I loved this photo from the moment I spotted it among the County Road Dept collection in the Archives. It was taken in January 1965, in front of Eli "The Original Beachcomber" Hedley's old Island Trade Store on Beach Blvd in Midway City. I like the cigar-chomping County employee, I like the muddy sidewalk-free glamour of Midway City in winter, and naturally, I like the tikis.
Eli is something of a legend among fans of Polynesian Pop, and his shop featured tikis by such noted carvers as Milan Guanko. Today, Hedley's grandson, Ben Bassham, runs a similarly-themed shop in Huntington Beach, called Bamboo Ben's.
Before the big street-name unification effort in the 1960s, Highway 39 (Beach Blvd.) had many different names, depending on which community you were driving through. From the beach past downtown Huntington Beach, it was called Hampshire Ave. North of that, it was called Huntington Beach Blvd (the source of the current name) until it reached the intersection of Trask Ave. and became Stanton Ave. The Highway continued to be on Stanton Ave. until it zigged over onto Grand Ave. in front of Knott’s Berry Farm. And it appears that at one point the northernmost section of Beach Blvd. was once called Buena Park Rd. (Update: "Bulldog 24" writes, "...Beach Blvd was 'La Habra Road' from Stage Rd in Buena Park north to Whittier Blvd in La Habra.")
Today of course, it's all called Beach Blvd., but in some places, remnants of the old street names can still be found. We'll spend a little more time with old and new street names in future posts.