Thursday, November 21, 2019

Linbrook Bowling Center, Anaheim (1958)

A trip to Anaheim’s popular Linbrook Bowling Center (a.k.a. Linbrook Bowl) at 201 S. Brookhurst St., is like a time-warp back to 1958. It may not be the most architecturally dramatic of the great Googie bowling palaces, and it’s had a couple remodels (1967 and 1979), but it has not only survived and thrived but also retained many of its original features. These include the beautiful and enormous animated sign out front, the vintage Kopa Room cocktail lounge, a mid-century zig-zaggy lobby, and a coffee shop with both excellent food and orange Naugahyde booths.
Dick Stoeffler, Jim Hogan (manager of Wonderbowl, Anaheim), and Ray Randall (manager of the Anaheim Bowl) with 5-year-old Steve Jenkins of Anaheim at Linbrook Bowl during a polio fundraiser, Dec. 27, 1960.
The 40-lane Linbrook Bowl opened on Saturday, August 16, 1958. It was built by Garden Grove residents Stuart A. “Stu” Bartleson and Larkin Donald “L.D.” Minor of the Atlantic and Pacific Building Corp. In fact, Bartleson and Minor owned Linbrook Bowl jointly with Automated Sports Centers president Henry Enrico ‘Hank” Catalano of Fullerton. (Catalano was also manager of the new Friendly Hills Bowl in Whittier.) By the time Linbrook opened, Automated Sports Centers already owned five other bowling centers in Southern California: Norwalk Bowl, La Habra 300 Bowl, La Puente Lanes, Red Fox Lanes (Long Beach), Dutch Village Bowling Center (Lakewood), Futurama Lanes (Garden Grove) and Del Rio Lanes (Downey).
A few of Linbrook's 40 lanes, as seen in 2008.
Bartleson and Minor eventually built residential and commercial projects throughout California, but were especially notable for their developments south of Santa Maria, California. Other Orange County projects included Royal Stuart Arms apartments and the Minor-Built Homes tract – both in Garden Grove.
Linbrook Bowling Center advertisement from 1970.
Automated Sports Centers incorporated in late 1961and title to Linbrook was transferred to the company in July 1962. For a number of reasons, including overly-rapid expansion, the chain went bankrupt in the winter of 1965. But Bartleson, Minor and Catalano somehow maintained a controlling interest in the business together though at least the late 1970s.
Well-known and award-winning local bowler, bowling columnist and KTLA-TV bowling host G. Richard "Dick" Stoeffler (a.k.a. “Ol’ Steff”) was manager at Linbrook from 1958 until 1963. He left to manage bowling’s World Open Classic tournament, and then – soon after— became manager of Kona Lanes in Costa Mesa. He remained at Kona Lanes for fifteen years and under his management the place became a tremendous success.
Comic strip drawn from photos of Linbrook taken by Chris Jepsen. May 19, 2000.
I have reason to suspect that Linbrook Bowl, like so many Southern California bowling centers, was designed by the architectural firm of Powers, Daly & DeRosa. However, it does not appear on list of such projects created by Gordon Powers (assembled with the help of historian Chris Nichols) in more recent years. Nor did the Linbrook Bowl appear among Pat B. DeRosa’s color slides of bowling alleys under construction, which I was able to review a couple decades ago. Articles about Linbrook’s construction and opening in the Anaheim, Los Angeles and Long Beach newspapers also provide no clues about the architect’s identity. It will have to remain a mystery for now.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Weird Huntington Beach postcard, 1936

I love old Orange County postcards for the glimpses they can provide of obscure locations and events. But this may be the weirdest local postcard I’ve seen yet. It was brought to my attention by Orange County postcard collector extraordinaire Tom Pulley, who’s still disappointed that he lost the auction for it on eBay. Of course, that doesn’t mean I can’t "borrow" the images from the auction page.

Once you get past the chicanery of the bold words, “SUMMONED,””POLICE DEPT,” and “TRAFFIC” on one side, a second reading of the card almost makes it sound like you’re invited to an informative lecture raising awareness about a serious social ill. Was it sponsored by a religious group or law enforcement agency?

In fact, the film Fighting the White Slave Traffic was condemned by the Catholic Legion of Decency and was one of a whole category of exploitation films masquerading as educational films. These shows roamed the American countryside like vaudeville acts.

"Dr. Kiss" on explains: “As with most of the 'sex exploitation' features at that time, considerable ballyhoo surrounded showings, with separate screenings for men and women in many localities, and with some screenings preceded by a 'sex education lecture' by a(n almost certainly bogus) doctor (another standard sex exploitation gimmick of the era).”
German movie poster
This particular sexploitation film began as the 1927 German film Mädchenhandel, produced by Bertard Pictures. It was in circulation on the U.S. exploitation roadshow circuit by late 1928. The film was originally silent, but later reissues featured music and narration tracks.

Here’s a summary of Mädchenhandel from James C. Robertson's book on British film censorship, The Hidden Cinema:

“...The plot centres upon the activities of a white-slave gang led by Akkunian (Rudolf Klein-Rogge) in Athens, Budapest and Istanbul, with contacts in Berlin. Ida Stevens (Mary Kid) is passed on by a Berlin night-club owner to a bogus variety agent working for the gang, who offers her a night-club job in Budapest where she is abducted by the white slavers through a female accomplice. Ida and another young girl captive are rescued from the Athens brothel where they are held, but Akkunian recaptures them in Turkey and then sells them to another white-slave dealer before they ultimately undergo a last-minute rescue.”
Poster for the film's U.S. release
Parroting a 1928 press release, the Hartford Courant helped promote a showing of the film at Hartford, Connecticut’s Majestic Theater:

"Investigators of the League of Nations some months ago made the astounding report that there actually still exists traffic in women and children. These authentic scenes show the workings of the international gang and their great centers in Tijuana, Berlin, Paris and other continental cities. The picture was produced with the aid of the international police and forms one of the most striking pictures of the present day. Record attendances have been usual for this picture wherever shown, and the picture is now being booked through the country's leading theater chains from coast to coast. Passed by the National Board of Review and endorsed by the tireless investigators for the League of Nations, this film is an authentic exposure of these human wolves who prey upon the society of today.”
The Huntington Beach Auditorium, newly constructed in 1928.
It seems that the only actual connection between the film and the oft-cited League of Nations and International Police (INTERPOL) was the fact that these global organizations had identified human trafficking and prostitution (the subjects of this fictional film) as serious problems to be addressed.

It’s curious that the postcard promoting the movie’s three-night mid-January 1936 stint at the Huntington Beach City Auditorium claims free admission/“collection only.” They lied about almost everything else in the ad, so why not that too? I’m sure they somehow collected more than enough dough to pay for the hall rental.

Friday, November 08, 2019