Local Guy Forever: Fred Caldwell

Most days you can find Fred Caldwell at the back of Caldwell Antiques, his fabulously eclectic store on Highway 101, working on graphic design. Caldwell’sbrochures and bus wraps, retro 101 shields, and castiron tree grates have won countless awards, and he remains convinced that the flyers he designed for Maggie Houlihan’s 2004 campaign were directly responsible for her landslide victory! Caldwell’s annual Magic Carpet Ride calendar (pictured) featuring the Cardiff Kook’s incessant wardrobe changes is as legendary as Caldwell. He admits to one stupid thing though: in 1985 he chased after a thief who had stolen a fishing knife from his store. The man suddenly turned on Caldwell and plunged the rusty four inch blade straight into his heart. Fortunately, he survived. Encinitas without Caldwell would be unimaginable.

As soon as I was asked to write Legendary Locals, I turned to the Encinitas cognoscenti to recommend suitable candidates. One name that came up over and over again was Fred Caldwell.“Ok, but what makes Fred such a legend?” I persisted. “What does he actually do?” The answer, with a shrug of the shoulders, was always the same, “Fred’s just Fred”. Mac W, the Cardiff Kook Webmaster, summed him up best with the words “Ol’ Fred’s been around since the earth was cooling”.

And so it would seem: self-effacing and unassuming, Fred has had his imprint on most things that matter for more years than anyone can remember, and has won innumerable awards for his creativity and input. But you have to find all that out for yourself: there are no framed certificates juggling for wall space in his Aladdin’s cave of a workspace. Fred also has a well-honed sense of civic duty and is eager to see that sanity and transparency prevail at City Hall. To that end, he’s putting his talents to work helping Tony Kranz and Lisa Shaffer in their November bid for election to the City council. His first piece of advice, learned from grim experience, will probably be “never chase a guy with a knife”.

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