Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Santa Monica in Rose Parades!

During the 1947 Rose Parade, the first ever televised on KTLA, Santa Monica came in second place. The float was named "Fiesta." The parade theme for 1947 was "Holidays in Flowers."

Floats entered by the City of Santa Monica won First Prize, Class A-6 in 1974, 1975, 1977 and Third Place in 1979.

1974 - First Place float

1975 - First Place float
1977 - First Place float
1979 - Third Place float
Learn more about the history of the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade at


Monday, November 10, 2014

Oldest book in the local history collection at the Library

It is not surprising that the oldest book in the Santa Monica Public Library's collection is about California.Three Years in California [1846-1849] by Walter Colton, 1797-1851 was published in 1850 by A.S. Barnes in New York.

The book chronicles Walter Colton's time in California as Alcalde of Monterey where he acted as magistrate and judge for Northern California. His first journal entry records the raising of the United States flag at Monterey and San Francisco on July 10, 1846. He held the first jury trial in California and fined gamblers $20 to cover the expense of building the first schoolhouse too. A Navy chaplain, he was sent to California by President Andrew Jackson before the the U.S. entered the Mexican-American War (1846-1848). Walter Colton, along with Robert Semple, launched the first newspaper, The Californian, on August 15,1846.

Three Years in California offers a unique look at the region before gold was discovered at Sutter's Mill on January 24, 1848 and shortly after. Reverend Colton recorded in his journal on May 29 that gold was discovered on the American Fork [American River]. It took several days due to doubts to substantiate the claim.

The charm of the book and Colton's entries stem not from his observations of big historical events for the time in California, but humorous anecdotes about people and places.

A complete, scanned version of the book is viewable through the Internet Archive at
Three Years in California by Reverend Walter Colton, U.S.N.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Thelma Terry Plaque Dedication

The Unveiling of the Thelma Terry Plaque ceremony was held at Virginia Avenue Park on Saturday, September 27, 2014 in front of the Thelma Terry Building at 2200 Virginia Avenue in Santa Monica.
Plaque attached to the front of the Thelma Terry Building on September 27, 2014

Thelma Terry was a remarkable woman and athlete in our community, born in 1907. She played basketball at Santa Monica High School and also in 1932 and 1933 at Santa Monica College. She used her love of sports to create recreation programs for the youth of Santa Monica. She advised 9 clubs, including ceramics, for teenagers at Memorial Park as the Recreation Director. She inspired other park facilities in the City to adopt similar programs. In the 1950s she helped 20 girls organize a drill team. They referred to themselves as "The Terryettes." Mrs. Terry passed in 1979 leaving a tremendous legacy to Santa Monica youth.
Carolyne Edwards and Mayor Pam O'Connor

The plaque was funded by the Quinn Research Center, founded by Carolyne and Bill Edwards. Carolyne is the niece of Dr. Alfred T. Quinn, a noted Black educator and leader in the Santa Monica Bay region. The Quinn Research Center funds educational resources that promote study, research, and preservation of Black Family History and Culture in the Santa Monica Bay Area.

The ceremony began at 1:15pm with the Santa Monica Police Explorers Color Guard. Vienna Hayes with the Calvary Baptist Church sang two spirituals.

Speakers for the event:
  • Elizabeth Cruz, Chair, Virginia Avenue Park Advisory Board
  • Sabrina Fields, Vice Chair, VAPAB
  • Carolyne Edwards, Founder, Quinn Research Center
  • Commendation presented by Mayor Pam O'Connor, City of Santa Monica
The unveiling was followed by the Dancing Divas performing Step Dance Performance and final statements by Elizabeth Cruz.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Oscar Wilde in California

Oscar Wilde came to America on a $5,000 commission from opera company owner, Richard D'Oyly Carte, to promote Gilbert and Sullivan's "Patience; or Bunthorne's Bride." The work was a satire on the aesthetic movement. Wilde developed celebrity status during the tour, with his colorful look, appearing in velvet waistcoats and britches with long hair. This publicity stunt catapulted Wilde to world-renowned fame. He introduced the ideas behind the Aesthetic Movement to San Francisco during his visit.

