Former East Sacramento resident shares his early memories

Jim McFall, who grew up in East Sacramento, holds a copy of his senior year portrait. He graduated from Sacramento High School in February 1942. Photo by Lance Armstrong
Jim McFall served his country in both the Navy and the Army Air Corps during World War II. Photo by Lance Armstrong

At 90 years old, Jim McFall, who grew up in East Sacramento, enjoys reminiscing about the early years of his life. And it is because of that fact that he did not hesitate in accepting an offer to share some of those memories with readers of this publication.
Last week, while sitting alongside his wife, Patricia “Pat” (Lyons) McFall, who he married on Sept. 4, 1947, Jim flipped through his copy of Sacramento High School’s 1941 Review yearbook, as well as newspaper clipping and other mementos from his high school years.
He quickly became engrossed in the contents of those items, as he pointed to photographs of his former classmates and told stories about their activities during and after high school.
A few of his comments during that portion of his meeting with this paper were:
“Patty O’Connor, she was a pretty girl and pretty popular, too.
“There’s the Manana Club. That was the rich girls in East Sacramento. Martha Harrold (the daughter of automobile dealer Ellsworth Harrold). There was a heck of a lot of them. Well, the Breuners (of Breuner’s home furnishing store at 6th and K streets) had four girls. But it was that class of people who all formed the Del Paso Country Club.
“Phaedo was one of the boys’ clubs. They thought they were the best and were wrong.
Kerry Cutter was one of the officers in their boys’ club. The Cutter family (who resided in Curtis Park) was in (insurance) and real estate.
“The Butlers were pretty prominent in town, too. They lived on 41st Street, between J and L (streets). And they had a couple of kids, (including) Jean, who married Fred Carnie.
The Carnies, they opened up an awning, (tent and venetian blinds business at 515 L St.).”
After pointing to a photograph of a group of boys, Jim said, “This is the track team. Dr. Sutan wouldn’t pass me, because I had a fluttering heart and he wouldn’t give me the physical pass, and I couldn’t run in most of the events. I had been grounded, but I ran the 880 (yard)/half-mile on the same unit as (the future prominent California landscape artist) Greg Kondos.”
In speaking about his family, Jim said, “My father was (Winters, Calif. native) Walter Wyatt McFall and my mother was (Volcano, Calif. native) Vera Marie (Gilmore) McFall.
Connie Lou (who was four years older than Jim) was my sister and my brother was Bill. He was so much younger than me. When I went in the service, he was in the 5th grade or so.”
As far as his own schooling, Jim, prior to becoming a student at Sacramento High, attended David Lubin School at 3575 K St., Kit Carson Junior High School at 1300 54th St., and Sutter Junior High School at 1820 K St.
Although Jim was born in East Sacramento at the old Sutter Maternity Hospital – the original name of Sutter Memorial Hospital – he said that his first home was in Red Bluff.
“My father and two other men owned a (bus) stage line and lived in Red Bluff and had (stops in) Redding, Red Bluff, Marysville and Yuba City and Sacramento. Now when my mother was pregnant, she came down to Sacramento to stay with her sister-in-law, and the baby (Jim) was born in the old, wooden hospital. So, I was born in (East) Sacramento, but my parents’ actual residence was in Red Bluff.”
Jim mentioned that he has an early childhood recollection of his father driving a Packard automobile.
“My father’s car had the little vases in the windows and just about every weekend, we would go for a ride and pick flowers, and my job was to put them in the little vases of the car,” Jim recalled. “He never really took to cars, except the Packard. That to him was the car. Every (owner) of the bus line drove a Packard.”
Jim also shared a fond memory related to the other owner of the bus line.
“The other owner of the bus line was Wert Irwin, who had an ice creamery (called the Shasta Ice Cream Co.) on what would now be Broadway (and 28th Street). It had the best in the world ice cream. And as kids, with my dad, we would go in there on making of ice cream days when (Irwin) was whipping it up, and get whipped ice cream. It was the best thing you ever tasted. And he would take it out of the freezer and you would eat it. And I never will forget Wert’s ice cream.”
