Ed Mauricio recalls life in Riverside-Pocket area in the 1920s, beyond

Photo Caption: Ed Mauricio grew up in the Riverside-Pocket area in the 1920s and 1930s. Photo by Lance Armstrong
Photo Caption: Ed Mauricio grew up in the Riverside-Pocket area in the 1920s and 1930s. Photo by Lance Armstrong

Editor’s Note: This is the first article in a series about Riverside-Pocket area native Ed Mauricio.

At 92 years old, Riverside-Pocket area native Ed Mauricio is a rarity, as he is one of the few people who can tell firsthand stories about life in that area during the 1920s and 1930s.
It was because of that point that he was asked to share some of his memories of his life with readers of the Pocket News.
During his interview with this publication last week, Ed said that there is a possibility that he was born at a roadhouse that was located a short distance north of the old bar, which is known today as The Trap.
“I could have been born at home (at the roadhouse on the old Riverside Road),” Ed said. “I don’t know. I know the doctor used to make home calls.”
Ed was the youngest of the children of Manuel Mauricio and Carrie (Nevis) Mauricio.
His siblings, in order of their births, were Beatrice “Bea”, Isabel, Manuel and Herman.
Ed, who is the last survivor of these featured Mauricio family members, experienced hardship in the early part of his life, as his father died when he was 5 years old and his mother died five years later.
After being asked to speak about his parents, Ed said, “I don’t remember that much about my parents. It was pretty hard on my mother taking care of us. I figure we were on welfare. And I think the (St. Maria) Church – the old church down there on (today’s) Pocket Road – helped us out.
“We lived (in the roadhouse) until my dad passed, then we moved to the home there across the street (at 5890 Riverside Blvd. on the west side of the road near the levee), where Wesley Silva lives. We moved to that house when I was about 5 or 6.”
Ed said that his father operated a 33-acre ranch that was located on the east side of the roadhouse, and that his father’s ranch was one-third of a once larger property.
“It was (formerly one property) and they split it three ways,” Ed said. “I don’t remember who (originally owned the property). There was a man we used to call Black John. He was one of (the ranch owners). Then there was my father. I don’t know who the other person was (who owned the third ranch). And I don’t know who bought the acreage, but they split it three ways. (The ranches) were all about the same size. They were all Portuguese who owned the properties.”
The Mauricio ranch had wheat, grapes, alfalfa, and some orchards, which included peach trees.
Following his father’s death, Ed moved with his aunt and uncle, Tony and Lena Silva, and their children, Wayne, Arlene and Harlan, into the house where Wesley Silva now resides.
During his grammar school years, Ed was a student at the old Sutter School, which is now home to Cabrillo Civic Club #5 at 4605 Karbet Way.
Ed said that he lived in that house until he was about 11 years old, at which time he moved to (the Merced County city of) Gustine, where he worked on a dairy farm milking cows.
“I went to a dairy and that was a bad time in my life,” Ed said. “I felt like maybe (his aunt and uncle) didn’t want me anymore. I went to work for the Souzas in Gustine. I don’t remember their first names. I was milking cows. I would get up in the morning and go to school and then when I was 13, I got sick and I was still milking cows. I got to where I was milking 13 cows a day. I got down to one cow, and my uncle who happened to come by, he brought me to Sacramento and took me to the doctor and they put me on medication.
“What I remember was I thought the doctor said I had Asian flu. I know I was sicker than a dog. I lost a lot of weight. It took me about six months for me to get my weight back. When my uncle brought me back, I went to my grandma’s house in the Pocket and I stayed with my grandma (Mary Nevis) for a while. My oldest sister, Bea, got married (to King Silva) and then I moved in with her in the old house there where Wesley lives. I was still about 13 then. I stayed there until I went and joined the Navy (in August 1942).”
Ed, who also attended California Junior High School and was one of the earlier students at C.K. McClatchy High School, spoke about some of his neighbors, saying, “One of the neighbors was Dolores and Marvin (Silva), and Victor, their father, and Mamie, their mother, and then (Dolores and Marvin’s) grandparents (John Joseph and Clara Perry Machado) were next door. The DaRosas were down the street. That was my uncle (Antone Garcia DaRosa, who was married to Maria Filomena Simas DaRosa). Elmer and Francis were the sons. Alice and Marie were their daughters. And then there were the Rosas. Manuel (Garcia) Rosa was the one who married Mary Dutra, who was one of the daughters (of Antone Perry and Louise Florence Lewis Dutra of the old Dutra House at the present day address of 8144 Pocket Road). (Manuel) had the box factory (Florin Box and Lumber Co.). And they had a couple of kids. And then we had Japanese neighbors (the Masuharas, near) us. There were a lot of Japanese in the area.”
In responding to a request to describe the distances between houses in the area at that time, Ed said, “Where I was born and raised, maybe it was 200 or 300 feet between the Silvas’ house and maybe 200 or 300 feet to where the Japanese (neighbors) lived. Maybe it was further than that. The houses in those days really weren’t that close. The next house after the Machados was maybe a couple of blocks, maybe three blocks from the next house, and I don’t remember who used to live there.”
With a smile on his face, Ed continued to describe his memories of the area during his meeting with the Pocket News.
More of those memories will be presented in the next edition this paper.


Florist Al Balshor leaves grand legacy in community

“Mr. Southside” was connected to his childhood neighborhood for 90 years

Al and Marie Balshor, shown in this 2010 photograph, were married on Jan. 1, 1948. Photo by Lance Armstrong
Al and Marie Balshor, shown in this 2010 photograph, were married on Jan. 1, 1948. Photo by Lance Armstrong

Sacramento native Antonio Alberto “Al” Balshor, who operated one of the city’s oldest floral shops, the family-owned Balshor Florist, died last Thursday, March 19. He was 90.
Born on Nov. 22, 1924, Al grew up in a large family in a home at 315 U St., near Southside Park. And he remained connected to the Southside area for the remainder of his life, thus earning himself the nickname of “Mr. Southside.”
In speaking about that title, his wife, Marie, 87, said, “(Al) was a Southsider through and through until his dying day. He always felt so proud to own the home that he was born in. That was 90 years ago. And he was so involved with the Southside Improvement Club.”
Additionally, Al was a charter member of Southside American Legion Post 662 and a member of the Sacramento Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Portuguese Club and the Portuguese Historical and Cultural Society.
Al’s family, which also includes his surviving children, Judie, Al, Jr. and Jerry, was a cherished part of his life.
And, of course, there was his Portuguese-born mother, Grace (Secco) Balshor, who was one of Al’s greatest loves. A large photograph of Grace hangs on a wall at Balshor Florist at 2661 Riverside Blvd., just south of Broadway.
Al’s bond with his mother increased following the death of his Portuguese-born father, Arthur, on Dec. 15, 1929.
Marie, who met Al in 1934 and was married to him on New Year’s Day in 1948, added that with Arthur’s death, Al “became an instant man.”
And with added responsibilities as the “man” of the family, Al began working during his youth.
His jobs included selling programs for boxing matches at the old L Street Arena at 223 L St., pitching watermelons at the Sacramento Farmers Market at 2630 5th St., just south of Broadway, washing bottles at Jones Howell pickle works at 315 T St., and working as a motorcycle courier for Willis & Martin Co. at 1001-1003 K St.
Additionally, while attending the old Lincoln Junior High School at 4th and Q streets in the late 1930s, Al delivered newspapers on three routes for The Sacramento Bee.
In an interview with the Land Park News last May, Al spoke about one of those routes, saying, “I used to go out and get the first papers off of The Sacramento Bee’s press, and that was at 7th and I (streets). I would take the first papers. There would be 25. They would come up the chute and I would run down the hallway, get on the bike and I had 10 minutes to get over to the (Southern Pacific) depot and catch the train going to San Francisco. The papers would come out at 12:15 (p.m. and) the train left at 12:25 (p.m.). Many times, I caught (the train) on the go.”
After graduating from Sacramento High School in June 1942, Al obtained a job as a flower wholesale worker for Lino Piazza at 1328 7th St., before accepting a position delivering ice for the Consumers Ice & Cold Storage Co. at 831 D St.
Like many young men in the 1940s, Al served his country during World War II.
In speaking about that time in Al’s life, Marie said, “He was so proud of being in the service for 23 months, and he was under Gen. George Patton’s army. He served in the European campaign.
“He wasn’t exactly in the Normandy invasion, but he came in to clear the path, they built the beaches and they were able to drive their ambulance right off of the boat.
“And he was definitely in the Battle of the Bulge. (Many) Americans got killed, and he picked up dead bodies.”
Although Al was given official clearance to return home after his brother, Joe, died in the war on Jan. 13, 1944, he opted to remain in the Army.
Al spent six months in Wales before D-Day and was on the border of Poland when the war ended.
After returning to his hometown, Al went to work at Relles Florist at 2220 J St. by way of the GI Bill.
And on Nov. 4, 1950, Al opened the original location of Balshor Florist at 730 O St.
Twenty-two years later, a plan to redevelop the site forced Al to relocate his business to its present location at 2661 Riverside Blvd.
Until recently, Al continuously went to work every day, six days a week.
While sitting in his office at his floral shop a few months ago, Al commented about his continuous run of working that dated back to his childhood.
“A little hard work never hurt anyone,” Al said, with a gentle smile that was part of his endearing demeanor.
It was his kind-hearted, soft spoken nature and knack for listening that drew people to seek his advice and friendship.
And as a longtime icon in the community, Al attracted many friends throughout his life, as was evident by the constant flow of visitors who stopped by his shop four months ago to wish him a happy 90th birthday.
Al’s many friends are invited to attend his funeral service at St. Elizabeth Portuguese National Church at 1817 12th St. on Monday, March 30 at 10 a.m.
A viewing will be held at Klumpp’s funeral home at 2691 Riverside Blvd. on Sunday at noon, and a rosary will be held at the same site on Sunday at 6 p.m.
The burial will occur at St. Mary’s Cemetery at 6700 21st Ave. on Monday, following the funeral services.


California American Portuguese Veterans Memorial close to becoming a reality

Steve Kanelos installs the temporary sign for the future California American Portuguese Veterans Memorial at Capitol Park. Photo by Lance Armstrong
Steve Kanelos installs the temporary sign for the future California American Portuguese Veterans Memorial at Capitol Park. Photo by Lance Armstrong

Having a California American Portuguese Veterans Memorial placed at the southern end of Capitol Park is something that a group of local people have been striving to have become a reality for several years. And it appears that the group’s dedicated efforts are finally about to pay off.
On Monday morning, March 9, Steve Kanelos arrived at the park and installed a sign, which reads: “Proposed site: California American Portuguese Veterans Memorial.”
Steve’s father, Gus, had suggested the idea of such a memorial many years prior to the formation of a committee for the project.
After being asked to describe his feelings regarding having that sign placed at the park, Steve said, “Well, it’s been a long time coming, and we’ve been waiting a long time for this (moment). It’s a great accomplishment and we feel that it’s just the beginning of what’s next to come here.”
The group working to have the monument set in place at Capitol Park prefers the name American Portuguese, as opposed to Portuguese American, because they are dedicated to the notion that they are “Americans first and Portuguese second.”
In commenting about that point, Eddie Maria III, the chairman of the committee, said, “We never lose sight of the fact, of course, that we are Americans first that have a strong, rich (appreciation) of our Portuguese heritage.”
And part of that heritage is the service of “American Portuguese,” who served in the United States military.
During an interview with this publication following the installation of the sign, Maria said, “(Portuguese) came here from Portugal and without being required to do so, signed up and said, ‘I want to fight for this country. I’m from Portugal, but I’m an American citizen and I want to fight for the freedoms of America. And even if I’m not being asked to do so, I’m going to step up and fight for this country.’”
Maria, whose Portuguese grandparents came to America through Hawaii in the 1910s, also shared details about the project to have the memorial placed at the park.
“It all started at an American Portuguese Club meeting some years ago,” said Maria, who grew up in the Pocket and graduated from John F. Kennedy High School in 1987. And Gus Kanelos (who had a very Greek American upbringing and is also part Portuguese and part Italian) came in as a past president of the APC. He attended the meetings regularly, and at the meeting that I attended – one of my first meetings, actually – (Gus) talked to the group about the opportunity to honor American Portuguese that served for this country (from) California.
“There was quite a bit of excitement about the opportunity. It was something that I’m sure a lot of the people within the organization had not considered before. We knew about these monuments (on the grounds of) the state Capitol, but they always looked to be so expansive, in such that we never thought that a little group like the American Portuguese Club could do something like that. We saw hundreds of thousands of dollars into these incredible looking monuments, and thought, ‘What could we really accomplish?’ But we set forth to see.”
The group met with people who had previously worked on monument projects to obtain a better understanding of what it would take for the group to meet its goal of honoring “American Portuguese” military veterans from California through a special monument.
The first official meeting of the committee was held at Balshor Florist at 2661 Riverside Blvd. in May 2011, and later meetings were held at the Cabrillo Club at 4605 Karbet Way.
Maria acknowledged the ongoing efforts of the committee, saying, “I believe that the only reason we’re here today putting the temporary sign to let people know the future of this monument is because of the hard work and the passion and the dedication that the eight-member committee had to making this happen.”
Additionally, Maria praised the APC, noting that it “took (the monument project) by the horns and ran with it.”
APC presidents during that time have been Wes Silva, Phil Soto and Jack Cornelius.
In speaking about one of the obstacles of the lengthy process of reaching the present status of the monument project, Maria said, “Maybe 18 months or so ago, I didn’t even know if we would be able to put a temporary sign in this spot. There were a lot of concerns from different departments of the state Capitol. They just didn’t want this to be a situation where you had a bunch of monuments all over the place. And they termed it as looking like a graveyard.”
The group had originally planned for a much larger memorial, which was described in the Sept. 15, 2011 edition of this paper, as follows: “The arched-topped center piece of the green granite memorial, which will include American and Portuguese national flags and insignias of military service branches and the POW-MIA insignia, will stand 96 inches tall by 24 inches wide by 10 inches thick, and will be accompanied by two outside wing pieces, which will each measure 86 inches tall by 24 inches wide by 10 inches thick.
The base of the monument, which will be created by the Ruhkala Monument Co. of Sacramento, will be 10 inches tall by 96 inches wide by 16 inches deep.”
That large monument plan was eventually abandoned, and a compromise was agreed upon.
The committee mentioned that the project now calls for a granite memorial bench, which is anticipated to be installed as early as this summer, but no later than the end of this year.
The cost of the project is estimated at $80,000, a sum that includes an $8,500 state inspection fee. Thus far, about $43,000 of those needed funds has been raised.
In front of the bench, which will be about 7 feet long, will be four pavers, with the names of sponsors, donors and honored veterans.
Maria spoke about the bench, saying, “Over time, we got some responses back from the Department of General Services (and) the California Department of Veterans Affairs. And their point of view was that we needed to do something a little different than we initially anticipated. We needed to create something that could be useful in the park, and that’s where the bench idea came into play.”
A very significant day in the process of having the memorial placed in the park was Sept. 28, 2012, when the bill for the memorial was signed. The bill’s author was Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen, of Modesto. There were also about 10 coauthors of the bill.
In speaking about Olsen, Maria said, “Without her support, we would not be here. There is no doubt about it. She’s been part of (the monument efforts) every step of the way.”
Maria also commended various members of the Department of General Services, and J.P. Tremblay, deputy secretary of the state Department of Veterans Affairs, who he described as “a huge supporter and somebody that we’ve counted on from the very beginning.”
But Maria’s highest praise was given to committee member Loretta (Petit) Kanelos, who was heavily supported in her efforts by her husband, Gus, who is also a member of the committee.
“It is amazing the amount of time that (Loretta) has put into (this project). She has never wavered in her desire to make this a reality. Her mindset has always been, ‘This will happen.’
“I can’t say enough of how much gratitude the American Portuguese community of California should have for Loretta Kanelos. And, of course, with her husband, Gus, as well, she is really the reason that all of this came about. They came up with an idea, they plugged people into place to make sure that idea came to fruition. And every step of the way, they’ve been there supporting us, not only from an emotional standpoint, but from just a work ethic that I’ve never seen before. It’s just amazing, and I’m very proud to have been able to work with them. I can assure you that we would not be here today without their efforts. And Loretta really is the backbone. There’s no doubt about it. But it has been a group effort.”
Loretta, who was present with her husband at Maria’s interview with this paper and at the sign installation, responded to Maria’s comment, saying, “No matter what I’ve done, I couldn’t have done it if (Maria) would not have led (the committee).”
Maria said that having the California American Portuguese Veterans Memorial placed at Capitol Park sets a precedent for future cultural veteran memorials at the park.
“(The state commented), ‘You’re really the guinea pigs in all of this, because you’re the first of a kind when it comes to a group coming together from an ethnic perspective or a nationality perspective, and placing something in (Capitol Park) as this bench,’” Maria said. “To have a bench here and to have the American Portuguese be honored in that way, it is the first of its kind and it will be the template for groups that want to do something similar in the future.”

