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Looking Back to 1956: Helicopter service starts, new office building on 12th Street 

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, December 6, 1956 Paso Robles Journal:

Helicopter service to start December 7

Coastal Helicopters, a division of Fresno Helicopters, Inc., will inaugurate service here on Friday, December 7, Ron Smith, sales manager of the firm announced Monday morning.

The local unit, based at the Paso Robles County Airport, is leasing office and hanger space at the field and “will install a CAA-approved helicopter maintenance shop here in the near future.”

“Our business falls into four principal classifications or services,” Smith said “–agriculture, industrial, law enforcement and rescue work.

“Included in the agriculture category is our crop spraying and dusting. The helicopter is ideal for work over rough terrain and the rotor is an excellent device for blowing spray or dust into a crop. In this area we expect our principal work will be concerned with weed control in grain, dusting of the almond crop, and aphid control in alfalfa fields.

Paso Robles history

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“In the industrial division, we maintain power line, cable and pipeline patrols and offer other contract services, such as flying maintenance crews into regions which are in accessible to practically anything but a helicopter.

“And the helicopter’s ability to land in rough terrain or hover over water adapts it perfectly for rescue work.

“As for law enforcement work, one of our chief jobs has been spotting ‘wanted men’ from the air and relaying the information to ground police.

“The overwhelming endorsement the people of this area have given our firm since its formation four years ago has made it possible for us to establish and office in this locality which can serve this area on a full-time basis,” he concluded.

$30,000 office building to be erected on 12th

Plans for the construction of a one-story office building on West 12th Street just west of Spring Street were revealed today by Paso Robles insurance man, Gifford L. Sobey, Jr.

Sobey said the contemporary-style, glass and concrete block structure will be guilt for, and occupied by, Southern Counties Gas Co. which is selling its present office at 823 13th Street. Final details on the sale of the gas company’s office will be completed soon.

The new building will be designed by John Badgley, A.I.A., of San Luis Obispo. Contractor for the 1500-square-foot building has not been selected. Cost of the construction is estimated at $30,000.

The office layout has been planned, according to the gas company, to permit future expansion of the working area to keep pace with growth here, which gas company officials expect to continue for “many years to come.”

Construction is scheduled to begin in early January, with the building due to be completed by April 1.

Included in the new office will be a combination canteen and conference room; a spacious display area where modern gas appliances will be shown; and—of course—office space for gas company local manager Howard Newby and his staff. All-year-air-conditioning will be provided by a gas-fired unit.

More than 3800 customers will be served from the new building when it is completed, and the office is designed to take care of the expanded needs of more than 10,000 customers which the gas company expects to serve in the future.

In other news

Suicide leap gives waitress severe bruises

Unemployed waitress, Sue Miller, threw herself from a window of the Highway Hotel at 13th and Pine. She told police she remembers drinking with a male companion who escorted her to the hotel lobby about 2 a.m. She also remembers ascending the stairs, knocking on the door of a girlfriend’s room and the next thing she remembers is lying on the sidewalk.

Officers heard her screams and found her, fully revived, lying on the sidewalk. She was rushed to the Paso Robles Hospital for treatment and will be transferred today to the Atascadero Hospital where X-rays are expected to confirm she didn’t break a single bone.

Search launched for pill peddler

Sheriff’s office investigators are continuing their search for a person or persons “who may have supplied Mrs. Roy Lee Belt with sleeping pills for some time before the 46-year-old housewife shot and killed herself,” Sunday evening in her Atascadero home.

“She had been in ill health for some time, and under the care of a physician,” her husband said this morning. “And, for some time, she had been taking a considerable amount of sleeping pills which were not prescribed by her doctor.

“I intend to aid the police in locating whoever it was that sold her that stuff. My wife is gone, and it won’t help her, but I believe that a person who sells that sort of sleeping pills is a deadly danger to any community.”

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.

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About the author: Reporter Jackie Iddings

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