The McFalls, as Jim recalled, were living in Oakland in about 1928 and were residing in East Sacramento by the following year, when the family moved to 3921 N St.
Jim fondly spoke about a special feature of his former N Street home.
“That was one of the first places I ever remember my folks having a record player with flat records, and my mother had quite a few Enrico Caruso records,” Jim said.
It was also at that time that Walter was operating his own hardware store at 910 J St. He had previously run a hardware store in Oakland.
Regarding that business, Jim said, “His hardware store made what money they did off of contractors and he (provided supplies for) quite a few things for a contractor named Walter Campbell. And he and Walt Campbell got to be quite good friends, so much to the point that my sister and I went to swim in the Campbells’ swimming pool, which was really one of the few (swimming pools) around.”
From at least mid-April 1930 to about 1935, the McFalls resided at 1034 40th St.
And while living in that house, in about 1932, Walter closed his hardware store, and then spent many years working for the Diamond Match Co. at 2826 Q St.
Jim said that “the bank eventually took over the hardware store.” The store was replaced by the dental office of Dr. Paul Ehorn.
The McFalls resided at 2018 M St. (now Capitol Avenue) from about 1935 to 1938, but returned to live in East Sacramento in a home at 1035 40th St., across the street from their previous home in that area. Walter continued to own that home until the mid-1940s.
Research for this article revealed that Walter and Vera’s longtime residency in Sacramento dates back to before their time living in East Sacramento.
The 1920 U.S. Census recognizes Walter and Vera as residing in the capital city and notes that Walter was then a merchant in a hardware store.
Walter was residing in Sacramento by at least 1919 and operating Oakley’s hardware store at the aforementioned address of 910 J St., with Charles E. Trouse.
That store was established by Horace Lewis in about 1902, and named Oakley’s about four years later, when it was purchased by Paul Oakley.
Walter acquired his portion of the business directly from Oakley, who had partnered with Trouse, a former clerk and salesman with the Emigh-Winchell Hardware Co., in about 1918.
About six years later, Oakley’s became Trouse & Son hardware store and Walter began working as a clerk at Motor Carrier Terminals at 5th and I streets. And by April 1924, he was a resident of Red Bluff.
In returning to the topic of his schooling, Jim, who graduated from Sacramento High School in February 1942, spoke about one of his favorite topics – serving as the student body president of that school.
Among Jim’s old newspaper articles from his high school days is one, which, in part, reads: “By a sweeping majority, Jim Fall was elected president of the student body for the fall term (of the 1941-42 school year), last Friday. Jim McFall totaled 1,148 votes, winning from Nina Giordano and Don Yost.
“Other student body officers are Jac (sic) Stack, boys’ vice president; Janeth Calvert, girls’ vice president; Patty O’Connor, student body secretary; and Joe Goodwin, yell leader.”
Although it has been 73 years since he served as the school’s student body president, Jim said that position proved to be his greatest legacy.
“There are more people that remember me, not as a hero, but as the president of the (student body of the high) school than anything else I did,” Jim said.
Following high school years, Jim served his country during World War II.
Jim initially began serving in the Navy as a pilot, but he was eventually told by a doctor that he had an equilibrium issue that would permit him from flying at night.
Because of that situation, Jim made arrangements to join the Army Air Corps, and he began working on a bomber, but not as a pilot. His base was in the Galapagos Islands.
After the war ended, Jim returned to Sacramento, where he would eventually spend 35 years working for The Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Co./later known as AT&T California.
And with his wife, Pat, he began a family, and has two sons, Scott and Robert.
In concluding his meeting with this publication, Jim mentioned that he feels fortunate to have grown up as one of the kids of East Sacramento during the 1930s and 1940s.
“Everybody knew each other, and (the kids) didn’t really basically notice who you were and what you had or who your father was. It was fun.”

Lance@valcomnews.com

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