The Best of the East Sacramento News 2014

Dear readers,
This year, the East Sacramento News has enjoyed bringing you stories about your neighbors and about the history that has made up the community you call home. What follows are summaries and excerpts from some of our favorite stories from the past year. Also, see some of the best photos of the year on page 19, many of which were taken by our star photographer, Stephen Crowley, who has had six photos nominated for awards by the California Newspaper Publishers Association. Additionally, movie reviewer Matias Bombal shares with readers the top five movies he has reviewed for Valley Community Newspapers since he started writing for us in 2014. Without further adieu, here are the top stories and columns selected by staff this year.
Sincerely, Monica Stark

Bizarre vandalism hits East Portal Park area by Michael Saeltzer: David Powell has lived in his house since 1973 and is well known in his part of the neighborhood as being a good guy. He’s a retired firefighter, once having helped lead a grassroots movement to rebuild the playground at East Portal Park. He lives across the street from many nice rentals on 54th Street near J Street.

A few blocks away from David’s home, a woman living near Curtis Park for more than 13 years informed her neighbors that somebody had vandalized her home by spray painting the words, “Put can away,” in silver paint across the wall of her porch right next to her front door. Then, it got worse. It pretty much happened again to her neighbor. This time in dark blue spray paint were the words – “Don’t put cans out so early.” Important to note, is that the second time, the people involved have young children so they requested anonymity.

Courtesy of David Powell This is one photo that illustrates the graffiti that took over a small section of East Sacramento near East Portal Park earlier this year. Residents were targeted for over-watering their plants, putting their garbage cans out too early or leaving them out too long.

Courtesy of David Powell This is one photo that illustrates the graffiti that took over a small section of East Sacramento near East Portal Park earlier this year. Residents were targeted for over-watering their plants, putting their garbage cans out too early or leaving them out too long.

A few weeks later is when David received a call from Patty, an elderly neighbor across the street. She was telling him that someone knocked on her door, and when she answered, the man standing there told her she was using too much water. He then asked if he could borrow a wrench to turn it off. Then a week or so after that, the neighbor living nearby awoke to a large spray painted tag done in the same color blue as Kathy’s neighbor saying: “Stop over wating! (sic)”

After learning about all of these incidents, David stepped into action. He already had a preexisting relationship with police officer and local George Chargin. Officer Chargin helped when the area was having trouble with homeless people and this time he set up a meeting for all the victims to attend to share their stories, gather facts, and see if a person suspected of possibly committing the crimes could be detained. When confronted by Chargin, the suspect in David’s words, “said all the right things.” No charges could be filed.

When asked if the neighbors have a neighborhood watch program, each of the victims said that there is a neighborhood watch sign in the area, but none of them know of such a formal group. One neighbor named Meme said, “When something happens we know where to go, straight to David, he’s awesome!”

David explained he had his own form of protection in his house. The hunting pictures didn’t leave one guessing as to what that meant.

Ray and Dorothy Bertolucci are shown in front of their 37th Street guest house in this c. 1949 photograph. Ray was unofficially known as the “Mayor of 37th Street.” / Photo courtesy of Lois Lindstrom

Ray and Dorothy Bertolucci are shown in front of their 37th Street guest house in this c. 1949 photograph. Ray was unofficially known as the “Mayor of 37th Street.” / Photo courtesy of Lois Lindstrom

Remembering the ‘Mayor of 37th Street’ by Lance Armstrong: There are many memorials that can be found in various places throughout the capital city. But one of the most hidden and less known memorials is that of former East Sacramento resident Ray Bertolucci (1911-2011).

At the end of a cul-de-sac on 37th Street, just south of P Street, is an area, which is rich with trees, ivy and other plants.

Although it is necessary to do some investigating on the southeast side of that area to locate Ray’s memorial, with relatively little effort, one can find that memorial, as well as memorials to his wife, Dorothy M. (Herbert) Bertolucci (1915-1997), and Jamil D. Nammour, a professor at Sacramento State University from 1969 to 1986.

Ray’s plaque has a short inscription, as it reads: “Raymond Bertolucci, ‘The Mayor,’ 1911-2011.”

With a glance at a listing of mayors who have served Sacramento, one would not find the name, Raymond Bertolucci.

So, with that in mind, the obvious question would be: Why was this man, Ray Bertolucci, recognized as a mayor on a memorial at the end of a portion of 37th Street in East Sacramento?

Although Ray passed away three years ago in his 37th Street home, and thus would not be available for comment, the answer to that question can be easily answered by many people who remember him as having acquired that title.

In an interview with this publication, Larry Bertolucci, who was Ray and Dorothy’s only child, said that his father began to be referred to as “the mayor” by his neighborhood friends in the 1980s.

“(Ray) was just very active in terms of when they closed 37th Street off (south of P Street, near the old freight train tracks/light rail tracks) and made it a cul-de-sac (in the mid-1980s), and he was just a real advocate for that general location,” said Larry, who graduated from Sacramento High School in 1962, and later graduated from Stanford University. “When people would move in, he would welcome them. If anybody was doing any nonsense, he was not afraid to confront them and say, ‘That’s kind of unacceptable for this area.’ And everybody just kind of rallied around him. I think it was partly because of age, partly because of his personality and partly because of his tenure of living there. So, you know, it just kind of came into fruition if anybody needed any answers about the area, (they would ask for his assistance). The guy had phenomenal recall. It was amazing that he could put the dates and names to places. He could tell you in Old (Sacramento) what store was there on what corner, what they did, who owned it. He would meet a guy in a store, at Corti Bros. or maybe at Safeway, and he would say, ‘Larry, I know that guy.’ He wasn’t afraid to go up and (talk to) the person and say, ‘I know you, tell me your name,’ or ‘I think your name is this. You were related to this guy.’ And the next thing you know, they were carrying on a conversation. He was absolutely uncanny.”

The grave of Dorothy Millette Bern is located at East Sacramento’s East Lawn Memorial Park. / Photo by Lance Armstrong

The grave of Dorothy Millette Bern is located at East Sacramento’s East Lawn Memorial Park. / Photo by Lance Armstrong

East Sacramento cemetery marker recognizes woman with unique Hollywood connection by Lance Armstrong: A grave marker reading, Dorothy Millette Bern, lies at East Lawn Memorial Park in East Sacramento. And although that name may mean nothing to most Sacramentans today, there was a time when locals were well aware of details pertaining to Dorothy and her association with a real-life Hollywood mystery.

The year was 1932 and headlines of newspapers across the nation were announcing the latest daily news pertaining to the sudden death of the German-born Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film producer Paul Bern. He died in his Hollywood mansion two months after marrying the notable film actress Jean Harlow, and his remains were interred at the Inglewood Park Cemetery in Inglewood (Los Angeles County).

Also mentioned in the first part of this series was an article, which appeared in the Sept. 8, 1932 edition of The Sacramento Bee.

That Associated Press article noted that Paul had been married to another woman a decade earlier and that he was never divorced from the woman, who was “a mental incompetent in a New York sanatorium (sic).”

The hotel officials also claimed that Dorothy was visited by Paul at the hotel on an annual basis, and that she had ceased residing at the New York hotel a short time prior to Paul’s marriage to Harlow.

Dorothy once again made the news on Sept. 9, 1932.

The Bee then-reported that Dorothy had been a passenger on the Delta King during one of its voyages from San Francisco to Sacramento. She had, according to River Lines officials, boarded the vessel under the name of “D. Millette” on Sept. 6, 1932 at 5:30 p.m., a day following the announcement of Paul’s death.

Earlier in the day, a woman arrived at Plaza Hotel in San Francisco and registered as “D. Millette, New York City.”

It was also reported by The Bee that Dorothy, who had checked into the King’s stateroom No. 304, appeared to have been missing when the riverboat arrived at its destination, and that police believed that she had ended her life by leaping into the Sacramento River.

A coat and a pair of shoes that were identified as belonging to Dorothy were discovered on the boat’s observation deck, and a large portion of her belongings were discovered in her stateroom after the King docked in Sacramento.

H.L. Karrick, a passenger on the same Delta King voyage, would later say, “Everybody on the boat was watching (Dorothy). She kept wringing her hands and appeared to be weeping.”

Additionally, Karrick stated that he witnessed Dorothy standing by a rail of the ship and gazing into the water at 2:30 a.m., when he departed the vessel at Rio Vista.

In an article published in the Sept. 10, 1932 edition of The Sacramento Union, it was noted that based on the theory that she had jumped to her death in the river, constables and fisherman in every river township below the capital city were keeping a lookout for a floating body.

Meanwhile, faced with the possibility that Dorothy may have swum ashore and was still alive, and possibly involved in a suicide hoax, police also searched transportation systems and rooming houses.

Aiding in support of the then-theory that Dorothy committed suicide was the fact that $38 was found in her purse that had been left in her stateroom.

Although a statewide police search for Dorothy was reinstated, that search would be short lived.

On Sept. 15, 1932, The Union ran the front page headline, “Dorothy Millette’s body found in river.”

