Jerry Clay, who grew up in Atascadero, remembers the city’s founder as a “kindly old man.” Clay is one of half a dozen people I know who actually saw or talked with E.G. Lewis, who founded the Colony in 1913.
In the early days of the community, you gave directions something like, “go up the main highway (today’s El Camino Real) until you come to the big oak at the swale, then turn east and climb the hill until you get to the rabbit farm.”
When the fire whistle blew, Roland Kenney’s task as owner of the service station at the corner of the state highway and Traffic Way was to run into the intersection carrying a sign to stop or slow traffic as the fire engine got to the intersection, which wouldn’t be outfitted with a traffic light (the city’s first) until 1972.
When golfers played the course right in the middle of the town, duffers often hit their balls into the traffic lanes on El Camino Real, just about where the Rancho T Motel sits today.
All these tidbits are things I learned by attending the annual Atascadero Quota International Colony Tea, which will be held on Sunday, Oct. 11.
The tea officially kicks off the annual weeklong Colony Days festivities that conclude with a parade on Oct. 17. The tea is when this year’s Colony King and Queen, Bob and Wilma Sparling, and Parade Marshal Barbie Butz will be installed. This year’s parade theme is “Volunteers on Parade.”
Of concern to the Quota Club is reaching a new generation of Atascadero pioneers to attend this annual afternoon event held at the Community Church Fellowship Hall. That church, by the way, is observing its 100th anniversary next month. If you have lived in the community at least 40 years and you are at least 55 years old, you are eligible to attend this celebration event that begins at 2 p.m. Those who put on the event point out that many of the city’s original residents who have attended the tea in the past have passed away or reached an age where getting out is just too difficult.
We need to get those second-generation residents — the children of those earlier attendees — at this social out to the church hall where they can share their stories of growing up in E.G. Lewis’ unique utopian Colony.
If you fit the criteria and haven’t received your invitation, contact Dyann Shepard at 466-8602.
I need to learn more about what events and people shaped the community I call home.