Wednesday, January 26, 2011

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Well the James Hitchcock run has been broken. This time, Art Browning was the first to get the last mystery spot correct. The little skylight structure is on top of the old Palace Hotel building on the northeast corner of Court and Main streets. It is currently owned and appreciated by William Martin. Oh, by the way and not a big surprise, William got it right, too.

The next mystery spot is much easier. Here are the clues:
1)      The building was once the home to one of the biggest, if not the biggest department store in Tulare County
2)      The family that owned the building was also connected to a famous local pioneer aviator
3)      As ____________as candy
4)      On this building site, the famous Fashion Saloon stood in the 1860s
Good luck.

Giddings Street
C.J. Giddings was born in Ohio in 1843, came to California at the age of 26 and in 1876 he arrived in Visalia. He was a businessman but is probably most well-known as a banker and eventually became President of the Bank of Visalia. He died in 1928 and is buried in the Visalia Cemetery. It is his name that is on one of Visalia’s most traveled streets.

Officer Floyd Depew – A Special Man
Recently Bea Moring passed along a story about one of  the Visalia Police Department’s most well-known and legendary officers. He  was Floyd Depew. I had the pleasure to know and work with Floyd or “Pappy” as we called him. He started fulltime with the Visalia Police Department in 1937 and in his later years worked parking enforcement. Bea fondly remembered him and said, “Some 50 years ago, I was shopping downtown with my two small children. Upon returning to my car I found that my parking meter had expired and Mr. Depew was there ready to write a ticket—until he saw I was carrying two shoe boxes with new shoes for my children. He then smiled and said, ‘You’ve just bought new shoes for your kids, you don’t need a parking ticket,’ and walked away. He must have been a special guy from all the things I’ve heard about him over the years," she added.  He retired from VPD in 1974 and has passed on.

Soldiers Head Down to the Border
Recently, I was discussing the classic photograph showing soldiers seated on the steps of the old Tulare County Courthouse. The photo is oftentimes connected to World War I, but in fact, it was taken just before Visalia’s Co. D 2nd Infantry Regiment of the California National Guard unit was ordered to the Mexican border in 1916. The photo quality is so good that many Visalians can be identified. Really a nice old photo. Marian Shippey Cote supplied this one.

Bob Hope and Bing Crosby Play Visalia

 In the last HH posting, Marian Shippey Cote passed along that she had heard the Bob Hope and Bing Crosby had been at Sequoia Field during World War II. I still cannot verify this, but we can now confirm that the two were in Visalia at the Visalia Golf Club (now Visalia Country Club) on April 12, 1942 for a fundraiser. I can say this thanks to a recent contact I had with Pete Sweeney. He indicated that he actually saw them here. Hope and Crosby and others came as part of a fundraising effort for the American Red Cross. Pete was 11 years old at the time and was a big fan of the radio celebrity Bob Hope, so when he heard Bob was going to be here, he paid the 50 cent admission fee to get into the small clubhouse. He got Bob’s autograph and someone said to him, “Why don’t you get his too,” and pointed to Bing Crosby. He did, but at the time, he had no clue who Bing Crosby was. Pete is shown here with his wife Shirley, and he is holding his precious autographed keepsake. Thanks Pete for sharing your story. Now we still need to see if the celebrities paid a visit to Sequoia Field at the same time. Regarding the Hope and Crosby visit, George Reece also shared his story about the celebrities and their visit. He said, “They came [to Visalia] on a War Bond drive. Prior to the show that they put on at the airport (which I attended), they played a round of golf. I was a caddy at that time, so when they played, several of us got to tag along. Julian Phillipe was one of their caddies. Their banter on the course was as entertaining as the show. Thanks to Pete and George for sharing their remembrances, and by the way, happy 60th wedding anniversary to George and Colleen Reece.

End of the Trail – The Story Never Gets Old
Madaline McKillip, brother to Visalia newspaper publisher John Brackett, wrote that her brother was a big advocate for getting the original End of the Trail statue to the Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City. He included a lot about the famous statue in the newspaper. Eventually a deal was made to get the classic original piece of Fraser art to Oklahoma City. We now have a replica as part of that deal at Mooney Grove Park. Tulare County’s End of the Trail story never gets old. For many years, Mooney Grove Park was home to this famous artist’s signature piece —the End of the Trail. And if you ever visit Oklahoma City, stop by the museum and see the original; the restored statue will take your breath away. This photograph shows the End of the Trail statue in San Francisco at the Pan Pacific Expo in 1915. This one was at Mooney Grove Park before it made it to its new home in Oklahoma City.

***On February 12, a John Muir impersonator (Frank Helling) will be at the Arts Visalia as part of the annual sofa art show. It is a free show and for more information you can contact Caroline Koontz with the Arts Consortium at 713-4324 or email her at By the way, John Muir came to Visalia in 1901 and talked about the Giant Sequoias.

***An HH read asked if anyone has any recollection of a bar just east of Visalia on Road 156 called “The Blood Bucket.” Get this, the story goes that “the bar had a history of someone’s head being cut off while the person was running thru the front saloon type doors and their body kept going for a little distance until they dropped dead.” Any of this sound familiar to anyone? Anybody out there ever heard of “The Blood Bucket” or can anyone add to this Tulare County version of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”?

***Lots of comments came in about the 1955-56 flood story in the last HH. Duane Copley, son of Mayor John Copley at the time, recalls visiting the problem areas on Mill Creek during the blockage. He described the scene as he saw holes being dug to find the blockage.  He said the debris kept moving downstream and became a moving target. He said finally workers dug a hole at Court and Center streets, dropped iron rails into the channel to form a grate. The log eventual collected on the grate and workers were able to pull it out.

***Several of you knew Visalia soldiers killed in Vietnam. I included a website listing them in the last HH. I was told that long term Visalian Sergeant Richard Allen White was also killed, but is listed as being from Monterey. He probably was drafted or enlisted from there.

***Jan Morrison really enjoyed Mid Town Lanes when she was a youngster. Her family spent a lot of time there and she remembers the bowling leagues and climbing on the pinsetter machines when her uncle Arthur “Art” Pendola worked there. Jan has wonderful memories of the old bowling alley.

***Eleanor Bergthold was thumbing through some old Visalia newspaper files and came across some old quotes. Here’s a cute one from 1878: “Mosquitoes are holding nightly concerts to crowded houses along Mill Creek. They are so numerous that the sun’s rays never seem to reach earth.” I don’t love mosquitoes, but I sure do love the words crafted by early writers!

“The Chinese New Year commences Thursday Evening. The popping of fire crackers during the past few days is only preliminary to the pandemonium that will commence Friday in real earnest.”  Daily Morning Delta, January 23, 1895

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My best friends parents own the property on 156 she told me the same story about the blood bucket bar. It was in between the old gas station and house on their property. the bar is no longer there but the other two buildings remain. It was a bar for the migrant workers that came in the 30s to Linnell camp.