Putting Taft College on Cougar Court is a good idea, but erasing a part of Taft's history isn't
Taft College is some day planning to ask the city for permission to change the name of Emmons Park Drive to Cougar Court.
That doesn't sound unreasonable. In fact, we like it.
There are only four addresses on Emmons Park Drive now – the Taft College, Kern County Library, the Peace Lutheran Church and the church parsonage.
It comes a couple of years after the city granted request from Taft High School to change a large section of Seventh Street to Wildcat Way.
But there is a difference between Seventh and Emmons Park Drive.
Seven is only a number.
Emmons Park Drive was named in honor of a man – Elijah C. Emmons (called "Curly") – and his contributions to the community.
Emmons was a business owner and city councilman.
He was elected to two terms as Mayor and held that office from 1934 to 1938.
Emmons greeted then-California Gov. Frank Merriam when he visited Taft in 1935 to help observe the 25th anniversary of Taft's incorporation as a city.
There was once an Emmons Park, also named after Emmons, and hence the name for the street that once curved from Sixth Street to Taylor Street, but that has been gone for decades.
About half of Emmons Park Drive is gone now, having been absorbed by TC's new campus.
What remains is a little over a block long, stretching from Sixth Street to the entrance to the college.
Before any action is taken, the college and city both needs to consider this idea very carefully.
Few people still alive today have many memories of Emmons, or what he did to have a park and street named after him.
But landmarks and streets are named after people for a reason. Not just to honor them, but to ensure that their name and deeds won't be forgotten.
Last fall, the college renamed the Cougar Sports Center in honor of Al Baldock for everything he did for the college, the students whose lives he touched, and the community.
Five years ago, the Taft Post Office was renamed to honor Larry Pierce, who gave his life saving the lives of other men in his unit in the Vietnam War.
Their accomplishments should never be forgotten.
Emmons is not nearly so well known as Baldock and Pierce, at least not today.
But does that mean he should be forgotten?
In 75 years, will Baldock and Pierce become mere footnotes in Taft's history, forgotten by nearly everyone?
Would it then be right to rename the Cougar Sport Center or post office after someone else?
We need some thoughtful discussion here.
History should not be wiped away without careful consideration.
Renaming a numbered street is one thing – but renaming a street named after a person should take some more thought.
We hope something can be worked out that will accommodate the college and preserve our history.