Daisy Makes A Splash at The State Fair

Splash Dogs is a nationally recognized dog enthusiast company that organizes and promotes dock jumping events across the United States.
From Border Collies to Pit bulls to Golden Retrievers, dogs named Dexter, Murphy, and Rowdy, the “Flying Weenie Dog,” hail from all over Northern California to compete in the Splash Dogs competition at the California State Fair.
Water dogs are the best; they’re fearless, fun and love to jump into water to fetch a doggie toy with reckless abandon.
Diane McKernon, of Carmichael, and her 3-and-a-half-year-old yellow Labrador Retriever, Daisy, entered the Splash Dogs competition at the State Fair hoping to make a big splash…or at least get a blue ribbon. It was their first time being Splash Dog contestants at the State Fair.
Diane told me she had seen the Splash Dogs at the State Fair for years and always enjoyed being a spectator. When she finally got a dog that would actually jump into the water, she decided to jump right into competing in the Splash Dog events.
The first competition they competed in was the Splash Dogs Pet-A-Palooza event in Citrus Heights last year. Daisy ended up jumping 18.4 feet at Petapalooza and took fifth place. She received a blue ribbon and when Diane hooked it on her collar “she looked proud, she has a sense of pride in being a good splash jumper,” Diane said.
That’s when they both got hooked on the Splash Dog competitions.

Daisy is a natural born jumper. She loves to jump in Diane’s mom’s pool on Rustic Road in Carmichael.
“She just runs and flies into the pool without any hesitation,” Diane said. Daisy jumps into lakes and rivers and wherever she can get into the water. She’s a true “water dog.”
I could see Daisy sliding down the water slides at Cal Expo. “I think she would,” Diane replied.
As I was talking to Diane about the competition, 92-pound Daisy was pulling her toward the Splash Dog dock and whining. She’s a strong dog. She was chomping at the bit to make another jump into the cool water. Diane said, “Most of the dogs doing this are single-minded. All they can think about is getting in the water.”
At home, Daisy is actually a laid back couch potato, eating Costco dog biscuits and waiting for the next Splash Dogs competition. Once Diane gets out the Remington Dog Toy and the leash, Daisy is ready to go for a walk near the river where she loves to get wet.
Her friend Bryan takes her up to the platform. He’s the handler so Diane can take video of the jumps. She’s like a proud mother; posting photos and videos of her baby jumping into the water. Another reason Bryan’s the handler is Daisy is a very powerful dog who could probably tow a Buick. When she sees the dog toy and the pool…she’s hard to stop. “I hold her til she screams and screams and let her go!” Bryan said. Bryan uses the “huck technique” which is basically just hucking the dog toy and letting Daisy go after it and fly through the air.
And how did Daisy do in the Splash Dogs competition? Her longest jump was 17 feet, 1 inch during the splashes, and she jumped 16 feet, 8 inches in the finals, where she placed ninth, which is pretty good considering it was only her second competition. She won a blue ribbon but was too tired to pose with it. She had jumped all day and was just “dog tired.”
The day at the State Fair was all about Daisy and her joy of jumping. She loved it! Daisy is now relaxing at home in Carmichael, sprawled out on the kitchen floor, and waiting for her next big Splash Dogs competition.
If you want to stay up to date on Splash Dogs or enter your canine in a competition check out www.splashdogs.com

greg@valcomnews.com

Riverview II social club established in Carmichael more than 60 years ago

Jackie (Leam) LaCornu holds a copy of the newly published book, “The History of Riverview: 1926 to 2014, and Counting.” Photo by Lance Armstrong

Jackie (Leam) LaCornu holds a copy of the newly published book, “The History of Riverview: 1926 to 2014, and Counting.” Photo by Lance Armstrong

Editor’s Note: This is the second of two articles about the Riverview and Riverview II social clubs.

Riverview II, a local, primarily social club that first met in the Riverview clubhouse along the American River in Carmichael, was established in 1953.
The group was founded as a result of the original Riverview organization’s desire to continue its history through the formation of a secondary club with younger members.
The senior club, which was officially founded as Riverview Lodge in May 1926, was recognized in its constitution and by-laws as a club that was organized “for social and benevolent purposes, and to encourage social activities among its members and their families.”
Original Riverview members Jack and Helen Conger wrote a creative, poetic story about that first Riverview club.
The beginning portion of that story reads:
“It happened like this, so the historians tell,
Many decades ago a bunch of – well,
Mighty nice people got itchy feet
And decided to depart from the street.
They thought if they could find a cozy nook
With trees and vines and a babbling brook,
They might get together every now and then
And enjoy themselves – both women and men.”
Twenty-seven years after the original club found that “cozy nook,” the Junior Riverview club – renamed Riverview II in 1985 – was established.
And since the one-time Junior Riverviewers have grown to become seniors themselves, Riverview II members decided to create a book to preserve memories of their cherished club. That 70-page, spiral-bound book, which also includes a brief history of Riverview Lodge, was published on March 1, 2014.
The book is divided into various sections, including a section entitled “Governance.”
In that section, it was noted that Riverview II’s constitution was written in 1954, and dealt mostly with the topics of club officers, elections, duties and membership.
Originally, membership in the club was limited to couples, and only men could serve as officers.
The book recognizes Jack Kemmler as acting chairman of Riverview II in 1953. That position was basically comparable to the position of president.
Virgil “Virg” LaCornu began serving as the club’s first president a year later.
It was not until 2009 that the club elected a female president – Bobby Kramer.
In a recent interview with this publication, Jackie (Leam) LaCornu, whose parents, Jack and Mildred Leam, were among the founding members of the first group, said that she played a large role in the creation of the new Riverview club’s history book.
The book’s committee met at least once a month for one year at Jackie’s house, and according to the book, the committee was fueled by plenty of coffee, tea, water and cookies.
It should come as no surprise that Jackie was able to provide much assistance with the book project, since she was a founding member of Riverview II, which emphasizes a “fun first” approach, which has included many parties and other social activities.
Jackie spoke with much enthusiasm about both Riverview Lodge and Riverview II.
And as she recalled both of those organization’s old clubhouse on the river, Jackie related information about that building’s absence, practically as if she was speaking about the death of a member of her family.
The old clubhouse was undoubtedly Riverview II’s most memorable meeting place.
In explaining why Riverview II lost its old clubhouse, Jackie said, “(In 1980), the senior Deterdings had passed, and the younger Deterdings – Russell Deterding and his wife – owned it. And they had decided to go ahead and turn (the property) over to the county. The county said that the (clubhouse) had to be up to code. It would have had to be completely rebuilt from the ground up, and even then we wouldn’t have owned the land. (The county) would have ended up taking whatever we built.
“The county tore it down, even though we thought it would be perfect for scouts and different county activities.”
The aforementioned Riverview book included the following words: “Riverview II has utilized a number of locations during their existence. However, none are more memorable than the original lodge by the river.
“We sadly said goodbye to the lodge on the river, but felt confident we would have wonderful times together no matter where we gathered.”
Following Riverview II’s departure from its lodge on the river, its members began meeting at the Sacramento Horsemen’s Association’s lodge at 3200 Longview Drive. The group continued meeting at that site until 2001.
Later meeting places of the club have included: the Ryde Hotel in Walnut Grove, the Arden Manor clubhouse, the Campus Commons clubhouse, Aviators Restaurant at the Sacramento Executive Airport, the Buggy Whip restaurant at 2737 Fulton Ave., Jackson Catering at 1120 Fulton Ave., a home for seniors and residences of members of the group.

