THE POCKET WATCH: Six-foot elf takes up residence at Greenhaven Plaza

The Christmas tree lot on the corner of Riverside Boulevard and Florin Road is currently operated by new folks this year, Pocket native Gregg Jones (whose father owns Ace Hardware) and his friend Chad. They enjoy the comforts of home inside their trailer. Photo by Monica Stark

The Christmas tree lot on the corner of Riverside Boulevard and Florin Road is currently operated by new folks this year, Pocket native Gregg Jones (whose father owns Ace Hardware) and his friend Chad. They enjoy the comforts of home inside their trailer. Photo by Monica Stark

I always imagine the life of the average Christmas tree lot attendant to be kind of a bitter winter mix of cold and loneliness and backbreaking labor, but if that’s the stereotype, Gregg Jones doesn’t fit the profile. I stand with Gregg in the rain, both of us as upright as a couple of soggy meerkats among all the felled evergreens in his lot, intentionally laid down in an orderly manner to avoid the potential chaos that would ensue if they were left upright for the storms to do the job, and he does not once convey a single note of resentment about the avocation he has adopted for the holiday season.

Much to the contrary, with a wide smile and a bit of an elvish twinkle in his eye, Gregg talks about his venture with his good friend, Chad, who has run a lot in West Sacramento for several years, with an enthusiasm that belied the gloom of this winter’s first big storm. Although Greenhaven Plaza, the shopping center at Riverside and Florin, has rented space to a Christmas tree lot for the past several years, this is Gregg’s and Chad’s first year of operation at this location.

For my part, I want him to skip ahead to the bitter cold and loneliness, the theme I anticipated for this week’s Pocket Watch: “Poor soul sacrifices his own happiness so that others can partake in the joy of the season.” But there is no bitterness to be had. Gregg points to the 30-foot travel trailer in the back of his lot. “Sure, someone has to be here 24/7,” he grins, “but we have all the comforts of home here, heat, television, restroom, a warm bed… It’s really kind of nice.”

“But it must get lonely,” I insist, “being away from your family during the holidays.” Turns out Gregg was born and raised in the Pocket area. “This is home for me!” he beams. In fact, this particular parking lot is actually home for Gregg. His dad owns the Ace Hardware store in the shopping center, where Gregg grew up working. “It’s fun seeing all my old friends and customers when they drop by to pick up a tree.”

As the subject turns to the operation of the lot, it becomes obvious that Gregg has much more than just a financial interest in this particular business. He begins to discuss the initial vision that prompted him to approach his buddy about opening in this particular location. “I wanted to provide a lot where people could come for exceptional trees,” he explains. “I wanted to provide the best service possible. This is my home. These are my friends and neighbors. I wanted to make sure that our customers to have a great experience selecting their trees.”

Soon, I begin to feel like I’m talking shrimp with Bubba in Forest Gump. “Of course, we have Noble Firs, which go up to 11 feet,” he says, “and we have the Silvertips, which people refer to as the “Charlie Brown trees”; we have the smaller Nordmans, which are four- to five-feet tall, and they’re really similar to the Nobles, with just a little heavier needle, kind of a two-tone sheen, with silver underneath, dark green on top…” Gregg points out that the lot will receive multiple shipments regularly to ensure that the outgoing stock is replenished and that the selection is always optimal.

In retrospect, it was probably a tad rude of me to mention this to Gregg, but I tell him that, personally, I own an immense artificial tree that I have Ruben schlep out of the garage rafters every year after Thanksgiving. It’s so convenient, maybe not for Ruben, but it certainly is for me, and I wonder if there’s any kind of perceptible trend in that direction that might affect the live Christmas tree industry. I concede that I do kind of miss the smell of a fresh tree.

“Well, you hit the nail right on the head there,” he replies. “Artificial trees are nice and convenient, but one thing they don’t provide for is the fresh smell of the tree and I think just the spirit of getting a real tree that goes back a long way. You have your folks who like the convenience of pulling their own tree out of the attic every year, but then there are those diehards who—whether it’s cutting one down at Apple Hill or coming down to the lot and having the kids run around the tree lot, picking one out and hauling it home on the roofs of their cars—feel like that’s what it’s all about every year. I don’t think that’s going to go away anytime soon”.
Not as long as there’s a place like Gregg’s and Chad’s to shop, my brother. No way.

