Saturday, January 8, 2011

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Unbelievable! James Hitchcock has done it again. Number 5 in a row – he was the first to correctly identify the mystery spot feature as part of the old Bank of Italy (Bank of America) building which now houses the Bank of the Sierra. Does James know his architecture or what?

Are you ready for the next one? Here are the clues:
1)      It is a little skylight rooftop structure on top of a building  (sorry it is a little blurry)
2)      It sets atop probably the oldest commercial building in Visalia
3)      When the building opened, the governor of the State of California was there for the dedication
4)      The feature can only be viewed from a block or more away.
What building is this? Good luck.

Whitendale Ave
I was talking with Louis Whitendale the other day and I asked him about the street name of Whitendale. He said that Ida Whitendale owned the 80-acre parcel near what is now Whitendale and Court streets and she is the one the street was named after. By the way, the correct pronunciation of Whitendale is: White-n-dale not Whitt-n-dale. For many years I pronounced it wrong and I know others have too.

Speaking of Water—Amazing Log Jam
All the recent rains have brought back memories of Visalia’s flood history, especially the flood that occurred in 1955-56. One of the hazards of having a creek flowing under our city, is that occasionally a plumbing problem develops. This happened in January 1956, before Terminus Dam was in place. December had brought lots of rain and the waterways in and around Visalia overflowed their banks. And the following month, more rain came and Mill Creek, the waterway that flows for a third mile below downtown Visalia, overflowed again. This time, somehow a very large log about 3’ in diameter and about 12-14’ long got wedged in the Mill Creek channel at the intersection of Center and Court streets. The log clogged the below surface channel, causing water to gush up at points throughout town. Once the clog was found, a hole had to be dug through the street to the channel and a crane was used to remove the huge log. How a log of that size was able to flow that far in Mill Creek is still a mystery.

Visalia’s Fallen Heroes in the Vietnam War
 Sophie Britten recently sent me an internet link that identifies the American casualties in the Vietnam conflict and many of the soldier’s named have their pictures and biographical information included. The site Virtual Wall lists these Visalians as killed during that war: SP4 Danny David Dye, SSG James Louis Keller, CWO Phillip Sherman Mohnike, SP4 Lawrence Robert Warf, PFC Reynaldo B. Florez, Sgt Lour Le Desma, CPL Michael Mallory Montgomery, SGT Floyd Daniel Wimer, Pvt Charles Denny Hight, SGT Roger Gordon Leadbetter, CWO James Mitchell Stever, SGT Alonzo Dale Woods. And you can check on soldiers killed from  other cities throughout the country as well. Go to the webpage at
and first click on a state. When it opens, scroll down to the city and the names will appear. Then click on their names. It should show you a picture of the person, or at minimum, their bio and medals. A very sobering site, but worth the visit. By the way, did any of you know any of the Visalia soldiers killed? Thanks, Sophie for providing this to us. 

Annie’s Rose
In the last HH, I highlighted a 1969 Visalia Times Delta article written by J. C. Hickman on Annie R. Mitchell, well-respected historian for Tulare County. After it appeared, J.C. contacted me and said he remembered the interview. He shared a comment she made when people would say to her, “those were the good old days,” she would respond back with “yes, but thank goodness they are not coming back.” A number of you responded with memories of Annie Mitchell after that posting and one came from Eleanor Moore Bergthold, the daughter of Ralph Moore. Ralph was a well-known miniature rose expert and was recognized for his amazing breeding of miniature roses. Ralph was born in 1907 and Annie was born in 1906 and they became friends. In 1996, Ralph Moore bred a special miniature rose in honor of Annie. The rose was called Annie R. Mitchell and was a soft creamy yellow colored miniature. It was featured in one of his catalogs. In 1996, he had a ceremony at his Sequoia Nursery and honored Annie with that special rose. Annie died in 2007 and Ralph in 2009. Thanks Eleanor for reminding us of your father’s tribute to Annie. By the way, Mary Hill was honored with a specially developed rose as well.

Visalia Electric Featured at the Tulare County Museum
Recently, a scale model replica of the Visalia Electric Railroad was set up at the Tulare County Museum complete with working model train, buildings and land features. The train travels the route of the Visalia Electric Railroad on a track which passes by a number of landmarks and cities on its journey. Several railroad model historians worked on this for a long time and just recently got it set up at the museum for people to enjoy. You may have read about it in the Valley Voice newspaper. Louis Whitendale, shown here, and Doc Humason and others were responsible for this labor of love. It’s well worth a trip out to the museum to see.

***The request I made for information on the Happy Go Lucky Dance Hall brought in many responses. It was quite a social spot in Tulare and was located near what is now Mooney Blvd and Tulare. Building is gone now. Thanks to all of you who shared on this one.

***The inquiry from Monty Sands on the metal tower west of town brought in lots of possible answers, but no luck on identification.

**Marian Shippey Cote corrected one thing I said in the last HH about the bowling alley. Mid-Town Lanes on Acequia continued to operate for a short time along with  the bowling alley on Mooney Blvd. (where the Goodwill store is now.) Mid-Town Lanes was later demolished to make a parking lot behind what is now Midtown News on Acequia.

***James Hughes describes himself as “historic retail [architecture] junky.” He is very interested in how the retail buildings have changed over the years, especially the Sweet building (where Links Clothing store is now.) Quite a change there over the years.

**Marian Shippey Cote recently learned that Bob Hope and Bing Crosby visited Sequoia Field during World War II. I don’t believe I’d ever heard that before and I would be interested to know if anyone else had any knowledge of these two great entertainers coming to this area?

“Uncut wood and old clothing is now a pressing need of the Central Welfare Council, and the officers are making an appeal to the public to furnish the supplies. Uncut wood is needed to reestablish the woodpile in the yard at the city hall, where transients and others may work a few hours chopping wood in return for meals, food or clothing.”  Visalia Times Delta, November 16, 1933.

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