Salute dinner to be held April 11

As a fundraiser for the California American Portuguese Veterans Memorial project at Capitol Park, a “Salute Dinner” will be held at the SPHSS Hall at 6676 Pocket Road on Saturday, April 11, beginning with a no-host bar at 4 p.m. and continuing through 8:30 p.m.
The event will include guest speakers, a “Portuguese in California” presentation, entertainment, a silent auction and appearances by Nuno Mathias, consul general of Portugal in San Francisco, and Assemblywoman Kristen Olsen.
The cost of the event is $50 per person.
Additional information about this fundraiser can be obtained by calling Rod Rosa at 916-924-3000 or by visiting the American Portuguese Club’s Facebook page.
Further donation information, including how to reserve a name on the memorial’s pavers or how to contribute items for the dinner’s silent auction, can be obtained by contacting Maria at 314-757-0474 or by email at Eddie.Maria@att.net.


The Best of the Land Park News 2014

Dear readers,
This year, the Land Park News has enjoyed bringing you stories about your neighbors and about the history that has made up the community you call home. What follows are summaries and excerpts from some of our favorite stories from the past year. Also, see some of the best photos of the year on page 19. Additionally, movie reviewer Matias Bombal shares with readers the top five movies he has reviewed for Valley Community Newspapers since he started writing for us in 2014. Without further adieu, here are the top stories and columns selected by staff this year.
Sincerely, Monica Stark

Over the Fence: Political Sign Season by Greg Brown: Some folks feel so strongly about a candidate they put a political sign in their front yard for the whole neighborhood to see. It’s a political endorsement. I’ve seen them all over. Vote for Fong. Cohn for Assembly. JAY for City Council – political clutter dotting the tree-lined streets of Sacramento.

But what if you were out and about all day and come home to a political sign staked in your front yard without your approval?

Some local residents have told me they have had people from the Kevin McCarty campaign sneaking lawn signs in their front yard without prior approval or knowledge. Council member McCarty is running for State Assembly against his fellow City Council member Steve Cohn.

Local real estate agent Matt Bistis, who lives in Hollywood Park, told me he and his wife were running errands one day and when they arrived home somebody had stuck a bright yellow McCarty For Assembly sign on their front lawn. Matt told me he “doesn’t do political lawn signs”….especially in his line of work. He had to pull it out and toss it in the trash.

Perhaps it’s an innocent mistake or just sloppy campaign work. But it doesn’t seem to be an isolated incident.

A woman named Melanie from Curtis Park, who didn’t want her last name used, told me she had left for a couple of hours on a Saturday and came home to find a Kevin McCarty sign staked in her front yard after her husband specifically told McCarty’s campaign representative “We are NOT OK with signs being placed in our yard.” Since the McCarty camp ignored the couple’s wishes, they picked it up, took it apart, and placed it in the garbage. She added, “A shame and a wasteful campaign practice…I will not be voting for McCarty!”

Another person who got a McCarty For Assembly sign she didn’t ask for was Michelle La Grandeur. She actually has one for Jay Schenirer. Michelle said, “The McCarty team came around with leaflets and such. I took one and said I’d probably vote for him, but they didn’t ask if I wanted a sign, and I didn’t ask for one either.”

Michelle got a McCarty For Assembly sign on her lawn last week and promptly removed it.

My wife reminded me that WE got hit by the rogue McCarty sign placers when he was running against Roger Dickinson in the last election. We never asked for a sign, but my wife had contacted his campaign. No yard sign was ever discussed.

I called McCarty campaign headquarters and asked a woman named Kathryn why would residents get lawn signs they never asked for? She told me, “They got it because that address was on a list of people who have requested yard signs.”

I told her none of these folks requested lawn signs. She replied, “We are human. Humans do make mistakes. That’s why God invented erasers. That’s why we put the note on the porch.”

The McCarty campaign usually leaves a note that says “If you didn’t request this lawn sign and this is a mistake, please call us and we’ll pick it up.”

I left a voicemail with McCarty’s campaign manager, but she never returned my call.

So if your neighbor has a McCarty sign in their front yard…don’t assume they’re voting for McCarty. They just haven’t gotten home from grocery shopping.

Veteran hotel proprietor, William Land, accumulated fortune in Sacramento by Lance Armstrong: In being that William Land Park and the Land Park community owe their names to former Sacramento Mayor William Land (1837-1911), it seems logical that from time to time, the community’s newspaper, the Land Park News, pay tribute to this locally legendary man.

Land, a New York native who came to California in 1860, once worked as a sweeper and a busboy at the Western Hotel on K Street, between 2nd and 3rd streets. He later became one of the city’s most successful and wealthiest residents, as his estate would be eventually valued at about $2 million.

The kindhearted nature of Land will always be remembered, especially with his greatest gift, the $250,000 he bequeathed for what would eventually become William Land Park.

During his tenure as mayor from 1898 to 1899, William Land loaned the city $80,000, interest-free, for the purpose of reducing taxes and retiring city bonds.

Local artist created famous artwork for Van Halen album by Lance Armstrong: C.K. McClatchy High School graduate Margo K. Nahas has accomplished many things in her life as an artist, but none of her achievements in that field have brought her more attention than her artwork that appears on the cover of the album, “MCMLXXXIV” (Roman numerals for “1984”), by the globally famous rock band, Van Halen.

In being a milestone anniversary year for the release of that album, which reached number two on the Billboard magazine album chart behind Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” it is quite timely to share a few details related to that album’s cover.

During her interview with this publication last year, Margo provided behind the scenes information regarding the creation of the artwork that would eventually appear on the “MCMLXXXIV” album.

And as part of that segment of her interview, she noted that her famous Van Halen album cover artwork of a mischievously looking cherub holding a cigarette was not originally intended to be used as cover art for any album.

“How it came about was my girlfriend (Colleen Helm) – my best friend – her son (Carter Helm) was about 3 years old and I just wanted to take a picture of him,” said Margo, who graduated from C.K. McClatchy High School in 1967. “He was like the perfect model. He was just as cute as could be. I went over to their house (in Malibu) with my camera, lots and lots of candy, especially candy cigarettes, and my Dippity-do (hair styling gel). And so, I went in to style his hair and he immediately had a tantrum. But my girlfriend, knowing so much about babies, she said, ‘Just wait a minute and he’ll be fine.’ We waited a minute (and) I styled his hair in what I thought was a Mohawk (hairstyle) for a baby. You know, it was kind of a 1950s Mohawk, without shaving it. We went outside in the backyard and I gave him candy, which he absolutely loved. He never smoked a cigarette, of course. They were all candy (cigarettes). And I set it up and it was perfect. I got the perfect shot.”

After taking her ideal photograph of Carter, Margo went to work on her project to create an illustration, which unbeknownst to her would later become recognized throughout the world.

In being that Margo was already well known for creating artwork for album covers of many well known rock bands, it was not an usual situation when she was asked to create the cover artwork for Van Halen’s sixth studio album.

Congratulations to our very own: Lance Armstrong: The Sacramento County Historical Society recognized Valley Community Newspapers’ very own historical writer, Lance Armstrong, at its annual dinner on Tuesday, March 25 at the Dante Club, 2330 Fair Oaks Blvd.

Lance’s early interest in history led to his many years of researching local histories and preserving historical documents, photographs and other historical items from throughout Sacramento County and other areas of the Golden State in his vast personal collection, which is recognized as the Lance Armstrong Collection.

After graduating from California State University, Sacramento with degrees in journalism and music, Lance began his professional writing career, which includes his work for local newspapers such as the East Sacramento News, Land Park News, Arden-Carmichael News, Pocket News, Elk Grove Citizen, The Sacramento Union, Capitol Weekly, Sacramento Downtown News, Sacramento Midtown News, Old Sacramento News, Natomas Journal, The Folsom Telegraph and the Sacramento News and Review.

Lance, who is presently employed by Valley Community Newspapers, has used his knowledge, researching abilities and personal archives in the process of producing local history articles for each of these publications.

These informative and entertaining articles provide a valuable resource for the present and future understanding of the area’s rich history.

The majority of Lance’s local history articles include oral history quotations from his interviews with people from various levels of society.

In addition to his hundreds of local history newspaper articles, Lance is the author of Echoes of Yesterday: Elk Grove – the first book in his Echoes of Yesterday history book series.

In 2007, Echoes of Yesterday: Elk Grove was recognized as the nation’s top regional history book for that year by the American Authors Association. Lance is presently nearing the completion of several comprehensive history books about Sacramento from the times of Captain John Augustus Sutter to present.

Odd Fellows Lawn Cemetery was founded more than a century ago by Lance Armstrong: Odd Fellows Lawn Cemetery at 2720 Riverside Blvd. is among the city’s historic cemeteries, as it dates back to the early part of the 20th century.

But that cemetery’s history links directly to earlier established burial grounds: the Odd Fellows plot at the old city cemetery, which is officially known today as the Sacramento Historic City Cemetery.

In telling the story of Odd Fellows burial sites in the capital city, it is perhaps best to present a brief introduction to the existence of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows in Sacramento.

General A.M. Winn, who would eventually become Sacramento’s first mayor to be elected under a state charter and the founder of the Native Sons of the Golden West, is recognized as introducing Odd Fellowship in the city as early as August 1849.

According to the 1913 book, “History of Sacramento County, California,” Winn desired to form that local, informal organization of Odd Fellows for the “purpose of affording relief to the sick members of the order, as well as to others.”

The same book praised the early work of the Odd Fellows, noting, “Their noble deeds should never be forgotten, for they spared neither time, work, nor money in relieving the distress and sickness that were prevalent at that time.”

Like the neighboring Masonic Lawn Cemetery, Odd Fellows Lawn Cemetery is not limited in use to those associated with a respective fraternal order. Odd Fellow Lawn’s manager Anthony F. “Tony” Pruitt assured the community that Odd Fellows Lawn has a stable future.

“We are here forever,” Pruitt said. “Basically, as a fraternal organization, which owns this property, nothing is going to happen to this property. It will stay here and stay here. There are other (Odd Fellows) organizations that will take over for us, if we’re not here (some day). We have people in Stockton and in Yuba City, Shingle Springs, Placerville. It will always be Odd Fellows Lawn Cemetery.”

St. Joseph’s Cemetery: A place of memories by Lance Armstrong: The 149-year-old St. Joseph’s Cemetery on 21st Street, just south of Broadway, is one of the city’s oldest existing cemeteries.

Regarding that cemetery and an earlier established Catholic cemetery, on Sept. 8, 1864, The Sacramento Union published the following words: “Several years ago, a tract of land was purchased on the Lower Stockton Road, four miles from the city, by the St. Rose Church for burial purposes, which was afterward known as St. Rose Cemetery. On account of the distance from the city, it was finally determined to abandon that locality as a cemetery and purchase a new one, more conveniently situated. A week or two ago, a tract of land was purchased, and yesterday the first interment in it took place. It is located south of Poverty Ridge and embraces about twenty acres. The ground was formerly known as Russell’s ranch, but was recently purchased of L. Stanford and others. No name has yet been adopted for the new cemetery.”

The first interment at St. Rose Cemetery was that of former Sacramento County Hospital steward Martin Kennedy, who was buried on Nov. 18, 1860. The cemetery grounds were consecrated on May 12, 1861.

As part of the establishment of the new Catholic cemetery, which would become known as St. Joseph’s Cemetery, arrangements were made for the remains of those who were buried at St. Rose Cemetery to be transferred and reinterred at the newly acquired site.

A reference to the Catholic cemetery on today’s 21st Street appeared in an article in the April 21, 1893 edition of The Union.

Prospecting through The Prospector: A look into early pages of McClatchy High’s student newspaper by Lance Armstrong: The Prospector, C.K. McClatchy High School’s 76-year-old student-run newspaper, is as old as the school itself. And with a prospecting approach, this article delves into some of that paper’s early editions to pluck out a few of its nuggets – pun intended.

For those in the community who would have trouble figuring out that pun, it is best to review a bit about the school’s yearbook, The Nugget, which was first published in 1938.

The Dec. 15, 1937 edition of The Prospector includes a front page article about the school’s annual.

While taking this ride down memory lane in search for golden kernels from times gone by, it became apparent that presenting selections of McClatchy High memories from the earlier years of The Prospect is a worthwhile endeavor that need not end with one article.

And with this understanding, readers of this publication should be on the lookout for similar articles in this paper in the future.

Remembering the Riverside Baths by Lance Armstrong: For decades, the Congregation B’nai Israel and Brookfield School have operated on property on the west side of Riverside Boulevard, between 11th and 13th avenues. But present day Sacramentans who are aware of what popular business previously operated in that area are undoubtedly of the minority.

In 1909, locals contributed to efforts to establish a swimming destination spot called the Riverside Baths, on the old Riverside Road at 11th Avenue.

With the assistance of community members who purchased stocks toward the construction of this local swimming center, the dream of that establishment became a reality.

The indoor pool was constructed through the Sacramento Riverside Bath & Park Co., which had its headquarters at 430 J St.

For many years, the center, which would later be known as the Land Park Plunge, provided an alternative place to cool off for many Sacramentans during the warmer months of the year.