The Pocket Watch appears in every issue of the Pocket News. Jeff Dominguez can be reached at jeff.dominguez@yahoo.com

THE POCKET WATCH: What I’m thankful for this Thanksgiving, Greenhaven/Pocket edition

Shown here are students from the John F. Kennedy marching band taken during the homecoming parade, which was held on Friday, Oct. 17. The sounds of the band practicing in the evenings often provide neighbors with free concert music. Photo by Monica Stark

Shown here are students from the John F. Kennedy marching band taken during the homecoming parade, which was held on Friday, Oct. 17. The sounds of the band practicing in the evenings often provide neighbors with free concert music. Photo by Monica Stark

I think it’s safe to say that I’ve poured my heart out plenty of times in this column. Maybe too many times. I didn’t want my Thanksgiving edition to be too personal and sappy—I mean, obviously, I’m thankful for my wife and kids, but I always write about that—so I thought I would confine my discussion of the things for which I’m most thankful to items with which most of us are familiar, items that are strictly related to life here in the Pocket/Greenhaven community.

For example, I’m thankful for the John F. Kennedy High School Marching Band. My wife used to joke that the marching band at Kennedy practices more than the football team. But her joke might just be true. We live close enough to the school that, most every clear-weather evening, if we open the windows, we can hear faint echoes of the wonderful music they make. There is some sort of electronic metronome that the band uses to help keep time. It makes a steady “ping-ping-pinging” sound that’s very distinctive and uniquely audible, I suppose, so that it can be heard above the instruments. When we hear that pinging sound, we slide open the patio doors. We know we’re in for a concert.

I’m also thankful for the new Z Pizza. Actually, I’ve never been there, but I hear it’s a very nice place. My son, who has somehow become a beer connoisseur since his college graduation (as opposed to the chugger his old man was during his college days) says they have great pizza and lots of tasty beers, along with a unique system for serving it. He and his friends love to meet there to watch sporting events and just be together. I’m thankful for Ruben’s circle of friends, but I’m also thankful that they a nice, upscale, place to meet that doesn’t require a trip downtown.

I’m thankful for the Taco Bell in the shopping center at Florin and Riverside, particularly for their “Happy Hour.” After picking up Gabby from school, I can usually be found making a “run for the border” to pick up a freeze for the bargain price of $1 and, sometimes, a snack to accompany it. Before gabby started school, I used to do the same with Ruben. We’d sit at the bar in Rainbow’s End and have a milkshake and a piece of cake or pie and just chat. It’s just a little thing we do, but I’ve learned that the little, ordinary, things make for the best memories. Incidentally, if you ever stop at Taco Bell for a happy hour freeze, I recommend the “Baja Blast.”

The strangest thing happens to me most nights at around 11 p.m. I somehow get a craving for a particular snack, or I somehow remember this or that thing I forgot to pick up for use the next day. When this happens, I usually talk Ruben into joining me for a late-night dash over to the Walgreens on the corner, across from the Shell station. They seem to have everything I tend to need, from flash drives to fingernail clippers, posterboard to pistachios, Band-aids to batteries. I’m thankful to have this kind of store nearby and for the cashiers who somehow manage to remain cheery at an hour when I know they’d rather be home fast asleep.

Here’s a quick(er) list of additional Greenhaven/Pocket-related items that have earned my gratitude at Thanksgiving: 

Sunsets over the river. I was raised on this river. In fact, I could throw a rock from my bedroom window directly into the Sacramento River. I’m thankful for the enduring beauty of the sunsets here, and for the many warm memories of my youth that they always conjure.

I’m thankful for the Machaca Dinner at Rosalinda’s. When I find myself missing my grandma’s cooking, I can always wander in and order this meal. Of course, it’s not exactly like Grandma used to make, but it’s darn close.

I’m also thankful for all the beautiful parkways and bike and walking paths that weave around the exact spot where I live. Unfortunately, I don’t use them nearly enough, and I’ve got to resolve to do something about that. New Year’s Day is coming… maybe then!

I’m thankful for Gary at Ace Hardware. For years, Don Weathers was my go-to guy there, but since Don retired, I’ve come to enjoy chatting with Gary. He probably doesn’t even know my name, but he’s the most helpful, cheerful, hardware clerk you could ask for. And he also knows a thing or two about college sports.