Members of Riverview II are pictured at one of their gatherings at Aviators Restaurant at the Sacramento Executive Airport. Photo courtesy of Riverview II

Members of Riverview II are pictured at one of their gatherings at Aviators Restaurant at the Sacramento Executive Airport. Photo courtesy of Riverview II

One of the things that Jackie and other members of the club speak about the most is the many fun times they enjoyed as a group.
The largest section in the book is dedicated to fond club memories of Riverview II members.
A few of those memories are presented, as follows:
Milt Faig
“Those were the days, my friend. We thought they’d never end. We’d sing and dance forever and a day. We’d live the life we choose (sic). We’d fight and never loose (sic), for we were young and sure to have our way.”
Ora Wichmann
“(Ora’s husband) Don loved to make decorations for our parties. He made the room and table decorations for many parties: Hawaiian, beach, Italian, Mexican, cowboy-western, Chinese and Christmas. One year for Christmas, he made a 5-foot-long red Santa sleigh and a 6-foot-tall snowman with top hat and scarf (made from chicken wire and cotton balls).”
LeRoy “Pete” Peters
“(Pete’s wife) Arlene and I moved to Sacramento in 1964 and were very shortly thereafter, in 1964 or 1965, sponsored for membership into Junior Riverview, as it was then called, by Fred and Barbara Taylor. Fred and I were both working for the same consulting engineering firm.”
Dick Ryder
“Our relatively recent (five years) becoming part of Riverview II for (his wife) Irene and I has been a meaningful renewing (of friendships) with a number of people we’ve been associated with over the course of our lifetime, including connections from grade school, high school, college, scouting, work, skiing, fraternity and business. Riverview (II) is truly entwined with our background and with Sacramento history.”
Mary Lydon
“The Horseman’s (sic) hall was decorated (for a party) as though it was underwater. Walls were lined with plastic. There was (sic) a treasure chest and a mermaid, I believe. It was a very elaborate setting for the party.”
Other parties of the club included the Playboy club party in the 1950s and the Orient Express party in the 1960s.
The old Junior Riverview club even made the news on occasions.
For instance, The Sacramento Bee once published a photograph of the group, with a caption, which partially reads: “Songfest – Members of the Junior Riverview Lodge had an old-fashioned pajama party and campfire session Saturday evening at the clubhouse on the American River. The members slept in sleeping bags on the clubhouse lawn and were served breakfast (the next) morning in the lodge by the committee.”
Shown gathered around a bonfire in the photograph were Don and Ora Wichmann, Martin “Marty” and Myrna Luther, Charles “Chuck” and Barbara Wilke, Chalmers and Colleen West, Bob and Barbara Chadwick, Virg and Jackie LaCornu and William and Bobby Kramer.
Although the present day, remaining members of the club are not as active as they once were and have refrained from producing their once often elaborate decorations, they plan to continue to meet for as many more years as they will find possible.
Although it was once a movement of Riverview II to establish an active Riverview III club, that action proved to be a failed endeavor.
And since Riverview II consists of a group of senior members, the club’s existence, Jackie explained, will likely not continue with younger members in the future.
“I don’t think we (will continue with younger members),” Jackie said. “I think (the club) will just have to die like (Riverview Lodge) did. And it wouldn’t be the same (in the future), so I think I’m okay with it. It’s just going to have to die. That’s really why we wanted to do the book, because we were aware of the fact that we’re just getting to the point where we’re fading away.”
But in the meantime, Jackie said that Riverview II members are dedicated to meeting and enjoying each others’ company on a regular basis.

Riverview II social club has rich history in Carmichael

The old Riverview clubhouse is shown in the background of this early Riverview club photograph. Photo courtesy of Riverview II

The old Riverview clubhouse is shown in the background of this early Riverview club photograph. Photo courtesy of Riverview II

Editor’s Note: This is the first article in a series about the Riverview and Riverview II social clubs.

Riverview II, a social club, which has always maintained its main objective of having fun among friends, was founded in Carmichael in 1953.
Its roots, however, date back to the 1920s, with the establishment of the original Riverview social club.
In memoirs written in 1959 by Glenn W. Bowen, one of the earlier groups founding members, Bowen explained how the original Riverview club was organized.
Bowen, a real estate man who resided at 1032 37th St., recalled a time, in 1925, when he and another real estate man named Carl Klein were asked to sell a house at 1716 7th Street, near the old Sacramento Bee building.
“George (Hammond) said, ‘If you boys (Bowen and Klein) sell this house, I’ll give you a cash bonus and the best dinner in Sacramento,’” Bowen wrote. “I sold the house. We never got the dinner, but I kept reminding George of the same.
“One day, he came to the office and invited us to a 6:00 o’clock dinner at the yacht club – just a boat house (sic) on the Sacramento River. We didn’t know any of the members and they couldn’t see us – after the first half hour. We didn’t swim – had a good liquid dinner and steak, I think, at least so they told us.
“Carl and I went home early, when the card game began. On the way home, we decided the evening was wasted, except that we did get an idea. Why not find a place on the river and form a family club for ourselves and friends.”
After discussing their idea to form such a club, Bowen and Klein, who was a resident of North Sacramento, called a few of their friends to invite them to join them in that endeavor.
With a few of their recruits, Bowen and Klein began meeting to discuss their intentions of forming a club.
During one of those meetings, a suggestion was made that Bowen and a new group member, Byrl Babock, who lived at 1235 ½ V St., begin searching for a club site along the American River.
Bowen recalled that venture in his aforementioned memoirs, as follows:
“We spent several days walking the river bank between Fair Oaks and Sacramento. Late one evening, tired and discouraged, we climbed the hill at the end of Stanley Avenue and came to a bluff on the American River. Below us was a natural park. Beautiful oaks, green grass and the river, with a beach. All this and a view, too. Best of all, we met Mary Deterding, the (property’s) owner, and one of the best known and most respected women in Sacramento County.
“Byrl painted a picture of our group of outstanding young couples, most of who (sic) didn’t even have a yard nor a dollar, but with big ideas and the best intentions. Mrs. Deterding liked the idea – mostly she liked Byrl – and finally agreed to consider our proposition.”
The group’s next move was to visit the site, and after arriving to the area with their children and dogs, they left with a grand vision of establishing club grounds complete with a hotel, golf links, boating and swimming.
But the group soon realized they needed to downsize their plans due to financial reasons.
Although the group, which then consisted of 10 men and 10 women, would face various challenges in establishing their club grounds, they would not be discouraged.
It was quickly understood by the group that they would need to create a road on the hill and steps down to the site.
Additionally, Deterding told the group that they had selected a location that was situated in a flood zone.
Nonetheless, the group made an arrangement with Deterding to lease the site for five years at a cost of $10 per year.
The lease, which was drawn by Deterding’s attorney Evan Hughes, included the stipulation that the group was not to possess or serve liquor on the premises.

