Dr. Bill Atwood

This weekend celebrates our heritage

Last week Carol and I were watching our twin 7-month-old great nephews for a short time and we had the lights in the living room down low so that the boys would fall asleep. I looked at the antique furniture in that room and enjoyed the view. The furniture was lit dimly as it would have been 100 years or more ago when my grandparents, great grandparents, great aunts, and uncles would have witnessed sitting in the chairs and sofa. I imagined 60 years from now as Ethan, James or their brother, Liam, using that same furniture with their kids. The boys would be men sharing family stories of meals as well as celebrations, special events, tough times, and just everyday life. Those three boys would be sharing the family heritage.

This weekend we as a community will celebrate the heritage of Oakhurst and all of Eastern Madera County. Fresno Flats has come a long way from being a wide spot on a dirt road heading to Yosemite. From the original building of way stations, stores, blacksmith shops, restaurants, saloons, churches, and hotels our town grew to what it is today.

Fresno Flats was our original name and it stayed that way until Charlie Myers was hanged for being a horse thief. People started to say, “You know Fresno Flats where they hanged Charlie Myers.” Charlie’s widow hated that so she convinced people to change the name to the lovelier sounding Oakhurst. For a few years after that change, one would hear “You know Oakhurst that used to be Fresno Flats where they hanged Charlie Myers.”

That is a part of our heritage. The everyday stories and events that occur in any small or large town. The great thing about a small town is that we take the time to celebrate ourselves just being here. I doubt many people in Los Angeles even noticed Sept. 4 as the birthday of that city let alone celebrated.

This Saturday the Heritage Day Parade will take place and we will get to wave from the sidelines at our neighbors in the parade. Kids will show off their dancing skills, music will be presented by school bands, horses and tractors will be there as will antique cars from the Road Rattlers and the fun of the Shrine Clowns will entertain those able to line the parade route.

Then we can walk or drive over to Fresno Flats Historic Sites Village to look at what life might have been like 100 years ago. It is a great time for you to remember the bygone days and it reminds us of how the modern conveniences sure make life easier. We need to share the day with the small kids in our lives so that we can tell them a little about their past. It ties those kids to their town. One day they will be a “part of the past” as well.

When I first moved into this area in 1980, the old mill was where Von’s now sits in the “Old Mill Center.” Raley’s now sits in what was a meadow. There were no traffic lights, no chain fast food outlets, and no lights on the football field at Yosemite High School. Slowly the town changed and many more moved into the area to enjoy what we found here. A great place to live.

This weekend celebrates our heritage. See you there!