Opinion

Tuesday, Aug 06 2013 06:00 AM

Officially an 'old timer'

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Claudia Elliott

I have been back at the Tehachapi News three years as of last week and over the weekend I took some time to reflect about this.

For readers who may not know, my return to Tehachapi was after an absence of 29 years -- and believe me, a lot had changed in nearly three decades.

For the better or the worse? That is the question, but the answer is probably found in the old folk song, "Both Sides Now:" Something's lost and something's gained in living every day."

On Saturday I attended the Old Timer's Picnic for the first time as a qualified old-timer. Or almost qualified, depending on how you read the rules. I've lived in Tehachapi a total of about 12 years over the past 50-some years, broken up into periods of time ranging from two to three years each.

What I have learned through the years is that people don't have to live in Tehachapi to have Tehachapi in them. There is something very special about this place that feels like home, whether you're here or not.

And that's probably why so many people have moved here, each one bringing with them a change that made things different for everyone else, and never even realizing it.

This year the Old Timer's Picnic was "back" in what we used to call City Park, now named for a long-gone old timer, Philip Marx. It is good that it is back there, in the familiar shade and perhaps it may again grow to be the kind of town reunion that it once was.

We have another traditional event coming up, of course, the Tehachapi Mountain Festival.

At the Old Timer's Picnic, there was some discussion about the event. Some remember that there was first a Lilac Festival, then a Fruit Festival, then the Mountain Festival.

In the program we just published for the Festival (in cooperation with the Chamber), is a history of the event that shows that the 50th year is counting the Fruit Festival years but not the Lilac Festival years.

Susan Wiggins wrote the history, drawing in part on notes from Aggie Davis. I remember Aggie, who was active in the chamber and owned Partlow's Variety, which was located in the space that is now La Bella Amore.

I'll get back to the Lilac Festival shortly, but what I remember most about Partlow's Variety was the candy section where I bought Beatles cards. Beatles cards were similar to baseball cards, including the same wide stick of a poor excuse for chewing gum and five black and white cards with photos and information about the Fab Four. Oh, do I wish I still had my Beatles cards!

But back to the festivals... what I recall being told is that the Lilac Festival was first held in the spring but it was typically too cold and miserable for people to enjoy, plus the commercial lilacs were cut before they opened, so there wasn't much to celebrate.

So efforts to have a festival continued until the Mountain Fruit Festival was born, becoming eventually the Mountain Festival, and the rest is history.

Along with enjoying the 50th Mountain Festival this year we get to help the Tehachapi Mountain Rodeo Association celebrate 50 years of rodeo.

Back in the day, as they say, it was Little Britches Rodeo, but it's grown up to be a full-blown PRCA Rodeo that has an economic impact of a half million locally.

That's a lot of moo-la!

The rodeo association and the chamber and all of the other organizations that are working like crazy right now to get ready for the third weekend in August do generate a lot of money -- and then they work hard all year to spend it.

These events truly provide the financial support for many good works in Tehachapi throughout the year.

So, thanks to everyone who has worked so hard all these years to build these events -- old timers and newcomers alike.

School is starting soon, the Festival is just around the corner, and it's a great time to celebrate being in Tehachapi.

 

CLAUDIA ELLIOTT is editor of the Tehachapi News. Send email to: celliott@tehachapinews.com or call 823-6360.

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