Thursday, September 29, 2011

Sharing the history of Beaumont

“If you want to understand today, you must search yesterday.”
—Author Pearl S. Buck.

History can be saved if you try.

Bruce Murrill proved that recently, and future generations will love him for it.

Murrill got a call from a good friend who discovered a stack of old newspapers in the garage. The yellowing pages from nearly 40 years ago seemed to bring the stories alive. The history of the Cherry Festival and the fun of living in a small town—it was all there!

Murrill, a board member of Cherry Festival Association, hopped into his truck, headed for Lyle Millage’s house and collected the old editions of The Record-Gazette.

“History, especially in a small town, is a fragile thing,” Murrill said. “Once you lose it, it’s gone forever.”

History on display

With the city of Beaumont about to celebrate its 100th anniversary, Murrill is sharing his find with the community. He has decided to loan the Cherry Festival editions to Beaumont for display in glass cases at the Civic Center. He hopes many local residents will join him by bringing in and loaning their old newspapers, keepsakes, photos, letters and other flat items.

From those pages, here is a glimpse of time gone by:

· 1940: A total of 6,000 cherry pies were sold in June, mostly during the Cherry Festival.

· World War II: In an era of rationing, a carload of cherry lovers got a free tank of gas if they picked 150 pounds.

· 1956: A black-and-white photo showed boys kneeling, hands behind their backs, at a picnic table lined with cherry pies. It was a race to see who could eat a pie the fastest.

· 1983: Chappy’s next to the fire station on Sixth Street sold country fried chicken dinners to go for $2.79 during the Cherry Festival.

Beaumont wants to see a neighborly campaign to share a bit of the past during the centennial. Maybe you’ve got articles tucked away from our original hometown papers like The Beaumont Leader and The Gateway Gazette.

We’re looking for timeless items that can be displayed starting this November. Please contact Customer Service Coordinator Ashley Starr at 951-769-8520 or

The city’s 100th anniversary is Nov. 18, 2012. “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for our city,” said Mayor Brian De Forge.