From an East Sacramento street that already receives much coverage in this newspaper by way of Marty Relles’ “Janey Way Memories” column, comes yet another memory of the past, as well as a look at the present and planned future.
Tom Hart stands in front of his childhood home on Janey Way in East Sacramento. The house, which is presently being remodeled, is featured through 13 Internet videos. / Valley Community Newspapers photo, Lance Armstrong
For those who either grew up on or near Janey Way or for those familiar with Marty’s column, it should come as no surprise that many people have a very deep-rooted love for this local street.
This fact is even more understandable since the street was constructed more than 60 years ago.
But nonetheless, the great number of stories that derive from Janey Way can seem quite remarkable when considering that the street is a mere 909 feet long and never included more than its current total of 32 houses – three of which are actually duplexes.
Certainly, this article is not intended to replace Marty’s popular column. So, be sure to read his current “Janey Way Memories.”
Instead, this first and only edition of “More Janey Way Memories” is presented solely to tell the story of one more person who grew up on Janey Way and his lifelong love for this East Sacramento street and his current project to preserve a portion of its past.
Tom Hart discusses details of a new addition to his childhood home. / Valley Community Newspapers, Lance Armstrong
This person is Tom Hart, who grew up on Janey Way.
Tom, 57, who follows Marty’s column, is familiar with many of the column’s related stories and people and can sometimes even read about himself, is working on a project that will bring him back to his old neighborhood.
Dust has been flying, machinery has been running off and on and hammers have been pounding at the old Hart house since last July.
This activity, said Tom, who is of Scottish, Irish and English ancestry, is part of a project that will fulfill his dream to move back into his childhood home, where he grew up with his mother Rose (Hawkins) Hart, his sister – the former Susan Hart, now Susan Chevassau – and for a shorter period of time, his father, Bernie, who passed away in 1961.
“When my mother (who passed away in the home on Dec. 19, 2001) was sick and I was staying with her, we would talk in the evenings and one of the things that I told her is I wanted to move back home,” Tom said. “That really warmed her heart and made her feel happy that her son was going to be moving back home and back into the neighborhood.”
Bernie Hart stands behind his boat and car in the driveway of his Janey Way home in about 1951. / Photo courtesy, Tom Hart
The remodeling project includes the addition of about 400 square feet of livable space with the expansion of the living room and master bedroom, a new master bathroom, a new laundry room and the addition of more closet space and a covered porch area behind the house. Additionally, the old garage was demolished and replaced with a two and a half-car garage, the roof and windows were replaced and new insulation was installed throughout the home.
Tom, a 1971 graduate of Sacramento High School, said that although he had hoped to move into the house with his wife Diana by Christmastime, he is now setting a more realistic goal of once again becoming a Janey Way resident by April.
The upgrading of the old Hart house helps to preserve one of the street’s older homes.
Research for this article revealed the following history of Janey Way:
According to the 1949 city directory, the first houses to be built on Janey Way – those of the late 1940s – were the homes of Ross Relles, James Tomassetti, Dante Viani and Jose “Joe” Micheli.
During the time their homes were built, Relles operated his well-known Relles Florist at 2200 J St., Tomassetti was a painter for the Western Pacific Railroad, Viani worked for Koro Products Co. at 2116 19th St. and Micheli was a bartender at the Square Deal Café at 5723 Folsom Blvd., where the Espanol Restaurant is now located.
Bernie Hart enjoys the company of his nephew, Rick Dixon, and his son, Tom Hart, on Christmas day in 1958. / Photo courtesy, Tom Hart
Apparently, at least two other houses existed on the street during this time, since Louie Viani claims that his house was the first home built on the street and Tom said that he was told by his home’s remodel designer that his house was constructed in 1949. Tom added, however, that the house may not have had any occupants until the following year.
Carmen Tomassetti, who married James Tomassetti on Aug. 14, 1948 and raised five children in her Janey Way home, said that she moved into her then-new house on Dec. 10, 1948.
“My house was built in 1948,” said Carmen, who is a native of Monte Porzio, Italy. “The first houses (on Janey Way) were built in 1948, then little by little different companies built different houses.”
The 1952 city directory shows the growth of the street by this time, as follows: Olin N. Boggs, Joseph C. Brady, Dominic J. Costamagna, Raymond Cullivan, Adelbert C. Jacobs, Richard Kinzel, Jr., Eugene E. McKnight, Jose Micheli, Gene C. O’Keefe, Virgil W. Petrocchi, Mateo Puccetti, Ralph Puccetti, Ross Relles, Joseph C. Romel, Loren E. Sizemore, Eugene R. Thomsen, James Tomassetti, Dante H. Viani, Louie E. Viani and three vacant homes. As an historical note, Janey Way no longer extended south of M Street to include its 1300s addresses by the late 1950s. This property is presently part of the site of St. Mary’s School.
Enzo Costa said that he moved into the neighborhood in 1972 and now lives in the last house that was built on Janey Way. He had the house constructed in 1976.
Neighborhood children gather in front of the Hart house for Tom Hart’s birthday in about 1958. Pictured from left to right are: Berna Tomassetti, Denis Tomassetti, Diana Viani, unidentified, Jennifer “Deedee” DuCray, John DuCray, Tom Hart, John Tomassetti and Josie Tomassetti. / Photo courtesy, Tom Hart
Tom, who with his wife, has three children, Angela, Rebecca and T.J., said that a prime example that his neighborhood is fairly old is the fact that Costa is considered one of Janey Way’s “new kids on the block.”
Costa may have had the last house built in the neighborhood, but as a resident of the street, he has much seniority over a family, for instance, who moved to a house on Janey Way about two years ago.
Fortunately, due to modern technology, most readers who are interested in seeing the old Hart house do not have to go further than their own computers to do so.
In order that Tom’s sister could observe various remodeling stages of the home, Tom has placed footage of these remodeling stages on the Web site www.youtube.com. The short videos, which currently present 13 remodeling stages, can be found using the search words: “Hart Janey Way remodel.”
Tom plans to load seven more videos onto the site to show a full-range summary of the project. He also plans to eventually take the main highlights of all his videos and combine them to create a 15-minute video that he will also post on the Web site.
Tom said that the simple fact that he desires to move back to his childhood house shows how special the home and its neighborhood and residents are in his heart.
“I just have so many fond memories of the place,” Tom said. “I’m coming full circle. My kids have grown and now I have a chance to come back home to be where still many of the neighbors live. Where, when I was smaller, these neighbors would take care of me, now I’m coming back home, so I can take care of them.”