South Coast Orchid Society

Orchid Judging in Long Beach, 1954 and Beyond!

Eulophiella Rolfei 'Roke' FCC/AOS, the first award photo we recovered from AOS judging in Long Beach, February 26, 1968. The plant was exhibited by Emerson "Doc" Charles of Costa Mesa. After months of searching, we eventually were able to recover almost all of the 1968 award photos.

Judging under Orchid Digest Corporation standards began at SCOS meetings in December, 1954, as a result of an earlier discussion and vote by the membership. Judging under the auspices of Orchid Digest Corporation continued at the Long Beach site, first with certified judges "borrowed" from the Orchid Society of Southern California, and later with our own, home-grown judges, until December, 1967, when the ODC judging program was merged with the AOS judging program, which started at the SCOS meetings in Long Beach in January, 1968. During the period when ODC standards were used, the judging team in Long Beach gave each award a sequence number, which, along with other award information, was regularly published in our newsletters and in some cases republished in Orchid Digest.

Between the SCOS newsletters (we have recovered almost all issues from 1958 through 1973 — these were donated by Rita Crothers, probably to the library of the Orchid Digest Corporation, which was transferred later to the Huntington Botanical Center, where Brandon Tam brought them to our attention) and the reports of SCOS activities and ODC awards published in Orchid Digest, we have been able to reconstruct about 85% of the 522 awards conferred at Long Beach during that period.

The practice of assigning a sequence number continued when AOS judging started at our meetings in January, 1968, starting again with 1. The sequence numbers continued to be used at least well into 1973, as the AOS awards were regularly published in our newsletters until late in 1973. Eventually, not only the sequence numbers, but information about the awards themselves was dropped from our newsletters. Nevertheless, the existence of a numbered sequence of awards in our newletters, from 1 to 226, allowed us to compare the activities of the Long Beach judging center with the award records published in the AOS Bulletin, the Register of Awards (covering AOS awards up to the end of 1968) and its successor, Awards Quarterly (covering AOS awards 1969 until about 2006), a separate index, American Orchid Society Awards 1932-1989: A Combined Index (we will cite this as "AOS awards index 1932-1989") compiled by systematically extracting information from the Register of Awards and Awards Quarterly, as well as the AOS awards databases Orchids Plus and the current online database, OrchidPro. We were also able to compare these records with information extracted into the proprietary OrchidWiz database, which contains award descriptions as well as photographs obtained from a variety of sources, including what have turned out to be some Long Beach award photos. We discovered that some awards conferred at the Long Beach site did not find their way into OrchidPro, or else had been miscopied or otherwise corrupted in ways that made them unrecognizable. At least a couple photographs in OrchidPro were attached to the wrong award records, and a number of "Long Beach" awards turned out to be from other judging sites.

As a result of these investigations, we can now present a relatively complete view of the Long Beach AOS awards for the 11 years 1968-1980 — a set of virtual orchid shows that have never been seen together before! The pictures are glorious, many of the exhibitors are well known from SCOS history (and in some cases, still with us). They show the activities of some of our most industrious members from the past, and remind us just how good the old orchids were.

Orchid Digest Corporation Judging at Long Beach, 1954-1967

Only a few photographs have been recovered, although we expect there are more to be found! An official index of ODC awards was published, but it is little known and does not identify the judging center responsible for each award (our thanks to Tim Culbertson for alerting us to the existence of this index). However, the index may still allow us to identify some of the missing Long Beach awards, if enough of the awards from other ODC judging centers were published for that period in Orchid Digest, or if we happen to know something about the exhibitors and the award history of particular cultivars.

American Orchid Society Judging at Long Beach, 1968-1980

Complete (?) list of awards from the Long Beach judging center, 1968-1980, with photos and additional information from diverse sources: