Jimmie Yee remembers Sacramento’s Chinatown, political career, more

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

County Supervisor Jimmie Yee, who will officially retire on Jan. 6, is planning to do more golfing and fishing in his retirement years. / Photo by Lance Armstrong

County Supervisor Jimmie Yee, who will officially retire on Jan. 6, is planning to do more golfing and fishing in his retirement years. / Photo by Lance Armstrong

Sacramento native Jimmie R. Yee, who will officially retire from his long run as a Sacramento County supervisor representing District 2 next week, has certainly had many experiences in his nearly 81 years of life.

Those experiences range from growing up near this city’s now-former Chinatown and building a career as a structural engineer to serving as Sacramento’s first Asian mayor and leaving his position on the county Board of Supervisors three days shy of his eight-year mark.

In an exclusive interview with this publication last week, Jimmie sat down to share some of his memories about his life.

During that interview, Jimmie began by speaking about his parents and siblings.

He initially noted that although he was an American-born Chinese person, his parents, Charles “Sam” Yee and Bau Jung Yee, experienced a much different life during their youth, as they were immigrants from Toishan, China.

Jimmie, who was the last born of his parents’ six children, attended Lincoln elementary and junior high schools at 4th and Q streets before beginning the first of his three years as a student at Sacramento High School. He graduated from the latter named school in February 1952.

Like many Chinese who grew up in the city’s Chinatown area, Jimmie also attended a Chinese language school during his youth.

In response to being asked to share some of his memories about Sacramento’s Chinatown, Jimmie said, “Well, it was a real Chinatown. Back then we all lived on the west end of town, and so, we frequented Chinatown all the time.

“Chinatown went from 2nd Street to around 6th Street, between I and L (streets). Actually, it went to I and J (streets) and then (there were) little small (Chinese) businesses (to the south). Yeah, it was mostly between I and J (streets).

“Well, there were a lot of restaurants, a couple of (poultry businesses, and Chinese) family associations were down in Chinatown. Back when I was young, I didn’t do too much (with the associations), but my dad was very active in the (Yee) family association. So, every time they had events, I attended the events with my dad.

“Chinatown had everything you needed as far as food is concerned. There was a lot of gambling going on in old Chinatown. They had the pai gow. A lot of the workers saved their money during the year just so they could gamble during Chinese New Year.”

And in regard to a particular Chinatown business, he said, “Hong King Lum (at 306 I St.) was one of the bigger restaurants, because that’s where we all celebrated Chinese New Year with dinners.”

After graduating from Sacramento High School, Jimmie attended the University of California, Berkeley, and graduated from the latter named institution with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering in 1956.

In speaking about that post-high school period of his life, Jimmie said, “At the same time, I went through the ROTC program and was commissioned as a second lieutenant and I graduated. That would be the Army. I did eight years of reserve. It was six months active duty and seven and a half years reserves. My active duty was at Fort Belvoir, Virginia and then some of it was at Fort Ord.”

After graduating from UC Berkeley, Jimmie spent three years working for the state.

Jimmie said that his decision to leave his position with the Department of Water Resources came through a job offer from Walter D. Beuhler.

“I met this engineer, Walt Beuhler,” Jimmie said. “He and his dad had a structural engineering firm, and he asked me if I was interested in learning building design. So, I left (the position with) the state and went to work for Buehler & Buehler.”

Jimmie left Buehler & Buehler in 1966 to become the business partner of Eugene Cole, one of his former co-workers, who had established his own business.

After Jimmie joined Cole, that consulting structural engineering firm became known as Cole & Yee.

Jimmie said that his business partnership with Cole continued until 1988.

“(Cole) decided to retire (in 1988), and I said, ‘Hey, if you’re going to retire, I’m going to retire, too,’” Jimmie said. “So, we both sold our share in the firm. At that time, we had brought in another partner (named) Carl Schubert, so (the business) was called Cole, Yee & Schubert. And my desire was to stay on for another five years as an advisor. And they were so busy, I stayed on for another 12 years, right up to the year 2000.”

Certainly, no summary of Jimmie’s life would be complete without some details about his involvement in politics.

In speaking about his initial years as a local politician, Jimmie said, “What happened was I got involved in politics. In 1992, I was elected to the city council, and I was on the council for 12 years. When Joe Serna, (Jr.) died (on Nov. 7), 1999, he was the mayor of the city of Sacramento. I was selected by the city council to succeed the late Mayor Joe Serna, Jr.”

Jimmie said that he believed that his time as a politician had ended in 2004, following his service as a member of the city council.

“I figured I was retired in 2004,” Jimmie said. “That was my second retirement. I had already retired from my business, and I was enjoying (that second retirement) until a year later. Illa Collin, (District 2) county supervisor, after serving 28 years on the county board, decided that she would retire and she called me to ask me to come out of retirement and run for her position.”

Jimmie accepted the challenge and was elected to serve as the District 2 representative in June 2006. He was sworn into office on Jan. 9, 2007.

In speaking about the topic of the end of his political career, Jimmie said, “I enjoyed the political world. There are a lot of issues and you get a lot of heartburn on some of the more difficult ones, but I enjoyed it. There’s no question. There is a lot of power in it, but you don’t go into that seeking power. In fact, many times, I don’t even consider myself a politician. Well, I’m out of office at the (beginning) of this year, so I’m enjoying it right now.”

Jimmie, who has a wife named Mary, six children and 17 grandchildren, said that he plans to fill his additional leisure time during his third retirement with such activities as playing golf once a week and fishing with my son, Kenneth, and his grandson, Miles.


Body Cafe: Massage therapy business survives on a co-op model

The lights are dimmed. The energy is warm. Sitting in the lobby of the Body Cafe on 21st Street, near Broadway, conversation flows between four massage therapists about the healing arts and how they can use their collective knowledge to improve each other’s practices.

By sharing clients and by continually teaching and learning from each other, all of the therapists have a stake in the Body Cafe; they are not just employees, they are partners there. It is a collaborative, not only in terms of the business model, but also through sharing and learning from each other.

Ideal for therapists right out of massage school, the Body Cafe offers them a place to hold appointments and build their private practices.

Focusing on energy work, like Reiki, spiritual guidance directs Charon Perez’s intuitive, holistic approach.

For Ashley, who attended the Healing Arts Institute, working on the more firm side with deep tissue and acupuncture, the Body Cafe is an ideal workplace where she’s constantly learning from her peers: “I am always so excited to exchange services because you really grow a lot with body work,” she said. Many of her clients are referrals from her other job at River City Phoenix, a medical marijuana dispensary (1508 East El Camino Ave.). “So sometimes, I work with cancer survivors and a whole array of patients, and, I feel with my essential oils, I can use vibrational healing at a cellular level.”

“It’s conversational. It’s magnetic sometimes,” said therapist Paula Osborn about giving massage.

