Marge Ordway –

Interviewed by Libby Appelgate – May 29, 1996

L.A.:  Marge Ordway is being interviewed by Libby Appelgate of the Seal Beach Historical and Cultural Society for a collection of memories of Seal Beach for an oral history project.

L.A.:  Okay.  My first question, the early years, and then I go early years, education, and then adult years.  What is your name and address?

M.O.:  My legal name is Margaret Ordway but I’m called Marge or Margie Ordway, 1600½ Ocean Avenue, Seal Beach, California.

L.A.:  Have you ever used a nickname?

M.O.:  My nickname, first I was called Margie until I got older and then I changed it to Marge.  I’ve never been called Margaret.

L.A.:   What was your maiden name?

M.O.:  Schmidt. S-C-H-M-I-D-T.

L.A.:   When and where were you born?

M.O.:  In Los Angeles, California, September 15, 1921.

L.A.:   Tell me about the house in which you were born.

M.O.:  I was born in what you call a maternity cottage on San Fernando Road in Los Angeles.  The first house we had was being built before my mom and dad moved into it and it was on 4858 Hillsdale Drive in El Sereno, which is a suburb of Los Angeles.  We lived there until I was through first grade and we moved to Wilmington, California.

L.A.:   How long did you live in Wilmington?

M.O.:  I should have brought my copy of my years because we moved six times in my first six grades.   My dad was in the transfer business when we lived in El Sereno and when we moved to Wilmington, he was a longshoreman.  That’s when I had my tonsils out.  I remember that.  Then we went to Tacoma, Washington, and his sister went with us.  My dad was interested in buying a farm.  But, while we were there, and he was looking at property, my mom was not well and we had to come back.   We came back to Pasadena where we stayed with my aunt.   Then we went to Seal Beach after that.  My dad worked for the State Highway Department.

L.A.:   What year did you move to Seal Beach?

M.O.:  1929.  We bought a grocery store and meat market on Main Street; a two-story brick building that fell down in the 1933 earthquake.

L.A.:   Tell me about your grandparents and what were their names.

M.O.:  I only knew one grandparent . . .

L.A.:   Okay.

M.O.:  My grandmother’s name was Martha.  I was named after her and my other grandmother, my dad’s mother.  Margaret Martha, that is my legal name.

L.A.:   Do you remember when and where your grandparents were born?

M.O.:  My grandmother was born in Norway, the one that I’m talking about, Martha.  My other grandparents were born in Denmark and my father was born in Denmark and came to this country just before World War I.  He enlisted in the army when he wasn’t even a citizen yet, but he managed to get by and he served overseas in World War I.  He met my mother when she was living in Chicago.  She was born in Chicago.  And, I guess it was a long romance.  My mother and her best friend, who ended up being my godmother, went to Santa Fe, no, Albuquerque, New Mexico, and they were Harvey Girls that they had down there.  Then they went from there to Los Angeles and had an apartment.  My dad followed my mom out there, and then they ended up getting married in 1918, and I was born in 1921, three years later.

L.A.: Do you know when and where your parents were born?

M.O.:  My dad was born in Denmark, October 1st, 1891.  My mother was born November 17th , the same year in Chicago, Illinois.

M.O.:  No, I’m trying to remember. . . I do know it; I’m getting confused with when they got married and when he was born.  My mother was born November 17th the same year.  Oh, both of them, 1891.

M.O.:  I haven’t thought about that for a long time.

L.A.:   You moved to Seal Beach in 1929 but I was wondering, did you go to church or Sunday school before that or when you were living in Seal Beach?

M.O.:  When I was living in Los Angeles, I went to the Christian Science Church in Pasadena.  My cousin went there and the two of us would go on Sunday.  I was about four or five years old.  And, then in Seal Beach, we only had two churches that I remember.  One was the Methodist and one was the Catholic Church, so I went to the Methodist Church.  I went to their Sunday evening group; it was called Christian Endeavor, C.E., which was for the young people in high school, so I continued that for a long time.

L.A.:  Mm-hmm.  I wondered if Virginia Haley mentioned C.E.  She said there were lots of things going on in church, that all you did was go to church.

M.O.:  Yes, it was fun.  It was a gathering place for everybody.  But, it was fun because at Christian Endeavor, after you had your meeting with the minister, we took turns going to someone’s home for refreshments.   Then we played spin the bottle and post office. (Chuckle)  You know what those are?

L.A.:  Yes, uh-huh.

M.O.:  Those are kissing games.

L.A.:   I think we probably played them.  This was after church . . .

M.O.:  After Sunday night.

L.A.:   Now, did you go any other days to church during the week?

M.O.:  Not during the week, just Sunday.

L.A.:  Just on Sundays.

M.O.:  Except, if we any kind of doings going on in town, it was usually held at the church.  They had a big, uh, I don’t know what you’d call it, just a big room, I guess.  It’s where we ended up having Halloween parties and everything else for the kids.

L.A.:  Was this when the church was on 6th Street?

M.O.:  It’s still in the same place.

L.A.:   But it’s on 10th.  I heard that it was on 6th Street first and then moved to 10th Street.

M.O.:  I only knew it on 10th Street.  It’s still there. . . 10th and Central.

L.A.:   How old were you then when you moved to Seal Beach in 1929?

M.O.:  I was seven.  I had not had my eighth birthday yet.

L.A.:  Okay.   I was just wondering, uh, what street did you live on in Seal Beach?

M.O.:  We lived above the meat market and grocery store.  We had a hotel above, that we owned and that’s where we lived, upstairs over the store. [on Main St.]

L.A.:  What is the address?  Do you remember the address?

M.O.:  It’s in the 100 block, the same side as Clancy’s and The Irisher and the doctor’s [office].

L.A.:  Was it in the middle of the block?

M.O.:  About, maybe a little more toward Ocean Avenue.

L.A.:  Is the building still there?

M.O.:  Oh, no.  It fell down in the earthquake.  It was the only building in town that completely fell flat.  It was a two-story brick building, not reinforced, of course.

L.A.:   What were some of your favorite foods and how did your mother cook them and where did they go shopping?

M.O.:  Well, they went shopping . . .

L.A.:   Well, I’ll stick to . . .

M.O.:  Which one do you want first?

L.A.:  . . . your favorite foods, okay?

M.O.:  My favorite foods?  At that age, I don’t remember that I dislike a lot of foods.  I like everything now, I’m a food-aholic.  (chuckle)  But, my dad always said, “Take what you want but eat what you take.  Remember the starving kids in Europe.”  And I still remember it.  I don’t throw anything away, I eat it.  The only things I did not like that he liked were turnips and parsnips.  My mother made a lot of soups, you know, she used soup meat, and we would take the soup meat out and then we’d eat the meat, also.  It’s a wonder that I still like soup or chowder because my dad dug clams during the Depression and we existed on that, and then he worked, I guess it was called WPA, that had a lot where they grew vegetables.   He worked there so he would get his share of vegetables for us.

L.A.:  And this is the type of cooking . . . I’m trying to figure the type of food that people ate.

M.O.:  Oh, well, see, my mom cooked . . .

L.A.:   . . . and probably everybody ate like that.

M.O.:  Yeah.  She cooked, uh, Danish and Norwegian . . .

L.A.:   Oh, okay.

M.O:  . . .and that’s why I’m confused sometimes because I’m not sure which it is. . .

L.A.:   Because it’s not midwestern food, it was Danish.

M.O.:  It was Danish, yeah, my father was Danish and his cousin and wife were out here so my mom learned from her.  We had a lot of, I would say Danish . . . meat and potatoes and vegetables and I guess just normal food, whatever we could get at that time.

L.A.:  Did they, did she make the Danish pastries?

M.O.:  Not so much Danish pastries but meat dishes I remember and with the vegetables.  Nobody had a lot of money in those days and we always had enough to eat but, like, I don’t remember ever eating steaks when I was little, never.  And, of course, at that time, they, the meat market, would give away things like a wiener to kids when they’d come in.  They gave liver away free to people.  Soup bones were free to the customers.  They didn’t think to charge for those things.

