High Country Magazine
The High Country was born in Temecula in the summer of 1967, “published, just for the hell of it, when the spirit moves its publishers who are a group of associated writers, making their homes in the Luiseno Country. . .” The founders were Elsinore newspaperman Tom Hudson, Sam Hicks, the manager of the Erle Stanley Gardner’s Rancho Paisano, Al Newhart, an insurance salesman turned author (and uncle of comedian Bob Newhart), freelance writer Bill Cox, Parker Kimball, and Temcula historian Horace Parker, with Ralph Love, who opened a studio in Temecula in 1958, as “staff artist”.
The two Parkers, Horace and Kimball, soon bowed out of the “High Country Associates” (as the group came to be known). Al Newhart followed a few years later. By the second issue, Tom Hudson had emerged as editor, a title he held until 1980. The little magazine was published four times a year, “with the seasons”, and by the sixth issue had more than 1,500 paid subscribers.
Frank Woolley of Hemet joined the magazine as “staff writer” with issue #21, and had at least one article in every issue right up to the end. Sam Hicks and Bill Cox stayed with The High Country until 1979, when Hicks died and Cox moved to Santa Barbara. Ralph Love retired at the end of that same year, and Roy Morrissey, another Temecula artist took over the duties.
But the great change came in 1980, when Tom Hudson became editor emeritus and Sam Hicks’ daughter, Nancy Carmichael, took over the editorial chair with Bill Harker, the editor of the Rancho News as her assistant. That order was reversed a year later, when Bill Harker became editor and publisher with Carmichael as his associate.
Over the years, The High Country attracted a string of regular contributors, including Cloyd Sorensen, Jr. of Vista, who specialized in history of northern San Diego County, Bennie Hudson (Tom’s wife). Robert de Roos, a columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, Arthur Sill, a retired California State Park ranger, George Winkels, the nephew of legendary Temecula saloonkeeper Joe Winkers, Hamp Sanford, Marcus Lytle, and (for the last few issues) August Fredy. Other articles were written by noted California historians including Aurora Hunt, George P. Hammond, Charles D. Swanner, John Brumgardt, Evelyn Banning, Paul Wilhelm, Esther Boulton Black; and there were even occasional contributions from Temecula’s most famous author, Erle Stanley Gardner (which we hope to repeat at some future date).
At one time, The High County had several thousand subscribers, and also did a steady business in back issues (many early issues are still available at the Temecula Valley Museum). The first issue (published in a run of just 600 copies) was reprinted at least four times over the years, to keep up with the demand.
But publication grew spotty in the last few years, and the original The High Country finally breathed its last with issue #62 near the end of 1984. Now – nearly two decades later – it is born again, and stakes the claim that The High Country did more than 30 years ago:
“Let others fuss and fume with what’s happening in this frustrating age of computers. The present is too complicated; the future is too vague. Only the past is reasonably clear, and that . . . is the field into which The High Country naturally fell.”
The High Country strives to preserve the history of Western Riverside County and its adjoining areas. Originally published from 1967 to 1984, it was revived in 2002 to share stories with a new generation of High Country residents. Subscriptions are available through the Temecula Valley Museum for $25.00 per year, mailed anywhere in the United States. Back issues (as available) may be purchased through the Museum Gift Shop.