Saturday, March 13, 2010

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Congratulations go out to Ron Morrison who was the first to correctly identify the location of this mystery billboard. It stands on the west edge of the parking lot at Encina and Center streets across the street from Taylor’s Hot Dog Stand and Franey’s . Good job, Ron.

Now for the Next Mystery Spot!
This Visalia sign is permanently displayed on a Visalia building. What building is it? Here are your clues:
1) The building was completed in 1916.
2) The building has been restored and is currently in use.
3) It stands across the street from the old Visalia Cooperative Creamery building
4) In years past, Visalia’s problem children lived nearby.
Where is this building?

Dollner Street
L. A. Dollner, a native of Minnesota, was a well-respected jeweler in Visalia. He owned a jewelry store and also served as a Visalia City Trustee (councilmember) for 4 years. He was a longtime member of the Visalia Volunteer Fire Department and died in 1923. Dollner Street carries his name.

Old Jewelry Store Pocket Watch Becomes A Nice Gift
Speaking of Dollner, recently, Peggy Bragg told me she acquired an antique pocket watch for her husband, J. M. It was his birthday and she wanted to give him something nice. The watch is marked Dollner’s Special, Visalia, Calif. L.A. Dollner was in the jewelry business in Visalia for many years and retired in 1917. Dollner’s jewelry store advertisement can be seen on the street clock on the far right side of this photograph The street clock shown here was on the south side of Main Street, just west of Church Street. The view is looking northeast through the intersection of Church and Main. Peggy, great gift choice for J. M., and I know he’ll appreciate it.

Reo Rooms—In Visalia’s Tenderloin Section
If you follow HH, you probably remember there is an effort being made to write the history of an old business called “Visalia Furniture Exchange.” According to Bill Fuller, that company started on the ground floor of a building just to the east of the Ralston Purina Mill which was located on the southeast corner of Main and Santa Fe. I know that building as the Reo Rooms—a 2-story building where I’m told questionable activities occurred on the second floor at some time during the business’ life. The Reo Rooms building was destroyed in the disastrous 1967 Ralston Purina fire. I’d like to know more about the Reo Rooms. Please share any “Reo” stories that you’ve heard. By the way, the Reo Rooms in his picture was above the Jones Mattress Factory. You can see a little sign on the far right of the building.

Pope On A Pope
As you probably know, George Pope dabbles in lots of things. Recently, he reminded me of his interest in motorcycle racing and restoration. He sent me this photograph of him on a 1912 Pope Motorcycle, racing a guy on a Whizzer Motorcycle. George is the blurry one closest to the camera. By the way, many people have referred to him as “blurry”, huh George? By the way this photo was taken at Mooney Grove Park as part of the very enjoyable and well attended 2000 Motor Sports Festival.

Sequoia Field Turned Visalia Into A Military Town
If you’ve been following the Smokey Yunick Story in HH, you may recall that he was a cadet at Sequoia Field where he took primary pilot training during World War II and in fact, came here in 1944. He later became legendary as a top-notched driver/mechanic in stock cars. In Yunick’s 3-volume autobiographical set called “Best Damn Garage in Town,” he describes in colorful language his brief experience at Sequoia Field and includes his escapades in Visalia while on “pass”. He called this Sequoia Field bus “The Drunk’s Special,” so one can get the feeling for Visalia as a military town. Thanks to David Beattie for sharing his prized and fascinating 3-volume book set with me. Trish, Smokey’s daughter created a website, so take a look at

Pacific House—A Nice Old Hotel Building Still With Us
Recently John Bianco and I were talking about the Pacific House building located on the northwest corner of Church and Oak streets. His father, Phil Bianco, restored it and he owns it today. It is a great example of 19th century architecture. Over the years, at various times, it was called The Pacific House, Pacific Lodging House, and Pacific Hotel. I would sure like to know when it was built and I know John would like to know more about it as well. The earliest reference in my files shows 1886, but it could have been much earlier than that. Any help would be appreciated.

Amazing Coincidence Involving Former Tulare County Sheriff Sandy Robinson
Sandy Robinson was Sheriff of Tulare County from 1951-1966. After he left office, he also left Tulare County and thanks to Troy Tuggle we now know, Sandy for a time at least, lived in Baxter Springs, Kansas. Troy found this interesting article in the Milwaukee Journal newspaper for September 17, 1969.

***Jay Moring, a retired Visalia architect, recently sent me some great old Visalia stuff including his hand-drawn map of another Visalia carriage house. I am collecting information about old Visalia carriage houses, and for those of you unfamiliar with them, a carriage house is a building generally separated from the main house in which was stored the family carriage or buggy, much like a detached garage. I now have 3 carriage houses identified and still in existence in Visalia today. If you know of any, please let me know. Thanks, Jay for the stuff and map.

***During World War II the Visalia Airport was used by the military and Dana Lubich has asked if the old plaza rodeo grounds, now a race track was the site of a revetment (protective embankment or enclosure) used to provide cover for big anti-aircraft guns. Anyone know anything about revetments in the Plaza Park area? Was the bleacher area embankment part of an anti aircraft site?

***Tom Link has passed along a great internet website for us to visit. The site offers a chance to see old homes that were part of our past. It isn’t necessarily limited to Visalia. Go to the site and type in an address including city and state and if you’re lucky, up pops a photograph of your old home. It really is an amazing site. Thanks Tom for sharing this with us. Here’s the site

***Brian Goss asked if I had any old pictures of the warehouses that were located on Santa Fe between Center and Douglas streets. I had a couple and sent them to him and he was very happy to see in one of the photos the old warehouse in which he worked in the early 1990s.

“Have you a home for a little boy or girl? If so, Probation Officer Grimes wishes to get into touch with you. He has four little girls and one boy from one to eight years old whom he wishes to place in good homes. They are American and all in good health. The names of the children are suppressed for obvious reasons. There parents, owing to ill fortune and economic conditions, are unable to take care of them. Probation Officer Grimes states that he will vouch for the children’s characters. He is very anxious for the successful placing of the children among good people.” Visalia Morning Delta, June 7, 1914.

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