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Looking Back to 1937: Believe it or not, Ripley visits Paso Robles, town has first driverless car 

Looking Back Paso Robles

This look back at Paso Robles history comes from local newspapers in the Paso Robles Area Historical Society collection. News for this column is selected with the assistance of Research Director Jan Cannon. Newspaper photography by GiGi Green.

Excerpts from the Thursday, February 4, 1937, Paso Robles Advertiser

Believe it or not

Believe it or not, Bob Ripley was a Paso Robles visitor last week. But, believe it or not, he didn’t come to the Almond City in search of scientific data, or any of that huge miscellany or curious facts which with appropriate drawings are syndicated over the entire world for the amusement of daily newspaper readers.

Perhaps we have no newsworthy freaks in Paso Robles. Then again perhaps—.

Anyhow, Mr. Ripley was delayed in the city while repairs were being made to his automobile—and he was non too pleased at the postponement of his planned schedule.

Driverless car negotiates city street unharmed

Perhaps there’s nothing new under the sun. Perhaps careless motorists in other parts of the world have parked their cars with the engine running, the gears in reverse, and left them to transact brief business in stores.

Perhaps those other cars have backed slowly across main thoroughfares of other towns without hitting, or being hit by something. Perhaps — but it hardly seems likely.

This identical performance took place in Paso Robles on Tuesday afternoon. A motorist whose name was not learned, parked his car along the curb, south of 13th Street, left the motor running, and in some manner, the transmission in reverse gear.

As the vehicle crawled slowly backward, and diagonally across Spring Street, the attention of Ray Dauth of the B.H. Tire Co. was called to it, and he played the good Samaritan, bringing the machine to a halt, although on the opposite side of the street.

Perhaps this could have happened here before—but it hasn’t.

Paso Robles history 1937

Click here to read the full front page.

Family escape as car wrecked near Creston

–By Rose Smith

Thrown violently against the sides, roof and floor of their car Friday, when that vehicle shot from the road and overturned twice as they were passing the Malmberg home near Creston, Mr. and Mrs. Wm. Spencer and daughter escaped with only minor injuries.

The broken steering mechanism on the car was blamed for the accident. The car pitched forward, and down an embankment, coming to rest on its side, badly smashed.

As the occupants crawled from the wreckage, Ed Malmberg, who witnessed the accident, went for help, bringing Wm. Erickson to the scene. Mr. Spencer and the child were brought to Paso Robles by a passing motorist, where they secured medical aid for cuts and bruises to her arm.

News from local communities

Find out what your relatives were up to in February 1937 on page 2. Check out the daily comings, goings and tidbits of family news from Atascadero, Creston and Willow Creek. Here are a few samples:


Mr. and Mrs. T.F. Weaver entertained at dinner Saturday evening at their home on Santa Ysabel Avenue. Among the guests were Senator and Mrs. Chris Jespersen.

L. Crook and daughter, Elsa, left Monday morning for Chicago, accompanying the remains of Mrs. Crook, who passed away Saturday evening at their home on Monterey Road.


Mr. and Mrs. Harry Gleason and Mrs. William Smith and children visited with Mrs. M.H. Ryan Tuesday evening.

Willow Creek

Mrs. Blossom Emerick of San Jose was the guest of her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Hagerman this week.

Read previous Looking Back articles

Thank you to the 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.

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About the author: Reporter Jackie Iddings

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