Meanwhile, Paul Simmons, the Body Cafe’s manager, said he has always struggled to describe his practice in words. A musician, Paul likens the conversation to when someone asks him to describe a symphony: “Listen to it.”

A fluid approach to massage, therapists at the Body Café don’t have a checklist of techniques they must follow each time, as Paula explained: “You’re not getting signed off on a salon protocol that (therapists elsewhere have to follow).”

The Body Cafe is not the kind of place where management sets up shop and hires some people with profit as the main motivation. The cooperative is really about people being in business for themselves – starting their own private practice or expanding their private practice until they can go out on their own.

At first, the Body Cafe was a money loser, Paul said, however now, at the very least, the business is breaking even. “Now, we have good months, even though it’s still a labor of love proposition. My goal is to not lose any money.”

Opened about four years ago by Loralee Pagenkopf, the Body Cafe, within six months, quickly expanded to three additional therapists. Prior to that time, the building at 2414 21st St. was a dentist’s office.

The amount of therapists who offer massage at Body Cafe varies as does the amount of time each therapist puts in there. “There are two therapists that are in one hour every couple of weeks. I don’t really count them. I mean they’re here, available, but they both have full time practices (elsewhere). One of them works at a women’s hospice. She can’t take male clients there, so when she gets a phone call from a male client, she does it here.”

Clearly, a beneficial opportunity for the aforementioned therapist, the Body Café provides many opportunities for the therapists whom all come from different backgrounds.

Paula, a martial arts enthusiast, had to stop sparring four years ago after a major injury, but found massage to be in line with the very healing arts her senseis encouraged practicing. “(The injury) is why I came to massage because I had traditional teachers who told me to learn the healing arts as well as the martial application. So it’s been a real adventure for me. They were right; these old school teachers from Japan and China were right. Now, I understand. So in a way, I get to continue my practice, it’s just in a different way.”

With only three massage rooms and about 20 therapists, keeping appointments organized and scheduled properly might seem like a full time receptionist job, but actually therapists utilize calendar scheduling that is available for free online.

The unique cooperative approach to running a massage studio is one that has had its ups and downs and even after four years, there’s still room for perfection. Describing the business’s growth and goals for the future, Paula said: “We’d love to pay the concept forward if we can. This is really a work in progress. It’s been a high learning curve for all of us to try to figure how to make this concept work because it is unique. But we love to make it work and be able to share that and what we learned with other massage therapists to offer the option because many of us come out of massage school with the question: ‘What am I going to do? I guess I have to go work for (a corporate massage business) or borrow a lot of money or get a lot of money to open a private practice.’ It’s just not easy to launch yourself into this world.”

Adding to the discussion on paying the business model forward, Paul said, “The other piece in terms of paying it forward, at some point when somebody here does 20 massages, it may be time (for them) to go on their own because if you are doing 20 massages here, you’d like to have a room to yourself, so you don’t have to say, ‘Oh jeez, does Ashley have the room?’ But, I will cry when they leave.”

While that hasn’t happened yet, Paul looks forward to the day when the business has grown to that point – an inevitable outcome based on the love and dedication that is put into each massage.

For more information, visit http://www.bodycafe.info/ . For appointments, call 292-0898 or email bodycafe@massage-ca.com.


From Slovenia to Banjo-Rama, meet girl-band Navihanke

It took some complex negotiations, but Navihanke, the award-winning Slovenian women’s folk music group, has just been cleared for a national U.S. tour during which they will perform several times at the annual Sacramento Banjo-Rama on May 1-4 at the Clarion Inn, 1401 Arden Way.

Slovenia is a tiny nation of slightly more than 2 million people that borders Italy, Austria, Hungary and Croatia. Slovenia once was the northwestern corner Yugoslavia, a former Soviet satellite country, and the girls from Navihanke are excited to visit the United States, as they consider it important to build relations and cultural exchanges with the West.

The resulting mix of Slovenian folk music and America’s top jazz banjo players’ sounds is hoped to produce a musical experience that has never been heard before. Interestingly, the banjo player of Navihanke isn’t in the band anymore due to personal reasons.

If you want to be part of this experiment you are welcome to bring a banjo, guitar, ukulele, balalaika, or other fretted instrument and join in the unstructured jam sessions. There will also be workshops and formal concerts at various times during this year’s Banjo-Rama. While a mainstay of American music, Sacramento Banjo Band’s Jim Matthews traces the banjo’s pre-African roots along the Silk Road through China, Mongolia, and central Asia. Matthews, who is writing a book on the history of the banjo, will be presenting his findings at the first workshop of the four-day event on Friday, May 2, starting at 9:30 a.m.

The Arden-Carmichael News got the pleasure of speaking with Sacramento Banjo Band’s Bonnie Harris, Rex Inglis, and Jim Matthews about their involvement with the organization of this year’s Banjo-Rama.

Asked about how Navihanke was recruited to play at this year’s Banjo-Rama, Inglis first described how he came across their music to begin with.

“I was listening to my iPod. I had some old rock and roll and stuff I like. I downloaded videos. Jamaican steel band. Mariachi music. Then up pops two little girls in Germany 20s. They were maybe 12 or 13 at the time. They had on inline skates. One played a Steirische Harmonika, another a diatonic accordion. Then I searched. Then the song played Banjotastic played. These girls – they were making fun of the banjo player. We had more YouTube videos. I liked them. I figured they were from Slovenia. I went on the website. I tried to buy their CDs. That was a week or two before Christmas in 2001 and there was nothing but crickets.

“Then I got a message from them. I talked to manager. They said it would be 89 euros. And I said it would be nice if they autographed them. Six days later, here comes the CDs, signed by Sonja. She put a heart instead of dot over the ‘j’. I asked her if there was any chance they might be in the U.S. She said, ’sorry.’ In the meantime, I wrote a formal proposal and sent it off to the manger (performer Marjan Hercog’s father). Days later, I received a thank you. They said, ‘give us more information.’ And I asked them, ‘If we could raise the money, could you come?’ I went to Slovenia in 2012. I got lost and I went to the police department where I met all the girls. Then they asked to see if (we) could put a tour together. Maybe there are people across the country like us that have shows that could do it.”

The girls were able to fundraise their way to a full blown U.S. tour, which began in Cleveland on Wednesday. Other stops include: Pittsburgh, Lemont, Milwaukee, Duluth, Twin Cities, Sacramento for Banjo-Rama, and Palo Alto.

While none of the band mates play the banjo, Navihanke is sure to add a bit of je ne sais quoi to Banjo-Rama. As Bonnie, said, “I love banjo players and they are so good. But I get bored of them. This will be a refresher to spice up the banjo again.”

What follows are biographies of the members of Navihanke. To see a complete schedule for Banjo-Rama, visit banjo-rama.com.

