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Camp Emerald Bay - Postcards 1940's  

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          Crescent Bay Council decided not to return to Camp Emerald Bay after the 1939 summer camping season. The reasons were many
but primarily included a declining interest in the camp by prominent Scoutmasters in the Council whose troops had camped there for 15 consecutive summers. Folklore also has it that developers wanted to build a movie industry resort and hotel at the location to capitalize on all the Hollywood types that were already boating to Emerald Bay during the 1930's. Those plans were thwarted by the outbreak of WWII.
          Hearing announcement of Emerald Bay's closure, Anatol Josepho stepped up, donating 110 acres and the money to build a new Scout camp in the Santa Monica Mountains above his own ranch home in Rustic Canyon, Pacific Palisades.Crescent Bay Scouts camped exclusively at High Sierra Wolverton in 1940 while waiting for the completion of Camp Josepho in 1941.
          But none of these developments meant that Camp Emerald Bay ceased to exist. The location and buildings continued to be used by Movie stars, recreational boaters, independent scout units and a few Navy personnel during 1940 and 1941. The Sea Scout "Landship " building still existed on North Hill and Sea Scout units from all over California traveled and stayed at Camp Emerald Bay. By 1942, the outbreak of World War II shut down most of Catalina Island to non-military personnel. At that point, the Navy officially took over all the remaining structures at Camp Emerald Bay and began modifications to suite their needs.
          At least one or more postcards of Emerald Bay are known from 1940. They are tagged: "Island Photo 40". Evidence supports these images were taken by George Bergstrom and published by him under the Island Photo 40 label as a side venture since there was no further need for them by the Scouts. The postcards were probably available and sold in souvenir shops in Avalon in 1940 and 1941 and even after the war as late as 1960.
          When the Crescent Bay Scouts returned to Camp Emerald Bay in 1946, most things, including new postcards, were started over again, almost as if there had been no six-year interruption. New RRPC postcards, produced primarily by none other than George Bergstrom, continued to document the camp in the second half of the 1940's.

Authentication of Real Photo Post Cards (RPPC)
            A real photo postcard (RPPC) is a continuous-tone photographic image printed on postcard stock. The term recognizes a distinction between the real photo process and the lithographic or offset printing processes employed in the manufacture of most postcard images since the 1950's.
            Beginning in 1902 Kodak offered a pre-printed card back that allowed postcards to be made directly from photo negatives. These card backs, soon copied by other photo paper suppliers, had special distinguishing marks and letters in the "place stamp here" block on the reverse. These unique markings signified the particular manufacturer of the photographic card stock paper in the original RPPC. This practice, used throughout the twentieth century, has left historians and collectors with a way of authenticating RPPC's that might otherwise be easily reproduced by today's widely available copying techniques. Each of the cards pictured here can be authenticated by its stamp block on the back.


Island Photo 40 Postcard

Thought to have been produced by George Bergstrom while the Crescent Bay Scouts were not using Emerald Bay as a Summer Camp.
This exact image supplied by Bergstrom (but minus the "Island Photo 40 notation") was used by Crescent Bay for the cover of their popular "green photo mailer" of ready-made Emerald Bay photo souvenirs and was sold at camp beginning in 1946.

                                              1940                                                                 1946- 1949
                    Emerald Bay from North Hill                                       Green Photo Souvenir Pack & Mailer


Key differences can be seen in this image from previous pictures of the camp taken in the later 1930's. The original pier and dock built in 1928 (AKA "B" dock or north dock) was removed off the beach in 1940, as was the lifeguard tower and neither are can be seen in this RPPC. Secondly, the prominent dining hall, and other buildings on South Hill, were painted white. It is not clear who made these changes although the common story credits the Navy for the modifications. Recreational boats seen in the bay confirm that Camp Emerald Bay was open to civilians into 1940 and probably through 1941 as well.