Advertisements for Riverside Baths often noted that the site’s 65-foot by 120-foot pool was filled with artesian water from a half-mile deep well and that the pool was emptied and cleaned each night.

According to a 1936 article in The Sacramento Union, the artesian water was highly mineralized, carried 600 percent less bacteria than approved drinking water and had a natural temperature of 82 degrees.

Certainly, one of the pool’s greatest attractions was its 60-foot-tall swimming pool slide.

Various swimming competitions were held at the baths during the business’s early years.

Like many local amusement sites of earlier generations, the Land Park Plunge is but a distant memory, as it was closed in the mid-1950s.

But despite its absence, for most who remember it, Riverside Baths remains one of the most cherished recreational sites in the city’s history.

Mary Healy memorialized at the Sacramento Zoo by Monica Stark: Just outside the gates of the Sacramento Zoo, a solemn moment of silence filled the air on the evening of Saturday, Aug. 9 for the passing of Mary Healy, the zoo’s longtime director who died on Thursday, Aug. 7 while en route from Ecuador to the Galapagos Islands. She suffered a cerebral aneurysm, and later that day she was declared brain dead and then suffered a massive coronary heart attack.

Mary was a leader in the community and a passionate advocate for animals. As was evident on Saturday, she is greatly missed by zoo staff, colleagues, supporters, the larger zoo community as well as neighbors from the Land Park area.

Saturday’s moment of silence came on the heels of the already planned unveiling of three sculptural bike racks, one resembling Mary’s favorite zoo animal – the giraffe, as well as a chimp and cheetah (which dons a gold medal around his neck) that were planted behind, as if they were chasing the 9-foot African mammal.

While Mary’s death occurred on a trip doing what she loved – learning about animals in their natural environments – she was also saddened that her vacation was scheduled at the same time of the unveiling of the bike racks, Jane Richardson of the Land Park Community Association told the Land Park News on Friday.

Commissioned by the LPCA, the animals are the latest bike racks by midtown welder Gina Rossi as a donation to the Sacramento Zoo. Made from hundreds of horseshoes from various northern California ranches, Gina said she wanted the bike racks to be made from recycled materials and when the idea came to her to use old horseshoes she thought how perfect it would be that they were once attached to an animal. “I was fascinated from a historical end – the rebirth of something that once was. It was challenging to think outside the box.” But as the saying goes: “Someone else’s junk is someone else’s treasures.”

Jane recalled Mary’s excitement over the bike racks during the conception phase. “Mary wanted the bike racks not to be necessarily interpretative of those at the zoo. You could never play with them (the live animals). (Gina’s) creation is interactive. It’s unique. It is art that is structurally sound and you could use it for your bike.”

Upon speaking about the process of nailing down which animals she was going to make bike racks to resemble, Gina recanted a tour of the zoo she had with Mary Healy. “When she gave me a tour around the zoo, she was passionate about the giraffes. Mary really loved the giraffe. It was one of her animal must-haves.”

Born in 1953, Mary began her career in the zoo profession as a bird keeper at the Riverbanks Zoo and Garden in South Carolina. Years later, after a stint with a Disney animal park, she made her debut as the Sacramento Zoo Director in December of 1999. Under Mary’s direction, a full-scale veterinary hospital was built at the Sacramento Zoo and renovations for new habitats have been completed for lemurs, Thick-billed Parrots, Giant Anteaters, Ground Hornbills, Burrowing Owls, Yellow-billed Magpies, Tamanduas, giraffes, Red Pandas and North American River Otters.

Mary would come to the quarterly neighborhood association meetings and Jane recalls speaking with her at least once a quarter. What comes to mind in regard to Mary, Jane said: “She had such intelligence and was such a leader too. She was a very powerful communicator and (exhibited) the passion for what she did with the animals and zoology. (Mary’s passion) went much beyond the zoo. She planned on having many new things happen at the zoo. From new exhibits to train excursions (from Old Sacramento to the zoo), she was full of ideas. She was not only passionate, but she led her vision to fruition.”

Adding symbolism to the late zoo director’s love of giraffes and the appreciation Gina has over Mary’s dedication to the animals at the Sacramento Zoo, the artist wrote in paint on the giraffe’s red heart, “Mary Healy 1953-2014” on the front and a testament to Mary’s impact on the zoo on the back: “Inside of (the giraffe) it has a 6-inch by 6-inch heart on a chain. I put the whole message of who she is on that heart. (Mary) is the heart of Land Park, the heart of the Sacramento Zoo and I want her to feel it. I am going to put neat things about her passion,” Gina said.

On a chain, the giraffe’s heart has constant movement, which Gina likens to Mary’s spirit floating through William Land Park.

Gina said she remembers one day when she was about 8 years old she, her mother and her brother were walking around the perimeter of the zoo, trying to peak through the cracks in the fencing. “We couldn’t afford to get in. One of the people let us in. They were really, really sweet. They figured it out. It was really neat because we got to hang out in there. No matter how bad (life) was, it was OK (at the zoo). Animals don’t know anything. They only know love. It’s weird when I was in third grade I went there; now I am the one who gets to imprint something. That zoo had touched so many people’s lives. That zoo does so much for people. I’m glad to be a part of it. It’s just a neat thing.”

A nurse for Kaiser Permanente, Gina said she puts in 20 hours a week at the hospital after deciding in 2009 she wanted to open up an art studio and not further her career in the medical field. “I had to decide if I wanted to become a physician’s assistant or weld.”

And, well, she’s a self-proclaimed scrapper who went to Oakland to figure it all it. “I became certified as a welder and decided I wanted to teach our youth, our kids, retired people – anybody who wanted to pick up a hobby and not pay high crazy prices.”

Gina writes on her website (in the second person) that her childhood was laced with many difficulties: “Although her experiences may not have been entirely unique, her response to these challenges definitely sets her apart.” Asked for this article to describe her challenging childhood, she said, “In a nutshell, my mom was schizophrenic, and my brother has a handicap. That’s why Sacramento means so much to me. The moments like that – there are all these challenges and what do you do with those? How do you turn to something cool that will make a difference? Whether it be with wives, battered kids – I do pro bono pieces. I bring them into the studio. I get them to feel and believe again that there is possibility – doesn’t matter (one’s background).”

Gina is a self-taught artist, and one who has embraced those less fortunate to participate in the creative process of creating the zoo’s new bike racks. “(Homeless people) would sit there and clean off the rust (on the horseshoes). We have that rapport. It was a neat experience. We’ve had conversations. At the end of the day, they felt needed. They felt they were doing a service. You got to know their story. They always have a back story.”

As important as it was to listen to their stories, Gina was drawn to learning about the history behind the hundreds of horseshoes she welded together to make the bike racks. Recognizing the fact each horseshoe has had its own journey, Gina said one of the farmers she received boxes of horseshoes from, Samuel, “a little old man” told her the stories behind a few of the horseshoes. Recanting those conversations between she and Samuel, Gina said: “(Samuel) is the coolest little guy. I got to eat his apples. He had about 10 dogs, and a cat. He talked about the journey of the horseshoes and the lives they touched before they got ready to weld. A few of (the horseshoes) were from the 1950s, for sure. You can just tell the different work on each one. There’s writing on them. (One read) London. They have this inscribed stuff on them. Samuel was trying to educate me on the metal work back in the day.”

Samuel’s stories, stories about Mary’s love of animals, Gina’s artistic talent – all comes full circle and will be enjoyed for years to come as visitors arrive to the Sacramento Zoo.

Despite Daisy Mah’s retirement, she still dedicates time to the WPA Rock Garden by Lance Armstrong: Daisy Mah, whose name has become synonymous with the rock garden in William Land Park, certainly has a story to tell about her longtime dedication to the garden.

Despite having retired last year from her many years as head of the garden, which she named the WPA Rock Garden in the mid-1990s, Mah has not entirely left the garden.

Although Duane Goosen became her replacement at the nearly one-acre garden in January 2014, Mah can still be seen working in the garden, generally twice per week in the morning hours.

In discussing her continued involvement with the garden, Mah said, “At the end of July, I returned (to the garden). They call me a utility worker, which is a temporary parks employee. I am currently still at that position and I try to limit it to twice a week. I’m still helping with the maintenance.”

Mah, who was born in the capital city and raised in Walnut Grove, added that part of her work in the garden has been sharing her knowledge about the place with Goosen.

“There are a lot of unusual things that I’ve planted and it’s hard to know what they are,” said Mah, who graduated from Delta High School in Clarksburg in 1971. “There are no labels to speak of, and so Duane is truly interested in knowing what’s out there. He’s a very good photographer, and I think he has pretty much identified all of the plants.”

Mah explained that throughout the years she learned many things about maintaining a successful garden.

“Eventually I kind of turned my nose to some of the plants that were in the garden,” Mah said. “Over the years, you realize that some of the plants that you thought were so common were actually very good plants to have. I also learned that (the garden) was subject to people running through and breaking things and stealing plants. I learned that if you cleared out plants too early and tried to replant, your chances of survival are really bad. I learned to appreciate that there was something there to build upon, instead of eradicating it and starting from scratch.”

In explaining how long it took her to reach her first overall satisfaction with the garden, Mah said, “It took a long time. It was a big struggle to get things to survive. And it probably was about 12 years ago, (when) I finally could admit that things were looking the way I wanted (them) to look. It wasn’t completely the way I wanted it, and part of it was keeping plants maybe longer than I should. (It) was a very challenging area.”

Mah, who resides in midtown Sacramento with her husband, John Hickey, who she married in 1979, added that she eventually became involved in attracting wildlife to the garden.

Overall, Mah, whose present activities include home gardening and her involvement as a member of the Sacramento Perennial Plant Club, finds the garden to be a place that she feels proud of having restored and very satisfied by the joy it continuously brings to its visitors.

“(People) find (the garden to be) a beautiful place and I think they have found a lot of satisfaction from it,” Mah said. “And personally, it’s been a source of unending challenges and pleasure.”

Land Park artist’s latest works dedicated to his late father by Lance Armstrong: Sacramento artist Jeff Myers, whose studio is located in Land Park, last fall presented a solo art exhibition, titled “The Nature of Droids & Machines.” The works of the show are dedicated to his late father, Tom Myers, who was a national level photographer.

The oil on canvas and oil on wood exhibition debuted at the Alex Bult Gallery at 1114 21st St. with preview and opening night receptions, and continued through Dec. 6. In an interview with this publication, Jeff spoke about the relationship he had with his father and the impact that he made on his life.

“(Tom was) the most dominant character in my life in a positive way, and I spent just hundreds and hundreds of hours with him going all over the West on different photography assignments,” Jeff said. “And, of course, he built this remarkable photo library of the West from politics (to) animals. And together, he would take me on these photo journeys. One day would be for photographing like the tallest redwood for National Geographic and then next, we would be photographing (in) Salt Lake City in a helicopter for some magazine or for our own files. So, his adventuresome (personality), his curiosity, his humor (and) his love for people in life, just absolutely sustained my own life with those aspects. And that is just invaluable, and I can’t believe he’s gone. It was just an awesome relationship. (Tom was a) remarkable human being. I know that relationship has ended, but I feel like I lived twice because of him. I painted this entire body of work after his passing. He passed on April 7 and I painted this body of work between April 7 and now.”

Jeff, who attended Crocker (elementary) School (at 1616 Vallejo Way) and graduated from C.K. McClatchy High School in 1986, also spoke about his early involvement with art.

“I kind of grew up in a family environment that revolved around visual creativity,” Jeff said. “I can’t remember a certain starting point. Growing up with them, I had a camera in my hand very early on. Before that (part of his life), I had probably a paint brush in my hand. But I started very seriously (with painting) about 30 years ago. I had my first one-person show (in 1984), when I was 15 years old, (at DeVille’s Desserts at 2416 16th St.). I started very young, very serious. That’s all I did after school was paint.”

Jeff, who resides in midtown Sacramento with his wife, Sonja, noted that his current exhibition, which features 21 works ranging in size from 16 inches by 16 inches to 66 inches by 59 inches, represents “the relationship between land, technology and humans.” The subjects of these works are motorcycles, tractors and droids.

Happy 90th birthday, Al Balshor by Lance Armstrong: Sacramento native Antonio Alberto “Al” Balshor, a man known for his longtime ownership of Balshor Florist on Riverside Boulevard, just south of Broadway, celebrated his 90th birthday last November.

Al, who was born on Nov. 22, 1924, grew up in a large family in a home at 315 U St., near Southside Park.

Al was educated in local schools, as he first attended the very integrated Lincoln School, was a student at William Land Elementary School before returning to Lincoln School for the 7th, 8th and 9th grades.

Next, Al attended Sacramento High School, where he played on the school’s football team and graduated in 1942.

Al continued to speak about his many years of working, noting that he once had three Sacramento Bee routes, sold programs for boxing matches, pitched watermelons at the Sacramento Farmers Market, washed bottles at Jones Howell pickle works, and worked as a motorcycle courier. After being drafted into the Army in 1943, Al was sent to Camp Carson (now Fort Carson) in Colorado. Six months later, Al went to Nashville, Tenn. Then in December 1943, he was sent to Camp Kilmer, near New Brunswick, N.J.

In 1946, Al became one of the charter members of Southside American Legion Post 662.

Al, who is also a longtime member of the Sacramento Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Southside Improvement Club, the American Portuguese Club and the Portuguese Historical and Cultural Society, also spoke about his wife, Marie, who he first met on her family’s farm in Dixon in 1934 when he was 9 years old and Marie was 6 years old.

“(Al’s sister), Lucille, and Marie (who had developed a longtime dislike for Al during an incident in Dixon that ended in a water fight) went to the Pelican Club (at 2231 10th St.) one night,” Al said. “(Marie) happened to go there with my sister. So, we ended up there, had a couple of drinks and then we went to the Swing Club at (541 N. 16th St.). They had a band and Marie and I were dancing. When the dance was over, I gave her a kiss on the cheek and we’ve been in love ever since. We used to have bands in those days. That was in (April) 1947 and we got married on Jan. 1, 1948, on New Year’s Day. We got married in Dixon at St. Peter’s Church.” The couple eventually had three children, Judie, Al, Jr. and Jerry.

While dating Marie, in 1947, Al went to work at Relles Florist at 2220 J St. by way of the GI Bill.

In 1950, Al opened the original location of Balshor Florist at 730 O St.

Twenty-two years later, a plan to redevelop the site forced Al to relocate his business to its present location at 2661 Riverside Blvd.

In describing his business, Al said, “We’re a certified, all-around florist – a full service florist. We do weddings, parties, we do funerals, anything. We’re just a full fledged florist. We’re qualified to do anything we need to do.”

Sixty-four years after establishing Balshor Florist, Al remains very active in the operations of his business.

“I got out of the service on Nov. 4, 1945, and I opened my shop up on Nov. 4, 1950,” Al said. “And I still work every day, six days a week. That’s what keeps me young.”

Over the Fence: Look, up in the sky, it’s a drone in Land Park by Greg Brown: Some drone videos showcase remote Alaskan ice caves, cascading waterfalls in Costa Rica, even earthquake damage in Napa. Sacramento resident Tim Pantle showcases the beauty of the Sacramento area with his aerial photos and drone videos on his blog, “Love Where You Live.”