L.A.:   Your father owned the grocery store?

M.O.:  He owned the meat market and the grocery store.

L.A.:   It was a grocery store, also?

M.O.:  Yes, it was like a combination.  He did all his own meat cutting.  I don’t even think he was trained to do that.  He was self-taught.  He was also self-taught as far as our language goes.  He didn’t ever go to school in this country, but he wrote and spoke enough to hold offices in the American Legion and Forty and Eight, which is a branch of that, and, you know, to be a commander of those.  So, he taught himself.

L.A.:  He taught himself meat-cutting and he taught himself the produce trade and opened up a grocery store when you moved to Seal Beach.

M.O.:  Right.  He’d never had a business before and the one thing that was not too good was that he was a very generous person.  Now, at one time, he had a marathon, a dance marathon in Seal Beach, it was in one of the old buildings on Ocean Avenue that was near the Jewel Cafe, and it was part of that.  And he supplied all the meat and he never got paid for that, and there were a lot of couples in that and it lasted for I don’t know how many months, but it went on for a long time.  So, eventually we sold the business at a loss, I believe in 1932, because we weren’t in the building when the earthquake came.  If we had been, we would have been killed.

L.A.:  Now, before I get to the earthquake, cause I know a lot of people had a lot of experiences with that . . . um, education . . . what schools did you attend?

M.O.:  First in Los Angeles, Lock Avenue, that was a grade school, elementary school, and then the school in Wilmington; I don’t know what it was called.  I know we lived on Neptune Avenue, but that doesn’t help.  And, then I attended school also when we moved to Tacoma, Washington, even though we weren’t there very long.  I remember when I first started there, I decided I didn’t like it, I didn’t know anybody.   It was a long walk [I left school] and I walked home.  The school was frantic because they couldn’t find me and I was a new student.  So they came to the house and they found out I had walked home.  So . . .

L.A.:  How old were you then?

M.O.:  I guess about nine.  I’m guessing.

M.O.:   We came, let’s see, from Tacoma . . . I think we came directly to Seal Beach from Tacoma.  We went from El Sarino to Wilmington to Tacoma and back to Seal Beach.  No, El Sarino, Wilmington, Tacoma, Seal Beach, and we stayed there until the middle of the 4th grade.   Then we went to Pasadena and lived with my aunt for one year.  I was in the 4th grade then.

L.A.:  From Seal Beach . . .

M.O.: To Pasadena.  But, then we came back to Seal Beach when I was in, it was the fifth grade then, the end of the fifth grade and we were back.  So, I was in six schools in my first six grades of school.

L.A.:  What was the name of the school in Seal Beach?

M.O.:  In Seal Beach?

L.A.:  What did they call it?

M.O.:  It was just Seal Beach Elementary School.

L.A.:  They just called it that.

M.O.:  Mm-hmm.  Right.  At that time.

L.A.:  Now, I heard somewhere or read somewhere that it was called Bay City Elementary School.  Do you ever remember it being Bay City?

M.O.:  No.  That must have been before I got here.

L.A.:  Now, what school activities were you in?  Were you in the band or sports or any of your hobbies?

M.O.:  We didn’t have those in elementary school, nothing.   We had a recess where people just went out and got a ball and bat and played.  We had an eighth grade teacher that was wonderful, Mrs. Snyder.

L.A.:  And that was kindergarten through eighth grade.

M.O.:  Yes, kindergarten through eighth.

L.A.:  Who was your favorite teacher?

M.O.:  Mrs. Snyder, the eighth grade teacher.  She taught us to knit.  She was always . . . she made learning fun and there were only 19 of us in the eighth grade.  That’s how many we had when we graduated.

L.A.:  How nice.

M.O.:  I still have my diploma and my Seal Beach pin.  I also have my diploma from high school and my pin from there, too.  I’m a saver.

L.A.:  Now, did you have any hobbies in grammar school?

M.O.:  In grammar school?  The knitting, oh, and most of us would get together in eighth grade one year, we would get together and we would skate after dinner.  We had a curfew in town, the whistle would blow at the power plant, I believe at 8 in the morning, at 12, 5, and 9 that night.  You had to be in by 9 o’clock at night when I was little.  That was the Seal Beach . . .

L.A.:  Well, there’s a curfew law.

M.O.:  Oh, yeah.

L.A.:  Okay.  For kids up to sixteen or something?

M.O.:  High school, through high school, yeah.  We were in.  Everybody was scampering for home at 9 o’clock, to be there by 9 o’clock.

L.A.:  Oh . . . and how long did that last?  Do you remember?

M.O.:  No, I don’t.  But when I graduated from high school, I don’t know if that was in effect later or not.

L.A.:  But up until you graduated from high school.

M.O.:  Yeah, as far as I remember, we had a 9 o’clock curfew.

L.A.:  Oh, how interesting.  Yeah.  Well, describe your high school social life.  What happened in high school?

M.O.:  Well, even though I was 12 when I started high school, I was very active in sports, all sports.  And, uh, I belonged to G.A.A., Girls Athletic Association.  Uh, we would do, they were, all the sports were after school.  People didn’t have cars then, so even the football games we went to were on Friday afternoon.  There weren’t any night activities at all because of the lack of transportation, I guess.

L.A.:  Mm-hmm.  After school.

M.O.:  Right, after school.  I belonged to Girls League, which they had the ushers for all the things that we had.  All the plays that we had.  And, uh, I was in Spanish Club.  I was secretary of the senior class.  I was in Tri-Y, which was kind of like a sorority.  They don’t allow that any more because you had to be voted into it and, you know it excludes people.

L.A.:  Uh-huh.  It’s too exclusive.

M.O.:  Right.  So I was very active in a lot of outside activities.  It’s just that I wasn’t ready for the dancing.  I did go when I was a senior but, uh, I wasn’t quite ready for that.  My main thing was swimming.

L.A.:  You want to talk about your social life in high school any more?  Can you tell me anything else about what it was like?

M.O.:  I covered what I belonged to

L.A.:  Okay.

M.O.:  I had a good time in high school.  When our last day came in high school when I was a senior, I cried when the last bell rang.  I knew my whole life was going to change and I was having such a good time.  I took all my hard subjects the first three years so I was having a great time.  I took art.  Of course I had study hall.  I had a good teacher, I mean a teacher that was a good friend.  She taught drama and English and her name was Princess Virginia Hartley.

And we remained friends for many years.  I think, finally she died.  I didn’t hear from her anymore, but that was after I had my sons.  But, uh, I would grade papers for her.  I had a permanent pass to leave study hall to go to her room to grade papers for her so I did that.  And, when I wasn’t doing that, I was helping the gym teachers teach swimming.  I spent a lot of time in that pool.

L.A.:  Oh, it sounds like you had a wonderful time.  And they had a swimming pool at Huntington Beach High School?

M.O.:  Oh, yes, indoors.  It was one of the few in the whole state that had that.  Yeah, it was great, yeah.  Huntington Beach was a very rich school compared to the whole rest of them in the state.

L.A.:  Because of the oil.

M.O.:  Yeah, right.  We had a lot of income.

L.A.:  When was oil discovered?

M.O.:  I don’t know.

L.A.:  1922 or something like that.

M.O.:  Those oil wells were there as long as I could remember on Ocean Avenue.   The school covered so many cities.  I think there were only about 500 students in Huntington Beach High School, but we covered Seal Beach, Surfside, Sunset Beach, Oceanview, Midway City, Huntington Beach, uh, I’m sure I’m missing some others.  So, if you stayed for sports . . .

L.A.:  Anaheim?  No, they had their own.

M.O.:  That was different, yeah.  But, if you stayed for sports, you know you had one, maybe two buses taking you home because it included boys who stayed after school, too.  And, sometimes, most of the time, Seal Beach was the last one to let people out and it was like 7 o’clock at night.  So, then you had to go home and have dinner and do homework, you know, and I went to a library a lot.  I did a lot of reading.  And I went through a phase of reading plays.  I think I read every play they had in the library.  But it was. . .

