Paso Robles Six Decades Ago: People and Places

By Robert Flood
Author  of “Where the Old West Still Hangs Around”

Thanks to Harold Franklin, an old PRHS schoolmate, and other contributors for their anniversary postings. Let me add a few other memorable people and places.


Downtown Paso in the 1950’s

The Canary Cottage.  The café that long stood on the northeast corner of 12th and Spring. During the closing years of World War 2, our family–in from the Cholame Valley for Saturday shopping– would watch out its windows, as we lunched, the bumper to bumper traffic on Spring Street that stretched  from one end of town to the other.  Most were soldiers from Camp Roberts in town for the day.

Orcutt’s Market.  On 12th Street, the town’s modest “Albertson’s” of yesteryear. It’s where our family stocked up for the week before a 40-mile run back to our ranch. If you forgot an item you didn’t “run back to the store.” As a kid I eagerly collected bottle caps left by those who had opened pop, the copper-colored Hires root beer ones my favorite. I eventually nailed my collection  upside down on a rectangular board to create a foot scraper.


Paso Robles Mercantile

The Paso Robles Mercantile. The town’s main, if not only, general department store. The vacuum powered money transit tubes fascinated me.  J.C. Penney also had the system.

The Paso Robles Pharmacy. On 12th St. a few doors east of the Acorn Building.  The main attraction was its scales. We’d routinely weigh ourselves each week or so. The day my short-statured mother hit 149 pounds, she panicked and went on a diet.

The Paso Robles Inn. The mural of early California on its restaurant’s south wall fascinated me. As a kid I vaguely understood that a grand hotel once stood on this site, but I would have thought it a joke if someone had told me then that Jesse and Frank James had once hid out on this property. Or that it had also lodged the Premier of Poland and the Pittsburgh Pirates. Did Paderewski ever play “Take Me Out to the Ball Game?”

Some notable people:

Coach Roy Thomas. The early 50s were Bearcat football glory years. A great coach, but he seemed to wear a frequent scowl. I was afraid of him.

Martha Swanson, journalism teacher. Under her I decided my career.

JoAnn Shetler, my assistant as editor of the yearbook. In later years she and an associate translated the New Testament in the jungles of the Phillipines and that gospel transformed an entire tribe. Years later when she spoke at a triennial student missionary convention hosted at the University of Illinois, 17,000 delegates gave her a standing ovation.

Tom Barry, his dad publisher of the Paso Robles Press. He edged me out as valedictorian,

Norma (Della) Moye,  Bearcat head cheerleader.  She’s still a mover and shaker.

George Work of the Work Family Guest Ranch in Ranchita Canyon and late rancher Kent Hansen. Kent went on to Stanford. We all ran track together.

Dave Barlogio, rancher. At my recent book signing in Carnegie Library during the Olive Festival I saw him for the first time in 61 years. Later in the week at his ranch west of Templeton he had me board his long abandoned 1929 combine and grab the header wheel to get the feel once more of the grain harvest.

Gayle (Taylor) Kattar, cousin of local real estate figure Wade Taylor and an early-day Bearcat cheerleader. We also both attended Parkfield’s one-room school built in 1888. She’s lived for 31 years now in Massachusetts. Marlene Heaton sent her my book. Thrilled, she ordered two more.

Old_West_Front_Cover.pdf_largeWhere the Old West Still Hangs Around is carried by the Pioneer Museum, Carnegie Library, the Paso Robles Inn, the Cuesta College bookstore and other local retail stores. I now also have a website for your holiday gift shopping. Order on line at


Local Celebrity Judges for Bake Off at Pioneer Day

Local Celebrity Judges Announced for the 125th Anniversary BAKE OFF during Pioneer Day

With a theme of “Old Fashioned Funfair,” the Paso Robles 125th Anniversary celebration is teaming up with Pioneer Day to bring a few new elements to the City Park during the 2014 Pioneer Day in honor of the city’s Quasquicentennial year, including a BAKE OFF with local celebrity judges.  The event takes place on Saturday, October 11, 2014.