It is reported that Wilde enjoyed his time in California in 1882 most during his visit to the United States and was especially impressed with San Francisco.

Selected Bibliography of resources about Oscar Wilde's visit to the United States and information on the Aesthetic Movement:

  • Oscar Wilde and His Circle
         The world's largest collection of manuscripts and archival material relating to Oscar
          Wilde are available at The Clark Library at UCLA. The collection includes 90,000   
           books and 21,000 letters and manuscripts by and about Oscar Wilde.
          Clark Library collection

  • Gay Bears: The Hidden History of the Berkeley Campus
         Oscar Wilde 1854-1900
         Excerpts from The Berkelyan during Oscar Wilde's visit to the University of California
           in 1882.
          Gay Bears

  • "Wilde about California: On his 1882 trip to San Francisco, the Irishman pronounced the city 'where I belong' "
         May 5, 2013 article in the Los Angeles Times by Roy Morris Jr. LA Times article

  • Topics in Chronicling America - Oscar Wilde: Author and Asthete
         Library of Congress timeline and sample articles with links
          LC timeline and articles

  • At the Santa Monica Public Library
         Oscar Wilde Discovers America 1882 by Lloyd Lewis and Henry Justin Smith 
         921 WILDE, OSCAR

         Declaring His Genius: Oscar Wilde in North America by Roy Morris, Jr.
         921 WILDE, OSCAR

        The Aesthetic Movement : prelude to Art Nouveau by Elizabeth Aslin

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Puppet Masters at Santa Monica Public Library

The Santa Monica Public Library has a long history of puppets used to entertain and teach a love of literature to the many children who visit us. And, we love our puppets!

Stick figure puppets may have been used as early as 1000 B.C. to tell stories. The most notable sock puppet was created by Shari Lewis, "Lamb Chop," in 1960. Pinnocchio, a complicated wooden marionette, initially appeared in a serial by Carlo Collodi in 1881. Marionette's first appeared in Italy. The story was later popularized by Disney in the feature film.  The Swedish Chef, my favorite Muppet, is the rare human-shaped Muppet puppet. There was the creepiest ventriloquist doll from The Avengers show; 'Henrietta' in "How to Succeed at ... Murder" in 1966. SeƱor Wences was an amazing ventriloquist who drew lips on his hand between the thumb and forefinger and named the character 'Johnny' who was a favorite on the Ed Sullivan Show.

A notable Santa Monica Children's librarian, Virginia McShane,
operated marionettes to tell stories to children, including the famous Kiki the Clown. Mrs. McShane was head of Children's Service in the 1970s. She started working for the Library in 1932 as a library page. She was inspired to tell stories using puppets after seeing the response of children at puppet shows in the 1930s at our library. She started entertaining at children's birthday parties with a friend. She checked books out from the Santa Monica Public Library about puppets and marionettes and made her own.

Another amazing children's librarian and puppeteer is Ilene Cohen. She was also a branch manager and audiovisual librarian in Santa Monica since 1970. It was always apparent that Ilene's alter ego, Woody, delighted generations of children and parents alike. She is a remarkable storyteller and puppeteer with legions of fans.
Ilene Cohen and Woody the puppet at Santa Monica Public Library (2000)
Jesse Nathaniel, or Mr. Jesse as he is best know here by his youthful fans, is a life-long performer with an innate ability to entertain children. Jesse has been a part of the Santa Monica Public Library crew for 20 years. He picked up some basic tips on technique from two colleagues at the Pasadena Public
Library between 1990 to 1992, Genie Sowell and Barbara Martin. Jesse learned about ventriloquist puppetry from Ilene Cohen. She also inspired Jesse to create his current puppet stage.
Jesse describes himself as able to be silly and unselfconscious in his quest to lure children into reading when he is entertaining them with his many puppets. He sees this as a way for children to "Dream Big" and give them positive ideas as they grow. Jesse has many friends in his puppet stable. He says that the youngest fans love "Lamb Chop," the bunny, pig and parrot.

Cody, Mr. Jesse and Ducky, Lester, Lamb Chop, Mr. Book, Romeo, Cuddles, and Polly Parrot

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Santa Monica supports the War (WW II)

During World War II, Santa Monica hunkered down to defend its coastline from invasion on the Pacific front. Reminders and some relics exist today.

A forgotten bunker was discovered under the Santa Monica Pier in 1982 and removed subsequently in 2003. The concrete bunker measured 6 feet by 6 feet and 8 feet in height. Narrow windows 2 feet wide by 3 feet tall faced north and west for sentries to look out in the Santa Monica Bay for attacks by enemies.(Santa Monica Evening Outlook, November 12-18, 2003, microfilm collection Santa Monica Public Library)

Heiress Winona Stephens purchased 50 acres from Will Rogers that she named Murphy Ranch as a place to provide refuge to Nazi sympathizers in 1933, in Rustic Canyon, a part of Topanga State Park. The primary structure built before the FBI raided the compound after the attack on Pearl Harbor, was a concrete bunker. Although derelict, the structure still stands covered in graffiti along a popular hiking route.

Image from 35 in 52 blog

Long gone is the amazing camouflage that covered Douglas Aircraft Factory in Clover Field during the war years. The United States declared war on December 8, 1941, making Douglas Aircraft factory and airport a significant military location. Colonel John Ohmer was in charge of operations in the Los Angeles area and a part of his assignment included the camouflage operation that covered Douglas Aircraft and other aircraft factories in the vicinity. Edward Huntsman-Trout, noted landscape designer, was called upon to design and engineer a complete false neighborhood made of wood and burlap on top of the factory. Hollywood studios sent volunteers to help build and decorate the cover. Fake homes sprung up with fake laundry hanging from fake trees. A diversionary airplane factory was set up next door.


Santa Monica Public Library Image Archives
Close view of the camouflage designed by landscape architect Edward Huntsman-Trout during World War II to cover the Douglas Aircraft Company in Santa Monica

During the War, Santa Monica hosted thousands of military personnel on leave to recover from military combat on R & R. Many of the City's hotels and beach clubs were used for this purpose. Casa del Mar club hosted off-duty aerial combat veterans. Douglas factory workers and military men and women went to amusement parks on Ocean Park's piers and danced the night away in the Aragon Ballroom on Lick Pier. (Santa Monica: A History on the Edge by Paul Scott, p. 123)
Santa Monica Public Library Image Archives
Case del Mar, 1910 Ocean Front Walk, Santa Monica, Calif.
The Santa Monica Public Library played a roll on the homefront too. The Fairview Branch Library Manager Nellie Dolly Sullivan began story times for preschoolers, probably one of the first of its kind on the west coast. The basement of the Ocean Park Branch Library was turned into a Young People's room where teens could meet to study and play records and games. Librarians at the Main Library would contribute to buy cartons of cigarettes for the service men and women in Santa Monica on leave. Reference librarians provided documents, maps, and updates on war campaigns to keep an anxious public informed and also provided information to military installations in the area.

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Intentional Tourist: Selected historical and current walks around Santa Monica


For a wonderful map and descriptions of locations in downtown Santa Monica to visit the next time you are out on a walk see page 18 of the Summer Seascape 2014! Highlights of this short tour include: Rapp Saloon which was the old City Hall; Hotel Carmel; Keller Block a landmarked building; 1433-37 4th Street designed by architect Henry Hollwedel; Central Tower Building, also a landmark; Bay Cities Guaranty Building; and Majestic-Mayfair Theater. Summer Seascape 2014

For a more ambitious tour, try the downloadable map of landmarks available by visiting the City of Santa Monica Information Services Department (ISD) site - Map Catalog and select Historic Landmarks. Historic Landmark
This book, written by James W. Lunsford and illustrated by Alice N. Lunsford in 1983, provides an overview of places, buildings, murals, and statues, to name a few of the fascinating contents convered. One copy of the book is available for check out at the Main Library at 601 Santa Monica Blvd. While all of the places and items may not exist any longer, this offers a great historical perspective of Santa Monica in the 1980s.