Sonja Hercog
Her role with Navihanke is to blow into the saxophone, she is also learning to play drums, and she is the one to connect the program and animate the audience. She adores dancing and whenever possible goes on the dance floor instead to the stage. She spends her free time on nature walks and studying and gathering medicinal and wild plants. She doesn’t use her fingers only for playing saxophone, but also loves gardening, storing old seeds, making natural cleaners, creams, and cooking syrups. She is eager to learn and loves reading books about farming, spirituality, etcetera. She never runs out of questions and that is why her profession, which is ethnology and cultural anthropology, is a perfect fit for her. The majority of her work in the field includes interviewing people about various topics and learning about different ways of life currently and in the past. She is currently finishing her studies of nature conservancy and is advocating for a balanced relationship between nature, clean environment, and humans. She likes to be surrounded by funny people and loves to make people laugh by being cynical about herself, since, there comes a day when the motto holds: Why not make things more complicated, if there is a possibility for this? She is very responsible, detailed and flexible. She likes to sleep in, and before going to bed, she is happy to join a good debate with a glass of wine, and discovering the culinary specialties.

Tamara Gobec
I play guitar and sing for Navihanke. I’ve completed my Slovenian and English language studies and am soon to graduate. I plan to be a teacher and am therefore learning to be patient within a group with four other girls. Based on my “professional deformation” I like to annoy the other girls from time to time and correct their grammar, and they are of course happy to return the favor. As I’m in the process of taking my last few exams, I have very little free time. But when I do, I like to have a cup of coffee with my friends, see a movie, or go for a walk. I love animals and because I currently don’t have much space, I envy other Navihanke girls who already have almost real “farms” full of kittens, dogs, and horses. But I’m even happier when I visit them. My weakest point is definitely chocolate; this is something that anyone can bribe me with. But otherwise I adore sweets of all shapes and tastes. Luckily all the jumping on the stage during our performances is helping me out so that I can have some sweets every now and then. I’m good-hearted and kind, although very stubborn and sometimes moody. It’s likely that many would also say that my words precede my thoughts and that I can unintentionally offend them, but in my four years with Navihanke I learned to control this and be disciplined.

Maša Uranjek
I’m Maša Uranjek and I’ve been with Navihanke from the very beginning. Our 12 years have been truly magical as we went through many things together and experienced a lot. We had many beautiful and happy moments together on the stage and there is no end in sight, which pleases me tremendously, as music means almost everything to me. I’m the lead singer with Navihanke and also a flutist. I also play a guitar and a piano. On the stage we are bouncy and full of energy. People attending our performances are often wondering if the stage will be able to hold us or break down. I love nature, trees, sun, birds, streams, and farm animals. I also handle horses and have two beautiful horses at home. Jasmina and I often ride horses together around the countryside. I like to read spiritual books and evolve my thinking. I really like the books by Dobra vila Maja, Doreen Virtue, Louise L. Hay, Savine Atai, and others. My motto is: Spread love and peace around the world and be good to each other.

Tanja Čretnik
Tanja is at the best age for a woman and this is also how she feels. She has everything she needs to be happy and is only troubled by free time, which she never has enough. If she had more time available, she could probably do some things better, and she could take more time for other things out of pure pleasure. Cars are her weak point – and she always likes to turn around to check them out. If pop-folk music in Slovenia were more respected and better rewarded, she would have bought a brand new car and that would be a BMW 1-Series convertible in golden-sand color, 135i. But since there would not be enough space in the car for all the RUTAR accordions and all the keyboards, she would probably right now choose a bigger car. She goes to work, but she enjoys music much more. In Navihanke, she plays everything that has white buttons and white and black keys. She is the only one in the group that does not sing, as she is loud enough with everything else.
She adores her cat and the summer. No matter how hot it is, she would never trade the summer for the winter. In her life she regrets only the things that she hasn’t done yet and wishes that she grew four inches taller. Since this wish will be hard to fulfill, she is a big fan of high heels in all color combinations. She wishes that Navihanke would visit the United States and present their music and Slovenia in the best possible way – with positive energy and lots of cheerfulness!

Jasmina Šmarčan
I’m Jasmina Šmarčan. In the group I play bass guitar, guitar, and sing. When we are performing with Navihanke I usually spend more time in the air than on the ground. The rhythms of our music simply take over and release a burst of energy in me, which results in jumping and all the action on the stage.
In my free time, I enjoy being with the horses. Whenever I find time I love going on long rides with my young mare. This is a real therapy for me and it recharges my energy so that I’m ready for new performances and gatherings. I also spend a lot of time educating myself about healthy living, which includes everything from spirituality to healthy eating. My motto and a verse that I follow in life is “You are in this world to see the sun. You are in this world to follow the sun. You are in this world to be the sun and to drive away – the shadows.”

What: The Sacramento Banjo Band Banjo-Rama 2014
When: May 1-4
Where: The Clarion Inn, 1401 Arden Way, Sacramento, 922-8041 (Formerly Red Lion)
Contact: Bonnie Harris 412-3020 or Rex Inglis at 209-955-2452
On the web: www.banjo-rama.com; sacramentobanjoband.com

SOURCES: www.banjo-rama.com

California Children’s Choir celebrates 20 yeas with a performing tour to China

The Sacramento Children’s Chorus announces it will travel to China this summer as part of a performing tour to celebrate its 20th anniversary season. The touring choir (approximately 30 singers) will begin their journey in the capital city of Beijing, then train to historic Xi’an, fly to the country’s cultural center of Hangzhou, and bus to the international metropolis of Shanghai.

Throughout the tour, the choir will sing in some extraordinary concert halls, including a joint performance with a Chinese children’s choir at the Concert Hall of the Hangzhou Grand Theater.

The group will also visit numerous educational and artistic sites along the way: the Imperial Palace, Tiananmen Square, the Great Wall, Olympic Stadiums, the Terra Cotta Workshop & Museum, a gondola ride in the water town of Xi Tang, an acrobatic show, a jade factory, and other significant venues.

The SCC is comprised of five choirs with over 150 children. Singers vary in age from elementary and middle school, to high school and the first year of college.

The SCC collaborates with other choirs and musicians to present concerts that enrich each performer’s music experience and to inspire audiences. SCC choirs showcase music from diverse cultures and historical periods – performing not only classical and contemporary choral music, but jazz, folksongs and spirituals – in many different languages.

Last month, the Children’s Chorus performed to a sold-out audience at its spring concert, For the Joy of Singing, at the historic Crest Theatre in downtown Sacramento. Highlights from the concert included a wonderful film-themed medley to recognize the Crest’s 100th Anniversary and a showcase ensemble featuring over 40 SCC alumni who traveled from across the country to be a part of this special concert.

