June 1980: Pescadero's Flagpole Makes A Comeback

From “The Beachcomber: A Coastside Magazine,” June 3, 1981

Pescadero’s Flagpole Has Returned

By Charles Jones

If a town’s persistence can be chronicled by its dedication to a flagpole, Pescadero will last forever, and on its own terms. All the citizens of Pescadero own a piece of the pole set in place on May 22 of this year [1980.] It was not the first or most feisty pole setting in town.

Who had the idea to begin with, and even how the first flag pole got to town, is in some doubt. There are those who say the Native Sons of the Golden West first asked for the pole. And it has been written that Frank Bloomquist in Loma Mar brought out and donated the first pole, in 1916.

Most agree that was the year, but Billy Weeks used to say he cut the tree, a 131- foot pine. From 1916 to 1961 the pole stood in the center of the intersection of what is now Pescadero Creek Road and Stage Road. Weeks said it took two days to get the tree to Pescadero, and four men to put it up.

In 1961, when Pescadero Creek Road was being widened, it took San Mateo County engineers much less time than that to cut the pole down. The people of Pescadero were not amused. They were infuriated.

Determined not to lose the pole, the townspeople mounted a campaign to have the pole put somewhere near its familiar site of 45 years’ standing. The county suggested putting the pole at the high school, about a mile from town. Said one of the town’s leaders Earle Williamson, “They treat us like a bunch of hayseeds here. We’re sick of being pushed around.”

County supervisors, engineers, and other officials have learned that very thing in many ways since the “Great Flagpole Rebellion.”

Pescadero got its flagpole back, and the county put it where Pescadero wanted it. The same pole as replaced, off of Pescadero Creek Road, in the center of Stage Road By then John Rich was chairman of the Flagpole Committee. It was a victory for what one supervisor ill-advisedly called “the boondocks.” That does not happen any more.

Billy Weeks once said, “I didn’t like it a darn bit when they cut her down.” If he had still been alive in December, 1979, a few days before Christmas, he might have at least accepted what happened. In high winds, the pole fell, shattering the parking lot of what is now the post office. One could not say, as the county had in 1961, that “the flagpole has been temporarily removed and is being repainted.”

Nature has no such words to try to get out of its acts gracefully.

Fortunately, Pescadero had another Weeks, Ed, who is not, as far as he knows, related to Billy, but who family in the area goes back over a hundred years. Ed Weeks remembered a youth fund, started over 20 years ago by Peggy Olsen, for a swimming pool. The fund was there, had grown. Ed Weeks talked, he called, he got estimates and he began again to raise the Pescadero flagpole.

This time the 90-foot flagpole is fiberglass set in concrete. The golden orb, the flag, all is done. Continuing contributions over the $7000 cost will go toward flags and replacing the youth fund for some other project.

In town, patriots and cynics alike, agree that the flag gives a dandy dress to the town. What else could one want?

Well, perhaps a little swearing. When the flag and pole were officially dedicated–sworn, as it were, on May 30th, some might have thought, in the right spirit of the thing, Billy Weeks. He said, “One tme they asked me to make a speech about the pole. I told them I couldn’t make a speech without swearing in it.”

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About June Morrall

1947 - 2010
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