In a continuing effort to keep our community apprised of events occurring in the never-ending saga of the Seal Beach Historical Society non-profit that I have been writing about since October 2020, I have a most concerning and sad update to share. In my original Op-Ed of Oct. 1, 2020, I alerted the community that unless something changed soon with the leadership in the SBHS that our community stood the possibility of losing our historical archives, and now it has happened again.
As a quick recap, after months of refusing the call from the community for an election of new leadership and allow for the peaceful turnover of power, the leadership in question, Charles and Marie Antos and Monique Atwood sold the Red Car to the Seal Beach Lions, and also sold them their storage container at the Seal Beach City Lot. The container was presumed to be housing the artifacts that they removed from the Red Car on Saturday Feb. 20, 2021, and now we hope that is not correct. At that time, there was still a hope and belief that they would, as they once told the City, return items to the original owners if requested. Those who donated items were never contacted prior to the cleanout of Feb. 20, 2021, but a number of people have attempted to contact them since this time and made their requests clear. Their calls and emails have gone unreturned and unanswered.
The newest violation is that last Thursday, 4/15/21, the SBHS leaders took it upon themselves, with no communication to other SBHS members or archive donors, to hire the “1-800 Got Junk” company, and dump the contents of the container. It took two loads (according to the Got Junk staff) and by the time responsible community members were alerted it was too late to stop the devastation that has occurred.
We have no idea what was trashed or what has been saved.
The Antoses told this writer that “everything in the container was ruined by water damage” and therefore “trash.” They claim that “someone drilled holes in the container roof to try and see what was in the container.”. This is not true and there is a past history of other groups attempting to help repair the rotting and rusted roof and alerting leadership at that time that there was an issue. Obviously, no action was ever taken to fix the issue and this is the result. This is yet another example of the complete lack of leadership of SBHS that they did not adequately care for the container and the archives and items stored within.
In the very few pictures that this writer was able to obtain, there is a pile on the ground of destroyed pictures in frames and other paperwork. Among the pictures I could see clearly was one of the Joy Zone roller-coaster. This writer knows that at one time the container had boxes of donated newsprint archives from original Seal Beach newspapers going back decades. We do not know if those were among the trash or not. What we do not know is what else of value was deemed “trash” and tossed on 415/21. Other than a large Red Car replica that was seen strapped to the roof of their car, we have no idea what else might have been salvaged. It did not appear at the time this writer arrived that there was any type of “inventory” being taken as to what was tossed into trash. What we also do not know is where, if at all, any remaining archives reside, and if, when, or where, SBHS ever plans on restoring them to this community for our shared ability to enjoy and learn from.
Previously I advised community members who have donated items to the SBHS through the years to contact them and ask to retrieve your items. The Antos have now stated that they have no intention of returning items to anyone.
The Antos have dragged this community through months of pain, for what? I am sure there will be future updates and I am committed to keeping this community apprised. I continue to hope for some resolution to get our archives and history returned to this community. To accept anything less will be devastating to us all.