This article was originally published in The News-Enterprise, presumably in the year 1980. Bessie Juszkievicz was the wife of Bronislav Juszkievicz who was the field superintendent for the sugar beet factory. They arrived in Los Alamitos in 1922 from Illinois. Bronislav kept that job for a number of years, even after the factory shut down slicing and processing operations in 1926 and the local beets were shipped by rail to the Holly sugar beet factory in Dyer (Santa Ana). In the mid 1920s and early 1930s, as the local land became more valuable for development, the Los Alamitos Sugar Company’s beet growing operations were shifted to the Imperial Valley. Sugar Company Superintendent Gus Strodthof and his wife Una moved to Long Beach, No. 2 man (and Strodthof’s brother-in-law) Karl Bennis moved to Temecula (although his wife Nina moved to Seal Beach where she started the Glide ‘er Inn restaurant). But Bronsilav and Bessie Juszkievicz remained in Los Alamitos. Bessie was involved in the women’s club and was their secretary for a number of years.
Celebrating the 20th anniversary of the city of Los Alamitos is a time for reflection on the history of the area. Bessie Juszkievicz, 84 years young and a long-time resident of Los Alamitos. recently reminisced about the beginnings of the city.
Mrs. Juszkievicz moved to Los Alamitos from Illinois in 1922. At that time, Los Alamitos was a part of the Bixby Ranch, covered with sugar beet fields. These beets were processed here in the very first Southern California sugar beet factory. [ref]The Chino factory was the first, opening in 1891, and the Oxnard factory was second. Los Alamitos was the first factory in Orange County.[/ref]
Mrs. Juszkieviocz, her husband and child moved into the factory’s two-story entertainment building when they arrived. When the owners of a house they purchased were able to move out, the Juszkievicz family moved in. Mrs. Juszkievicz still lives in that house. [ref] The “owners” were Walter Miller Clark, the the son of Factory owner Ross Clark. But then Walter went down with the Titanic in early 1912. According to an earlier interview by Bessie, Ross spent a lot of time and money trying to find and retrieve his son’s body, but finally asked the Juskievicz’ if they would want the house, and they did.[/ref]
When they moved into the home, the previous owners warned them of the frequent floods and the possibility of water entering the house.
“Whenever I heard the water come up over the railroad tracks. I knew we were headed for high water,” Mrs. Juszkievicz said. Children used the flood waters as a means of travel, getting on old trunks and boards to float down the streets to the railroad tracks. “They didn’t think it was so fun when they had to have tetanus shots, though,” Mrs. Juszkievicz said.
In 1928, the flood was especially bad, the worst flood she remembers, says Mrs. Juszkievicz. That year oil appeared in the water and coated everything, leaving a mess in the city for some time.
Mrs. Juszkievicz also remembers the 1933 earthquake which shook the area so much that it caused the Juszkievicz’ baby grand piano to move from one side of the room to the other. The piano hit with enough force that it cut off the bottoms of the of the window curtains in the living room.
Floods and earthquakes however, are not the only thing Mrs. Juszkievicz remembers about the early days of Los Alamitos.
In those days there was only one store in the area to serve the community. Mrs. Juszkievicz remembers that a man came to the door to take the order in the morning and then bring back the order by noon.
Besides just one grocery store there was only one post office that was across the street from where Barr Lumber now stands.
There was the Women’s Improvement Club which she belonged to. It was the[first?] federated women’s organization in the town and was supported by the sugar beet factory. The building that was used by the entertainment center was also the women’s club building. The building is located on what is now the 10700 block of Los Alamitos Boulevard next to where Barr Lumber now stands. [ref] The site is now occupied by Center Plaza — home of Bonjour Bagels and Green Street Interiors.[/ref] The building later was used as a sanitarium. That site is now vacant except for a [___] fence.
At Christmas time the Women’s Club would give Christmas gifts to every child in Los Alamitos. Usually, according to Mrs. Juszkievicz, there would be fruit and a_____ the club did not have enough funds to____ the sugar beet company would contribute funds to help out.
The sugar beet company also took the children out to Irvine Park, then the [county?] park, and have a picnic for everyone.
