Seventy-five years ago this week, the impact of the second world war was significant on a coastal communities in California. In Huntington Beach, the military took positions near the pier, with the Army taking residence in the clubhouse at Lake Park. Civil defense volunteers took shifts watching the coast from the rooftop of the Memorial Hall. Young men had left for war and those at home were determined to remember them.
The Santa Ana Register described the plans for the 1942 Armistice Day parade as a patriotic event to which military from the Los Alamitos Navy Base, the Santa Ana Naval Air Station and the Marine base would be invited. Armistice Day--now Veterans Day--had been a major event in Huntington Beach prior to 1942, with parades held on Main Street during the first world war. The 1942 Armistice Day would honor the the Blue Star families with a public honor roll plaque.
LEFT: The Santa Ana Register described the planned events for Armistice Day 1942. (Santa Ana Register, "HB to honor service men Armistice Day", November 4, 1942)
"Officers and men are to be invited from the Santa Ana Army Base and plans are being formulated to have one of the Army chaplains deliver the main address and the firing squad will be assigned to Huntington Beach by the United States Army," reported the Register. "Approximately 300 men from this city are now serving with the armed forces and their names have been inscribed upon the honor roll."
"Mayor Thomas B. Talbert, in unveiling the plaque on Armistice day (sic), will present to the families of the men serving from Huntington Beach, the plaque honoring their sons, brothers and husbands," noted the Register.
It's the details of the photographs documenting the 1942 Armistice Day parade that tell a story of the Huntington Beach of 75 years ago, with a few landmarks that remain that help us retrace the steps and remember.
ABOVE: An enlargement of the area near the honor roll of men serving in the military, as of November 1942. Mayor Thomas B. Talbert (second from right, holding hat) was the keynote speaker, with Chamber of Commerce president George Wheat (far right) acting as master of ceremonies. (Photograph snip courtesy of City of Huntington Beach archives)
ABOVE: The building that today is home to the International Surfing Museum was, in 1942, the Huntington Beach Emergency Hospital, referred to in the City's historic resources survey as the "Dr. Hawes Medical Building", which had been built six years earlier in 1936. (Photograph snip courtesy of City of Huntington Beach archives)
ABOVE: The Huntington Beach High School band, led by Everett Crosby, joined the military for the Armistice Day parade in 1942. As the band and military units approached the honor roll plaque, they formed a giant "V" for the ceremony. (Photograph snip courtesy of City of Huntington Beach archives)
ABOVE: Just past the Huntington Beach Emergency Hospital, an automobile service station and garage at the corner of 5th Street and Olive Avenue, where Pristine Motorsports is located today. Oil derricks fill the background in the oil field north of the downtown. (Photograph snip courtesy of City of Huntington Beach archives)
ABOVE: Among the debris in the 5th Street alley near Olive Avenue, a Cole Bros. Circus sign. The Santa Ana Register reported the semi-annual arrival of the Cole Bros. Circus in October 1942, promising "clowns, sawdust rings, and pink lemonade...The big show will arrive here from Hollywood, a mile-long trainload of bespangled wonders and marvels, with three great herds of elephants, a trio of Asiatic pangurs (big cats), over 250 horses and ponies, a giant chimpanzee and a flock of baby animals in a big double menagerie that circus officials say would make Noah jealous if he were alive to see it." One of the largest circus organizations in the West, the Cole Bros. Circus set up a 26-tent camp at South Main and Pomona in Santa Ana, employed a crew of 650, and provided two performances daily under a "big top" which seated nearly 10,000 people. (Photograph snip courtesy of City of Huntington Beach archives)
LEFT: Off to the side, a boy runs toward a trio of boys in overalls, a popular and practical article of clothing during World War II, a time when advertisements emphasized frugality and the work ethic needed to win the war. Women also wore overalls or coveralls, as they entered the work force to replace men who had left for the military. (Photograph snip courtesy of City of Huntington Beach archives)
On November 12, 1942, the Santa Ana Register reported "simple but impressive was yesterday's 11 a.m. Armistice Day ceremony dedicating the Victory Plaque at the corner of Main Street and Olive Avenue. Nearly 1500 people witnessed the colorful, snappy ritual directed by the Huntington Beach chamber of commerce and carried out by a score of top ranking military officials and 300 U.S. Army, Navy and Marine corps in dress uniform."
There was a moment of silent tribute, followed by "Retreat" played by an Army bugler. The Huntington Beach High School band then played the Star Spangled Banner, followed by a salute by the Army firing squad. After the ceremony, the procession continued down Main Street to Ocean Boulevard (Pacific Coast Highway), then up Fifth Street to city hall, which then was located at the Old Civic Center near where Triangle Park and the Main Street Library are today.
What happened to the honor roll "Victory Plaque" dedicated on Armistice Day in 1942? Was it moved to the Memorial Hall at the Old Civic Center, demolished in 1974? We hope someone out there knows.
ABOVE: The Armistice Day ceremonies dedicating the "Victory Plaque" at the corner of Olive Avenue and Main Street on November 11, 1942, attended by a reported 1,500 residents and 300 military personnel. ("Impressive Ceremonies Mark Dedication of Service Plaque", Santa Ana Register, November 12, 1942)
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