I hung out with Tim while he was getting aerial views of the Urban Cow Half Marathon that was held in William Land Park recently. He also filmed some nice shots of the golf course, Fairytale Town and the Sacramento Zoo.

We spoke about the good, the bad, and the ugly of quadcopters. Drone videos have been somewhat controversial but Tim is the “Mister Rogers of drone video operators.” He does nothing nefarious — just good, wholesome, fun videos of the Sacramento area.

What spurred Tim’s quadcopter hobby is he wanted to start a blog of some kind. One day, he saw a picturesque drone video of the old Fair Oaks Bridge and he was hooked. “I’ve always been that tech-geek and used to be really into photography,” Tim said. He loves the challenge of “getting the good shot.”

He was getting plenty of good shots of the Urban Cow Half Marathon and William Land Park the day we got together.

At the start of the half marathon, the announcer told runners to “wave to the drone,” as Tim’s Phantom 2 Vision Quadcopter was filming over head.

When Tim was filming on the fifth hole at Land Park Golf Course, a golfer took a practice swing from the fairway then turned around to smile and wave. The drone makes a loud buzzing, swarm-of-bees sound, so I was surprised the golfer let the quadcopter bother him. Most golfers demand complete silence before hitting a fairway wood on a par 4 hole.

The Phantom 2 Vision reminds me of the Starship Enterprise from the old Star Trek series. It has a similar look. If you can operate a joystick, you can certainly operate a quadcopter. Tim syncs it up with GPS. It’s the ultimate in tech gadgetry for a photographer. If the battery goes dead, or it loses connection with his remote it’ll fly back to where it started and land. It has a brain! The controller has a WiFi extender that allows the drone to send a signal to his phone so he can see what the camera sees.

The Phantom 2 Vison has quite a few different names, including an aerial drone, quadcopter, UAV or Unmanned Aerial Vehicle. The term drone came about because the vehicles sounded like worker bees known as “drones.”

Tim’s a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker and he thought the quadcopter or drone would be a great aspect of selling real estate. “Unfortunately I can’t use it for real estate because of FAA rules of no commercial, at the time that I bought it that rule wasn’t in place.”

There are a few rules when it comes to the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle. The laws are still trying to catch up with the technology.

You cannot use it for commercial purposes. You can’t go above 400 feet. It’s also a big “no no” in national parks. Yosemite National Park has banned drones after they became a nuisance to vistors of the park. Another rule is you can’t fly within three miles of an airport.

Whereas Tim uses his drone for good, clean, wholesome fun, other drone operators aren’t as level headed and responsible as Tim.

There have been many publicized incidents of aerial drones causing problems. One drone operator flew over a nude beach in Hawaii that created an online stir.

Technically, there’s nothing illegal about being a “creepy pest” because it was a public beach. When the operator was confronted by one of the sunbathers he accused him of breaking the law by being nude in public, which is technically illegal in Hawaii.

Got that? Being nude illegal, filming people nude, legal.

One man actually shot down a New Jersey man’s drone after it hovered near his home. He blew it out of the sky with his shotgun. Kaboom! The guy who shot down the drone was arrested and charged with Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose and Criminal Mischief. Oops.

Then there is the case of a 17-year-old teen who was innocently filming the shoreline of a beach in Florida. A woman became enraged and assaulted him because she thought he was filming bikini-baring beach goers. The video of the confrontation is quite disturbing. The woman called the police; but, after they viewed the I-Phone video from the teen’s camera, she was arrested for assault.

Tim told me he thinks “some of the news coverage is overblown.”

I spoke with Rob Watkins at RC Country Hobby on Folsom Boulevard and he said, “I’m more concerned in the type of person and how they’re flying them than the quadcopters themselves.”

Rob mentioned an incident where a guy was flying his drone over the Sand Fire in the Sierra Nevada foothills. It caused the grounding firefighting aircraft.

“We sell a lot of them here and they’re fun to fly. It just concerns me what people are doing with them,” Rob said.

What Tim is doing with his drone videos is making people feel good. The feedback Tim gets is all positive. His most popular drone video is the Del Campo High School campus. He’s actually from the graduating class of ’86. His quadcopter gives an aerial documentation of the campus as it slowly glides over the mighty oak tree that is at the center of the campus. The aerial video ends on the newly build Cougar football stadium. He also has an ethereal soundtrack that plays during the video. It elicited quite a few emotional responses on a Del Campo High School reunion page. Gregory Hansel, a class of 1984 alumni said, “Am I the only one who got a bit emotional seeing that? School hasn’t changed much. A lot of memories.”

Tim also has an enchanting drone video of the Sacramento River at the Tower Bridge. The quadcopter glides right over the golden bridge to reveal an aerial shot not many people have seen — the tip top of the Tower Bridge. It’s accompanied by some Joe Satriani-style guitar riffs. He also filmed a video of the American River near the Fair Oaks bluffs and bridge, another picturesque drone video of the area Tim calls home.

If you search You Tube, there are numerous beautiful, edgy, and just plain magical videos of nature’s beauty. These drone videos, by far, outnumber the irresponsible and innocuous ones that tend to get headlines. Waterfalls, cliff diving, and amazing Alaskan glacier views are just some of the subject’s drone videos have beautifully captured.

Drone videos are also publicizing social justice like the Occupy Central protests in Hong Kong. There is an aerial drone video of hundreds of thousands of people in the street peacefully protesting.

There’s also aerial drone videos by The Swandiri Institute, an organization focusing its research on the political-ecology and social-ecological analysis of environmental change happening in Indonesia.

Drones are even helping to save the whales. The Ocean Alliance is a group that uses aerial drones to collect a broad spectrum of data from the whales without disturbing them. From the data, they advise scientists and policy makers on pollution and how to prevent the collapse of marine mammals and other sea life.

See? Aerial Drones are being used for good.

Which brings me back to Sacramento’s drone video photographer, Tim Pantle. He takes great pleasure in making drone videos that people have an emotional connection to. Tim also uses his common sense. “I don’t fly over people’s houses and if somebody shows any inkling they’re upset, I just leave. I’m not looking for any trouble.”

Tim is very careful and cautious with his quadcopter. When we were together, his plan was to fly over the Sacramento Zoo, but he was also a bit hesitant. Tim said, “I don’t know if I could fly over the zoo because it might disturb the animals. Common sense says, don’t bug the animals.”

He did manage to get some aerial footage of the zoo and no animals were disturbed.

Whether it’s Sacramento parks, historic bridges or our beautiful waterways Tim only uses his quadcopter for good. He also takes pride in giving Sacramento a bird’s eye view of the city he loves.

To check out all of Tim’s videos go to www.LoveSacramento.Blogspot.com

Don’t call it a Mcmansion/dumping the dish by Greg Brown: There’s a new McMansion being built in Carleton Tract just North of Hollywood Park. Well, it’s not exactly new. The palatial two-story house with over 3,600 square feet is getting a complete makeover since it was sold in August of last year. The new owner says she wants to “flip it” and already has some interested buyers.
A residential care home? A halfway house? A frat house? She wouldn’t say.

The new owner, who’s also a contractor, is really fixing up the property on the corner lot. Sparing no expense, everything is new — granite countertops, shiny silver appliances, new tile and fixtures…the works! There’s a whole new outside, too. There are structural changes as well as new landscaping to replace dead grass in the front and the back.

The big two-story house on the block has seven bedrooms and six baths. Sounds like whoever moves in will have plenty of bathrooms to choose from. A home with six bathrooms is unheard of in Carlton Tract. Most of the homes nearby are two or three bedrooms, one bath with 1,200 square feet of living space. One of the neighbors remarked: “This house is bigger than some of the homes in Land Park.” It even has two staircases leading to the upstairs. “One to go up and the other to go down” as one neighbor put it.

The house and its residents have a colorful history. Let’s just say “The Brady Bunch” never lived there. It’s “more like the Addams Family” did, as one of the neighbors told me. The house was moved in the late 1960’s from Hollywood Park to an empty plot of land on 20th and Attawa. It was located right behind what is now Mak’s Gas Station on Freeport. This is according to one of the neighbors who wanted to remain anonymous.

The old man who relocated the house died in the early 90’s and that’s when things went downhill. His family took over. One of the neighbors deemed them “The Addams Family.” They mentioned the pale-faced “high-stepper” who would walk the neighborhood like a drugged-out zombie. There were all types of strange people crashing at the house. It turned into a flophouse.

The house was eventually sold around 2003 and it subsequently turned from Flophouse to Party House with flashy cars coming and going and big parties every weekend. According to one neighbor, there were “nasty-looking toothless hookers in and out”. One of the neighbors told me there was “a lot of stuff going on.” I asked him, “What kind of stuff?” He said, “Nothing good”.

The guy who owned the house allegedly ran a counterfeiting operation. He always had a big wad of cash and was always flashing the Benjamins. “He thought he was Tony Montana.”

Soon it all came crashing down. The counterfeiter guy had one of the neighbor’s sons do some work for him. The son never got paid. He got stiffed. He decided to let the local police know of the fake money he was printing up.

That’s when the Police and SWAT team moved in. Battering Ram and all. They told all the neighbors gathering to “get back inside your homes now!”

The counterfeiter guy is now living in an even bigger house…with bars on the window. The home should be ready for sale in the coming month.

Good Brew News!
There’s a new brewery coming to Hollywood Park on 24th Street. It’s just what the neighborhood needs, a local gathering spot where people can eat, drink, and be merry.

It will be called The Fountainhead Brewery. One of the owners, Mark Bojecsu, was thinking “water theme” and his partner Daniel Moffatt was thinking literary titles or characters. “We eventually came across the Ayn Rand novel that seemed to cover both of those,” Daniel told me.

Maybe they’ll have an Ayn Rand Ale!

Fountainhead Brewing is going to take over the TS Auto Repair shop on 24th street. Neighbors received the notice and were ecstatic to hear there would be a new gathering spot within walking distance. Although, the owner of the auto shop Sam Lee was caught by surprise by the news. I’m sure he’ll find another spot to fix cars. Besides, the neighborhood is thirsty! There are a voluminous amount of auto repair shops in the area. Sacramento breweries are a Sacramento institution. Auto shops are a dime a dozen.

They’re going to turn the old run-down auto repair shop on 24th Street into a unique gathering spot where local folks can taste an IPA or Imperial Ale and hang out.

Daniel is the brewer. He’s very experimental. One of his most popular craft beers at the Shack during Beer Week was the coffee porter. It’s one of Daniel’s personal favorites and one he runs out of the most. “It’s for the dark beer tasters out there,” he said.

He also brews an IPA with four different kinds of hops. “It’s pretty straight forward and not overly aggressive like you’re chewing on hops,” Moffat added.

They’ll also brew some Imperials, Daniel likes Imperial reds a lot. Belgiums and barley wines, sours too. So like the neighborhood, the craft beer selection will be eclectic.

In the back of the property there’s a spot where they’ll have outdoor seating and a nice pergola where people can sip the suds of their favorite new brewery. It will be family friendly as well as dog friendly.

They also will be serving food. They won’t have a full kitchen but they’ll have some fryers and also serve up some sandwiches. “We definitely want some choices other than a random food truck once in a while. More stability and reliability,” said Moffatt.

They should be open by July. USA! USA! USA!

Fountainhead Brewing is very excited about coming to the neighborhood. They have been talking with Panama Pottery to partner up for events. The folks from Panama Pottery came to one of their tasting events at The Shack and “we had a lot of fun, they’re super nice people,” Moffatt said.

The guy with the hot rod shop next door who’s got a thing going on every Thursday in the summertime. “So they’ll be some activity over there.”

It’s a narrow lot so we’re debating on how we’ll either do parking or make it a social area. We’ve already talked to the city about trying to get parking on the other side of the street since there’s no parking on either side of 24th Street.

Daniel told me it’s a dream come true. “We’ve talking about this for over two years and it’s finally coming to fruition. We are beyond excited.”

Sounds like it will make a great addition to the local brewery scene. New Helvetia, Track 7 and now Fountainhead Brewery. A trifecta of tasty craft beers.

Over the Fence, featuring Cactus Pete by Greg Brown: I’m a little late to the party on this one. Eddy’s Deluxe has moved from its East Sacramento location on J Street to a new warehouse location right next to Track 7 Brewery in City Farms. This all happened last September. Again, late to the party.

Better late than never, right? And the kick in the dungarees is, it’s right next to Track 7!

It’s now just a one-woman show at Eddy’s Deluxe. One woman, one barber chair, same retro barbershop theme. “If no one shows up, it’s just me,” owner Rea MacSems said. She now takes appointments. While I was there, a few guys wandered in accidentally looking for Track 7 Brewery. One guy even had a growler in his hand searching for a refill. She’s gonna get a lot of accidental business. Spillover you know? It’s ingenious!

The warehouse location on Pacific Avenue is where Rea has her Cock Grease hair pomade empire. She’s also been slapping together some cool live music shows a couple times a month.

Get a haircut, get a Panic IPA. Rea told me, “The shows have been pretty sweet, too.” They just rolled up the metal doors to see what would happen and folks just came filtering in.

“The shows have been low-key and fun. Very people friendly,” Cruz Ordonezy, who was getting his hair coiffed and cut by Rea, said. They actually met over at Track 7 when Rea told him about her new barbershop location next door.

Back in February, they had the Booze Bombs all the way from Germany, as well as, the Twilight Drifters. Coming up on March 23, they’ll have another free show with The Hucklebucks performing some New Orleans Blues.

They were having a real hootenanny at the Cock Pit when I dropped by recently. A fun little record party at the Pit. Cactus Pete, a soft-spoken gentleman, came by to spin ‘78 and ‘45 vinyl records for a few hours. He’s a big collector of Old Country, Boogie Woogie stuff from the 30s, 40s, and hot jazz.

Then he put the needle down on Struttin’ With Some Barbeque. “It’s an old classic,” Pete said.

He followed that up with a song called “Trucker Boogie” from Arthur “Guitar” Smith. Cactus Pete added, “When you’re middle name is Guitar, it means you must be awfully good on guitar”.

People were dancing along to Cactus Pete’s hot jazz tunes and putting some cash in his tip jar. There were quite a few couples dancing to the Lindy Hopper’s Delight, too!

A lot of the folks were taking advantage of the Track 7 brewery next door and the food truck parked outside, too. The sliders from the Krush Burger food truck were being devoured while people listened to Cactus Pete’s Record Roundup.

Eddy’s Deluxe is a marvelous addition to the new vibe over at City Farms. Perhaps, it will spur even more coolness to the neighborhood.

A little bit of country in the midst of a little bit of controversy by Monica Stark: Habitat to local fauna Regional Transit’s tracks between Sutterville and Pocket roads are overgrown with lush greenery and natural beauty. It’s just a little bit of country in our backyard. The South Land Park refuge attracts neighbors who enjoy taking walks with friends and family, and, of course, the family dog. With signs like – “You forgot to pick up your dog’s poop? Oh, my gosh, really?” – or landscaping with plants like golden poppies, and cacti, the greenbelt is a beacon of neighborly do-goodery – one that has been saved, at least for the time being, from having trains run on the tracks again.

