Joan Van Blom Bridge
By Paul Slater
Pacific Coast Highway at the Los Cerritos Channel
Legendary Olympic rower Joan Van Blom, who passed away in August of 2015, was an icon in her sport and will never be forgotten by the city of Long Beach. In March of this year, the two-time Olympic silver medalist was honored for her triumphs on and off the water, as the bridge that covers the channel along Pacific Coast Highway next to the Marina Pacifica shopping center, now bears her name.
Known as much to locals for her friendly demeanor as she was for her award winning athletic ability, Van Blom was the Long Beach Century Club’s Athlete of the Year in 1980 and was inducted into its Hall of Fame in 1996. In the 1976 Olympics she finished with the silver medal in the single sculls event, and she was a member of the crew that won the silver medal in the quadruple sculls event at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles.
Large signs designating the bridge were installed both northbound and southbound on PCH, while visual enhancements are scheduled for underneath the bridge to commemorate her decorated career. Her name will forever be an inspiration to the city of Long Beach, especially those who are striving for the Olympic dream.
By Gary Metzker
Horny Corner, located on Bayshore Avenue and Ocean Boulevard, is known, not only for its distinctive shape and name, but also for its reputation of being one of Long Beach's most notorious party spots. On an average day, any passersby will notice the backdrop of bayfront houses and the occasional swimmer, kayakers and paddleboarders. However, on select days of the year, such as Memorial Day, July 4 and Labor Day, this corner attracts thousands of scantily clad and intoxicated party-goers, all there for one purpose, to celebrate.
As the Los Angeles Times wrote in 1985: “It's the quintessential Southern California life style spread out on a sea of beach blankets. A local hot spot for which one sandwich and innumerable T-shirts have been named. It's Horny Corner. And this summer, as every summer, it is teeming with inactivity in celebration of at least two things: lazy life in this city by the sea and the perennial parade of sexes in the summer.
The "Ghost Station" Fire House
By Jennifer Newton
1199 E. Artesia Boulevard, Long Beach, CA 90805
Can you continue to serve your community from the “other side”? If you’re former Long Beach firefighter John Makemson, you’re going to at least try.
Veteran firefighter John Makemson worked at Long Beach Fire Department (LBFD) Station 12, a 1929 Spanish colonial building at Gundry Avenue and 65th Street, for the better part of 30 years. And by all accounts, he loved it there. Even after he retired, he would return to volunteer and visit with his fellow firefighters. He even bought a house across the street.
Makemson died of natural causes at 73-years-old in 1988. And that’s when the suspicious activity at Station 12 began.
Employees and visitors alike began reporting strange occurrences, such as unusual noises, unexplained lights and a transparent white or gray figure that walked through walls. The timing of the haunting suggested it was Makemson. By most accounts he is a friendly ghost who enjoys playing silly tricks on people, like pushing items off of shelves. Other former residents of the firehouse note that he is also a “helpful” ghost, finding items that were deemed lost and leaving them in obvious, open places for the current firefighters to find.
Instead of fearing their ghost, the Station 12 firefighters embraced him. They began talking with him and asking him for help with finding lost objects. One firefighter even recalls a time when he had lost a jacket. He asked Makemson to help him find it. After he stepped out of the shower one night, the jacket was sitting on the bench in front of him, neatly folded and covered in dust.
Station 12 became known as “Ghost House” and the crew soon created their own station logo – a ghost wearing a fireman’s hat, wielding an ax and a crowbar.
Four years ago, the firefighters of Station 12 moved into a brand new, state of the art firehouse at Artesia Boulevard and Orange Avenue. They said leaving the almost 100-year-old fire station would be bittersweet.
A few blocks down from the new Station 12, Ghost House remains. It is now used as a field office for the 9th District City Councilmember and Vice Mayor Rex Richardson.
So did Makemson’s ghost make the move to the new fire station? Or did he stay with old building at Gundry and 65th Street? Nobody is saying. If you want to find out, you may have to go to Ghost House and ask Makemson himself.