Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Look Who Got Left Behind

By: George Lee Cunningham

When the Port of Long Beach moved out of their old headquarters earlier this year into new temporary digs near the airport, an important part of their history got left behind.

Charles H. Windham, the father of the Port of Long Beach and former Long Beach Mayor, died in 1932. Four years later, the Long Beach Harbor Commissioners voted to prepare a plaque that would be installed on the breakwater near the Queens Gate entrance to the harbor. That never worked out, probably because nobody would ever see it there and even if they did, they would be unable to read it as they steamed past in a big ship.

The plaque was instead installed in front of the old Harbor Department Building on 1333 El Embarcadero.

When the Harbor Department moved to its building at 925 Harbor Plaza in 1960, the monument was relocated to the new site, and there Charles H. Windham’s monument has been ever since, in the shade of a lovely tree, hidden behind a circular hedge, like a crazy uncle restricted to his lonely room. Few even knew it was there.

Now the port has moved on, but not poor old Chuck Windham. The […]

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Sunday, February 16, 2014

I Love Doughnuts, But that’s Not the Point

By: George Lee Cunningham



Let me start with a confession. I love doughnuts. I love them glazed, I love them with chocolate icing, and I love them with sprinkles, and jelly, and custard. I love cake doughnuts and doughnuts with powdered sugar. I also love related doughnut-like products, such as the apple fritter, the éclair, and even the so-called “doughnut hole.”

Doughnuts call to me. Even the word “doughnut” starts me salivating like Pavlov’s dog. It’s as though when I drive past doughnut shops the doughnuts are saying, “Come in, have a doughnut and a cup of cocoa. You only live once, what could it hurt?”

But I drive right past. I know that I could not go in and eat a doughnut, because if I did, I would want another one, and another, and another. Even if my stomach ached, I would want to have one more doughnut. So I am proud to say I have not had a doughnut in months, and I may never eat another doughnut in my life, because believe it or not, doughnuts are dangerous. They are worse than smoking cigarettes. Many smoker friends will go through a pack a day. Can you imagine eating 20 […]

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Friday, December 20, 2013

Thanks 4 all the Stuff

By: Reader Publishing Group

The Port of Long Beach puts its story to music.

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Monday, December 16, 2013

No Moles Were Harmed in Making This Product

By: George Lee Cunningham

Did you ever buy something on a whim, and feel incredibly stupid by the time you got to the car? Personally, I hate that feeling, and I bet you do too.

My latest purchase like that was a Moleskine book stand that I bought at the Los Angeles Public Library store for $17.95 – way too much for the cheap little piece of folding plastic that I received for my money. But that was my fault.

I knew for instance that Moleskine was not Moleskin, which you put on your foot to cushion the sole, and that neither Moleskine nor Moleskin has anything to do with the skin of a mole. But they both sort of sound like they do, which in a strange sort of way gives each of them a touch of elegance.

Moleskin is a weaved cotton product that is sold by Dr. Scholl’s and others to help prevent blisters. Moleskine is a company that makes all kind of products, such as notebooks, pencils, pens, photo albums and such.

Caveat Emptor – Let the Buyer Beware.

That’s the first rule of personal procurement, and I broke it. I knew when I saw the book stand in the […]

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Monday, December 16, 2013

Meet the Authors

By: Reader Publishing Group

Authors Ken Cable, Larry LaRue and George Cunningham share a moment at a “Meet the Author’s” book signing on Sunday at Canyon Lake Farmers Market. A dozen authors participated in the event, chatting with their readers, building their tribes, and selling signed copies of their books. Some folks were buying for themselves, some as gifts for others, but don’t feel bad if you couldn’t make it. The books are also available on both Amazon and Barnes & Noble – just click the links on the right hand column.
Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Jumping Through Hoops at the DMV

By: George Lee Cunningham

I recently spent the early afternoon at the California Department of Motor Vehicles renewing my driver license. I had anticipated my visit to the DMV with mixed emotions.

