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Manhattan Beach 'Pioneers' Share History, Memories

Apr 14, 2016 09:09AM ● By Jeanne Fratello

Gary McAulay, president of the Manhattan Beach Historical Society, addresses the Pioneer group

With more than a half-century of memories to share, the members of the Manhattan Beach Pioneers are a spirited group that brings history to life at each of its quarterly meetings.

The Pioneers, a fellowship within the Manhattan Beach Historical Society, is made up of individuals who can demonstrate more than 50 years of residence within Manhattan Beach, past or present. Other categories of membership include Associate Pioneers (30 to 50 years residency, past or present), and Sons or Daughters of Pioneers (direct descendants of a Pioneer). The group's purpose is "to share and preserve our city’s history, foster fellowship, and create more awareness of the Historical Society."

The group was created last year by James Gill, himself a Son of a Pioneer and a soon-to-be Associate Pioneer. "I started the group because I knew many of the long-time residents who did not know each other and had many great stories to share," said Gill.

At a recent meeting, members discussed such topics as the proposed expansion of the Manhattan Village Mall and the proposed Gelson's on Sepulveda, the rebuilding of the Roundhouse Aquarium, and the Downtown Specific Plan; then listened to presentations from fellow Pioneers.

Featured speakers included Betty Young, a 66-year resident of Manhattan Beach who was one of the first homeowners in Liberty Village (see video below); and Bob White, a 57-year Manhattan Beach resident who is perhaps best known as one of the founding members of the Manhattan Beach Dixieland band the Hyperion Outfall Serenaders.

Young talked about buying her family's home in 1950 in Liberty Village. She and her husband put only $199 down (later refunded to them under the GI Bill) for a three-bedroom house on Harkness priced at $9,995.

"It was really a 'going' community - We had something going all the time," recalled Young, a mechanical engineer and a mother of six. As one of the last remaining original homeowners in her neighborhood, "I'm the matriarch of the street," she said proudly.

White first moved into Manhattan Beach in 1959, to an apartment on 35th Street in El Porto. In 1969, White, who played cornet, joined forces with his friend Sid Pattison, a clarinet player, and formed a band that became the Hyperion Outfall Serenaders. (The idea for the name dates back to when White moved to Manhattan Beach, and he asked someone what the giant structure was out in the ocean. When he heard the name 'Hyperion Outfall,' White said, "those words stuck in my head.").

White noted that the band has played in every Hometown Fair and Manhattan Beach 10K since their inception. In 1975, Manhattan Beach Mayor Joan Dontanville (in her first act as mayor) declared the Hyperion Outfall Serenaders the official band of Manhattan Beach .

The colorful and spirited Pioneer meetings are a 'must-attend' for anyone who is curious about Manhattan Beach history, or would like to be entertained and enlightened by stories from the city's past. To view videos of more speakers, see the Manhattan Beach Historical Society's Facebook page.

The next meeting will be held on Saturday, July 23, at Mira Costa, featuring guest speakers Gayle Wilhite, a 59-year resident, and Stephen Meisenholder, a 48-year resident. The meetings are open to all. For more information contact James Gill at

66-year Manhattan Beach resident Betty Young shares her memories of early Liberty Village

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