The Quarterly Newsletter of the

Volume 20........................................................ Number Three .............................................. December, 2007

President's Message

Hermosa’s 100th anniversary year is coming to its end and congratulations are in order for all of you who worked so hard to make our Centennial Year a huge success.

Our Centennial Membership program has been very well received by our residents and merchants and, it’s not too late to be a part of this once in a lifetime program. All Centennial members will be permanently emblazoned on the centennial plaque in our museum and mentioned in our local newspapers.

Let’s talk about our plans for the upcoming year; we are actively pursuing grant monies to provide us with a paid museum curator. This will allow us to increase our hours of operation, align our organization policies, procedures, and collection management in accordance with The American Association of Museums.

We will be providing our members and guests with regularly scheduled special focus museum exhibits, lectures, and of course our almost world famous fundraising events. We have a plan in place to collaborate with our local school system to integrate Hermosa’s rich history with their existing California history curriculum.

Don’t forget to visit our museum store for your last minute Holiday shopping. In Closing, 2007 has been a reminder of what a great community we are all a part of. Yours In Service, Rick Koenig.

Centennial Personal Memberships!

The year-long Centennial Membership program comes to an end December 31. Make sure your family, your business, and your friends’ families and businesses are included. To record the 100th anniversary of our City, the Historical Society will place a commemorative ‘honor roll’ in the Museum, showing all those who were members during 2007. Are YOU going to be on it? If your label doesn’t show ‘2007’, you need to renew now.

Need some last minute Christmas gift ideas? Here’s just the thing! (Memberships are Family $25; Patrons $50, Life $250). Please send in the name, address, phone number, and e-mail of the recipient  (and your name), along with a check to the Hermosa Beach Historical Society, 710 Pier Ave., Hermosa Beach, 90254. We will send them a welcome letter, telling them of your generosity.

Centennial Business Memberships

We continue to sign up new Business Members for our Centennial Membership program, but we have room for many more. If you know a business owner in Hermosa Beach, ask them to join you in the 2007 Centennial year and support your Historical Society. Applications are available at the Museum on Saturday’s and Sunday’s from 2-4, or call Bill Schneider (372-2945), Steve Cannella (738-1216) or John Horger (374-0297) and we’ll have somebody come to the business to sign them up.

Also be sure to do business with our supporters. And tell them thanks for their help. Among the new memberships are: Okell’s Fireplaces; Superior Forest Products; Wayland & Vukadinovich, CPAs; Sharkeez; E.T. Surfboards; RJS Fitness; Beach Cities Cycles; JOL Design; Club 705; Suzy’s Bar & Grill; Quinn’s Family Barbershop; Any Laminating Service Inc. (Jim Rosenberger); HB Hand Car Wash; Warren Barr, O.D.; Pawspice; Cash Flow Rx; Casey’s Premium Cars; AAMCO Transmissions; JAMA Auto House; Morgan Stanley; Lucky Plants.

Opportunity for Tax-free Donations!

Did you know the Pension Protection Act of 2006 permits donors age 70 ½ or older to make tax-free charitable gifts of up to $100,000 in 2007 directly from a Traditional or Roth IRA to 501(c) 3 nonprofit organizations - for example, the Hermosa Beach Historical Society? This is a one-time allowance that ends 12/31/07, just in time for you to make a 2007 gift to the Historical Society. Here’s how it works: Instead of making a required IRA withdrawal and reporting it as taxable income (as is normally done after age 70 ½), you would transfer the gift directly to the charity (in this case, The Historical Society), without your handling it in-between. For more information, contact your tax consultant.

Betty Evans Memorial Bench

A very handsome bench has been installed just outside the museum. It was donated by the Evans family in honor of Betty Evans. Betty participated in the founding of the original HBHS Museum, and was very active and well loved in the community. The plaque on the bench reads: Betty Evans, 5 August 1927 – 12 December 2005, She loved Hermosa Beach. She did indeed love Hermosa Beach, and Hermosa Beach loved her.

Membership Family of the Year

Can YOUR family match this? The Schneider family now has 12 Household or Life memberships, consisting of 17 individual family members. Bill and Blanca Schneider moved to Hermosa Beach in 1943, where they raised 3 children, all of whom are still in the area. Through the perseverance and generosity of son Bill, and his wife, Chris, most of the family is now members in the Historical Society. The latest came when Bill and Chris’s daughter, Erica, heard that many of her cousins had their own membership, but she had to ‘share’ hers with Mom and Dad.  So now she is also a full member on her own! Welcome Erica. (In addition, Bill’s Brother Bob and his wife Dana, have become Centennial Business Sponsors, through their Company, Superior Forest Products, in Gardena. If you need any Forest products, please look them up!)