SCC Artistic Director Lynn Stevens states, “Over the past 20 seasons we have served as ambassadors of music, traveling to such places as England, France, Hungary, the Czech Republic, British Columbia, Hawaii, Norway and Sweden. In addition, the SCC has hosted choirs from as far away as Denmark and Korea. Our mission is to provide music education that creates a lifelong love of music in young singers and inspires audiences through beautiful music. Learning and sharing diverse music enriches children beyond measure.”

A free concert will highlight some of the music that will be sung in the People’s Republic. The repertoire includes songs in at least seven languages. This send-off concert will be held on Wednesday, June 12 from 6:30-8 p.m. at the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd located at 1615 Morse Ave., Sacramento 95864.

For more information, visit: www.sacramentochildrenschorus.org or call 646-1141.

Buffalo Brewery men were interred at East Lawn Memorial Park

Editor’s Note: This is part 10 in a series about the rich history of and associated with East Sacramento’s award-winning East Lawn Memorial Park.

Sacramento has been known as a political city, a city of trees and many other things during a large portion of its existence. And among its greatest achievements was becoming a city of breweries, which included the Buffalo Brewing Company.
In the previous article of this series, Philip Scheld, who was interred at East Lawn Cemetery (today’s East Lawn Memorial Park), was celebrated for his proprietorship of the Sacramento Brewery, which was established a short distance from Sutter’s Fort in 1849.
Many other breweries were opened in the capital city during the 19th century.
An example of the production of local breweries during the 19th century was recorded in the county assessment books for 1872.
This source notes that in that year, Sacramento had eight breweries that produced 252,000 gallons of beer.
Furthermore, according to the 1880 book, “The History of Sacramento County, California,” the area’s eight local breweries in 1878 “made, in aggregate, 530,200 gallons of beer, and in 1879, 560,000 (gallons of beer).”
With a walk around East Lawn Memorial Park, one can find the final resting places of several men who were associated with the Buffalo Brewing Company, which was also known as the Buffalo Brewery, and was for many years under the direction of Buffalo Brewery, Inc.
Certainly the most notable of these brewery men were the German-born Herman H. Grau (1846-1915) and William E. Gerber (1852-1928), who were both interred at East Lawn Cemetery.
Herman, a former East Coast brewer who came to Sacramento from Buffalo, N.Y. in about 1886, was the man who organized the Buffalo Brewery, which would eventually become the largest brewery west of the Mississippi.
At the age of 12, Herman came to America and settled in Buffalo, N.Y.
Along with his wife, New York native J.F. Bertha (Ziegele) Grau (1848-1915), who he married in Buffalo prior to coming to Sacramento, Herman had nine children.
Herman’s association with William became an important part of the city’s brewery history, as these men laid out the plans for the Buffalo Brewery.
In addition to his involvement with the Buffalo Brewery, William, a New York native who came to Sacramento in 1860 and was eventually the secretary of the Buffalo Brewery, served, at different times during his life, as president of the California National Bank and chairman of that bank’s board.
William, who studied in Sacramento schools and the St. Louis Academy and at a business school in Buffalo, was also, at a various times, a bookkeeper and co-owner of a grocery store, state fish and game commissioner, auditor of Sacramento County and the city treasurer of Sacramento.
Also interred at the cemetery was Hattie A. Gerber (1857-1928), who was the mother of his five children.
Construction on the Buffalo Brewery, which was located on the block bounded by 21st, 22nd, Q and R streets, began in 1888.
In being that this section of Sacramento was many years away from being built out at that time, upon its completion, the large brewery structure could be seen from a considerable distance within the city.
With the opening of the Buffalo Brewery in 1890, Herman became the company’s first general manager and Adolph Heilbron (1833-1913) served as the brewery’s first president. Heilbron’s final resting place is located at the Sacramento Historic City Cemetery at 1000 Broadway.
Also interred at East Lawn were Henry Gerber (1851-1928), one of the brewery’s first stockholders, and Henry I. Seymour (1861-1913).
Seymour was among the prominent men of the brewery, as he replaced Grau as the company’s general manager in 1896 and continued to serve in that role for 17 years.
But Seymour was not new to the brewery when he became its general manager, as he had been working for the brewery since 1890.
Another well-known person in local brewery history was Sacramento native Frank J. Ruhstaller (1872-1943), whose father was Swiss native Frank Ruhstaller (1846-1907), who was an original officer of the Buffalo Brewery.
The brewery resume of Frank Ruhstaller, who was interred at today’s Sacramento Historic City Cemetery, also included serving as the proprietor of the City Brewery at the northeast corner of 12th and H streets and the superintendent of the Sacramento Brewing Co.
As for the resume of Frank J. Ruhstaller, he became the president of the Buffalo Brewery in 1913, following the death of Heilbron. He retired from that position in April 1939.
Additionally, the younger Ruhstaller served as the assistant manager of the City Brewery and superintendent of the Sacramento Brewing Co., and was a member of the city’s war rationing board during World War II.
In speaking about Frank J. Ruhstaller during his retirement dinner at the old Elks Temple at 11th and J streets, Superior Court Judge Peter J. Shields said, “Charities, kindnesses and justices have characterized his whole existence. The aroma of good deeds during his life has perfumed the entire community. He has been modest, never seeking the limelight nor the vanities of life.”
Frank J. Ruhstaller’s wife, Alice Marie (Root) Ruhstaller (1871-1969), was also interred at East Lawn. The couple, who was married in Sacramento on Nov. 22, 1899, was residents of East Sacramento, residing in the Fabulous Forties neighborhood at 1301 44th St.
Much has been said and written about the Buffalo Brewery, which created beer that was popular well beyond Sacramento.
During its pre-Prohibition days, the Buffalo Brewery distributed its beer great distances.
In addition to shipping this beverage to many parts of Northern California, including San Francisco, the brewery also sent its beer to the Hawaiian Islands, Alaska, Central America, along the Mediterranean, Russia, Japan and China.
A summary about the brewery in the Feb. 2, 1907 edition of The Union included the following words: “Sacramento boasts of many large manufacturing enterprises, but none are more in keeping with the general progress of this section than (the Buffalo Brewery). It is known by the excellence of its product. New Brew and Bohemian, its special brands, are known throughout the Pacific Coast. Ask any dealer and he will tell you there are none superior to them.”
The brewery, which experienced much physical growth at its local plant, returned to full, post-Prohibition production in December 1933 and continued its operations at its historic site until 1949.
The brewery buildings were razed in 1949 and 1950 in preparation for the construction of the newspaper, radio and television operations of McClatchy Newspapers – publishers of The Sacramento Bee – which was then headed by its president, Eleanor McClatchy.


American Watercolor Traveling Watercolor Exhibit now showing at Sacramento Fine Arts Center

Judi Betts, "Hat Dance"

Judi Betts, "Hat Dance"

The American Watercolor Society Traveling Exhibition has made its way from New York to Carmichael at the Sacramento Fine Arts Center, the only venue on the West Coast.