When the Holly Sugar Company [began?] in Santa Ana, it marked the end of the Los Alamitos sugar beet fields. Holly had [__] modern equipment and the local company could not compete. It closed in 1928.
The next business to move in was [chicken?] ranches. The area around Howard, Green and Farquhar Avenues was opened up for [__] endeavor. Chicken raising was not successful?]however.
The Dr. Ross Dog Food Company op[____] the factory in the area after the chicken ranches closed. This factory closed in World [War II?] because of a tin shortage.[ref] The factory actually closed because of a combination of numerous other financial and legal difficulties that originated before World War II. It was opposed by Fred Bixby and animal rights activists who objected to the Ross policies of buying and trucking in wild mustangs, and killing elephant seals and sea lions off the cost of Mexico. The Ross’ were under attack from 1933 on and were in receivership before the war began. [/ref] By the time the factory closed the population was growing and other industries were coming into the area. Familiar sites from the town’s [early?] days started to fade. The women’s [club?] building had been changed to a sanitarium and the hotel, where many of the sugar beet factory workers had lived, was torn down af[ter?]
The article is continued on page 16. But we are missing that page.
The article includes two photos, the left side of which is cut off. The top caption reads: [Th]e Women’;s Improvement Club was the first women’s club in [Los Alamitos?]. Pictured here, the women’s club members are shown dressed [for the?]ir Washington Birthday tea. Of those pictured here, in 1934, [there is only o]ne still alive. They are (L to R, top row): Tress Johns, Edna [Slau? ghter, Nina Duden, was principal of Laurel School in the late [_____]. Bessie Juszkievicz; Edith McOmie, her husband was manager of the Los Alamitos Dairy Co[ref] William “Bill” McOmie was the son of Peter McOMIE and his second wife, Margaret MONTEITH. He was a Scot who apparently came to America during the Mormon emigration after the of the mid 1840s. All of their children were born in Lehi, Utah. Bill is the only one who died in California. He and his wife Edith are in Los Alamitos as early as 1930. Edith Adelaide WELLS, was daughter of Samuel Lorenzo WELLS and Sarah Ann BARRS. She was born 25 NOV 1874 in Burton On Trent, Stafford, England, and after emigrating with her parents to Utah, she married Bill McOmie. Edith died 25 MAY 1954 in Los Alamitos, Orange, California. By some information, Edith seems to have graduated from Stanford. Bill McOmie ran for Mayor of Los Alamitos in 1940 and was in a “spirited race” against Pete Ruitan according to the California Dairyman.
- Margaret Jane McOMIE, b. April 04, 1871, Lehi, Utah, Utah, d. January 01, 1947, Idaho Falls, Bonneville, Idaho.
- Matilda (Tillie) McOMIE, b. January 20, 1873, Lehi, Utah, Utah, d. April 04, 1963.
- +William McOMIE, b. April 13, 1875, Lehi, Utah, Utah, d. April 08, 1960, Los Alamitos, Orange, CA.
- Annetta (Anna) McOMIE, b. March 12, 1877, Lehi, Utah, Utah, d. August 17, 1947, Salt Lake City , S-Lk., Utah.
- +Robert McOMIE, b. April 04, 1881, Lehi, Utah, Utah, d. May 08, 1978.
- +Alexander Monteith McOMIE, b. April 19, 1883, Lehi, Utah, Utah, d. January 04, 1964.
- +Rulon Wells McOMIE, b. July 20, 1904, Sugar City, Idaho, d. January 16, 1989, New Braunfels, Comal, Texas.
- Margaret Edith McOMIE, b. April 20, 1906, Payette, Idaho, d. April 1981, Chico, Butte Co., CA.
- Lorenzo Mark McOMIE, b. February 03, 1908, Payette, Idaho, d. January 07, 2001, Santa Barbara, CA.
- William Arthur McOMIE, b. March 31, 1912, Grimes, CA, d. August 29, 1992, Santa Rosa, CA.[/ref].; bottom row, Muna Smoot and Susan Thompson. This [photo courtesy?] of Mrs. Juszkievicz
The second photo was of the old Women’s Improvement Club, which was later used as a sanitarium.