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Looking Back to February 1932: Smallpox vaccines, school burglar, tax on margarine 

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, February 3, 1932, The Paso Robles Advertiser:

School children in city immunized against smallpox

Sixty school children were vaccinated for smallpox in the city schools last week and 62 more received like treatment this week, making a total of 122.

The county stood the cost of the vaccinations, following an epidemic of smallpox in Coalinga, just over the hills, it was thought best to take this precaution, against spread of the disease here.

Looking Back Paso Robles February 1932

Click here to read the full front page of the February 3, 1932 Paso Robles Advertiser

High school entered for second time

Burglars broke into the office of the high school sometime Friday night by breaking a pane of glass in one of the windows, and again jimmied the combination from the safe and entered the vault.

When the robbery was found Saturday by the janitor, papers were scattered about on the floor, but no money had been taken.

A few weeks ago, the school was entered in a similar fashion and $200 was secured. It was thought that the same parties conducted the more recent raid, but this time, they did not even find what little money was in the safe.

About three dollars in cafeteria change was missed by the thieves.

It was thought by Principal Raitt that the guilty parties committed the robbery thinking the receipts for Girls Night were in the safe.

The King City high school was entered by the same group that night as was Templeton high school. However, nothing was secured from either school, but a small amount of change in the northern school.

The high school of Santa Paula was entered Thursday night and that of Hanford the night before.

It would appear that a group is specializing in school thievery, covering a regular territory.

Wary school authorities are being very careful to bank daily proceeds, as the fire-proof safes commonly used are not burglar proof.

Dads consider margarine tax

An ordinance placing a $30 quarterly tax on the selling of oleomargarine was read for the first time at the city council meeting Monday night. San Luis Obispo council has passed a similar ordinance. If the ordinance is passed as it is now worded, San Luis Obispo and Paso Robles will have set the smallest tax of any communities on record in the recent legislation against the butter substitute. Other taxes range from $50 to over $200. The subject will be brought to a vote at the next meeting.

A.C. Morehouse was given credit for $100.66 in delinquent taxes not credited to him in 1926.

It was agreed that two new lamp posts be erected before the Cahill building at the expense of the owners according to specification and the city would pay the electricity bill. A new light was also ordered for the corner of Pine and 10th.

A proclamation was ordered published by the mayor for clean-up week.

Editorial note: The introduction of oleomargarine in the late 1880s led to “Congress imposing a tax on margarine to protect butter” and dairy interests in 1886. Over the next 65 years, the margarine tax was revisited several times, raising the tax and also prohibiting “yellow oleo” because it looked too much like butter. Who remembers those big packages of oleo with the red bubble of dye?

Taxes on margarine were eventually repealed in 1950. Read more about the oleomargarine taxes in Tax Reform with a Side of Margarine.

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.

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.

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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.