California State University, Long Beach

Show simple item record McDowell, Lawrence (1/2/1905 - 10/30/1997) Fliedner, Colleen Adair, interviewer 2020-10-29T01:02:32Z 2020-10-29T01:02:32Z 2020-10-28
dc.description SUBJECT BIO - Lawrence McDowell headed the Long Beach Marine Department that was established to manage the new Long Beach Marina at Alamitos Bay. Before that, he was a pioneer in building and operating local radio stations. McDowell came to Long Beach in 1923 to work for radio station KFON, which operated to sell Ecophone radios. He installed the station's operating equipment and began broadcasting. When the station stopped selling radios, they changed the name to KFOX, in association of Twentieth Century Fox, promoted their movies. After the 1933 earthquake, McDowell repaired the damage to the radio equipment and broadcast information when other communications equipment failed. Later he built and operated remote broadcasting equipment and provided live coverage of events all around southern California. When KFOX was sold, he worked for television stations and movie companies but remained interested in the development of a marina at Alamitos Bay. Along with others interested in boating, he organized to promote its construction after WWII. When it was completed, Long Beach appointed him to manage it. TOPICS - boating interests; Dick Loynes; activities in developing the Alamitos Bay Marina; tidelands oil expenditures; Long Beach City politics; dredging and planning the Alamitos Bay Marina; construction features of AlamitMarine Department; Davies Bridge; Long Beach Marina; Long Beach Yacht Club; Los Alamitos Yacht Club; Seal Beach Yacht Club; Avalon Tuna Club; Southwind Marina; experiences running for the Long Beach City Council; bKFOX and Los Angeles radio stations; WWII; flying experiences; 1933 Long Beach earthquake; and work in movie industry; en_US
dc.description.abstract INTERVIEW DESCRIPTION - This interview was conducted in McDowell's home. There are several skips on this side of the tape that occasionally interfere with the audio quality of the interview. 5/26/1982 en_US
dc.description.tableofcontents *** File: cblmcdowell1.mp3 Audio Segments and Topics: (0:00-1:17)... Brief introduction. McDowell became interested in boating around 1937. He had previously been interested in flying and owned an airplane, which he sold to purchase a sailboat. Over the years, he owned several power boats. He was active in many of the yachting and boating organizations in southern California area. (1:17-4:30)... McDowell became acquainted with Dick Loynes through their boating interests. Both also were members of the Long Beach Chamber of Commerce. Loynes was interested in sailing and racing boats. McDowell never sailed on Loynes' 464 foot sailboat Contender because Loynes wanted an experienced sailing crew on the boat. The Contender sunk when it hit a reef off the coast of Mexico. McDowell cruised with Loynes up the coast to Canada and into Alaska on a 65 foot cruiser. The 2 were associated through various boating associations and began talking about the possibility of building a marina in Alamitos Bay long before the project was initiated. (4:30-13:03)... When Loynes and McDowell's idea for building a marina in Alamitos Bay failed to garner much interest in the Long Beach Chamber of Commerce, they organized a corporation dedicated to that purpose. The corporation utilized public relations, advertising, and fundraisers to promote its marina plan. They successfully lobbied the community to vote for the use of tidelands oil money to fund their marina project. Other members of the corporation included attorney Jonah Jones, Art Hall, and Colonel Smith. Their project encountered opposition from residents living near Alamitos Bay, as well as Larry Collins of the Press-Telegram. The Long Beach City Council encountered many legal issues when it attempted to implement improvement projects using tidelands money. (13:03-15:58)... It took several decades for a marina project to be implemented in Alamitos Bay. Engineering discussions regarding a marina began in the 1920s and the first shoreline plan was developed in the 1950s. When the marina was finally built, it closely resembled these early engineering plans. The Long Beach Chamber of Commerce was always involved with shoreline committees. However, the idea to build a marina was peripheral to these plans, which is why Loynes and McDowell wanted to create a separate entity solely dedicated to a marina project in Alamitos Bay. (15:58-21:34)... The Corps of Engineers and city of Long Beach engineers approved the plans for the Alamitos Bay marina before it was built. Normally, models were developed and tested by the Corps of Engineers. However, McDowell and the committee did not want to wait for this process to occur and they built their own 50' by 75' model at the end of Marine Stadium. The marina was designed and