Remembering When

by Jerry Person
Huntington Beach City Historian

Dedicated to the people of Huntington Beach

Remembering the life of Dr. Douglas Hough


That old song refrain that goes “let a smile be your umbrella” and this thought has a lot to do with our gentleman that we will be remembering this week.

In the past there were men like Hogan, Pound, Chopin, Gruber, Sheehan and Hough and these men all had one thing in common, they were all well-known Huntington Beach dentists and they kept that smile on the faces of our townfolks and not in a glass of water on the nightstand.

This week the we'll turn back the clock and remember life of Dr. Douglas Hough and it was in faraway Manchester, England that our story begins with the birth of Douglas Hough.

His father Harold Hough was a barber in town and two years after his son Douglas was born, Harold set sail for America, leaving his wife and son in England.

Harold arrived in Pittsburgh and went to work as a barber and after five years of cutting hair there he sent for his wife and son to come live here in America.

Douglas and his mother sailed for America on the H.M.S. Sedrick and while on board ship, the passengers and crew fell in love with Douglas and treated him with ice cream every day. When Douglas first saw his father on the docks of New York, he didn’t know who he was after all it had been five years that the elder Hough had left England.

The reunited Hough family left New York for Pittsburgh that at this time was filling up with emigrants and the streets where Hough lived were filled with peddlers selling their wares.

The first time that Hough saw fruit displayed on the street he thought they were free and helped himself to apples, bananas and grapes, but he quickly learned that they were not free when a peddler grabbed him and called the police.

Hough attended elementary school and high school in Pittsburgh and while in high school the young Hough excelled in both track and football.

After he graduated from high school, Hough attended the University of Pittsburgh studying dentistry and after classes he joined the school’s glee club. Hough took part in the school’s drama class and appeared as a leading man in the school’s production of “Mary-Grow Round.”

He and his fellow actors toured all over Pennsylvania by train in early 1928 performing Mary-Grow Round before graduating on June 11, 1928, but before that he graduated, he became smitten with a young lady named Bernice Griffin and on August 10, 1928 in a little Baptist church in Minneapolis, Douglas and Bernice were wed in a ceremony performed by Bernice’s father, Reverend Charles Griffin.

Now with a wife to support, Hough studied children’s dentistry for a year at Forsythe Infirmary in Boston. before  returning to Pittsburgh to set up his first dental practice.

With so the many steel mills in the city belching out black smoke into the air, he and Bernice decided to visit her parents now residing in Hermosa Beach, California in 1931. Bernice stayed out here with her parents while Douglas returned to complete his education in Pittsburgh. In less then a year Hough returned to sunny California and he passed our state’s dental examination in December 1932 in San Francisco.

Leaving his wife again, Hough returned to Pittsburgh to finish up a teaching assignment at the school before returning to Bernice.

Bernice by them had gone to live with her sister in Fresno and when Hough returned to her on July 15, 1933, the temperature in that city was well over one hundred degrees.

Hough hated hot weather so he and Bernice headed for the cooler Southern California coast and while driving along the coast road, they stopped for gasoline at Ted Bartlett’s servive station in Huntington Beach and before they knew it, Bartlett had sold them on opening a dental office here in town.

Dr. Hough’s office was located at 103 Main upstairs above Obarr Drug store at the corner of Ocean Avenue (Pacific Coast Highway) and Main Street where Jack’s Surfboard store is located today.

Next door to Hough upstairs at 101 1/2 Main was an attorney by the name of George Bush and I wonder if there is some relationship to our former presidents.

In 1939 Douglas and Bernice moved into their new home at 502 California Street and the next year their son Bradley was born.

Well into the 1960s you could find Hough at his office during the week and at our Baptist church on Sundays.

He was also a member of our chamber of commerce and served as president of our Huntington Beach Lions Club. He also served as president of the Orange County Dental Society and was a member of the Southern California Dental Association. and he again took up acting and took part in local theatrical productions.

Dr. Douglas Hough DDS and his dental office building is no longer with us, but the smiles that his work brought about may still be seen on the faces on some of our senior citizens today.