Logo
Home Local Historic Sites About the People Photos Join Us Contact Us Links Bibliography


Dear Theresa,

Many thanks for sending the reunion invitation. However,I will be unable to attend this year as I'll be in Europe in September. It's always a pleasure to meet old classmates and I have many good memories of growing up in Beaumont in thethirties. Shortly after I was born in San Diego, my father developed tuberculosis and we moved to Morongo Valley for his health. A year later, we moved to Cabazon where my mother taught in the one-room school. In 1923, my parents bought a house in Beaumont and my mother taught in the Cherry Valley one-room school. After my father died the next year, my mother taught in other one room schoolhouses in Riverside County. In 1930, we returned to Beaumont where she taught second grade till she retired in 1951. Beaumont fared better than most places during the Great Depression. There was the payroll from the Southern Pacific Railroad which maintained engine and maintenance crews in Beaumont. About 1930, the survey crews, followed by the miners, arrived to construct the aqe duct under Mt. San Jacinto. Agriculture helped the economy too. Although prices were marginal, I don't recall any crops being destroyed, as was some of the citrus production in Redlands. Highway 99 passed through Beaumont and with heavy traffic, there was income from gas stations, motels, restaurants and roadside stands. There always seemed to be jobs for kids raking leaves, mowing lawns, hauling trash to the dump or spading a garden on the way home from school. About 1930, children from all over the country were asked to bring a dime to school to rebuild old Ironsides. In 1933, it arrived under tow in San Pedro and we all went to see it. Ray Sampson, who was on the school board, provided part of the transportation with his'big truck, which he used to haul bales of alfalfa out of Imperial Valley. Putting some loose straw on the truckbed, off we went. The high point of grade school for me was Boy Scout Troop 32-which was sponsored by the American Legion. The ScoutMaster was the town plumber whose hob by was searching for Indian relics. It was a wonderful arrangement when, many weekends, a dozen of us would ride far out on the desert on his Model A Ford plumbing truck. A popular destination was Barrego Springs near the Salton Sea. of course, fires were always started with a hard rock, an old file, and the charred core of a dried yucca stalk. The Army at March Field had special Boy Scout events and there was Army Day once a year for everyone. A family friend loaned me his silver bugle during my Boy Scout days. I learned to play most of the Army calls to the pleasure of the Legion members. However, it was the beginning and end of my musical career.

The 4-H Club, sponsored by the Farm Bureau, was always a big deal because agriculture was such a major part of the economy and many of the kids lived on farms. As my project, I raised about one hundred chickens. The Riverside County Fair was a big part of 4-H activity. In those days, some farmers kept draft horses and the pulling contests were popular. The Cherry Carnival in Beaumont was popular. Trying to catch the greased pig was a big event for the kids. Another big event was the International Cherry Blossom Festival promoted by Mr. Bogart. Hundreds of people of Japanese ancestry would attend. Alot of people had moved to the Beaumond/Banning area because a member of the family had TB. Those of us who had a positive patch test were given frequent chest x-rays. Many people survived the disease and stayed on to establish businesses in the area. About 150 students attended Beaumont High School. other schools in our Athletic Conference were about the same size. As,Palm Springs didn't have a high sc hool, those kids were bussed up to Banning. Other schools in the conference were Cochella, Hemet, San Jacinto, Parris, Elsinore and Elsinore Naval Academy. Beaumont played Laguna Beach every year in football and sometimes we would play Blythe. When the big game was played against Banning, many Beaumont stores would close. The night before the game, we built a huge bonfire made mostly from abandoned outhouses. The Scholarship Society went to Las Vegas every year and Senior Ditch Day was usually a trip to Long Beach. Hiking in the mountains on weekends was popular. There were few fences and you could walk most anyplace. The air was clean and the view from the summit of San Gorgonio was spectacular. often the first years teachers, who weren't much older than us, would come along. There was an old hotel across the tracks from the railroad station whic'lh was often used as a setting for Western movies. It was fun to watch the proceedings. Most of the high school kids worked on week-ends. I often worked w ith my friend, Ed Coalson. Ed's father was a building contractor who often hired us to run the cement mixer or dig footings. Sometimes we would dig cesspools or wash and wax cars at Jerry's Shell Station. In the spring, some of the girls would sell lilac blossoms along the highway for fifty cents a bunch. Hanging out at the Standard Station on Sunday afternoons was popular as we could see the fancy cars of the movie colony returning to the city.

That's the way it was in Beaumont in the thirties.

Sincerely,

Wendell Wallace, B.H.S., 1938

seal Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional