October 2005 / Vol 7 No 10


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Main Street

Balboa Pavilion

Balboa Fun Zone

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Faces Of Balboa

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15th Street Surf Shop
Balboa Fun Zone
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Balboa Technology
Davey's Locker

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Newport Beach

Newport Jet Sports
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Pilates by the Sea

Renee West
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Sally Martin Realtor
Shellback Yacht Cruises

The Spice Guy
Walk to the Beach
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Time Capsule


 Around the turn of the last century Pavilions were becoming common as the keystone of coastal amusement areas. The Newport Bay Investment Company pledged $10,000.00 to build a Pavilion to enhance the new development of Balboa. A permit to build the Pavilion was secured from the Secretary of War, and 210 feet of water frontage was deeded to the Newport Bay Investment Company. The Newport Bay Investment Company, with contractor George Preble completed the Balboa Pavilion, in 1906 , Fred Dorn architect, and the Chris Mac Neil building gang. During construction, the Pavilion could only be reached by boat or, with great difficulty, on a sandy road. However, construction of this wooden Victorian design building was fully completed on July 1, 1906 to coincide with the completion of the Pacific Electric Red Car Line which began at or near Pasadena, wound down through Los Angeles and Long Beach and ended in central Balboa. Further, the nearby Balboa ocean pier was concurrently constructed as a sister project to the Pavilion to attract land buyers. Lastly, the Balboa Hotel was rapidly built in just ten days to coincide with the opening of the Red Car line The 1930s ushered in the Big Band era. On weekends at the Pavilion, you could listen to Count Basie, Benny Goodman, and the Dorseys. Phil Harris and his band played regularly on weekdays. The dance step called the “Balboa Hop” or the “Balboa Shuffle” originated at the Balboa Pavilion and swept across the United States. According to Bette Tozer, it was more of a hop than a shuffle. “You go ‘bong, bong, bong,’ hop. It’s the beat.”
Admission to the dances was free, but couples who used the roped off dance floor had to pay for the privilege to dance. Ticket hoppers posted at several locations sold nickel tickets. Each time a dancing couple stepped on the dance floor, they would give up a ticket. After the completion of each music number, the dance floor was quickly cleared by opening up the ropes. Then the ropes were put back, and dancers would again have to use another ticket to dance. Due to the structural weakness in the building back in those days, the “jitterbug” was prohibited.
The popularity of dancing at the Pavilion lead to the building of the much larger Rendezvous Ballroom a few blocks away. With the opening the the larger, nearby, waterfront Rendezvous Ballroom which attracted the big name bands and larger dance crowds, the Pavilion’s dance era declined. Nevertheless, the Pavilion owners still staged walkathons and dance marathons to attract Depression era crowds.
During this same time frame, gambling was legal. The Pavilion had several upstairs and downstairs card rooms were patrons could play blackjack, penny roulette and other card games.
Until the late 1930s, speedboat rides, which defied all sensible boating rules, thrilled inlanders with roaring trips up the bay, out into the Pacific Ocean and back. At that time, there was no speed limit in the bay (Today the speed limit is 5 miles per hour). Two speedy 35-foot boats, the “Queen” and the “Miss California,” each carried eight to ten passengers. They would take off full speed from underneath the Balboa Pavilion with sirens blaring and race out of the bay and into the Pacific Ocean.
Also, during the 1930s, a 45-foot boat called the “Magic Isle” provided sightseeing trips. At night, this same boat would leave the Pavilion with a huge, blazing searchlight and cruise the coast. Frequently, flying fish could be seen with the searchlight jumping out of the water. Right after World War II, Newport Harbor was the center of sport fishing activity in southern California. At that time, over a hundred sport fishing boats operated out of nine landings. Today, only two sport fishing landings with less than ten boats survived, one of which is Davey’s Locker operating out of the Balboa Pavilion.
In 1942, the Pavilions owners leased the upstairs of the building to a gentleman who built and operated a ten lane bowling alley! Pinsetters hand set the pins. Pinsetters were paid ten cents per game. He also operated an archery range and had five pool tables. By the late 1940's the Pavilion begin to sink on its old wooden pilings and they were replaced with permanent concrete ones. Today Balboa Pavilion offers the famous Harbor Side Restaurant with banquet facilities in the upstairs hall

