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San Clemente Journal

“From Fishcarts to Fiestas” San Clemente History Book Updated & Re-published

Aug 01, 2003 09:33PM ● By Don Kindred
After 30 years, a new edition of one
of San Clemente’s few history 
books will soon be available.

     First written and edited in 1973 by Blythe Welton and illustrated by Mary Lou Nicolai, From Fishcarts to Fiestas was presented to the town’s elementary schools so that local children could learn about this area’s interesting and colorful past. But adults also appreciated the book with its anecdotes, drawings, photographs, songs, poems and excerpts from the city’s first newspaper, El Heraldo de San Clemente.

     “I enjoyed poring over the old newspapers that had been lying in the city’s vault” said Welton. ”I wanted to relate the entire history of this area, so I included sections on Native Americans and the early Spanish explorers and padres, as well as stories about how San Clemente was built. Ole Hanson was a true visionary and his words have long stayed with me: The eye was not to be wearied by a jumble of architecture having no meaning in the life of the people... There was to be a plan. The community must have form. There was to be beauty.’ The reason the city’s original streets curve and twist is because Hanson and engineer Bill Ayer, designed them to follow the rolling contour of the land.”

     The first edition was funded by the SC Junior Women’s Club and the SC Historical Society as Welton and Nicolai were aided by Nina Archbold, Carol Gray and many others who gave generously of their time. That pre-computer edition included silk-screened prints and was collated by hand. Nicolai’s charming pen and ink drawings in the new edition again help bring history to life.

     This soon-to-be released 2nd edition has been updated by legendary local graphic designer Lisa B. Spinelli, and will reflect the many changes San Clemente has seen over the years. Also included are chapters on the Nixon years and little known facts about life in San Clemente. For instance, in

Graphic Designer Lisa B. Spinelli
& artist Mary Lou Nicolai
the town’s early days, people rode horses all over town and there were stables where Ralph’s Market is today on El Camino Real. You could buy a coffin for $4.50 and boys made spending money by hauling the day’s catch up the pier in their fishcarts.

     As in 1973, the author and artist will again present class sets of the book to San Clemente’s elementary schools and libraries throughout the county. The Capistrano Unified School District has approved its use for 3rd graders studying local history and teacher Jane Freet is writing a teacher’s manual to accompany the book. Copies will also be for sale for about $25 at the Historical Society’s museum, at the top of El Camino Real.

     Again, the generosity of local businesses, organizations and individuals has made this edition of From Fishcarts to Fiestas possible. Donations are still being gratefully accepted and tax-deductible checks can be mailed to:

San Clemente Historical Society,
PO Box 283, San Clemente, CA 92672
where a special fund has been set up to defray printing & production costs.