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A LOOK BACK -- JERRY PERSON

No one can accuse Huntington Beach of not blowing its own horn when an

event occurs, and this week we’ll look back at just how the city went

about getting the word out on the opening of the city’s fishing barge.

For more than 15 years, the townsfolk talked of having a boat landing

at the Huntington Beach Pier and a barge anchored offshore. In 1926,

Huntington Beach got its wish of a pier boat landing and a barge anchored

3 1/2 miles offshore.

But since this was before television and the Internet, they needed a

way to publicize that the barge was open for business.

The problem was left up to resident E.B. Stevens, who lived at 714

Pacific Coast Highway. Stevens came up with the idea of a big “fish

parade.” Not just a little parade down Main Street, but a caravan of

decorated cars that would start in Huntington Beach and travel through

several inland towns and cities.

Stevens enlisted many of our business owners to help with the idea of

a fish parade. Some of these cars would be decorated with fishing poles

and nets, others would carry some of our local beauties.

And so one Friday morning, June 20, 1926, 30 cars left the Huntington

Beach Chamber of Commerce office and headed east toward Santa Ana.

The parade was led by Huntington Beach motorcycle officer Elmer

Parker. In the first decorated car rode our city council members -- at

that time they were known as city trustees.

In that car sat O.R. Harris, C.G. Boster, J.W. Mitchell, W.R. Wharton

and City Clerk Charles Furr. Behind our top officials was a float that

contained Musgrave’s Jazz Band. They supplied the music for our little

caravan. They even had a piano on board that float. As our cars passed

through the city of Orange and then the tiny hamlet of Olive, the bathing

beauties of Huntington Beach, in their beach attire, attracted many a

look from passersby.

Inside that car also rode two males -- John Barlow -- the driver --

and lifeguard Fred Ott. On went our line of cars through Anaheim,

Fullerton, Brea and La Habra, each with a banner on the side of the car

proclaiming the opening of the barge.

Following behind the beauties rode Stevens. On and on went the

paraders, through Santa Fe Springs, Artesia and Norwalk. In the car

behind Stevens’ vehicle rode Scoutmaster L.A. Olmstead and a large number

of local boy scouts waving to bystanders. Our parade turned around and

continued back east into Buena Park, all the while cars were blowing

their horns and jazz bands played musical numbers.

Behind the scouts, the owners of the barge, Charles Warner and Gene

Lindly rode. Our little band of fish paraders now left Buena Park and

headed south toward Garden Grove and home to Huntington Beach. The

caravan, with its tired paraders, arrived back home in the afternoon,

after covering more than 85 miles and entertaining people in more than a

dozen towns and cities. I just can’t picture our present City Council

riding in a caravan of open touring cars and advertising the opening of a

new Wal-Mart or surf shop.

But word did get out about the new barge and that weekend in 1926,

more than 255 people enjoyed the fishing off that barge.

Compton resident Tom Cox caught a deep-sea bass weighing more than 300

pounds and measuring 5 feet, 10 inches in length. No! that’s not a fish

story. But even that prize fish pales in comparison to that wonderful

fish parade that Huntington Beach organized so many years ago.

* JERRY PERSON is a local historian and longtime Huntington Beach

resident. If you have ideas for future columns, write him at P.O. Box

7182, Huntington Beach, CA 92615.


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