Saturday, April 16, 2016

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Congratulations to Frank Pineda who was the first to
correctly identify the last mystery spot. It of course was the ornamental base to the U. S. Flag pole at the downtown post office on the east side. Nice work, Frank. By the way I’m not surprised he jumped right on this one as Frank is a retired postmaster in Visalia.

Now for the next one.  Here are your clues:
1. This feature was in downtown Visalia since at least 1936
2. It was connected to the Bonacich Family
3. This was part of a series of similar ones to serve as a convenience to downtown visitors.
4. This was restored in 2006.
What and where is it?

Businesses Come and Businesses Go
It’s amazing how fast time flies! Looking through a stack of old business cards sure gave me a sense of history for people and businesses. Here are just a few that I came across recently that are outdated now but might jog some memories for you. See anyone you know? If so, any stories about them that you can share? All of these cards pre-date the change from the 209 telephone area code to 559. I remember the discomfort people had when our area code change took place. Who could remember such an odd-ball prefix like 559? Does anyone remember what year that change took place? Note: I blocked out residence telephone numbers on some of these cards for privacy purposes.

Oh Those Childhood Pranks
A couple of HH followers supplied me with photographic examples of the pranks that young people got involved in not too many years ago. Marian Shippey Cote shared the photograph of her father, Chester Shippey standing guard at the outhouse that had been unlawfully deposited at the intersection of Church and Main streets on Halloween night in about 1950. Chester was a Tulare County
Deputy at one time and also worked security at various events. Okay, this is the time to come clean, so to speak, and “fess” up to placing this outhouse here. Come on, I know you’re out there. The second photograph came to me from Peggy Bragg. This shot caught these young guys scurrying up the flagpole at the Visalia library in 1959. Peggy snitched on her husband JM and she thinks he’s the one behind the camera. Thanks Peggy and Marian for giving us a flashback to a more innocent time. How about a photograph of 20 kids crammed into a telephone booth?

Joe Doctor Coming Back in Print
Alan George has wanted to honor Joe Doctor for a long time. Joe Exeter Sun, and thanks to him we have historical material that can’t be found anywhere else. The Tulare County Historical Society is moving forward on a project to gather some of Joe’s historical columns from the newspaper and publish them in a hardcover
commemorative book. His historical knowledge included much of Tulare County, but he did focus on Visalia history as well, so the book is sure to cover much material about our history. The project is just starting so we are not sure when the book will be done or released, but stay tuned.
passed away in 1995, but thanks to his many articles, he left us a treasure trove of historical material. A contemporary of Annie Mitchell, Joe wrote extensively (hundreds of articles) for the

Carrie Barnett—Her and the School Named in Her Honor
I recently heard from Dorothy Osborn and she reminisced about “the good old days” in Visalia. She attended Webster School and actually lived just two blocks from the school, and remembers how sad she was when it burned. She also remembered in about 1960, how the professional baseball players stayed at the Hotel Johnson and would “hang out” outside the  ho taught for 34 years in the classroom and was even a principal here. She died in 1922 at the age of 52. Her premature death shocked the community. When a new elementary school was built in 1923, because of her popularity, the school was named the Carrie Barnett School. The school, by the way, was demolished in 1967. Here is one of the very few pictures of Miss Barnett and one of the Carrie Barnett School. Thanks, Dorothy for sharing your memories.
hotel. Dorothy admitted that her and her girlfriends would “flirt” with them on occasion. She also mentioned Carrie Barnett School (1100 No. Court), so I thought I’d share a picture of it with you. The school was named after a remarkable teacher, by the same name

The Caldwell Family
Peggy and JM Bragg recently shared a couple of old documents they had collected. One of them, included here, is very old and
connected to the Visalia Caldwell family—the same family that is the namesake for Caldwell Ave. By the way the ranch house for the
Caldwell family stood near the intersection of Caldwell and
Mooney. Notice on this old receipt from Heald’s Business College (Fresno) that it was issued to Etta May Caldwell. I had a picture of Etta May (on the far left) in my files while she was working at the Tulare County Recorder’s Office. The man in this photo is Ira Chrisman, Tulare County Recorder. This photo was taken in 1912. Thanks Peggy and JM for sharing this nice old document.

***If you would like to know more about the history of the Mill site at Main and Santa Fe, pick up a copy of the March 2016 issue of Lifestyle magazine, and the story begins on page 12 or you can read it online at:

***If you would like to read more about some early auto racing on the streets of Visalia, pick up a copy of the April 2016 issue of Lifestyle magazine, and the article begins on page 12. You can also read it online at:

Tracheotomy—This difficult surgical operation was performed on Monday last by Drs. Benn and George upon the child of Wm. T. Cole, of Kings River, who had swallowed a grain of corn, which was successfully extracted. The corn had sprouted, having been nearly two weeks in the larynx. The child is doing well. Visalia Delta, March 6, 1867

Saturday, March 12, 2016

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Thanks for visiting Historic Happenings! If you are not on the email list, and would like to be notified via email when a new posting of this newsletter is made, please email Terry Ommen at I will add you to the list. I will never share your email address with anyone without your permission.   

Congratulations go out to Tom Link who was the first to
correctly identify the 1876 courthouse cornerstone. It had been built into the 1876 courthouse located in Courthouse Square on Court Street between Center and Oak. Nice work, Tom. By the way, the 1876 cornerstone was salvaged from the courthouse demolition and is mounted in the current Burrel Ave courthouse breezeway.

Now for the next one. Here are your clues:
1) This is on government property.
2)  It has been on the site since probably 1933.
3)  It serves a patriotic purpose.
4)  It is by a street that means ditch.
Where is this?

