A Seaside Oil sign from the collection of David Aldred.
A very small SEASIDE station somewhere in Los Angeles June 1958.
I think this station was not too far from the later riot area of Watts,
and may have been on Central Ave. This is a real secondary site with
an outside rack and just three pumps.
Morro Bay, Calif. June 1958 a couple of days after the above L.A. shot.
Morrow Bay is located on the coast of California on CA route 1 north of LA
but quite a ways south of San Francisco. This is a real nice clean
dealer conventional station and although SEASIDE often priced below
the majors, there is no price sign here!!
Both of above taken by Walt Wimer.
Map scan, uncredited.
1969 style Seaside map scan from David Aldred, Oct 2003.
A brief History of Seaside
The Seaside Oil Company was founded in Summerland, Calif in 1898 as a production and pumping company.
They later got into refining and by the 1920s were into gasoline sales and service stations.
A fire damaged their refinery in Summerland in 1921, but they bought another in Ventura in 1923
and at one point grew to some 900 retail outlets selling SEASIDE gasoline.
By the early 1930s the Summerland fields along the ocean were nearing depletion and the company
had to look elsewhere to buy crude oil. Along the way they incurred a lot of dept and one of the
companies they owed quite a bit to was Tidewater. That led to the takeover of Seaside by
Tidewater in 1946 after having a partial interest in the company for a number of years.
In 1937 the company had moved its headquarters to nearby Santa Barbara, where it remained until the
company's demise in 1973. By the later 40s, their number of stations had dropped to 600,
but remember back in the 1930s there were a lot of one pump "dealers" at stores and garages.
In 1966 a big change came when Tidewater sold off their West Coast operation to Phillips Petroleum,
who were trying to go coast to coast with the PHILLIPS 66 brand.
Originally Standard of NJ was expected to buy the West Coast Tidewater refining and marketing,
but the feds nixed that. However, they were so close to a deal that a 1966 issue of
NATIONAL PETROLEUM NEWS featured a cover drawing of a sign crew replacing a FLYING A sign
with an ESSO oval!! I'll bet there were some red faces at the magazine when the 66 shields
went up instead!!! Phillips continued to operate Seaside as a subsidiary company, much like
Tidewater did. However, that all ended in 1973 when Phillips elected to liquidate the company
and end the long history of the SEASIDE brand.
Over the 20 year history of Seaside being a Tidewater subsidiary, the general public hardly knew
that Tidewater owner Seaside. There was no mention of such on maps, no credit card exchange, etc.
And I doubt underperforming FLYING A stations were ever rebranded to SEASIDE. This operation was
much like that of Sinclair and Richfield of NY, except that Seaside maintained their own refinery,
while Richfield did not have such. By my trip to California in 1958 there were still some 500
SEASIDE stations according to the NPN and I would not have known they were part of Tidewater
had not such been shown in the NPN. Some might call SEASIDE a "secondary" brand of Tidewater,
but I do not, as it was a separate company, just owned by Tidewater. Probably due to its
seagull logo, SEASIDE items have become quite popular with gas & oil collectors and a full range
of collectibles are out there, some bringing quite high prices. Road maps were issued from the
early 1930s until at least the late 60s after Phillips owned the company. Some are quite scarce
as the one from the 30s that recently went for $224 on eBay. But the much more common "generic"
maps of the late 50s/early 60s can be found for under $10. Probably the most popular SEASIDE maps
are the very colorful ones showing the Santa Barbara Mission. The first of these covers came out
in the 1940s, published by James H. Grayson Co., but later editions were put out by Rand McNally
from at least 1949 through 1953. SEASIDE stations were painted cream/light yellow from the 30s
into the late 50s, but the accent colors changed a bit over the years. It appeared to me in 1958
that they were dropping the seagull off the double triangle logo, as such did not appear on their
roadmaps. In later years the logo changed twice, and actually there seem to be less around with
those logos than of the old, more popular, double triangle.
Note: The above history of Seaside Oil Company was compiled by Walt Wimer, Jr.
with aid from a company history article appearing in the November 1995 issue of TIGER HIGHTEST magazine.