dredged to ensure that ocean surges would not destroy it. (21:34-23:50)... According to McDowell, the Alamitos Bay Marina is the largest pubically owned marina in the world. When officials in the state of Washington developed plans to build a marina, they consulted McDowell and copied many of the components of the Alamitos Bay marina. Some of the construction features of the marina were the first of their kind, such as fiberglass pontoons and anodized railing. (23:50-25:26)... The Naples Sabot sailboat was developed by a young man who frequented the Alamitos Bay marina. The boat was made entirely of wood and was called the "wooden shoe." Boat designers eventually copied the boat, but substituted fiberglass for wood. The wooden Sabots were developed as early as 1956, the year the marina was opened. McDowell remembers sailors racing these boats in the marina. (25:26-28:21)... The land in and around Alamitos Bay was privately owned by several different interests including the McGrath Estate and Bixby companies. The city acquired the land through eminent domain and had to pay the various landholders. When the original Marine Stadium was constructed it ended at Davies Bridge. The city decided to lengthen the stadium to satisfy specifications set by the Olympic Committee. At that time, the area to the east of Davies Bridge was purchased and became basins three and four. Olympic trials and races began at the Long Beach Yacht Club and ended at Marine Stadium. (28:21-30:56)... McDowell was appointed by the City Council to organize a Marine Department for the purpose of developing the Long Beach Marina. As head of the Marine Department, he answered to the city manager. His responsibilities involved developing the department and organizing the personnel, procedures, and policies of the department in accordance with city ordinances and laws. End of tape. *** File: cblmcdowell2.mp3 (0:00-3:23)... One of the difficulties McDowell encountered involved acquiring land to finish the Davies Bridge, which was surrounded by privately owned land. The planning also was tough because they had to coordinate construction of the bridge with the existing PE tracks directly under the bridge. Even though problems arose during his tenure with the Marine Department, McDowell feels that his role in starting and managing the Marine Department was an important and interesting contribution to his career. (3:23-8:49)... When the Alamitos Bay Yacht Club was opened, it mainly catered to people who sailed small sailboats and its center of activity was Alamitos Bay. The Long Beach Yacht Club was opened in the 1930s, a few years after the Alamitos Bay Yacht Club. The Long Beach Yacht Club was a citywide club that also accepted people living outside of Long Beach. It started as a sailing club and was dominated by power boat users at one time. The Seal Beach Yacht Club was a smaller sailboat club. The headquarters for the Long Beach Yacht Club originally had its headquarters in Long Beach Harbor. When plans were made for the Alamitos Bay marina in the 1960s, a section was reserved for a yacht club and it was tacitly understood this area would house the new headquarters for the Long Beach Yacht Club. (8:49-10:17)... The Avalon Tuna Club was organized in the 1800s and included only fisherman, not boaters. It was difficult to become a member of the Tuna Club because one had to be recommended by another member and had to have certain fishing skills. Some of the early movie people like Cecil B. Demille were members of the Tuna Club. (10:17-11:32)... McDowell purchased the Southwind Marina near Henry Ford Avenue with Van Palmer. Although the marina was a windfall financially, it was small and in disrepair. Eventually, McDowell got bored with the project and left about the same time he retired. (11:32-17:11)... McDowell ran for a seat on the City Council representing Belmont Shore, Naples and nearby areas. He has collected clippings and materials in several scrapbooks throughout his lifetime. (17:11-21:07)... There are several skips within this segment that interfere with the audio quality of the interview. During his broadcasting career with radio station KFOX, McDowell was instrumental in setting up mobile units to broadcast descriptions of local events while they were happening. In addition to broadcasting music and radio shows, the station covered news stories occurring both in and outside the community. McDowell regularly broadcast descriptions of attempts to swim to Catalina in which he followed the participants in his personal boat or chartered the Cabrillo Catalina. The first channel swim was covered by telegraphing a Press-Telegram reporter's descriptions to the station for broadcast. Later, KFOX switched to telephone radio broadcasts when reporting live events. KFOX often collaborated with the Press-Telegram in providing news stories to radio listeners. (21:07-25:27)... Radion station KFOX