World class artists, Vangeli, Wiegardt, Birnbaum and California’s own Frank Eber, whose brushes pirouette, spiral and leap across the canvas as they fence and feint with paint, flowing and splattering, opaque and transparent, create breathtaking visions of life through the magic of light and color.

Members accepted into the prestigious American Watercolor Society in New York represent the most highly technical and experimental watercolor painters in the world. California master artist Frank Eber’s “Dordongne River Valley View” dreams of Shangrila, Australian artist Joseph Zbukvic’s misty “Morning Gallop” delights of races not yet won, and China’s Zhou Tianya’s “St. Temple” beckons momentary meditation.

These masters of light and color will dazzle your pleasure now until Jan. 26 at the Sacramento Fine Arts Center. Gallery hours are daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Exhibit ticket donation $10..

A Second Saturday Reception will be held Jan. 12, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.

The Sacramento Fine Arts Center is located at 5330B Gibbons Drive, Carmichael, CA 95608. For more information, call 704-8611 or Visit: www.sacfinearts.org

South Land Park resident donates funds to local Chinese school

Editor’s note: Lance Armstrong’s series on dairies in Land Park will be continued on Dec. 27.

South Land Park resident Dr. Herbert Yee, far right, recently donated a $12,500 check to Sacramento’s Confucius Chinese School. To the left of Yee stand three of the school’s students, who are holding a sign representing the school’s appreciation for this charitable donation. Photo by Lance Armstrong

South Land Park resident Dr. Herbert Yee, far right, recently donated a $12,500 check to Sacramento’s Confucius Chinese School. To the left of Yee stand three of the school’s students, who are holding a sign representing the school’s appreciation for this charitable donation. Photo by Lance Armstrong

South Land Park resident and philanthropist Dr. Herbert Yee, who is also recognized for his many years of working as a dentist in the capital city, makes it no secret that he is a staunch supporter of education.
Already known for assisting in the advancement of education through other projects, Herbert recently presented a check in the amount of $12,500 to Sacramento’s Confucius Chinese School.
The school, which has an enrollment of about 70 students, received this charitable donation during a special dinner honoring Herbert. The donation will be used for teachers’ salaries, janitorial services and school supplies.
The event, which was held on Sunday, Dec. 2 at Rice Bowl restaurant at 2378 Florin Road, began with a performance by some of the school’s students, who sang “God Bless America.”

Left to right, Dr. Jong Chen, Senator Leland Yee, Dr. Herbert Yee and Supervisor Jimmie Yee pose for this photograph after Leland Yee presented Herbert Yee with a state senate proclamation. Photo by Lance Armstrong

Left to right, Dr. Jong Chen, Senator Leland Yee, Dr. Herbert Yee and Supervisor Jimmie Yee pose for this photograph after Leland Yee presented Herbert Yee with a state senate proclamation. Photo by Lance Armstrong

Directing the event, which was attended by about 250 people, were its masters of ceremony Alfred Yee, the school’s principal, who spoke in English, and Henry Yee, who spoke in Chinese.
Represented at the event were the local Chinese Confucius Church and school, the Chinese Benevolent Association of Sacramento, the Yee Association and the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Association.
And attending the gathering as special honored guests were Alan Yee, the western grand president of the Yee Association from Los Angeles, Eddie Yee, the president of San Francisco’s Yee Association, Yi Hua Yu of Stockton’s Yee Association and Bill Wong, president of the Chinese Benevolent Association of San Francisco.
As a prelude to the dinner, the event included several speakers and presentations.
Among these speakers were Senator Leland Yee, who represents District 8 in the western half of San Francisco and the majority of San Mateo County, Sacramento County Supervisor Jimmie Yee, Dr. Jong Chen, president of the Chinese Benevolent Association of Sacramento, and Frank Kwong, president of the Sun Yat-sen Memorial and Soo Yuen Benevolent associations.
In speaking beyond the topic of Herbert’s monetary contributions, Kwong said, “(Herbert is) the nicest person, he’s my mentor, he’s a good friend, a good father. That means a lot to our community. It’s a good example of how we put our community together.”
Herbert also spoke to the gathering’s attendees, who also included his wife, Inez, their sons, Randy, Alan and Wesley, their four daughter-in-laws, and five of their grandchildren.

Dr. Herbert Yee (upper right, holding microphone) is joined on stage by students and other representatives of the local Confucius Chinese School. Photo by Lance Armstrong

Dr. Herbert Yee (upper right, holding microphone) is joined on stage by students and other representatives of the local Confucius Chinese School. Photo by Lance Armstrong

In honor of his goodwill to the Sacramento community, Herbert was presented with a state senate proclamation from Leland Yee.
He also received a proclamation from the People’s Republic of China and a plaque from the Chinese Benevolent Association of Sacramento.
And as a show of appreciation for Herbert’s financial donation to the school, students of the school presented him with a large, artistically decorated, heavy stock paper that included a drawing of an apple on a stack of books and a bullhorn-like image with the words: “Thank you, Dr. Yee, Confucius Chinese School.”
Surrounding these features were signatures of the school’s students.
Herbert is very well connected to Sacramento’s Confucius Chinese School, considering that in addition to attending the school himself, his father, Henry, and all of his sons and grandchildren were once students at the school.
Furthermore, Henry, Herbert and Randy Yee have all served on the school’s board.

Wesley Yee, the fourth son of Herbert and Inez Yee, gave a speech about his father’s life. Photo by Lance Armstrong

Wesley Yee, the fourth son of Herbert and Inez Yee, gave a speech about his father’s life. Photo by Lance Armstrong

Herbert described his longtime involvement in assisting in the advancement of education and his overall love for education.
“My love is in education,” Herbert said. “I built a school in China. That’s education. I’m on the board of the University of the Pacific. That’s education. I love the Chinese school. That’s education. I have an exhibit at the (California State) Railroad Museum. I’m on the board yet, 32 years. And that’s education about trains, transportation. I have a hologram at The California Museum about the history of our family, so that’s education. In Fiddletown, you’ll see my great-grandfather’s herb store. So, I am more attuned to encourage young people to go to college, and especially the Chinese. But now you really don’t need to encourage them. They know, especially the immigrants who come from even Vietnam, Thailand, Korea, China. That’s why (at the University of California,) Berkeley, more than half of the students are Asian, because their parents encouraged them to study.”
Herbert, who graduated from Sacramento High School in June 1942, said that his own father, who began attending Stanford University in 1918, encouraged him to attend schools to further his education.
“I skipped low 7th (grade) and I just went straight from 6th grade to high 7th (grade) and I skipped the last six months of high school,” Herbert said. “Of course, my father pushed me a little bit. Then he said, ‘You try Stanford.’ I didn’t know it was so tough to get (into Stanford), but I got in. I was there 70 years ago. Now I’m 88, almost.”
Eventually, Herbert spent more than a half century working as a dentist. This time included his work as the official dentist for the staff of governors Pat Brown and Ronald Reagan.

