The 1940ís:World War II and the Hollywood connection
World War II instigated many changes that affected Carlsbad during the war years and into the future, setting its course as an independent incorporated city. Carlsbad 's population in 1941 hovered around 4000, from which the city contributed over 220 men to military service.
World War IIís impact hit Carlsbad immediately when Lee Ruse became Carlsbad's first war fatality, losing his life in the attack on Pearl Harbor. Remembered fondly by those in town as well as in his church, the Carlsbad Community Church, dedicated a Hall in his honor. Maxton Brown was another war fatality. He died flying over North Africa. He was remembered through the dedication of the Lt. Maxton Brown Bird Sanctuary on Buena Vista Lagoon.
In 1942 The United States Marine Corps moved to Rancho Santa Margarita and established Camp Pendleton. Arrival of the military in the area provided a wealth of opportunity for Carlsbad residents and helped turn the local economy around. Additionally, civilian workers were needed on base to fill a variety of jobs. Work on base provided income for Carlsbad residents, money that was spent in town bolstering the local economy. The need for civilian workers on base and for housing and recreational facilities for military families off base, all created new employment opportunities for Carlsbad residents.
The arrival of military personnel and their families at Camp Pendleton and Camp Elliott in La Jolla precipitated a housing shortage. So severe was the shortage that local newspapers ran editorials declaring that it was everyone's patriotic duty to rent space in their homes for the incoming military personnel and their families. Lack of sufficient housing prompted many military families to purchase homes. Additionally, local residents began buying vacant lots and constructing low cost rental cottages. This influx of people caused a surge in Carlsbad real estate activity.
The Carlsbad Hotel contributed to the war effort by housing recuperating military personnel. Hollywood celebrities, such as Leo Carrillo, contributed to USO programs held next door at St. Michael's Hall. Carrillo visited with service men and brought guests who were staying at his Flying L.C. Ranch. With Hollywood stars attending the Carlsbad USO, it became an exciting venue and at the same time provided a safe and inviting environment for the GI's. Each church in town provided volunteer staff to welcome over 688 military personnel who attended each month.
Many other locales within Carlsbad were commandeered by the military for use in the war effort. Private homes and businesses were transformed into military outposts throughout the city. The beach bluffs along Terramar became antiaircraft stations, the Cohn estate on Carlsbad Boulevard was appropriated by the Coast Guard, a service station across from the Twin Inns on the same street was used as a Military Police station, and Hosp Grove provided space needed by the US Army to erect a tent city.
Fortunately for the Kentner family, the military rejected the Twin Inns use in the war effort, allowing the family to carry on with business as usual. Considering the war rationing under way, carrying on as usual for any business was a difficult proposition. However, Eddie Kentner, always resourceful and ingenious found a way to work around the rationing issue by going into the poultry business himself and thus providing the needed supplies for his restaurant. By purchasing land on Sunnycreek Road outside of the downtown area of Carlsbad, Kentner was able to establish the Tootsie K Ranch in 1943. The Kentnerís built a small house with a reservoir and each family member had a turn at working on the ranch, raising the poultry needed to keep the Twin Inns in operation.
Hollywood made its presence felt in Carlsbad before, during and after the war. Carlsbad's acquaintance with Hollywood was a long and varied one that dated as far back as 1923, when Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks Sr. would camp along the banks of the Agua Hedionda Lagoon. As Prohibition overtook America, Carlsbad was often a midway stopping off point for many folks traveling between Los Angeles and Tiajuana, Mexico. Signed guest registers recorded the many Hollywood celebrities who stopped for dinner at the Twin Inns Restaurant. Baron Long, owner of Caliente Racetrack in Baja and Eddie Kentner's boss from his days at the Ships Cafe in Venice was a frequent visitor to the Twin Inns, as was Jack Dempsey, owner of the Casino in Ensenada Mexico. When the California Carlsbad Hotel opened in the 1930s it provided another spot in Carlsbad for Hollywood celebrities, as well as other famous folks, to relax. Men like Adolph Coors, the famous beer producer, the Bekins family of moving company fame, as well as professional baseball teams, all stayed in town. During the 1930s the Carlsbad Hotel was the site each year of the Bing Crosby special dinner dance that highlighted his annual Rancho Santa Fe Golf Tournament. The hotel provided rooms for over 200 golfers, reporters and onlookers who traveled to Rancho Santa Fe each day to attend the golfing event.
While many stars enjoyed the comforts offered at the Carlsbad Hotel while filming movies for the war effort at Camp Pendleton, other celebrities were simply interested in investing in Carlsbad real estate. Perhaps it was Bing Crosby's familiarity with Carlsbad that led him along with the Casey family and some other unnamed investors, to form a company called Carlsbad Properties in 1944. This company purchased the Cohn estate on Carlsbad Boulevard and Elm, diagonal from the Twin Inns restaurant. Plans were made to develop the property into the Royal Palms Hotel and Sea Side cafe. Opened at the end of World War II, the Royal Palms, with its swimming pool and wedding chapel, became a vacation destination, contributing to Carlsbad's postwar evolution from agricultural land to tourist spot.