Like many of you, I always gravitate toward the “Only in Idyllwild” stories in our celebrated weekly newspaper, enjoying mostly the ones about neighbors helping neighbors. That’s what small-town America is most famous for, and it’s good to see that helping each other is very much alive and well here.
Being out and about town often, I have a few “ONLYs” of my own to share.
When Monique and I first joined this community in February, I found a good way to get a conversation going with locals was to ask, “What organizations are you in?” The person always replied with two or three or more, e.g., “I’m in the Master Chorale, in Rotary, Friends of the Library, play guitar at the Tahquitz Bistro and serve on the board of the IXXX.” Lots of initials up here.
According to information in the front of the Idyllwild phone book, there is one organization for every 46 people. From my informal research, I would think the true demographic is about 1:2, particularly if you’re talking about full-timers. Of course weekenders have their own Idyllwild Part-timers Network.
Upon unlocking the door of our cabin for the first time six months ago, I was immediately pressed into service in the DPS and anointed a captain at DAS-D, reporting to Commander/reporter Marshall Smith.
In case of a disaster, you’ll probably need to know that the “DAS” signs that will go up around town mean “Disaster Aid Shelter.” You’re supposed to go to the nearest one (there’s a map in the phone book and on the board at the Post Office) to let the trained volunteers know your situation, good or desperate, information which will then be communicated to the Red Cross in case someone off The Hill is trying to find out how you’re doing.
Sounds kinda para-militaristic to me, but I know that if and when all Hill breaks loose, it’ll make sense.
“ONLY” Number 2 is community spirit, an asset many towns boast about … but, it’s different here. I’ve lived in several small towns, cities and villages where signs are everywhere proclaiming loyalty to the local high school teams. Quitman, Louisiana, had a population of about 600 when I worked for a newspaper in a nearby town, but the noise at their basketball games rivaled the resounding roar at LSU stadium.
We have no high school here – never have had a public high school – so we substitute our remoteness and elevation. You have only to look at license plates at the Strawberry Plaza Shopping Center to appreciate the loyalty.
Reba Coulter of the 39ers organization was lamenting about lack of oversight by the county in one politically hot affair. I mentioned that Idyllwild has such a reputation for taking care of itself that the lowlands county officials feel they are doing us a favor by minimizing supervision.
When working in Garden Grove 20 years ago I was accepted into what I called “The 100.” That was my estimate of how many people were part of the corps of community leaders that kept the city of 220,000 vibrant and moving forward. Since arriving in Idyllwild as a resident, Monique and I have attended quite a few community events. I bet there is “The 100” here; only this is a village 97.7 percent smaller. Interesting statistic, right?
I’ll throw out my third “ONLY” and save the rest for the next edition: I wish we had chain fast-food restaurants here … STOP!!! Let me explain! I don’t really want Idyllwild to turn into Big Bear. I want the local restaurants to thrive, compete, sponsor local musicians, be gathering places for our townspeople. I hope it never changes.
That said, it would be convenient if we could walk or drive over to a Subway when we’re looking for a $5.00 foot-long. Or a 25-piece El Pollo Chicken box when we’re having company over. Or a quick bowl of chili from Wendy’s on cold winter’s nights. We can’t. I don’t want it to change. But I can dream, can’t I?
I have a few more items on the list that I’ll save for the next edition of this blog in a couple of weeks. I (and other readers – hopefully there are some) will appreciate your thoughts in the comments below.
Happy RVers, but At Home on The Hill
Barry & Monique
© All photos by Barry Zander. All rights reserved