Confucius Chinese School students and several adults sang, “God Bless America,” at the event. Photo by Lance Armstrong

Confucius Chinese School students and several adults sang, “God Bless America,” at the event. Photo by Lance Armstrong

Herbert, who is a longtime member of the Sutter Club, American Legion Post 692, Lion’s Club District 4 C5 and Del Paso Country Club, has served as president of many organizations, including the California State Board of Dental Examiners, American Cancer Society for Sacramento County, Sacramento Chinese Benevolent Association and the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Association.
Additionally, Herbert recently reached a milestone as a South Land Park resident.
After experiencing difficulty purchasing a home in the area due to his ethnicity, Herbert was finally able to buy his current home on Nov. 2, 1952.
He celebrated the 60th anniversary of this event with his sons, and noted, “Dad is kind of a sentimental guy.”
In speaking about his achievement of purchasing a home in South Land Park, Herbert said, “I was one of the first (Chinese to live in the area). I don’t want to claim to be the (first). Since that time, quite a number of Asians have lived here.”
With his love for education, Herbert said that he is proud that his sons were able to graduate from college and become successful in their professional lives.
Randy is a retired dentist, as well as a member of the Confucius Chinese School board, Alan is a pulmonary doctor, Wesley is a dentist, and his late son, Douglas, was a dentist.
Herbert and Inez also have a granddaughter, Juliana, who is attending Stanford Law School.
Wesley, who gave a speech about his father’s life during the event, recognized the importance of his mother in his Herbert’s life.
“What my father accomplished would not have happened without the love his life and his soul mate, our mother, Inez,” Wesley said. “She raised four boys, was a Cub Scouts den leader, attended our PTA meetings and worked in my father’s office. Later she would accompany my father worldwide on his missions to help people around the world and in our nation.”
As a man who is always involved in many projects, Herbert does not feel that the word, “retired,” is a word that would best describe his current status in life.
“Now, I’d like to say I’m retired, but you know a man like me, we never retire,” Herbert said. “My mind is always thinking. I always say when I wake up in the morning, I want to think that I want to be a better person – a better person today than yesterday. And I want to see how I can best take care of my little wife, who I married 67, going on 68 years (ago), and, of course, my family and all the business I have.”


JFK students return from China, share their experiences

Editor’s note: Students from JFK High School traveled to Sacramento’s Sister City Jinan, China over the summer to learn about Chinese culture. Here are some first-hand accounts of their time.

 Students from JFK High School traveled to Sacramento’s Sister City Jinan, China over the summer to learn about Chinese culture. These are photos from their trip. / Photos by Deion Sugianto

Students from JFK High School traveled to Sacramento’s Sister City Jinan, China over the summer to learn about Chinese culture. These are photos from their trip. / Photos by Deion Sugianto

Daniel Li (JFK Senior): I had a very unique opportunity of traveling across the world to Sacramento’s Sister City Jinan as a youth ambassador. It was inspiring to me because I was enlightened by this extraordinary culture. I am very gratified for the opportunity that the Jinan-Sacramento Sister Cities Corporation provided me, this opportunity allowed me to experience China’s educational system and culture first hand.

Spending time with my host family allowed me to experience the authentic Chinese culture. They brought me to several different places so that I would have a solid understanding of Chinese history and culture. It was completely different from what I had learned in the classroom. All the textbooks and class time could never amount to how much I learned from actually being therein the ancient streets of China, or Wutongs. Although it was quite embarrassing, it was a great experience keeping a conversation with my host family going with the Chinese I learned from my teacher Mrs. Hatamiya. I learned so much even in the simplest conversations with my host family because I had to actively listen and form a response with my broken Chinese. The trip was filled with fun and learning.

China changed me as a human being.  I definitely recommend all students to at least give Chinese level 1 a shot because Mrs. Hatamiya is the best teacher ever. Without her, I wouldn’t have gotten the scholarship to go on this trip that changed my life forever.

Ariel Heim (JFK Sophomore): The trip to China was a very good overall experience. The food was great; the best food I tasted while staying there were the dumplings and dough balls. The cultural aspect of it was also unforgettable, for example the Great Wall of China was very fun to climb although it was extremely hot. Now I can tell my friends and family that I climbed part of the Great Wall of China and show them my t-shirt. The Forbidden City was also an amazing experience. I even got to walk on the bridge that was originally made only for royal people. The Jade Museum was fun too, I got so much stuff for my family that was made out of jade and it was by far the best experience. I also visited community sites. I had a chance to visit the park, which was very big with a lot going on. It had great games and a huge monument that was beautiful. I also had the chance to visit the Zoo, I got to see animals that you wouldn’t normally see here and I also had the opportunity to feed bears which was so much different. The zoo even had water rides and a Ferris wheel. I had the fortune opportunity to see the whole park from the top of the Ferris wheel and it was a jaw-dropping sight. Lastly, the shopping was something to die for. The malls were very expensive but fortunately, we were able to go into underground market that had stores with amazing prices. I brought back a handful of good from China for a memory. This was one of the eye-opening experiences in my life; I was able to see a whole different culture through this trip.

Herbert Yee: Cultivating growth in Sacramento

Well-known Sacramento resident, retired dentist Dr. Herbert Yee may have recently turned 87 years old, but his age has certainly not hindered his motivation to contribute to the community.

HERBERT YEE stands in front of the soon-to-be-opened Sunflower Farmers Market on Del Rio Road, just south of the Sacramento Zoo. / Valley Community Newspapers photo, Lance Armstrong

HERBERT YEE stands in front of the soon-to-be-opened Sunflower Farmers Market on Del Rio Road, just south of the Sacramento Zoo. / Valley Community Newspapers photo, Lance Armstrong

His latest contribution is bringing a unique, 30,000-square-foot grocery store to local shoppers at his South Land Park shopping center, just south of the Sacramento Zoo.

Market coming this spring

While spending a moment at the shopping center last week, Herbert enthusiastically shared details about the soon-to-be-opened Sunflower Farmers Market.

“We have been working since June 1 on the new market,” Herbert said. “They signed the lease on June 1, we hired a contractor, named Headwater, and the owners (of Headwater) are (former Sacramento vice mayor) Doug Pope and Norm Marshall. Sunflower is a market from (Boulder) Colorado. They’re based there and they have big warehouses in Phoenix, Ariz. and they’re in New Mexico and they’re now in California. They’re also in Las Vegas, Nev., where they have two stores. Right now they have about 33 stores and three more developing. They opened their first (local) one six months ago in Roseville Square and then about a month ago, they opened one in Modesto, and a third one in this area, then they have one in Fremont and one planned in Mountain View and San Jose, so they’re moving.”

