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.

resthaven-slide
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.

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2 thoughts on “Campgrounds, Churches and Outhouses

  1. If this is the Mr. Franklin that I had for fifth grade at Georgia Brown Elementary for the school year 1968-1969, then my hat is off to you! My parents separated at the end of fifth grade and we moved out of state, never to return (to live there). I have returned several times through the years either on vacation or just passing through and walked the halls of GB several times (on weekends – of course!) I have wondered about you so often as you had left an indelible mark on my formative years. You were an outstanding teacher that gave it all to the kids. I remember catching a touchdown pass from you at lunch time where you organized teams with you acting as the quarterback for both! Those were truly the halcyon days of my youth. Thank you so much for being a great teacher, leader, example and citizen of our great country! Mark Parcell

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