A Main Street Beauty
Bruce Geiger was on the internet recently and found this very nice photograph. It’s obviously a postcard but I had never seen this one before, similar but not exactly. It is a view of Main Street looking east from about Encina. On the far left is the Carnigie Library (gone now) and on the far right is the Askins Sheet Metal Works (also gone now.) The Askins business was at this location from 1904 to 1911. In order to date this picture, it helps to know the library was finished in 1904, so I date this photograph to be from the first decade of the 20th century. There are a few interesting things about this photograph. Notice the dirt streets, cement sidewalks, and there are still some wooden buildings on Main Street. I sure like this photograph! Thanks Bruce for snagging it off the internet and sharing it with us.

Visalia Steam Laundry—Quite an Operation
Recently, Marian Shippey Cote shared a 1924 Visalia Union High School yearbook. I had seen it before, but this time, I spied an advertising photo that caught my attention. It was one of the Visalia Steam Laundry and their fleet of delivery vans. As you probably
remember, the laundry was on the southeast corner of Encina and Center streets. It was a big operation with lots of employees. I have also included here a 1908 interior photograph of the laundry which was provided by Peggy and JM Bragg. The laundry burned to the ground in 1936. Their business then moved to East Mineral King I believe. Thanks to Marian and the Braggs for sharing their photograph and yearbook.

Foresters of America—Another Fraternal Organization
Recently, Marian Shippey Cote shared a ribbon with me from her family collection of mementos. I have to admit, I don’t know much about Mineral King Court No. 182 of the Foresters of America in Visalia. Obviously, we know it existed. I know in the early 1900s they met in the Woodmen of the World (W.O.W.) hall every Wednesday evening. The hall was upstairs in the building now called Times Place located on west side Court Street between and Main and Acequia. Does anyone know anything about the Foresters of America, especially the local chapter? Thanks, Marian for sharing.

Acme—A Local Ice Cream Favorite

And again I want to thank Marian Shippey Cote for going through family mementos and sharing this with us. This time she found a 1923 Oak yearbook from the Visalia Union High School and in it was a full page ad for the Acme Ice Cream Company. Note that they specialized in fancy ice creams and liquid punch. They were located at 309 N. Garden and their building is still there, and this 104 year old building is still looking good.  The second image included here is obviously the building during its ice cream days. I have been told the building was constructed in about 1912. Is anyone else trying to figure out what “liquid punch” was?

Baca Brothers—Reflecting on the ‘60s & ‘70s

Recently, I heard from Hugh Baca and although he doesn’t live in Visalia now, he did in the 1960s and 1970s. On both sides of his family, there are deep roots in Visalia. The Bacas and the Mooneys go back to some early years in Visalia’s history. Hugh suggested that I include in HH material from the 1960-70s era also. I admitted to him that I have a bias for the older Visalia history, but he makes an excellent point about including later history. So let’s do it and include some of our 1960s-1970s history. After all, the 1960s were pretty active years with the Vietnam War, peace rallies, the Beatles, drugs, hippies, long hair, flower children…well, you get the picture. Hugh supplied a couple of photographs to kick off the modern history era for HH. The first one is Hugh in 1971one year after graduation from Mt. Whitney High School. Here he is shown on his Harley Davidson...sort of an Easy Rider look. In later years, Hugh spent his career in the medical field dealing with heart and cardiology equipment. The second photo is of Hugh's brother Jeff in his fatigues while serving in Vietnam in 1969. Jeff, now deceased, was a machinist in the bay area and retired to the central coast. Thanks Hugh for the nudge. Anyone else care to share your 1960s-1970s experiences? You’re fine, you can’t be prosecuted—the statute of limitations has expired!

Courthouse Annex Photograph Surfaces
Jeff Edwards of Porterville, a 93-year old historian and photographer, has been writing and taking pictures for almost all of his life. Not only is he a great photographer, he is a prolific writer of local history. You are fortunate if you have any of Jeff’s books. Recently, Jeff shared this photograph with me. I don’t think he took it, but it is a beauty and was taken soon after the courthouse annex building was finished. So I’m guessing this photograph was probably taken about 1936.This old timer building is still standing, but is showing its age. Thanks Jeff for sharing this wonderful photo of the building in its glory days.

VHS Lawn Fete—A Big Fundraiser

The Visalia High School had a history of events designed to raise money for the school. One of these more memorable events was called a Garden or Lawn Fete. These yearly affairs were similar to a school carnival. For years, these festivities including a wild west show, even had a firearm exhibit and shooting match, bronco riding and other activities. Hundreds of people would attend and good sums of money would be raised for the school. This is the ribbon worn in support of the event. In 1904 this Lawn Fete would have been held
at the Visalia High School Campus when it was at the Oval. This is what the high school looked like in about1904. Thanks, Marian, for sharing this neat old ribbon.

***If you would like to read about Leo the Lion, the MGM mascot’s  visit to Visalia, pickup a copy of the February 2016 issue of  Lifestyle Magazine. The article begins on page 12 or you can read it online at

***On February 27th Mearle Heitzman passed away at the age of 94. He, of course, was the namesake for the legendary Mearle’s College Drive In. Visalia was so fortunate to have such a talented businessman who was such a gentleman. Thanks to the initiative of Annie Silveria and the willingness of The Habit restaurant, a tribute to Mearle was placed on the marquee of the restaurant along Mooney Blvd. Thanks Annie and thanks to The Habit for helping to honor such an important man in Visalia history.

Thomas Flynn, the chronic nuisance, was arrested yesterday by City Marshal Stewart, and arraigned before Justice Holder. The judge gave him fifteen minutes to get out of town, and Flynn made sidewalks smoke in traveling over it in carrying out the court’s judgment. Daily Morning Delta, November 7, 1893