The Lady of the Lake: Judy McClaver’s journey to clean up McKinley Park pond activates the community by Monica Stark: With pointed fingers and curious faces, McKinley Park visitors have taken to watch neighbor Judy McClaver row a paddle boat back and forth across and around the pond, filling up a large trash can with garbage, tree branches, tennis balls, fishing lines, hooks and even syringes. She and her friend, Rick, have also worked together to remove domestic birds, replant the island, fix the sprinklers, and prune the shrubs.

A local hero to the community, Judy has taken on a mission to educate the public and city officials about the health of the water and the importance of feeding the waterfowl a proper diet. The pond, measuring about an acre in size, she explained, should not have more than 30 birds in it at any one time. In this pond, at the worst time of year, migration time, Judy estimates the pond as being home to about 100 geese and 100 ducks, compared to now with about 20 geese and about 30 ducks. It’s also home to about 75 turtles and a variety of fish.

“I knew the pond was dirty – that it had no care,” Judy told the East Sacramento News on a warm Thursday afternoon, as she did her routine maintenance. Pointing toward the island that sits in the middle of the pond, she described the gravity of its spoilage.

“That whole island was in disrepair. The birds were getting hurt over there; they were being trapped because of the bamboo. They would trip over it. It’s so thick when it grows, and the females would go into the bamboo when they were chased by the males to get away, but they couldn’t get out. And there were rats on the island. And there were rotten eggs. It was definitely horrid over there,” she said.

Though the pond is much cleaner now thanks to her ongoing work, she knows that her physical efforts aren’t enough – that the water is disgustingly dirty.

“I am the one that told the city how dirty this pond was and about its lack of maintenance and management, so that they finally commissioned an estimate to be done of four city ponds. This estimate proved what I had been telling them…this pond is a human health hazard,” Judy said.

Sure enough, deemed as such, a Lake Management and Assessment Report, commissioned by the City of Sacramento identified dangerous levels of E. coli from the waters of McKinley Pond. And after much insistence from neighbors to repair and clean it out, the city has set aside $225,000 in Park Impact Fees and Quimby funds, which was approved in June, parks staff will work with the community on the scope and design of the revamped pond. It’s estimated the construction will be completed this year.

They’ll drain it, erect a fence around it, but someone will need to find homes for all the wildlife living there. As Parks and Recreation Director Jim Combs said in a phone interview, “You can’t just clean these ponds every year. It’s not like your bathtub. We have to relocate the animals. It’s a big undertaking.”

Lady of the Lake attacked during 8 a.m. routine maintenance by Monica Stark: Judy McClaver, McKinley Park’s very own Lady of the Lake, was attacked while picking up trash at 8 a.m. on Saturday, July 19. Assaulted from behind, a known felon ripped Judy’s t-shirt, knocking her to the ground where she hit her head on the sidewalk. She got up, but he came at her again, so she hit him with her trash reacher, but he sent her to the ground again, hitting her tailbone.

“I was screaming for 9-11 the whole time and there were plenty of people around witnessing, yelling at him and calling 9-11,” Judy told the East Sacramento News two days after the incident. At that time, she said she was doing “OK,” that her headache had been resolved, but that her tailbone still had been very painful. She said X-rays did not show fracture, but that there were a few other bruises. “It’s difficult to lay on my back with metal clips on back of my head, but I survived.”

During the incident, people made a barrier between Judy and the man, while emergency medical technicians and police officers made their way to her aid. When the first officer arrived, he directed the man to sit and called him by name. “Obviously well known to the police, (I) later found out they get calls on him frequently,” Judy said. “We could hear the guy refusing to cooperate with police commands and being threatened with a taser. The guy was one step short of going into the pond. I was hoping he would, but that would then mean the police would have to deal with the filthy pond water. Eventually five more police (officers) showed up.”

Judy said she spent about six hours in the emergency room, “getting CTs, X-rays and waiting. I also got seven staples to a laceration on the back of my head.” Described as “6 feet something, black with dreadlocks and always (wearing) dark clothing,” Judy said she had seen her assailant in the park repeatedly for the last few weeks prior to the incident and described his odd behavior as follows: “the guy who attacked me – I never saw him never interact with people in the park, but he would make wide circles around (them).”

Janey Way Memories: My First Christmas Away from Home by Martin Relles: In September of 1969, I completed my military training at Fort Lewis, Washington, and then the U.S. Army issued me orders to serve in West Germany. In early October, I boarded a charter plane headed for Frankfurt, Germany. After three days in Frankfurt, I received orders to serve at the 510th Ordinance Battalion in the small German town of Gunzburg.

If the truth be told, I arrived in Gunzburg ill-prepared for the German climate. It didn’t help that my army duffel bag, filled with most of my clothing, disappeared en-route. It eventually arrived, months later, but initially, I had minimal gear.

By mid-November, the first snow fell and it covered the ground until, April. You got used to it though. I soon began to enjoy it. Thanksgiving came and went and Christmas approached. I started to feel a little home-sick then. However my first Christmas away from home turned out wonderfully.

Mom sent me a care-package in mid-December full of treats. We went out and bought a small tannenbaum (Christmas tree) for our room. We decorated it with ornaments purchased at a store in town. In town, they decorated the streets with red ribbons, greenery and ornaments. I bought small presents, and mailed them home.

On Christmas day, I attended services at the beautiful Gothic cathedral in town. That evening, the officers hosted Christmas dinner for the men in the dining hall. They came, in full military dress attire, accompanied by their wives. After a fine turkey dinner with all the trimmings, they distributed small presents to all of us. Christmas away from home wasn’t so bad after all.

Know your neighbors: Don Coan and Barbara Jodry by Monica Stark: Eighty-seven-year-old Don Coan, an East Sacramento resident who was a human rights activist, according to The Sacramento Bee died Oct. 2 of prostate cancer. Don and Barbara spoke with the East Sacramento News in July to promote Solar Cookers International’s solar cook-out, which was held in William Land Park and featured dozens of demonstrators from around the world. What follows is some information about Don and Barbara from the July interview.

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“I enjoy using the sun for baking during the summer. It saves on gas and doesn’t heat up the house.” –Don Coan, East Sacramento resident, Solar Cookers International Order of Excellence (2009), SCI Volunteer of the Year (1989, 1993)

East Sacramento residents Don Coan and Barbara Jodry bought a nice, new stove in 2000, only to have used it maybe a dozen times since then. “We like to do the Thanksgiving turkey in it,” laughs Barbara. “It’s a running joke. We just really like to use our solar cooker,” she said.

Living on 38th Street near F Street, the two helped spawn an annual “solarcue” down the street in Rick and Heidi Kantola’s sunny front yard.

As solar cooking conventions started taking place around the world, Barbara and Don thought: “Why couldn’t we do it in the neighborhood?” So they did, “solarcue” fashion. “It seemed like a lie to call it a solar barbecue, but they started calling it a ‘barbaracue’ because my name is Barbara. As you can tell, we have a sense of humor here. This was in the 90s, early in our efforts to boost publicity about solar cooking,” Barbara said.

For several summers on a day near the solstice, Don and Barbara attracted quite a few passersby who saw the solarcue. “Barbara and I were just looking at the home movie that a friend of ours took of one those events. It was great to be reminded about that period in our lives,” said Don, who, just a few weeks prior to the interview, stopped volunteering regularly inside the Solar Cooking International office, located at 1919 21st St., No. 203. Don received the organization’s Order of Excellence award in 2009 and the SCI Volunteer of the Year award in 1989 and again in 1993. SCI facilitates humanitarian and environmentally focused partnerships around the world through a database of connections. As an umbrella organization to numerous groups that try to spread solar cooking worldwide, SCI helps facilitate partnerships.

Sold on the logic of solar cooking instantly when Sacramento State University professor, Dr. Bob Metcalf, first introduced the cooking methods to them in the 1980s at a demonstration at Sacramento State University, Barbara said it seemed “like idiocy to walk away from.”

“If the sun could give you sunburn, why wouldn’t it cook food?” she asked.

At the time, 1988, Don had just retired from his career as the Sacramento County Welfare Department (now Department of Social Services) Bureau Chief. Not one to really “retire,” Don described how he became involved with his then-newfound passion of solar cooking. “I was looking around for interesting things to do other than going fishing or that kind of stuff and it happened there was an article in Christian Science Monitor on solar cooking and there happened to be an office in Sacramento that promotes solar cooking. They said, ‘if you send in a dollar to this address, then you can get the instructions to construct a solar box.’”

So, he learned to make his own solar box cooker out of cardboard and figured he might as well help teach others how to do the same thing. And he put in volunteer work once a week doing “one thing or another” for Solar Cookers International. As the organization grew, his ability and interest grew too.

Shortly after they learned how to solar cook, Don and Barbara began raiding bins in the back of local businesses for cardboard boxes – a basic solar cooking material. “We’d get permission and take away corrugated cardboard and build a box, 30 by 30 inches. We insulated it with crumpled paper. The idea was to build something from practically nothing, something poor people could handle,” Barbara said.

Discussing their involvement with worldwide conferences, Don said he and Barbara went to their first conference in 1992 in Rio de Janeiro. “This was a conference related to environmental issues. We had cookers there to show people how they worked.”