Pico Neighborhood - Fairview Heights Lindbergh Park
Shows the features of the area of Santa Monica bordered by Lincoln Blvd. to the west; Broadway and Colorado Aves. to the north; Centinela to the east; and Pico Blvd. to the south
Join the amazing docents at the Santa Monica Public Library for a tour offered every third Friday each month at 12:30 pm. Meet in the Lobby of the Main Library at 601 Santa Monica Blvd. Highlights of the tour include special architectural features of the building, sustainability, and the mural created by Stanton Macdonald-Wright, unveiled in 1935 when the Main Library was located at 503 Santa Monica Blvd.

"Make your feet your friend" J. M. Barrie


Tuesday, May 27, 2014


Abbott Kinney and the Story of Venice, mural created by Edward Biberman in 1941
The mural shown above is part of an exhibt at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) which runs May 18, 2014-November 16, 2014 in the Art of the Americas Building, Level 3. The mural was designed by the artist, Edward Biberman, for display in the Venice Post Office originally. The mural has been restored and tells the story of Abbott Kinney's vision for Venice as a destination for fun, entertainment, and a utopian resort.
The Santa Monica Public Library loaned four postcards to the exhibit. Visit the exhibition to see not only the mural and postcards from SMPL, but artifacts from the Los Angeles Public Library, University of Southern California, the Huntington Library and the National Archives about Venice of America.

The Colonade, Winward Avenue, Venice, Calif (1904)

Venice canal and residence, Calif. [19- -]

"Venice Canal" Venice, California [1912]

Electric train between Venice, Ocean Park, and Santa Monica, Calif. [19- -]

These and other images of Venice, Santa Monica, and Pacific Palisades are veiwable through the Santa Monica Image Archive at Imagine Santa Monica

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

'Careless Love' rose discovered in Santa Monica in 1955

The 'Found Rose' is a way to categorize roses found in fields, old cemeteries, and abandonded gardens that have not been identified before. 'Careless Love' was discovered and named by Henry A. Conklin in Santa Monica in 1955 and introduced by the Golden State Nursery the same year.

Careless Love

'Careless Love' is a pink blend with stripes. The petals have deep pink flecks with white. The rose has a strong frangrance. The rose blooms in flushes throughout the season with medium-sized, semi-double to double flowers in small clusters.

Red Radiance

This rose is a 'sport' of 'Red Radiance" a hybrid tea rose from 1916. Sports occur in roses when the plant's cells experience a genetic mistake while the plant grows, producing an entirely new cane and rose, which can be propagated by a cutting. The rose was patented in the United States on March 26, 1957 (PP 1,582) and is still available at some nursery's and online today.

The finder, Henry Conklin, was a rose grower in the San Fernando Valley in 1944 and originally started growing roses in the San Gabriel Valley. The nursery was called Conklin Rose Co. initially, then Conklin Rose Co./Great Westerm Rose.  Mr. Conklin lives in McFarland, California and is currently 94 years old. His son, Henry Conklin, is the current owner of Conklin Rose Co. in Litchfield Park, Arizona.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Fun facts in Santa Monica Facts

Santa Monica Facts is a compilation of selected trivia about Santa Monica, including residents, places and events that have been collected by librarians at the Santa Monica Public Library. Learn more about places that used to be and other amazing facts at Imagine Santa Monica

Mottoes & Slogans

"Zenith city by the Sunset Sea"; used at the first auction of lots in SM, July 15, 1875. "Gem by the Sea"; used in late 1880s to advertise East Santa Monica. "A
fortunate people in a fortunate city"; on Municipal Seal. "Populus felix in urbe felici"; on the city seal inlaid in floor of central hall of City Hall.

Steere's Opera House

In 1887 John Steere erected a two-story brick block on the northeast corner of Utah (now Broadway) and Third, with a frontage of 50 by 75 feet. The second floor contained a large hall which for many years was known as "Steere's Opera House," and which served as a theater and public meeting space.

Gambling Ships

Names of gambling ships operating off the coast of California: Bunker Hill;
Aroostock; Lux; Luxury; Rex; Star of Scotland; Showboat; Tango; and Texas.

Woman's Christian Temperance Union

In the summer of 1885 a few earnest women organized a W.C.T.U. in Santa Monica. Their purpose was to support a reading room and library and improve the town's moral tone. Thier headquarters from 1887 to 1961 was a two-story frame building on 3rd St.

