1915 Postcard Featuring Child Feeding Old Ben the Sea Lion at Dock

1915 Postcard Featuring Child Feeding Old Ben the Sea Lion at Dock

Vintage 1915 Postcard Featuring Bernice Cameron Feeding Old Ben the Sea Lion at Dock, Avalon, Catalina Island, California.

5 Responses to 1915 Postcard Featuring Child Feeding Old Ben the Sea Lion at Dock

  1. Bob Green says:

    Bernice Cameron in this picture is my mother. Her granddaughter, Leah Bernice, is now feeding her great grandson, Ben. Namesake of seal is just a coincidence….

    • Pam says:

      What a precious story! I really appreciate you taking the time to tell me. It makes this postcard even more special (bought on eBay). Thank you so much!

      • Pam says:

        A descriptive sign in the Catalina Museum gives this additional information: “Old Ben was an unusually large sea lion who was first noticed in Avalon’s harbor during the final years of the nineteenth century. He was part of a large colony of sea lions that was attracted to Avalon by the large amount of fish dumped in the harbor as inedible by local fishermen. Ben, a bull weighing in excess of 1,800 pounds, was apparently the patriarch of the colony, and often ate fish offered by townspeople on the beach. He was soon swimming in the harbor, nudging unsuspecting swimmers, and even playing in the water with a dog named Clumsy. Ben was well known for his intelligence and friendliness, and he learned quickly to navigate the town’s sidewalks and waddle down Crescent Avenue……..In 1915, five-year-old Bernice Cameron was photographed feeding Old Ben as if he were a dog. The photograph was intended for little Bernice’s father, but proved so popular that it was made into a postcard, which was mailed to thousands of people all over the world.”

        • Bob Green says:

          There is a small discrepancy which I just realized. If the year of the postcard is certain, then Mom would have been 4. She was born Aug. 14, 1911. In the picture, it looks like a 5 y/o Bernice, so I am wondering if the postcard might not have been 1916. The only version I have seen of it was a later reprint as part of one of the bi-fold card sets for Catalina Island.

          • Pam says:

            That kind of minor discrepancy wouldn’t surprise me. My quote is direct from the sign beside an enlarged poster size version of the postcard in the Catalina Island Museum. If you wish to have a picture of the entire text description of the postcard, send me an e-mail to pgwinegar@aol.com. This is all fascinating!

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