Altogether, this nearly 10-year-old grocery store chain operates markets in eight states, including all of the aforementioned states, as well as in Utah, Texas and Oklahoma.

Sunflower, which is scheduled to open in Herbert’s shopping center in May, is the response to a failed attempt to complete a deal that would have brought a Trader Joe’s specialty grocery store to the same site last year.

Herbert speaks very highly about Sunflower, which is dedicated to providing its customers with natural and organic products at reasonable prices.

“I am very impressed with Sunflower,” Herbert said. “They promise that they will buy locally. They have five air conditioners upstairs. Four of them are 12 and a half tons, one is seven tons. And I said, ‘Why do you need so much air conditioning?’ They said, ‘We want to keep the vegetables fresh.’”

Sunflower’s departments include meat and seafood, bakery and deli, natural living, dairy/frozen, beer and wine and floral items. The chain purchases almost all of its products by the pallet or truckload in order to save money. Sunflower then passes part of its savings on to customers.

Furthermore, the store does not charge its vendors for shelf space and it has no membership cards or complicated discount schemes.

HUMANITARIAN. Herbert Yee provided the finances for the Kee Siu School in his hometown in China. / Photo courtesy, Herbert Yee

HUMANITARIAN. Herbert Yee provided the finances for the Kee Siu School in his hometown in China. / Photo courtesy, Herbert Yee

In its efforts to provide its customers with low prices, the store is dedicated to its motto, “Better than supermarket quality at better than supermarket prices” and its slogan, “Serious food, silly prices.”

Sunflower Farmers Market will fill the southern end of the South Land Park shopping center on Del Rio Road. The shopping center also includes La Bou Bakery and Café, Parkside Pharmacy and Macau Café.

In addition to bringing a new market to South Land Park, Herbert, who is a 1942 graduate of Sacramento High School and a World War II veteran, has kept active with many other properties and activities during his life.

Dentist to Calif. governors

Many locals remember Herbert for his success in dentistry, as he spent 54 years in this profession, including his time as the official dentist for the staff of two governors – Pat Brown and Ronald Reagan.

Community leader

Herbert’s many titles that he has held read like credits at the end of a feature film.

SO ALL MAY LEARN. This cultural center and library, which was funded by Herbert Yee, opened in China in 2007. / Photo courtesy, Herbert Yee

SO ALL MAY LEARN. This cultural center and library, which was funded by Herbert Yee, opened in China in 2007. / Photo courtesy, Herbert Yee

Among the many special positions that he has held are president of the California State Board of Dental Examiners, regent of the University of Pacific, president of the UOP Dental School Alumni Association, president of the International College of Dentists, president of the American Cancer Society for Sacramento County, counselor of the American Dental Association’s Council on Dental Education, district governor of Lion’s Club District 4 C5, president of the Sacramento Chinese Benevolent Association, president of the Sun Yat Sen Memorial Association and president of the Yee Fong Toy family association.

He has served on the California State Railroad Museum Foundation board for about the past 30 years.

A presidential commendation

In 1984, Herbert was named president of the U.S. section of the International College of Dentists at the annual convention in Atlanta.

In acknowledging Herbert’s naming to this position, President Ronald Reagan sent a letter to Herbert that included the following words: “This honor reflects your commitment to your profession and to the organization paying tribute to you. By your service as a dentist and as a member of your community, you have made outstanding contributions. In every area where you work, whether as a member of your profession or as a concerned citizen, your dedication is greatly respected.”

WWII VETERAN. Herbert Yee served in the U.S. Army from January 1944 to October 1945. / Photo courtesy, Herbert Yee

WWII VETERAN. Herbert Yee served in the U.S. Army from January 1944 to October 1945. / Photo courtesy, Herbert Yee

Active gentleman of the community

Herbert, who also owns the buildings occupying Pizza Hut, Kamon Sushi restaurant and bar and A & A Company video, cellular phones, music, etc. at the southwest corner of 16th and V streets, the Asian Food Center at 1301 Broadway and Bud’s Buffet at 1016 10th Street. He is a longtime member of the Sutter Club, American Legion Post 692, Lion’s Club District 4 C5, the Sacramento Pioneer Association and the Del Paso Country Club.


He has also contributed to his native land through his funding of the construction of China’s Kee Siu School, which opened on Sept. 28, 1981, and a cultural center and library named after himself and his father, Henry Yee. The cultural center and library opened in China in 2007.

Descendant of Sacramento pioneers

Although Herbert did not arrive in the United States at Angel Island as an immigrant from Sing Tonga, Kee Siu, Toi Shan, China until he was 6 years old on May 1, 1931, his family history in Sacramento dates back to the 19th century.

Herbert’s great-grandfather, an herbalist, named Dr. Wah Hing (born Yee Fung Cheung), arrived in California during the Gold Rush, and while practicing in Sacramento, he had his most famous patient, Jane Stanford, the wife of Gov. Leland Stanford.

FAMILY MAN. Herbert and Inez Yee have been married for 66 years. The couple is shown prior to their marriage in this photograph, which was taken in about 1944. / Photo courtesy, Herbert Yee

FAMILY MAN. Herbert and Inez Yee have been married for 66 years. The couple is shown prior to their marriage in this photograph, which was taken in about 1944. / Photo courtesy, Herbert Yee

Herbert explained the story behind his grandfather’s work with Jane Stanford.

“As the story goes – you’re talking legend, because this was so long ago – in about 1862, (Jane Stanford) was suffering from sort of like pneumonia and the American doctor said that he could no longer do any more and that was it,” Herbert said. “The Chinese chef said, ‘Well, since you finally gave up, why don’t you try our Chinese doctor?’ So, the governor said, ‘Well, go and fetch him.’ So, (the chef) got on the horse and buggy, went down to Chinatown and they located him playing mah-jongg or gambling something at Wah Hing grocery store. So, (Dr. Wah Hing) told his helper – a young man – to go fetch a certain item of medicine and they brewed it and then brought it to the governor’s mansion. (The doctor) then gave the brew to Mrs. Stanford and told the staff that in one hour, if her fever breaks and she can breathe, then she would be fine. Interestingly, this story was related to me back in 1950 by an old man who was 100 years old. He said, ‘You know, you’re great-grandpa saved the governor’s wife.’ So, the legend has been traveling all of these years.”

Today, Herbert resides in South Land Park with his wife, Inez, whom he married in 1945. The couple has four sons, four daughters-in-law, nine grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.

California State Fair: It’s time to eat ‘fair-style’ once again

The waiting is finally over. The always anticipated California State Fair opens today, July 14, and with it comes its usual traditions, which of course include “fair food.”

