Friday, April 17, 2009

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Mystery Spot Identified…in 30 Minutes…Simply Amazing
Well, it took Randy Groom only 30 minutes to solve the Mystery Spot weathervane question offered in the last HH. Following the clues provided, Randy traced the weathervane to the top of the 1936 library building now the Children’s Library. A couple of days later, Patrick Barszcz cracked the puzzle, too. Great detective work Randy, and Patrick, you’re not bad either.

Are You Ready for Another Mystery Spot?
This one is very easy. Where is this marker? Here are the clues:
1. It is in a park in Visalia.
2. The park has a reversionary clause giving the donor the land back if the oak trees are harmed.
3. It would be difficult to play a football game here.
4. If you were in Mexico, someone might describe this park as “ovalado.”
Okay, that’s it. The first person to email me or call me with the correct location of this marker will be acknowledged in HH. Good luck.

Mearle’s is in the Pink!
As was mentioned in an earlier HH, the Kazarian’s, the owners of the Mearle’s building, asked about the original color of the exterior. There are no known records of paint colors, when the restaurant first opened as TAD’s in 1940. Mobert & Fitzgerald’s Paining & Decorating did the original painting, but they are nowhere to be found. I recently spoke with Mearle Heitzman who consulted with his wife Marilyn, and their conclusion was that the building was probably white or off white originally. It was during Mearle’s ownership that he changed the color to pink. To some, the original color of TAD’s is not important. Susan Mangini is one of them. She says, “From my perspective, the authentic color of Mearle’s is pink. As we’ve seen over the years, there are many shades of pink. The real, and better, question is: What shade of pink was it originally?” By the way, it was during Mearle’s ownership that the canvas awnings around the building were replaced with aluminum ones.

Bianco Photographs Give
Us Fresh Views
Old photographs have recently surfaced and it seems the name Bianco is taking front stage. Peter Cowper provided a great photograph, c. 1950, of a Visalia Main St. parade as it passed directly in front of Bianco Fine Foods (216 W Main). The building continues to stand today and now houses Marcela. The other set of photographs were provided by a man whose father was in the building trade years ago. The series of photographs show the construction of the Bianco Building on Encina and Center streets just north of the Fox Theatre. Franey’s is in the building now. John Bianco’s grandfather, Luke Bianco had the store on Main St and he was the one who was constructing the Bianco Building next to the Fox in the late 1940s. Both of these pictures are recent discoveries of these old buildings. Finding old photographs is a great way to preserve history.

Early Lawman Returns to Visalia
Native Visalian, George Reece, now living in Chico, CA came back to town the other day. George’s father, Paul had been a Tulare County Deputy Sheriff in the 1930s and George was a Tulare County Juvenile Officer who later became a state liquor control officer. George remembers going to the old county jail when his father worked there and also remembers the old Sheriff’s Dept. building. He showed me around the old bastille and shared some stories. One involved his father who captured an escapee in 1934. A prisoner was being booked in this old jail and while the jailer’s back was turned, the prisoner escaped running down the steps (the ones you see in this photograph.) Deputy Paul Reece, just coming to work, observed the escaping prisoner, and went into foot pursuit. Reece caught the fleeing prisoner, stuck his finger against the suspect’s back, and ordered him back to jail. Believing a gun was at his back, the suspect returned to jail without further incident. Thanks George for the visit, the tour and the history!

{{}} A number of you took the mystery of the McKowen headstone seriously and found that the McKowen’s were buried in the Vernal Memorial Park in Vernal, Utah. Why the headstone is here, is still a mystery. The Visalia Cemetery continues to work on it.
{{}} Regarding the Hilliard House (The Visalian), Peter Cowper shared, “That cranky old lady who lived in the Hilliard House ran folks off with a rifle if they stopped to ask her about the old Cadillac touring car that could be seen in her barn.”
{{}} I recently heard from J. C. Hickman who worked for the Visalia Times Delta as a reporter and managing editor from the early 1960s to 1971. Hope he will share some stories with us.

“At times apart from all the world
What rapture ‘tis to call
To mind the pleasant pictures that
We’ve hung in memory’s hall!”
Alonzo Melville Doty, Visalia Daily Morning Delta, January 19, 1899.