At an Old Sacramento State Historic Park General Plan meeting, which was held Tuesday, April 15, inside the Stanford Gallery, 111 I St., representatives from the department clarified an important piece of information. The part of the proposal to use the RT tracks has been cut from the plan, which was voted on by the California State Park and Recreation Commission on Friday, May 2 at the State Natural Resources Building auditorium. What remains in the plan now is the potential use of the rail line right-of-way from Old Sacramento to the Sacramento Zoo and from Pocket/Meadowview roads to the town of Hood, with views along the way of Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge.

In an interview with this publication hours before the April 15 community meeting, project manager Steve Musillami said the plan will include improvements to the railroad museum, depots, as well as the rail yards and “some property state parks owns around the Sacramento River. It’s a visionary plan for next 20-plus years, but all proposals are based on funding issues. As far as between The Zoo and Pocket Road – we don’t own (the railway). That’s up to Regional Transit. It could be reintroduced as another rail line again. It could be paved a trail line. It could be a rail trail.”

Congratulations to Jonah Eldridge CKM rugby star by Monica Stark: Jonah Eldridge, a senior at C.K. McClatchy High School, is a nationally-ranked rugby star. Eldridge made the USA Sevens Rugby Tournament, the largest rugby competition in North America, and performed so well he was selected to captain the second side, shocking tournament organizers by taking third place in the Jan. 24-26 Las Vegas event.

In an interview with the Land Park News, Eldridge described the competition “Sevens” referring to having only seven people on the team. “It’s meant for smaller people, unlike the usual set up with 15 versus 15 on the field at a time. So it’s a lot more running, benefiting the smaller, quicker people, me I guess.”

Jonah plays the position of scrumhalf, which, in rugby, is the link between the forwards and the backs. They’re similar to halfbacks in football. A difficult position to master, scrumhalves have to be able to pass with both hands, which Jonah likens to a “quarterback doing a 10-yard up and out play on passing it 10 times perfectly with his right hand and doing the exact same play, throwing it with his left hand.”

Is the young man gifted as being ambidextrous? Well, it’s hard to tell. “Past rugby I can’t write with my left hand; I can’t hold sticks with my left hand; I can’t do anything with my left hand but I’ve been doing rugby for so long, it’s like second nature at this point,” he said.

Jonah has been playing since sixth grade when he turned 10 years old, which was a much frowned upon thing to do since most of the players were at least in the seventh grade. But he joined the Motley Land Park anyway. “I was a 10 year old playing against 14 year olds, so, that’s how it all started.” Then Jonah went to McClatchy where he “kept on playing, kept on playing. Then, if you play well, you get invited to All Star Teams and that’s where you get sucked into the next level.”

Asked if competition has been too easy for him, he said: “NorCal has the best in the nation, so the competition is great.” And he said it’s not just that but the sport itself is very much a team sport. “Not just one person can take over a game.” As such, he explained how typically there are 15 players on the field, lending itself to a lot of action between multiple players. “It’s not like basketball where the best player of the team can score 30 points, rugby is a team sport contributes their part.”

So rugby being such a team oriented sport lent itself to the obvious question: How do officials choose who will be on the U.S. Rugby Team? That’s a good question, said Jonah. “You have to be invited to the camp in Arizona and then they just pick people from there. If you have what they’re looking for you’re invited or if you fit their mold, then you get invited.”

His grandmother Paula Ridgeway had a different explanation: “He’s just the best, that’s all there is.” She went on to describe her admiration for the way he plays. She said, “He can control that ball. It’s like a flip ball. Jonah throws it in a tight spiral.”

Among the more memorable experiences Jonah has had playing rugby, was when he was in the eighth grade when the Land Park Motley had a great season, as he recalls making it to the finals. “The team worked on a sequence where one of the players kicked the ball deep into a corner and our big four tackled him out of bounds and we balled in and scored. That’s what we worked on in practice. In the opening kick off, it happened. There was a feeling that went right so how much worse can the rest of the game be? We went out winning the game, so I went out in eighth grade as a NorCal champion, so that was fun. It was a good experience.”

The fact that Jonah started playing in sixth grade didn’t seem to matter too much as the coach and his teammates knew his age. “There wasn’t a rule against it. If your parents signed a waiver, you could do it but it was frowned upon because I was only 60 pounds at the time, so the average seventh or eighth grader weighed maybe 120 (pounds). They were double my size,” he said.

No, he didn’t double his weight in a year, in fact he has always been small, but just recently he has been able to slightly catch up. His second year, he was maybe 80 pounds tops and he came in as a freshman at 105 pounds. “I’ve never been on the big end; I’ve always been the little guy and not much has changed.”

A senior at McClatchy, Jonah wants to continue playing in college, though he’s undecided where. He’s talking to colleges, seeing what his options are. As he said, “I am just feeling it out.”

Batting cage debacle brings other maintenance issues to light by Monica Stark: C.K. McClatchy varsity baseball coach Mike de Necochea sat down for an interview with the Land Park News to discuss maintenance issues on campus, including problems with the sprinkler system, dog waste and litter.

Because the school doesn’t have a gardener on staff and because the Sacramento City Unified School District has had to cut janitorial and maintenance services by nearly 50 percent over the last two years, it recommends coaches and staff fill out and submit a work order form to the maintenance department.

“Just turn in the forms into to Tommy they would always tell me, but no one knew he retired,” de Necochea said.

District spokesman Gabe Ross said the district prioritizes what the work is. “If there is a fire sprinkler that goes out, that may get to the top of the list,” he said, adding that SCUSD Landscape/Labor Supervisor said Tommy Greer has been using vacation up until he retires and there has been a temp in for him. “Given limited resources, it’s an all automated system. Somebody may have called, but it’s all prioritized by need,” he said.

Just in the 2011-12 school year, the district had 209 custodians and plant managers, compared to the 125 on staff today. Meanwhile district-wide maintenance staff (service repairs and gardeners) has seen a 42 percent decrease since the 2010-11 school year, amounting to a cut of about 90 people.

Regardless many of the maintenance problems have gone by the wayside. For instance, problems with the sprinklers have been going since at least before school started at around the same time the previous batting cages were torn down.

“It’s been since at least August when I noticed (the sprinklers) turned off. I think it was due to the construction,” de Necochea said. More recently, he said after district staff installed the new batting cage, they happened to put in a workable sprinkler system for a small plot of sod around the structure, but failed to fix the sprinklers through out the rest of the baseball field, resulting in very dry grass.

“While the City (of Sacramento) has required residents to reduce water usage by 20 percent, we’ve been conserving since summer,” de Necochea quipped.

As part of the cuts the district has to make to the maintenance department, they’ve eliminated gardeners at individual school sites and have instead consolidated and have created district wide work crews that visit various schools on set days each week. Gardening crews man the lawns and most of the watering is automated.

“We now have a crew that works at several schools and I guess the front yard is a priority,” de Necochea said.

Undoubtedly this has affected the appearance and general cleanliness of the campus – dirtier locker rooms, irrigation problems with the fields and pool maintenance.

While the district does have an employee drive a large mower to cut all the grass on campus each Tuesday, de Necochea said the worker drives over the trash, which exacerbates the garbage clean up problem – one that he said the baseball team has to clean up. On the bright side, de Necochea said this encourages players to take pride in what they have, adding that he’s used trash clean up as a punishment for being late to practice.

“It is important for the boys to help with the upkeep. But at the end of the day, we’re the ones paying for it, using it,” he said.

Taking deliveries: South Land Park resident hand delivers donated clothing items and more to the homeless By Monica Stark
About eight or nine years ago, Regina King lived on the streets of Sacramento suffering from alcoholism, drug abuse and humiliation. Today, Regina, now a resident of South Land Park, is married to Gina Backovich, has a 17 month old son named Rex and is one semester into completing a masters degree in speech pathology from California State University, Sacramento. What changed from that dark time was the realization of who she wanted to be. Cognizant of resources around her, Regina was driven after a couple months of living on the streets to check into a county rehabilitation program.

But what she experienced while homeless was deep.

“There’s something dehumanizing. Either people don’t see you or they move away from you or they fear you. And sometimes there’s reason for that and often there’s not. There’s definitely a sense of dehumanization.”

That affect on her has been a motivating factor for her efforts over the last few years to put out a call on social media for essential winter items like warm clothing, socks, and toiletries – items that she picks up from people directly and hand delivers them to the homeless she sees during her side-street commute to and from school. By February in years past, she’s taken to donating what she hasn’t been able to hand deliver to the Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services.

To kick off her homeless supply drive event, she puts out a call on Facebook to her friends and for them to let their friends know she is collecting warm items for the winter. Then she takes it right back out into the community, not anywhere specific. “It’s just a matter of walking around Midtown, Downtown and whenever I just see somebody it’s just me leaving it with their stuff or asking if they need anything. I keep a stack of blankets.”

With a sense of humor, Regina joked when asked more about the process. “There’s no organization, whatsoever, none at all. It’s like, hey, you have something? I’ll put it in my trunk. It’s really, really, very basic.”

Usually, she parks her car, scopes out the people and then hands them items she thinks they might need. “I try to judge by size and gender and try to figure what they would prefer. Like today, it’s been raining and I received a big plastic poncho and I don’t even know who I left it with. It was just a person wandering around over near Panera (Bread) on Howe (Avenue) and I saw where she put all her stuff.”

Unlike previous years when she’s put notice out in October, this year she’s just getting started As of the interview with this publication last Thursday, she had only received the aforementioned poncho and two small food packets.

Regina proceeds with the deliveries without judgment, without agenda, except that of having a bit of a human interaction. “To have human interaction and human touch is really a big deal,” she said. For that reason, it’s important to her to hand deliver items as opposed to donating them to the food bank initially. Further explaining that, she said, “one of the things about homelessness is that people get really turned off by smell or lack of cleanliness and I like to be able to touch people, touch somebody’s hand or look into somebody’s eyes – just human connectedness; it’s incredibly important to me.”

Asked about the response from homeless individuals she gets upon delivery, Regina said it has been mixed. Elaborating on her experiences, she said: “I’ve had a lot of people who are really distrusting and people have gotten really upset with me for coming up to them. But I’ve gotten to hear a lot of stories of how people got on the streets and I’ve gotten a lot of people who are silent. It’s across the board.”

Regina’s efforts started in 2009 with one of her friends and has been going strong for nearly four years. “I think when I started it was just a friend who asked me, hey, do you want to help me with this? And then as time has gone on, I’ve noticed myself complaining about going from my heated house to the rain, to my heated car, into the rain, into the heated building at work or at school and complaining about that. And I’ll catch myself doing that. I have more than I could ever need. And I just think so many of us have so much. We go through our closets every year. I’ve had more jackets than I could ever know what to do with and there’s people out there really in need.”

Regina, a former volunteer at a residential treatment center for women coming off of drugs and alcohol, used to cook for the residents. The amount of gratitude she witnessed face-to-face “was such a big deal and I think I’ve been searching for that ever since. For the love of humanity, for the love of people. I think we live in a nation where homelessness shouldn’t even be an issue, so the fact that it is, breaks my heart and I feel like it’s something I can do and there’s a lot of things I feel like I am helpless about. And, this, I feel is something.”

Speaking about one donor who heard about Regina’s efforts through mutual friends on social media, Regina said, “She lived in Rosemont. I went to her house and she was wheelchair bound and she just shared her story of having had real tough times before and she wanted to do what she could to help, so she gave me boxes of hotel shampoos, and just hygiene stuff. It was amazing. So I’ve gotten to meet really great people, too.”

Gina Backovich, who works full time and helps with the household has been a great support to her wife’s efforts to help the homeless population. Describing Gina’s efforts, Regina joked, “The garage is her domain and I get to take it over for a few months, so it’s really, very sweet of her. But I try to turn things around as soon as I get them.” On a more serious note, Regina added, “She also comes with me. Last year, we filled the back of her truck with these flashlights (that her sister-in-law donated), and batteries and coats and we made lunch. My wife and a friend and her three kids – we parked the truck near Loaves and Fishes and let people come and she just did it. She’s so personable. She really gets to talk with people. She loves it. She’s really great.”

Originally from San Jose, Regina did spend some of her formative years in Sacramento, however. “I spent a few years here from when I was 10 until I was 15. My parents were split, so I stayed with my mom for a few years up here and then went back to live with my dad. And then I don’t know, somehow I just kept ending up back in Sacramento. So, I moved back here seven years ago and here I stay. I settled down, had a family.”

WHAT: Donations for the homeless: Blankets, jackets, coats, sweatshirts, socks (“a big deal, especially in the rain”), and hygiene products like toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, combs, nonperishable foods (anything that could be “packed up and handed out easily – water bottles, stuff like that.”)
HOW: Regina will come to you (within reasonable distances from South Land Park). She can be reached at 470-2092 or find her public event on Facebook called “Homeless Supply Drive” hosted by Regina King.

The Best of the Pocket News 2014

Dear readers,
This year, the Pocket News has enjoyed bringing you stories about your neighbors and about the history that has made up the community you call home. What follows are summaries and excerpts from some of our favorite stories from the past year. Also, see some of the best photos of the year on page 10, many of which were taken by our star photographer, Stephen Crowley, who has had six photos nominated for awards by the California Newspaper Publishers Association. Additionally, movie reviewer Matias Bombal shares with readers the top five movies he has reviewed for Valley Community Newspapers since he started writing for us in 2014. Without further adieu, here are the top stories and columns selected by staff this year.
Sincerely, Monica Stark

Driving along Pocket Road, this vacant lot surrounded by large suburban homes evokes mystery and a bit of intrigue to those who know its history as an Indian burial ground. The property is currently on the market. / Photo by Monica Stark

Driving along Pocket Road, this vacant lot surrounded by large suburban homes evokes mystery and a bit of intrigue to those who know its history as an Indian burial ground. The property is currently on the market. / Photo by Monica Stark

Building up against sacred land: Is ‘The Brazil Mound’ now threatened?: By Monica Stark: Editor’s Note: It has come to our attention that the property, known as the Brazil Mound, is on the market. Driving along Pocket Road, a vacant lot surrounded by large suburban homes evokes mystery and a bit of intrigue to those who know its history as an Indian burial ground. Zoned agricultural, the parcel is mostly undeveloped except that it contains a building pad for a residence that was previously demolished and is home to a number of Valley Oak and walnut trees. Near the levee for the Sacramento River, prehistoric people lived on the high spots of land, which served essentially as natural buffers that the Army Corps of Engineers has since raised higher.

According to a 1990s educational public pamphlet, titled “The Brazil Mound; Archaeology of a Prehistoric Village” by Sharon A. Waechter, between 1939 and the 1990s, several archaeological excavations were done at this location, which has been named by scientists “The Brazil Site” after the Manuel Brazil family. The Brazils recognized more than 70 years ago that the low mound located on their Sacramento River property contained materials and information of great value to archaeologists, Native Americans, and all those with an interest in the prehistory of California.

