounters three young Seal Beach intellectuals who supply a slew of quotable and column-filling answers.

“They were too lazy to shave… preferred to live in ‘pads’ because they didn’t have to clean them… and tried to live well without ever washing,” stated Beth Walker, 19, of 609 Beachcomber Dr., a Long Beach State College student. “Your Beats were nothing but thrill-seekers with no real values.”

“They often were only pseudo-intellectuals, and they only messed up things for the rest of us.” added Ron Tremaine, 22, of 1223 Ocean Ave., a Long Beach City College student.

Having dismissed the Beat Generation with pith and vinegar, they move on to Hinman’s second question.

“Always in history there have been ‘angry young men’ — who never disappear from the scenes,” said Walker. Hinman decides that Walker included herself and her friends in that category.

“Yes, you can have intellectuals in suburbia, but what is an intellectual?” said Gary Kemper, 20, of 112 3rd St., who would be enrolling at Long Beach State College in the fall, but had already mastered the smooth collegiate trick of answering a question with another question.

And what would be a good name for their generation?

“The ‘cool’ generation politically,” offers Kemper.

“The ‘terrified’ generation,” is Walker’s answer before hitting an atypical note of uncertainty. “Who knows? Perhaps ‘nowism’ — or some other ‘new” philosophy will replace beatniks. One thing is certain: there always will be seekers after truth — as they see it.”

I conclude today’s post with a deep and profound feeling of gratitude that there were no reporters or columnists around to write down the things I said in my late teens and early twenties.

* The Rouge et Noir perhaps?

** The Ivory Tower Bookstore was last visited here inMay 5th in Seal Beach History.”

– Michael Dobkins

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June 10th in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1977, the Growin’ My Way Nursery ran this ad in the Long Beach Independent.

June_10_1977_Growin__039__My_Way_Ad

The Pacific Inn now occupies the Growin’ My Way location. The nursery was a vast enclosed jungle-like labyrinth of exotic and everyday plants and gardening accessories and decor. As the ad above shows, they sold typical gardening fare like marigolds, petunias, and begonias, but they also stocked venus fly traps and Tiki pillars.

Seal Beach kids of a certain generation will also recall that there were two public drinking fountains that offered chilled water in Seal Beach — the one in the library on Central Avenue and the one on the side of the nursery. This was crucial knowledge on hot and thirsty summer days back in the seventies.

– Michael Dobkins

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June 5th in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1914, the Santa Ana Register reported that Mrs. Will Edwards of Seal Beach was slowly recovering at the Garden Grove Hospital after having becoming critically ill with pneumonia.

This story may not be dramatic, nostalgic, or accompanied by an interesting vintage photo, but one hundred one years ago it was good news for people who cared about Mrs. Edwards and Mrs. Edwards herself, of course.

Thanks to 1914’s pre-women’s liberation custom of identified married women by their husband’s names, it is impossible to discover what became of her.  In 1909, Sadie Sharp, described as a dashing belle of Ross Valley by the Oakland Tribune, eloped to marry Will Edwards, an employee of the La Siesta Wine Company, but there is no guarantee that Sadie is the Mrs. Will Edwards of Seal Beach in 1914.

Ah, the sweet digressions of fruitless research!

– Michael Dobkins

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June 4th in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1937, the City of Seal Beach accepted the new municipally owned water tower. The estimated cost was $ 48,576 and stood for decades on the land that is now occupied by the Naval Weapons Station.

June_4_1937_New_Beach_Water_Plant

– Michael Dobkins

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June 2nd in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1918, Seal Beach launched the summer season with a focus on wartime patriotism. 

Beyond the usual Seal Beach attractions of bathing, fishing, and boating, twenty-five baby war bonds (a cheaper five dollar version of the more expensive Liberty Bonds) were buried in the sands of the beach — free to the lucky beachgoers who dug them up (no coal shovels allowed.)