When summer camp at Emerald Bay reopened in 1946, among the souvenirs available at the trading post were prepacked groups of 10 black & white glossy photos of camp scenes and camp staff, stapled into a green cover. While technically not postcards, these green photo packs could also be addressed on the back cover and mailed with a stamp, like any postcard. Everything was produced by George Bergstrom under his "Island Photo" name and address. Over the course of the summer, the selection of photos inside would change and by the later 1940's,
Scouts could even get one or two group photos of their troop, taken by Bergstrom in front of the eucalyptus tree,
as part of the mix. (Just like he produced in 1930).

NOTE: The 1940's camp scenes can be dated by the buildings and structures present in the photos.
Dates pinpoint when the images were photographed but not necessarily when they were printed, sold or mailed.


More 1940's Bergstrom Postcards

          George Bergstrom returned to Crescent Bay Council as assistant Scout Executive in 1946 where he continued to photograph Camp Emerald Bay through the 1940's producing new RRPC postcards. Some of his RPPC's were printed with signatures, others not.
Some were printed border-less and some were printed with white borders. While it is not known why for sure, it is thought the Bergstrom images were used over a period of years, being reprinted as needed, at different times, in different ways and on different authenticated RPPC postcard stock. These new Emerald Bay postcards were for sale at the camp trading post and Crescent Bay Scout headquarters in Santa Monica.
Scouts Return to Set Up Camp
View from North Hill

Camp Opens
View from North Hill

Prior to Emerald Bay reopening as a summer camp in 1946, several work parties were organized to set things up and get ready for the Scouts. A work party made up mostly of Sea Scouts can be seen
lined around the flag pole for colors..

With preparations completed, Camp Emerald Bay was ready for Scout Campers for the first time since 1939. Attendance in 1946 was quite modest, with only 80-100 total campers.
The Scouts also inherited an outdoor basketball court from
the Navy, seen in the lower right.

          The two views of Camp Emerald Bay shown above are thought to have been photographed a month or so apart. They show what
the Scouts returned to in 1946 after a 7 year hiatus. The postcard on the left shows a new "B" pier and dock still under construction while a colors ceremony of primarily Sea Scouts is taking place on the parade ground. The view on the right shows the "B" pier and dock, complete with many boats in the bay. The lifeguard tower on the beach used during the 1930's is nowhere to be seen, having been removed by the Navy in 1940.
          Both views show some significant changes to the camp from essentially the same vantage point of the Island Photo 40 postcard.
A highly engineered "drainage canal" seen running across the lower part of the images is thought to have been built by the Navy.
The parade ground and area running back into the campsites appears to have been graded and vegetation seen in 1940 has been cleared.
This area running back to the campsites from the waterfront was known as "Main Street" as far back as the 1st year of the camp in 1925.

Initial rebuild of "B" Pier


One of the first orders of business when the Scouts returned to Emerald Bay was the rebuild of the "B" pier and dock. Using empty oil barrels left at camp by the Navy, the Scouts created concrete-filled pylons and a floating dock sitting on empty barrels. This arrangement soon proved unsatisfactory as the dock leaned dangerously and was unstable. Further, the pier was not long enough, requiring additional extended sections into the water.

Samuel Prentiss Grave
View from North Hill

"A" Dock
Looking Towards Indian Rock
Bergstrom Signature Postcard


In the foreground, just right of center bottom, is the gravestone  of Samuel Prentiss, first permanent white settler to live on Catalina Island. The dark, squarish structure to the left of the tree and above the tombstone was the camp chapel in 1947. The Manta can be seen on the right, heading out from "A" dock.

Scouts on "A" dock. A water taxi can be seen moored to a buoy in the upper left. The Manta can be seen, partially cropped, on the very upper right above the right-most row boat, circling in to camp. The Manta was purchased from the Navy and put into service by Crescent Bay Council in 1947. Its Sea Scout crew were part of the Camp Emerald Bay staff.