L.A.:  You must have been a good, you sound like you were a good student.

M.O.:  It’s where the old city hall is now, that’s where the library was, in that building.  And when I graduated from eighth grade, we graduated at the city hall, upstairs at the one that’s still there.

L.A.:  Is this in Huntington Beach?

M.O.:  No, this is Seal Beach, after the earthquake.  The earthquake damaged some of our buildings, our auditorium, and, I’m getting ahead of myself with the earthquake.

L.A.:  Now, I thought, let’s see, we were talking about Huntington Beach High School.

M.O.:  Yeah.  That was what, when I was active and what I did there.  So I’ll stop there and go back to the other one when we get to it.

L.A.:  Okay.  Then, uh,

M.O.:  Oh, I also was in journalism and helped with the senior yearbook.

L.A.:  Were your parents strict or lenient in high school?  Do you remember how they . . .

M.O.:   Well, it wouldn’t be in high school, it would be through my whole life.  I’m an only child and they were very careful.  They didn’t want me to be spoiled.  I didn’t understand at the time why they would say “no” to some things I wanted to do and in later years my mother said,

“Sometimes we just said ‘no’ because we didn’t want you to always get your way about what you wanted to do.”  So they were very careful about where I was, who I was with, and, uh, but I didn’t, I mean, it wasn’t restrictive.  They made sure I always had a girlfriend to go with us if we went some place.  And I had cousins that lived in Los Angeles and so we were very close with the family.  We always spent holidays with the family.  I had a lot of cousins and they’re still very close to me.  They’re like sisters because I grew up with them.

L.A.:  Oh, that’s nice.

M.L.:  Yeah.  So I would say they were fairly strict.

L.A.:  How did the Depression affect you, uh, when you were in school?  Before you were married, when you were still a child or in high school.  You said that you had, that you ate frugally and nobody had any money.

M.O.:  I remember, the big treat I would have would be if my mother made tuna sandwiches for my lunch.  My dad would go clear to San Pedro to buy pumpernickel from a Danish bakery, dark pumpernickel.  So, that was a treat.  But, uh, other than that there was a cafeteria at high school, and I know when I was a senior I got 25¢ a week allowance.  That was for everything, so I could either spend it at school or save it for the Saturday matinee in Belmont Shore, so I would save it.  And then we had what we called the Toonerville Trolley in Seal Beach.  It stared at Central and went up Main Street to Ocean and over, to Ocean and then over the bridge–there was a bridge there where Long Beach Marina is now–and then we’d get off and walk that long walk down to Second Street to the show.

L.A.:  The Toonerville Trolley.

M.O.:  Yeah, that’s what we called it.  It was a very small (chuckle) streetcar.

L.A.:  It wasn’t called, some people call it the Dinky Line?

M.O.:  I didn’t call it that.  We called it the Toonerville Trolley.  It was real small.  It would come down there and turn around and then . . .

L.A.:  Now, where did it get its name Toonerville?

M.O.:  We, the kids, just called it that.

L.A.:  Oh, okay.

M.O.:  It’s from a comic strip, I believe.  Yeah.  I don’t remember which one, but that’s how it started.  So, uh, we would walk to the other side of the bridge because we saved a nickel doing that, and it was a nickel to go to where we were going to get off.  The show, I think, was a dime.  I don’t remember that it was any more.  Because next door to the show as a place they called the Pontiac Hot Dog Stand.

L.A.:  Now this is in the ’30’s and early ’40’s.

M.O.:  Mm-hmm. Right, right.

L.A.:  Because this was when you were . . .

M.O.:  It would be not early ’40’s because the war started, but it was in the ’30’s.  I graduated in ’38 so it was before that.  So, we would get a Pontiac hot dog, it was a foot-long hot dog with chili on top of it and then walk home from there.  A group of us would walk back to Seal Beach from the Belmont Shore on Second Street.  It’s a long, long walk.

L.A.:  So you wouldn’t pay another five cents.

M.O.:  We’d spent our money on the Toonerville Trolley, the show, and the hot-dog. (chuckle) So that’s what we would do.  Boys and girls.  Nobody paired off at that time.  And, then at night, that’s what I started to say before, that we would go skating.  This whole group would just get together and we would skate all over town.  We’d skate over to the peninsula, you know, over the bridge to the peninsula, and back as long as we were home by 9 o’clock.

But there was no pairing off, boy-girl thing.  We were just all good friends and most of us were 8th graders, some 7th graders.  I felt close to both classes because I’d been with one class up until, through the 6th grade, and then I was suddenly with another group in the 8th grade from then on.  So I felt close to the one behind me, too.

L.A.:  But, um, what is the full name of your husband?

M.O.:  His name is Byron Clifton Ordway.

L.A.:  And when and where did you meet?

M.O.:  I met him when we moved to Pasadena when I was in the 4th grade.  His aunt lived next door to us, to my aunt.

L.A.:  The 4th grade?

M.O.:  Yeah, 4th grade.  And, we went to Longfellow School in Pasadena.  He was in 6th grade and I was in the 4th grade.  And, he would come over after school and we had a big front porch and a big oak tree in the front yard and we would put up a little card table and he and I would play cards, you know, we were that age.  And so then when I moved away from there, we would continue to send cards to each other.  And after he died in 1972 and I had all the things that he had saved, I found a card in there that I had sent him in 1932. I forget what it was, a birthday card or what it was, but he had saved that card not knowing that we were going to end up getting married. But he saved that.  One time he made a bracelet in high school and mailed it to me.  We saw each other once in ten years, I think.  But his aunt lived next door to us when we moved back again.  After my dad’s sister died, we went back to Pasadena, that’s after I graduated from high school.

L.A.:  So you didn’t see him for awhile and then you went back.

M.O.:  I saw him in the 4th grade a lot and then didn’t see him but one time, I think.  He was at his aunt’s when we were visiting my aunt.  And, then after that, when I moved up there, that’s when I began to see more of him and go out with him.

L.A.:  Now, um, when and where were you married?

M.O.:  We were married in Seattle, Washington.  World War II had started so we were married April 27, 1942.  I was working for the Bank of America downtown Los Angeles.  It would take me two streetcars to get to work.  We were engaged.  So, I went up there by train and we were married in Seattle and stayed up there for ten days.  That was our honeymoon.  He was in Boeing school up there and he ended up being a crew chief on B-17’s during the war in North Africa and Italy.

L.A.:  So you didn’t see him for awhile then.

M.O.:  No, I didn’t see him for a long time.

L.A.:  How long was he in?

M.O.:  He was in almost four years.  He was one of the first people drafted, but two days after he was drafted he enlisted for three years.  But then the war kept going, so it was, I think, three years and ten months that he served.  In the meantime, I wanted; well I’m getting ahead of myself.

L.A.:  Well, I don’t know.  Let’s just, go on.

M.O.:  But we moved back to Seal Beach.  I was following him around the country as much as I could, but I came home from Watertown, South Dakota, no it was before I went to Watertown, South Dakota.  I came home from Walla Walla, Washington, where I’d followed him, and he said, “Don’t get a job yet because I think you can come back to Watertown, South Dakota.”  My dad was one of those people who believed in education, but he said, “Well, you should either be working or in school.”  I mean that was kind of rule with him.  Not mean, but, you know, he didn’t think anybody should be just sitting around waiting.  Luckily, my husband wrote and said I could come back there, so I did.  And I stayed there until he got his orders that he was going to go overseas.  But, first he went to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, so I went down there by bus and we spent some time there.  Then they gave him his furlough home before going overseas so we both went back, but we only had six days.  But, we spent most of it on the train going back and forth and two days out here.   I went back with him and then he was gone overseas.  Well, I wanted to join the service because he was in the Air Force and I wanted to do that.  He kept saying, “No”.  He went to North Africa and he said ‘no’.  Finally one time I got a letter and he said, “Okay”, so by then I was supervisor at the Near Ports and Transit Depot No. 8.  It was the big building where the Ford plant used to be before you went over the bridge to Terminal Island, a great big place.