Riverview club members gather together along the American River. Photo courtesy of Riverview II

Riverview club members gather together along the American River. Photo courtesy of Riverview II

In May 1926, the group was officially established and named Riverview, due to the selection of its meeting place along the river.
Klein was named as the club’s first president, and many other men followed him in that role.
Other original officers included Babcock, vice president; Arthur S. Hackett, treasurer; Gordon Lilly, secretary; and directors, Bowen, Jack H. Leam, John H. McMahon and Emil N. Ott.
Although the club did not allow women to serve as presidents, women could hold the position of social chairman. Mildred Leam was the first person to hold that position in the club.
The club established its own constitution and by-laws.
An excerpt from the club’s original by-laws describes the organization’s purpose, as follows: “To encourage and cement friendship to the mutual benefit of all its members, to the end that each member and his family shall have a place to meet his friends, rest and enjoy himself and the outdoors at its best.”
With the founding of Riverview, work began on the construction of the group’s clubhouse.
The clubhouse was certainly completed in a short time, considering that Bowen’s memoirs included the following words:
“Next came the flood of 1926-27. Most everything along the river ended up in the ocean. Two noble oaks saved our beautiful clubhouse from floating away. Of course, we did not know this was the first of many floods to come. This was not serious. We worked out a system – 1) Levee an assessment; 2) Spend all spare time working on club; 3) Get new members with money and strong backs.”
Bowen also commented that following every flood, the clubhouse and its furnishings would be improved.
He also noted that the Depression nearly caused the club’s existence to come to an end.
According to Riverview’s records, at one point during that period of misfortune, 21 of the club’s 32 members had failed to pay their dues.
As for Riverview’s membership, the club was solely opened to married couples.
Efforts to increase Riverview’s membership total was a three-fold project, which featured random calls using numbers from a telephone book, door-to-door inquiries and on-street contacts.
Eventual improvements to the club’s grounds included a kitchen and croquet court.
In 1953, with their desire to have Riverview activities continue for many more years, senior members of the club met with some of the members’ children. That meeting led to the establishment of the “Junior Riverview” club, which is known today as Riverview II.

Lance@valcomnews.com

Birding and music at Effie Yeaw

It was a lovely Saturday morning at the Effie Yeaw Nature Center as children and their families were led down to the river ever so slowly as birds flew across the sky and chirped catching the attention of a captive audience. With binoculars in hand, even the youngest birders saw migratory songbirds and a hawk above head. Effie Yeaw is located on the American River Parkway in Carmichael. The Nature Center is currently operated by the American River Natural History Association. Trails are open daily from dawn to dusk. The Nature Center building with exhibits, information, live animals and the book and gift store is open from February through October from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

On July 12, Effie Yeaw hosts a night of great music under the oaks with Laurie Lewis and the Right Hands. Over the past three decades Laurie has established herself as one of the leading lights of American acoustic music, a genuine national treasure. Though best known for the bluegrass she’s performed with her various bands over the years (Grant Street, the Bluegrass Pals, the Right Hands) as well as on solo projects, she’s also branched out into country, swing, blues and anything else that highlights her sweet-yet-earthy voice and elemental fiddle playing. It’s not too much of a stretch to suggest that if the “Americana” format wasn’t invented for her, it should have been. Laurie Lewis was awarded the 2011 Performer Award from the Folk-Alliance Far West. Creatively ambitious and utterly unpretentious, steeped in tradition but doggedly progressive, Lewis is a gifted fiddler, deft guitarist, inspired songwriter and powerfully evocative singer. So bring your blankets, lawn chairs and picnic, and join us for a delightful evening of music in a splendid natural setting. Gates open at 6 p.m. Show is from 7 to 9 p.m.

Artist Markos Egure Presents: The WKI Sacramento Mural Gallery Tour

Markos Egure is a local Sacramento artist. You’ve probably seen his colorful murals while taking your kids to St. Roberts School, swimming laps at the YMCA, or enjoying a kids party in King Arthur’s Castle at Fairytale Town.

The murals are Sacramento visual landmarks.

Markos and Wes Kos Images have created over 175 murals and creative paintings throughout the Sacramento area. It’s basically one-man show but sometimes he gets a little collaborative help from his friends. His art is scattered all over town. He’s worked with the Sacramento Kings on several mural projects. He’s also had a couple of showbiz moments on DIY’s Yard Crashers creating murals for home owner’s backyard makeovers. But his heart is in his murals with messages.

Markos is taking his mural show on the road with a limo-guided Sacramento Mural Gallery Tour. He’ll discuss the murals and the messages behind them. Markos agreed to take me on an abbreviated version of his WKI Sacramento Mural Tour.

The tour got kicked off at The YMCA. Markos painted a 1,000-square-foot mural last year called the Underwater Y Project.

The Underwater Y Project is a beautiful creation of the sea and the creatures that live there. The meaning of the mural is based on the treasure chest. Markos told me, “Remember Pulp Fiction when we never knew what was in the chest but it was so valuable that they had to obtain it? In this mural, the same concept remains.”

The Underwater Y is a hidden jewel. You can only view it if you’re inside the swimming pool area.

“I like the project, like painter Bob Ross, it kind of happened. I didn’t come in thinking I’m gonna try and push this message or that message,” Markos said. He came in with a general idea and improvised the rest of the project.

“My murals have to be impactive,” Markos said as he drove his pickup truck to the next mural destination. He could do any picture, but he prefers what he calls, hi-impact messaging “to counteract all the hi impact messaging the youth get by watching television and seeing commercials,” Markos told me.

When he does a mural at a school he wants to tell a story.

“Try to find your passion in your schoolwork so you’ll find passion in your livelihood.” That’s when we arrived at St. Robert’s School in Hollywood Park.

The series of murals are a family alumni project. St. Robert’s is where his son got his educational and spiritual foundation.

There are four murals with lots of religious imagery.

He calls the project, “St. Robert Life.” The centerpiece is based on a poem by Hodding Carter: “There are two things we should give our children: one is roots and the other is wings.”

While Markos described the four murals there were the sounds of the children playing on the playground, Taking Root.

Then we were off to West Lemon Hill, a tough neighborhood in South Sacramento, to view Markos’s mural project at Pacific Elementary School.

