March 2003 / Vol 5 No 3


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The Dredging Of
The Harbor Entrance

Competition Was Celebrated In May 1936


The treacherous entrance to Balboa Bay had claimed many lives before the dredging of 1935 -36.

The entrance to Balboa Bay had always been unpredictable and dangerous to navigate. The ever shifting sandbars and the rising and falling tides made it almost imposable to know for sure how to navigate it.  In 1919 the barkentine Fremont, which was  being used as a movie boat in the filming of the original Treasure Island, was returning from a day of filming at sea with 45 persons aboard when it was grounded on a sandbar at the bay entrance. The actors and crew aboard, none of whom could swim, spent a terrifying night with only one lantern amongst them while waiting to be rescued the next morning. Unable to free the Fremont from the sandbar, it was finally dynamited, with cameras running. The film  was used in many movies afterwards.

Click To Enlarge
The Fremont aground
 in the bay entrance.

As time progressed the mouth of the entrance had been reduced to as little as two to four feet of depth. In 1926  George A. Rogers' son, a polio victim, was drowned  when the boat he was riding in was capsized at the bay entrance. Rogers, a wealthy retiree, set about raising the funds to dredge the bay entrance. With much effort,  PWA and WPA grants and Orange County bonds were raised for a total of $1,830,000  for the project. One of the largest dredges around, the John McMullen was used to dredge the entrance to a depth of at least ten feet.

Click To Enlarge
The dredger John McMullen

Finally in May of 1936 the dredging projected was finished, and entrance to the bay could be navigated safely.

For more information about the dredging of Balboa Bay and other Balboa history, visit our Balboa Library. 
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Tie A Yellow Ribbon...

Click To Enlarge

Bibi Anna Mesmer has tied a yellow ribbon on the flag in front of her restaurant for her son Davian Gray, a Navy Seabee, who just shipped out to the Persian Gulf.

Of The Month

From London's Times

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Adults Only


Words Of Wisdom

Never be afraid to try something new. Remember that a lone amateur built the Ark. A large group of professionals built the Titanic.


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In Memory

Billy Fundenberg

Passed Away March 2, 2003

Billy was a Newport Harbor Elk and member of NHYC, avid small boat sailor etc. His contributions to the Elks were many. For several years he has headed the Hoop Shoot contest for youths, read scholarships!

Time Capsule

From Dick Vogel's
personal photo album.
Circa 1932

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Click To Enlarge

In 1932 my grandfather moved his store, on Main St., to the building next door. He worked all day the day before the grand opening getting it ready. After he went home his friends worked into the night finishing the job their way. They painted 3 buoys gold and hung them over the door to resemble the gold balls that hung in front of pawn shops in those days. Omar the Sail Maker, who had his business upstairs, made the banner. They also added their own lettering to the windows listing the things "we loan on" including such items as coffins and false teeth. Some people might have been angry but when Grandpa arrived the next morning and saw what they had done he put on the hat and stuffed a pillow in his shirt and played the part of the little old pawn broker all day. The man upstairs in the first picture is Omar. The doorway my grandfather is standing in, in the second picture, is now the Blue Sails. When they poured a new concrete threshold, my dad, John Jr., placed copper rivets in it to spell out Vogel's. It's still there.

Viewer Email

 Hi Jim, Thank you so much for the picture and article on Christians Hut.
I used to go there with my parents in the 1950's. We would always rent a place at the Twin Palms Apartments about four doors south of the Pavilion. I remember my dad telling me that Victor McLagen the actor had a place next door. Keep up the great work!
Mike Murphy, Sun Valley Idaho

Hi. My name is Natalie Ahlstrom. I just recently relocated back to Santa Ana Heights, by the OC Airport to live with my mom. I stumbled onto your website and found it very interesting. My great aunt had a restaurant back in the 30's in Balboa.
Ida Brinkman's Cafe
511 E. Central
Can you give me any ideas on researching the history of this time and place. I'm involved in my family's genealogy and she and my grandmother as well as another aunt were reputed to have worked together there?
Any ideas for further research that you might be aware of would be greatly appreciated.
Natalie Ahlstrom or

I live in Balboa in the Newport Bay Towers and travel for work presently in Detroit. Some times I get home sick but now that I found your site it helps cheer me up. Please keep up the good work.

Hello Jim.
I've been living in Balboa for over 10 years now and had a couple of questions. There is a very strange modern house on the ocean front at 13th street across from the school. What's the deal with that house? It really looks out of place. Also, have you ever considered or do you do walking tours of Balboa? Maybe start off with a "drink" at Dillman's get a little history of the place then move on around the peninsula then back to another local watering hole with some history in it to end up the tour. I don't know, just an idea. As a semi-long time resident, I'm always interested in learning the history of the neighborhood. If you can, email me at my home address which is 
Thank you for the time and the great website.


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Help! I'm a young man trapped inside this old geezer's body.
Editor And Chief
Cook & Bottle Washer
Jim FournierI'd really love to hear from you.

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