Once we decided that the logistical challenge involved with getting to the only church where we felt truly comfortable (in Rancho Cordova) was preventing us from attending consistently, Lisa and I began a long and exhaustive search to find a church here that we could call home. I am absolutely positive that there are many, many, wonderful churches nearby, but finding the right fit is such a highly subjective thing. Like Goldilocks, we found just the right spot for our family at Faith Presbyterian. I grew up in a fire and brimstone, holy rolling, family. My present preferences are a bit more dialed back. Thoughtful, intelligent, understated, and funny, Pastor Jeff Chapman simply strikes the right chord with me. It’s so important for a family to have a spiritual base, and I’m thankful that we were able to find one so close and so apropos.

I’m thankful for everyone who has worked so diligently to keep the tradition of the Pocket 4th of July Parade running. In 1995, I got the idea to hold a parade here so that I wouldn’t have to drag my son down to the Delta every year, where they do the 4th up right. Together with some dear friends and neighbors, we kept it going until a variety of factors compelled me to step away. Linda Pohl and another great group of volunteers have managed to carry the torch since then, and no one knows as well as I how much work is involved in keeping this labor of love going.

Realizing that I have failed miserably at making my list quicker, there are a few other things I just have to mention, so I’ll do so with a level of brevity that most people would think impossible for me.

I’m thankful for: the fertile Earth literally in our backyard; Pocket Next Door, a website that allows me to be Gladys Kravitz without so much as having to peek through the living room window curtain; the safety of our neighborhood; the firefighter from Station 11 who hugged me when my grandfather died—thanks, I needed that; my dear buddy Wayne Novoa, a local treasure whom I met through youth sports here in the Pocket. Anyone who knows Wayne knows that there is no one in the world like him. He has been a source of endless fun and positivity for me, personally, and his sense of community is unparalleled; the Freeport Water Tower. I just like it. It’s such a unique landmark, and when I see it, I know that I’m home; the Delta breeze in the summertime. E.E. Cummings once wrote a poem about rain “bouncing off of the burned Earth” and “wandering deeply through the God-thanking ground.” That’s how my face feels on a hot summer day when the Delta breeze finally hits it in the evening.

There’s no feeling quite like that, and no sentiment quite as satisfying as gratitude. My fondest hope for all my friends and neighbors is that they, too, have an exhaustive list for which to be thankful this holiday season.

The Pocket Watch appears in every issue of the Pocket News. Jeff Dominguez can be reached at jeff.dominguez@yahoo.com

Emigh Hardware: 100-plus years of service

A long banner stretches above the entrance of Emigh Ace Hardware and includes a message that assures confidence in its customers. The banner announces a sale in honor of the company’s more than century-long history.

Emigh Hardware is shown in 1952 – its first year of operation at its Country Club Centre location. / Photo courtesy, Emigh Ace Hardware

Emigh Hardware is shown in 1952 – its first year of operation at its Country Club Centre location. / Photo courtesy, Emigh Ace Hardware

Certainly an announcement by any business acknowledging that it has survived for a century or more is sufficient to attract one’s attention.

But on a local level, the story of Emigh Hardware draws even greater intrigue, considering that the business, which is located at 3555 El Camino Ave., has always been a local story.

The history of this fourth generation, family-owned and operated store began when brothers and Rio Vista natives James and Clay Emigh, who had already gained experience in the hardware industry, moved to Sacramento and opened Emigh Hardware Co. at 1208 J St. in Sacramento.

Prior to opening the Sacramento store, while living in Suisun City, James (1876-1932) purchased the James Kerns hardware store in 1900, and the business was eventually consolidated with the Suisun Implement Co.

James, who served as the Suisun City store’s vice president and assistant manager, sold his interests in the business about a decade later.

This 1952 advertisement was one of Emigh Hardware’s earlier advertisements after the business added a store in Country Club Centre. / Photo courtesy, the Lance Armstrong Collection

This 1952 advertisement was one of Emigh Hardware’s earlier advertisements after the business added a store in Country Club Centre. / Photo courtesy, the Lance Armstrong Collection

But while operating his Suisun City store, James was assisted by his brother for about four years, after which time Clay, who was five years younger than James, became a salesman for the wholesale hardware business, Miller-Chapman-Enwright Co., at 913-917 Front St. in Sacramento.

Clay’s last hardware-related employment prior to establishing Emigh Hardware with his brother was as a salesman for the George H. Tay Co. in San Francisco.

The Emigh brothers’ Sacramento business expanded in July 1912, as their store merged with the Winchell-Cline Co., which was located at 1103 O St. and was managed by Frank B. Winchell.