Developers until last year have stayed clear of the 4.22-acre property, where on the northeastern side 0.4 acres have been determined “archaeologically sensitive.”

Surrounding that 0.4-acre section within the property has piqued the interest of B&B Homes for the development of seven homes, ranging in size from 2,500 to nearly 4,000 square feet, as the developer early last year submitted a request for preliminary review to the city of Sacramento Community Development Department for the “Azores Project.”

According to the public pamphlet, which has been circulated around at schools and museums, the Brazil Mound was once a prehistoric Native American village and cemetery and was first inhabited almost 2,400 years ago, and then abandoned for reasons unknown about 600 years ago. Between 1939 and the 1990s, several archaeological excavations at the Brazil Mound removed thousands of artifacts, animal bones and stone chipping waste from the site, as well as many Native American burials.

These archaeological remains have been stored at various universities and museums since that time, but no complete analysis or report was ever done.

Brookfield School owner reveals his stake in The Trap bar by Monica Stark: John C. Sittner, owner of Brookfield School, revealed he owns 50 percent of The Trap business. At a community meeting on Monday, May 19 inside the multipurpose room at John F. Kennedy, where city of Sacramento staff discussed many of the safety and parking issues surrounding the large 5-acre property, a concerned neighbor asked about the specific ownership of The Trap business.

In a quick interview with the Pocket News after the meeting, Sittner said he bought 50 percent of the business, as an investment in December 2013, about a year after he got approval from the city for the building of the school. Not involved in the day-to-day operations of The Trap, Sittner, upon describing his intention of the purchase, said, “My interest in The Trap is an investment. I have no interest in The Trap going away. It was a neighboring property and it was convenient to purchase, so I did, and I got a return on my investment. It was personal.”

Sittner said he had been looking for years to find a property that would be appropriate for moving the school. “We’ve been wanting to relocate for quite a long time. We needed to find a location that was going to be convenient to the families who attend (Brookfield) currently,” he told the Pocket News.

Looking at once-closed schools, like the Bear Flag Elementary, which, since 2003 has operated as Sol Aureus College Preparatory, Sittner said he has not been in a position to acquire them, since they go first to other public entities like charter schools. The 5-acre open space surrounding The Trap is ideal for Brookfield’s new home, as it will have the opportunity to feature baseball and soccer fields.

New Brookfield School site is a place of much history by Lance Armstrong: As moon dust took flight on the 5-acre, then-future Brookfield School site behind The Trap bar at Riverside Boulevard and 43rd Avenue, the topic of history also has been in the air.

For instance, until Friday, March 21, the 90-year-old concrete stairs and foundation of a building could be seen a few hundred feet north of the bar.

Many Riverside-Pocket area residents recall when a house was once located on that foundation.

Although many people might imagine that the house was demolished, it was actually moved in two sections in 2004 by the Fisher Bros. House Moving Co. of Manteca, Calif.

According to the Portuguese Historical and Cultural Society, the structure was transported to a lot somewhere on T Street in Sacramento.

The house was built in 1924 for Tony Pimentel, then-owner of the bar, which would later become known as The Trap.

Tony resided in that home with his wife, Margaret “Maggie” (Valine) Pimentel, who he married on Jan. 21, 1916, and their children, Lloyd, Kathryn and Geraldine.

Although many people today would identify the 5-acre site that includes The Trap as being located in the Pocket, the site is actually part of the historic Riverside area.

The left hand side of a c. 1912 photograph accompanying this article shows a portion of the Pimentels’ original house on the property, which has become the future site of Brookfield School.

Although the house had a rural, county address during its early years, it would later acquire the address of 6115 Riverside Blvd.

And whether future generations will have the opportunity to view the possibly 150-plus-year-old bar, one thing remains indisputable: it is obvious that the new Brookfield School site is a place of much history.

The Pocket Watch: Parenthood and the Fine Line between Joy and Sorrow by Jeff Dominguez
What is the difference, I’ve been asking myself, between my son, whom I recently watched with utter elation walk across a stage to receive his diploma from one of the finest universities on the west coast, and the two boys he grew up with, whose parents, just a few weeks prior, endured the nightmare of watching their sons being slowly lowered into the ground and covered with dirt? How is it that I get to throw a graduation party, while they have to host a wake?

It can’t be anything notable that I did differently. I know these other parents. They are very good people who loved their sons, I’m absolutely sure, every bit as much as I love mine. The boys attended the same schools, played on the same sports teams, went to the same birthday parties, walked in virtually the same footprints for the first 20 years of their lives. Like me, their parents volunteered, they coached, they taxied, and they interceded swiftly to address any situation that needed it. From my perspective, they weren’t just good parents; they were great parents.

How did it come to be, then, that, within months of each other, one boy dies face down in a driveway on the wrong side of the tracks, killed from gunfire returned during a drive-by shooting that allegedly stemmed from a drug deal, and the other dies in a tiny home in a faded neighborhood of South Sacramento from an overdose of, unbelievably, heroin? How did they fall into this fate? How did my son avoid it?

In raising my kids, I’ve prayed a lot, especially with Ruben, because these momentous decisions come up, and you think, “I don’t know… I’ve never done this before!” With Gabby, the decisions still come at me nonstop, but at least I’ve had a little on-the-job training, courtesy of her brother. I figure that, if I’d had seven or eight kids, I’d have had the job down pat by the time the last couple of them left the house.

But as it was, we only had two kids. So without much trial and error, they’re stuck with nothing more than the best that I can do. We hope our decisions are right more often than wrong, and, if that’s not the case, that our children will take into consideration in their hindsight evaluations the fact that everything we have done with them has come from a place of indescribable love and a fervent desire for nothing but the best for them.

I think, initially, I looked around at the people I knew who were having children at the same time that we were, and, with the aforementioned lack of experience in mind, came to feel like we were all in one big boat on this voyage together. These were my shipmates, more or less partners in this adventure. We participated in the same activities and frequently compared notes. Invariably, the course of our day-to-day activities varied, but we were still aboard the same vessel. To see one of my shipmates lose a child overboard is crushing for me. I can’t help but think, “That could be me.” I experience a twinge of guilt—“Survivor’s Guilt,” I’m told—at these tragedies and wonder why I am so lucky. I pull my kids closer, hold on just a bit tighter.

For someone such as myself, with somewhat more divine core beliefs, the ultimate conclusion is that luck has little to do with it. “Grace” becomes the more appropriate term, as in “There, but for the grace of God, go I.” This explanation works for me. More importantly, it gives me someone to thank. It also provides a set of core values to follow and consult in every decision I make. And someone to turn to in the face of great suffering. God bless my friends and bring them comfort in this time of unimaginable grief.

El Faro closes its doors at The Promenade Shopping Center by Monica Stark: To much disappointment to regular customers of El Faro Taqueria last spring, the longtime Mexican favorite has closed its doors in the Promenade Shopping Center, located on the corner of Rush River and Windbridge drives.

As taco lovers came by their favorite neighborhood, they were caught off guard by a sign in the window that thanked them for their patronage, but due to an increase of rent to their lease, they had to shut their doors.

Unfortunately, El Faro Taqueria owner Hugo Oliviertos never returned calls to discuss his established Pocket area business, but it is known that El Faro has deep roots in San Francisco with more than 50 years in business with three locations (435 El Camino Real, 346 Kearny St., 1634 Haight St.) and has been owned by the self-proclaimed creator of the original “Super Burrito”, a traditional burrito with added rice, sour cream and guacamole.

Casey Deeha, a writer for Bay Area Review of Burritos, wrote about Hugo’s ruminations serving Carlos Santana “Super Burritos” in the 1960s in San Francisco’s Mission District.

“Let’s paint the picture,” Deeha writes. “We’re in the Mission; it’s 1961 and the cultural and social renaissance is taking place. Carlos Santana, once a resident of the Mission, has just released a live album and the 68ers have set the backdrop for the ‘summer of love’ to pave the way as a future lucrative marketing campaign. Political and cultural dissent is rife in the air and Carlos Santana sits down at a table at El Faro to order what will soon become known to the world as The Super Burrito.

“‘I remember when Carlos Santana used to come in and have a burrito,’ says Hugo; ‘he was like everyone in those days, he had his specific burrito.’ Indeed, at El Faro, since 1961, patrons were choosing among a range of fresh Californian ingredients to create what has now become known as the ‘Mission Style Burrito’. ‘It was a crazy time,’ says Hugo, ‘everyone was coming in and out—there were a lot of people.’”

Fast forward more than 30 years and a change of setting – the Promenade Shopping Center, which touts itself as the one-stop shopping destination in the Pocket, but has many closed storefronts – it’s a much different landscape, yet Hugo brought with him his love of the San Francisco Giants, the 49ers and a tribute to Santana. The brightly colored walls inside the restaurant were highlighted by photographs and posters of times passed.

The restaurant leaves a gaping hole within the community.

Pocket Watch: Local entomologist continues his string of discoveries in web of intrigue by Jeff Dominguez It’s difficult to talk to Terry Allen—even if you’ve known and loved him for 20 years plus, as I have—without occasionally stopping as he speaks and thinking to yourself, “There is no way that is true!” But then he pulls out one of his meticulously kept scrapbooks, and you read a clipping from the Sacramento Bee or from Time Magazine and realize that he really was involved in every one of those crazy adventures that he references in the course of nearly every story he tells. Spend an hour with Terry and you leave convinced that the guy in the Dos Equis commercials has pretty much led a milquetoast life by comparison.

Nationally recognized and fully-accredited entomologist, longtime Pocket neighborhood supporter and activist, claims he knows what's killing bees. / Photo by Don Meuchel

Nationally recognized and fully-accredited entomologist, longtime Pocket neighborhood supporter and activist, claims he knows what's killing bees. / Photo by Don Meuchel

Nationally recognized and fully-accredited entomologist, longtime Pocket neighborhood supporter and activist, dinosaur expert, cancer survivor, humane trapper, man of intrigue, overall hard luck guy, and friend to all, Terry recently contacted me with a claim that was no less difficult to believe than any of his other impossible-but-true stories: “I know what’s killing the bees!” he declared. With that information, I knew that I would soon be visiting the epicenter of every arachnophobe’s worst nightmare, Terry Allen’s home laboratory in the River Village neighborhood.

Terry explains how the recent discovery of the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug in the backyard of his neighbor, Roger Sava, himself a retired biologist, could spell trouble for fruit harvests in the Delta, just across the river from the Pocket. Native to Asia, this particular stink bug (there are several other stink bug relatives, Terry points out) is a voracious eater known to attack a variety of fruit trees. With very few natural predators and an abundance of food sources, this invasive insect is currently classified only as a nuisance threat in California because of its limited presence here. Terry’s identification is just one of a few in Northern California. But in 2010, it caused catastrophic damage in some mid-Atlantic states, where some growers of sweet corn, peppers, tomatoes, apples, and peaches reported total losses.

Remnants of another major threat, this to humankind, itself, according to Terry, was recently discovered in a flowerbed in his own front yard, in the form of the European Wool Carder Bee, a nasty little cousin from the Leafcutter bee family that Terry refers to as the “Butcher Bee.” Terry witnessed the very specimen he has mounted on a pin in his lab attack a typical Honey Bee, precious pollinator of 80 percent of all flowering crops, which represent a full third of everything we eat, not to mention pollinating crops like alfalfa, a staple for the cattle that provide our beef and dairy. The demise of this little bee would result in a lot of empty cases at Bel Air and Nugget.

Terry has countless wild, wild, stories about the kind of intrigue that swirled around him at the time, stories that are virtually impossible to believe of this kind and unassuming man, whose slight stature and bookish appearance belie his claims involvement, albeit as a victim, of chicanery of this level. Yet, each story is has been carefully documented in a way that, really, only a fastidious scientist could document. Doubt him, and he’ll hand you a binder filled with clippings and reports that confirm his claims. You imagine that the movie rights to his story could be worth a fortune, a cross between The Rainmaker and Arachnophobia just waiting to appear in theaters everywhere.

Happy 90th birthday, Al Balshor!

While sitting alongside his wife, Marie, Al Balshor blows out candles on his birthday cake during a gathering in his honor at Balshor Florist on Nov. 22, 2014. Photo by Lance Armstrong

While sitting alongside his wife, Marie, Al Balshor blows out candles on his birthday cake during a gathering in his honor at Balshor Florist on Nov. 22, 2014. Photo by Lance Armstrong

Sacramento native Antonio Alberto “Al” Balshor, a man known for his longtime ownership of Balshor Florist on Riverside Boulevard, just south of Broadway, recently celebrated his 90th birthday.

Al, who was born on Nov. 22, 1924, grew up in a large family in a home at 315 U St., near Southside Park.

In speaking about that residence during an interview with this publication three days prior to his birthday, Al said, “My parents (Portuguese natives Arthur and Grace Secco Balshor) bought that home in 1921 from (Daniel) Stanich, (who had moved into the house in about 1912).”

Al also mentioned that he was literally born in the aforementioned U Street home.

“In those days, people made house calls,” Al said.

Al then explained that his mother was also known for making house calls.

“(Grace) delivered a lot of babies in the neighborhood,” Al said. “She was kind of the unofficial midwife. Back in those days, you helped each other. There were a lot of midwives in those days.”

In addition to her unofficial midwife work, Grace, who became a widow in 1929, was also a local cannery worker.

And in speaking about the longtime importance of canneries in Sacramento, Al said, “Canneries put a lot of people’s food on the table, you bet your life. That was a big operation. The (Southern Pacific) shops were the same way.”

Al added that Grace would also pick prunes in Colusa with her family.

“We picked prunes at Colusa during the off season up there,” Al said. “A lot of the people around that neighborhood went up to Colusa (to pick) prunes. I hated it. My mom would give me 10 boxes and it would take me all day long to pick them. It was a nickel a box. We made enough to buy shoes and stuff. It was around August and then we would come back and go to school.”

Al was educated in local schools, as he first attended the very integrated Lincoln School at 4th and Q streets. He was then a student at William Land Elementary School at 1116 U St. for the 4th, 5th and 6th streets before returning to Lincoln School for the 7th, 8th and 9th grades.

Next, Al attended Sacramento High School, where he played on the school’s football team and graduated in 1942.

Al continued to speak about his many years of working, noting that he once had three Sacramento Bee routes.

His other jobs included selling programs for boxing matches at the old L Street Arena at 223 L St., pitching watermelons at the Sacramento Farmers Market at 2630 5th St., just south of Broadway, and washing bottles at Jones Howell pickle works at 315 T St.

Al mentioned that he also worked as a motorcycle courier.

“I drove (three wheeled) motorcycles for Willis & Martin Co. at (1001-1003 K St.),” Al recalled. “I delivered drugs. I got paid $50 a month, but I had to quit the job, because I got two tickets and I couldn’t afford to get them. Hollywood stop.”

Following high school, Al obtained a job as a flower wholesale worker for Lino Piazza at 1328 7th St., before accepting a position delivering ice for the Consumers Ice & Cold Storage Co. at 831 D St.

Although Al had intended to attend Sacramento Junior College – today’s Sacramento City College – he stated, “The U.S. Army was my college education.”

