Sunday, August 30, 2009

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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, me, Terry Ommen at I will add you to the list.

The day after the Evers oak mystery spot was posted, Sandy Newman identified it as being at the Visalia Cemetery. But a short time later, she confessed to me she had consulted with Mr. Oak Tree – Alan George, and with his help she actually got it. Jane Nash got it also and remembered the Evers family who lived near the plaqued oak. Jane remembered Mr. Evers grew flowers and vegetables there and Bill Nash said their daughter Clara was his teacher. This mystery spot was a tough one and thanks to the few of you that got it.
Here's the New One For You
When J. M. Nelson Construction Co. of Visalia laid sidewalk, either he or one of his workers decided to leave 4 permanent hand tool impressions in the wet concrete. The tools are a hammer, screwdriver, adjustable wrench and pliers. Here are the clues to help you find the spot:
1) This concrete sidewalk area was poured probably in 1910s or 1920s.

2) This popular street that this impression is on was originally called Mill Street
3) The side of the street where this can be found is the same direction usually found at the bottom of a map.
4) This spot is in front of a building that once was a Chevrolet auto dealership.
Where is this mystery spot? Good luck!

Bardo Street runs north and south connecting Walnut and Paradise, and lies just a short distance west of Court Street. Native Visalian, Laudine Oliphant told me recently how the street got its name. In the 1950s much of the land near what is now Bardo and Walnut was open land owned by Mrs. Wiley Dixon. Dixon sold the 15-acre or so parcel for subdividing and in the course of that sale she acquired street naming rights. She named the brand new street Bardo Lane, which later became Bardo Street. Mrs. Dixon’s daughter’s name was Barbara and her 2nd husband’s daughter’s name was Doris. Combine the two and it became Bardo. Thanks Laudine, for sharing.

Vintage photographs transformed into collectible postcards and available now – VERY LIMITED SUPPLY There are hundreds if not thousands of old Visalia photographs that are locked away in private hands. Needless to say, only a select few people get to see and enjoy them. Bill Dillberg and I have undertaken a project to fix that. We have found Visalia photographs, and turned them into beautiful high quality collectible postcards. Patterned after old postcards, they measure 3 ½” x 5 ½” and have a historical description on the back. They were professionally printed and are available in very limited quantities. Collect them and/ or mail them. Each sealed pack contains the following postcards:
1) Index card showing a thumbnail of each postcard in the pack
2) Rare Camp Babbitt Band (circa 1864)
3) Ringling Bros. Circus Parade on Main Street (circa 1903)
4) Southern California Edison truck in 1945 floodwaters at Main and Court streets.
5) Tulare County Health Center building at 1549 W. Main Street (circa 1925)
6) Visalia Fire Department with hose cart (circa 1882)
7) Palace Hotel building containing Mixter’s Drug Store at Main and Court (circa 1938)
8) Visalia Public School (circa 1885)
It’s a great collection of rare old Visalia images in postcard format and available for $4.99 per pack, tax included. If you want the packs shipped, add $1.00 for the first pack and 50 cents for each pack thereafter or you can arrange for pickup. You will love everything about these postcards. One more thing, if you have a photograph that you would like to share, let me know and we can possibly make it into a postcard. Marian Cote did, and it is her Edison Co. photo included in this pack. Come on, join the pack! Questions please call me at (559) 901-3227 or email me at

Tulare County History Reference Book Available—But Hurry!
In 1892 Thomas H. Thompson published the classic Official Historical Atlas Map of Tulare County. In this amazing volume can be found important historical facts and names pertaining to our history, but before now, there was no index, so finding specific pieces of information was difficult. Now thanks to the Sequoia Genealogical Society, we have a 298-page comprehensive index that is bound in gorgeous burgundy hard cover. Only 100 copies were printed. Most of them were pre-sold so only a very few copies are available for purchase. Joseph Vicenti did most if not all of the indexing and he is good. Darned good! Cost is $24.50 plus tax and shipping. Questions? Please call (559) 685-2342 or email

Chimney Pot—No, Not Chamber Pot
Recently, Ann Shaw, an HH subscriber and antique expert, explained the term “chimney pot” to me. She showed me a clay one that she had in her backyard and explained that at least one Victorian era house in Visalia had one mounted on the top of its chimney. And just as she said, the house she directed me to had a “crown” type chimney pot. The house is located on the southeast corner of Tulare and Court Street. For centuries, these chimney pots served two purposes. First, they helped the “draw” of the fireplace and secondly they became an attractive design element for the house. We need to see if Visalia has more. If you spot another one, please let me know. Ann, we appreciate the lesson on chimney pots and now we know “What That's All About.”

** The carriage or buggy step looks like it is going to be restored. It doesn’t appear as if it is going to be a big job, and is certainly going to be worth the effort. The step at the Deveraux Law Firm could be the only remaining one in Visalia.
** Peter Cowper shared that as a 16-year old in about October 1964, he was one of the first employees at the Visalia Fair Mall. He worked at Woolworth’s part time and therefore was not entitled to free meals. But manager “Nellie Buck” would have no part of that, and she would conveniently announce “mistake on the grill” and deliver the burger and fries to Peter. No wonder Woolworth’s went out of business!

** Kathy and Harvey Hosman shared some great historical treasures. Kathy had a nice collection of 1955 flood photographs with most marked with exact locations, and Harvey shared keepsakes from his past as a Visalia Times Delta newspaperman. Thanks guys!

