Site of Hedley Home, photo by Sabu the Coconut Boy

Visit to the Hedley Homestead

Site of Hedley Home, photo by Sabu the Coconut Boy
Site of Hedley Home, photo by Sabu the Coconut Boy

In San Pedro, just south of Los Angeles, an unusual man named Eli Hedley created the aesthetic we now know today as the “beachcomber” look. Hedley had been a grocer in Oklahoma, when the Depression sent him and his family west in search of a better life. They found it on the beaches of Southern California. Hedley, with the help of his wife and daughters, found ways to use items found on the beach — glass, shells, nautical equipment — and turn them into housewares and decorations. They built a home at White Point half out of driftwood, and they started selling their unique housewares to the department stores in the area. Hedley quickly made a name for himself, and in time he was outfitting bars, restaurants and hotels with his beachcomber pieces — he even created the massive moai for the Stardust’s Aku Aku in Las Vegas. Hedley became a decorator to the stars, too, and it was not unusual for Hollywood celebrities to escape to the Hedley home at White Point now and then. Hedley even became part of Disneyland, when Walt Disney asked him to help decorate Adventureland; for years he operated the Island Trade Store, where the Bazaar is today.

Hedley’s grandson, Bamboo Ben, continues his family’s tradition with his store on Beach Boulevard in Huntington Beach. Bamboo Ben had related how to visit the site of the home his mother and aunts grew up in, and Sabu the Coconut Boy recently paid a visit, camera in hand.

5 thoughts on “Visit to the Hedley Homestead

  1. Hi-I have been trying to get in touch with Bungy or Bay Heldey for some time. My father (Amie Marconda) and my uncle (Harold Marconda) were very very good friends with the Hedley family. I remember going to their home for parties, climbing the mountain (Cliff), talking about the Tarzan movies filmed on location and a movie called the Purple or White Orchid or something like that. I spent the night with Bungy and Bay (downstairs) and remember the three levels in the house with their mom helping us warm our hands under warm water in the kitchen sink, after we had spent the day and evening with our hands in the cold ocean water searching for shells. I still reminisce about the middle level dining room and the huge upstairs window which looked out over the ocean for “as far as I could see”. Almost Everthing in and outside of the house was made of SOMETHING from nature or the ocean–it was wonderful. I also remember playing the “find your shoe” game when we attended parties at the Hedley home at the dance floor fire pit area.
    We all attended the opening of the Hedley’s store at Disneyland in Adventure Land and looking over all the wonderful driftwood items sold there. My dad and mom (Amie and Mary Marconda) so enjoyed taking us to visit at the Hedley’s home–it was like a little journey to Captain Nemo’s secret world a hideaway outside of the bustling town.
    My entire family had stores and businesses at the Farmer’s market from the 1950’s and two of those businesses are still open (Marconda’s Meats and Langston’s Sausage). We also had Polynesian Casuals clothing store, Coral Reef Gifts (import/export items, shells, etc.,), Clara and Joe’s Bread Bin, The Jelly Jar, and so on. I think most of my life was spent at Third Street and Fairfax or enjoying life at Manhattan Beach/San Pedro. We would also Pop in to visit Hedley’s every time we took the big white steamer to Catalina, since we had friends who owned the Edgewater Hotel.
    Well, if you would be so kind as to see that Bungy or Bay get this little reminder of the wonderful times I had with them, it would be appreciated. Drop me a note if and when you can. I do have a signed copy of How Daddy Became a Beachcomber book, and it references my Uncle Harold Marconda in it, since “uncle” Hedley’s creations were sold in the Coral Reef Gift Shop, owned by my dad and my uncle.
    God bless you and I look forward to hearing from you.

    Nancy (Marconda) Figone


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