Unique fried foods like the ones advertised on this sign at a past California State Fair are among the annual event’s most popular edible items. / Valley Community Newspapers photo, Lance Armstrong

Unique fried foods like the ones advertised on this sign at a past California State Fair are among the annual event’s most popular edible items. / Valley Community Newspapers photo, Lance Armstrong

This is the time that guests of the event put aside their general eating habits and partake in a wide variety of edible assortments ranging from longtime favorites such as corn dogs and cotton candy to just about any fried food imaginable.

Although many reports have been made regarding the fair’s food offerings, less emphasis is generally placed on the food vendors themselves.

And these vendors undoubtedly have many unique details to tell about themselves and their histories in business.

Despite their busy schedules as they prepared for this year’s fair, several vendors dedicated time to share information about themselves, the fair and their food offerings.

Milo Franks’ corn dog stands

One such individual was corn dog vendor Milo Franks, who volunteered the obvious observation that he has a surname that is quite fitting for a man in his line of business.

Franks, 61, who lives in Pilot Hill, near Auburn, said that he has seen the concessions at Cal Expo grow tremendously in his four decades of selling corn dogs at the State Fair.

“I’ve been working at the State Fair since the second year it was here (at Cal Expo) in the new facilities,” said Franks, who also sells pizzas with dough made on the fair’s premises. “I can remember there were stands here that were actually made out of those cargo vans that you can rent nowadays. And there were tents back then. Guys used to call them knock down joints. They were canvas (with 2-foot by 4-foot boards). Now it’s just nothing to have $2,000 or more invested in a stand.”

In an attempt to bring entertainment to the fair, Franks is working with his secretary, Georgeanne Clasen, to present the California State Fair’s first corn dog eating contest.

Milo Franks, who has been selling corn dogs at the State Fair for four decades, passes out a cash reward for a corn dog eating contest. The contest will make its California State Fair debut on July 21. / Photo courtesy, Georgeanne Clasen

Milo Franks, who has been selling corn dogs at the State Fair for four decades, passes out a cash reward for a corn dog eating contest. The contest will make its California State Fair debut on July 21. / Photo courtesy, Georgeanne Clasen

The qualifying round of the contest will be held on July 21 and 22 and the finals will be held on July 23.

The cost to enter the contest is $30 and the first place prize is $2,000, second prize is $500 and third is $300.

Although Franks, who enjoys racing hot rods at the Sacramento Raceway in his spare time, has spent two-thirds of his life as a corn dog salesman, he said that his initial plan was to be an industrial arts teacher, so he would not have to work during summers.

Franks said that ironically, he has not had a summer off in 42 years, but added if he ever retires, he will build a car and race in all of the National Hot Rod Association meets around the country.

Jungle George’s Exotic Meats and Bugs

Certainly, fair food offerings are much different today than when Franks began selling corn dogs at the fair.

A prime example of this fact is the Jungle George’s Exotic Meats and Bugs trailer, which is operated by Fremont, Calif. resident George Sandefur, a 38-year fair vendor, who began his career working in his native state of Indiana.

Sandefur said that he offers about 18 different, unusual meats such as alligator, python, raccoon and beaver meats and a full line of bugs from scorpions to crickets to maggots.

“We sell a lot of strange and unusual stuff,” Sandefur said. “Our new sandwich this year is our Maggot Melt, which is like a patty melt, but instead of a burger, it has maggots. We also have desserts, including deep fried butter and deep fried jelly beans.”

Offering unusual edibles was not always one of his trademarks, explained Sandefur.

“My trailer used to be a chicken trailer, but it just wasn’t doing what I wanted it to do,” recalled Sandefur, who has one child and five grandchildren. “So, last year, the California State Fair called and asked me to do something strange. I said, ‘How strange?’ They said, ‘Oh, maybe some strange meat or alligator or something like that.’”

Sandefur, who enjoys boating, swimming and flying standard, single engine airplanes during his spare time, said that by the following April, he introduced alligator meat, Rocky Mountain oysters and other unusual offerings at the Maricopa County Fair in Phoenix and sold out his inventory in about an hour.

“I said, ‘Oh, well, maybe I’ve got something here,’” said Sandefur, whose personal favorite exotic menu items are his alligator and yak burgers. “We just kept adding (unusual food items) and finally at the State Fair, we had probably 14 or 15 different meats and we added bugs. I just keep going on and trying to see how strange and ‘wow’ I can get. I believe that patrons, especially the younger crowd, are looking for more than standard fair food these days. They want something you can’t go to a restaurant and get. They just want something ‘wow.’”

Tempura, Inc.

Tempura, Inc. owner Grace Wang has been working at fairs for more than 15 years, and has two trailers at this year’s State Fair.

Wang, who is assisted in the business by her husband Richard, who designed and built one of Tempura, Inc.’s trailers, said that she is very excited about introducing crepes to guests of the State Fair through her Grace’s Crepes trailer.

“They never had crepes at the State Fair before,” said Wang, a native of the northeast part of China. “The reason why we wanted to bring this new crepe trailer to the State Fair is because we wanted to bring healthy food to the fair. We want to do less fried stuff. Our crepes, we do everything from scratch and this is our own recipe. We have about 12 different kinds of crepes.”

Tempura, Inc.’s other trailer will feature the Fresh Mexican Grill with quesadillas, chicken and beef fajitas, enchiladas, burritos, a nine-item plate, called the “Super 9,” fresh tortillas and homemade salsa and guacamole.

Wang said that some of her passions in life are reading books, attending seminars and living in Carmichael.

Regarding Carmichael, she said, “It is a relatively old community, so it’s very quiet with a lot of trees, big yards and very nice neighborhoods. I really like it. My (two) kids play with the neighbor kids, and it’s very safe.”

California Ice Cream Co.

Relatively newcomers to the State Fair, but 20-year veterans of the fair circuit, Galt residents Philip and Crystal Miller are adding sweetness to this year’s fair through their California Ice Cream Co. offerings.

The business features different flavors of ice cream, banana splits, sundaes, a McDonald’s McFlurry-like ice cream cup and their new item, a bacon maple sundae.

Crystal said that eating the bacon maple sundae is like having “breakfast in a cup.”

As a helpful tip in finding her business trailer, Crystal noted that the trailer is purple and pink and is decorated with an image of a snowball-throwing polar bear, named Cal.

When they are not working at fairs, the Millers devote time to Galt High School. Crystal is the assistant director of the color guard and Richard is a volunteer visual arts coordinator.

Although Crystal hopes that many people take advantage of the many food offerings at this year’s State Fair, she stressed that she is desirous that people come to the fair, in general.

“I hope everyone comes out and enjoys the fair,” Crystal said. “I know times are tough, but there’s a lot to do, so it’s well worth the entrance ticket.”