BY BETTY MELTZER
For the Record Gazette
Beaumont resident John McLaughlin and his daughter Laurie McLaughlin, from the San Gorgonio Pass Historical Society, delighted members of CalRTA Division 82 of the San Gorgonio Pass, the organization of retired teachers, with a presentation of “Remembering Our Town” at their luncheon on Oct. 8, at The Farm’s House restaurant in Banning.
Laurie handed out the fall edition of the San Gorgonio Pass Historical Society newsletter to the group, and John began his presentation by discussing the society’s Stagecoach Days Parade float that won first place and is pictured in the newsletter.
John then gave a 30-minute presentation on prominent buildings in both Banning and Beaumont with pictures of the original buildings and the same buildings today that are still standing.
Some were built in the early 1900s, such as Beaumont High School, which is now Beaumont City Hall on Sixth Sreet, as well as Wellwood School and Palm Elementary School, all in Beaumont.
He also presented original pictures of the first Banning elementary school on First Street, St. Boniface Elementary and Central Elementary schools, all built in the early 1930s and 1940s.
He delighted the group with his pictures of the downtown areas of both Beaumont and Banning dating back to the 1920s with traffic jams in Banning, movie theaters in both cities, and the iconic photos of Beaumont’s Oasis Café, Three Rings Ranch, and the Hotel Edinburgh (destroyed by fire in 1909).
Lastly, he explained the demise of Banning’s historic San Gorgonio Inn, the Spokane Hotel and the Desert Outpost arch that stood in Beaumont.
John also shared a personal story about the city of Beaumont’s two sirens (with a picture of the one remaining giant siren that still stands on Orange Avenue at 9th Street; the other siren was located at what was then the Beaumont Police station at Grace Avenue and 5th Street) that the firemen blew at noon every day; one day, when John, a city fireman at that time, pushed the button to sound the siren, the siren blew up down at the police station, and pieces of the siren flew in all directions causing quite an uproar at the station.
The San Gorgonio Pass Historical Society will host Luis Fuerte, cameraman for “California’s Gold” television show with Huell Howser, on Thursday, Nov. 8, at 7 p.m., at the Beaumont Woman’s Club. The free event is open to the public.