The mural is based on character education. It’s titled the “Pacific Pumas” and it’s a multicultural mural. It represents the students on campus – why we are teaching our kids to be trustworthy, caring, honest, responsible. “All of the things we should be teaching our children at home that they’re not getting,” Markos said.

He added with a grin, “What I like about the characters in the mural – they all rock the old school Adidas Pumas.”

Then we were off to Will C Wood Intermediate School. One of Aguirre’s favorite murals is called “Choices.” Because of its size and its message, it’s another mural with hi-impact messaging.

“You have choices to make. You can become an athlete, learn dentistry, law, science, be a world traveler, or become an artist like me. But guess what? You gotta make choices. Because if you don’t choose, life is gonna choose for you, and we might not like what life chooses for us.” Markos warned.

The message of the Choices mural was very powerful. It’s basically asking, What do you want from life? It’s up to you to choose. And if you don’t choose, you may be doing custodial work your whole life.

Then we were off to Carmichael to see the “Rio Music Project” for the tail-end of the abbreviated mural tour. We visited Rio Americano High School where Markos created the “Passion, Creativity, Swing” mural on the front of the music building. According to the band program instructor Josh Murray, Markos “transformed what was once a drab, brown cinder block exterior into a magnificent showpiece, providing our school and music program with a major source of pride.”

As we drove into the Rio parking lot, you could see the mural from afar. Markos said, “This mural shows that when you get on campus this program matters and it’s a tribute to their musical education.”

Passion Creativity and Swing. Beethoven, The Beatles, Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, and Duke Ellington represent that in the mural.

Up next was the Carmichael Castle Project at Laser Tag of Carmichael. There’s the Festive Castle, which is in the birthday party rooms. The lobby castle where the arcade is located, and the Arena castle where the kids play their games.

Dragons and knights are the central theme of this medieval mural project. It’s an ongoing project that has Markos Egure written all over it.

The mini-tour wrapped up with the Encina Project which is based on a couple quotes, such as: “Education turns mirrors into windows.”

The mural will begin with students looking into mirrors showing a reflection through symbols of what they see. Traveling through a window turning into the campus life of Encina Preparatory High School.
 
The Encina mural is currently in production. The second quote is “grit is preceded by believing in a dream.” And that’s something Markos wholeheartedly believes in. He ended the tour by telling me, “No matter what. I’ve been persevering. I haven’t become rich. But I’ve been moving forward. And it’s taken a lot of grit to get there. It’s taken a lot of grit to do these huge murals.”

If you’re interested in the Sacramento Mural Gallery Tour or checking out Markos Egure’s creative work he’s at www.weskosimages.com. He can also be reached at 916-955-6986 or by email at weskosimages@hotmail.com His next Mural Gallery Tour will be on Saturday, April 12.

greg@valcomnews.com

Carmichael area resident recalls his career in early television

KCRA-TV art director Bob Miller, right; Don Chandler, assistant art director; and Bob Matsumoto, student trainee, work on a project for a then-upcoming Crystal Cream and Butter Co. commercial, in the 1960s. Photo courtesy of Bob Miller

KCRA-TV art director Bob Miller, right; Don Chandler, assistant art director; and Bob Matsumoto, student trainee, work on a project for a then-upcoming Crystal Cream and Butter Co. commercial, in the 1960s. Photo courtesy of Bob Miller

Editor’s Note: This is part two in a series about local people connected to the early days of television.

In continuing to relate his memories about his career in art, Carmichael area resident Bob Miller said that his involvement in working in television did not end with his employment with KTVU Channel 36 in Stockton. He would become one of the early employees of KOVR Channel 13, which was founded in Stockton, and has a long history of operating in the Sacramento area.
“I was there (at KTVU) for six months, and that was in 1954,” Miller said. “(KTVU) immediately put me on the air. There was a show called ‘Magic Genie,’ and a woman named Jean Hardie did the show. And once a week, I went on the air (on the ‘Magic Genie’ show) and I drew pictures on big sheets of butcher paper (with) lecturer’s chalk. I would draw, for example, Elmer the elephant, and I showed the kids how to draw Elmer using black and white chalk. And then I would tell a story about Elmer. Or it might be Sam the snake or it might be Joe the spider. Kids would send in drawings. We would get anywhere from 800 to 1,000 drawings a week and we would pick 10 winners to be on the show, and we would give them little prizes. We were sponsored by a little toy store in Stockton. I was (at KTVU), then (KOVR) Channel 13 went on the air.”
Miller related his first memory about KOVR, as follows: “The first thing pictured on the air misspelled KOVR. It was spelled KVOR. And, of course, KOVR stood for coverage in those days, seeming they had a signal that [covered Northern California]. It was a huge, huge signal, and that was the idea. But the problem was, it duplicated coverage of stations in the Bay Area – the NBC and CBS outlets and so forth. So, (KOVR) couldn’t get a network. They had for a brief time the DuMont network, which carried the (San Francisco) 49ers, which was not much of a deal in those days. (KOVR) had to curtail their coverage in order to get a decent network.”
After being asked how soon he began working for KOVR following the station’s debut, Miller said, “I was almost brand new (at KOVR). There had been another art director there before I was there. His name was Jens Hendrickson. I don’t recall what the reason was he left the station, and they hired me. If they terminated him, it was possibly because of the situation with the ‘KVOR’ mistake.”
In being only about six months shy of the 60th anniversary of KOVR, its history should be of added interest to locals, especially those who recall the earlier years of the station.
The previously mentioned long range coverage of KOVR was referred to in The Sacramento Union and The Sacramento Bee’s announcements that the station would debut on Sept. 6, 1954.
On the same day, The Union noted: “The Sacramento-San Joaquin valleys get a new TV station today, when KOVR-TV goes on the air at 7 p.m. with its premiere program. The new VHF station, with transmitter atop 4,000-foot Mt. Diablo, 35 miles from its studio, will operate on Channel 13. The debut of KOVR marks the first very high frequency TV station to start operations in the valleys.”
The Union described KOVR’s transmitter tower as “standing 325 feet above Diablo’s peak” and sending out 141,000 watts of signal power. The construction permit for the tower was issued by the Federal Communications Commission in February 1954 and work for the construction of the tower began shortly thereafter.
Prior to KOVR’s first broadcast, it was estimated by A.E. Joscelyn, the station’s manager, that KOVR would eventually have an audience of more than 4 million viewers. It was also reported by The Union that the station’s first program would be viewed by 300,000 people.
The Bee, in its Sept. 6, 1954 edition, noted: “Northern California’s newest television station and one which promises to be seen over the widest area will go on the air tonight with an inaugural live program from the California State Fair and Exposition in Sacramento.”
At that time, the 55-mile microwave relay from the fairgrounds at Stockton Boulevard and Broadway marked the longest remote sound and picture pickup ever attempted in this section of the country. The Sept. 6, 1954 telecast was the first in a week-long series of nightly telecasts from the fair.
The Bee also reported that the station’s original reception reached as far north as Oroville (Butte County), as far east as the Sierra Nevada, as far south as Fresno (Fresno County) and to the Pacific Ocean on the west.
And in The Union’s report, it was noted that KOVR’s test patterns determined that the station originally had strong reception in 27 California counties, including Sacramento County.
With its first airing, KOVR became Northern California’s seventh VHF station to take the air.
KOVR was originally owned and operated by Television Diablo, Inc. and that independent company’s principal stockholder and president was Les Hoffman, who was also a radio and television manufacturer.
Miller recalled Hoffman’s involvement as a television manufacturer, as follows: “His company was the manufacturer of ‘Easy-Vision’ televisions. The picture tubes in the television sets had a tinted glass that was supposed to make it easier to watch the television picture.”

