TIME CAPSULE: Past Seal Beach Events during the Month of May

With Summer unofficially kicking off with the Memorial Day weekend, the month of May has always been a happening time for Seal Beach. Check out these unique moments in Seal Beach History.

May 1913 – Pacific Electric crews begin grading Ocean Ave in preparation for the new trolley rail line that will run from a junction with the Newport Beach line at Electric and Main and then down Main to Ocean where it will turn west and follow Ocean, and cross a bridge at the San Gabriel River into Long Beach where it will follow the coast to downtown.

May 27, 1914 – The Seal Beach Chamber of Commerce is organized(for the first time) with A.M. Simmington as President, C.A. Little as VP, J.C. Ord as Chief Booster, and Miss May McIntyre as Secretary.

May 13, 1916 – While labor and supply issues delay the opening of the Joy Zone at the Beach, the new “Wilcox Casino” opens at Anaheim Landing. The two-story red brick structure features an all new refrigerator (then still a novelty among for most restaurants), seating folr 800 people, and a 29’x70′ dance floor that will also feature the amazing dance talents of Connie Conway and “six other noted dancers and singers.” The Casino’s attractions are muted by the opening of the Joy Zone two weeks later and unpaid bills by its builders, W.W. Wilcox and W.H. Labb.

May 28 1916 – The Joy Zone, the new Seal Beach Amusement Zone, officially opens for business with a parade through nearby towns and a three day specially Memorial Day celebration. The Joy Zone is managed by Frank Burt, a very experienced amusement promoter who had peviously been in charge of Amusements at the Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco, and before that at Denver’s very successful Lakeside Park.

May 17, 1924 – Glenda Boston Smith and her Seal Beach Orchestra (composed of musically talented 8th graders at Bay City Elementary School) performs live on radio station KFI from the Seal Beach Pavilion. This is one of the earliest examples of a local elementary school group performing on a radio station. The event went over so well, the Seal Beach Chamber of Commerce hired Mrs. Smith, an accomplished pianist in her own right, to organize other shows at the Pavilion over the summer months.

May 26, 1929 – The first ads for “Surfside Colony” appear in newspapers. Located just beyond the Anaheim Bay cottages of East Seal Beach (which will all be removed when the Navy buys Anaheim Bay in 1944] the new subdivision is marketed as an “similar” alternative to the homes at the Malibu Colony, a favorite of Hollywood stars. While there are some early sales, the Wall Street Crash of 1929 and the subsequent Depression stifle growth in the colony until after World War II.

May 22, 1930 – Just ten days after becoming the second gambling ship to ply the waters off Seal Beach, the Monfalcone is boarded by rival gamblers [presumably from the first ship, the Johanna Smith]. The invaders commandeered a water taxi from Long Beach, then engaged in a fistfight with the Monfalcone crew who quickly surrendered after two gunshots were fired.

May 11, 1933 – The Long Beach Earthquake damages many buildings in Seal Beach, including fallen brick walls at Seal Beach Elementary School on the Coast Highway. US Navy personnel set up emergency tents in the vacant lots across from City Hall.

May 29, 1933 – Col. John Berger announces plans to build a horse race track “at the northeast corner of Bay Boulevard and PCH,” where the Crawford Airport had been and across the street from the original Gllide ‘er Inn. Seal Beach officials approved the race track, but Orange County said horse racing was illegal in the county, so it never happened.

May 29, 1939 – The Seal Beach Pier officially reopens with a 3-day celebration. It had been destroyed in a 1936 storm, which eventually led to the bankruptcy of the Bayside Land Company. The city took over 4 blocks around the pier area, and obtained a WPA loan to pay for rebuilding the pier.

May 5, 1945 – Construction begins on the Beach Theater on Main Street. It was under the guidance of Nebraska theater owner Oscar Johnson, who felt the town’s potential (4,000 sailors had just been stationed at the new Weapons Station) made it a good opportunity. While the theater would open on Thanksgiving Eve, the post-war boom didn’t happen at first so six months­ later, Johnson sold his new struggling theater to the Fox West Coast Theater Chain and a month later, after some upgrades, it reopened as The Bay Theater.

May 7, 1961 – A full page ad in LA Times announces Ross Cortese’s Leisure World project. It will be the first self-contained seniors community in the world. Residents (all 52 and older) will never have to leave the community for groceries, medical, religion or recreation.

May 15, 1971 — First residents move into the new 549-unit Oakwood Garden Apartment complex at First and PCH (now the eaves Apartments). Early marketing includes a Celebrity Tennis Tournament with John Wayne as a participating star.

May 6, 1973 – The Bixby Ranch Company revealed plans to build condominiums on 7 acres of land across from the Old Ranch Country Club.

Leave a Comment

Don`t copy text!