1916 Atascadero reporter recounts his visit to the 50th annual Colony Days

by James Bill Barnard 

(Diego Luna, 11th grade Atascadero High School)

Diego Luna Main
Diego Luna (left), portraying early 20th-century reporter James Bill Barnard, is shown with his sister, Alia, who is playing Beatrice Bernard, his character’s sister. Photo by Rick Evans/ATN

ATASCADERO — What is life like living in the modern day of Atascadero? I, reporter James Bill Barnard (Diego Luna), spent my time during the 50th anniversary of the Colony Days event having an existential crisis on how much times had changed since 1916. 

Everything seemed to lose its light and become more efficient, especially telephones. Telephones can do about everything now, such as playing music, writing, receiving and sending telegrams, and calling people on a simple, lightweight, glassy slab. I demanded to know more about the advancement of technology in the 21st century. So, I spent my afternoon wandering around the city that surrounds my beloved Tent City and questioned interesting people alike. 


First, I interviewed the current younger generation. 

“Technology and medicine have gotten better, and people didn’t die from cuts compared to far in history,” answered Morgan Demeritt, 16, her thoughts regarding my question about the current time of life. 

In addition, I asked if she would live in the past of 1916, and she said, “No, because I wouldn’t have women’s rights, and I would’ve died within five minutes.” 

It’s a shame, but also good to learn that the modern day is being compared to my time of life in the early 20th century. Another question I had is what reminds the modern people when hearing the date “1916,” which siblings Ashley and Alyssa Sutherland provided in a heartbeat. 

“The Roaring ’20s and WW1,” stated 20-year-old Ashley and Alyssa, 17, who answered, “The Great Depression,” which they afterward told me that things did not get any better from there. 

My quote: “Oh.” That did not at all help my crisis, but thank you, Alyssa and Ashley, for the quick history lesson on brutal wars and the stock market crashing down like my poorly built tent.

Anyway, after competing with my fellow Atascadero people at a delicious pie-eating contest (and winning,) I decided to change up my questions by asking the older generation what life is like now in comparison to when they were younger when it comes to technology. 

Chris and Brian Frederickson together stated and agreed, “Everything is smaller, faster, and efficient. The phone used to be on the wall, and now people can carry it around with ease.” 

Very nice of them. I hope for them all the best. Afterward, I started to ask the modern people their thoughts on modern technology. 

James Wright answered, “Modern technology is very useful, but society in the present day has relied too much on technology because it’s now the main focus and necessity of life, which can be unhealthy.” 

Ashley Sutherland also stated that technology makes the current life much easier, but included the presence of “Artificial Intelligence.” I lost about six hours of rest since then. Nonetheless, I had to finish up my interviews as the day started to turn to night, and also because I felt sick with a stomach full of pie, I asked my final and important question of the day: “Thoughts on Tent City?”

To send off my report, Wright finishes the question off, stating, “I think it’s pretty interesting. It takes people back in time to see what was the beginning of Atascadero and gives them a break from advanced modern life to be in the shoes of early Atascadero people in 1916, in Tent City.” 

We hope you enjoyed this special contribution by Diego Luna, an 11th-grade student at Atascadero High School. Furthermore, we hope you, too, enjoyed the 50th annual Colony Days — we look forward to the next 50 years!