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 Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

"Family & Friends" Boardwalk Memories

Flowers for the Santa Cruz Seaside Company, 1915

I recently bought the book, “The Santa Cruz Boardwalk a Century by the Sea”. On page 57 there is this 1915 mention of “novel ways to attract attention and promote the Santa Cruz Beach Casino. The hit of the summer season was the distribution of complimentary fresh flowers handed out personally by the wives of the Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and the Ladies Auxiliary of the Chamber. A flower show and a spate of other attention getting events were held at the Casino. It all seemed to work. The Seaside Company showed steady growth in the years that followed.”

My uncle, Bartlett K. Brown, was likely the source of at least some of these flowers. He was nine or ten years old at the time. Here’s how he told about it in his 1980’s memoirs:

“We also had another little gimmick to add spice to our lives. My grandmother raised beautiful flowers, ferns and whatnot, and someone we knew arranged with the Seaside Co. for a trade of fresh flowers for tickets to the Santa Cruz Plunge. I had a red wagon (most all kids had a red wagon) so we would load up the wagon with beautiful flowers (worth about $75.00 in today’s market) and haul it down to the beach and the Casa Del Rey Hotel, there to trade the flowers for 3 ten cent tickets to the plunge. We kept the hotel supplied for a couple of summers.”

The deal was for three tickets so Uncle Bartlett and his younger sister Frances E. Brown Talley and brother Aubrey Brown could all go swimming. He didn’t say how often he made these barters during the summers but he thought they were worthwhile.

In the 1920s and early ‘30s Uncle Bartlett was in Vaudeville. He had a dance partner, Charlotte Bemis. Their act was Bemis and Brown Dancing Comedians. Before going on national tours they performed in Santa Cruz in 1926.

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