Remembering When

by Jerry Person
Huntington Beach City Historian

Dedicated to the people of Huntington Beach about its rich past

Celebrating Easter in Surf City’s Past

In just a few more days we’ll be celebrating one of the most important days of the Christian faith, that of Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

Easter is a joyous time to be with family and loved ones. At this time of year in Huntington Beach many of our residents are planning their holiday traditions and many are also readying themselves for church sponsored events such as sunrise services and Easter egg hunts for the kids. Some cities are now calling it just the egg hunt for the kids to be politically correct without the word Easter.

For many years I’ve attended the sunrise services in the early morning at the pier. It is always great to see so many people filling Pier Plaza, huddled close to stay warn while they listen to the story of death and rebirth.

In 1958 our area ministers held an Easter morning sunrise service at the open-air bowl just south of the pier at the foot of Third Street where the parking lot for Duke’s is today.

In 1958, sixty-one years ago the residents here in what would become known as Surf City USA were celebrating with a special meal. In those days food prices were affordable.

How many of you remember Bray’s Market, 218 Main Street, where shoppers could bring home a 5-pound canned ham to be the centerpiece on the table for just $4.98 and to go with the ham a pound of fresh carrots for 6¢, apples for a fruit salad at two pounds for 29¢, fresh local grown asparagus at 19¢ a pound and to finish off the meal with a nice dessert, a frozen apple or cherry pie for just 49¢ each.

If ham wasn’t your choice of meats then at Don Minnie’s Meat Market, 324 Main, you could buy a turkey to roast for 49¢ a pound or a fresh ham at 69¢ a pound. Don’s daughter Ann still lives in town and I’m wondering if her dad gave her some tips on fixing ham or turkey dinners.

Now if you didn’t feel like cooking Easter dinner for the family, you could bring them over for a nice T-Bone dinner at Grace’s Café at 104 Main Street for just $1.75 or have ham and eggs breakfast for 90¢.

Across the street from Grace’s café, the Dolans, Ray and John, were serving a top sirloin steak dinner at their 107 Café at 107 Main Street. For only $1.75 you got the works, steak, soup, salad, baked potato, rolls, butter and coffee.

Today that amount wouldn’t even buy you half a gallon of gas to drive over to the café.

If you just wanted to get out-of-town with the family for an Easter meal there was  always Sam’s Seafood and  they were fixing special dinners of your choice of ham, turkey, duck, chicken, steak, lobster or swordfish. Sam’s owners, Nick, Ruth and Dick Katsaris gave the kids gifts of popcorn bunnies, Easter eggs and other goodies. All the while Jimmy Means entertained the diners on the restaurant’s Hammond organ.

Don’t worry the kids would have their fun that Easter when the Windsor Club of Huntington Beach hid 250 lbs. of Easter eggs in Circle Park (Farquhar Park) and it was arranged for Paul Doutt, Dante Siracusa, Roy Bryant, Ray & John Dolan, Michael Nichols, Maurice Young, Ralph Riggs and Louis Betschart would lend a helping hand to hide all those eggs for the Easter Bunny.

In the afternoon the First Church of Christ (First Christian Church) also held an Easter egg hunt for their kids under five years of age. Helping hide those eggs the Easter Bunny enlisted the aid of Bob Laverne, Pat Bitter, Bonnie Bushard, Darlene Wells, Julia Megil, Jim Whittington and Richard Wort.

In the evening the church’s choir presented a candlelight concert in the church at 1207 Main.

The Wintersburg Methodist Church at the corner of Gothard Street and Warner Avenue held a special Easter breakfast for their congregation that included pancakes, waffles and eggs that was served inside Moore Hall. After breakfast the congregation was invited to attend a special Easter service inside the church by Reverend Lyman Ellis entitled “This is Your Life.”

Back downtown the First Baptist Church at 6th and Orange would be celebrating Easter service with a morning message delivered by Rev. Lowell Spangler. Spangler’s message was  “The Risen Christ and What He Means to You.”

After the service concluded, Rev. Spangler and members of the church’s youth group traveled to Los Angeles to brighten the spirits of those folks living at the Hollenbeck Home for the Aged.

Accompanying Spangler on that mission of love were Linda Fleming, Paula Crow, Karen Olsen, Jerry Millet, Donna Fleming, Melvyn Locke, Mickey Bratt and Wally Jones.

That evening the Baptist church hosted an evening cantata entitled “Memories of Easter Morn.” The music for the cantata was under the direction of Eber Flaws.
So for this Easter holiday please try and eat wisely for the old adage goes, “feast today for tomorrow we diet.”