In addition to carrying general hardware supplies, the Winchell-Cline Co. also offered a line of agricultural supplies and buggies.

With its merger, the Emigh-Winchell-Cline Co., which was led by David M. Cline as its president and James Emigh as its vice-president, moved into the old Thomson-Diggs Co. quarters at 308-312 J St.

Emigh Ace Hardware employees stand in front of the 3555 El Camino Ave. store in this 1980 photograph. / Photo courtesy, Emigh Ace Hardware

Emigh Ace Hardware employees stand in front of the 3555 El Camino Ave. store in this 1980 photograph. / Photo courtesy, Emigh Ace Hardware

Although smaller than today’s larger warehouse hardware stores, the then-newly-opened, 60-foot by 160-foot, retail and wholesale store was large for its time and advertised itself as “the big warehouse store.”

Regarding Emigh Hardware’s vast inventory at this location, the 1913 book, “History of Sacramento County, California,” described the store as the “most extensive hardware establishment in Sacramento County, if not in the whole of Northern California.”

The selection of the merged store’s location was ideal, considering that the site had already been established as a place where locals could purchase hardware supplies, agricultural implements and other offerings.

This image of the company’s well-recognized representative, a cartoon character, known as “Amy,” was introduced by Emigh Ace Hardware during the 1960s. / Valley Community Newspapers photo, Lance Armstrong

This image of the company’s well-recognized representative, a cartoon character, known as “Amy,” was introduced by Emigh Ace Hardware during the 1960s. / Valley Community Newspapers photo, Lance Armstrong

Even before Thomson-Diggs, which was a hardware store led by its president, Frederick F. Thomson, opened at the site, Thomson had co-owned a similar business, Stanton, Thomson & Co. at the same location as early as 1889.

And with Perrin Stanton’s previous co-ownership of the Holman, Stanton & Co. hardware and agricultural implements supply store at 211-215 J St., Emigh Hardware has a link in the capital city’s hardware store history dating back to at least April 1879.

At the time of the Emigh brothers’ business merger, Sacramento included more than a dozen businesses that featured hardware supplies among their offerings. These businesses included the Breuners’ store at 600-608 K St., Jordan-Christ Hardware Co. at 516 K St., Paul Oakley at 910 J St., the Sacramento Implement Co. at 721 J St. and Baker & Hamilton at 109 J St.

A June 26, 1913 article in The Sacramento Bee recognized the Emigh-Winchell-Cline Co. as having then-recently taken over the local horse-drawn vehicle business of the Studebaker Company. The article reported that the hardware company, which also acquired the old Studebaker warehouse at 12th and B streets in the same deal, would handle their then-new horse-drawn vehicle business from Emigh’s 3rd and J streets store.

The business, which was then known as the Emigh-Winchell-Cline Co., moved into the old Thomson-Diggs Co. quarters at 308-312 J St. in July 1912. / Photo courtesy, Emigh Ace Hardware

The business, which was then known as the Emigh-Winchell-Cline Co., moved into the old Thomson-Diggs Co. quarters at 308-312 J St. in July 1912. / Photo courtesy, Emigh Ace Hardware

The Emigh-Winchell Hardware Co., as the business was then known, relocated to 709-715 J St. in about 1918.

During the 1920s, the store was even more of a family-operated business, as James’ sons, James, Jr. and Albert, who were twins, and Colby, were working at the store.

Following the 1932 retirement of the company’s then-president, Clay, the store relocated to 1300 J St. on a portion of the property of today’s Sacramento Convention Center, and regained its original name of Emigh Hardware Co.

It was also during the 1930s that James retired and Albert Emigh, who joined the company in 1919, was serving as the store’s president.

In a Feb. 29, 1932 article, The Bee reported that Alpha Stores, Ltd. of Grass Valley and Nevada City purchased stock and fixtures, which were appraised at about $24,000, from Emigh Hardware.

In announcing the store’s then-new location, which opened on March 15, 1932, The Bee reported that the hardware firm was a $25,000 corporation with Albert, Colby and Margaret Emigh as incorporators.

This view of the interior of the Emigh-Winchell-Cline Co. store shows some of the company’s offerings, which included plows and automotive accessories. / Photo courtesy, Emigh Ace Hardware

This view of the interior of the Emigh-Winchell-Cline Co. store shows some of the company’s offerings, which included plows and automotive accessories. / Photo courtesy, Emigh Ace Hardware

The business maintained its existence through the Depression and World War II years, and with the later building boom in the suburbs, the company opened a new store at 3450 El Camino Ave. in the then-newly-developed Country Club Centre in 1952.