While working for KCRA-TV, Bob Miller adjusts a flat on the set of the Milly Sullivan Show in about 1955. Photo courtesy of Bob Miller

While working for KCRA-TV, Bob Miller adjusts a flat on the set of the Milly Sullivan Show in about 1955. Photo courtesy of Bob Miller

In 1957, KOVR became an ABC affiliate, as it acquired that status from the capital city’s original ABC affiliate, KCCC Channel 40.
During the following year, KOVR was sold to the Gannett Company of Rochester, N.Y. Part of the arrangement of the sale was that the station’s transmitter would be moved to a location near Jackson.
KOVR was sold to Metropolitan Broadcasting (later known as Metromedia, Inc.) in February 1960, and the station’s antenna was placed on a 1,550-foot tower near Walnut Grove.
By 1962, KOVR was running its Sacramento studios at 1216 Arden Way.
KOVR began its McClatchy ownership era when McClatchy Newspapers purchased the station from Metromedia in 1964, and operated KOVR from studios in Stockton and Sacramento.
That era ended with the sale of the station to the Outlet Company of Providence, R.I. for $65 million. The agreement for the sale was announced on July 5, 1979.
In explaining the reason for the sale, McClatchy Newspapers President C.K. McClatchy, in an interview for The Bee, said, “Various recent court decisions and rulings by the Federal Communications Commission have made it clear there is increasingly strong government opposition to the ownership of television stations by newspapers in the same market. This is what led to our decision that it would be in the best interests of the community and our employees and McClatchy Newspapers to seek an orderly transfer of ownership.”
The Rockefeller Group bought the Outlet Company in 1983 for $244.8 million and assumed an $87.3 million debt. As a subsidiary of the Rockefeller Group, the Outlet Company later became known as Outlet Communications.
In explaining a portion of KOVR’s history, The Bee, in its March 13, 1986 edition, noted that “Outlet remained a part of Rockefeller until February [1986], when it split off, leaving KOVR behind, briefly.”
And The Bee added that following that split, Outlet “almost immediately” partnered with Wesray Capital Corp. to spend $625 million for the acquisition of four radio stations and seven television stations, including KOVR.
The station was once again under a different ownership in 1986, as Narragansett Capital, Inc., an investment group based in Providence, purchased it for $104 million.
But that proprietorship was fairly short lived, as Narragansett sold KOVR to Anchor Media, Inc. (later became River City Broadcasting) for $162 million on Nov. 1, 1988.
In 1995, KOVR exchanged affiliations with KXTV Channel 10, as KOVR became a CBS affiliate.
During the following year, River City Broadcasting was bought by the Sinclair Broadcast Group.
Viacom Television Stations Group (presently part of CBS Corporation) purchased KOVR for $285 million in December 2004.
Today, KOVR, which presently identifies itself as “CBS 13,” is recognized as the Sacramento market’s oldest continuously operating television station. Its offices and studios have been located at 2713 KOVR Drive in West Sacramento since 1987.
In continuing with his memories about Channel 13, Miller said, “One of our major shows was the Hoffman Hayride, which was sponsored by Hoffman Easy-Vision televisions. It was a live show once a week. It lasted an hour, and they had a lot of production numbers. Among the guests were Maddox Bros. and Rose, which in those days were popular western (music) people. ‘Cotton Seed’ Clark was the show’s emcee. We had seven or eight production numbers, with guys singing, ‘(When the) Moon Comes over the Mountain,’ (etc.). I would do sets (for the show) with lecturer’s chalk on big sheets of paper – 8 (feet) by 10 feet, with props and so on. And when I was done, I was just covered in chalk. I looked like a clown, but it was fun.”
Miller said that new employment brought him to Sacramento in 1955.
“Dick Block, who also worked at Channel 13 at that time, said, ‘Hey, I heard about a television station going on the air up in Sacramento, Channel 3. So, Dick and I came up to Sacramento – and made an appointment of course. I was interviewed by (Ewing C.) ‘Gene’ Kelly, showed him my portfolio, and that was at the corner of 11th and J (streets), above a creamery called Country Maid. I started the day the station went on the air on Sept. 3, 1955.”
Miller eventually spent a decade working as the art director for Channel 3.
While at Channel 3, he designed all the sets for the news shows, most of the commercials and all of the kiddie shows, including Skipper Stu, Boson Bill and Captain Sacto.
After leaving Channel 3, Miller began working for Fred Wade – the original Captain Sacto – at his business, Wade Advertising Agency, which handled the accounts of such businesses as KCRA-TV, KCTC 1320 AM, Crystal Cream and Butter Co., Capital Federal Savings and Loan, Suburban Ford and Rancho Murieta.
Most Sacramentans would recognize the steamboat logo for River City Bank that Miller created while he was employed by Wade.
Miller ventured into business on his own in 1977, as he established Bob Miller’s Art Department, which later became Bob Miller Associates, and is now known as Bob Miller Design.
In discussing his career as a whole, Miller said, “I think I left a legacy and helped raise the standard for design in Sacramento and that might be part of my legacy. Working as an artist and designer has been a rich, professional life. It’s been an adventurous, entertaining and fulfilling career, and I’m not done yet. I have fairly solid (artistic) commitments until 2018, so it would be irresponsible to die (before then).”

Lance@valcomnews.com

Local resident’s early love of art led to long career


Editor’s Note: This is part one in a series about local people connected to the early days of television.

While meeting with this publication last week to share details about an art show that he would be taking part in with two other artists, Carmichael area resident Bob Miller explained that his involvement in art extends beyond the strokes of brushes on canvas.
Bob, 83, noted that his background in art even included working for television stations during the 1950s.
In speaking about his longtime interest in art, Bob said, “My first memory was drawing cartoons from coloring books, doing pictures of Disney characters and so on. I was always one of the best (at drawing) in class.”
Long before becoming a television pioneer, Bob was raised in the town of Hughson, about 10 miles east of Modesto by his parents, Pierce and Mae Miller, who he mentioned were much older than himself.
“My father was born in 1886 and my mother was born in 1896,” Bob said. “My mother, I think, was in her late 30s when I was born and my father was in his 40s. They were both Pennsylvania Dutch, German, and as a matter of fact, the first language for both my mother and father was German.”
Bob, who was the fourth of five children in his family, said that his father grew up as an orphan, came West when he was in his 20s and for a short time homesteaded in Arizona.

