Friday, September 09, 2016

The Royal Order of Optimistic Donuts

Ad from 1930s Civic Repertory Theatre of Los Angeles program courtesy J. Eric Lynxwiler.
In naming their brand of toroid  treats “Optimistic Donuts,” the Davis Perfection Bakery, located near Los Angeles City Hall, referenced the old saying, “The optimist sees the doughnut; the pessimist sees the hole.” It was an odd enough name to draw attention.

To draw even more attention, they also sponsored "The Royal Order of Optimistic Donuts" radio show on KNX radio on Friday nights from 1925 to 1934. This vaudeville-like variety revue was hosted by ad man Bert Butterworth and featured a wide variety of guests, from Morey Amsterdam to Willie Best to Minnie Pearl. The show was unusual for its time in featuring a largely black cast, including talents like Hattie McDaniel, who went on to bigger and better things.

The house band was "The Optimistic Do-Nuts,” a creole jazz band led by piano player Sam McVea. In the early 1910s, McVea’s live performances had provided the soundtrack for seemingly every big party in town.

KNX’s strong broadcast signal and the limited interference of the 1920s airwaves meant that the show was often heard all across the western half of the United States. And beginning in 1928, the show was also broadcast by KYA in San Francisco.

That same year, the L.A. Times wrote, "Bert Butterworth at 8 p.m. will hold his weekly frolic over KNX. The studio-free-for-all affair has been going on as a Friday night feature almost since the station opened four years ago. It has its ups and downs, of course. Sometimes it is good and at other time it is mediocre. But on the whole, the various performances average up to an hour of wholesome entertainment."

In the late 1930s, Davis Perfection Bakery also fielded a good women's softball team, which also called the Optimistic Donuts. They were based in Hollywood and often faced off against such powerhouses as the Orange Lionettes.

Thursday, September 08, 2016

Los Alamitos, Dana Point and wine

Larry Strawther writes, "August 21 marked the 75th anniversary of the groundbreaking for the Los Alamitos Navy Air Station – the first major military base in O.C. (despite what the fans of the Santa Ana Army Air Base say.)  I haven’t seen anything marking such an august occasion, so I thought you might be interested in sharing the below linked article with your blog..."

Speaking of anniversaries, I'm still catching my breath from the big ceremony and time capsule opening/exhibit at Dana Point, marking the 50th anniversary of the groundbreaking of the harbor there. I've posted some of my photos from the event to a Flickr album, for those interested. Also, as of yesterday, I've installed an exhibit of many of the time capsule contents (and the capsule itself) at the Dana Point Historical Society. See their website for hours.

I hope to see some of you tonight at the Orange County Historical Society's season kick-off event at Sherman Gardens in Corona del Mar. (See the OCHS website for details.) Sue McIntire and Don Dobmeier will speak on the subject of "Wine in Orange County."