Wanted - Fiesta Hermosa Booth Chairperson(s)!!

If any of you reading this have worked at our HBHS Fiesta Booths  (and we know there are MANY of you!), you know what a great time it always is. Lots of fun and sun, and seeing old Hermosa friends while meeting new ones. 



Tom and Gina Nyman have chaired our booth for the last eight years -- that's 16 Fiestas! Now they are retiring, and we're looking for new blood!  Are YOU interested? It's a very enjoyable job -- the scheduling of volunteers is easy because so many members love to participate.  The merchandise is ready beforehand - the chairperson (and helpers) just have to set the inventory up and take it down each night.  John Horger, our beloved treasurer, takes care of all the money and merchandise sheets.  It's a fun and easy way to participate in the Fiesta Hermosa and our HBHS. If you're the one(s) we need, please call the museum phone and leave a message.  Thanks so much!

The Insomniac

From November 28th, 1958 to 1963, Bob Hare ran The Insomniac coffeehouse in Hermosa Beach - a very happening place just up from the pier and across the street from the Lighthouse. The Insomniac presented folk music of all sorts, blues, world music (that term was probably nonexistent), 'poetry and silent films. The coffeehouse was open 7 days/nights a week and, for a while, 24 hours a day. A typical marquee listing would include Bessie Griffin and the Gospel Pearls, Mel Carter, The Fabulous Wayfarers, The Virgin Island Steel Drum Band with Limbo Dancers, Jazz Goes to Church and silent movies nightly. The list of celebs and noteworthy people that hung out and/or performed there is unbelievable.

The Book and Art Fair sold obscure poetry and world religion books as well as best sellers; original paintings; non-mainstream records; incense; flowers; art supplies. The surrounding festivities included a sidewalk espresso bar; a caricature artist; a guy with a typewriter strapped to his chest that would "write a personality sketch" for 50 cents; even a booth run by a "witch" that sold graveyard dust, monkey brains, etc.; well…you get the picture…..

Insomniac Remembered

In 1966, at the invitation of Brian Wilson, Frank Holmes created the album cover art and seven booklet illustrations of lyrics for The Beach Boys Smile Album. Previously, Frank worked for four years at The Insomniac, and two years across the street at the Light House Jazz Club.  As he remembers, the Insomniac started out as a Beatnik coffeehouse and later grew into a well-known music club for the Folk scene. Bob Hare sold my first painting there in 1959 for forty dollars. I was quite proud, it was an abstract cityscape, and some tourist from NY bought it. Bob sold quite a few paintings for me during my four years there.

The interesting thing about the Insomniac was the music, and the musicians that were booked there. Sam Cook's agent, Bumps Blackwell, booked most of the acts. Many of them later developed Rock careers: The Chambers Brothers, Mel Carter, Carson and Van Dyke Parks, Steve Young, Jack Elliot, Dave Van Ronk, and folk heroes like Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry, Jessie Fuller, and many others.

Playboy at the Insomniac

The July 1959 issue of Playboy “Entertainment for Men” Magazine featured an article on “The Coffee Houses of America”. As pictured, “Several beatniks uncooled enough to vote Maggie Ryan “Miss Coffee House.” Their camera caught her at the Insomniac. Also in this issue was a photo of a group of beat poetasters at the Insomniac paying oral homage to Howl, the magnum opus of the beatniks poet laureate, Allen Ginsberg.

Insomniac Inspired Poetry Event

Ever since Robinson Jeffers wrote of Hermosa Beach in the 1920’s, poetry has been an integral part of Hermosa’s culture. The Beat Generation at The Insomniac from 1958 to 1963, the Alley Cat Readings in the mid-1970’s, and the poetry readings at the Community Center in the 1990’s are all part of our history. We hope that the “beat” will go on as the HBHS presents “A Night of Poetry: THE “BEAT” GOES ON”, Sunday, January 27, 6:30 P.M. at the HBHS Museum, 710 Pier Avenue. No charge, light refreshments.

Also as part of this event, the HBHS is proud to present a lecture by Dr. Colin Campbell on "The Essence of Poetry: How To See and Feel In Pictures", Sunday January 27th at 4:30 p.m.  Dr. Campbell taught English at Principia College in Elsah, IL for over 40 years before retiring in 2002. Besides being a heralded professor Colin also is a published poet with a wide range of original work. For more info on this talk e-mail: or call (314) 540-1713.