covered entertainment events that took place at the West Coast Theater and the Long Beach Municipal Auditorium. In addition to interviewing entertainers, the radio station broadcast concerts held in and outside the Municipal Auditorium, and provided listeners with the music of the Long Beach Municipal Band every afternoon. Whenever an important news event took place in the city, KFOX and a mobile unit was there. Once when a storm threatened to wash out homes along Alamitos Bay, McDowell and a mobile unit stood by at 55th Place and watched as ocean waves completely disintegrated homes along the shore. (25:27-28:34)... The president of KFOX was a member of Kiwanis and McDowell remembers when the station sponsored the Kiwanis Frolics. The staff at KFOX participated in the variety shows that KFOX broadcast. The radio station staff did a lot of different things outside of their primary responsibilities. For instance, one of their radio announcers also was a singer and played different roles in the variety shows. McDowell announced the Long Beach Municipal Band and the Pacific Coast Club Orchestra for several years, which meant that he was out late in the evenings. He was an engineer by day and an announcer at night, indicating that it was customary for people in those days to do more than one thing. (28:34-30:32)... Fred Dean was an innovator in radio broadcasting from Denver who moved to Long Beach and built the radio station that later became KFOX. The purpose of starting KFOX was to promote and sell a radio receiver known as an "Echophone." End of tape. *** File: cblmcdowell3.mp3 (0:00-3:57)... The original purpose of radio stations was to promote and sell the products of the company that owned the station. KFWB, which was owned by Warner Brothers, promoted Warner Brothers pictures, Westinghouse stations promoted Westinghouse products, and KGER promoted Dobyns' Shoe Store. The first advertisement on KFOX was a plug for a tailor who came into the radio station and offered to make McDowell and his co-workers tailored suits if they mentioned his business on the air. Eventually, KFOX stopped selling ecophones and evolved into a strictly commercial broadcasting station. (3:57-4:46)... KFOX exchanged hands on several different occasions and was eventually moved from Long Beach to Santa Monica. One of the owners of the station was a religious organization that promoted its religion. (4:46-6:07)... During WWII, KFOX broadcast ship launchings at Cal Ship. McDowell, however, served in the Coast Guard as a reserve officer and was in charge of the volunteer port security service which was headquartered in the Times building. (6:07-12:13)... McDowell purchased an old WWI training airplane known as a "Jenny," which he fixed up and learned how to fly at the Long Beach Airport. He paid someone $10.00 an hour to teach him how to fly. McDowell learned how to fly in 9 hours and was not required to obtain a license. There were no regulations for pilots in those days and he remembers flying low on the beach and "scaring the hell out of people." He had to crash land on one occasion when his motor failed. (12:13-19:12)... When the 1933 earthquake struck Long Beach, McDowell spent a great deal of time repairing the KFOX radio station. For 3 days, they broadcast only earthquake news. The radio station served as the communication center for the police and fire departments in the city, which were not equipped with two-way radio communication at that time. McDowell lived in a new subdivision in west Long Beach on 19th and Golden, which suffered no structural damage as a result of the earthquake. (19:12-25:50)... McDowell remembers stories about the Long Beach earthquake. One story involved a "rum runner" who answered the radio station's call for a donation of bonded, denatured alcohol to supply a San Pedro hospital. (25:50-30:07)... In 1942, McDowell was asked to provide communications assistance on the movie set of Captains Courageous. Warner Brothers asked him to do this job after they heard about the mobile broadcasting units he built for KFOX. End of tape. en_US
dc.language.iso en_US en_US
dc.rights This repository item may be used for classroom presentations, unpublished papers, and other educational, research, or scholarly use. Other uses, especially publication in any form, such as in dissertations, theses, articles, or web pages are not permitted without the express written permission of the individual collection's copyright holder(s). Please contact the CSULB Library Administration should you require permission to publish or distribute any content from this collection or if you need additional information or assistance in using these materials: en_US
dc.subject Community Builders en_US
dc.subject Long Beach Area History en_US
dc.title McDowell, Lawrence (audio interview #1 of 1) en_US
dc.type Recording, oral en_US

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