Fulster family has long tradition as Sacramento business owners

By LANCE ARMSTRONG, Valley Community Newspapers writer

When it comes to telling the history of Broadway, which extends eastward from the Sacramento River to 65th Street, it is important to include details about the Fulster family.
Chris Fulster, Jr. and his sister, Joan Fulster, stand in front of Chris’ Cottage Cheese in this photograph, which was taken in about 1938.

Chris Fulster, Jr. and his sister, Joan Fulster, stand in front of Chris’ Cottage Cheese in this photograph, which was taken in about 1938.

After all, the Fulster family’s history as business owners on this historic street dates back to the days when part of what is now Broadway was known as Y Street.

During the Depression – 1933 to be precise – a former Crystal Cream and Butter Co. employee, named Chris Fulster, Sr., opened Chris’ Cottage Cheese at 2432 Y St., across the street from a gas station owned by Grady B. Craig and just a block east of the Sacramento Grade A Milk Producers Association building.

Prior to Chris, Sr.’s opening of his cottage cheese business, local resident Walter Jackson had operated a curtain cleaning business at 2432 Y St. Jackson was managing the same business just a storefront away at 2434 Y St. when Chris, Sr. opened Chris’ Cottage Cheese in 1933.

By the time that Chris, Sr. opened his business, he had already worked in the dairy industry for a decade.

Soon after emigrating from Germany at the age of 18 in the early 1920s, Chris, Sr. was hired to work on a dairy farm in Seattle.

In 1932, following three years of working for Crystal at 1013 D St., Chris, Sr. established his own dairy delivery business from his home at 2613 N St. And with his wife,

Chris’ Cottage Cheese won many awards at the California State Fair for its high quality cottage cheese.  / Photo courtesy, Fulster Family

Chris’ Cottage Cheese won many awards at the California State Fair for its high quality cottage cheese. / Photo courtesy, Fulster Family

Alma, a native of Santa Rosa whose parents were from Switzerland, he would deliver milk, table cream, pastry cream, butter, eggs, cottage cheese and buttermilk.

Chris’ Cottage Cheese, which Chris, Sr. operated with Alma and later with his children, Chris Fulster, Jr. and Joan Fulster (now Joan Drake) and various other employees throughout the years, relocated to 2520 Y St. in 1937. And it appears that the business’s original building was then-soon demolished, since its address does not appear in city directories after 1936.

Although it has been many years since Chris, Sr. and Alma passed away, fortunately for the sake of history, Chris, Jr., who is approaching his 80th birthday, remembers many details about the second location of his family’s cottage cheese business.

“In the front (of the business) were the vats on the left hand side, where we made the cottage cheese,” said Chris, Jr., a member of McClatchy High School’s January Class of 1950. “In the back was where we had the cream and the separators and we made the buttermilk (for Home Milk and Ice Cream Co. at 1700 21st St.) in the big refrigerator and where we packaged the cottage cheese, and then we had a platform where the truck came in and we dumped in the milk from the milk cans.”

Chris Fulster, Sr. takes a walk with his caddie, a golden retriever, named Tiny, in this 1976 scene at William Land Park. The dog-powered golf cart was one of Chris Fulster, Sr.’s many inventions.  / Photo courtesy, Fulster Family

Chris Fulster, Sr. takes a walk with his caddie, a golden retriever, named Tiny, in this 1976 scene at William Land Park. The dog-powered golf cart was one of Chris Fulster, Sr.’s many inventions. / Photo courtesy, Fulster Family

In the early years of the business, which also provided cream for the ice cream of Borden’s Capital Dairy Co. at 1301 S St., Chris, Sr. would pick up milk from dairies located south of the city, but eventually this work was transferred to Chris, Jr.

The milk was picked up in the early morning hours in 10-gallon cans from dairymen in Point Pleasant, Bruceville and on Franklin Boulevard, north of the town of Franklin, and placed on a flatbed truck.

Depending upon the day and time of the year, somewhere between about 125 and about 150 cans of milk were picked up from these dairies per day.

Although various people would randomly walk in and purchase cottage cheese directly from the business, Chris’ Cottage Cheese was mainly a commercial operation, which delivered to all the major Sacramento groceries stores –  Raley’s, Stop-N-Shop, Lucky’s, Cardinal, etc. – except Safeway. Deliveries were also made to Folsom.

Chris, Jr., who also has a sister named Carol (Fulster) Schauer, a wife named Mary, two sons, Chris III and Craig, and three grandsons, Craig, Jr., Chase and Skyler, said that his sister, Joan, dedicated a lot of her time demonstrating products at local grocery stores.

In being that Chris’ Cottage Cheese concentrated on a single product, the business was able to reach such a high degree of excellence with its cottage cheese manufacturing that it won 17 California State Fair gold medal awards for making the best cottage cheese in the state.

Like many businesses of Sacramento’s past, Chris’ Cottage Cheese had its own bowling team.

Chris Fulster, Jr. stands near Broadway Bait, Rod and Gun, which he opened more than 40 years ago. Although he continues to work at the business, his son, Chris Fulster III, is the business’s owner. / Valley Community Newspapers photo, Lance Armstrong

Chris Fulster, Jr. stands near Broadway Bait, Rod and Gun, which he opened more than 40 years ago. Although he continues to work at the business, his son, Chris Fulster III, is the business’s owner. / Valley Community Newspapers photo, Lance Armstrong

The team, which bowled at Alhambra Bowl at 1221 Alhambra Blvd., won several championships, including its 1950 Alhambra American Bowling League championship.

Five years later, the team won the Orselli Memorial Championship with its members, Chris, Sr., Mel Pratt, Chet Kitlas, Del Healy, Jack Ertle and John O’Connell.

In addition to bowling, Chris, Sr. enjoyed hunting, fishing, and golfing at William Land Park.

During his retirement years, Chris, Sr., who lived at 2810 3rd Ave. for the last half of his 80 years of life, had a very special caddie, a golden retriever, named Tiny, who would pull his golf bag and clubs on a cart.

Chris, Jr. remembers his father as an intelligent man who spoke English, German, French and Chinese, never used a calculator and was a perfectionist in all of his activities, including sports.

Additionally, Chris, Jr. noted that his father patented several items during his life, including a metal duck decoy, twin stabilizers for small boats, a combined duck decoy and stabilizer and the Hand-E boot hanger and carrier.

In 1957, Chris, Sr. sold Chris’ Cottage Cheese to Crystal, which continued the business under the same name for the following two years, after which time, Dick and Dora Culp opened D&D Saw Shop at 2520 Broadway.

Sacramento Appliance Rentals was the last business to occupy this address and the building, which was replaced by a Department of Motor Vehicles parking lot, was demolished in about 1968.

Chris, Jr., who opened Broadway Bait, Rod and Gun, which is currently located at 1701 Broadway, more than 40 years ago, said that he does not know if there is a family who has been connected with Broadway for as many years as his own family has been directly associated with the historic street, with the exception of the Setzer family of Setzer Forest Products at 2570 3rd St., just south of Broadway. The Setzers opened their business at this site six years prior to the opening of Chris’ Cottage Cheese.

“My parents came here (to today’s Broadway) during the Depression and I grew up on Broadway back when it was a two-lane road,” said Chris, Jr., who even owned a dog named Broadway during the 1980s and 1990s. “I grew up in a house directly behind (Chris’ Cottage Cheese) and I went to Sierra School (at 2815 24th St.) and I worked at (Chris’ Cottage Cheese) doing everything. I picked up milk, I delivered cottage cheese to all the grocery stores and I made the cottage cheese. I’ve spent most of my life working on Broadway.”

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