After being drafted into the Army in 1943, Al was sent to Camp Carson (now Fort Carson) in Colorado.

Six months later, Al went to Nashville, Tenn. Then in December 1943, he was sent to Camp Kilmer, near New Brunswick, N.J.

Al was eventually given official clearance to return home after his brother, Joe, died in the war on Jan. 13, 1944, but Al opted to remain in the Army.

On Feb. 12, 1944, Al traveled overseas on the Queen Mary troopship for seven days.

Sacramento native Al Balshor, who has worked and resided in the Land Park area for the past 64 years, recently celebrated his 90th birthday. Photo by Lance Armstrong

Sacramento native Al Balshor, who has worked and resided in the Land Park area for the past 64 years, recently celebrated his 90th birthday. Photo by Lance Armstrong

During his interview for this article, Al pointed to a display case on a wall, and then said, “I was a medic and an ambulance driver. Right outside here, I’ve got my little shrine. There’s (a photograph of Gen. George) Patton (in that shrine) and I’ve got the little ambulance (replicas) in there, and some lady from France brought me some things over. She came visiting some graves across the street (from Balshor Florist), then I got to talking to her, and I said, ‘Oh, I was in (France).’ And she came up and gave me a big hug and said, ‘I never met anybody that helped save my country – France.’ So, what she did was she came back two years later and brought me these (coins from the five campaigns before the war ended).”

Al, who spent six months in Wales before D-Day and was on the border of Poland when the war ended, recalled his postwar return to the United States.

“I went down to Marseilles, France,” Al said. “I came all the way from Marseilles into Newport News, Va. Then I went from Virginia on the train all the way out here (to Sacramento). I came through Reno, came all the way to Sacramento (to the Southern Pacific passenger depot). We had to come here to go back to Camp Beale (today’s Beale Air Force Base). For some reason or another, the train had to come here to go back. I asked the conductor, ‘How long are you going to be here?’ He said, ‘Oh, about four hours.’ So, I got in a cab at midnight and came down and started banging on my mom’s door. She was crying and screaming. She didn’t know I was coming home. I got back on the train and three days later I was home. So, that was the story.”

In 1946, Al became one of the charter members of Southside American Legion Post 662.

Al, who is also a longtime member of the Sacramento Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Southside Improvement Club, the American Portuguese Club and the Portuguese Historical and Cultural Society, also spoke about his wife, Marie, who he first met on her family’s farm in Dixon in 1934 when he was 9 years old and Marie was 6 years old.

“(Al’s sister), Lucille, and Marie (who had developed a longtime dislike for Al during an incident in Dixon that ended in a water fight) went to the Pelican Club (at 2231 10th St.) one night,” Al said. “(Marie) happened to go there with my sister. So, we ended up there, had a couple of drinks and then we went to the Swing Club at (541 N. 16th St.). They had a band and Marie and I were dancing. When the dance was over, I gave her a kiss on the cheek and we’ve been in love ever since. We used to have bands in those days. That was in (April) 1947 and we got married on Jan. 1, 1948, on New Year’s Day. We got married in Dixon at St. Peter’s Church.” The couple eventually had three children, Judie, Al, Jr. and Jerry.

While dating Marie, in 1947, Al went to work at Relles Florist at 2220 J St. by way of the GI Bill.

In 1950, Al opened the original location of Balshor Florist at 730 O St.

Twenty-two years later, a plan to redevelop the site forced Al to relocate his business to its present location at 2661 Riverside Blvd.

In describing his business, Al said, “We’re a certified, all-around florist – a full service florist. We do weddings, parties, we do funerals, anything. We’re just a full fledged florist. We’re qualified to do anything we need to do.”

Sixty-four years after establishing Balshor Florist, Al remains very active in the operations of his business.

“I got out of the service on Nov. 4, 1945, and I opened my shop up on Nov. 4, 1950,” Al said. “And I still work every day, six days a week. That’s what keeps me young.”


Faces and Places: Halloween decorations from around the Land Park

Boy, is the Land Park area festive this time of year? Check out this selection of photographs taken on the evening of Friday, Oct. 5. Get out of the house, take a walk and see for yourself. Happy Halloween! The area is also home to many events big and small we hope you enjoy.

On Friday, there will be a fall festival at Sutterville Elementary, starting at 5 p.m. with various festivities and a dinner. Sutterville Elementary is located at 4967 Monterey Way.

Fairytale Town: Safe & Super Halloween: The Adventures of Percy Jackson
Three nights of trick or treating and family friendly fun await at Fairytale Town’s 28th annual Safe & Super Halloween (Friday, Oct. 24- Sunday, Oct. 26) from 5 to 9 p.m. The park will be transformed into Rick Riordan’s mythological world of Percy Jackson and the Olympians. Young heroes can venture through the transformed park as they make their quest to Mount Olympus and the infamous Olympian Zeus. Visit Polyphemus’ lair, the replica Parthenon, the Oracle of Delphi and Medusa’s garden, just remember not to look her directly in the eyes! Keep an eye out for plenty of mythological characters and creatures along the way. The event features 17 candy stations, a nightly costume parade at 8:30 p.m., hands-on activities and lots of mythological fun! Puppet Art Theater Company will perform Frankenswine, a zany, Halloween-themed puppet show, each night at 6, 7 and 8 p.m. in the Children’s Theater. Puppet show tickets are an additional $1 for members and $2 for nonmembers. This is a special ticketed event. Advance tickets are $7 for members and $10 for nonmembers. Ticket prices increase beginning Oct. 24 to $9 for members and $12 for nonmembers. Children 1 and under are free. Member restrictions apply.

On Saturday and Sunday, Funderland presents its annual Spooktacular Halloween. This year, Elsa the Snow Queen will wow the youngins at noon and 2 p.m.; there will be a magician at 1 p.m. and trick or treating will be available for $3. Also for that price, kiddos can traverse the Happy Little Pumpkin Patch or for one ticket ride the The Not So Spooky Train or venture into the Silly Haunted House. Funderland will have kids’ costume contests, face painting, a photo booth, vendors, crafts and more! Get Free Tickets: When you bring in new games or new art supplies for River Oak Center for Children Funderland will give you free tickets as a thank you (amount of tickets based on items donated). Parents – Don’t forget: Children can come dressed in their favorite Halloween costume and enter into the kids’ costume contest happening at 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m., and 3:30 p.m. They’ll also have festive totes you can purchase for $2 each for all your trick-or-treating fun!

Boo at the Zoo will be happening two nights this year, Thursday, Oct. 30 and Friday, Oct. 31 from 5 to 8 p.m. Two nights of ghoulish family fun, Thursday or Friday rain or shine. Kids can safely trick-or-treat around the lake at 25 different candy stations! Other activities include magic shows, costume dance party, ghoulish games, and lots of family fun! You can also ride the Spooky Train or Creepy Carousel for an additional fee. Please note: Only the front half of the Zoo will be open during this event. The spookiness is appropriate for children under 10 years of age. Early bird ticket prices, through Oct. 28: Non-members: $10; Sacramento Zoo members, $8; children age 1 and younger are free. General ticket prices, Oct. 29 until the event, are $12. Children age 1 and younger are free. There will be no member discount. Buy tickets online at  www.saczoo.org, by phone at 808-5888 or in person at the zoo, daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Belle Cooledge Library will come alive with ghouls and ghosts for a tween/teen gaming program on Halloween day from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. The library encourages youth to finish off that creepy month of October with a Ghoul and Ghost inspired teen/tween gaming program! They’ll have Minecraft and the Nintendo Wii! Snacks will be provided and costumes are encouraged!

A few local churches will have events that day too! Trunk or Treat will be at Greenhaven Lutheran Church on Halloween night from 5:30-7:30 p.m., 475 Florin Road. Also, on Halloween night there will be a harvest festival at Riverside Wesleyan Church, 6449 Riverside Blvd., from 6 to 8 p.m. It will be filled with free family fun.

Further into the Pocket area, there will be a Spooktacular Halloween Party at the Sacramento Portuguese Holy Spirit Society, 6776 Pocket Road. There will be music by DJ Dick Daniel, a costume contest, candy bags, and a haunted house on Halloween night, starting at 6:30 p.m. Adults are $7; kids $4; children age 5 and younger are free

And while the following event is not necessarily Halloween related, it’s family friendly and costumes are involved! Join Storytime Theatre of Sacramento City College for “The Little Mermaid” which is adapted and directed by Matt K. Miller. Plays run through Nov. 9 on Saturdays and Sundays at noon. Admission is $5 for all ages (children two years and younger are admitted free of charge). No reservations are needed. To purchase tickets in advance or for more information, go to www.citytheatre.net. All performances int eh Little Theatre in the Performing Arts Center (PAC 106) on Sacramento City College Campus, 3835 Freeport Blvd. There is a group rate for parties of 20 or more, 20 percent off. Parking is free on campus. The Sunday performance on Oct. 26 will be interpreted in American Sign Language.


Former resident recalls early Japanese presence in Riverside-Pocket area

Lily, James and Emmie Kato are dressed up for an Independence Day gathering in this 1933 photograph. Photo courtesy of Emmie (Kato) Makishima

Lily, James and Emmie Kato are dressed up for an Independence Day gathering in this 1933 photograph. Photo courtesy of Emmie (Kato) Makishima

Editor’s Note: This is part three in a series regarding historic Asian districts of Sacramento.

When it comes to Japanese history of the Riverside-Pocket area, Emmie (Kato) Makishima is someone who has no trouble recalling first-hand details about that area.
After reading the first articles of this series, Emmie, 88, expressed a desire to share various details regarding her memories of that area.
Emmie, who presently resides in Rio Linda, spoke about the main concentration of early day Japanese of the Riverside-Pocket area.
“It was actually from Sutterville Road – Japanese lived across from the zoo and had farms over there – to all the way to the brickyard (which was located next to today’s Lake Greenhaven),” Emmie said. “And past the brickyard was mostly the Portuguese.”
In regard to the farming site of the family of Rose (Ishimoto) Takata, who was noted in the initial article of this series as having resided near today’s Cabrillo Civic Club #5 at 4605 Karbet Way, Emmie said, “There weren’t that many Japanese farming there, but further down south there were quite a few.”
Emmie added that she grew up on a ranch a short distance from the old brickyard.
“I lived on (the old Riverside Road), near the Portuguese’s Lisbon (area), as they called it,” Emmie said. “I lived near where the brickyard used to be (located), where (the development of) Greenhaven 70 (was later constructed) with all those homes. That was our farmland that we rented. And there were about a dozen Japanese families that rented from this one lady (Marion J. Donnellan). And with the war, we had to evacuate and the lady sold the land. So, somebody else bought it and they developed it into all these homes.
A 1908 surveyor’s map of the Pocket area, by Ashley and Campbell, shows three parcels of land in the area that were owned by Donnellan. The acreages of those parcels were listed as 317.9, 110.5 and 17.6.
Additionally, a 1962 city document refers to the “525.386-acre tract of land designated ‘Marion J. Donnellan.’”
During her interview with this publication, Emmie named the surnames of several Japanese families who resided near her former Riverside area home. Those names were Hikiji, Kimira, Oto, Suyama, Kobayashi, Muramoto, Miura, Morita, Tsugawa and Tanaka.
And in speaking about her parents, Emmie said, “My father was Yohei Kato. He came from Shizuoka, Japan. He went to Hawaii to work in the sugar cane fields on the big island (of Hawaii in) Naalehu. He got to know the man who was the supervisor and he had three sons. So, he hung around with them. And during the First (World) War, all of them were in the Army, but the war ended before they were sent overseas. So, they trained at Schofield Barracks (on the island of Oahu). So, he got to know the supervisor, because of his sons, and then they had a younger sister (named Satski). That’s who my father married. A few months after they got married, (Yohei) came to Sacramento (in 1919) and farmed with some of his buddies he was in the Army with in Hawaii. And this was in Sacramento where they call it Swanston Drive now. They had a big farmland there owned by the Swanstons, and so they farmed over there. About a year later, he called for my mother and she came. Soon after that, they moved down to Donellan’s ranch, where they rented this property. It was 30 acres that they farmed. And it was a rental.”
Emmie said that not counting her Naalehu-born brother, Kiyoshi, who died when he was about a month, she had three siblings, George, Lily and James.
In recalling her own family farm and other Japanese farms near her old Riverside home, Emmie said, “Everybody in our area were truck gardeners, (who grew) vegetables. Most of the farms were close to Riverside Road, either on the side of the river or the opposite. My father grew all kinds of vegetables. We grew, let’s see, corn, cabbage, cauliflower, radish. I don’t think we had anything that took too (much) time to bundle. Let’s see, we didn’t have tomatoes. We had watermelons. Most of these things we had to put on the wagon with the horse pulling the wagon. We brought (the filled wagon) to the tank house, where we washed the vegetables up by the house. The roads were not paved out in the field. It was dirt, so when it was raining and muddy, that’s why we had to use the horse and wagon. They would bring (the produce by truck) to the farmers’ market on 5th Street, near Broadway. And then he got orders from different grocery stores, too, like Arata Bros. And there was a Red & White market. So, (Sohei) would deliver (produce) to these grocery stores, and in exchange he might get some groceries or money.”
Through his service during the war, Yohei acquired his American citizenship.
Emmie recalled that following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, her father was approached by the FBI, who immediately departed after learning that he was an American citizen.
She added that although Yohei did not own his own land, he did own his own house and crops, which proved additionally important to him in 1942.
“When they were working (on that property) and they had to evacuate, (Yohei) was able to sell (his assets) to a group of Chinese people from San Francisco,” Emmie said. “So, all the crops and the house and the farm equipment, everything was sold to them. So, in that way he was lucky, because he didn’t lose everything.”
Following the war, Emmie resided in Minnesota, where she underwent training to become a registered nurse. She later passed the state board for that work in Washington.
Emmie moved to Sacramento in 1950, where she worked at Sutter Hospital at 2820 L St. and resided near Curtis Park.
She also spent some time residing in Fresno before returning to Sacramento, where she married Joe Makishima in 1957. Joe died at the age of 80 on July 22, 2003.
Joe and Emmie, who had three daughters, Kimi (Joanne), Keiko (Diane) and Sherri, moved to Rio Linda in 1959.
Emmie is presently active in her community, as she volunteers for the Rio Linda-Elverta Historical Society and the Friends of the Rio Linda Library.

Opinion: Crest Theatre faces unknown future after Oct. 31

The last of Sacramento’s great movie theaters to be built, The Crest, which opened Oct. 6, 1949 amid searchlights and movie stars in-person for the premiere of M-G-M’s “That Midnight Kiss”, faces an unknown future as the building’s owner is forcing the tenant/operator, CSLM, Inc. out of business with an impossible rent increase.

