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Looking Back: City swelters under heat wave, children enjoy park, dog wears shoes 

Excerpts from the July 21, 1936, Paso Robles Times:

City swelters under heatwave; report prostrations

-The sweltering heatwave which descended upon the central coast area of California early last week, continues unabated today, with little relief in sight. Temperatures in Paso Robles have been variously reported from 102 degrees to as high as 114 degrees in the shade during the week.

Citizens, for the most part, have been content to mop perspiring brows and comment that “it might be worse.” Tourists have flocked to garages and filling stations, to drain rusty water from the radiators of their autos, many of which have been boiling furiously. Those who have been able to do so, have flocked to cool beaches, or left for vacations in the more temperate northern sections of the coast.

Several prostrations

Dr. Charles R. Kennedy was called to San Miguel early Sunday afternoon, where five elderly people from the north, en route to a vacation rendezvous in the southern part of the state, were prostrated by the intense heat. They had left Salinas early in the day but were overcome before they could reach here.

Three soldiers, en route to the National Guard Camp at San Luis Obispo, fainted from the heat shortly after disembarking from their canvas-covered truck, which was stopped at a filling station on Spring street early Saturday afternoon.

There were no fatalities reported from this area, however, and a majority of local residents escaped to cooler places, or confined themselves to shaded homes over the weekend.

Looking Back Paso Robles

Click here to see the full front page of the July 21, 1936 Paso Robles Times.

City park crowded

The city park took on a metropolitan aspect Sunday, filled almost to capacity with visitors who lay prone, shoes off, under the cool shade trees on blankets, rugs and newspapers. Many took picnic lunches, and the grounds were littered with scraps of paper, toys and discarded foodstuffs. One or two denizens of the part were energetic enough to make use of games provided, and the clear cool ring of pitched horse shoes, mingled with the laughter of children on an otherwise silent day.

One of the brightest spots within the city, was the open-air plunge, where hundreds swam and splashed their way to comfort. So far this season, no sage has put forth the claim: “hottest year on record.” No statistician has come forward with the usual comparative temperature history.

The official Paso Robles weather bureau station is located some miles northwest of the city, where cool breezes temper even the most torrid days.

Caught on the Run

Reginald White, blind salesman-demonstrator for a nationally advertised line of electric appliances, attached shoes to the feet of his seeing-eye dog, “Wickie” last Tuesday morning. The shoes afforded protection from the searing heat of Paso Robles’ pavement. Just a small gesture of appreciation for the service and companionship which are given him by the dog through what must be long hours of eternal darkness.

An obviously foreign-born family, lolling in the grass at the city park Sunday afternoon, amusedly and somewhat indulgently watching the antics of one of their younger offspring who was either too pressed, or perhaps too unconcerned to bother finding a comfort station. Modern civilization is sometimes awfully trying.

Read previous Looking Back articles

This Looking Back feature on Paso Robles history comes from one of the hundreds of local newspapers in the Paso Robles Area Historical Society collection. Several local newspapers, dating from the 1800s, have reported on local, national, and world events, providing priceless historical views of our community that are not available from any other source. The historical society is seeking community support for the multi-phased Newspaper Preservation Project to help fund the transfer of these aged and fragile pages to microfilm and digital images. Photography of the old newspapers is by Gigi Greene. News for this column is selected with the assistance of the society’s Vice President Nancy Tweedie and Research Director Jan Cannon. The Paso Robles Historical Society is located in the Paso Robles History Museum at 800 12th Street in Downtown City Park. Visit the Paso Robles Historical Society website for more information about exhibits, research, becoming a member, volunteering, or donating. 

Thank you to sponsors of Looking Back

Paso Robles Pioneer Museum – Come take a real look back into local Paso Robles history. Open Thursday through Sunday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. 2010 Riverside Ave., Paso Robles, CA 93446, (805) 239-4556.

Estrella Warbird Museum is an aviation museum dedicated to the restoration and preservation of military aircraft, vehicles, and memorabilia. Woodland Auto Display is also open. Hours: Thursday through Sunday: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.. 4251 Dry Creek Road, Paso Robles, CA 93446,, (805) 227-0440.

Creative Concrete & Design delivers the highest level of professional concrete work. Operating in San Luis Obispo County since 2002, Karl Rush brings 35 years of concrete experience to every job and will ensure that you receive the very best quality work. Over the years they have completed a great many works on residential homes. They are very creative and willing to explore options for your next project. Concrete projects have many factors to consider to bring your vision to life., (805) 896-1384.

Golden Anchor Financial Services is committed to helping you find the right mortgage product for your needs. They understand that every borrower is different, and offer a variety of products to meet individual requirements. They make the process of securing a mortgage simple and straightforward by offering you the latest in financial tools that enable you to make sound financial choices. Call them at (805) 473-7733 on the Central Coast or (559) 473-7733 in the Central Valley.

1800 El Pomar is the site of a historic Templeton ranch located just three miles east of town. The property features an iconic, aged redwood barn, 3 story tank house, original farmhouse with an outdoor garden, original water tank structures, and many other original ranch buildings. Set on 20+ acres of vineyards, the 360-degree views of rolling oak-studded hills and surrounding vines are a photographer’s dream. A prime ceremony location exists in the vineyards behind the barn between two beautiful oaks. The northwest-facing location creates plenty of shade for your guests in an early to late afternoon setting. A perfect venue with plenty of open space to customize your wedding or event.
Looking Back is a weekly feature of the Paso Robles Daily News. If you would like to sponsor Looking Back, please call (805) 226-9890 or email

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About the author: Reporter Jackie Iddings

Jackie Iddings is a contributing reporter and photographer for the Paso Robles Daily News.