Over the Hill

Celebrating pioneers, or just the old

Now that I’m 81, I realize why I like Paso Robles Pioneer Day so much. Pioneer Day honors old people. (The 81st annual Pioneer Day is tomorrow.)

Of course, it’s nice to have civic celebrations to honor strawberries, clams and the like, but the Paso Robles celebration honors pioneers, who usually are old.

Of course, all of Paso Robles’ original pioneers have by now made their heavenly migration. So the Pioneer Day Committee now honors old people who have lived here a long time and generally are from pioneer families.

This year’s Pioneer Day queen is Paso Robles businesswoman Barbara Lewin, who was born in 1929. The Pioneer Day marshal is Estrella Plains farmer Art Von Dollen, who was born in 1927.

San Miguel also honors elders. On Aug. 28, the San Miguel Lions Club put on its 58th annual Old Timers Picnic. Anyone willing to admit being over 80 got a free barbecue dinner. I regretted that other obligations kept me from attending this year.

The Paso Robles Rotary Club also served its annual Old Timers Luncheon yesterday at the fairgrounds. Everyone who meets the old-timer criteria got a free meal of barbecued beef. I usually go but didn’t this year.

It’s a men-only affair, but other organizations put on the Pioneer Ladies Luncheon and the Pioneer Ladies Tea.

I’m certainly no pioneer. I’d never heard of Paso Robles until 1952, when the Army assigned me to Camp Roberts. And I didn’t come overland in a covered wagon. I came in a 1950 Ford on Route 66 and Route 466.

But Pioneer Day helps me face my age. After all, I can’t deny it. The evidence is everywhere. For example, last Sunday the rod in my clothes closet collapsed under the weight of all those clothes I’ve accumulated through the years but don’t wear anymore.

The closet occupies one wall of our bedroom and has three sliding doors. Mamie uses half, and I use half. The rod collapsed on my half. When I finally got the door open, I saw a pile of clothes and hangers covering the shoes and boxes on the floor. The rod was bent 45 degrees but didn’t break.

The brackets that support the closet shelf also hold up the clothes rod. The bracket in my section pulled loose from the shelf. Mamie’s section was as packed with clothes as mine, but hers was still intact. Well, we all know women’s clothes are much less substantial than men’s.

Reach Phil Dirkx at phild2008@sbcglobal.net or 238-2372.