My husband kept saying “no” I couldn’t join the service.  He wanted me to be home when he got home and he still had hopes of getting back soon.  But, he finally said “yes”, I could do it.

I was really anxious.  My cousin Dorothy had joined the Waves and that just killed me because I was the one that had talked about it for years, then I really wanted to go in.  So, I took a day, took the red car downtown to L.A., went to the recruiting station for women, took all my tests, waited for the blood test to come back, and was sworn in the same day.  There were eleven people down there taking all the tests and only five people were accepted.  So, then I was in and I had to wait for orders.  Before that, I was frozen to my job and that was the only way I could get out of it because I was in the service, but other than that, you couldn’t quit a job [or you would lose your benefits].  You had to stay; you were frozen to your job.  So, I went back to Des Moines, Iowa, and it was in October.  I think there were three trains of us that left from Los Angeles and it took us a long time to get back there.  They’d put us on the side and make us wait until another train would pick us up.  But, it was all right.  I mean, it was, you know, I had never been away from home.

L.A.:  How long were you in?

M.O.:  I was in just one year because he got out on points and so . . . but I went to Des Moines, Iowa. .  I studied, uh, well; I took basic training there.  Then they sent me to Shepherdfield, Texas, and I was going to be a control tower operator so I took code school.  I went to code school for two months.  In order to break the tension of taking code all day, they would give us breaks and then give us typing tests.  The teacher warned me, he said, “You’re typing too good.  You’d better stop.  You know, they’re looking for typists, too.”  But me, you know, I couldn’t do less than my best.  Then I was sent to Topeka, Kansas, to an airfield to be a control tower operator.  I was in the tower twenty minutes when they came and got me because they needed a typist at my headquarters.  I was at 106 AACS, Army Airways Communications System, squadron headquarters.  I wasn’t very happy and the ……. and the c.o. knew that.  I was really unhappy because that . . . I went to code school and now I wasn’t going to be in the tower.  So, I ended up being a secretary to the G2 officer, the intelligence officer and the hours were great.  It was 9 to 5 and an hour and half off for lunch.

L.A.:  It didn’t have anything to do with you being a woman, did it?

M.O.:  No.  No, uh-uh.  No.  There was only one person in the office that really didn’t treat me too friendly and he was a master sergeant who had come up through the ranks and been in for many, many years.  He didn’t approve of women in the service.  But, I didn’t even speak to the other people unless they spoke to me because Wacs did not have a good name.  But I thought when I went in it would be different because I was different, but it wasn’t.  There was still that feeling that, from a lot of men,that they didn’t really approve of Wacs.

L.A.:  Because of being a woman in the service.

M.O.:  Right, and they had a bad reputation.  A few women gave it a bad reputation.  We only, we had two women in our barracks . . . we had two barracks, that’s two stories and we had about 120 women in that.  We had two women that, uh, were not the nicest people, okay?  But, we knew who they were and we just made sure they cleaned up their mess wherever they went.  So, uh, one day I was walking home and one of the fellas from my office came up and walked beside me and started talking.  Then after that, it seemed like everybody else started treating me like a nice person (chuckle) and I felt very happy.  And, finally . . .

L.A.:  They checked you out.

M.O.:  Finally the master sergeant came around to where we became friends, but it took a long time ’cause he just was so opinionated about that.  We had one civilian woman in the office and the men didn’t really like that.  She made a lot of money compared to the rest of us.  We were making hardly, you know, nothing.  But, before I got to Topeka, they’d had a tornado that had blown the top of a big hangar.  And so every time they’d have a storm, an electrical storm, it seemed it would knock the power out all over.  You could be at the movies and it would knock the power out and they’d give you a rain check to come back another night when they’d show the movies.  We had a swimming pool on base.  It was very small but it was enough.  The climate was so bad for me because of, you couldn’t dry anything.  The humidity was so bad.  You’d wash clothes and it would take three days for them to dry.  But I enjoyed all of the KP.  I was attached to the Second Air Force but I was at its squadron headquarters, so my patch was just a regular Air Force patch.  The Second Air Force had a square patch with an eagle in it and, of course, everybody called it the chicken.  They have nicknames for everything that weren’t too great.  So I stayed there until my husband. .  oh, I went home on a furlough when he was coming home.

L.A.:  Now, before we get any further, I wanted to ask you to go back to the ’20’s and the ’30’s and I wanted you to describe the Jewel Cafe and the rum running and the gambling in Seal Beach.  What do you remember about that?

M.O.:  I don’t remember a lot.

L.A.:  What was it like, that roller coaster and . . .

M.O.:  The roller coaster wasn’t running when I was there.

L.A.:  In 1929?

M.O.:  Yeah.  I don’t remember that it was running.  The Jewel Cafe was, had been used for parties.  We had an American Legion and an American Legion Auxiliary and I don’t remember what other groups we had in town.  They were responsible for the Christmas baskets that started then, for helping people out.  It was always secret and nobody knew who was going to get it.  We had a committee that would do that.  The Jewel Cafe stood there for a long time afterwards when it was no longer used.

L.A.:  Was it boarded up?

M.O.:  I don’t remember that it was.  The roller coaster, the other kids in town and I, some of them, would go over there after school and we would push the car up as far as we could.  We had the son of the chief of police [as one of our friends]–we weren’t supposed to do this.  This was bad.   We’d push that car up as far as we could, then we all jumped in it and ride down as many bumps as we had pushed it up.  And we had a great time.

L.A.:  So it wasn’t actually running, but the cars were still on it.

M.O.:  Yeah.  It may have been running when I was younger but I don’t remember that it was.

L.A.:  Who was the chief of police then?  Do you remember?

M.O.:  The one I’m talking about was James Zoeter, I mean, that was the boy’s name.  Mary Zoeter, his mother is the one the school is named after.   I believe it’s because she was on the school board for many, many years so they named Seal Beach Elementary School the Mary Zoeter School.

L.A.:  And Zoeter was the chief of police?

M.O.:  Yes, and then later, one of my friend’s father, Lee Howard was the chief of police.  Lawrence Howard was my friend.  His father was the chief of police for a long, long time.

L.A.:   Was the Joy Zone pretty run down by that time?  In the ’30’s, after the Stock Market Crash?

M.O.:  The only thing I remember about the Joy Zone is that once in awhile my mom and dad would give me a dime and I could go down there and they had a whole lot of strings.  And, you would give them a dime and you’d pull one string and you’d get the prize that you’d pulled up.  It might have been a box of Cracker Jacks or something.

L.A.:  Was it sort of like the Pike in Long Beach?

M.O.:  Never that big.

L.A.:  Or, a little Pike?

M.O.:  It was just a few little stores, a few little game places.  That was it.  No, not like Long Beach.  Oh, that was a fun thing.  That was something else. Oh, that’s when they had the marathon dancing in 1929 and 1930 in Seal Beach.

L.A.:  Tell me about marathon dancing.

M.O.  There was movie not too long ago with, was it Jane Fonda? Something about horses . . .

L.A.:  “They Shoot Horses . . .

M.O.:  “They Shoot Horses Don’t They?”, yeah, it was like that.  I mean it was terrible for anyone’s health, you know, to be doing that, and they’d be hanging onto each other desperately so nobody would fall down and be out.  But it went on for months.  I don’t remember how long.

L.A.:  They danced for months?

M.O.:  Yes.

L.A.:  Non-stop?

M.O.:  Yes.  Well, they allowed them time off, I mean, so much time, I don’t remember how often, like maybe fifteen minutes every hour and a half or two hours.  I don’t remember exactly.  But, people paid to go in and watch them, that’s how they made some money.  At the same time, we had like a pole-sitting contest, only it was a tree-sitting contest in the palm trees on 8th Street.  So some of them, a couple of my friends were sitting up there.  They had a platform that they stayed up there on and then people would send them food.  They’d pull it up, they’d pull the food up.  They were allowed to come down to go to the bathroom and they were allowed to walk around a little bit and then they were back up in the tree-sitting contest. 

