I am fortunate enough to have access to a vehicle when one is required, and so I was recently able to make it to two events, one as participant and the other as attendee. These two events were miles and cultures apart; not uncommon given California’s homogenous population. Both were held on a sunny weekend and both were highly attended according to their respective populations.
On Saturday, I had the wonderful experience of driving an antique Ford tractor towing a restored antique welder in the Paso Robles Annual Pioneer Days parade; which is one of the premier parades held in San Luis Obispo County. The atmosphere is decidedly early Industrial Revolution and beyond with nearly every conceivable wheel and cleat tractors, but lends to the current with a cadre of Corvettes and restored early military vehicles and scores of marchers from school cheerleaders to what seemed like a couple hundred elementary age school kids and horses and much more I never saw because, well, I was in it.
I followed along behind Monterey County and Rural Life Museum board president Jim and passenger Randy, a MCARLM volunteer, as they made their way, serpentine like, down the route in a restored 1914 Republic truck complete with wine barrels in the back; donated to the Museum by the Hahn Wine family. We entered Spring Street, the main street in Paso, from 19th Street southward to the town park, went around the park until we were headed north again, where in a few blocks the route ends and entrants make their way back to where they came from.
In order for me to do that I drove all the way north to 20th Street and was allowed to cross Spring where one block south on 19th the last entry was joining the parade caravan; that is one long parade. And those lining the streets are very appreciative of all they see passing by; and in my case what they hear. Because the parade moved slowly with frequent stops and with serpentine driving, which put me about eight feet from the crowd, I bantered with what I viewed as a captive audience.
Because Jim and I were ahead of some 12 or 13 Chevy Corvettes from brand new to vintage, my remarks to the crowd that “We may be old and slow, but we are still ahead of the Corvettes,” and as we neared the park where the famous free bowl of beans to everyone takes place, I would offer up “Here we are in Paso Robles, but that is King City Pinks I smell cooking.” (A quote from my father: “I am a very witty fellow, don’t you know.”) And that was Saturday; Sunday was much different.
I ventured north to Greenfield on Sunday with nothing more in mind than to visit with some friends and got far more than I expected when I attempted to navigate the traffic on the side streets because El Camino Real was closed for the city’s annual street event. I honestly cannot tell you the name; Harvest Festival, maybe. Whatever the name, the event itself is larger than the ones I have attended in years past as it now extends from Walnut Avenue to Oak Avenue.
This event is primarily a vendors showcase with dozens, scores actually, of small canopies and tents with a plethora of products and services available. There is of course entertainment and as I walked the street, I watched a troupe of very colorful and talented folklorico dancers performing at the Palm Avenue intersection; they were followed by an indigenous musical group equipped with native flutes and various other wind and percussion instruments I don’t know the names of. All very entertaining.
At the north end of ECR in front of the Mary Chapa campus there was a full stage with overhead light bars and large amplifiers where a Grupo blasted out music, the vocalist flamboyant, but there were only a handful of people listening while just a bit later and further south a large Banda had a large audience with about a dozen young ladies dancing together in the street. Because I am without knowledge of Mexican music, I know what I like and don’t like, I can’t say why one group was preferred over the other, but whether small or large each audience got what they wanted.
As is usual when I am up in my hometown, I can see the city when it was a small town and as I walked the main street of the city, I see the buildings and remember what businesses occupied them decades ago; and I recall the Greenfield people I knew back then. And although 30-plus years ago I knew many residents of the town, on this Sunday I saw and greeted Beatriz and Roy; the only two faces who knew me and I knew them. Times change and the look and language of city-wide events change, but those attending are just as happy and involved as generations before them, so that at least has not changed.
When traveling back from Paso the other day, I took Jolon Road just to forego freeway driving, and in a couple miles I passed a building that is now a home but was once the site of Duane’s; a small beer and wine hall. I knew it years back when it was the meeting place of SCART, of which a few of us KCHS seniors were members.
We could order pitchers of beer there because the owner believed if we were old enough to race cars, we had to be old enough to drink beer. We never abused Duane by drinking too much to drive, and we never went there when other patrons, if he had any, were there. And that was the South County Asphalt Racing Team. Not a good story for young people, I know; but it was a different time.
Take care. Peace.