** Rosemary, who lives at Whidbey Island, Washington, recently came to Visalia and placed a bronze plaque near the homesite of her great grandfather, John Holmes Huntley, an early pioneer of Visalia. She mounted the plaque on a granite stone by her favorite oak tree near Willow and Wind streets on the East side of town—a tree she played under as a child. She promises to share more about her famous great grandfather. Rosemary, thank you for making sure the memory of your great grandfather isn’t forgotten. I am looking forward to hearing more about him.

“Bobby Gray, nine years old, is whistling his way from Sacramento to New Mexico, and is stopping in Visalia over the weekend to demonstrate what a human mocking bird can do. Bobby whistled when six weeks old instead of crying…he specializes in bird calls and can give true-to-life imitations of any bird call. His whistling demonstration should have a appeal to Boy Scouts…” Visalia Times Delta, Saturday, February 9, 1935.

Monday, August 17, 2009

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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, me, Terry Ommen at I will add you to the list.

Finally, Mystery Spot Identified!
Well, finally, we had a mystery spot that really was a “stumper.” It took a full week for someone to get it, and the winner is…. subscriber Harvey Hosman. He correctly identified the location of the so-called buggy or carriage step. J. M. and Peggy Bragg shortly thereafter came in with the right answer also. But only two of you got it. The concrete and brick relic is on the NW 1st Street curb at Court Street adjacent to the Deveraux Law Firm at 603 No. Court. It has some obvious damage, and go by and take a look. Very interesting. Even though it seems obvious that it is a buggy step, it sure would be nice to find proof that it actually was. A photo of it in use would be the “smoking gun.” Thanks Valerie Deveraux for letting us highlight your law firm and thanks Jay Belt for suggesting this as a mystery spot.

Now, Ready to Try A New Mystery Spot?
Where is this bronze/brass plaque? It has been hanging on this oak tree for a long time, so let’s see how observant you have been. Warning—this could prove to be more difficult the buggy step. Here are the clues:
1) It is on public property
2) Albert Evers is buried in the Visalia Cemetery
3) People are always resting under the shade of this old oak tree
4) Just a few feet away, water is being pumped from deep underground.
Good luck!

Life in 2009…Buried Deep in Concrete
The new Santa Fe overcrossing is being worked on right now, and when finished it will have 4 ornate corner pillars. Thanks to some good thinking on the part of Visalia City officials, time capsules will be placed in 2 of the pillars. One capsule will be scheduled for opening in 50 years, the other in 100. What do you think should be included in these capsules? What items do you think would help those future residents understand life in 2009 in Visalia. Call Nancy Loliva, Community Relations Manager at 713-4535 or email her at with your ideas. Deadline is September 10 and ask about the “sealing party” in October.

Remember Visalia Fair Mall?
This great old photograph is for everybody, but especially for Rudy. It shows the East side of the Visalia Fair Mall, now Visalia Mall. Sure has changed since the early 1963 about the time this photo was taken. Seems the only thing that stayed is See’s Candy.

Big Celebration
On Saturday, October 17, 2009, from 10:00am to 2:00pm there will be a party at Mooney Grove Park. The reason for the celebration? Well, first of all, the park is 100 years old and secondly, the new Museum of Farm Labor and Agriculture will be officially open. Park entrance fees will be waived for the event, so calendar it now. Also check this out—a chance to win $250.00 for the winner of the Mooney Grove Park Centennial Logo Art Contest. Contact Jed Chernabaeff at (559) 636-5000 for details. September 9, 2009 is the deadline! For all other birthday party details, contact Mila Magana at

Photographs of Visalia Lawman and Wife Surface
Constable William English was an elected lawman in the 1890s in the Visalia Township. Very few (I know of only one) photographs exist of this lawman who by the way was present at Stone Corral to see the mortally wounded John Sontag, the victim of a posse ambush. Maureen Anderson, reference librarian in the Annie Mitchell History Room, contacted me some days ago and told me William English’s Great Grandson was in Visalia researching his Great Grandfather. I met with Jon Goodfellow and his wife Teresa and thanks to Jon, a nice photograph of his Great Grandfather William English and his wife Eda now exists locally. Thanks to this nice couple, who made the long trip to Visalia on a history search, it is because of them that our history was made more complete!

{{}} A number of you responded to the request for auction item donations, and thanks to each of you. The Tulare County Historical Society will hold its annual BBQ/Auction on Saturday, September 26th at Mooney Grove Park. Proceeds from the BBQ and auction go to museum projects. More auction items are needed and welcomed. More information go to:
{{}} Thanks to all of you who shared memories of the historic Visalia Tea Garden and Estrada’s restaurants. It is very clear that both have left their mark on many people. I’d love to share some of your stories, but space is limited.
{{}} Terry Akers, an HH subscriber shared that when he was growing up in Visalia in the 1950s, Elmer’s CafĂ© was on Giddings Avenue across from the ballpark. About 60 years later, the Elmer’s building is still there having housed scores of restaurants with many different names over the years. Do you remember Elmer’s? Owner apparently came to Visalia from Texas or Oklahoma.

“Dogs—Our town is overrun with that most intolerable nuisance—a surplus of dog flesh. We are the friend of intelligent, respectable canines, but as for these ‘cures of low degree,’ we are decidedly down on them, and hope that some philanthropic individual will devise a speedy and effectual plan to abbreviate their sojourn with us.” Visalia Equal Rights Expositor, September 7, 1862 (About 6 months before the newspaper was destroyed by soldiers stationed in Visalia)