By Tom Marshall
One of the San Clemente Historical Society’s proudest projects is providing textbooks and teacher’s manuals on the history of our spectacular city to all third-grade classes in the local public schools.
From Fishcarts to Fiestas was published in 1974 by Blythe Welton and Mary Lou Nicolai. It is an engrossing and fun way for kids and adults to learn about our past. Fishcarts are what local kids used to make some spending money on the way back when fishing boats docked at our Pier. These junior entrepreneurs would haul fish in their wagons from the boats to the cars of fishermen. It was quite a local custom. The Fiestas refers to the annual parades and celebrations usually held in later years on Avenida Del Mar.
The Historical Society has just updated and reprinted the book for distribution to the schools since the 7-year-old texts they have been using are getting fairly worn out. Historical Society board member Marilyn Wigglesworth and artist Lisa Spinelli are currently delivering copies to the classrooms. We are thankful for the donations from Jackie and Richard Ramirez and Blythe Welton, which have kicked-started our campaign to fund this project. We hope other community-minded residents and organizations will join the effort to cover the costs. You can also order a copy from the Historical Society by calling 949.492.9684. In addition to being educational, they make a fun gift.
The books have proven successful in educating our students (and even their parents) in the rich history of our “Spanish Village by the Sea.” Local resident Elyse Crane recalled the time she played San Clemente trivia with eight adults when her 10-year-old granddaughter asked to play with them. The granddaughter won.
“She knew more than all of the adults because she had just finished third grade and had read Fishcarts,” Crane said.
How many of these questions, covered in the book’s San Clemente Fact Sheet page can you correctly answer? 1. What is the city slogan? 2. What is our city flower? 3. Who is our sister city? 4. How many parks are in San Clemente? 5. What is our city song? (Did you even know we had one? Actually, there are three songs about San Clemente mentioned in the book).
The answers are at the end of this article.
The book covers how things have changed from the early days of the Native Americans who lived here through the Ole Hanson years and describes the residency of President Richard Nixon and more recent history. It also illustrates how some things never change. For instance, this item reprinted from the July 8, 1927 El Heraldo de San Clemente newspaper: “After spending three days in Los Angeles, one is tickled pink to arrive back in San Clemente. Crowds and traffic get on one’s nerves.”
Author Blythe Welton recently commented, “Writing this book was truly a labor of love.”
And now the answer to the Fishcarts trivia questions: 1. Our city slogan, “Spanish Village by the Sea.” 2. The city flower is bougainvillea. 3. Our sister city is San Clemente de Tuyu, Argentina. 4. There are 25 parks in San Clemente. 5. The city song is “On the Beach at San Clemente” by Ruby McCurdy. Another song, “Sweet San Clemente,” was written by Kevin and Freda Danzig and was adopted as the city’s second song in 2008.
Tom Marshall is a member of the board of directors of the San Clemente Historical Society and a retired journalist.