The Crowd: Before there was a ferry, there was a rowboat

How many locals know that the very first Balboa Island ferry franchised by Joseph Beek was a rowboat?

Nearly 100 years has brought significant changes, and even though the rowboat has been replaced by a barge transporting both people and vehicles from the island to the Balboa Peninsula, the need to cross the channel is exactly the same as it was before the advancement of the electronic and technical age.

Last week on Balboa Island, the descendants of Joseph Beek, brothers Seymour and Allan Beek, addressed a crowd of some 80 guests who had come together at the Balboa Island Museum & Historical Society for a nostalgic look back at local lore. The event was moderated by Balboa Island resident Conrad Baumgartner, who shared with the crowd what life was like on the island nearly a century ago when Joseph Beek arrived and went to work for W.S. Collins, selling lots for the pricey sum of $50 apiece.

The event was the first program planned by organizers at the Historical Society, led by dedicated Balboa lovers Shirley Pepys, Bob Lambert and Sharon Lambert, the society's president. Members of the Beek family in attendance also included Jean and Linda Beek and their niece Cathy White.

As the Beek brothers shared stories about their parents and the fear of a perceived threat of a Japanese invasion during World War II, the crowd toasted wine and sampled desserts and mingled with Terry Lakenan, the great granddaughter of W.S. Collins, Dan and Nancy Stringer, Steve and Ronnie Bromberg, Bobbie Daniel and Barbara Baumgartner.

The Balboa Island Museum & Historical Society, founded in 2000, has the mission of preserving the history and heritage of Balboa Island. Located at 331 Marine Ave., the museum is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.


The Pacific Symphony will host 150 Orange County middle school students for three weeks of workshops, excursions, and activities promoting music and the arts known as "arts-X-press."

It is the 12th consecutive summer that the symphony has sponsored this educational symposium, led by maestro Carl St.Clair and staff. The program commences Saturday and runs through Aug. 1. It takes its inspiration from St.Clair's personal creative path.

He shares with the students that his own artistic discipline was not just borne of music but inspired by an interdisciplinary philosophy of life encompassing multiple artistic endeavors. The summer program began in 2001 and has graduated some 1,600 alumni, many of whom have gone on to pursue careers in artistic fields. To find out more go to

On July 18 at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, the performing arts world in Orange County welcomes the amazing Yanni. The singer and composer, whose career has spanned more than 30 years, has entertained millions of people all around the world.

Yanni is ending his most recent world tour with a new performance show in the United States.

On July 24, the Segerstrom Center will welcome the latest production of the Broadway show, "La Cage aux Folles," starring Hollywood leading man George Hamilton and actor Christopher Sieber as life partners Georges and Albin.

"La Cage" first opened on Broadway in 1983, breaking ground by featuring romantic leads that were a gay couple. Producers were worried if audiences would accept the concept. Not only did they accept the concept, but the show ran on Broadway for four years and won six Tony Awards.

THE CROWD runs Thursdays and Saturdays. B.W. Cook is editor of the Bay Window, the official publication of the Balboa Bay Club in Newport Beach.

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