Explaining further, Barbara said: “We went down there and took our solar cookers. We weren’t with the high muckety-mucks discussing world environmental issues. We were demonstrating one small solution cooking using the sun versus fossil fuels and how the process is not endangering lives.”

Rick Edwards and Leanne Mack work with East Sac Pet Pals, which is much more than a simple dog walking business.

Rick Edwards and Leanne Mack work with East Sac Pet Pals, which is much more than a simple dog walking business.

On the Curbs: East Sac Pet Pals is more than just dog walking by Michael Saeltzer: Rick Edwards is the former owner of East Sac Pet Pals. He used to be seen jamming around in his small jet black super charged 2003 Honda Element with the pink stripe around it reading “East Sac Pet Pals.”

He owned the business with his wife Deb who overcame one bout of ovarian cancer, but ultimately was not able to overcome the disease. After Deb passed away, he transferred the business entirely over to Leanne Mack who is quickly making herself known in our community for her decision to quit corporate life and pursue a different lifestyle. Rick and Leanne both experienced situations in their lives that unexpectedly included pets, community, and personal transformation.

Rick explained to Leanne that East Sac Pet Pals is much more than a simple dog walking business. They provide the full package emphasizing home security and safety (Rick worked with the Sac Police to develop best practices for pet sitters), the ability to help out in a jam (think locking your keys in your car on your lunch), and years of knowledge about pet behavior and their health needs. Also included as part of the service is a daily journal of your pet’s day, pictures sent via the web, and a special package of care upon their passing – which is always a time of grief.

Janey Way Memories: The Australians by Martin Relles: After serving two years in the military in 1969-1971, I took a European Out and was honorably discharged at my duty station in Gunzberg, West Germany. Then, my friend Jeff Lucas and I purchased an old Volkswagen and headed south.

We drove first to Austria, visiting picturesque Salzburg, then stately Vienna. After that, we drove through the northwestern edge of Yugoslavia down to Trieste, Italy. From there, we drove along the coast, eventually arriving in Venice. As we pulled into Venice, we stumbled onto a campground. It featured a big sign labeled, “Camping Fusina.”

Little did we know, but that campground had a reputation as the best party spot for young tourists in southern Europe. All the youth bus tours came through Camping Fusina. And, Renato Rossi, the manager of the campground, accommodated them. Tourist buses arrived daily at the campground, then later at night Renato hosted a barbecue and rollicking party. This daily reveling took place throughout the tourist season. Jeff and I fit in well with this merry-making.

In addition to meeting lots of attractive young ladies, we met a whole host of interesting people from all over the world. Among them were three disheveled guys I called, “the Australians.” Their names were David, Peter and Charles (AKA Cobo). They had worked for a full year on a cattle ranch in the outback to cobble together the funds to travel in Europe for six months.

They pulled into the campground one day in a World War II vintage black and white ambulance set up like a camper with sleeping bags laid out in the rear portion of the vehicle. It was their home away from home. Little did I know, but later that summer, I would be traveling with them in that vintage transportation.

Jeff and I immediately took a liking to these blokes. They were short by American standards. David stood about 5 feet, 10 inches. The other two barely reached 5 feet, 8 inches. They were also stout, even paunchy, but also strong and tough…They shared their stories about the Australian outback and we told them about New York City, Hollywood and San Francisco.

We showed them how to play American football and they demonstrated Australian rules rugby.

Most of all though, we just partied together. They taught us the Australian tradition of the “shout.” In Australia, a shout is a group of blokes drinking together. When the glasses are empty, one of the blokes buys another round. This goes on until the party is over. Nobody will ever accuse the Australians of being light-fisted drinkers. They like a good party. And, we joined right in with them. We earned a spot in their shout, for life. What a hoot they were. I’d love to see them again someday.

Eventually though, we all went our merry ways. Jeff and I set off for Florence, Italy and David, Peter and Cobo headed off in the direction of Spain, muttering something about running with the bulls. But, that is another story.

Now my days of celebrating with Australians are just another arm-bending Janey Way memory.

A fire occurred at the old Squeeze Inn on Fruitridge Road on May 14. Shown in this photograph is the back of the building, which reveals the majority of the structure’s exterior damage caused by the fire. Squeeze Inn was founded in East Sacramento. / Photo by Lance Armstrong

A fire occurred at the old Squeeze Inn on Fruitridge Road on May 14. Shown in this photograph is the back of the building, which reveals the majority of the structure’s exterior damage caused by the fire. Squeeze Inn was founded in East Sacramento. / Photo by Lance Armstrong

Squeeze Inn restaurant was founded in East Sacramento by Lance Armstrong: Many Sacramentans today are familiar with the popular hamburger restaurant chain, Squeeze Inn. But most longtime Squeeze Inn customers do not recall a location of the business prior to its operation at 7918 Fruitridge Road, where a suspicious fire coincidentally occurred on May 14, about nine hours after the first article of this series by this author was printed in the East Sacramento News.

The history of this business began 32 years ago, when Sacramento natives Ken Noblett of 1449 Arvilla Drive and Shane Dickenson of 1512 55th St. opened the restaurant’s original location at 4087 C St. at Elvas Avenue.

However, on a side note, research revealed that an unassociated restaurant by the same name was established in the capital city long before the 1982 opening of the Squeeze Inn on C Street.

Ruth Noblett, widow of Ken Noblett, who co-founded the Squeeze Inn in 1982, explained that the business’s existence at 4087 C St. in East Sacramento was short-lived due to a change in plans by the building and property’s owner, the East Sacramento business, National Linen Service, at 3391 Lanatt St.

The fire, which caused mostly interior damage to the Fruitridge Road location, was deemed suspicious due to the structure’s vacancy and barred entries, and has been under investigation as a suspicious incident.

As for the Nobletts, despite selling their business in Sacramento, it would not be long before they would return to their routine of operating a Squeeze Inn restaurant.

After moving to Stockton, Ken decided to establish a Squeeze Inn in that little Missouri town, which has no stoplights and a population of about 2,000.

The location of that eatery, which opened at the address of #10 Public Square, in April 2002, served the community well until a tornado blew its building away on May 4, 2003.

Ruth said that she had to be talked into continuing the existence of Stockton’s Squeeze Inn.

“We had a partner (Rod Tucker) and dissolved that partnership after the tornado,” Ruth said. “I didn’t (want to continue the business). I wanted to retire. (Ken) really wanted to and Rod really wanted to, so they kind of talked me into it.”

Additionally, Ruth said that because of a high interest loan, they “couldn’t really not reopen.”

The second Squeeze in Stockton opened at 404 Arby Road in October 2004.

Ken died at the age of 63 in November 2009, and Ruth has been the sole owner of the business since that time.

Ruth noted that she has some good news in terms of the continuance of Stockton’s Squeeze Inn.

Former Tuesday Club of Sacramento members Nancy Leneis, left, and Anita O’Bryan met with the East Sacramento News in 2014 to discuss the decision to cease operations of the club, which met for many decades at the organization’s clubhouse, just south of Sutter’s Fort. / Photo by Lance Armstrong

Former Tuesday Club of Sacramento members Nancy Leneis, left, and Anita O’Bryan met with the East Sacramento News in 2014 to discuss the decision to cease operations of the club, which met for many decades at the organization’s clubhouse, just south of Sutter’s Fort. / Photo by Lance Armstrong

Tuesday Club of Sacramento ceases operations after 117 years by Lance Armstrong: The Tuesday Club of Sacramento, a women’s organization that was founded 117 years ago, has came to an end in 2014.

In a meeting with the East Sacramento News, former Tuesday Club members Anita O’Bryan and Nancy Leneis explained the decision to cease operations of the club.

“The Tuesday Club took a very difficult vote to disband, because of declining membership, and less (members) were able to come due to health (issues),” Leneis said. “And younger people are not as interested in clubs, so they decided to disband. And it was a vote of the board taken first and then a vote of the entire membership at a meeting (at the Dante Club earlier this year).”

O’Bryan, who was one of the club’s 50-year life members, as she had been a member of the club since 1959, added that the club had been contemplating the idea of disbanding since last year.

“A year before that (final decision), we felt that the club was in trouble and should we consider closing,” said O’Bryan, whose mother, Irene Sweet, was a former president of the club. “And we tried to see if we couldn’t get it going before we made the final decision with the membership.”

Another former Tuesday Club member Irene Ryder was the first person to inform the East Sacramento News about the club’s demise.

At that time, Ryder said, “We have probably had our last meeting as a club.”

And after those words became a reality, a decision was eventually made to break the unfortunate news about the club to the public through the East Sacramento News.

That decision was partially made due to the fact that the club had met just west of East Sacramento for the majority of its years of operation.

Ray Jenkins, who owned Cycle Tune Co. for more than 40 years on Alhambra Boulevard, sits on his 1984 Honda Trail CT110. / Photo by Lance Armstrong

Ray Jenkins, who owned Cycle Tune Co. for more than 40 years on Alhambra Boulevard, sits on his 1984 Honda Trail CT110. / Photo by Lance Armstrong

Cycle Tune building demolished, but memories remain by Lance Armstrong: For the past year and a half, a small, cinder block building sat vacant a block from McKinley Park and across the street from Sutter Middle School at the address of 900 Alhambra Blvd. But about two months ago, that structure, which for the majority of its existence housed Cycle Tune Co., was demolished.