First, I was apprehensive about how big a nightmare the process would be – I have visited the DMV 0n previous occasions and it was always an exercise in bureaucratic incompetence and frustration. The lines I recall at the Long Beach DMV would typically go out the door and wrap around the building. I had prepared by scheduling an appointment at the DMV in Westminster, which I thought would be less crowded than Long Beach. But when dealing with government agencies, thoughtful planning isn’t always enough.

Second, I was apprehensive about the test. I have been driving for more than half a century, so I am an experienced driver, but the written test has little to do with knowing how to be a safe driver. And since so many stupid people have driver licenses, failing the test is humiliating. It makes you feel that you are stupider than the stupidest person who is legally behind the wheel of a car. They passed the test, why couldn’t you?

Third, I was curious […]

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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Another Year Older and Deeper in Thankfulness

By: George Lee Cunningham

Some people are born on important days and some are born on days that will someday be important and sometimes they are born on important days but they have birthdays that only intersect with those important days once in a while.

An example. George Washington was born on Feb. 22, 1732, which was not very important at the time, but became so after he was elected to be the first President and Congress declared it a National Holiday. Another example, I have a friend who was born on Sept. 11. Not a big deal until 2001, when it became a day that will be remembered forever. Now her birthday is better known as the day the Twin Towers came crashing down and the world changed forever.

Other people are born on days that were of import when they were born and remain so every year. An example of that would be people who are born on Christmas Day. These folks always seem to feel a little cheated because they don’t get a separate celebration for their birthday. On the other hand, I have a sister-in-law who was born on Jan. 1, and she thought until she was 9 or […]

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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Wild Side of Maui – The Great Toad Hunt

By: Ken Cable

Light from a sickle moon silvered a rippling sea that stretched away from the Maui coast to the islands of Lanai and Molokai.  A soft breeze perfumed the night air with scent from a tropical garden.  The sun had loosened its grip on the day and a night bird called from the darkness beyond the reef. It was a night for the hunter, and the urge was upon us as we ventured forth.

Our trappings were few. Each of us carried a small flashlight; one carried a plastic bag as well. Our hunting grounds were the shrubs and lawn in front of our condo on Maui.

We were after toads – but not just any toad.  We were after the wily cane toad. Well, wily might be a bit of a stretch, but they are quick.  Cane toads are plentiful on Maui.  Introduced to the Hawaiian Islands in the 19th century to combat beetles that were damaging the sugar can fields, cane toads are another example of poor environmental judgment. The toads may have chomped a beetle or two, but they thoroughly enjoyed lizards, small birds and other creatures that were never intended to be harmed.

I am not […]

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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Secrets of L.A.

By: George Lee Cunningham

Bookworms take note. All day parking at the downtown Los Angeles Library is only $1 on Saturdays. Entrance to the parking garage is on Flower Street between Fifth and Sixth streets. You do need a library card – that’s easy, you don’t even have to be a resident of L.A. to get one – and don’t forget to get your parking ticket validated before leaving. See you at the library.
Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Progress Doesn’t Belch

By: George Lee Cunningham

The world changes and so do our attitudes about it. I am reminded of this by a Dec. 2, 1909 article in the Long Beach Press about a new factory coming to town.

The story said: “Within a week or ten days the smoke of another factory will be seen winding toward the sky. The latest industry to come to Long Beach is the Rickett’s trolley catcher factory following a recommendation from the Chamber of Commerce at the regular meeting this morning.”

In 1909, people saw a new factory as a good and welcome addition that meant jobs for people, prosperity for the community, and new products being produced for a better tomorrow.

One of the things I like about doing historical research is looking at some of the perspectives and attitudes of the past. Some of those perspectives were almost elegant in their simplicity, perspectives that today are considered naïve. Some of them were so brutal and repugnant that we immediately reject them and feel a sense of shame over what our predecessors regarded as acceptable. And, in retrospect, some of them just seem silly.

One of the challenges of the historian is to set aside the temptation […]

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