In addition to the local favorite parade and other activities, there are a handful of fun elements planned to keep people in the park after the parade, including a street dance, an ale garden to benefit local nonprofits, old-fashioned kids’ games and a BAKE OFF.

Bake Off
Got a famous recipe for apple pie, cobbler or cupcakes? Bring your creation down to the park before the Pioneer Day parade for your chance to win bragging rights and recognition in the local media.

Entries will fall into one of three categories: Amateur, Professional and Youth (under 18). No charge to enter. See Bake Off Rules below for full details.

The Judges
Three judges will score each Bake Off entry on a scale of 1-10 on taste and appearance, with the highest composite score in each category being named the winner. The judges are:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Andre Averseng, the chef and owner of Paso Terra Seafood, spent 6 years as a pastry chef in France before coming to the US to work with the top chefs and taught at the top culinary schools in Los Angeles. He moved his successful restaurant to Paso Robles in 2003. He is an enthusiastic teacher and gives back to his community on a regular basis. In his “spare” time he does art and brews beer.

Brigit BinnsBrigit Binns is the author or co-author of twenty-eight cookbooks, 11 for Williams-Sonoma and editor of many more. After commuting between Paso Robles and New York State for a few years, Brigit now calls Paso her home full time. She recently published a cookbook called The New Wine Country: Recipes from California’s Central Coast, which celebrates all of the farmers, ranchers, winemakers and producers in Paso Robles and along the Central Coast.

Sarah Jester photoSarah Jester is the pastry chef at Artisan Restaurant at the corner of 12th and Pine Street. She has been cooking and baking professionally for 13 years and is a graduate of Chico State and Western Culinary Institute. She began her career at Artisan as a line cook, proved her mettle and has been the on-site pastry chef there for 2.5 years. She enjoys long walks and hikes with her boyfriend of 11 years and their yellow lab. She bakes in her free time.

 Contest Rules for Pioneer Day Bake Off

  1. Contestants can be amateurs, professionals or youth under the age of 18.
  2. Contestants may have more than one entry, but can only win one (1) prize.
  3. Submissions must be home cooked (not store bought).
  4. Types of desserts that may be entered:
  5. Apple pie
  6. Cobbler
  7. Cupcakes
  8. Please do not submit anything that requires refrigeration.
  9. All submissions will become property of the 125th Anniversary committee.
  10. Contestants may work individually or with a team. (Prizes will be awarded to 1 member/team only, NOT each individual on a team.)

Contest Day:

  • Check-in is from 9:00am to 10:00am on Pioneer Day, October 11, 2014, in the City Park gazebo.
  • The Contest Representative is Jennifer Bravo.

The Scoring System:

  • Each contestant will be assigned a number for judging. Submissions will be judged on a scale of 1-5, 5 being the highest.
  • You will be judged on taste and appearance.
  • The Contest Representative will tally all of the ballots. The contestant with the highest score in each category will be the winner of each category.

Rules are subject to change

About the 125th Anniversary Celebration: 2014 marks the 125th Anniversary of Paso Robles incorporating as a city, and the community is celebrating the occasion all year with 125th anniversary-themed events of all types. For a complete list of events celebrating the 125th anniversary throughout 2014, go to


Campgrounds, Churches and Outhouses

by Harold Franklin

My father, Harold J. Franklin , was 14 when his family camped overnight in Resthaven, 3 miles west of Paso Robles up Adelaide Road. The springs in the canyon kept the swimming pool in Resthaven full the year round. It was November 1, 1926, and his father, Rev. Joseph Franklin, had been appointed by the bishop of this district to pastor the San Miguel Methodist Episcopal Church. He was also pastor of the Shandon and Estrella Methodist Episcopal Churches. They would live in San Miguel at the end of K Street in the purple parsonage still there across from Lillian Larson School.