The 30-foot by 30-foot building was a destination spot for more than 40 years for motorcyclists who sought to have their bikes fine tuned and repaired in an efficient manner at reasonable rates.

Ray Jenkins, a 1968 graduate of Grant High School, was the sole owner of the business for practically the entire duration of the business’s operation, which began in 1976. Jenkins explained that his road toward becoming involved with Cycle Tune began when he was 20 years old.

In speaking about the founding of Cycle Tune, Jenkins said, “It was a motorcycle repair place set up by a guy by the name of Richard Northam, and he was a highway patrol officer that worked graveyards. He had a family of four kids and a wife and he wanted to get into some kind of business and he liked motorcycles and there were a lot of officers that had bikes. So, he was there for about six months (before Jenkins became a partner in the business).”

The recent demolition of the old Cycle Tune building represents an end of an era, as the structure was the last surviving building that had stood on the southwest corner of Alhambra Boulevard and I Street during a time when the Alhambra Theatre (present site of Safeway) and Helvetia Park (present site of Sutter Middle School) were a part of the area’s attractions.

The Sacramento County Historical Society recognized Valley Community Newspapers’ very own historical writer, Lance Armstrong, at its annual dinner on Tuesday, March 25 at the Dante Club. Lance is currently working on a book project on the history of Sacramento.

The Sacramento County Historical Society recognized Valley Community Newspapers’ very own historical writer, Lance Armstrong, at its annual dinner on Tuesday, March 25 at the Dante Club. Lance is currently working on a book project on the history of Sacramento.

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

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

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

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

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

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

In addition to his hundreds of local history newspaper articles, Lance is the author of Echoes of Yesterday: Elk Grove – the first book in his Echoes of Yesterday history book series. In 2007, Echoes of Yesterday: Elk Grove was recognized as the nation’s top regional history book for that year by the American Authors Association.

Lance is presently nearing the completion of several comprehensive history books about Sacramento from the times of Captain John Augustus Sutter to present.

Janey Way Memories: Remembering Catholic Youth Organization Basketball by Martin Relles: Last Friday night, I watched my grandson Angelo play in a youth basketball game. It was a blast. Angelo, at 4 feet, 10 inches tall, was one of the big kids on the court.

The boys played on the main basketball court at San Juan High School—a regulation court with 10-foot baskets. They looked pretty small on the big court, but their enthusiasm and endurance amazed me. When Angelo took a rebound, he drove the ball quickly up court, before passing the ball to an open shooter. Later in the second half, he took a long shot which rolled around the rim and dropped in. That shot gave his team a 2-point lead which they never relinquished. The final score was 33 to 31.

Watching the boys play, brought back memories of my own youth basketball experience in the Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) basketball league. I joined the Saint Mary’s CYO right after graduating from Saint Mary’s School in 1960. Father John Puliz, the pastor of the church, started the club that same year. He felt the teenaged kids, who attended the church, needed a wholesome outlet for their youthful energy. The activities sponsored by the CYO included dances, trips, and team basketball. I signed up for the right away for basketball.

We had our first fall practice at Kit Carson Junior High School in East Sacramento. Bob Hocking served as the coach of our team. Coach Hocking had played basketball at Sacramento State College. He had lot of knowledge to share with our inexperienced, young team which included my friends Dan Petrocchi and Dick Mckechnie. We learned how to play a three/two zone defense and how to run a one/three/one offense. We had already knew the basics of basketball (dribbling, passing and shooting), but did not know how to play as a five-man team. Coach Hocking had his work cut out for him, but over time he molded us into a pretty good team.

In October, we started our 10-game season. It was so exciting. Coach Hocking assigned me to the point guard position. My responsibilities included dribbling the ball up court and initiating plays. I had a pretty good set shot, and the coach encouraged me to take it when I had the opening. I remember scoring in double figures during a few of our games. That made me feel like my hero Bob Cousey of the Boston Celtics. Other times, I passed the ball to big Dick Mckechnie in the key or to Dan Petrocchi on the wing. Dan had a good jump shot and often scored on those opportunities.

Our team played against teams from Sacred Heart, St. Francis, Immaculate Conception, All Hallows and Saint Patrick’s churches. All the teams were very competitive, and the games were close—no blow-outs here. In the end, we took second place. Immaculate Conception, with their 6-foot, 8-inch center won the league.

I have never forgotten, my CYO youth basketball experience. In fact, I often see coach Hocking at meetings of the Dante Club of Sacramento. He always says, “How are you doing kiddo? Keep writing those columns.” I am glad the old coach enjoys reading my stories. I certainly have never forgotten all he taught me, another inspirational Janey Way Memory.

St. Francis High teacher furthering notoriety in the art world through Johnny Cash project by Lance Armstrong: Adan Romo, a longtime teacher at St. Francis High School in East Sacramento, has earned much recognition as a creator of public art. And that notoriety has come through a variety of art projects, including one that is beginning to earn him widespread attention.

His latest project, and one that will become the largest artistic endeavor of his career to date, will be a series of Johnny Cash sculptures in Folsom.

During his interview with this publication, Adan spoke about his co-operation of an art business and his acquisition of the Johnny Cash-related art project.

“I have my own company with my father (Jesus Romo),” Adan said. “It’s called Romo Studios and we’ve been doing public artwork now for almost 20 years now. (The business’s projects include) public artwork for churches or communities or schools or monuments. And so, the opportunity came up (in 2013) for the (Cash project).

“The city of Folsom put out a call to artists to create concepts for a new project they have there, which is to create a three-mile long trail near Folsom Prison that connects all their other existing trails. And they chose to call that three-mile portion the Johnny Cash Trail.

“Then they wanted to select six different artists to create six different artworks along that trail to celebrate Johnny Cash.”

The project will also feature a phone application created for the Johnny Cash Trail, which was opened with a ribbon cutting ceremony that was attended Johnny Cash’s eldest daughter, Roseanne Cash, on Oct. 4.

It’s show time! Tahoe Park pub theater to have debut movie next week by Monica Stark: A transformation of the Tahoe Food Market on 14th Avenue is complete. Just last March, the inside was a bit of a disaster area with wet plaster drying over large holes in the walls. There were bars on the windows.

Upon arrival to 5440 14th Ave., Jackie Nadile, the visionary and business owner of the latest incarnation of the space, opened the doors on Friday, Sept. 26 to what she and her husband Alan Lee have named, Public House Theater. Rows of old Del Paso Theatre chairs, obtained from Alan’s boss, line the inside as red curtains border a large movie screen. Also in the seating area are a comfortable couch and the kind of recliners you just sink into.

Behind the seating area, in a separate room, is the bar, which features beer from West Sacramento micro-brew, Bike Dog (whose owner, like Jackie, is a Tahoe Park resident.)

Whereas most movie theaters charge a lot for popcorn and soda pop to recoup the costs of proceeds lost from ticket sales to the movie companies, Nadile said she’s hoping to keep the prices down. With regular menu items such as sandwiches, paninis and pizza, Public House Theater will also offer specials from time-to-time from local restaurants, including sushi night with sake and fare from Kansai Ramen & Sushi House (2992 65th St.,Ste. 288).

From opening day on, she plans on keeping the theater open for Monday Night Football games, as well as movie nights Friday and Saturday and Sunday matinee. Food and drink are served in a laid back atmosphere.

Know your neighbor: The Candy man from East Sacramento by Monica Stark: (Editor’s Note: This was published last April, just in time for Easter.) Chock-full of countless chocolate Easter bunnies and eggs, Andy’s Candy Apothecary, located at 1012 9th St., is a pastel-colored paradise decorated with kid-tested baskets, as well as slightly more “grown up” baskets. Just two months ago, it was all about chocolate hearts wrapped in red. “We sold out of all of the chocolate!” East Sacramentan Andy Paul, the store’s owner, then said about the holiday made for sweeties. “I was floored by how much business we had. It was crazy, but it was a good problem to have.”

The easy-go-lucky, but highly organized sweet tooth, has a high bar for quality candies. Winning last year’s Sacramento Downtown Partnership foundation’s “Calling All Dreamers” business competition Andy said owning a candy store has been a dream, a “pipe dream really” for about three years, though he’s been passionate about candy all of his life.

Under the direction of what he calls “curated collection” concept, Andy decided that while he is an amateur candy maker, he refrains from making anything for the store, since it would complicate business operations. Plus, he said his “stuff really doesn’t compete (yet) with all of the amazing things” he can find. While he first searches the local candy scene for the best products, he doesn’t limit himself geographically.

A father of two daughters, ages 6 and 10, Andy said the girls’ opinions of their dad owning a candy store has changed since opening day, Dec. 13, 2013. Though the novelty has worn off, they still get excited when he brings home samples.

Janey Way Memories: The Last Father: The Last Father by Martin Relles: Last Friday night, my wife and I attended the Music Circus production of “A Chorus Line.” We loved the show.

One of the most compelling stories in the production was the story of Paul, a young, gay, Puerto Rican dancer trying to earn a part in the chorus line.