The only other thing I didn’t mention was the mailman–Carl the mailman.  He was an Indian.  He had long, almost white hair, gray hair, wavy hair, and looked very much the Indian that he was.  He used to have a cart.   The post office was on Main Street in the 100 block.  He would take his cart and go down to meet the Red Car, and the Red Car would throw a sack of mail into his cart and then he would bring it back to the post office.  He did this at least twice a day that I remember.  When I was real little when we first went to town, he would let me ride in that cart down to the Red Car and back if it wasn’t a big sack of mail.  He was there as long as I could remember.  He lived in one of the buildings on the opposite side of where the Jewel Cafe was, on the other side of the pier, in that building.  That’s where he lived.

L.A.:  Were there apartments there or something?

M.O.:  No.  Well, there were rooms.  He always had a room upstairs, so I don’t know, you know, what kind of room.

L.A.:  This is in the early or late ’30’s?

M.O.:  Early.

L.A.:  Early ’30’s?  That’s about the time you came here.

M.O.:  We came in ’29, yeah, right.  We had the store when I was doing this.  I know we had it until ’32 so it was between ’29 and ’32.

L.A.:  Tell me about the store, the grocery store.

M.O.:  It was a large building.  We had the grocery store and meat market and the hotel up above and next to us–this was all one building– was Casio’s barbershop.  The home that he lived in . . . I think he had at least five children . . . the home they lived in is still standing.  It’s on the corner of Electric and 10th Street.  It’s a two-story gray building.  It should be saved.  It shouldn’t be demolished.  Then next to him was Al’s Billiard Parlor and bar–Bar and Billiard Parlor.   The bar was in the front and in the back he had the pool tables.

L.A.:  When you say him, who is it?  I’m sorry, I didn’t hear.

M.O.:  Casio’s barbershop and next to him was Al Walker’s Billiard Parlor and Bar.  The bar was in the front and the billiard parlor in the back.  Those two men were in that building when the earthquake came.

L.A.:  This is all on Main Street.

M.O.:  This is in the 100 block on Main Street where we were–it was our building that fell down.

L.A.:  Okay, that’s my next question.  How did the 1933 earthquake affect you?

M.O.:  A lot!  I remember that there was an American Legion meeting so my father had left to . . . he was down on First Street right across from the power plant to pick somebody up to go to the meeting.  We had had chop suey for dinner because I remember my dad brought the bean sprouts home for the chop suey.  When it came, we were living next to the parking lot that’s there now on 8th and just above Central going toward the Ocean.  That building was torn down a couple of years ago and they built two huge buildings there, now, and homes.   There were no, or very few, cupboards in the kitchen.  Things were on shelves and the same way in the bathroom.  Things were on shelves.  Well, my mother and I were in the kitchen and she tried to get me out the back door.  Three times she tried to shove me out that back door and the earthquake was so strong I couldn’t get out.  Third time, she got me out.  In the meantime the cans were flying off the shelf hitting her in the head.  She was not seriously injured but she had a lot of damage to her face.  So I finally got out in time to see, looking to my right, I saw the two-story brick building fall down. 

The power plant had a blue light and a steam and a whistling sound and we thought that the power plant had exploded.  We didn’t know what this was.  My dad was across the street from that.  They said the power plant tower [smokestack] swayed twelve feet each way.

L.A.:   I know the tower fell over.

M.O.:  It didn’t fall over.  They took the top two-thirds down.  It was cracked.

L.A.:  Oh, it was cracked.

M.O.:  It was cracked.  It didn’t fall down.  But they had to take two-thirds of it down and that upset all of the sailors because when they were coming back from overseas they could see that landmark before anything else.  When they took two-thirds of it down, they could no longer see the tower and they didn’t like that.  It had to be torn down because it was cracked, it was dangerous.

So, after that, that same night, my dad came back.  He worked for the state highway and, people took all their mattresses over and put them in a big tent the men had put up on Main Street almost across from where our building was.  It would be, I don’t know what’s in there, now.  It was a big vacant lot and they had a tree there.  I remember some lady had her rocking chair over there.  They built a fire and they were sitting around it.  Then they finally . . .

L.A.:  Everybody came out of their houses.

M.O.:  Oh, yeah.  We didn’t stay in the house.  No.  Because we were getting aftershocks.  My dad was out checking the highway thing, whatever he was supposed to do.  So they put all the children to bed in this tent, all the kids around.  And, at nine o’clock my dad came back and he said, “We’re going to have a tidal wave.”  I was trying to think.  I can think of tsunami but it was a tidal wave.  They scared us.  They said we have to get out of town right away.  The tidal wave’s going to come.  So, we just, my mom and I got in the car and away we went to Los Angeles to my aunt’s house, aunt and uncle’s.  This was nine o’clock at night.  We didn’t get in there until three o’clock in the morning.  The roads were so bad.

L.A.:  People were trying to get out of town.

M.O.:  Well, yes.  Some of them just went up on the hill, which wouldn’t have done any good at all.

L.A.:  On this hill?

M.O.:  Right.  It’s just always called the “hill”.  Yeah, they came up on the hill but that wouldn’t have been far enough.  They would have drowned probably if we’d had a tidal wave.

L.A.:  So that’s one of the reasons they came up on the hill because that tidal wave was expected.

M.O.:  Mm-hmm.  They all sat up here all night, I guess, till they felt it was safe to go back down.

L.A.:  That’s what I heard Norma say, that they all came up on the hill.

M.O.:  Yeah.  Well, we went to Los Angeles and my dad came back after he got us up there.  I don’t know if my mom came back.  I think she went back with him because they, the, uh, civil, I don’t know what you call them, the guard.  Oh, the one that always shows up to help people out.

L.A.:  National Guard.

M.O.:  National Guard.  The National Guard came in.  They set up tents where the fire department is now, on Central and it would be next to that lot that we lived by at that time.  They set up tents there and they ended up feeding everybody the whole time.  They took care of people, you know, more or less.  There was a lot of looting that went on.  Friends of ours lost diamond rings and other things.  People went in and stole from them.

L.A.:  From out of town.

M.O.:  No, from our own town.

L.A.:  From in town.

M.O.:  Right.  Kids, or young people or old people.  I don’t know . . .

L.A.:  . . . who was looting in those days.

M.O.:  Of course we didn’t have anybody guarding anything then.  The bad part was they didn’t know that children needed to have some psychiatrist talk to them, psychologist or someone talk to them.  And, so, I still have a lot of things, a lot of  . . . like I don’t want to go in a tunnel or elevator . . . I don’t want to go into anything that’s underground.  I don’t want . . .

L.A.:  You can’t go in elevators?

M.O.:  I go in elevators but I know I’m in an elevator.  I mean it’s never left me.

L.A.:  How about airplanes?

M.O.:  I do not fly.  I have, but I’m very uncomfortable.

L.A.:  So you still have that anxiety.

M.O.:  Mm-hmm.  Oh, yes.

L.A.:  Leftover anxiety.

M.O.:  The first time I went to LAX with a friend to pick some people up, that, you have to go round and round in that parking lot . . .

L.A.:   So that earthquake was terrifying.

M.O.:  It was terrifying.  It’s the worst thing that I’ve ever been through, I guess you’d say.  People that talk about bad earthquakes don’t know what that one was like.  It was really bad, really bad.  But, even though I could see out at LAX, I ended up almost hysterical the first time I went into that parking lot because it was cement . . . I call it “cement on my head”.  I don’t want to be where there’s cement on my head, that’s all.

L.A.:  So, if something traumatic happens to you and you don’t get help, you know, as a child, then later on it affects you as an adult.

M.O.:  I stayed in Los Angeles for, I think, at least two weeks.  I went to school with my cousins up there.  Their buildings weren’t as damaged the way ours was.  Seal Beach School had a lot of damage to the auditorium and to the grades, and when I did go back to school, they had a curtain separating two classes because we didn’t have enough rooms.

L.A.:  And Seal Beach Elementary was made of bricks.

M.O.:  That’s why the auditorium was so damaged.

L.A.:  I’ve seen a picture of Mr. McGaugh in front of his ton of bricks.

M.O.:  Right.  And that night we were supposed to go to a play at the school in the auditorium, but the earthquake was before 6 o’clock so we weren’t there yet.

L.A.:  Oh!

M.O.:  Yes.  We had a play scheduled.

L.A.:  Oh!  Really!  What time was the earthquake?

M.O.:  Ten minutes to six.

L.A.:  And your play was at what time?

M.O.:  Probably seven or seven-thirty.  I don’t remember.   We would have been in the building.  Things happen for a reason.

L.A.:  And then what about any buildings on Main Street.  Which ones fell?

M.O.:  Only ours fell down.  We didn’t own it any more but it did, it collapsed.  Some buildings were shaken off their foundations.

L.A.:  Did you tell me the name of the grocery store?

M.O.:  Schmidt’s Grocery Store. Yes, Grocery Store and Meat Market.  Some place I have a picture of my dad standing out there and then I have on of the building when it was . . .

L.A.:  It’s the only building that fell.

M.O.:  Yes, as far as I know . . . the only one collapsed and fell to the ground.  They were shaken off foundations.  The Stanton home, I think, on Ocean Avenue was shaken off its foundation.  And a lot, there were, I mean things that you had were broken.  I mean it was hard getting anything left.  I don’t know.  My mother had a dresser set that I still have.  Only one thing got broken in that.  I don’t know how.  It must have fallen and the carpet was soft enough, whatever.  But it was really scary afterwards.  We had aftershocks.

L.A.:  A lot of houses then were built out of wood.  The houses weren’t brick.

M.O.:  Right.  They were, some of those were shaken off the foundation, but other than that, it was anything made of brick, and I think ours was the only two-story brick building in town.

L.A.:  Non-reinforced.

M.O.:  Yeah, of course.  After that I think they had what they called the Field Act when they had to redo everything that they could.  They’re still doing it.  (chuckle)

L.A.:  Now, to World War II.  How did the people in Seal Beach feel about World War II and the threat from the Japanese?

M.O.:  I was living in Pasadena at that time and going to college.  I went two years to Pasadena Community College when the war started.  But, I still had friends in Seal Beach.  My dad was still working in Seal Beach.

L.A.:  He still had his grocery store.

M.O.:  No, no.  It fell down in the earthquake.

L.A.:  Oh, okay.

M.O.:  Now we’re up to the ’40’s, 1941.  After I graduated from high school, we moved back to Pasadena.  My aunt had died and she had two homes.  One of my dad’s brothers took the one home on San Fernando Road, and we took the one in Pasadena.  So we moved back to that house that I had lived in when I was in the fourth grade.  And, that’s when I picked up with my husband coming next door when, you know, my boyfriend at the time.  Uh, no.  I can remember when the war started.  I was working for the Bank of America downtown L.A. and I asked my mom and dad, I said, “Well, what do I do?  Do I go to work?”  I didn’t know what you were supposed to do when you were at war.  I remember Roosevelt’s speech on the radio, “Day of Infamy”.  I remember all that.  So I didn’t really, I wasn’t in Seal Beach.

L.A.:  The bombing of Pearl Harbor.

M.O.:  Yes, the bombing of Pearl Harbor.  But, I never connected the kids I went to school with, the Japanese, with anything bad.  Now, they took all those people, they had truck farms, and they took property, and they took them and put them up in Alton, is it Manzanar? I forgot what it’s called.  It’s on the way to the Sierras.  You still see the cement pillars there.

L.A.:  Yes.

M.O.:  And, uh, they took them up there.  But, see, for some reason I didn’t get a big impression of that at the time.  I don’t know why.  It’s, it escapes me.  I mean, when I did realize what was happening, I thought it was terrible.  And I never heard from any of those people again.  These kids I grew up with in Seal Beach.

L.A.:  I know that there were a lot of Japanese in the agricultural business.

M.O.:  Right.  They had truck farms, and we were friends.

L.A.:  And raised vegetables.

M.O.:  Yeah.  My dad and I would go out and visit with them, and, uh, you know, just visit with them and then we’d buy something from them, too.  But, they were friends enough so that we’d just go visit.

L.A.:  And they just disappeared?

M.O.:  They just disappeared.  They were gone.  They came and took them.

L.A.:  And they took the children from the schools, too.

M.O.:  Yes.  All of them.  They were just gone.

L.A.:  Uh-huh.

M.O.:  And they never did come back.  And the Navy Depot took most of that property around Seal Beach.

L.A.:  How did the Navy Weapons Station, the moving in and displacing the people in Anaheim Bay affect you or affect the people in Seal Beach?  Do you remember when that happened?

M.O.:  Oh, yes, because I spent many hours… that’s where I spent my summers was at Anaheim Bay.  And, we had friends that had summer homes down there at Surfside and they had to move their buildings.  A lot of them moved their houses into Seal Beach.  There are still a few here.   I just felt terrible because that was the place where I spent all my summers..

L.A.:  Did they mind the fact that the Navy was moving there?  I know they felt like they were more protected.

M.O.:  They thought that they were taking all . . .no . . .

L.A.:  That they were displaced.

M.O.:  I felt that they just took over property that we had and that they were just taking it over and I didn’t want . . .

L.A.:  That was the most beautiful place, too.

M.O.:  Yes, it was!  There were homes all around the bay.  It was a beautiful bay.  It was fun because the tide would go in and out, of course.  You’d go out, if the tide was going out, you’d go out there and it would be so fast you’d just drift out with the tide and swim ashore.  If it was coming in you’d go out there and jump in and wash into the bay.  So, and we played.  We had a great time.  There was a rope hanging down from the bridge that went across the bay and we’d be out there and play.  I mean, it was just a fun time.

L.A.:  Yeah, it sounds like it.  I’ve heard a lot about that from the . . .

M.O.:  It was fun. 

L.A.:  . . . other people that said that was where they spent their time was at Anaheim Bay.

M.O.:  We also had a bowling alley.  I was never in that, but they had a big area that was covered with latticework where people would, and tables . . . they had a lot of tables . . . and we had picnics there.  Once a year the American Legion and Auxiliary would treat all the members’ children to lunch and a show in Long Beach.  The lunch was at this place; we had a picnic lunch.  Then we’d all get on the Toonerville Trolley and we’d go to Long Beach to the movies.  That was a real treat for us.  Nobody had very much money then, when I was little.

So, it was, it was hard, because it changed everything.  One family moved to Naples; they lived in Naples.  Somehow their son continued to go to high school.  I’m trying to think when they came in, when the Navy came in.  I don’t remember.

L.A.:  I think that it was 1942.

M.O.:  Well, we were out of high school then.

L.A.:  Uh-huh, 1942 they came in.

M.O.:  His name was Robert Borne . . .

L.A.:  ’45 . . .’42 to ’45, around in there.

M.O.:  Yes.

L.A.:  It must have been . . .

M.O.:  Yes, I think it was before the war was over.

L.A.:  About ’42.

M.O.:  Yeah.  Uh-huh.  My dad, uh,

L.A.:  They had their 50-year anniversary, I think in ’92 so that must have been ’42.

M.O.:  Right.  See it gets confusing because there are too many years there.

L.A.:  What about . . . do you remember the Glider Inn, the airport there?  Where was the airport in relation to Anaheim Bay?  It was Hawthorn . . .

M.O.:  Well, it was, it was on the highway.  Anaheim Bay was… the bridge went across from Electric Avenue, and then the bay was in there.  So, they were farther, I don’t know if that’s north or what, but it was farther inland and it was on the highway.  That’s where the original Glider Inn was, and then it was moved to where it is now.  I believe it’s the oldest restaurant in town.

L.A.:  I think so.  Do you remember any other restaurants at that time or were they the only ones?  They were the only one, but then later on . . .

M.O.:  Okay, no.  The one I remember is when we had the store, we delivered groceries to people, that was part of the service.  And there were two men, Sam and George Arvanitis, who were Greek and they had a bake stand at the very end of Surfside.  My dad became friends with them and they were members of the American Legion.  So, I would go with him and they were always talking about building a restaurant.  And, um, they would make Mulligan stew, they called it.  My dad and I would have stew with them and they would visit and talk and I would enjoy that a lot.  These were nice people.  Two bachelors, one had been married.  I don’t know about the other one.  They were the ones that built Sam’s Seafood.  That’s where that came from.  I still have a match cover that shows the old buildings.  They had the restaurant and they had a fish market, and it shows the old cars parked in front of it.  I should show that to you.  I still have that.

L.A.:  Take a picture of it.

M.O.:  Yes.  So, uh, they did finally build it, and it was on the other side of the highway and down aways.

L.A.:  Well, there was a Glider Inn and Sam’s Seafood.   Anything on Main Street that you remember, any restaurants?

M.O.:  There was the Green Parrot Inn.

L.A.:  People didn’t eat out much.  The Green Parrot Inn.

M.O.:  But I think mostly, the only thing I had in there was an ice cream.  And, then, we also had, I think it was called, Brock’s Drug Store?  It’s, I think it’s called the Corner Drug, now, on Electric Avenue and Main Street, and they had a soda fountain in there.  The kids would gather in there, but the man that owned it didn’t like that so he tore the soda fountain out and the kids didn’t have a place to meet any more.

L.A.:  And they ate in there, too?

M.O.:  Finally they did have sandwiches, sandwiches and ice cream.

L.A.:  That sounds great.

M.O.:  It was great.  But he didn’t like the kids going in there so he took it out.

L.A.:  Mr. Brock?

M.O.:  I don’t know.  It seems to me that it was Brock’s Drug Store at that time, but you know, it’s a long time ago.

L.A.:  Well, Brock’s was here when I moved here in 1953.

M.O.:  It was Brock’s for a long, long time, but it could have been another name.  I don’t remember.

L.A.: I remember you saying that during the Depression,  . . . the question was I wondered what you ate during the Depression.  You said that your father used to dig clams.

M.O.:  Mm-hmm.  He dug clams, uh, just this side of the bridge that goes towards Surfside.  It would be before you got to Sam’s Seafood, and I still see fishermen down in that area.  But he would go down there and dig cockles,that’s the kind of clam it was.  We would make chowder.  But, we didn’t know about Boston clam chowder.  It was always the red chowder that he made, you know, Manhattan.  He made good chowder and we lived on that, really, besides the vegetables he’d get from working in the lot where all the people worked that wanted vegetables.   I don’t remember how long that lasted.  His aunt . . .

L.A.:  Did he get the vegetables from the Japanese?

M.O.:  No.

L.A.:  Over here on the Hellman property?

M.O.:  No, no.  Well, not then.  They were gone.

L.A.:  That’s right.

M.O.:  No, they weren’t gone then.  I don’t know what we did.  They were friends of ours but we didn’t have any money.  We didn’t have any money, so I don’t know that they were even selling anything to us, except to rich people.  I guess there were some of those around but they, we didn’t know them.  (chuckle)  Everybody was in the same boat that we were in, so the kids didn’t feel different from anybody else.

L.A.:  You never felt like you didn’t have anything.

M.O.:  No.  Oh, I forgot to mention one thing about high school.  We wore uniforms to high school.  Dark blue or black skirts and white middy blouses, long sleeved with a serge collar with three white stripes on it.  And what the girls would do would be to fold these middies up about widths and get pins that you’d pin for corsages?  And they’d fold back the sides and they’d pin ’em so that you could have a waistline, right?  And then we’d roll the sleeves up as far as we could.  But we wore those until I was a senior; they started to get, allow you to get five colors of short-sleeved blouses you could wear on Friday.  You could wear one of those on Friday if you had the money to buy it.

L.A.:  And the uniforms were required because some of the kids had the money and they would outshine the others?

M.O.:  I think probably that, that must have been . . .

L.A.:  Cause some of the children might . . . my sister went to Huntington Beach and she said that some of the families had a lot of money.

M.O.:  Oh, yes.

L.A.:  From the oil

M.O.:  That’s right.

L.A.:  Some had oil wells and some didn’t.

M.O.:  Right.  One owned the mortuary.  (chuckle)  They had businesses, Eater’s Bakery on the main street down there.

L.A.:  So the competition wasn’t there when you were.

M.O.:  You couldn’t tell who had money and who didn’t.  Then after Easter, you could wear white skirts with these middies.  So, uh, that’s, I mean, I thought it was a good idea.  I think it would be a good idea now.  You’re not asking me about now, but I think that it makes everybody be level.  You can’t tell who has and who hasn’t.

L.A.:  You sure wouldn’t have to think about what to wear when you got up in the morning.

M.O.:  No.  We had a uniform board.  You weren’t allowed to wear earrings or jewelry.  Your skirt had to be a certain length.

L.A.:  The uniform.

M.O.:  The uniform.  They measured them.  And, some kids were always in trouble with the uniform board because they just wouldn’t do what they were supposed to do.  So I don’t know how they ended up in life, but they weren’t going along with the rules.  So, I just thought I’d mention that about the uniforms.

L.A.:  Mm-hmm.  Now, uh, did you know or know about Bill Robertson?

M.O.:  I knew about Bill Robertson.   I heard a lot of talk about Bill Robertson because he was a retired detective from Los Angeles but he had a lot of money and everybody wondered how he got the money.  He must have been crooked, I mean, that was the word.  Where did he get the money?  Well, I think he’s the one that started the bingo parlor on Main Street.  It was in the building where Walt’s Wharf is, right on that corner.   It never bothered the kids.  Our bus stop was right there at one time and we would get off.  I didn’t see anything that would disturb me.  I didn’t see any drunken people.  My aunt and uncle would come down from Los Angeles and my mom and dad would go up with them and play some bingo and had fun.  So I never saw the bad part.  The rum running you asked about earlier . . . we all heard that that’s how Mr. Beno made his money, from the end of the pier getting the liquor, and so that’s the word that went around there, so, Beno’s Drug Store.

L.A.:  Now, where was Beno’s Drug Store?

M.O.:  It’s on the 100 block, again.

L.A.:  On the corner or was it in the middle of the block?

M.O.:  No, it was in the middle of the block.  In fact, I don’t know if it’s by, where Bob’s Rexall is now.  It could have been.  But, uh, that part didn’t bother us.  And then later, I don’t remember how much later, Mr. Robertson built the hut out there and had I think it was a poker parlor and bingo.

L.A.:  The hut was near the pier?

M.O.:  The hut was on the highway just before you leave Seal Beach, before that bridge, before the San Gabriel River, on the right-hand side.

L.A.:  Oh, you’re talking about Robertson’s Quonset hut.

M.O.:  Quonset hut, right.  That was out there.  Now, my dad worked as a guard out there for a short time, so he knew Bill Robertson.  What I know about Bill Robertson is that, although these people were condemning him, they were accepting gifts from him.  He was generous as far as helping people out in town.  I know he gave money to this Methodist Church and they were always downing him as much as they could, but they accepted the money, so.   And he gave turkeys out at the holidays to different people, different families.  So he didn’t just use all the money for himself.  He did help some people in town.  But he did have that bad reputation so I really don’t know.

L.A.: But it was just because he was, uh, controlling the council so they’d keep voting in gambling.  It wasn’t illegal.  It was legal gambling.

M.O.:  Right.  It was legal gambling or he couldn’t have done it.  But the thing is, if you don’t like the council, you vote them out and get somebody else in.  So evidently more people in town said it was okay because the council stayed, I guess.

L.A.:  He did a lot for the town according to some people.

M.O.:  Yes, he did.  He did it without any recognition, really.  Only word of mouth–people telling what happened to them.  Some people didn’t want to admit they had taken anything, so . . . and he never told.

L.A.:  You didn’t hear it from him.

M.O.:  So, I don’t know, I didn’t know him personally so I really don’t know what kind of person he was except from what I heard.

L.A.:  From your father.

M.O.:  Right.  My father knew who he was and had worked for him for a short time.  He treated him all right.  The other person that was a friend of . . .

L.A.:  And what . . . can you give me a date on that?  What date was that when you think he opened up the Airport Club?

