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Looking Back to 1944: Pioneers opposed to merger with fair 

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 the society’s Vice President Nancy Tweedie and Research Director Jan Cannon.

Excerpts from Wednesday, September 27, 1944, Paso Robles Journal:

Committee completes plans for celebration October 12 with pre-Pioneer Ball slated for Oct 6 at American Legion Hall

Pioneer Day should be kept separate and distinct from the proposed District Fair—this was the import of a motion by Gene Booth, seconded by Carol Stockdale, and carried at the meeting of the Pioneer Day committee Friday night.

“Pioneer Day has always been free from any taint of commercialism,” said Booth, “and we must keep it that way. If there are concessions in town for the fair and a big crowd appears for the Pioneer celebration they will naturally want to cash in on the business and that alone would kill all our efforts to keep the celebration free from cost to our guests.”

Pioneer Day Paso Robles history

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“The fair should be big enough to stand on it’s own feet,” he continued, “and we can’t afford to lose our identity.” The committee agreed.

Final assignments were made to sub-committees on arrangements and reports from chairmen showed that everything will be in readiness for the big day.

The program as tentatively arranged by Chairman Claude Azbel and his committee is as follows

At City Park:

11:00 A.M.—Flag raising, followed by band concert.
Noon—Picnic Lunch. Free coffee and cream. Guests are requested to bring their own cups and sugar
1:30 P.M.—Awarding of prizes in Baby Contest.

At Legion Hall: 2:00 P.M.—Old-Time Dances at the American Legion Hall. Tucker’s orchestra.

At the Arena (At Softball Park): 1:00 P.M.—Gymkhana Events and Races.

Events included single steer roping, watermelon race, calf roping, boot race, team roping, stake race, wild cow milking, junior cowgirl and cowboy races for ages under 16, musical chairs and a free-for-all race.

Stock horse judging starts at noon.

Entries in all arena events must be made before 6:00 P.M. Wednesday, Oct. 11, with Vic Palm at the Mercantile.

War Bonds and Stamps will be given as prizes in the baby contest and the children’s games at the park and ribbons will be awarded for the best Pioneer window displays.

War office mistake cheerful news to Shandon family

Mr. and Mrs. Robert Chapman of Shandon, are happy to discover that the War Department sometimes makes mistakes.

Early in August they should have received the dreaded message that their son, T/Sgt. Robert G. Chapman, was missing in action in the European theater. Somewhere, somebody made a mistake, and the telegram was never delivered, and the Chapmans’ knew nothing of their son’s adventures until he arrived home on furlough last week.

T/Sgt. Chapman, radio-gunner on a bomber, together with another member of his crew, baled out of his severely damaged plane over enemy territory when it became apparent that the plane would crash if its load was not lightened. Although wounded in the head and face by anti-aircraft flak, Chapman landed successfully, and after spending some time in enemy territory, eventually reached the allied lines. He had no commend on his own adventures, but instead praised the skill of his pilot, Lt. Edward Beeson of Richmond, Indiana, in successfully flying the crippled ship and the remainder of the crew back to an allied base. He added that the French civilians deserve much credit for the success of the Battle of France—“They were wonderful,” he said, “their courage and daring were amazing.”

Chapman was awarded the Air Medal with two oak leaf clusters while in England, and received the Purple Heart upon returning to this country.

Read previous Looking Back articles

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.

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About the author: Reporter Jackie Iddings

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