During his interview for the part, the choreographer asks Paul to tell his story.

Despite his reluctance to open up about his life, Paul breaks down and tells all.

As a boy he was different from all the other boys. He didn’t like sports and really didn’t want to rough it up. He wanted to dance.

So, he taught himself to dance by watching Hollywood musicals. By the time he got into high school, his difference from other children caused trouble for him. They teased and bullied him. Eventually, he sought the help of a psychologist who told him he was perfectly normal and urged him to drop out of school and pursue a career in dance. So, he took the psychologist’s advice and left school. But, it wasn’t that easy for 16-year old boy from the Bronx find a job as a dancer?

Ultimately, he got a job dancing in drag in a club on the lower east side of New York. His new occupation embarrassed him and he didn’t dare to tell his parents. However, when the manager of the show decided to take it on the road to Chicago, Paul asked his parents to give him a ride to the airport after the evening show. That night his parents surprised him by arriving early to pick him up, and when he walked by them in full costume, gaudy dress and all, they recognized him. This made him feel horrible, but he went on to finish the show.

After the show, he walked out the stage door and discovered his parents talking to the show manager. He saw his dad point a finger at the manager and say, “you take good care of my son.”

At this point in the interview, Paul broke down and said tearfully, “that was the first time my dad ever called me his son.”

This was a touching moment in the show and it brought back memories of my father. I remember him introducing me to his friends, saying proudly, “This is my son, Marty.”

What made Paul’s story even more meaningful to me is that just two days before seeing “A Chorus Line,” I attended the funeral of one of the Janey Way fathers, Virgil Petrocchi. In fact, he was the last surviving Janey Way father.

His son Dan delivered the eulogy. It was a good story about a man who lived a good life, had a good sense of humor, gave sound advice to his children and cared deeply about all the children in the neighborhood. Virgil, like all the Janey Way fathers, played a special role in my life.

These men coached Little League, took the boys camping, set off fireworks on the 4th of July, and taught us how to live our lives with honor and dignity.

With Virgil’s passing, all the Janey Way fathers have left us, but we will always remember them in our Janey Way Memories.

Seventh annual Fab 40’s 5k Run/Walk set for July 26

A pet-friendly 5K is offered as a part of the prestigious seventh annual Fab 40’s 5K Run/Walk set for July 26. Photo courtesy

A pet-friendly 5K is offered as a part of the prestigious seventh annual Fab 40’s 5K Run/Walk set for July 26. Photo courtesy

As you begin to make plans for this summer, mark Saturday, July 26, 2014 on your calendar. Prepare for one of the best events in Sacramento – the 7th Annual Fab 40’s 5k Run/Walk benefiting the Alzheimer’s Association of Northern California and presented by East Lawn Mortuaries, Crematory and Memorial Parks. It is also the official City of Sacramento 5k Championship, and the race is organized by Rich Hanna and Capital Road Race Management so you can be sure the timing is top-notch. They are the same company that manages the “Run to Feed the Hungry” and more than 40 other race events in the area.

The City of Sacramento 5k Championship is one of the fastest and most scenic courses you will ever run or walk. Starting at East Lawn Memorial Park at 43rd Street and Folsom Boulevard, the route traverses the Fabulous Forties neighborhood on “M” Street and proceeds to East Portal Park before returning to East Lawn for one gorgeous, final mile loop, finishing at the highest point in the City of Sacramento! The run and walk begins at 8:30 a.m., but before the main event there will be three kids’ races (1/4 mile for ages 5 and young, half mile for ages 6-8 and also for ages 9-11). This truly will be a family affair!

You may be asking, “Why should I be involved?” It is simple: the Alzheimer’s Association assists families and caregivers in Northern California – free of charge. They also provide important research in the continuous fight against Alzheimer’s disease, the sixth leading cause of death in the United States and the fifth leading cause of death in California.

Although elite runners from all over compete in this prestigious 5K championship, just as many amateur runners and casual walkers participate. They are especially needed to help support the cause. Strollers and pets are welcome as this is a Pet-Friendly 5K (all pets must be on a leash).

In addition to a bounce house, information vendors, food, raffle prizes and more, one of the highlights of the event is the Free Family Photobooth provided by Mike Jensen Photography- it’s a big hit! Sponsors include SMUD, KCRA Channel 3, My58, along with Comstock’s Magazine, Councilman Cohn’s office, Valley Community Newspapers, Matthews International and the offices of Woodruff, Sawyer & Company, Rebecca Harper & Associates as well as Propp, Christensen, Caniglia LLP, just to name a few.

Please join us! You can go online at www.Fab40s5k.org to register or call Lisa West at 732-2020 if you would like to be a sponsor. Don’t miss this great family event!

East Sacramento cemetery marker recognizes woman with unique Hollywood connection

Tom Tolley, a technician at the Sacramento Public Library’s Central Library, assisted in research for the book, “Deadly Illusions: Jean Harlow and the Murder of Paul Bern.” Photo by Lance Armstrong

Tom Tolley, a technician at the Sacramento Public Library’s Central Library, assisted in research for the book, “Deadly Illusions: Jean Harlow and the Murder of Paul Bern.” Photo by Lance Armstrong

Editor’s Note: This is part two in a two-part series about and related to Dorothy Millette Bern.

