When Life Was A Beach

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Dave Privett and Pat Sullivan riding surf mats under the pier in 1950 rented from Stangeland Stands or borrowed. Pat Sullivan was a long time police officer for Seal Beach.

I started working at the Stangeland’s Umbrella Stand in the summer of 1950. I was 11 years old, but would be 12 in July. I was probably one of the youngest kids on the beach concession circuit. This was due to the fact that Gary, the youngest of the five Stangeland boys, and I had been friends since 1941. I had been hanging out at their house for years. Gerhart Stangeland, known as “G,” was the owner of the concession and one of the scariest guys around.

He was very large, had a glass eye, and the gruffest voice you ever heard. All the kids were scared to death of him, but it was the only job in town. The “Stands,” as they were called, were small plywood structures. There were four stands located out on the sand. One at Dolphin St., one at 10th St. on the East side of the pier, 8th St., and 1st St., (called Siberia.) The smallest buildings were at Dolphin and  1st Street with the main stand at 10th St. being the largest. The umbrellas and surf mats were stored inside.

Each summer morning about 8 a.m. all the kids would show up at the Stangeland house to pick up their keys, change box and rental sheet. My regular stand was at Dolphin St. I would unlock the stand , set up an umbrella and put out a display of surf mats. When I rented umbrellas, I would set them up for people, hoping for tips. “G” would pay us $2.50 per day plus a bonus if anyone rented over $50 worth of equipment in a day. (Never happened!) In those days we spent our earnings on comic books, cokes, bubble gum, and illegal fire works when 4th of July came around.

On our days off, (most of us worked 5 days a week), we would take advantage of the free use of the surf mats or catch the bus to the Pike in Long Beach to ride the roller coaster. Of Course there was the Saturday matinee at the Bay Theatre if you weren’t working. The price was 14 cents for admission and 25 cents for a coke and popcorn.

Boy, that $10 or $12 a week went a long way.

No TV, no McDonalds, no computer games….Just the beach, a bike, the surf, and a pocket full of money. What a life! What a town!

The Founders Day 2010 adventure begins:

During September, “A Taste of Seal Beach” punch cards will be sold for $20, value $200, to use during the month of October during our countdown to Oct. 27.

Saturday, Oct. 2, A Dinner/Dance will be the first activity while leading up the big day of Oct. 27, when the incorporation of Seal Beach became official 95 years ago. There will be at least15 baskets of goodies as opportunity prizes, silent auction items including lunches, dinners, paintings, new golf clubs, golf lessons with talented pros, expensive items and live auction items 1 week in a home in Hanalei Bay, Kauai, 1 week stay in an apartment in Hanalei Kauai, 3rd row seat tickets to see South Pacific at Orange County Performing Arts. It will be held at Old Ranch Country Club 3001 Lampson Ave., 6 p.m. featuring music by The Emperors: Southern California’s Premier Classic Rock. Tickets are $75 in advance. Call Gwen Forsythe at: (562) 598-9044. Costumes from your favorite era are optional. Proceeds benefit “Save Our Pool” fund.

Wednesday, Oct. 6, Tennis mixer at Seal Beach Tennis Center on Lampson.

Thursday, Oct. 7, Golf tournament at Bixby Village Golf Course, tee time, 1 p.m. with dinner, awards and prizes at 5 p.m., Seal Beach Senior Center. For more information, call 562 598-9294 .

Saturday, Oct. 9, concert by the pier provided by the Chamber of Commerce during the Main St. sidewalk sale.

Sunday, Oct. 10, a parade that will take us back in time on the green belt in the center of old town that will be he Joy zone for one day. Visitors rode a roller coaster called The Derby in 1915 in the Joy Zone and watched scintillator lights at the end of the pier. We will have bands on two stages with rotating groups playing a variety of selections. Come join us for a parade, rides, food booths, and music. If you would like to participate in The Joy Zone with a booth, a band, or a stage presentation, call (431) 3466, or 430-6490 430-0595.

The Red Car Museum will be open on Festival Day allowing Founders Day celebrants a Time to Remember. Imagine, stepping out of the Red Car into the Joy Zone once more.

Shirt sales will continue Saturday and Sunday at the pier, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. Wear your shirt and meet me on the Joy Zone.

Wednesday, Oct. 27, the actual incorporation date, a slideshow of selected historic photos of which most have never seen. This show will be presented at the Marina Community Center from 7:30 – 9:30 p.m.

When Life Was A Beach