There’s a new girl next door, but she is just a punk 16 year old and only a sophomore, so I reckon I won’t lower myself. She just doesn’t rate.
Jim is supposed to come over tomorrow and take me to the beach, I’m going to just lie there and bake to a deep brown.
Saturday May 10, 1952
Jim stood me up, the damn guy. Bonnie and Margaret, some girls I made friends with up at school, took me and Mary Alice to the Riverside Rancho tonight. In one word that place is real crazy. Bonnie brought our boyfriends (who we met there) home with us in her car. I met a fine, double fine Marine named Tommy, and I like him. Bonnie and our boyfriends just stayed outside and parked. He doesn’t French kiss, but he is a good looking guy, and man I do like him for sure, absolutely, positively. Made a date to take me to the beach tomorrow. Oh man, by the time I got in it was quarter after 4:00am.
Sunday May 11, 1952
Tommy the Jirene* didn’t show up today. Well, Jim came over at 1:15 today and said his grandfather got a heart attack yesterday, which was his reason for standing me up. I told him anybody can make up a good excuse, but it was accepted. So we went to the beach and by the time we got there it was 5:00pm, I was madder than you could imagine because it was so late. I went swimming and the water was real nice and warm. Then we went to The Pike after our swim and had a ball.
I don’t like Jim. I was mad to start with because of Tommy not showing up today and then Jim didn’t show up yesterday. I feel like not going out with Jim ever again. I wanted to get a tan this weekend, and that idea is sure wiped out. Well when I got home Mom told me Tommy came down with a bunch of kids, including Bonnie, at 3:30 mind you. So Mom told him I went to the beach with somebody else. He said he was sorry he was late, it couldn’t be helped, but he said he’d have to make it up to me.
I got Mom two pairs of real beautiful stockings for Mother’s Day. I also gave Jim his present for his birthday.
Tuesday May 13, 1952
Three guys in a blue shiny bomb dropped over tonight looking for me, but I wasn’t home so don’t know who they were. I was out picking up some guys and I got in their positively lush Ford with lowered back and terrific twin pipes. Oh man am I impressing that little 16 year old new neighbor, she just opens her eyes but wide when she sees me with all these guys and snazzy cars. Also, Mary Alice came down tonight.
Wednesday May 14, 1952
Oh boy, I got a letter from Tommy, my little Marine boyfriend. He wrote me a big fat excuse and he wants a date with me a week from this Saturday. He says we’ll really do the town Saturday, so I am in blue heaven.
Man, tomorrow is pay day at last, I live again!
Thursday May 15, 1952
I made friends with my little 16 year old neighbor, Caroline. Say, she is a pretty nice kid.
Friday May 16, 1952
I think I have gotten rid of Jim at last, though I’m afraid I hurt his feelings. I made it very plain last Sunday that I would’ve had more fun staying at home and watching television. He still asked me to go out with him Friday night dancing, I said I’d consider it and call him up. I never did call him, so anyway he didn’t come down tonight.
*Authors Note: A Jirene is 1950's slang for "Marine"
Long beach was another favorite hangout spot for Vilma. Not only did she love the beach, but she loved "The Pike". It was an essential part of Southern California living, you just did not know how to live until you saw and experienced The Pike.
Originating in 1902 as a Grand Bath House on the shoreline of Long beach, the resort style atmosphere attracted bathers, swimmers and sun worshippers alike. It even contained a giant indoor swimming pool with a large slide called “The Plunge.” In the decades following, The Pike eventually expanded and became one of the largest amusement fun zones in Southern California.
There was something for everyone!
Hollywood on the Pike was one such “girly show”, it was a western themed venue offering cocktails, cowboys and beautiful gals. Believe it or not, this was a favorite stop for Vilma on her date nights. After her stint working at Clifton's Cafeteria, she continued her work as a Camera Girl at the numerous cabaret style clubs scattered along The Pike.
Alas, the 1960’s and 1970’s were not kind decades to Nu-Pike, the seedy element once again graced its shores and the deterioration was evident. It was no longer able to attract tourists, as families preferred Knott’s Berry Farm and Disneyland rather than a depressed, decaying shell of its carnival glory days. It eventually became a cash cow for the city and was leveled in 1979.
You can find what is now called “The Pike at Rainbow Village” located directly across from the Rainbow Harbor/Shoreline Village. It is a mixture of big name retail shops and chain restaurants, the likes of which we can find in any city, at any given time. Don't get me wrong, it is a beautiful area with lots of fun things to see and do, but looking at it today you would never know that all of that concrete hides an incredible history.
There were such infinite options for entertainment in the 1950's weren’t there? So far we’ve seen The Legion Stadium, Country Western Swing, Roller Derby, Dancing, Drive In movies, Drive in Restaurants and now The Pike! And we’ve only just begun!