As presented in the first part of this series, a grave marker reading, Dorothy Millette Bern, lies at East Lawn Memorial Park in East Sacramento. And although that name may mean nothing to most Sacramentans today, there was a time when locals were well aware of details pertaining to Dorothy and her association with a real-life Hollywood mystery.
The year was 1932 and headlines of newspapers across the nation were announcing the latest daily news pertaining to the sudden death of the German-born Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film producer Paul Bern. He died in his Hollywood mansion two months after marrying the notable film actress Jean Harlow, and his remains were interred at the Inglewood Park Cemetery in Inglewood (Los Angeles County).
Also mentioned in the first part of this series was an article, which appeared in the Sept. 8, 1932 edition of The Sacramento Bee.
That Associated Press article noted that Paul had been married to another woman a decade earlier and that he was never divorced from the woman, who was “a mental incompetent in a New York sanatorium (sic).”
That woman was the former Dorothy Roddy, who became Dorothy Millette through her first marriage to Indianapolis newspaperman Lowell Millett (not Millette). That marriage ended in divorce in Tacoma, Wash. in 1911, and Dorothy later worked for a theatrical company in New York, before making her way to Canada.
Following Paul’s death, George G. Clarken, a Los Angeles life insurance man, who was Paul’s insurance adviser, revealed that insurance policies that were held by Paul were handled by a New York trust company for the benefit of Dorothy.
With that fact, Clarken believed that when Paul, in his alleged suicide note, referred to making “good the frightful wrong I have done you,” he was alluding to a possible marital tangle between himself and Harlow.
In a separate article on the same page, it was reported that New York attorney Henry Uttal had drawn up Paul’s will on Aug. 3, 1920, and that the will mentioned the name Dorothy.
Uttal was quoted in the article as saying, “I was always under the impression that Dorothy was his wife. I believe there was some legal marriage ceremony performed. I heard somewhere that Mrs. Bern had died in a sanitarium. (Paul) Bern had not mentioned her for years.”
It was also reported by the Associated Press that officials of the Hotel Algonquin in New York said that Dorothy had lived at the hotel for a decade under the name “Mrs. Paul Bern” and had regularly received checks signed, “Paul Bern.”
The hotel officials also claimed that Dorothy was visited by Paul at the hotel on an annual basis, and that she had ceased residing at the New York hotel a short time prior to Paul’s marriage to Harlow.
Dorothy once again made the news on Sept. 9, 1932.
The Bee then-reported that Dorothy had been a passenger on the Delta King during one of its voyages from San Francisco to Sacramento. She had, according to River Lines officials, boarded the vessel under the name of “D. Millette” on Sept. 6, 1932 at 5:30 p.m., a day following the announcement of Paul’s death.
Earlier in the day, a woman arrived at Plaza Hotel in San Francisco and registered as “D. Millette, New York City.”
It was also reported by The Bee that Dorothy, who had checked into the King’s stateroom No. 304, appeared to have been missing when the riverboat arrived at its destination, and that police believed that she had ended her life by leaping into the Sacramento River.
A coat and a pair of shoes that were identified as belonging to Dorothy were discovered on the boat’s observation deck, and a large portion of her belongings were discovered in her stateroom after the King docked in Sacramento.
H.L. Karrick, a passenger on the same Delta King voyage, would later say, “Everybody on the boat was watching (Dorothy). She kept wringing her hands and appeared to be weeping.”
Additionally, Karrick stated that he witnessed Dorothy standing by a rail of the ship and gazing into the water at 2:30 a.m., when he departed the vessel at Rio Vista.
In an article published in the Sept. 10, 1932 edition of The Sacramento Union, it was noted that based on the theory that she had jumped to her death in the river, constables and fisherman in every river township below the capital city were keeping a lookout for a floating body.
Meanwhile, faced with the possibility that Dorothy may have swum ashore and was still alive, and possibly involved in a suicide hoax, police also searched transportation systems and rooming houses.
Aiding in support of the then-theory that Dorothy committed suicide was the fact that $38 was found in her purse that had been left in her stateroom.
In a separate article in the Sept. 10, 1932 edition of The Union, it was reported that Henry Bern, a New York businessman and brother of Paul, had shared details about Paul and Dorothy’s relationship.
Henry described Dorothy and his brother as having met in a theatrical company in Canada – “probably in Toronto” – in about 1920. And he added that they had fallen in love, and after living together in Canada and later in New York, “Dorothy fell ill with a mental ailment that necessitated her confinement in a sanitarium.”
Research for this article revealed that the sanitarium referred to by Henry was the Blythewood Sanitarium in Greenwich, Conn.
In continuing to tell his story, Henry said, “Paul paid her bills. He came to California and after Dorothy was discharged from the sanitarium, not as cured but as harmless, Paul continued to provide for her. She lived at the (aforementioned) Algonquin Hotel in New York.”
Henry added that in April 1932, Dorothy visited him in New York and asked if he believed that California’s climate would be better for her health.
Shortly after that conversation, arrangements were made from Paul’s Hollywood office for Dorothy to become a resident of San Francisco.
Although Harlow insisted that she was unaware of the existence of Dorothy until after her husband’s death, it is at least a curious point to ponder whether it was only a coincidence that, on Aug. 18, 1932, Harlow and her mother registered at a San Francisco hotel that was located only a few blocks away from the hotel where Dorothy was residing.
About an hour after checking into the hotel, Harlow and her mother headed to Los Angeles. Harlow would later claim that she had received a message calling her back for a motion picture engagement.
Various accounts describe Paul as occasionally traveling to visit Dorothy.
The Union reported that by Sept. 11, 1932, the hunt to find Dorothy’s body in the river had not been successful.
However, during the search, the body of a man was found in the river, and coincidentally, in his pocket was a key for Delta King room No. 104.
The man was later identified as Z. Sadarian, a 50-year-old Armenian who was employed as a busboy at the coffee shop of Hotel Sacramento at 1107 10th St. and resided at the Golden Eagle Hotel at 627 K St.
Sadarian’s former employers stated that he had suffered from “delusions of persecution” and had disappeared after leaving his job on Sept. 3, 1932.
In the desperate search for clues pertaining to Dorothy’s disappearance, it was found that a trunk containing some of her possessions was located at the Plaza Hotel.
After a delay in which the hotel management refused to allow the police to search the trunk until they obtained a court order, it was found that the trunk contained no more than an expensive wardrobe and toiletry items.
While the trunk was under investigation, the San Francisco Examiner announced that it had located a handbag, which was the property of Dorothy.
Inside the handbag were several letters, one of which included a money order from Paul to Dorothy in the amount of $160. Bern was reported to have regularly sent Dorothy $350 per month for many years.
In another article in the Sept. 11, 1932 edition of The Union, it was reported that police had been informed that Dona Brenner, who resided with her husband George at 1228 ½ K St., had identified a woman fitting the description of Dorothy on K Street, between 9th and 10th streets. Dona said that the woman appeared to be distraught.
Although a statewide police search for Dorothy was reinstated, that search would be short lived.
On Sept. 15, 1932, The Union ran the front page headline, “Dorothy Millette’s body found in river.”
Y. Ishino, a Japanese ranch hand and fisherman, discovered the body in Georgiana Slough, which is located about 3 miles south of Walnut Grove and 31 miles southwest of Sacramento. Ishino had been picking grapes with his son along the bank of the slough.
In an article in the Sept. 17, 1932 edition of The Union, it was reported that simple services for Dorothy would be held later that day at funeral director and county coroner James R. Garlick’s funeral chapel at 2001-2003 P St.
That service was followed by another simple ceremony at the gravesite of Dorothy.
Following the latter service, funeral attendants lowered her white casket with silver handles into her open grave.
Although both Paul and Dorothy’s deaths were determined to be suicides, details pertaining to the causes of their deaths continue to spur controversial writings.
Those writings include those found in Samuel Marx and Joyce Vanderveen’s 1990 book, “Deadly Illusions: Jean Harlow and the Murder of Paul Bern.”
Last week, Tom Tolley, a technician at the Sacramento Public Library’s Central Library at 828 I St., recalled assisting in the research for that book.
“I was working the periodicals desk at (the) Central Library in the 1980s and had occasion to assist an elegant, older lady with microfilm from the local newspapers dating back to 1932,” Tolley said. “I noticed that she seemed to focus on the death of Dorothy Millette, the mysterious woman involved in the infamous Jean Harlow-Paul Bern Hollywood scandal in 1932. She introduced herself as Joyce Vanderveen and said she was working with former MGM story editor Samuel Marx on a book on that subject. Since I seemed to know so much about the case, she asked if I would be interested in assisting them with the research. So, I came in early and worked on lunch breaks going through issues of The Sacramento Union and (The) Sacramento Bee for a week or two until I had uncovered all the stories published during that period. They were based in Los Angeles, but came up to take photographs and conduct interviews. I had an opportunity to meet Mr. Marx when he was up with Miss Vanderveen during one visit. I wish I would have taken the opportunity to ask him any of a thousand questions about Louis B. Mayer, Irving Thalberg and the legendary MGM stars, but we focused on the Millette mystery, which they unraveled in their interesting and informative book, “Deadly Illusions.” Being on that desk at just the right time is another one of those magic moments working at the Central Library for over 30 years have afforded me.”
Jean Harlow, who was the last central figure survivor of the Bern-Harlow real-life Hollywood mystery saga, died in Los Angeles County at the age of 26 from complications of uremic poisoning on June 7, 1937. She was interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale (Los Angeles County).

Lance@valcomnews.com

East Sacramento linked with real-life Hollywood mystery of 1930s

The grave of Dorothy Millette Bern is located at East Sacramento’s East Lawn Memorial Park. Photo by Lance Armstrong

The grave of Dorothy Millette Bern is located at East Sacramento’s East Lawn Memorial Park. Photo by Lance Armstrong

Editor’s Note: This is part one in a two-part series about and related to Dorothy Millette Bern.

A fairly basic, flat grave marker with the name, Dorothy Millette Bern, on the north side of East Sacramento’s East Lawn Memorial Park generally receives no attention by visitors of that cemetery.
But then again, few visitors of East Lawn Memorial Park are aware of Dorothy and her association with a real-life Hollywood mystery of the 1930s.
Although the name, Dorothy Millette Bern, might as well be the name, Jane Doe, to most people today, Dorothy made front page news in September 1932.
That news was connected with the mysterious death of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film producer Paul Bern, who had married Jean Harlow, one of Hollywood’s most notable and beautiful actresses, on July 2, 1932.
Harlow had rose to fame through her starring role in the 1930 Howard Hughes produced war film, “Hell’s Angels.”
During her career, the platinum blonde actress appeared in various other movies, including six films with Clark Gable.
Paul Bern, who was born in Germany as Paul Levy on Dec. 3, 1889, was one of the six children of Julius and Henriette Levy. The family immigrated to the United States when Paul was 8 years old.
After taking an interest in drama, and studying, performing and managing in live theater in New York, Paul Bern – which was his adopted stage name – made his way to the Hollywood area in the early 1920s.
Paul experienced much success in California, as he would eventually become a film writer and director for Paramount Pictures Corp. and United Artists. And he later acquired his aforementioned position as an MGM producer.
On Monday, Sept. 5, 1932, Paul was discovered dead in his Bavarian-style mansion at 9860 Easton Drive in Beverly Hills.
His butler, John Carmichael, who was earning $3 per day for his work in the Easton Drive mansion, found him lying naked on a floor with a bullet wound in his head at about 11:45 a.m. But for some reason, the death was not reported until the passing of more than two and a half hours.
An alleged suicide note was discovered at the scene.
The note reads: “Dearest dear, Unfortunately this is the only way to make good the frightful wrong I have done you and to wipe out my abject humiliation, I love you. Paul. You understand last night was only a comedy.”
In her statement to the police regarding the note, Harlow said, “I have no idea what it means. This ‘frightful wrong’ he apparently believed he had done me is all a mystery. I can’t imagine what it means.”
And in regard to the topic of suicide, Harlow added, “Paul often talked to me of suicide as a general topic, but never once did he intimate that he himself contemplated such an act. There was nothing between us that I can think of that would have caused him to do this.”
Harlow’s comments to the police came only after she had delayed their questioning process due to what was being referred to at that time as her “hysterical” condition.
According to an article in the Sept. 7, 1932 edition of The Bee, Harlow was under heavy supervision at her mother’s home, where she had, during the previous day, “made a rush toward a balcony,” which was located about 10 feet above the ground below.
Louis B. Mayer, the Hollywood film executive who stopped Harlow from reaching the balcony, noted that at that point, Harlow said, “Let me go to him. He needs me. Is it too late?”

