Grand openings of the past

August 04, 2005


Recently, I stopped over to Custer's Storage to see a friend, Rocky

LaRoque. He gave me the sad news of the July 13 passing of longtime

Huntington Beach resident Billie Weide.

Over the years, I have quoted B.D.L. "Billie" Weide in this column

a number of times. She will sorely be missed by me and by many of our

local residents, including her husband of many years, Jack.


Just a few days later, I received word that another old-time

resident die on July 17. W. Frank Rohrig was one of those

storytellers who could keep an audience spellbound with his tales of

people and events from Huntington's rich oil days.

One time, Frank told me his house on the corner of Delaware and

Yorktown had been originally located on the corner of Warner and

Gothard, where a discount bakery outlet now stands. He said the house

was built by the same party and around the same time as William

Slater's house on Gothard and Cedar. His 1920 house was moved to its

present location in the 1930s.

I knew Frank for the past 25 years and never tired of hearing

about his adventures during our black-gold days.

This week, we look at three businesses and their historic grand


When I was growing up, one of the pleasures my mother enjoyed was

going to grand openings and finding bargains there. I had forgotten

about it until I was reminded of this by another Huntington Beach

resident, Anna Capocciama, who told me she liked to attend local

grand openings, too.

Our first grand opening took place on May 23, 1946 and lasted

three days. When the $30,000 Cornet store opened at 224 Main St., it

was modern in all respects.

When the 5, 10 and 25 store first opened on May 5, 1941 at 212

Main Street, W.W. Hampton was its manager. Over the next five years,

the store became too small for all it carried and a larger site was


Cornet leased a new 2,800-square-foot building from Roscoe

McIntosh and soon began installing modern fluorescent lighting. The

store's walls and ceiling were painted white and modern display

counters and wall shelves were brought in.

During the opening days, store managers Howard Cole, F. Kennedy

and J.C. Leveret put several thousand items on sale.

By 1958, Gladys Durler had become store manager. Throughout the

1950s and early 1960s, Cornet was Main Street's only national dime


For our second opening, which happened in November of 1962, Benson

Flanzbaum promised our residents that Huntington Beach's first

discount center would open.

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