What’s in a name?
Shakespeare tells us a rose, by any other name, would smell as sweet.
Ewing Gym at Atascadero High School would serve the same purpose regardless of the name on it.
Names are important from the first time we learn to write our own. Names remain permanent unless they get changed for one reason or another, such as a movie star who adopts a more marketable name or a writer who writes under a nom de plume.
Where I’m heading with this is the necessity to preserve those names that get assigned to public buildings, facilities and such. For example, Atascadero has Alvord Field, named in honor of Jim Alvord, who gathered other community leaders to build some baseball fields.
A few years ago, a member of the city’s Parks and Recreation Committee suggested the Charles Paddock Zoo needed a new name. I don’t remember the commissioner’s name. It doesn’t matter here. I remember the individual said he didn’t know who Chuck Paddock was. I knew Chuck Paddock. He is, of course, is the man who created what is the county’s only zoo. The commissioner was a newcomer to Atascadero.
Fortunately, a group of local citizens got together, brought about the creation of a bronze statue of Chuck and erected it in front of the zoo entrance that bears his name.
I covered many public events over my career, from PTA dinners to a meeting by a group wanting to come up with a communitywide celebration (Colony Days grew out of that meeting).
The venue was the Prather Building at the junior high campus. Hattie was a well-liked teacher and principal. Her name was on the building when I arrived in Atascadero in 1966.
When a past school district superintendent decided to knock the building down, I asked him if he was going to mark the site with Hattie’s name in some way. He said he’d never heard of her. So, the building was knocked down.
For historic purposes, we need to protect any names assigned to buildings, parks and more. Let’s don’t lose the Marj Mackey Stadium Park trail. The gymnasium up on high school hill should always be named for Bud Ewing, coach and school administrator.
These names get assigned when local citizens want to honor individuals who have made an impact on their community. It is a way of us thanking them for their efforts to improve the community.
The Miles Wemp Park came and went. The small park named for Miles is now part of the city’s new walking path/pedestrian bridge. Miles was also very instrumental in the creation of the equestrian arena at the south end of the community.
When I see a name on a building or park, I instantly want to know what the person did to get that honor.
I like the practice. Let’s make sure we don’t let those names fall from our collective memory.