Monday, November 26, 2012

Wild Tulare County
is now available!

Can be purchased from the following:

Tulare County Historical Society
P.O. Box 295
Visalia, CA 93279
(559) 635-4896

Tulare Historical Museum
444 W. Tulare Ave
Tulare, CA 93274
(559) 686-2074

Book Garden
189 E. Pine
Exeter, CA 93221
(559) 592-2538

Linda's Used Books
1107 E. Houston Ave
Visalia, CA 93292
(559) 734-1043

Can be purchased online at:

Friday, November 2, 2012

Click on photo for larger image
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.

Well, the last mystery spot turned out to be a tough one. Very few got it, but Art Browning did and he was the first. He correctly identified this big insulated door as being part of the ice vault in the Glick’s building at Goshen and Willis. When Glick’s built their building they built it around this vault which I believe was part of the original Visalia Ice Company on that site previously. Nice work on this one Art.

Here are the clues for the next mystery spot:
1.  For many years this building was known for providing good transportation.
2.  The man whose name is connected it has the same last name as the 28th President of the United States.
3.  For many years the company also sold and serviced Harley Davidson motorcycles.
4. This building is close to lots of money.
Good luck!

So Dear To My Heart
Some time back, Charles Loffland reminded me of the Disney movie “So Dear To My Heart” starring Burl Ives. The movie is also dear to the heart of Visalia and Tulare County folks because much of it was filmed near Porterville, Springville, California Hot Springs and Mooney Grove Park. Quite a few Tulare County residents appeared in this movie as extras including JoAnn Ledbetter (George) who by the way was one of the few extras that actually got paid. Walt Disney himself stayed at the Hotel Johnson during some of the filming. The movie was released in 1949 and it played at the Fox Theatre in Visalia. It’s a cute movie that still can be found and enjoyed. It’s worth seeing and who knows, you might get a glimpse of a familiar Tulare County landmark or face.

She’s Probably the Oldest Gal in Town

Some time ago HH follower Carole Mathewson mentioned the statue of goddess Minerva that sat on top of the dome of the old Tulare County Courthouse here in Visalia. It stood at the top for at least 75 years. She was put there (see yellow arrow) at the time of construction (1876-77.) After the big 1952 Tehachapi earthquake, the courthouse was damaged beyond repair and was razed, but Minerva was saved. She is on display at the Tulare County Museum at Mooney Grove Park. Kinetha Cochran’s museum photograph shows it in all its glory on display. But mystery surrounds this old carving. Who carved her? Did a local artist do it, or was it ordered from a catalog? Why was she picked to adorn the courthouse building? Minerva is the Greek goddess of wisdom. Why wasn’t the Roman goddess of justice “Justitia” picked instead? What is Minerva made of? Some say redwood, but have we verified that for sure? We may find some of the answers to these questions some day, but in the meantime, we can all be thankful that the 7 ½’ Minerva survived. Go by the museum and say hi to her. She doesn’t look half bad for a 135-year old who has been exposed to the harsh valley weather for so long. Don’t be intimidated by her spear or shield.

Classic Visalia Flood Photo Found
Matt Weger, the son of Mike Weger, found this classic Visalia flood photograph at a yard sale and bought it for $2.00. Can you imagine picking up a great old photograph of Visalia for $2.00. Great find, Matt! The view in this photo is looking north on Church Street from Main Street and it was taken during one of the devastating floods in 1906. None of the buildings that you see in this photo exist today. If you didn’t know it already, Visalia has flooded on a regular basis and when it did, man did it bring out the cameras. Thanks again, Matt, for sharing this 106-year old beauty with us.

Roller Skating Has Deep Roots
Roller skating in Visalia has been a popular discussion topic in HH for quite awhile , but unfortunately, I do not have any vintage pictures to include. Does anyone have a nice old one they are willing to share? The image displayed here is a generic one with no local connection. A number of you have passed on stories including this one from Rita Loffland Cooley. She describes her earliest remembrance of roller skating in Visalia (skating that wasn’t just around the block.) She said, “In the very early 1940s in the summer time there were portable roller skating rinks that appeared in town and were set up in the vacant fields of the block surrounded by Main, Willis, Acequia and West streets. My sister Janet and I were very young and our parents would take us down there very early in the evening, and the workers would let us skate on their portable rink with our own skates (they didn’t have rental skates small enough for us.) By the time the young adults appeared for their skating of the evening, we had returned home and gone to bed. A fun memory.” Surely there must be a photograph of these portable skating rinks. Believe it or not, skating in Visalia dates back to at least 1871. This advertisement is from the Visalia Weekly Delta  August 17, 1871. By the way, the St. Charles building was on the southwest corner of Court and Main streets.

***Peter McDonald, Dean of Library Services at Fresno State and Jill Moffat, Exhibit Curator at the Henry Madden Library at Fresno State, have been doing some very creative thinking. By collaborating they have created a valley-wide project that they call “Valley Firsts.”  This project involves collecting different historical firsts from around the southern/central San Joaquin Valley counties. Part of their project will be a display of historical items at the Madden Library in 2013. However, Peter has his sights on a bigger valley-wide project. He would like to see a history roundtable made up of valley-wide history types with website to go along with it. Collaboration efforts crossing county lines could be made using this website. It has a lot of potential and I believe it would be worthwhile. Let me know if you’d like to be involved.

***I was contacted recently by an individual from an academic institution asking about historic photographs of Latino baseball teams or players. I didn’t have any, but did have an article from 1939 that talked about what was called the Visalia Mexican Athletic Club. They played other teams from different cities. Anyone have any photographs of early Latino baseball?

***Nancy Loliva wants to share the news of the Visalia Electric model train display that is going to be unveiled at the Visalia Transit Center. Louis Whitendale, Ron Humason and Ron Wyatt spent many hours putting this display together. A brief unveiling ceremony will be held on Thursday, November 15th at 10:30am at the Transit Center at 425 E. Oak Street and light refreshments will be served. If you like more information on this event, click here: for the press release or you can call the Transit Center at 713-4100.

***Okay, this might be the answer we were looking for about the J. C. Penney’s overhead contraption here in Visalia. This came from Bobbye Banks: She wrote,  “I hope I can shed some light on the above blog you posted. I worked at the Penney’s store at the NW corner of Main and Court during the holidays and summers from 1952 or 1953 until 1955. In the 1940s there was a 2-3” tube that came down from the 2nd floor. It stopped about 24” above each checkout table in the store. Each purchase was put in an envelope with the invoice and the customer’s money. The clerk would then pull the cord attached to the tube and the envelope went up the tube to the 2nd floor where the bookkeeper had her office; the change came back down for the employee to give to the customer. By the time I went to work at Penney’s, the cord had been replaced with a suction system. We would remove the bottom cap from the tube, place the invoice and money inside, replace the cap and the contents would go ‘SCHLUUP!!!’ up to the bookkeeper.”

The Visalians know how to enjoy themselves in the mountains. Eighteen gallons of whisky went with a camping party (male of course) to the arctic regions of Kern river a few weeks back. The return journey was made last week, but minus their friend Alco Hol. Visalia Daily Times, August 6, 1892

Thursday, November 1, 2012