Carmichael area resident Bob Miller has enjoyed a long career as an artist. Photo by Lance Armstrong

Carmichael area resident Bob Miller has enjoyed a long career as an artist. Photo by Lance Armstrong

In about 1912, Pierce moved to the Vermont-Slauson district of Los Angeles and opened a dairy and delivered milk.
Bob described the events that led to his parents’ marriage and the early part of their life together, as he said, “My father had apparently worked as a farmhand for my mother’s father and he had remembered my mother and went back to Pennsylvania and asked permission to marry her from her father. My mother just barely knew him, and they were married and he brought her to California. Instead of going back to Los Angeles, they settled in (Hughson).”
Despite dropping out of school when he was about 10 years old, Pierce proved to be very successful working in a variety of jobs during his life. His jobs in Hughson included working in a livery stable and operating a notable peach farm of about 40 acres.
The Millers eventually moved to the town of Empire – about five miles east of Modesto – where Bob attended Empire Grammar School (the predecessor to today’s Empire Elementary School) through the eighth grade.
In 1944, Bob began attending Modesto High School, where he was active in the art club, was student body president in 1947 and graduated a year later.
During that time, Bob, who was influenced by two art teachers, Ida Gross and Jean Ariey, was the sports cartoonist for the school newspaper.
In commenting about that experience, Bob said, “(Working as a sports cartoonist as a career) was sort of what I wanted to do. Well, that sort of thing sort of fell by the wayside.”
In 1948, Bob began attending San Jose State College (today’s San Jose State University), where he majored in commercial art, minored in history and was editor of the school’s magazine, Lyke.
During his sophomore year at San Jose State, Bob married his high school sweetheart, Anita Richardson.
While still attending that institution, Bob obtained part-time work as a sign painter.
And with his college days finally behind him, Bob was hired to work full time as a silkscreener for a Sunnyvale, Calif. firm called R and A Signs.
His employment with that company lasted about three months, at which time Bob moved to Sacramento with his family, which then included his wife and two children.
With that move, Anita was able to live closer to her parents, Raymond and Ardis Richardson, who then resided in Carmichael, near the intersection of Fair Oaks Boulevard and Marconi Avenue.
Bob’s first employment in the capital city was at The Dosch Co. at 200 V St., where he worked on silkscreen jobs and other projects.
In describing his uninviting working environment at that company, Bob said, “My silkscreen shop was an old chicken coop and it had tar paper on the roof. During the summer, it was like 120 (degrees) and during the winter, it was like 50 (degrees). There was no air conditioning, no heating, no anything like that. So, I cut stencils and old man (F. Elwood) Dosch would give me like five X-Acto blades a week and a wet stone to sharpen (the blades). It was just ridiculous.”
Although Bob is many years removed from that job, he spoke about various irritations of that workplace as if they occurred the previous day.
Among those irritations were his daily interactions with the business’s guard dogs, which were tied to a post about 10 feet from where he worked.
“One of my major jobs was there were dogs, Dobermans, that (Dosch) used at night and turned loose in the yard as guard dogs,” Bob said. “The dogs were chained to a post and it was my job to clean up their (droppings) and to feed them. Well, they hated me. All day, they would sit there and growl at me while I was cutting my stencils.”
Bob was undoubtedly thrilled to finally change jobs about a year later.
In recalling the moment that led to his new employment, Bob said, “I was home one night (in 1954) and we flipped on the television and Channel 36 in Stockton had just gone on the air. It was KTVU, and I looked at their artwork. Their artwork was absolutely miserable, so I threw my portfolio in my Studebaker and I drove down to Stockton. I was interviewed by a guy named Dave Hume, and Dick Block. Dave ultimately became the news director at Channel 3 (in Sacramento). In any event, I was interviewed by them. They really liked my portfolio, but it also meant that I was to be a floor man on television shows. Everything was live in those days. Dave said, ‘You know, I really like his (art) work, but I think he’s too short to reach the mic booms.’ And here I am, I’m going to be a floor man, I had to reach the mic booms. So, we went down in the studio, and I got down on my tippy toes and I managed to operate the mic boom and he said, ‘Okay, that’s okay.’ So, they hired me.”

Lance@valcomnews.com

Annual Effie Yeaw Bird and Breakfast event set for March 22 and 23

The American River Natural History Association (ARNHA) and Sacramento Audubon are teaming up to offer a special weekend of morning birding trips coupled with wonderful breakfast fare on Saturday, March 22 and Sunday, March 23.

This event, held at the Effie Yeaw Nature Center in Ancil Hoffman Park in Carmichael, starts with Bird Walks guided by some of our best local birders. For weeks in advance of the walks, these guides scout the Nature Study Area so they will be able to point out nests and local rarities. After the walk, you will join fellow birders for wonderful food, good coffee and other fun to help raise money for the Effie Yeaw Nature Center. No extensive birding experience is necessary-this event caters to all levels.

On Saturday, the bird walk will be approximately 90 minutes long, followed by the traditional casserole breakfast buffet provided by some of the best cooks among ARNHA Board members and Nature Center volunteers. Participants can also bid in a silent auction for attractive baskets and experiences.

On Sunday, you can choose to join either a family bird walk, a one hour walk with children 6 or over welcome, or a longer, approximately 90-minute, adult bird walk open to those ages 12 and older. The Sunday event features an excellent pancake breakfast prepared by the Carmichael Kiwanis. On Sunday, there will also be a natured-themed craft activity for children.

Mendocino-based Discount Binoculars will be available on Saturday showing a wide range of binoculars and spotting scopes. They feature more than 25 styles of binoculars and scopes, made especially for birding, for you to compare and test.

This event often sells out. Reservations are required. Call 489-4918 for information, questions and to make reservations. For more information and to reserve a spot online, visit http://www.sacnaturecenter.net/birdandbreakfast14.html.

General admission is $40 per person age 12 to adult.

Kiddie show hosts thrilled young television viewers

Charlie Duncan, shown above in this recent photograph, replaced Mitch Agruss as Channel 13’s Cap’n Delta in November 1966. Photo by Lance Armstrong

Charlie Duncan, shown above in this recent photograph, replaced Mitch Agruss as Channel 13’s Cap’n Delta in November 1966. Photo by Lance Armstrong


Editor’s Note: This is part five in a series about Mitch Agruss and other kiddie show hosts, who brought joy to many young television viewers in the Sacramento Valley.