At the time of the new location’s opening, the 13th and J streets store was still in operation, yet would eventually close.

A 1957 Pacific Telephone directory advertised Emigh Hardware as a seven days per week, single location business offering “Everything in Hardware.”

The business’s inventory at the time included plumbing supplies, builders’ hardware, tools, paints and varnishes, home appliances, household goods, pipes, electrical, gardening and plumbing supplies, and even sporting goods and televisions.

The Emigh-Winchell Hardware Co., as the business was then known, relocated to this structure at 709-715 J St. in about 1918. / Photo courtesy, Emigh Ace Hardware
The Emigh-Winchell Hardware Co., as the business was then known, relocated to this structure at 709-715 J St. in about 1918. / Photo courtesy, Emigh Ace Hardware

‘Call Me Amy’

The 1960s is remembered as a very important decade for the business, if for nothing more than the creation of its memorable drawing of the company’s then-new representative, a cartoon character, known as “Amy.”

The drawing with its accompanying “Call Me Amy” saying served as a creative approach to teaching the community the correct pronunciation of the surname, Emigh.

A composite of an image produced by Colby and Jesma’s daughters, Carol and Mary, the overall-wearing, pigtailed character, with her hat, hammer and saw, remains a familiar sight in present day Emigh Hardware advertisements.

Under its then-new general manager and Colby’s son-in-law, Rich Lawrence, Emigh Hardware moved to its current, 35,000-square-foot location on El Camino Avenue, near the corner of Watt Avenue, in 1973.

The 1960s also marked the beginning of Emigh’s affiliation as an Ace Hardware Corp. store.

With its commitment to customer service and providing a wide selection of hardware items and other supplies, Emigh Hardware has continued to be an important local business.

And today, Emigh customers also have the convenience of shopping at Emigh’s Casual Living, a patio furnishing store, adjacent to the hardware store at 3535 El Camino Ave.

Emigh Hardware Co. was located in this building at 1300 J St. from 1932 to 1952. / Photo courtesy, Emigh Ace Hardware

Emigh Hardware Co. was located in this building at 1300 J St. from 1932 to 1952. / Photo courtesy, Emigh Ace Hardware

Lawrence, who has served as the company’s president since 1980, said that the hardware store is dedicated to providing the highest level of customer satisfaction.

“At Emigh Hardware, our customers are treated to extras they just can’t get elsewhere,” said Lawrence, whose wife Mary – the same Mary who helped create “Amy” – is the granddaughter of Clay Emigh. “Our store is staffed with over 75 knowledgeable employees, some of whom have been with the company for more than 20 years. They provide service that starts with a smile and doesn’t end until you find what you want and know how to use it.”

Cat capital? A purrrrrr-fect idea…Designate Sacramento an official cat capital

  Editor’s Note: This is the first article in a two-part series featuring cats of the Sacramento area.

  

A pair of tuxedo cats, Ming (left) and Maggie, of Fair Oaks Boulevard Nursery do their best to assist with the business’s incoming e-mail messages. / Photo courtesy, F.O. Blvd. Nursery

A pair of tuxedo cats, Ming (left) and Maggie, of Fair Oaks Boulevard Nursery do their best to assist with the business’s incoming e-mail messages. / Photo courtesy, F.O. Blvd. Nursery

Cat lovers rejoice! A movement to make Sacramento a “cat capital” begins right here.

Sure, this is an unofficial movement, but such an action has to begin somewhere.

Our city is already recognized for a variety of things, including one of its most historic notorieties, its official designation as the “Camellia Capital of the World.”

But with a tour around the Sacramento area, it is clear that we are missing the mark when it comes to honoring one of the city’s most cherished animals – the cat.

Signs of the city’s deep affection for cats are all around us from the names of school mascots such as the Lions of McClatchy High, the Cougars of Kennedy High and the Panthers of Sacramento City College to cat-related statuary and details within local architecture.

Shop cats Ming (bottom) and Maggie find unique places to hang out at Fair Oaks Boulevard Nursery. / Photo courtesy, F.O. Blvd. Nursery

Shop cats Ming (bottom) and Maggie find unique places to hang out at Fair Oaks Boulevard Nursery. / Photo courtesy, F.O. Blvd. Nursery

A close look at the 92-year-old Central Library building at 828 I St. and across the street from the library at the 77-year-old post office, for instance, reveals images of the heads of lions.

