Wednesday, March 2, 2011


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Well, we have a winner! Art Browning correctly identified the mystery spot as the Sweet Building in the 100 block of East Main Street; the building that houses Links and other stores. Good job Art.

The next mystery spot for you history detectives is another building with interesting features. Here are the clues
1)      The building is home to several businesses – one being a popular beverage store
2)      It is a building that is in the old “Holt Block
3)      One of the business in this building, some 30 years ago, was known for its tasty treats
4)      One of the business located here in the 1970s had a name that meant    “frugal”. Where is this building? Good Luck


Santa Fe Medallion
As you know, Dana Lubich won the contest for the design of the 4 bronze medallions that now are mounted on the overcrossing pillars at Santa Fe and Noble/Mineral King streets. For his successful artistry, he won a $1,000 prize and the honor of having his work mounted in perpetuity. Quite an honor Dana, your work is beautiful.  Dana was recognized by the Visalia City Council, and was featured in the Visalia Times Delta. Dana is an HH subscriber and is a regular contributor. Here’s a little secret. As you      may recall a while back, we recognized Dana’s grandfather, Robert Morris in HH. He was the Mobil Gas Station owner here in Visalia.  Mobil’s logo at the time was the Pegasus symbol. Well, Dana, in honor of his grandfather incorporated a very small Pegasus in one of the medallions. What a great creative touch Dana! Exeter has their hidden images in their murals, now Visalia has a hidden image in one of its medallions. For those of you who haven’t seen them, go by and take a look and find Pegasus. They are beauties! By the way, after the medallions were mounted, I asked Dana what he was feeling when he first saw them mounted. “It was one of those ‘pinch me moments,’” he said. He added, “Who knows, one day these pictures might end up in the Visalia Community Bank’s historic calendar, when present becomes past.”


Bomb Shelter Away!
The Cold War era was an intense time for our nation and our community. The big fear of course was that the old Soviet Union would launch missiles with nuclear war heads and civilization as we know it would end. To some, a safeguard was to build a bomb shelter. Recently, these photographs came to me from an HH member with impeccable credibility. He said that these photos that he took recently show what’s left of a bomb shelter right here in Visalia. These photos were taken as the house was being demolished. Amazing images! Looking at them, I’m not sure which would have been worse—dying of radiation poisoning from an atomic bomb explosion or dying from claustrophobia while hunkered down in these underground concrete crypts. I have heard there are/were a number of these bomb shelters during the cold war era here in Visalia, but up until now, I haven’t  seen any evidence. Here it is. By the way, during the Cold War in the 1960s, the Mill Creek channel, which runs under the city was also being considered as a potential bomb shelter site. Never did hear details of the plan or how authorities would handle the water flowing through the channel.



Stable Becomes Catholic Church
Recently, Bill Allen made me aware of some creative work done by a couple of Visalia architects, Jack Hayslett and David L. Smith. In 1861 Father Daniel Francis Dade, opened up the first Visalia Catholic church and school in a stable. Jack researched the description of the stable building and passed on the information to his fellow architect, David Smith. David who happens to be an artist also, created a virtual rendering of what the stable parish might have looked like. By the way, these pictures were included in a power point presentation to the St. Mary’s 150th anniversary committee. Nice touch, David and Jack. Thanks for doing great work!


Early Vet Was Active
It all started with the HH article about Visalia Police Officer Floyd Depew. Tom Rey, an HH follower, told me after reading the article that his grandfather, Dr. George S. Rey, DVM (called Poppy by Tom) knew Floyd (called Pappy by me and many others.)  So Poppy was friends with Pappy. A story started to materialize about his grandfather whose veterinarian practice started in Visalia about 1911. At the same time Dr. Rey was appointed Livestock inspector by Tulare County. He retired as a vet in about 1948 after 40 years as a veterinarian. The animal doctor was also a Captain with the Tulare County Sheriff’s Posse. Thanks Tom for sharing the material on your grandfather. By the way, Tom is a retired San Diego PD detective ( 30 years on the force ) and lives down there, but still has an interest in Visalia history. Thanks Tom for sharing this with us.


Sweet Ave
Sometimes it is extremely difficult to know the precise basis for the naming of a street. Was it named for a specific member of a family or was it named for the family in general? Sweet Ave falls into this category. Was it named for Solomon Sweet, who came to Visalia in 1857 or was it named for his son, Adolph Sweet, or was it named for Sol Sweet, the early Visalia aviator, or was it named for Sol’s wife Ardeen? The record is vague on this point, but it is very clear that Sweet Ave was named because of this pioneer Visalia family.

***Last month I wrote an article in the Valley Voice Newspaper about Buffalo Bill Cody visiting  Visalia in 1910. Here is the link if you missed it in the Valley Voice:      http://www.valleyvoicenewspaper.com/fourcreeks/2011/fourcreeks020311_0839.htm          Justin Mosley of Bothof’s Bakery, read the article and mentioned that he had documents to prove that William “Buffalo Bill” Cody was his Great great great uncle. Very interesting! Also, Frank Walker mentioned that he is also related to Buffalo Bill on his father’s side.
***Recently, I heard from Louie Avila, a former Tulare County resident who now lives in Cincinnati, Ohio,. He joined in the discussion about the pronunciation of Visalia. He lives not too far from Visalia, Kentucky and tells me that the local folks around there pronounce the town ViZalia—so the pronunciation mystery continues
***Chuck Loffland shared that he read a book called “Little Known Tales in California History” written by Alton Pryor. One of the stories mentioned included the statement “the slow-plodding camels took the struggling crew over the Sierra to Visalia.” Anyone know any details of camels coming here in around 1860?
***Commenting on the 1955-56 flood logjam, Joseph Vicenti passed along that he had heard that the log that was pulled from the Mill Creek channel actually became part of lawn decoration somewhere on Burke Street. Can anyone help with confirming this story?
***Barbara Armo, who has some great memories of early Visalia,  tells me as she was growing up in Visalia she lived in a house on the site of the Vintage Press restaurant. Her address was 520 W Center and her folks were Jack and Lillie Armo. The house was later moved. Anyone know where?
***Tony Cornett reminded me of something I’d heard about but could never verify. He said that pigeons in downtown in the 1960s were such a nuisance, that the city contracted with a pigeon trapper who caught and relocated them. Can anyone verify? Who was this fearless trapper? Don’t tell me it was trapper John!
***Ed Stewart also commented on the 1955-56 flood and said he had heard a ditch tender had removed the channel grate before the flood because it was always filling up with debris. It was too much work to always clean the grate. As a result of that removal, the huge log was able to flow under the city.
***Donna Robinson shared that Bob Hope also came to the Visalia Convention Center in 1979 as part of a fundraising campaign. She attended the event and recalled that the comedian spent most of time reclining on a couch rather than standing.

“The Visalia high school rugby team was ingloriously defeated yesterday afternoon in the practice game at Porterville with the team from the Porterville high school. The final score was 24 to 0. The Visalia boys proved a pitiful failure when it came to being in that class with the Porterville lads.”  Daily Morning Delta, November 6, 1910.

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