From Fishcarts to Fiestas
“From Fishcarts To Fiestas” San Clemente History Book Updated & Re-Published
November 1, 2018 – By Larry Culbertson
Did you know that one of the best books about San Clemente was written 44 years ago and it was written for children? From Fishcarts to Fiestas, The Story of San Clemente, was written and edited by Blythe Welton with Illustrations by Mary Lou Nicolai. It was produced as a gift from the San Clemente Historical Society and the San Clemente Jr. Women’s Club to the children of San Clemente. Class sets were given to all of the third grade classes at each of the four elementary schools in town in 1974.
By 2003, three additional elementary schools had been added to San Clemente. An updated 2nd edition of Fishcarts was produced and class sets provided to all seven elementary schools thanks to financial assistance from the community. This year, thanks to generous donations from Aileen Brazeau of San Clemente Villas, Jackie and Richard Ramirez, and Nancy Hyde, 500 copies of an updated 3rd edition were recently distributed to our elementary schools. Legendary local graphic designer Lisa Spinelli, of Lisa B Designs, took the lead in revising this 3rd edition as she did on the 2nd edition.
In 1973 and 2003, the author and illustrator presented class sets of the book to San Clemente elementary schools. For the introduction of the 3rd edition, author Blythe Welton, who now lives in Alabama, joined Lisa Spinelli and Historical Society President Larry Culbertson to present Fishcarts to the third grade teachers and Principal Troy Hunt of Vista Del Mar Elementary School.
The teachers told Welton how much the children enjoyed reading the few tattered old copies of the book they had and how much they will enjoy having a new copy for each child. She in turn explained to the group why she was inspired to write Fishcarts. That explanation is well summed up on the cover of the book itself, “From Fishcarts to Fiestas was the result of my love of history, architecture and children. San Clemente is unique among towns and it was my desire to tell a story that would give local children an appreciation for their ‘Spanish Village by the Sea’. As for me, even though I now live across the country in Alabama, in my dreams I still see red-tiled roofs and the pier at sunset.” For her, “Writing this book was truly a labor of love.”
Blythe Welton moved to San Clemente in 1971 at a time when the City’s history was not well known and the Spanish colonial architecture was rapidly disappearing as new development replaced 1930’s buildings. Welton joined others who were similarly concerned. She helped form the Historical Society in 1973 to encourage preservation. She was on the Community Design Commission which helped to save our historic architecture.
Third grade teaching coordinator Terri Adams commented, “Teaching San Clemente history is always enjoyable for me since I was born and raised in town. It’s fun to be able to tell students about San Clement when I was their age; things we did for fun, what it looked like then, the parts of town that are still the same and all the changes since I was a kid.”
From Fishcarts to Fiestas is not a single story but a collection of short stories, poems, photographs, illustrations, newspaper clippings, music, explanations, and questions. It tells us who and what was here before there was a San Clemente, how and why the city was founded, and all manner of interesting things about San Clemente. Children love it, and so do adults…a perfect gift for any resident or visitor!
The Historical Society will gratefully accept donations to help purchase From Fishcarts to Fiestas to distribute to children as needed. Those wishing to purchase one for themselves may do so by visiting our Booth on the first Sunday of every month on Avenida Del Mar or by contacting us at:
San Clemente Historical Society
PO Box 283
San Clemente, CA 92674-0283