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June 12, 2021

This Week in Pajaro Valley’s Past, May 7

25 years ago on May 6, 1996

The Cinco de Mayo festivities in the Plaza keep growing, drawing 8,000 people and diverse entertainers this year. Sunday’s festival featured the Mariachi Eleazor Cortes group, the salsa band Orquestra Sabor Latino, the White Hawk Dancers, Banda Torero and the children’s folklorico troop Grupo Genesis. Mariachi music kept things upbeat, while folks from around the Monterey Bay area enjoyed Mexican food and crafts. Pony rides and art projects were a hit with the little ones, and there was also a strong political bent to the day’s happenings, with voter registration booths, immigrant information and United Farm Workers’ union information made available to the crowds. Watsonville Police Captain Chuck Carter reported the event was quiet and family-oriented, presenting no problems for police organizers. May 5 is the date of a small but significant battle and victory by a poorly armed Mexican army over a professional French invasion force in 1862. 

50 years ago on May 6, 1971

Residents want “Beach” taken out of “La Selva Beach,” but only on the nearby highway directional signs. Last year the La Selva Beach Improvement Association asked the State Division of Highways to change the signs so they read only “La Selva.”  They wanted this done to discourage the summer invasion of tourists who drive around the community looking for the beach. At its last meeting, the Association’s board was reminded that although the state said it would make the changes, it has not yet done so. It was reported the new signs at the proposed Mar Monte overpass on the freeway will read La Selva, and directors expressed hope other signs will be changed as well. In other business, the directors heard a report from Tom Peterson, property protection and safety director, on the need for new fencing on the beach, and alterations on the main gates. The work is needed to prevent trespassers from getting through to the private beach. Directors approved the work. 

75 years ago on May 4, 1946

Watsonville’s American legion will again  be host to Camp McQuaide’s baseball team when the Legionnaires meet the soldier boys Sunday on the Watsonville High School athletic field. In their first game two weeks ago, the Legion boys won over McQuaide 10-6. The Legion’s score for the season is two wins in four games. In the lineup for the Legion: Tony Oliva, shortstop, started playing at Woodrow Wilson High in San Jose and has played with Army teams. He is a strong hitter and essential man in the infield.  John Lesk, as first baseman, is the only pro on the Legion team. He played in the minor leagues in North Carolina, working his way up to pitch with the Cincinnati Reds. Giving way to an injured arm, he entered the service. Jesse Tracy is a Watsonville boy who gained his experience in its high school and with the Legion, going on to play for commercial teams around the country. Bill Lay, left fielder and fastest man on the team is very valuable in the outfield.

100 years ago on May 5, 1921

The County Federation of Women’s clubs was entertained in a fine manner by the Corralitos Women’s Club at their meeting in Corralitos. The federation will ask Congress to take over the Hihn-Valencia tract of virgin redwoods at the head of Soquel Creek and make it a national forest, and also expressed the need for reform in the dress of high school girls. Strong disapproval for the tendency to erase the fine old Spanish names of California and replace them with designations devoid of beauty and history was also voiced, with the women going on record as being opposed to changing the name of Rodriguez Street in this city to Van Ness Ave., expressing “disapproval mixed with amusement at the action of changing the Spanish designation that means something to another name that means nothing.” (Note: Most of downtown Watsonville was originally part of the Rodriguez rancho, and our central square was gifted to the Watsonville community by the Rodriguez family for the purpose of creating our downtown plaza park.)

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