Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Drink of History in Beaumont

The old water fountain has refreshed many of us. But few know its history.

On Christmas Day, the drinking fountain dedicated by the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union all the way back in 1910 will celebrate its 101st anniversary. The women’s temperance group was known for its fight for Prohibition, often kneeling and praying outside saloons. But whether the WCTU did that in Beaumont has been lost in the mists of time. About 10 percent of Beaumont’s 412 registered voters were Prohibitionists around the time the fountain was erected.

Hometown fountain

The drinking fountain sits in a tiny, triangle-shaped park at Egan Avenue and Seventh Street. It’s a sliver of grass with some lofty deodar trees for shade and a picnic table. Today, it’s called Veterans Park.

Over the decades, young and old have stopped at the fountain to wet their whistle. Some would take a break from playing ball to sip water at the fountain. Others would stop on their way to Beaumont Library for the waiting adventure of books. Many came to enjoy a moment of reflection in a quiet, peaceful setting.


Nine years after the fountain offered up its first drink, the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution banned the sale or manufacture of alcoholic beverages. That was 1919. But by 1933, the 21st Amended ended the failed experiment with Prohibition. But in our hometown, the echoes of Prohibition still reverberate from long ago when pioneering women fought for their beliefs. A plaque at the base of the stone fountain in town reads:

“WCTU Dec. 25, 1910”

Two more years would pass before Beaumont became a city.

Speakeasies and respite

The days of speakeasies, moonshine stills, and Al Capone faded long ago in America. But if we close our eyes and try real hard, in our mind’s eye we can still envision a hometown of long ago, when farms, orchards and a community were on the cusp of change, and a fountain offered fresh water to all comers just as it does today.

*The Beaumont Blogger would like to thank the San Gorgonio Pass Historical Society for this story idea.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Santa is coming to Beaumont

“You better watch out

You better not cry

You better not pout

I’m telling you why

Santa Claus is coming to town”

In November, 1934, this traditional Christmas standard aired on the radio and became a big hit. By Christmas, record buyers snapped up 400,000 copies.

More than 75 years later, the holiday favorite has been covered by dozens of artists, including Alvin and the Chipmunks, Bruce Springsteen and Justin Bieber.

On Monday, Dec. 12, the city of Beaumont will add its own refrain with “Operation Santa.”

On that night, jolly Old St. Nick will be in town for a quick visit to see the children of Beaumont and the Pass. And we know Santa is checking his list “twice” to see who’s been “naughty” and “nice.”

So, youngsters in the Pass must be on their best behavior as they await Santa’s arrival next Monday night (Dec. 12).

After his long trip from the North Pole, the City of Beaumont is giving Santa a VIP welcome and tour of the town. With their lights flashing and their sirens sounding, the Beaumont Fire and Police Departments will escort Santa to his two stops.

Be sure and have the whole family enjoy a cup of hot chocolate with old St. Nick while he listens to Christmas wishes of our youngsters.

Here’s Santa’s itinerary for his visit to Beaumont. (His arrival times are approximate.)

—Rite Aid Pharmacy at Golf Club Drive and Oak Valley Parkway between 5:30 p.m. and 6 p.m.

— Wal-Mart in the 2nd Street Marketplace (garden side) between 7 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

And then in a flash, his sleigh packed, his reindeer rested, and with Rudolph The Red-Nosed reindeer in the lead, Santa is off to the North Pole!