Mitch Agruss, who was featured in the first four parts of this series, was once described in an article in The Sacramento Bee as “the dean of Sacramento children’s show hosts.” And in tribute to other local television kiddie show hosts of the past, the following summaries are presented:
Charlie Duncan

As previously noted in this series, Agruss was known in East Sacramento and throughout the valley for his endearing presentations as Cap’n Mitch, and Cap’n Delta, “Skipper of the Valley Queen.” In November 1966, after five years of working as Cap’n Delta, Agruss resigned from that position at Channel 13, and he was replaced by Fair Oaks native and lifelong Sacramento County resident Charlie Duncan.

Duncan, who had experience reading children’s stories on the radio, was asked by Channel 13 to temporarily fill the void left by the departure of Agruss.

Duncan explained that his position as Cap’n Delta grew into a permanent role.

“I went in on an emergency basis, so I just kind of picked up Mitch’s style and interviewed kids, gave away prizes and just enjoyed myself,” Duncan said. “I loved the kids and I had no problem with them at all. I ended up (as the show’s host) for four and a half years, almost five (years).”
In 1970, Eleanor McClatchy selected Duncan, who was a graduate of Sacramento State College (today’s Sacramento State University), to serve as the curator of her historical collection. He eventually worked at the Sacramento History Center, which opened at Front and I streets in Old Sacramento in 1985.

In recalling his work for McClatchy, Duncan said, “She was very interested in history and in drama, and I was in over 30 plays at the Eaglet Theater (which operated next to the Music Circus). I just kind of stayed in touch with television for about five years, and Eleanor McClatchy wanted me to become the curator of newspapers and printing (archives). Eleanor had a tremendous collection of old newspapers and early California and Sacramento artifacts and it was my job to display them. I spent another 20 years working for her, and 42 years with KFBK and KOVR.”

Duncan, who has two sons and a daughter who were born at Sutter Memorial Hospital in East Sacramento, retired in 1995 and now resides with his wife, Shirley, in the old Arcade area of the city.

James Henry “Jim” Keating

Following Duncan’s time as Cap’n Delta on Channel 13, James Henry “Jim” Keating replaced him in that role.

Jim, a Brooklyn, N.Y. native who was a former child actor, television announcer and radio disc jockey, came to California in the early 1960s and worked for KOVR from 1967 to 1987. His Cap’n Delta tenure lasted until the show’s cancellation in 1973.

His son, who is also named Jim, recalled having the opportunity to be a guest on his father’s show.

“I was actually on the show one time,” the younger Jim said. “I believe I was about 6. I was in first grade, I think it was. When you got done, it was great. You have a TV personality who’s your dad and does a kid show, and we were kids. There was all this excitement and the prizes. You had the treasure trove. Everybody went home with something, and it wasn’t just one thing for you. It was one for you and one to share with a friend. It was fantastic. All of a sudden I was on this show, and a friend of mine went on the show after that. (Other kids would say), ‘You’re Cap’n Delta’s son.’ Well, that lasts until you’re in about the third grade, then from then on it was a little teasing. But it was like I had this idol for a dad.”

Later in his life, the eldest Jim performed in nine musicals with the Stockton Civic Theater and won three Willie Awards for his work as the best leading and supporting actor.

He was also a lead singer with the Stockton Portsmen Chorus.

The eldest Jim passed away on July 31, 2012, about a month shy of his 86th birthday.

Billie M. “Tiny” Moore

Billie M. “Tiny” Moore achieved his greatest fame as a country swing mandolinist, contributing to recordings and live performances of such musical artists as Bob Wills and Merle Haggard. But he also obtained notoriety as a kiddie show host.

During the pioneering era of television, on Channel 10, Moore became involved with a live music show called “The Ranch House Party.”

The show was cancelled after a 13-week run and Moore was asked to host a kiddie show on the station.

Moore, who was born in Hamilton County, Texas and moved to Sacramento in the early 1950s, accepted the offer and took on the role of the guardian of the trees, Ranger Roy.

Joining Moore on the show was a little monkey named Anna Banana and a donkey known as Ten Chan.

The Ranger Roy show aired from 1956 to 1960, when the program ended due to a labor dispute.

Moore’s life in music also included teaching music at Ye Music Shoppe in Town and Country Village, operating Tiny Moore Music Center at 2331 El Camino Ave., teaching group guitar lessons at the YMCA at 2228 21st St. and making college-level music instruction videos. He also won the senior division of the prestigious National Fiddle Championships in Weiser, Idaho, in the summer of 1987, and was the original choir director of the First Baptist Church in Carmichael.

Moore, who was humorously, yet affectionately known as “Tiny” due to his large size, died on stage of an apparent heart attack during a performance in Jackpot, Nev. on Dec. 15, 1987. He was 67.

Norman L. Bales

In addition to attending night classes at the McGeorge College of Law (today’s McGeorge School of Law), Norman L. Bales hosted Channel 10’s children’s television show, “Diver Dan.”

This 1960s show featured the helmeted diver, Diver Dan, played by Bales, and a school of talking marionette fish.

The set of the live show was a sunken boat known as the “Channel Tender.”
Diver Dan’s sidekick on the show was O.U. Squid, a marionette squid character that was operated from atop a ladder.

A consistent part of the show was Diver Dan’s adventures in overcoming the evil Baron Barracuda and his sidekick Trigger, a turtleneck sweater-wearing, cigarette-smoking fish character.

Bales spent 12 years on Channel 10’s staff before graduating from McGeorge, passing the state bar exam and becoming a Sacramento County public defender.

Bales, a Texas native who moved to Sacramento with his family when he was 8 years old, passed away at the age of 50 on Sept. 17, 1981 after suffering an apparent heart attack in his home.

lance@valcomnews.com

Jesuit High School celebrating 50th anniversary

A sign announces the 1963 construction of Jesuit High School. Photo courtesy of Jesuit High School

A sign announces the 1963 construction of Jesuit High School. Photo courtesy of Jesuit High School

