Wednesday, February 10, 2010

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Thanks for visiting Historic Happenings! If you are not on the email list yet, 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 not share your email address with anyone without your permission.

The last Mystery Spot location was correctly identified by Kathryn Miller and she did it within 14 minutes of the posting. The bronze plaque Mystery Spot is mounted on the tile water fountain at Mayor’s Park on the south side of Main Street near Park Avenue. Congratulations Kathryn and to all of you who got it right. Thanks for participating.

Ready for Another?
Here are your clues!
1) This building was built in 1923 for about $60,000.
2) It was built to house an “abstract” or title and escrow business. And the Visalia Daily Times reported when it opened, that it “is undoubtedly the finest building in California devoted entirely to the abstract business.”
3) The numbers in the address will added together total eleven (11). 4) Directly across the street in 1923 was the Martha Washington Grocery Store.
Where is this building? Good luck.

Turner Street
In 1909 Charles A. Turner, owner of the Blue Ribbon Real Estate Co. filed a plat with the Visalia City Council for a new subdivision called Parkside Tract. He filed it on his behalf and on behalf of Messrs. Dudley and Martin. The housing tract was on the west end of Main Street near Giddings. In the tract homes built on lots on Main Street were required to have values of at least $1,250. Center Street homes needed to have a value of at least $800. As a result of this subdivision, we now have Turner, Dudley, and Martin streets.

The 1935 courthouse annex building stands next to the east sidewalk on Court Street between Center and Oak. People oftentimes wonder why it was placed so close to the sidewalk and street, and why it is so offset on the lot. This should help answer that question.

James “Cal” Shepherd: Airplane Crash About 1951?
Recently, someone asked about James “Cal” Shepherd. They produced an article about his fatal car crash, but they were looking for more information on a plane crash involving him in about 1951, which was somehow related to the Piepgrass Airport (small airfield north of Visalia). Cal was apparently seriously injured in that crash but survived, only to be killed in an automobile accident near Nogales, Arizona in 1953. I have not been able to find any information about that airplane crash. If anyone knows anything about this plane crash, please let me know. By the way, his father was Visalian Pete Shepherd, I think the Chevy dealer.

Mearle’s Group is Being Formed. You Are Invited.
Mearle’s College Drive-In has a long history as being a gathering place. Whether it was a place to meet for a date or whether it was a car rendezvous point for a car club, or whether it was just a family dining destination, Mearles has been bringing people together for about 70 years. Well, it’s doing it again. A group is being formed to explore ways to get this Visalia icon back in operation again. So just think, it is becoming a gathering point again. Please call me at (559) 901-3227 or email me if you would like to be part of this “forming group.” And yes, Mearle and his wife Marilyn are part of the group as well.

Nancy Barnes Has Many Memories To Share
As I mentioned in the last HH, new subscriber Nancy Barnes has deep and wide Visalia/Tulare County roots and boy is she willing to share. Her knowledge is broad and her interests are varied. Here is a small sampling of some future HH topics that she will share with us.
***The Sims Cling Peach—and her family connection; also the Dawson Peach
***The Clotfelters
***The Spaldings
***Palace Hotel—Her father jumped from the 2nd story during a fire
***Taylor’s Hot Dog Stand
***Lots of Visalia Schools
And the list goes on and on. So, stand by. Oh, did I mention she danced on stage at the Fox? Nancy is in this photo. Can anyone pick her out? By the way, several HH subscribers are in this Claudia Allred Ward photograph.

Judge W. B. Wallace Comes to California by Covered Wagon
Kathy McGowan, Tulare County Museum Curator, and I have been working with Sue Hudgins-Hodes. Sue was hunting for a photograph of one her early relatives named William Brown Wallace who later became a judge here in Visalia. We were able to help her with a photo and she offered us a copy of a diary in which Wallace (who became Superior Court Judge here) was mentioned. Judge Wallace, as a baby, crossed the plains in a covered wagon traveling from Missouri to California during the 1849 Gold Rush. These are photos of Tulare County Superior Court Judge Wallace that we were able to provide to her. Sue tells us the diary is very interesting.

***Still working to get the 1949 grand opening Mobil Gas Station interview on HH. Adding an audio file is proving difficult to do, but we’re going to give it another try. Stay tuned. It will be worth the wait.
***The miniature dollhouse called The Visalian is getting closer to being back to Visalia. As soon as I hear it’s in route or here HH will let you know.

“Immigrants are coming into the country faster than ideas into Congress.” Visalia Delta, January 16, 1880

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