Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Keeping a memory alive

If he were still alive, Cipriano Rangel (1881-1946) would surely delight at how children still laugh and play in a park named for him.

Rangel Park sits south of the railroad tracks in a close-knit neighborhood that dates back to the very beginnings of Beaumont.

And while Rangel passed away 66 years ago, we can still catch a glimpse of a beloved figure from the city’s past. It can be found in a six-page, heartfelt account preserved by the San Gorgonio Pass Historical Society.

Loved by all

As we peer at the handwritten pages through plastic sleeves, neatly numbered in pencil at the top, we see a smiling gentleman who kept the streets clean at a time when the clip-clop of horses could be heard all over town. Rangel, like the Pied Piper, attracted a gaggle of youngsters as he went about his work with a push broom and a cart.

Beaumont Library Director Gwen Bronson wrote the tribute to the dedicated street sweeper. It seems to have been authored right around the time of his death. One passage poignantly describes how church bells peeled in his honor throughout Beaumont on Sept. 5, 1946.

For nearly a quarter century, the humble man worked as a street sweeper, tipping his hat to townsfolk and greeting them with a cheery “Buenos Dias!”

Rangel spoke fluent Spanish, French and English and rumor had it that he graduated from a university in Mexico City. But the writer never says what brought him to Beaumont and so we’re left with an enduring mystery.

But we learn many things about Rangel from the article. We know that he faithfully raised the American flag everyday in his neighborhood at Fifth Street and Egan Avenue.

Beloved street sweeper

And he could sure take a joke from his young admirers. One summer night, they snuck up and painted black stripes on Rangel’s horse the day before he was to ride in the Cherry Festival Parade. But in the end, we also know how much Beaumont loved the humble street sweeper. At a rosary, flowers overflowed the church for the man who had become a fixture to his neighbors in a small town.

And fittingly, they named a park in his honor that still keeps his memory alive to this day.

The Beaumont Blogger would like to thank the San Gorgonio Pass Historical Society for providing information for this article on Cipriano Rangel.

1 comment:

shopdiva said...

Nice to know a little bit about how the park got it's name. I grew up across the tracks and the park was a staple in my life. A place to play, lay in the grass, skate, run through the sprinklers and yes ride the merrie-go-round till you were too dizzy to stand.
Thank you for taking good care of my childhood memory. I know there are many who appreciate it.