M.O.:  We moved out of town in 19 . . . the fall of 1938.

L.A.:  Was he there then?

M.O.:  He was there before that.

L.A.:  Before 1938.

M.O.:  Yes, starting up, let’s see here.  I’m trying to think was he there after the war?  No, I don’t think so.  I think it was, I think it was when I was in high school.  You know, but you could check with some of the other people.  They may have a better memory of the time.

L.A.:  Yeah.  But he was there in the ’30’s.

M.O.:  I think so.  I think so.

L.A.:  I think around 1952 or 1953 he was voted out, the gambling was voted out.  Then he opened up the Marina Palace where the teenagers went.  They closed him down on that, too.

M.O.:  I don’t even remember that.  I guess I was some place else.

L.A.:  Yes, our kids were little.  It was in the same location, in the Quonset hut on PCH.

M.O.:  When I talked about the Glider Inn, um, the people that owned the Glider Inn were Jimmy Arnerich and Nina Bennis.

L.A.:  How do you spell the last name?

M.O.:  Her name or his?

L.A.: Both last names.

M.O.:  Arnerich A-R-N-E-R-I-C-H.  Arnerich.  Jimmy Arnerich.  And her name was Nina Bennis B-E-N-N-I-S.  They lived behind the Glider Inn.  It was like two separate homes.  They were not married.  She had a husband, she was Catholic.  Her husband was in a hospital as long as I knew until he died.  But, they never married, but they were thought of as man and wife because they were close.  But they had separate quarters, but they were joined.  I mean you could get back and forth inside the house.  I was a friend of theirs.  I lived next to that parking lot for 25 years, the Glider Inn parking lot, with my husband.

L.A.:  Was this when they moved from the airport?

M.O.:  Yes, this was in, when we came back after we were in the service, my husband and I.

L.A.:  That was in the 1940’s then.

M.O.:  Yes.  In 1945 . . . I think we came back to town in ’46 and we lived with my mother and father for one year and then we bought the home next to the Glider Inn parking lot and had that for 25 years.  So they were friends of mine, also, as well as my dad.  But my dad would go down there in the morning.  My dad ended up being constable in Seal Beach.  Herman Drant, that’s Bob Eagle’s grandfather, was the constable.  I don’t remember why he left the office, if he died or if he retired, or what he did.  But, my dad became the constable.  He was appointed and so he did that until he died in 1950.

L.A.:  And constable is like a policeman.

M.O.:  Well, yes.  You serve papers on people and it’s through the County.  So when my dad was in the hospital, my mother was doing the work.  She had permission from the County Board of Supervisors to do this.  See, this is . . . I’ll get to that.  So when my dad died, I took my mom to Santa Ana and they appointed her to fill his term.  Then the office came up, you know, you had to vote and she ran and she was elected.  So then she was the constable.  But she would get some of the men in town to help her when she went to serve papers because she didn’t carry a firearm.  She didn’t carry a gun.  So there were different people that helped her out that way.  Well then we had another vote and Seal Beach went to the Huntington Beach area so she went down there and she was appointed to be in charge of the office down there.  And the strange part is that there was a lot of typing involved and my mother never learned typing.  She was a hunt and peck typist.  But they still hired her for that job and she was still in charge of the office.

L.A.:  She had the experience.

M.O.:  Yes, I guess.  She set up the office and other places came to her office to see how she did it because she set up the procedure for running the office.  And, when she retired, she was a deputy marshal and chief clerk of the marshal’s office in Huntington Beach.  She was the first woman Constable in the United States.  That was my mom.

L.A.:  Oh!  Now what year was that?

M.O.:  Ah, the year . . . I’d have to look it up.

L.A.:  In the ’40’s.

M.O.:  I have to look it up.  My dad died in 1950 and so that’s when she was appointed.

L.A.:  So it was the early ’50’s.

M.O.:  He died in September of 1950 so that’s when she started out, in ’50.

L.A.:  Then they covered Seal Beach and Huntington Beach?

M.O.:  Um, yes.  Huntington Beach took over the Seal Beach area so it covered all Huntington Beach, Seal Beach, and some other cities, I believe, in the Huntington Beach area.

L.A.:  But didn’t Seal Beach still have the police department?

M.O.:  Oh, yes, that’s separate.  That’s a city thing.  The other is a county . . .it was Constable and then they changed it to Marshal, so there was a deputy Marshal and she was Deputy Marshal and chief clerk of the Marshal’s office, yeah.  She stayed till she was 71 years old because they hadn’t had a retirement program for some years, and then they started it so she stayed until that covered her.  She got all of sixty-four dollars a month from that (chuckle) but she did stay.  She lived until she was ten days short of 85 years old.

L.A.:  Now, where were you at that time?

M.O.:  Seal Beach.

L.A.:  What was your address at that time?

M.O.:  It was on 15th Street–327 15th Street, Seal Beach.  Before my mom died, I built behind her home on Ocean Avenue.  I built three garages . . .

L.A.:  Where did she live on Ocean Avenue?

M.O.:  1600 Ocean.

L.A.:  Okay.

M.O.:  I live behind there now.

L.A.:  Oh!

M.O.:  I built that in 1973, where I live.

L.A.:   I want you to tell me anything that you think is important that’s sort of interesting about Seal Beach that you can think of.  We covered everything like the earthquake and all that.

M.O.:  And the schools.  Well, the PTA was quite important in my life.  That was one thing.  We had what we called hot dog days.  Before my older son was even in school, Phyllis Jay had me over there on hot dog day, which was every Wednesday.  The ladies would bring these large electric roasters and the upper grades could order their hot dogs.  I think they paid thirty-five cents for a hot dog, if it was that much.

L.A.:  This was in the ’50’s?

M.O.:  My sons were, oh yeah, one was born in 1950 . . . it would be about 1954 or 55.  We had the buns and we had a whole lot of women working in there.  Then we’d go by each room and each room would say like, “These want mustard, these want ketchup, some want both, some want none.”  You know, we’d fill all this stuff.  Fill these roasters and take them up, we had McGaugh School then, we’d take it up to McGaugh School.  We did it at Zoeter School but the upper grades had this, because we didn’t have a cafeteria or any way of getting any food to them

L.A.:   Phyllis Jay played the piano, too, didn’t she?

M.O.:  Phyllis has Alzheimer’s.  Other than that, she knows more about this town than anybody does, I think.  She was here before I was here and her dad had a bait store and fish market on Ocean Avenue, not on the corner but next to the corner of, next to where Kinda Lahaina is.  It was right next to that, and they built a place behind it where they lived, she and Jim and their children.  They had four children, two girls and two boys.  And, the man . . . I was trying to think of the man who built their home, Frank Curtis, who is now, what, 101 and still living, still going around Seal Beach in his little cart?  Yeah, he built their home on 12th Street, they had.

L.A.:  Well, I think I’ll draw this to a close.  You’re probably getting tired.  It’s been about an hour and a half. 

M.O.:  I think we did some good.

L.A.:  So thank you very much.

M.O.:  You’re welcome.

L.A.:  Okay . . . one year?

M.O.:  One year, they taught swimming.  It was the lifeguard, taught swimming down near the power plant.  There was a little bay, like an inlet, going toward the ocean just past the power plant.  The water was so warm that it didn’t dawn on us that it was coming from DOW Chemical and the DWP power plant.  But, if you went on farther out to sea, that’s when we had all the stingrays.  They loved the warm water.  We taught swimming there and the water smelled awful.  It was full of chemicals.  But that was just one summer and I’m still wondering if my sons are (chuckle) going to have any effect from that.  Oh, we didn’t talk about my kids! 

L.A.:  Oh, okay.

M.O.:  I had two sons.

L.A.:  Yes, that’s right.

M.O.:  One born in 1950 and one born in 1953, both born in Long Beach Community Hospital, one of them lives with me now and the other one lives about twenty minutes away.  I have two grandchildren, Byron who’s fifteen, and Stephanie, who will be twelve in August.  Those are my pride and joy.

                                 Transcribed by Kathy Morton

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