The Crest Theatre. Photo by Matias Bombal

The Crest Theatre. Photo by Matias Bombal

On that opening night in 1949, as may be seen in a Fox-Movietone newsreel of the event, Governor Earl Warren told the more than 5,000-person crowd assembled on K Street: “This is a great event tonight … We’re very proud of this new theater, and I’m sure the people of Sacramento will give it their patronage because it deserves it.” The Governor was right, and for many years to come the venerable theater, designed architecturally in a late 1940s “Skouras Style” was the zenith of excellence in movie presentation. The theater was built in 1949 with all new state-of-the-art electrical, plumbing, and HVAC.
It was constructed in the gutted shell, or outer four walls of the 1913 structure that had once housed the Hippodrome Theatre and initially, the short lived Empress Theatre, which closed after only one year. The Empress operators, Sullivan and Considine, Ponzi schemers, were run out of town leaving the investors holding the bag.
Fox-West Coast operated the entirely new Crest Theatre, “The Place to Go” from 1949, through some internal changes within their own company, including a rebranding as National General Theatres through mid 1979. Independent exhibitor Ron Morgan’s Morgan Cinemas gave it a short run in the early 1980s. By then the combined elements of urban sprawl and the increasing greed of the movie distributors made the operation of the Crest impossible for showing movies alone and it closed. Herb Liverette tried to turn it into a dinner theater in 1984, with grandiose plans for a remodel designed by noted Sacramento architect David Mogavero. The slogan “Our Quest, Save the Crest” fell on deaf ears.
During that time I was in my early teens, and fascinated by old theaters, I’d run all over the place while Liverette’s team tried to raise funds. I was trained as a volunteer relief projectionist by both Mario Menconi and Kenny Smith. Thus, at that early age I became familiar with the entire physical plant of the Crest Theatre and how all of its systems worked. When the dinner theater plans were canceled, Liverett moved on, and just as today, the Crest’s future was uncertain.

In 1986 the present era of the Crest’s life, and perhaps most significant, began when Linda McDonagh, operator of the Palms Playhouse in Davis, sought a larger venue for music concerts that needed a bigger space than she had in her rustic barn in Davis. Her attitude was “How about we clean it up as it is?” I approached her with the idea of showing classic films in the style of bygone days with short subjects on days the theater was not used for the live shows she wished to present. She got a friend to back her financially, Charlie Soderquist, and the initials of the two became the name of their new company: CSLM, Inc. CSLM then leased the building, taking operation on Oct. 1, 1986.
CSLM’s other partners, Andy Field, Gary Schoreder, and Bill Heberger then took most of October and the first half of November cleaning up the theater, and upgrading anything necessary to make it fully functional and compliant with the needs of any modern building. The theater re-opened with a gala black tie presentation of “Singin’ in the Rain” with the film’s star, Donald O’ Connor, in-person, Nov. 18, 1986. I was CSLM’s first employee and managed the theater for a short period, then stayed on to handle publicity, book movies, and emcee events until I was fired in 1991. In an era before DVDs, TCM, Netflix, and the smart phone, you could not really find classic movies any other way.
In October 1986, I brought a young lady into the group from United Artists’ Theatre on Arden Way. “Sid” or Laura Garcia, would become the shining light of the Crest to the present for CSLM. She has managed the theater for 25 of the 28 years CSLM has had the stewardship of this important cultural icon of the city. She took the torch and ran with it. In that time, hopes that were only dreams at the beginning were fully realized: first and foremost, the preservation of the building in as close to its original 1949 state as possible, the relighting of its magnificent miles of marquee neon in 1991, the restoration of the stage drapery, and the fact that the doors were open to one and all for all types of events for both patrons and event promoters.

The value of the CSLM, Inc.’s operation of the Crest and their contribution to the fabric of the Sacramento community and beyond is self-evident. Great live shows, wonderful movies, and special events have created cherished memories and captured the imagination of all who experienced them. The entertainment knowledge accrued in 28 years shows that CSLM knows its craft in this particular venue better than anyone in this market. This brings us to the present dilemma that they now face.

In 2011, Robert Emerick, a wastewater treatment engineer (sewage) with no theatrical experience, purchased for $2.8 million what he calls “Historic Crest Commercial Center” on his Facebook page. According to an Aug. 26 Sacramento Bee article by Cathie Anderson, Mr. Emerick further states that CSLM was paying well less than half market rent, at 40 cents per square foot.

I would offer that the square foot market value for a theater space should not be valued the same as office or industrial on the basis that the space within the square footage of these structures is utilized differently. With the glacier-like move of the forthcoming sports arena, no doubt square footage values will be on the rise, and clever investors are buying any property they can now, to cash in after the arena is a going concern.

Mr. Emerick is quoted in the same Bee article with statements that did not make sense to me, based on my own past experience with the building and the nature of the theatrical business. He says: “There’s plumbing in the theaters that’s 100 years old.” In actuality, the plumbing was entirely new in 1949, as city construction permit records indicate.
Emerick additionally says that “The Crest’s air-conditioning system must be replaced, at a cost of $100,000, because the state is banning the refrigerant it uses by 2020.” Although the latter part of that statement is correct, Mr. Emerick does not mention that extant air conditioning units that are in good operating order that use that coolant, R12, are grandfathered in past 2020 and are exempt from the ban. Thus, unless there is a major failure to the Crest HVAC system, this is a non-issue.

Sacramento Bee photo of The Crest Theatre's original opening night, October 6, 1949.  This image courtesy of Dolores Greenslate/Portuguese Historical Society Collection.

Sacramento Bee photo of The Crest Theatre's original opening night, October 6, 1949. This image courtesy of Dolores Greenslate/Portuguese Historical Society Collection.

The Bee article quotes Emerick, “if the Crest is ever to show movies again in its historic theater, it will need to upgrade the projection equipment at a cost of $100,000 to $150,000.” This is also not correct. In point of fact, the CSLM has been showing movies at the Crest both on film (rarely, but enough to keep the equipment maintained and in use) and Blu Ray DVD on an industrial digital projector (not DCP) for several years now. CSLM supports and hires union projectionists from Local 50 of the International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees.
Emerick says that people want to see more movies at the Crest, as does he, and that a DCP digital projector is needed due to the movie industry change from 35mm film in theaters to DCP digital projectors. This statement, seemingly well intentioned, shows his lack of understanding of the way movie exhibition works.
Movie exhibition is the only business in which the manufacturer is constantly trying to put the retailer out of business. The distributor’s contractual obligation of showing new movies a minimum of 4 weeks which began in the late 1970s, spelled doom for the giant single screen theaters. This gave birth to the multiplex cinema with several auditoriums of various sizes. With several screens in one theater, the operator simply put the movie that has the best attendance in the biggest auditorium. Other movies that have been there two to four weeks are run in the smaller ones.
The show times are staggered so there is a constant flow of traffic at the candy counter; the only place any movie theater makes the money it needs to cover operating expenses, as most of the box-office revenue goes directly to the distributors. With the switch to digital DCP projection in the last five years in most chain theaters, the last of the independent movie theater operators have vanished nationwide for two principal reasons.
The first and most important: movie theater chains bid for first run releases in each market, and the buying or bidding power they offer the distributors (the movie studios) is far greater than a single independent may offer. As an example, if the Crest were to offer an advance of $5,000 for a four week run of a movie for its single screen and the distributor also receives an offer from Cinemark for $5,000 per each of their 332 theaters and 4, 456 screens ($5,000 multiplied by 332 theaters or more!), the reality is that the distributor will not take the Crest’s telephone call. First-run commercial or art films are thus unavailable to independent theaters, which are now becoming extinct in the current exhibition market.
The second reason is the theatrical DCP projector itself, unlike the 35mm film projectors of the past which provided more than 50 years of service if properly maintained, are very expensive, from $80,000 to $125,000 and only have the life of a computer hard drive, and will need to be replaced at that same amount in only a few years. Most independents can’t shoulder that financial burden, and if they can afford one, they still could not get the movies to show because of the impossibility competing with chain theaters to get product.
Those are the facts as I see them. Now, personal opinion:
Ultimately, Mr. Emerick owns the building, and will do with it as he pleases. He’s indicated that he wants to give showbiz a whirl with his fiancee Yulya Borroum booking the theater for live events, both with no theatrical experience, beginning in November. For the sake of the theater, I hope his idea works, but I don’t understand how it could. I’ve given examples earlier. I’ll add to this the fact that the Crest survives as a rental facility for promoters and film festival groups to put on events. The only events that Crest does in-house are the occasional movies that are shown when rentals don’t fill the calendar. Mr. Emerick may lose his shirt and the Crest if he thinks he may do a better job than his tenant with 28 years experience in the building.
There’s also the possibility that Mr. Emerick has invested in the property with the knowledge and hope that the sports arena will increase the value of his investment (indicated by his focused awareness of current square footage values) so that even if he gives it “the old college try” and it fails, he may cash in by selling it or converting the building to some other use. This has already begun with the restaurants in the basement level of the store fronts adjacent to the original theater building. This space was used to house the two additional movie theaters that CSLM used to operate, but had to close due to declined revenue and distributor politics.
If I were a landlord with a solid tenant with tenure that would provide consistent reliable income, I would not force them out for more money thinking more in the long term than short gain. Perhaps Mr. Emerick has other financial concerns that are forcing his hand. His reasons for raising the rent are dubious at best. He bought the building saying “he wanted to preserve a signature regional asset,” yet his actions seem just the opposite of his statement.
The sad result to me is the 28 years of CSLM, made up of people and families that depend on income made there that utilizes their singular talents honed specifically for the unique facility that the Crest is. Soon they will be out of work, their future uncertain. Manager Laura “Sid” Garcia-Heberger fell in love with CSLM partner Bill Heberger, married him and had children.
The many employees, too, will be out of work. Mr. Emerick, if true to his word of “wanting to preserve a signature regional asset,” must reconsider keeping his tenant in place at a rent that is reasonable for them to pay. The heart of any business are the people that run it, they connect to you personally in what they do and how they do it. Absent that, any building becomes a soulless monolith. Let’s not let the 28 years of effort by CSLM, Inc. at the Crest Theatre become lost in the swirling mist of time.
(On the web: Rare newsreel footage of the opening night of the Crest Theatre in Sacramento on Oct. 6, 1949 introduced by Matias Bombal, former Crest Theatre manager, and now movie critic at www.mabhollywood.com and Valley Community Newspapers, can be seen at http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=EvZoUH3×2rI)

Japanese had early presence in Riverside-Pocket area

Rose (Ishimoto) Takata grew up in the historic Riverside area of Sacramento. Photo by Lance Armstrong

Rose (Ishimoto) Takata grew up in the historic Riverside area of Sacramento. Photo by Lance Armstrong

Editor’s Note: This is part one in a series regarding historic Asian districts of Sacramento.

Much has been written about the Portuguese people of the early years of the Riverside-Pocket area in this publication. But it should be recognized that Japanese also have a rich history in that area.
By the 1920s, the Riverside-Pocket area consisted of about two-thirds Portuguese people and about one-third Japanese people.
Certainly, one person who knows a considerable amount about that area’s early Japanese history is 91-year-old Riverside area native Shigeko “Rose” (Ishimoto) Takata.
During an interview with this publication last week, Takata recalled some of her early memories of that area.
“I still remember quite a bit of what went on when I was young,” said Takata, who was one of the six children of Sehei and Chiyo Ishimoto. “I went to school there (in the Riverside area) in the 1930s. I went to Sutter School (in a building that now houses Cabrillo Civic Club #5 at 4605 Karbet Way).”
In regard to some of the Japanese families of that area, Takata said, “One was named Kanaka, and mine was Ishimoto, of course, and we both had chickens and then we also grew vegetables. But it was mostly chicken. We were a chicken ranch. And there was (the) Kawai (family). They were just strictly (a vegetable farming family). I don’t know what kind of (vegetable) farming it was, but (it was vegetable) farming. (The Kanakas) and us, we were mainly chicken farmers. These three Japanese families lived on (the same) property (near Sutter School).
“There were other (Japanese families) right around the Sutter School there. A bunch of them had poultry farms. We kind of centered right around the school where I lived. There was one other (Japanese family) that was fairly far (away). Most of us residents had farms. You know where The Trap is? The Trap (which did not yet have that name) was there at the time we were there, too. It was owned by the Pimentels. That’s an old bar that’s been there for years and years and years. But anyway, around The Trap (at 6125 Riverside Blvd.), around that area, that Greenhaven area, there were a lot of farmers, truck farms. And then further up by (today’s) Pocket Road and so forth, around there were (several) Japanese farms. (The farms) went from Pocket Road to the river (levee).”
In response to the inquiry of when her family began residing in the Riverside area, Tanaka said, “I can’t say, but my oldest brother (Yoshio) was born in 1914, and they were already here (in the Riverside area). We lived by where the Sutter School was (located) on (the old) Riverside Road. I remember our rural route box number (at that time) was 123. We moved later just before the war (to) Sutterville Heights, which is near William Land Park, in that area.

This photograph from the 1941 C.K. McClatchy High School yearbook shows Rose Ishimoto, who would later become Rose Takata.

This photograph from the 1941 C.K. McClatchy High School yearbook shows Rose Ishimoto, who would later become Rose Takata.

The 1900 U.S. Federal Census lists the then 20-year-old Japanese native Sehei Ishimoto as a farm laborer residing in the San Joaquin Township of Sacramento County with Japanese immigrants K. Toro (24-year-old head of household) and M. Toro (28-year-old brother of K. Toro). And the same census notes that Sehei immigrated to the United States in 1899.
The San Francisco Call, in its Wednesday, Aug. 20, 1913 edition, recognizes that Sehei and Chiyo were married during the previous day.
Included under a heading, which reads, “SAN FRANCISCO – The following marriage licenses were issued Wednesday (sic), August 19, 1913,” are the words: “ISHIMOTO-IWATSUBO – Sehei Ishimoto, 32, and Chiyo Iwatsubo, 20, both of Sacramento.”
The 1920 Census notes that Chiyo emigrated from Japan in 1913 and was then residing with her husband and three children on Riverside Road in the Riverside area of Sacramento County.
In recalling her school days, Takata said, “We were in the Sutter School District. There were people who lived beyond (today’s) The Trap (bar, at the present address of 6125 Riverside Blvd., and attended the Lisbon schools). (That) was another area that had Japanese.”
After departing from Sutter School each day, Takata would attend classes at a Japanese school.
In recalling that school, Takata said, “I did go to a Japanese school. Just about everybody did (attend that school). They had classes from first grade to eighth grade, and then on Saturdays they had what they called middle school. There must have been at least 100 kids (who attended the Japanese school). I would think, but I really have no idea. The classes were divided. There were two rooms. From Sutter School where we went, (the Japanese) school was, oh, I would say only about maybe four or five blocks (away). My teacher (at the Japanese school) was Matsumura. I think at one time I knew (her first name).”
Takata also recalled several of her classmates, including Ruth Imoto, Noboru Oto and her best friend, Yaeko Muramoto.
After school, Takata would complete chores on her family’s farm.
Takata later attended California Junior High School at 2991 Land Park Dr. and graduated from C.K. McClatchy High School in June 1941.
After being asked to summarize her life growing up during the Depression, Rose Takata said, “I tell people, we were poor, but we didn’t know it. I grew up in the 1930s. We always had food, we always had clothing, and we had a (Japanese) baseball team, you know, we had different things.”