Rev. Franklin was 54 years old and he suffered from a bad heart, the result of the 1918 flu epidemic. Not able to stand the cold, harsh winter weather of South Dakota any longer, the family had left Elk Point, South Dakota, in their 1923 Dodge Touring Car. They camped along the way with the running boards full of their camping equipment. Sixteen year old Howard drove the car to Long Beach where my grandmother, Ethel’s brother George Combs, was living with his family, working as a city fireman. Rev. Franklin attended the West Coast Methodist Episcopal Conference and had received the two year appointment to San Miguel. The family had camped the night before at Gaviota. The next night they were in the church’s parsonage in San Miguel. The three boys, Howard, Harold and Wesley and little sister Lois were told by their next door neighbors, the Wilmer’s, Dr. Wilmer’s parents, to pick almonds from the orchard across the street as they were not knocked that year. That was a new experience for them. That orchard became Almond Acres. Mr. Wilmer was in charge of the San Miguel Southern Pacific Railroad Station.

Motels did not exist in those days. Folks camped or stayed in hotels, if available. The first motel in the United States was the Motel Inn at the very north end of San Luis Obispo started in the 1930’s.

Paso Robles had several campgrounds when my father arrived. As one entered the south end of town, there was a large campground on the right where the present Post Office, Wells Fargo
Bank and other businesses are located. Behind them was the Pittsburg Pirates Spring Training Field and the tall city natural gas tank. In the 1940’s to 1970’s it was the large Stowe’s Trailer Court with the Masonic Hall building beside 4th Street.

Across Spring Street from the Robobank and Melody Ranch Motel was a nearly 2 block campgrounds bordered by Spring and Park Streets. The city plunge was on the southeast corner of 10th and Spring Street facing east. On its south was a small motel. The plunge faced east and was the delight of us kids from the 1940’s to 1960’s. Bob Osman was the lifeguard after WW II. Polar Freeze was along Spring Street near 8th Street in the 1950’s to 1970’s.

Flamson Middle School was originally the Paso Robles HIgh School.  A heated election in1924 between San Miguel and Paso Robles ended with the high school being built in Paso Robles. A high school had been here from the early 1880’s on the south side in the present playground of Marie Bauer School. The new high school was built on the site of a large campground used especially by area farmers doing business in town. Taking a good part of a day to come to town by horse, they camped over night before returning home. In 1980 it became Flamson Middle School named after a long time former principal and schools superintendent, George Flamson.  The new Paso Robles High School was beside Niblick Road. He was superintendent in 1959 when I first became a fifth grade teacher. The First Mennonite Church was built on the northwest corner in 1904 when the 1882 Adelaide Methodist Episcopal Church by the Adelaide Cemetery was disassembled board by board and reassembled on the corner by the Estrella Mennonites. In 1924 the school district moved it cattycorner across Spring Street where it is located today.

My father attended 8th grade in San Miguel and entered Paso Robles High School in September of 1927.  Some of the San Miguel students, including Mr. Range, tried to pants my father at school. Howard came to his rescue, a small but absolutely fearless fighter. The Franklin boys had changed schools every two years so they were very excellent defenders of themselves.

 When Wesley was in Paso High School in 1834, a group of students were standing by the front door one morning when English teacher, Miss Easterling was walking inside. The elastic band on her bloomers broke just then and her panties fell out of her dress to the ground around her ankles. She calmly stepped out of them, picked them up and walked on in. I was afraid to ask Easterburg about it when I had her exactly 20 years later as a Sophomore student..

In the 1960’s I was sitting on a desk in front reading to my class after coming in from lunch recess to calm them down for the afternoon’s work. After a while a girl raised her hand and told me my pants were split! I looked down and to my absolute horror, I was split open from my belt in back to the zipper. At least I had good briefs on. I wrapped my coat around my slacks and my wife brought me in a change of pants after I called her. But I still played hard with my students, in slacks and tie.

When Mr. Speck hired me in August of 1959, he told me I was expected to dress every day in a shirt and tie with slacks. We teachers were professional and we were to dress professionally. I did that for 38 years. He also told me I had to make my own paddle for classroom management. A student was not to be sent to Mr. Butler, the Georgia Brown School Principal, unless it was something really awful. Today that paddle is in the Pioneer Museum School House hanging by the blackboard as usual.

Today we have lovely motels and inns. And no outhouses.