Waterfront • "A" & "B" Piers • Dining Hall
View into Camp from Arrow Point
Bergstrom Signature Postcard

Waterfront • "A" & "B" Piers
View North from Behind Beach


View across Arrow Point showing both piers and docks.
NOTE: a new lifeguard tower built on the beach between
the two piers. Dining hall can be seen on the right. Tall trees, planted by scouts in the 1930's dominate view of Camp.
compare to  >  1925/26 image of camp

On close inspection, the top of a water taxi can be seen peeking
over the heads of the Scouts loading from the Manta on the right; indicating that the Manta and water taxis would load on both sides
of the dock at the same time.

NOTE: The 1940's camp scenes can be dated by the buildings and structures present in the photos.
Dates pinpoint when the images were photographed but not necessarily when they were printed, sold or mailed.

  "Main Street' to Waterfront #1
View from North Hill
Bergstrom Signature in Black

"Main Street" to Waterfront #2
View from North Hill
No Signature


          Two versions from the same negative but cropped and printed differently as RPPC postcards. One version with a Bergstrom signature (in black), one without, showing camp from North Hill. Two new white barracks (and a third that is harder to spot) can be seen above and along the drainage canal on what used to be Main Street. The barracks where brought to camp from Port Hueneme in 10 foot sections towed on barges from the mainland in 1948. They each housed up to 40 Scout campers at a time in double rows of bunk beds, military style. Scouts also stayed in two other cabins behind the dining hall and even a few tents that later became the campsites further up in camp and still in use today.
          The engineered drainage canal seen above in the 1946 postcards has now grown over with vegetation and shows smoothing out from the same images taken two years previous. On close inspection, the basket ball court has been removed and a new lifeguard tower, moved from the center of the beach between both piers to the entrance of "A" pier, can also be seen--new for 1948.

North Hill • Doctors Residence
Bergstrom Signature Postcard


The camp doctor's quarters, seen as a white tent above the docks and just ocean-side of North Hill, was the first Emerald Bay structure on North Hill since the Sea Scout Landship. During World War II, the Landship was removed by the Navy. Directly behind the Doctor's tent is a pathway down to a private beach which soon became known as Doctors Cove. That name stuck and is still in use on Catalina Island maps today. Arrow Point is seen on the the right. By the 1950's, more staff cabins were built on North Hill and the entire staff had relocated there from their former digs on South Hill.

Ernie Nave
Camp Cook

"Pop" Pudney
Handicraft Director


Camp Emerald Bay has had its share
of cooks over the years who oft times became quite popular with the campers and staff. Ernie Nave, an old Navy guy, was camp cook from 1947-52 and was said to be quite a character. Every other word was a swear word and apparently
he was a good knife thrower too.

"Pop" Pudney was an icon in Crescent Bay Council, beginning as a Scoutmaster in the early 1920's, through the 1960's. He was also a master carpenter for MGM studios who gave him the summers off to go to Camp Emerald Bay. He served as handicraft director from the mid 1930's though the 1950's, missing only the early 1940's, when he ran the handicraft lodge at Camp Josepho from 1941-47

Camp Emerald Bay Gateway

Camp Staff


1948 saw the construction of the first gateway into camp
at the entrance of "A" pier. A retired red canoe was painted:
"Welcome to Camp Emerald Bay" and hung from a pole arrangement with crossed paddles above. The gateway immediately became the first thing Scouts saw as they came
off the boats pulling into camp. The huge eucalyptus tree, having grown substantially since the 1930's, can be seen beyond the gateway. The ranger's cabin, originally camp headquarters prior to 1935 and now with a covered porch, can be seen on the left while the dining hall is on the right.

RPPC postcards and photos of staff and Emerald Bay personalities were popular in the late 1940's. This postcard from 1948 shows the staff was still quite small compared to the larger staffs of the 1930's, 1950's and beyond.
Standing L-R: Jack Davies and Bill Douglas on left end;
 Keith Monroe and Bud Slinde on right end.
 Seated L-R: Ernie Nave and Bob Hawkins on left end.
All other staff in image are currently unidentified.

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