Street Names

Present name: Olympic Blvd. old name was Pennsylvania Ave.; 14th St. was
Cemetery Rd. (From Broadway to the cemetery, this street had beautiful
pepper trees on both sides.); Hollister Ave. was Bonty St.; Pico Blvd. was Front St. and, at one time, Fremont Ave.; Lincoln Blvd. 9south of Olympic) was
Compton Rd.; Hampton Drive was Washington Blvd.

Pink Elephant

Gay bar, now defunct located at 2810 Main St., Santa Monica.


Details on the First West Coast Parachute Jump. ALthough it is well documented
that ALbert Berry made the first parachute drop, several books report that W.W.
"Grant" Norton made the first parachute drop over Venice Beach in 1911.
According to Bailout; the story of parachuting and skydiving by Don Dwiggins (New York: Crowell-Colllier, 1969) ALbert Berry made the first drop March 1, 1912 and "Grant" Norton made his drop on APril 28, 1912. Also, according to the Santa Monica Evening OUtlook, W.W. "Grant" Norton's drop was the first drop from an airplane ever witnessed on the Pacific Coast.


The bougainvillea became the official flower of Santa Monica in 1935 following the adoption of a resolution by the borad of directors of the Chamber of Commerce upon the recommendation of Samuel G. McClure and Hugh Evans.

Joe Gold

Born in Los Angeles in 1922, Joe Gold began working out at age 12 and built a
home gym while still a teenager. He started spending time at Muscle Beach as
a bodybuilder. During World Was II, Gold joined the Navy. He injured his hip when bombs rocked the ship he was on during the Battle of Leyte Gulf, in the Phillipines in 1944. Despite his injury, he became a merchant marine and sailed on commercial ships for 30 years, starting in 1948. With a business partner, Gold opened Ajax's Gym in New Orleans in 1951. He joined Mae West's Las Vegas revue, a song-and-dance skit show, that featured some of the best male physiques in the world. In 1963, Gold proposed an indoor gym to the Muscle Beach Weightlifting Club in Santa Monica, which at the time had
only an outside pit. When the proposed partnership didn't work out, Joe
created Gold's Gym. It was completed in 1964 and opened in 1965 on Pacific Avenue in Venice. Joe sold Gold's in 1970. Under its new owners, Gold's
eventually became a franchise operation and one of the largest gym chains in the world. Gold has relocated his new flagship World Gym twice, once to
Venice in 1987 and again to Marina del Rey in 1999.

Block Size

In Santa Monica the number of blocks to the mile are as follow: North-South: 7.7 blocks to the mile, including streets; East-West: 13.2 blocks to the mile, including streets.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Hooray for Hollywood - in Santa Monica!

    The glam and glitz of the Academy Award ceremonies used to be closer to home, when they were held in the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium from 1961 to 1968. Bob Hope hosted each of these years, except 1963 with Jack Lemmon and again in 1964 when Frank Sinatra hosted.

If you are a fan of this annual event, you will enjoy the article found on microfilm in the Santa Monica Evening Outlook, April 13, 1966 edition on page 30. This may have been the first year that the Academy Awards were televised in color.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Shirley Temple born in Santa Monica, California

Shirley Temple Black was born on April 23, 1928 in Santa Monica. Her family lived in a small Spanish-style bungalow built in 1926 located at 948 24th Street. Later, in the 1930s, the family moved to a home at 259 19th Street, designed by architect Frank Bivens*. The loveable child actor and diplomat died on February 10, 2014 in California at the age of 85.
Hollywood Hills home



Home in Brentwood Heights

*Frank Bivens, a notable local architect, designed the landmarked Streamline Moderne Apartments at 822 Euclid Street.


Thursday, January 2, 2014

Happy New Year from the Santa Monica Public Library!

It was only eight years ago, on January 7, 2006, that the new Main Library at 601 Santa Monica Blvd. opened. The library was designed by architects Moore Ruble Yudell and features many sustainable components and was the City of Santa Monica's second major facility after the Public Safety building designed and built to significantly reduce the site's negative impact on the environment. The building is 104,000 square feet.

Carl Cheng sculpture in the courtyard

Belvedere on the Second Floor