Carmichael’s Jesuit High School is presently celebrating a special anniversary, as it was established 50 years ago.
This half-century tradition began with 93 freshman students under the direction of the California Province of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) and the Rev. Joseph Keane, as superior.
The idea for the creation of this private, Catholic faith-based, all-boys school, which is located at 1200 Jacob Lane, was conceived by Bishop Robert J. Armstrong (1884-1957) during the 1950s.
Armstrong’s successor, the Rev. Joseph McGucken (1902-1983) furthered this dream through his involvement with various fundraising efforts.
Also instrumental in fundraising efforts for the school were Elwood and Jack Maleville and other Catholic lay people.
During the early 1960s, Keane was sent by the Rev. John Connolly, provincial of the California Province, to initiate the preliminary groundwork for the establishment of the school.
The efforts to establish the school took a major step forward in January 1961, when the California Province purchased a more than 20-acre portion of the old Horst hop ranch to be used as the site of this institution.
The majority of the school, which has a much larger campus today, was built in only about four months, a feat that resulted in associates of the school referring to the project as “the miracle of Sacramento.”
The first issue of Jesuit High’s newspaper, which was then known as The Plank, referred to the fast pace of the school’s construction, as follows: “The transformation, wrought by the firm of Harbison and Mahony, definitely borders on the miraculous.”
The architect for the project was Harry J. Devine and Keane served as the project’s executive director.
Following the completion of its six major buildings, Jesuit High was opened on Sept. 17, 1963. And with that opening, Jesuit High became the first new high school established by the California Province in 42 years.
The Rev. John Geiszel, who had previously served as the vice principal of Loyola High School in Los Angeles, was hired to serve as both the school’s first principal and a history teacher.
Other members of the original faculty were the student’s chaplain, the Rev. John Ferguson, theology; the Rev. Joseph Barry, mathematics; the Rev. Raymond Brannon, Latin and speech; the Rev. Carlton Whitten, English; and the school’s only lay teacher, John Maher, history and physical education.
On Sept. 26, 1963, Keane was appointed first superior of Jesuit High. His resume, at that time, included serving as a chaplain in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War, dean of men at Loyola University in Los Angeles and athletic director at the University of San Francisco.
On Nov. 6, 1963, Jesuit’s faculty and student body selected the name, Marauders, and the colors crimson and gold.
Joining Jesuit’s faculty in February 1964 was Brother Edward Johnson, who performed a variety of jobs, including working in the study hall, sorting and filing mail, cleaning the chapel, running errands and watering the lawn.
Eight months later, five priests, one brother and two laymen were added to the faculty.
The first Jesuit High sports team to compete against another school was its basketball team, which debuted in the fall of 1963.
By the spring of 1964, Jesuit fielded its first baseball team, followed by its first cross country team in the fall of 1964 and its first football team in the fall of 1965.
Today, the school features 14 sports teams and has a rich history of championship teams at the league, section, state and national level.
Clubs were a rich part of Jesuit’s early history and among the first clubs to be formed at the school were the Radio Club, the Glee Club and the Sodality service organization.
Student activities at the school have since expanded to include about 45 student-led clubs, ranging from service programs to international clubs to leadership organizations.
The school also has a long history of providing its students with opportunities to participate in visual and performing arts programs.
Another early element of the school since its beginnings was its yearbook, The Cutlass.
This annual’s original staff, which included its editor and chief Mark Warren, began meeting in February 1964.
Jesuit High School has a half-century-long tradition in the Carmichael/Sacramento area. The school was established on property that was formerly occupied by the Horst hop ranch. Photo by Lance Armstrong

Jesuit High School has a half-century-long tradition in the Carmichael/Sacramento area. The school was established on property that was formerly occupied by the Horst hop ranch. Photo by Lance Armstrong

The 1965 annual was the first edition of The Cutlass, and the book consisted of 36 pages with black and white photographs.
When the school was only about a decade old, it survived a threat of closure due to financial and manpower challenges.
A newly established board of trustees, led by James Carr, who headed the “Ad Hoc Committee to Save Jesuit High School,” took charge of the school’s finances and policy-making duties, while the Jesuit order kept its role as the school’s administrators.
The school’s growth throughout the years has included new structures, as well as increases in the size of its faculty and student body.
Today, Jesuit has a student body of about 1,000 and about 120 faculty and staff.
Many former Jesuit High students have fond memories of their time at the school.
One such person is Michael DeFazio, who was one of many members of his family to attend Jesuit.
In sharing that history, Michael said, “(His brother) Bill graduated in 1967, the first class of Jesuit, (his brother) Jim graduated in 1969, I graduated in 1970, (his brother) Tom was 1972, (his brother) Peter was 1979. I have cousins – George, Matt and Bill – that graduated from Jesuit. I have two sons, Michael and Andrew, that graduated from Jesuit in 2004 and 2007, respectively. My nephew, Robert, graduated in 2002 and his brother, Tom, graduated in 2005. His brother, Jeffrey, graduated in 2007. My brother, Tom, has a son, James, who graduated in 2003.”
Michael, who owns a medical records business, added that he has enjoyed being involved with Jesuit High throughout the years.
“It was fun (attending Jesuit),” said Michael, who had previously attended St. Ignatius School at 3245 Arden Way. “There was a lot of camaraderie. I spent so much time close to there with other siblings and then children, and all the sports with the kids. It feels like I never left.”
Bill, who owns a commercial real estate company, recalled an earlier plan for the site of Jesuit High.
“I went to St. Ignatius grammar school on Arden Way, and the Jesuit (High) School – I don’t know if they were going to call it Jesuit – it was supposed to (be constructed behind St. Ignatius). The school owned a bunch of property behind there that they designated to put the high school on. I don’t know if they determined if it probably wasn’t big enough. But going back, it was supposed to be built over behind St. Ignatius on Arden Way, and I believe the school – the Jesuits – owned the property all the way over to Morse Avenue.”
In sharing one of his earliest Jesuit High memories, Bill described a school activity that was unique to Jesuit’s original class.
“I do recall that the first class had to go out and plant the lawns in the fall of our first year,” Bill said. “Instead of P.E., probably for a week or two, the priests all got us together and we planted the lawn out in front and we planted the lawn out in between the administration building and the first classroom building.”
Bill also said that because of his love for playing sports, he assisted with the creation of the school’s first baseball field.
“I went out there with the principal at the time, Father Guisel, to help (with) the baseball (field) or what was supposed to be the baseball field. I guess there was a backstop out there. We got ahold of a tractor somehow and cleared off the infield and made it look like some kind of a place you could practice on. We didn’t have any games there, I don’t believe.”
Bill, who played on Jesuit’s first baseball, basketball and football teams, was a member of the school’s first championship baseball team in 1967.
Evan Elsberry, the award-winning chef who operates Evan’s Kitchen and Catering at 855 57th St., described a regret he has when it comes to his connection to Jesuit High.
“My regret is I didn’t stay at Jesuit,” Elsberry said. “I went to Jesuit in 1978 and 1979 (before transferring to a public high school) and there was a great sense of belonging (at Jesuit) and it was great to be there, a lot of camaraderie. There was a lot of tradition for a relatively young school.”
Elsberry said that to this day, when someone asks him where he went to high school, he will proudly tell them that he attended Jesuit High.
Greg Kaeser, who graduated from Jesuit in 1980 and now operates an accounting-related computer programming service for businesses, added, “(Jesuit) has been a big deal in a lot of people’s lives and it continues to be a great school. Certainly at a time when young kids have a lot of different challenges and things, it’s a nice constant and it’s a good touchstone for everybody. It certainly gave me a great foundation in life, and I met a lot of good people and it prepared me for college and everything else beyond that. It’s something I’ll never forget.”
And as the memories of Jesuit High continue to be special for its many former students, current Jesuit students are also creating memories that will last a lifetime, as the school heads forward into its next 50 years.

Lance@valcomnews.com