This alleged suicide note was left at the death scene of Hollywood film producer Paul Bern. public domain

This alleged suicide note was left at the death scene of Hollywood film producer Paul Bern. public domain

Just prior to his death, Paul seemed to have been experiencing the type of life that many people dream about living.
Paul had a successful career in a field in which he loved, and he was residing in his two-year-old mansion with his new, young wife, Jean Harlow.
The news of Paul’s death certainly came as a shock to many people.
In supporting Harlow’s words, The Bee, on Sept. 6, 1932, reported that although it was believed that Paul had apparently committed suicide, it had not been determined why he would have killed himself.
Also supporting Harlow’s words, Marino Bello, Harlow’s stepfather, noted that Paul had often spoken about suicide.
Bello was quoted in the Sept. 6, 1932 article as saying, “I was told that as recently as three weeks ago, (Paul) Bern had said he did not expect to live out a normal span of life.”
A police investigation revealed that the last book Paul had been reading had the title, “Violence,” and that the book concluded with a sudden death.
In denying that the couple was quarrelsome, Bello said, “They were deeply in love and (Paul) was the most considerate of husbands to her.”
In the same addition of The Bee was a separate article explaining that Slavka Vorkapich, who lived a short distance from Paul’s home, had, along with his family, been awakened by “the roar of (a) car’s engine” during the early hours of the morning that Paul’s body was discovered.
Adding to the mystery of Paul’s death were conflicting stories regarding the whereabouts of Paul and Harlow during the weekend leading up to the discovery of his body.
On Sept. 8, 1932, a coroner’s jury of six men came to the conclusion that Paul was killed “by a gunshot wound in the head with suicidal intent.” But the jury declared the motive as being “undetermined.”
Due to her emotional state, Harlow was excused from presenting her testimony during the proceedings.
Another twist in the Paul Bern-Jean Harlow saga was presented in the Sept. 8, 1932 edition of The Bee.
It was noted that during that same day, George G. Clarken, a Los Angeles life insurance man, who was Paul’s insurance adviser, had revealed that Paul never divorced a woman who he had married a decade earlier.

Lance@valcomnews.com

East Lawn Memorial Park reaches 100,000th interment mark with burial of Eppie Johnson

Eppie Johnson sits in his former office at the Imperial 400 Motel – Econo Lodge as of Oct. 30, 2013 – at 30th and N streets. Photo courtesy of Eppie Johnson

Eppie Johnson sits in his former office at the Imperial 400 Motel – Econo Lodge as of Oct. 30, 2013 – at 30th and N streets. Photo courtesy of Eppie Johnson

After more than a century of serving the public, East Lawn Memorial Park recently reached a particular milestone with its 100,000th interment – that of Eppaminondas George “Eppie” Johnson, who gained much notoriety for his chain of Eppie’s restaurants, and who founded one of the city’s better known annual events, Eppie’s Great Race.
In speaking about the fact that his late father became the 100,000th person to be interred at the cemetery, which was established in October 1904, George Eppaminondas Johnson II said, “First of all, it blows my mind that so many people are (interred) there. I thought that was remarkable. Probably from the standpoint that it’s like, yet again, it’s sort of another achievement, you know, notch in the wall for my dad. It’s obviously sheer, absolute luck that it happened to be him (who became the 100,000th interment). He would have loved that (trivial fact). He would have told everybody about it, and he probably is (telling everybody), just upstairs. So, I just think that’s sort of neat. It’s just part of who he was. If it was going to happen to anybody, it would happen to him, so he could brag about it.”
George II, his sister, Lisa (Johnson) Mangels, and many other people who knew Eppie well recognized him as a charismatic character who enjoyed interacting with others.
As an example of his father’s showmanship and what he referred to as a “generously sized ego,” George II explained part of the reason why his father maintained his Eppie’s restaurants for so many years.
“For (Eppie), one of the things that kept him from selling the restaurants and had him hang on to them longer than he probably should have was (the restaurants) were him,” George II said. “It was his identity. His name was up in lights, so to speak, with all these signs or whatever.”
And Eppie’s own physical identity was great, as well, as he attracted attention for his colorful, flashy clothing; thick, wavy hair; stylish facial hair; blue eyes; and outgoing demeanor for many years.
In his latter years, Eppie was still a man who never shied away from the limelight.
Long before Eppie became a well known figure in the Sacramento area, he had spent many years living on the East Coast.
Eppie’s life began on May 7, 1928, when he was born to his parents, George Eppaminondas Johnson I (1898-1979) and Anastasia “Fotini” (Mousmoules) Johnson (1904-1962). He was raised in the Astoria neighborhood of Queens, N.Y. and had one sibling, Paula (Johnson) Alexander (1925-2000).
Eppie’s parents divorced in the 1940s, and Eppie was raised by his mother, who brought income to her family through her work in a millinery shop.
Eppie’s father, who was a native of Broussa, Turkey, relocated to Reno and he later moved to Sacramento.
George I was a well-known businessman, who gained much notoriety in Sacramento through his Del Prado Restaurant, which was located at 5500 Stockton Blvd. He was also recognized in other circles, as he was an essential member of the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation in Sacramento and a nationally-known figure in Democratic politics.
While growing up in Astoria, Eppie was involved in lifeguarding and in the Boy Scouts. He eventually became a Life Scout, which is one rank below Eagle Scout, the program’s highest attainable rank.
An early advertisement for Eppie’s Coffee Shop shows an image of Eppie Johnson with his goatee look, which he began to sport in 1960, four years before the opening of his first restaurant. Photo courtesy of the Lance Armstrong Collection

An early advertisement for Eppie’s Coffee Shop shows an image of Eppie Johnson with his goatee look, which he began to sport in 1960, four years before the opening of his first restaurant. Photo courtesy of the Lance Armstrong Collection

Eppie later attended New York University, and the University of Nevada, Reno, where he was active in the ROTC. And following his graduation from the latter named institution, he served in the Army.
In 1950, Eppie moved to Sacramento to assist his father at Del Prado Restaurant.
Last week, George II spoke about the moment that led to his father’s solo venture in the restaurant field.
“After my dad got fired for the second time by his dad, that’s when my dad said, ‘Forget this, I’m going off on my own.’ His father said, ‘You’ll never make it on your own without my help.’ And so, of course, that fueled the fire even more to say, ‘I’m going to prove you wrong.’”
Eppie ultimately established his own catering business, and he catered to many functions, including store openings on the K Street Mall.
In 1964, Eppie made a major career move when he opened Eppie’s Restaurant and Coffee Shop at 3001 N St., where an IHOP restaurant now operates.
From that point, Eppie began establishing other Eppie’s locations, including sites in Las Vegas, Cameron Park, Turlock and other Sacramento area locations such as 6341 Florin Road, 4600 Madison Ave., 2525 Watt Ave. and 4657 West Capitol Ave.
Adding to his accomplishments with Eppie’s restaurants, Eppie also had several restaurants, called Eppaminondas. These restaurants, which opened in the late 1970s, were located at Cal Expo, in Rancho Cordova and in Stockton.
Eppie, who was married to Nancy C. Johnson for 29 years before their marriage ended in divorce in about 1983, also purchased tennis clubs in Davis and in the south area at 6000 South Land Park Drive.
Although Eppie no longer owned any restaurants or tennis clubs at the time of his death, the old West Sacramento Eppie’s continues to operate under a different ownership that has no association with the Johnson family.
As for his aforementioned founding of Eppie’s Great Race, George II said, “How Eppie’s Great Race came to be was (Eppie) and a good friend of his who happened to be a K2 ski rep were skiing. They were chitchatting and (the friend) said, ‘You know, Eppie, we ought to do a triathlon.’ (Eppie) said, ‘What do you mean?’ And he said, ‘We ought to ski from the top of Alpine Meadows down to the bottom, run out to the Truckee River and kayak down the Truckee River into Truckee.’ My dad said, ‘That sounds like a great idea, but I don’t have any restaurants up in Tahoe.’ So, that planted the seed and two or three weeks later, my dad thought, ‘Aha, I know what we can do.’ He was a promotion guy and he wanted to promote his restaurants. He said, ‘We’ll start out at the Eppaminondas – which is now Hooters – at Zinfandel (Drive) and (Highway) 50 (in Rancho Cordova), winds through Rancho Cordova and Sacramento to wind up at the Eppie’s – which is now the Outback Steakhouse – on Howe Avenue. So, that is where the idea was born.”
Eventually, the race, which originally supported the Aquarian Effort (today’s WellSpace Health), was relocated to the American River Parkway.
The nonprofit race, which is billed as “The World’s Oldest Triathlon” and is recognized as the nation’s largest paddling event, celebrated its 40th anniversary this year.
It consists of a 5.82-mile running stage, a 12.5-mile bicycle stage and a 6.35-mile kayaking stage.
The current primary benefactor of the event is Sacramento County Therapeutic Recreation Services. The race has raised more than $1 million for that organization.
Eppie passed away at the age of 85 on Sept. 16 and was interred at East Lawn Memorial Park eight days later.
In understanding both the importance of East Lawn, “which stands as a guardian of history from generation to generation by preserving individual, family and community heritage,” and the impact Eppie made on the community, East Lawn President Alan Fisher said, “It may well be fitting that the person with this household name in Sacramento became our 100,000th interment at East Lawn Memorial Park.”