A lion’s head fountain is located behind the Julia Morgan House at 3731 T Street.

Additionally, lion statuary can be seen in such places as in front of McClatchy High and in front of a few buildings on 22nd Street, between S and V streets.

One of the more telling signs that Sacramento is already at least an unofficial “cat capital” is the fact that cat ownership is not always a residential affair.

And those who find this statement confusing are certainly not familiar with the many “shop cats” of the Sacramento area.

Among these shop cats is Ace, an 11-pound, white and gray Maine Coon cat at Ace Hardware at 4005 Manzanita Ave., Ste. 24 in

Ming, a shop cat at Fair Oaks Boulevard Nursery, blends in with the scenery of this local business. / Photo courtesy, F.O. Blvd. Nursery

Ming, a shop cat at Fair Oaks Boulevard Nursery, blends in with the scenery of this local business. / Photo courtesy, F.O. Blvd. Nursery

Harley Cowger, a sales floor employee at the hardware store, said that Ace selected the store as his home.

“(Ace) was a feral cat and he walked in here one day (about seven months ago) and hasn’t decided to leave yet,” Cowger said. “He has free range and he has his own little apartment out back and he pretty much does what he wants. Customers love him and he even has his own Facebook (Web site) fans.

But Internet presence as a Sacramento cat is not exclusive to Ace, as Ming and Maggie, a pair of tuxedo cats at Fair Oaks Boulevard Nursery at 4681 Fair Oaks Blvd., also have their own pages on the Web site www.fairoaksblvdnursery.com.

In praising Ming, Candie Abke, the nursery’s gift shop manager, said that Ming has excelled in customer service through greeting customers, following them around and even riding in the carts of some customers. She added that Maggie is a biter and is thus still in training.

Despite their contrasting demeanors, Ming and Maggie both receive royal treatment and sleep in a “cat palace” bed at the nursery.

Like many cats, Ace of Ace Hardware in Carmichael finds no problem with blocking the view of a computer monitor. / Photo courtesy, Carmichael Ace Hardware

Like many cats, Ace of Ace Hardware in Carmichael finds no problem with blocking the view of a computer monitor. / Photo courtesy, Carmichael Ace Hardware

East Sacramento certainly does not strike out when it comes to shop cats, as the area has at least one such cat.

Talini’s Nursery and Garden Center at 5601 Folsom Blvd. is home to Caspar, one of the oldest and largest shop cats in the city.

Weighing about 18 pounds, Caspar actually appears even larger than her weight may specify. But many people who know her best say that she is also “a lot of fluff.”

Talini’s manager Jill Franklin recently related the story of how Caspar became a resident of Talini’s about 12 years ago.

“She was a feral cat,” Franklin said. “She was a little kitten and she used to hide (behind the store). She was just too cute for anyone to resist, so we started feeding her. At first, she wouldn’t let anyone touch her and she would just kind of follow us around through the plants at the nursery like a little ghost, so we named her Caspar. She (later) warmed up to us and she’s been our little shop cat ever since.”

Franklin added that throughout the years, Caspar has developed such a large fan club that many people stop by the nursery for the lone purpose of visiting this very popular shop cat.

There are many images of cats throughout the Sacramento area, including this lion’s head image at the Central Library at 828 I St. / Valley Community Newspapers photo, Lance Armstrong

There are many images of cats throughout the Sacramento area, including this lion’s head image at the Central Library at 828 I St. / Valley Community Newspapers photo, Lance Armstrong

“Some people come here and the first thing they ask is ‘Where’s the cat?’ or ‘Where’s Caspar?’ Franklin said. “They spend the whole time looking for the cat and not really wanting any plants.”

But people who arrive at local businesses to simply visit shop cats is a common theme for any such store with a resident cat.

Corey Okada, a clerk at Beers Books at 915 S Street, said that Raffles, the store’s cat who was named after a character in a book featuring a cat burglar, also has her own fan club.

“(Raffles) has quite the following,” Okada said. “She’s the perfect cat to be a store cat. She gets petted all day and doesn’t mind, unlike a lot of cats. People love her and come in just to see her.”

Two of the more unique shop cats in Sacramento are Ti and Teva, who roam on long leashes in the customer lounge of Black Rock Auto at 615 15th Street #A.