June_2_1918_Over_the_Top_SB_Ad

C. H. Burnett and former Los Angeles deputy district attorney Lou Guernsey, both Four Minute Men, spoke about the war in Europe and the importance of saving Thrift Stamps. 

thrift stamps 2 Thrift Stamps

Who were the Four Minute Men? They were a branch of President Woodrow Wilson’s Committee On Public Opinion made up of over 75,000 volunteers across the United States. They were called “Four Minute Men” as a play on the Revolutionary era Minute Men who could be ready to combat British troops with a minute’s notice. The Four Minute Men were not ready for combat, instead they were practiced public speakers, usually of middle age, prepared to deliver four-minute speeches to drum up public support for America’s involvement in World War I.

Here’s a typical speech taken from the Committee On Public Information Division of Four Minute Men Bulletin No. 17, dated October 8,1917:

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN: 

I have just received the information that there is a German spy among us — a German spy watching us. 

He is around, here somewhere, reporting upon you and me — sending reports about us to Berlin and telling the’ Germans just what we are doing with the Liberty Loan. From every section of the country these spies have been getting reports over to Potsdam — not general reports but details — where the loan is going well and where its success seems weak, and what the people are saying in each community. 

For the German Government is worried about our great loan. Those Junkers fear its effect upon the German morale. They’re raising a loan this month, too. 

If the American people lend their billions now, one and all with a hip-hip-hurrah, it means that America is united and strong. While, if we lend our money half-heartedly, America seems weak and autocracy remains strong. Money means everything now; it means quicker victory and therefore less bloodshed. We are in the war, and now AMERICANS can have but one opinion, only one wish in the Liberty Loan. Well, I hope these spies are getting their messages straight, letting Potsdam know that America is hurling back to the autocrats these answers: 

For treachery here, attempted treachery in Mexico, treachery everywhere — one billion. 

For murder of American women and children — one billion more. 

For broken faith and promise to murder more Americans — billions and billions more. 

And then we will add: 

In the world fight for Liberty, our share — billions and billions and BILLIONS and endless billions. 

Do not let that German spy hear and report that you are a slacker. Don’t let him tell the Berlin Government that there is no need to worry about the people in [NAME OF TOWN], that they are not patriots. 

Everybody, every man and woman, should save a little and lend that little. The United States Government bond is, of course, an excellent investment, the very best, safest for your money. In fact you can cash the bond any day you need money, getting your four per cent interest to the very d”ay you choose to sell. And you can buy a bond out of savings, say five dollars down and balance later. 

So everybody now? Who wants the town of [NAME OF TOWN] to make a record in raising money for the Liberty Loan? 

Now, then, who will lend his money? Just a few dollars down, say five dollars to start saving, or all cash as you choose. Who will help? 

That’s it. I knew [NAME OF TOWN} was full of patriots. 

Now your pledges. — There is a man at the door will take your name and address as you go out and to-morrow morning you ran fix it up at any bank. 

Don’t let the other man remind you tomorrow. You remind him.

Not all Four Minute Men speeches were as blatantly manipulative as that one, but they all were propaganda for the war effort to counteract any vestiges of American isolationism (President Wilson had been reelected in 1916 with the slogan of “He Kept Us Out Of The War,” but the sinking of the Lusitania and the Zimmerman Telegram had convinced him to declare war on Germany in 1917) and to sell Liberty Bonds and Thrift Stamps to help finance the war.

The real main attraction of the day was the thirty-five piece Submarine Base Band, a popular musical ensemble that played in parades, for dances, and at public events all across Southern California. The band players were all sailors stationed at the submarine base that once operated out of San Pedro. The Submarine Base Band was a volunteer operation, and the band instruments were all bought by the band members out of their Navy pay.

Submarine Base

A little over five months later, what would later be known as World War One would be over, but no one in Seal Beach knew that. For them, the outcome of the war in Europe, in spite of their hopes for peace and victory, was uncertain.

– Michael Dobkins

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