Hi, Jim.
Thank you for all the wonderful memories!   I grew up at 2050 East Ocean Front, and   graduated from Newport Harbor High in 1950.  Looking at all your wonderful photos and articles, I find myself going back in time...to all those wonderful places...the fun zone...little Corona, dancing the Balboa to all those great bands at the Rendevous.    Thanks to you, I remember them all as they once were. 
Sandra Neely Peterson

back in the 40's, my parents would rent the Price's house for two weeks on the ocean side of the peninsula. we had the best of times in Balboa. i was an excellent body surfer, waves up to 8 feet. one day off the pier, we caught 52 calico bass, only kept a few. i used to swim across the bay and back, can't do that anymore. also went to the Rendezvous Ballroom to listen to Stan Kenton's orchestra. spent a fortune in the arcade zone  trying to knock down those stupid dolls with baseballs.  those were good times, wish i had them back. i'm a young 67 and my 19 year old doesn't appreciate anything i tell him about the past. his Ipod rules.  

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Events Calendar

2nd Wednesday of the Month
 Book Club Luncheon 1PM

Newport Landing Restaurant

Wednesdays 10 AM  
October 5 - November 30
Cliff Drive park
Mommy's Munchkins
Wonder Play TM

Wednesdays 6 PM
Belly Dancing
Balboa Pilates
204 Washington

Fridays 7 PM - 9 PM
Live Entertainment
Caffe Balboa
613 E. Balboa Blvd
Free Admission

Fridays 9 PM
Double Feature Movie
Flying A Studio
605 E. Balboa
Free Admission

Saturdays 3:30 PM -7:00 PM
Kyng Arthur: Authentic Reggae
"Cabo Cantina" 100 Main St

October 26 - 31,  7PM - 10PM
Haunted House
601 E. Balboa Blvd
 Corner of Palm and Balboa
Admission $5.00

Monday, October 31
Earth - Mars Close Encounter

December 14 - 18
97th Annual
Christmas Boat Parade

January 2, 2006
Tournament of Roses Parade

April 20 - 30, 2006
 Newport Beach Film Festival

Call For Entries

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Love your web site. I have been all through it multiple times. I'm renting a home on Edgewater starting 8-15 and having my daughter's reception at the Harborside Pavillion 8-20 (she's corresponded with you as well). I was pleased to see it as the photo of the month! Of course I'll drop by and say hello. Thanks
Arturo Jacinto

My sister Janice  [Jan]  Knowlton, was a popular singer in Orange County, dating back to the late 1960's, and sang at Mario's in Corona Del Mar,  The Five Crowns with  The Showcase Singers, and other places. Jan passed away last year. She was very fond of  Balboa Island and went there frequently. Just wondered if anyone there remembers her. I live in Salem, Mass. [the  witch city]. I like the Balboa site very much.!
Bev Fournier

I'm a long time Balboa resident that grew up in Louisiana.  Over the years, my children and I have traveled back to my Louisiana hometown and enjoyed true southern hospitality.  I am appalled how few Balboa residents have offered to provide help to our fellow Americans in need.  Every local merchant I have solicited for donations (donut shop, tatoo parlor, palm reader) have told me to "forget it" and said they were saving their money to buy pot.  How disappointing.

Hi Jim - do you know anything about the old Pirate Days in Balboa, specifically 1947?  I have someone wanting some "research" on that and there is nothing in any of the history books for our area.  The only think I could find on the internet was an old issue of Tales of Balboa that had a letter from someone mentioning it!   949-644-3076.
Phyllis Scheffler

went to newport elementary kindergarden morning class in 1972, mrs.elliots class, anybody in that class.would like to know
greg graves

hi Jim,
I'm interest putting my business ad on yours newspaper. Do you have an application/ fees to apply  on yours website? Or could you point me in the right directions where i could get it?..i would appreciate it!
leAnne Huynh

My friend who has no access to a computer lost her mother recently.  Hanging in her house is what she believes to be a Susan Newcomb original of the child looking through the bakery window that appears on the Pavillion website. The date on the receipt from the painting is 1975. Can you tell me how to obtain further information? Thank you, Barbara Walski

I grew up going to the beach here at Balboa and enjoyed the walks through the Fun Zone after hitting the beach all day.  I also had my High School Prom at the Tail of the Whale.  I'd like to know why they closed the restaurant, it held special high school memories and great lunch dates as an adult.

Hi Jim,
I'm told there may be a small hotel on the island, is this true?  My hubby and I wanted to stay for a long weekend on the island, not Newport, if possible.  Can you point me in the right direction?  Thank you very much!
Jenny Jordan

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Words Of Wisdom

"Government is not reason, it is not eloquence--it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and fearful master."
 George Washington


Help! I'm a young man trapped inside this old geezer's body.
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Jim FournierI'd really love to hear from you.

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