Black Rock Manager Mark Pflepsen said that these rescued strays have adapted to become some of the friendliest cats he has ever seen.

Roy Van Meter, assistant manager of Ace Hardware in Carmichael, holds the business’s shop cat, Ace. / Photo courtesy, Carmichael Ace Hardware

Roy Van Meter, assistant manager of Ace Hardware in Carmichael, holds the business’s shop cat, Ace. / Photo courtesy, Carmichael Ace Hardware

“They are super friendly,” Pflepsen said. “You can take either cat and push them down, roll them upside down and play mop with them and slide them around and they just love it.”

In the Land Park area, the longtime, local record store, Records at 1618 Broadway, is home to Joey, about a six-year-old cat who also resided at the store’s previous location on the K Street Mall.

There is something about literature and cats that go well together and perhaps this is why bookstores are one of the more common businesses with shop cats.

Unfortunately, the two shop cats of one of the city’s more cat-friendly bookstores, Time Tested Books at 1114 21st Street, passed away about five years ago. But the store still shows its love for cats with its wooden cat on wheels and a wooden cat that sits above the business’s records.

With apologies to Caspar, a 23-pound cat at Richard L. Press Fine Books at 1831 F St. #A likely holds the title of the heaviest shop cat in Sacramento.

Describing the cat, Richard L. Press, the business’s owner, said, “His name is Arshile. Everybody says that it’s a Maine Coon, but Maine Coons have fluffy tails, supposedly. This is not a fluffy tail. This is a tabby, but he’s a giant.”

Press, who previously owned a shop cat, named Willow, said that Arshile appears quite often on a video about his store. The link for the video is www.vimeo.com/18289183.

Ming of Fair Oaks Boulevard Nursery is among the Sacramento area’s most popular and friendly shop cats. / Photo courtesy, F.O. Blvd. Nursery

Ming of Fair Oaks Boulevard Nursery is among the Sacramento area’s most popular and friendly shop cats. / Photo courtesy, F.O. Blvd. Nursery

The presence of Sacramento area cats on the Internet can also be found on the Web site, www.youtube.com. The site includes various Sacramento area feline-related videos, ranging from a collection of photographs of Clarice the cat set to the music of Tom Jones’ “What’s New Pussycat” to a story of a cat that allegedly saved the life of its owner during a fire.

And from the Sacramento music scene, there is a band, called Fish Cat Fish, and a widely recognized image used by the Deftones, one of the most popular bands to emerge from the capital city, is that of a “screaming” (actually yawning) kitten.

Cat fever even extends across the Sacramento River, as is apparent through the city of Davis’ B&L Bike Shop, which is home to a shop cat, named Milo.

But perhaps no greater tribute to cats can be found west of the capital city than at West Sacramento’s Raley Field, which is home to the extremely popular Sacramento River Cats Pacific Coast League baseball team and the team’s mascot Dinger the cat.

The team is appropriately named when considering the many feral cats that reside along the eastern and western banks of the river.

Although many local residents are not fond of the fact that the non-baseball river cats and many alley cats of the downtown/midtown area run free with no owners, these cats provide further evidence of Sacramento’s need to be officially recognized as a “cat city.”

With no committee members, no committee, no official stand by this publication and no other known mention of this movement besides this informational, thought-provoking article, Sacramento’s potential prominence as an official “cat city” is obviously lacking its much needed support.

The shop cat of Ace Hardware at 4005 Manzanita Ave. is most appropriately named, Ace. / Photo courtesy, Carmichael Ace Hardware

The shop cat of Ace Hardware at 4005 Manzanita Ave. is most appropriately named, Ace. / Photo courtesy, Carmichael Ace Hardware

But as a bit of encouragement for those who are hesitating to support this issue, the following modified quote of Mark Twain – apologies to Mr. Clemens! – should be remembered: “It’s not the size of the cat lover in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the cat lover.”

Despite the existence of much time before the November election, attempting to obtain official “cat city” status should be no easy endeavor.

But whatever happens, one thing is for sure – cat fever is strong in the Sacramento area.

 

Talini’s Nursery and Garden Center in East Sacramento is home to the very blue-eyed Caspar the cat. / Valley Community Newspapers photo, Lance Armstrong
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Talini’s Nursery and Garden Center in East Sacramento is home to the very blue-eyed Caspar the cat. / Valley Community Newspapers photo, Lance Armstrong

lance@valcomnews.com