In facing my 60th this year, along with other friends in Idyllwild who happen to share that distinction, and many of my Florida high-school friends, I thought I’d pull out the 1958 TC archives and have a look. I enjoy perusing the old records.
But I’m especially feeling nostalgic because it’s been a few weeks of losing people unexpectedly, including Geoffrey Caine, whom I’ve known since he and Renate moved here so long ago. So, I’m looking back with fond memories but moving on, as Renate advised when I saw her Monday.
Idyllwild folk in 1958 were moving on, too. The Town Crier announced at the beginning of the year it would be published weekly. Before, it had been occasional and then every two weeks.
Local phones switched to a dial-operated system vs. an operator style. “The new exchange has been termed ‘of the unattended type’ by company officials,” according to the story. “Arrangements have been made so that Idyllwild subscribers may pay their telephone bills at the Idyllwild Sundries and Variety Store located next to the Idyllwild Post Office.”
The Hemet school system had seen so much growth that a school bond campaign was in full swing. And speaking of growth, the year-round Idyllwild population soared to more than 1,000 residents. And, the U.S. Forest Service reported that more than a million visitors had frolicked in the San Jacinto Mountains in 1957. “The figure — 1,091,669 to be exact — represented the compilation of auto counts taken on the four roads leading to the mountain recreation area,” according to the story. Just to emphasize, these counts were taken at the lower areas leading up to the mountains so that campers going to and from Idyllwild weren’t duplicated.
The Idyllwild Protective League continued its fight against liquor licenses, which it eventually lost.
A queen was sought for the annual Bear Festival, long defunct. The festival promised “dancing bears, fair booths on the ground of Idyllwild Inn and a rip-snorting woods-type games schedule.” They actually brought in a trained troup of fuzzy performers from Ventura County to perform. Lula Belle was the queen of the show. Imagine the outrage today as equal as the protective league.
The Idyllwild Arts Foundation was offering 31 summer adult courses featuring renowned instructors Harry Sternberg, Pete Seeger and Bella Lewitsky.
In April, snowfall topped the 50-inch mark in Tahquitz Valley, causing $16,000 worth of damage to Highway 243 due to slides. “Some 22 inches of snow fell in Idyllwild during the week bringing [the] season’s total to 56.5 inches,” according to a story.
Unfortunately, all this beautiful moisture caused fishing to become spotty because lakes and creeks were overflowing. Anglers complained that the fish were too small, and the state was unable to stock the waterways because of so much snow. Oh, if only we could moan about such a problem this year, 60 years later.
Two divergent local chambers of commerce were taking a step toward unity. And eventually, it occurred. They were moving on.
Becky Clark, Editor