L’Envoi: The Epic Tale of the Colony of Atascadero … in the Making
Atascadero! To that sounding name
A far tradition leads its fame …
So begins “Atascadero — An Epic Written for Flag Raising Day” by Paso Robles resident Guy E.
Heaton on July 4, 1913. It was written on the same day as Edward Gardner Lewis and his wife Mabel received the deed to Rancho Atascadero, and the author dedicated the epic to E.G. Lewis and those who, with him, devote their time and talent to the upbuilding of Atascadero.
Heaton finishes the dedication, “lastly: ‘To all that here shall after live’ at Atascadero.”
Heaton was not then finished with Lewis, and closed the introduction with two paragraphs in Lewis’ honor.
“The author offers due apologies for his ready indulgence in poetic license and hopes to not irretrievably offend against accepted astronomical theories, the phenomena of Nature or historic fact, and most especially to Mr. Lewis for ascribing to the Padre the vision of the future Atascadero instead of the real seer, Mr. Lewis himself, at once Seer, Counselor and Impresario.
“To him who would behold Atascadero in its nearest pristine beauty ere its swift-moving transformation merges Art in ever increasing proportion with fair Mother Nature’s bounteous features, the author says Haste! For the mighty want of the magician is moving, Lewis is here, and the scenery shifts.”
The poem is worth a read for historical perspective, and is written with some apparent influence by Walt Whitman (1819-1892), and closes with an ode to the “Common Good Her State—a world-wide Sisterhood” with a hand-drawn wreath with a bow labeled “Women’s Republic.”
The final stanza titled “L’Envoi” gives the summation for which the heart of Atascadero, buried deep in the Mudhole, still beats.
Atascadero! Though thy name
Is stranger now to trump of Fame,
Shall yet to farthest echo ring
As art and genius here shall bring.
Proportioned true epitome
Of all a perfect State should be.
And Fame’s eternal scroll shall bear
“Atascadero” blazoned there.
I stumbled upon this poem while researching the 4th of July and the Atascadero Printery Building last year, and it resonated with me. I don’t think I’m alone to feel a presence in Atascadero. Is it the ghost of E.G. Lewis? Is it some leftover inspiration of his utopian dream that was run over by “progress” now articulated by the US 101 that cuts through the heart of his darling downtown dream? Or is it something that was here before Lewis arrived; something Lewis himself felt and was moved by? Is it by chance that we are here now? Is it by chance that you are reading a magazine published in Atascadero, cover ‘blazoned’ with an image of the historic Press Building that has been reclaimed by some undaunted — uninhibited — spirit that pours out of the soul of this place with a purpose, yea a mission, that fills the mind with wonder and stirs the imagination? Is it by chance that you arrived, by choice or by fate, here now with this question still begging to be answered … what next?
Are we here, meant for something greater, or just here to judge the past and the failures as something that prevent us from realizing the greatness we can achieve together?
It is together that we will succeed or fail, and it is together that we should dream. As Guy E. Heaton offered 105 years ago, I also offer due apologies for my ready indulgence in poetic license — and use of the Oxford comma — and hope to not irretrievably offend against accepted astronomical theories, the phenomena of Nature, or historic fact.
I do hope you will enjoy this publication for years to come, and in a world of digital noise, bullet trains, cryptocurrency, water banking, fake news, and fallen heroes, I hope that this magazine will be an anchor to our community for the betterment of us all — yea, for all that here shall after live. Just as Lewis did not live to see his dream’s to fruition, maybe we shall suffer the same; but then, maybe there is no conclusion. Maybe it is just for us to give the next generation a better place than was given to us, and better tools on how to improve it for the next inhabitants. This is what Lewis would want, could Lewis imagine his highest desire, and it is what Dr. Mike would want, and why this first issue of COLONY Magazine is dedicated to his UNINHIBITED spirit — may it continue to project “Atascadero” onto Fame’s eternal scroll for all that here shall after live.
‘To all that here shall after live’
— Guy E. Heaton —