Saturday, February 9, 2013

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Congratulations go to Art Browning who was the first to identify part of the large neon sign at Surplus City as the last Mystery Spot. So many of you identified it correctly, but Art was the first.

This next Mystery Spot is going to be harder, so get ready. Here are the clues:
1.      This Visalia building once housed one of the biggest clubs in California.
2.      This building once sat on Mineral King Ave, before it was moved.
3.      The decorative tile trim pattern on this building is unique in Visalia.
4.      The club that was once in this building, still has a presence in Visalia.
Where is this building located now? Good luck.

Photograph of Kids Drive-in Hangout is Located
In the last HH, the old McDonald’s Drive-In was mentioned as a hangout for young people “dragging” Main Street. I made a request for a photograph of the drive-in and Marian Shippey Cote and Art Browning both found this one in the 1954 Oak yearbook. This old drive-in sure feels like “American Graffiti.” By the way, the McDonald’s drive was on the southeast corner of Floral and Center (where Visalia Community Bank now stands.) Thanks Marion and Art for finding this photo.

Grain Sack Sewer’s Tools
Well, Guy Shelly has shared with us again. His family was good friends with Bert Gifford, a jack-of-all-trades. He was an automobile mechanic and is shown here working on the Shelly family car in about 1947. Bert also worked on threshing crews harvesting grain in Tulare County. His job on the crew was bagging the grain and sewing up the bags. To do that, he needed tools and the primary tool was this grain sack sewing kit. As a “sack sewer”, Bert made his needle case out of leather and carried it in his pocket. Thanks Guy for so generously sharing, and Leonard Cote for completing the needle set. Sack sewers are not in demand much anymore, but at one time they were critical in harvesting.

Fox Theatre Marquee—Viva Las Vegas
I talked with Paul Fry, manager of the Fox Theatre recently and he tells us that the beautiful old movie house has a fundraising campaign underway to raise money for several theater projects. One project that is in the works is a marquee upgrade. According to Paul, replacing this old marquee would do two things. First of all, the existing marquee is “worn out.” Secondly, replacing it with a “digital” marquee would encourage advertisers to display ads on the marquee which would bring in additional revenue. The current marquee on the theater is not the original one. Here is a rendering of what a digital marquee might look like. I don’t believe details of the replacement are worked out yet, so this is just a concept. Would it have animated images moving on the marquee? Would it be in a form that would blend in with the lines and architectural style of the theater? Would a replacement marquee with advertisers commercials on it, meet the requirements of the Visalia sign ordinance. Many of these and other questions are yet to be answered. I trust the public will be kept informed as the marquee element moves forward. The Fox Theatre is a city treasure and I hope whatever decisions are made, they will take into account the overall appearance of this 1930 building.  Whatever is decided, I hope the elegant and historic character of the theater will not be compromised. Thanks Paul, for keeping us informed.

Hometown Boys and Girls in the Armed Forces
During World War II Guy Shelley’s mother made scrapbooks using newspaper clippings of local military personnel who were serving in the armed forces. She clipped many articles out of the Visalia Times Delta mainly from a section called “Hometown Boys in the Service” and later from the new column called “Our Men and Women in Service.” Both columns gave the folks back on the home front, news about locals serving their country. It sure was a nice way for the community to keep track of its young people.

Photography Project Leads to More Photographs
Recently Matt Kneeland shared that he was working on a photography project with his mom. While doing so, Kim Cribbs (family name Morgan) gave him a few additional photographs. Here is one she provided showing Visalia’s Main Street during one of Visalia’s many floods. I would guess this picture is connected to the 1945 flood.  Floods  sure brought out the cameras. Matt also found  a card advertising “Dinah’s Shack.” Anyone ever hear of Dinah’s Shack? Thanks, Matt.

Tucked in a Cigar Box
Darl Ann Rector was going through her great-grandfather’s trunk and cigar box recently and found some interesting things. One of them was this 1911 receipt from the Goldstein and Iseman’s Store in Visalia. She also shared some very interesting genealogical material on the local Krepps family. Thanks as always for sharing Darl.

***Gilbert Gia, an amazing historian living in Bakersfield, recently found an 1875 article in the Overland Monthly Outwest Magazine. In the article the writer described entering Visalia from the Goshen area. He wrote, “We soon entered one of the prettiest districts of rolling lawn land to be seen anywhere. Beautifully wooded, with level reaches of short thick grasses….”  As always Gil, thanks for keeping your friends to the north informed.

***John T. Austin, has just finished his book called Floods and Droughts of the Tulare Lake Basin. I know John and the quality of his work and the book is destined to be the best single source for anything water in our area. The book can be purchased from the Sequoia Natural History Association website or you can get a free download at

***Sadly, California has lost a wonderful promoter of history. Huell Howser passed away last month. He was a part of California’s Gold and the history lovers of the Golden State will feel the loss.

***Art Brumley believes he has lost a hot dog stand! He thinks he remembers it next door to the Mooney Blvd. carwash just north of Walnut. Anyone remember a hotdog stand there, and a name?

*** Cindy Hill wants to know how the name “Modoc” originated in Visalia. We are a long way from the Native American tribe of that name in northern California. Anyone know?

***Several of you shared that elementary/middle schools are publishing yearbooks just like high schools. Thanks, I didn’t know that.

***Hope some of you found loved ones in the class of 1941 photo in HH last month. Tony Cornett found his mom and Godmother.

“The agent of the Levitt-Huggins Shows [carnival] at the Hotel Johnson personally will give $100 in cash to any white man living in Visalia or surroundings, $100 to any white lady, or $200 to any colored man, and $250 to any colored woman who will sleep in the graveyard overnight on a cot chained and hand-cuffed, with no protection but a knife and a gun…” Visalia Daily Times, January 7, 1921.