Lance@valcomnews.com

East Lawn Children’s Park was established through generous donations

East Lawn Children’s Park at the southeast corner of 42nd Street and Folsom Boulevard was constructed in 1989. Photo by Lance Armstrong

East Lawn Children’s Park at the southeast corner of 42nd Street and Folsom Boulevard was constructed in 1989. Photo by Lance Armstrong

Editor’s Note: This is part 14 in a series about the rich history of and associated with East Sacramento’s award-winning East Lawn Memorial Park.

It may be one of the city’s smallest parks, but East Lawn Children’s Park at 1510 42nd St., at Folsom Boulevard, certainly draws its fair share of daily visitors.
Once a part of the grounds of East Lawn Memorial Park, this 153-foot by 99-foot park provides plenty of space for its young visitors, who enjoy spending time in its tot play area.
Encompassing the space of about three single-family home lots, the park, which is a tot in its own right when compared to the majority of the city’s parks, is sufficient in size for the neighborhood it serves.
Efforts to have a city park constructed at the site date back to December 1985, when the owners of the nondenominational cemetery first considered donating the property to the city.
In August 1986, East Lawn’s owners finally made an official offer to the city, as they agreed to deed the property to the city, build a park on the site and operate it for 10 years.
East Lawn’s only stipulation for the donation and construction of the park, which had an estimated value of $150,000, was that it be allowed to name the park.
Prior to East Lawn’s announcement, many residents of the area had been concerned that the site, which had sat undeveloped for decades, might be used for an apartment complex or office structure.
Although many neighbors of the site also demonstrated strong opposition to the then-proposed park, it was reported in the Oct. 17, 1986 edition of The Sacramento Union that their tone had changed and that they had become hopeful that the city would accept the cemetery’s offer.
The neighbors’ early concern, according to The Union, was that the presence of a park at the site would attract “rowdies to the quiet neighborhood.”
The property’s eventual use as a children’s park with the lack of amenities such as picnic tables, tennis court and restrooms represents a compromise to those neighbors’ concern regarding the site’s establishment as a park.
Craig Peterson, East Lawn Memorial Park manager, explained that the idea of a children’s park was not entirely well received.
“There were some neighbor ladies waving diapers on poles (near the site),” Peterson said. “They didn’t want dirty diapers in the park.”
Although their wish was not granted, some neighbors requested that the site not be referred to as a park, as they feared that the name would attract “undesirables.”
Neighbors were also concerned with the timing of the cemetery’s attempt to donate the property to the city, since that attempt was made at about the same time that East Lawn applied for a permit to add a mortuary on its grounds. Protests by neighborhood residents led to the end of East Lawn’s drive to add a mortuary to its property.
But with an eventual overall approval for the park from neighbors and the completion of a carefully written agreement, the donation of the park site was accepted by the city council on Dec. 16, 1986. The park was also approved by the city Planning Commission about two months later.
When Don Hart was named as East Lawn’s president in March 1988, the park had yet to be constructed.
During the following May, East Lawn, which had an escape clause in its pact on the property with the city, requested and was granted a delay in its donation while Hart became familiar with his then-new position.
Some supporters of the park project feared that the delay might be a sign that East Lawn would renege on the donation.
On June 23, 1988, The Sacramento Bee reported that East Lawn had decided to honor its donation, but that the cemetery was no longer offering $50,000 worth of improvements and 10 years of park maintenance.
It was also reported in the article that a pro-park campaign led by neighborhood resident Cindy Leathers influenced the cemetery board’s decision to complete its donation. The campaign resulted in about 200 postcards and a petition, which were delivered to Hart’s office. The petition was signed by about 500 local residents.
In another article, which was published on Sept. 8, 1988, The Union reported that city park officials had accepted the 42nd Street and Folsom Boulevard parcel for use as a city park. But it was also noted in the article that the property “must await development, because the city has no money available.”
An update regarding the site appeared in the June 1, 1989 edition of The Bee.
In that update it was noted that “a frenzy of philanthropy is transforming a simple patch of ground into a full-blown East Sacramento park – the East Lawn Children’s Park.”
The article noted that local businesses and neighbors contributed labor, materials and money to establish the park.
This type of action was not unprecedented at park sites in Sacramento.
For instance, similar action was taken by people in the community to establish East Sacramento’s East Portal Park and Portuguese Community Park in the Pocket area.
Donations for the East Lawn project included $20,000 from the Rotary Club of East Sacramento, $15,000 from a single fundraising event that was attended by about 150 community members, and sand for the sandboxes from Geremia Pools.
According to the article, the park’s new playground would be completed in about one to two months.
Among the improvements to the site were a children’s play area and a new fence that replaced the site’s aging, 3-foot-tall fence.
Last week, East Sacramento residents Doug Pope and Terry Kastanis, who were serving as members of the city council during the city’s involvement with the East Lawn park project, reflected upon their memories of the site.
Pope, who represented East Sacramento as a member of the council from 1977 to 1989, said, “There was a period of time (that passed) from when East Lawn said that they wanted to make the donation. Actually, preceding that donation was a lot of discussion with East Lawn about their future plans for that parcel. Those discussions ultimately led to them making a decision that they would donate it for neighborhood use.
“(Prior to the creation of the city park, the site) was actually being used (by the community for such things as touch football and fly-casting practice). I don’t remember if it was actually mowed though. It was kind of a little bit of an eyesore, if I recall right. But it was being used. (The idea) was to clean (the site) up and make it usable for the neighborhood. For a period of time, there were – and there still are, I think – young families around there. It was a good use of a piece of land, and they let the young kids go around there and play.
“I think it’s a great amenity in the neighborhood and it looks really nice. It’s kept up well. I’m not close to it, so I’m not aware that they’ve had any issues, but I don’t believe they’ve had any issues. But it looks great and you can go by and you see people using it all the time, which is what it’s meant for, so it’s really gratifying to see that occur. It’s matured just fantastic. It has turned out to be I think better than everyone envisioned.”
In remembering the process, which led to the creation of the park, Kastanis, who served on the council from 1981 to 1994, said, “It was kind of like East Lawn didn’t know quite what to do with (the property). It was just vacant land that East Lawn had. It was kind of a hangout and people were kind of congregating there. I think they started using it like a park and finally East Lawn relented and gave it to the city as the East Lawn park.
“It was a great community gesture on the part of East Lawn. They didn’t have to do that and they gave that property to the city for a park, and I think that’s commendable.”

East Lawn Memorial Park history includes nursery, florist

Greenhouses at East Lawn Nursery are shown in this historic photograph. Photo courtesy of East Lawn Memorial Park
Greenhouses at East Lawn Nursery are shown in this historic photograph. Photo courtesy of East Lawn Memorial Park
Editor’s Note: This is part 13 in a series about the rich history of and associated with East Sacramento’s award-winning East Lawn Memorial Park.

Among the features of East Lawn Memorial Park is a full-service florist, which has been serving the community for more than a century. And the cemetery’s history also includes a nursery, which is no longer in existence.
Although an early promotional booklet for the cemetery places the majority of its attention on East Lawn’s 1926 mausoleum, it does dedicate an entire page to the flower shop and nursery.
Included on that page are the following words: “Many years ago, East Lawn established the floral shop and nursery to fill its own needs for quality flowers, shrubs and trees.
“Shortly thereafter, these facilities were expanded to permit the nursery and flower shop to serve the general public.
“The constantly growing demand for top quality flowers and nursery stock has led to successive additions, until today the nursery and flower shop have more than six acres of display rooms, greenhouses and growing grounds.
“A member of the nationwide Florist Telegraph Delivery Association, the flower shop supplies bouquets, corsages, plants and special arrangements for all occasions. Visitors are always welcome.”
The 1911 city directory includes an advertisement for what was then known as East Lawn Conservatories.
This business, which was located on the cemetery grounds, was noted to offer floral designs and set pieces, shrubs, plants and shade trees, and the “best service in city at lowest prices.”
The manager of the “conservatories” at that time was Ivar A. Nyquist, who was also serving as the cemetery’s superintendent.
Ivar was recognized in the 1910 U.S. Census as a 29-year-old Finland native, who was employed as a cemetery gardener and resided on M Street (Folsom Boulevard) with his 23-year-old wife, Lydia, and his 7-year-old son, Ivar, Jr.
The superintendent of the cemetery in 1910 was Herbert W. Hand, who by the following year was working as a salesman for the local real estate and insurance company of Charles E. Kleinsorge and Otto F. Heilbron.
By 1912, Robert Armstrong was serving as superintendent of the East Lawn Cemetery and manager of East Lawn Conservatories.
A 1914 advertisement for the conservatories noted that the business offered cut flowers and a “full line of everything for the garden.”
Two years later, former East Lawn assistant secretary Andrew Cruikshanks (1874-1961) replaced Armstrong as cemetery superintendent and manager of the conservatories, which were then being referred to as the East Lawn Nursery.
In 1927, Dolph A. Wiedenmen replaced Cruishanks as the nursery’s manager, but Cruishanks, who resided for many years at 1540 46th St., remained the cemetery’s superintendent until 1939.
The nursery had a new manager in 1928, as it was then under the direction of Robert Hughes, who resided just east of the cemetery at 4638 Buckingham Way.
A

A selection of plants is on display in this early view at East Lawn Nursery. Photo courtesy of East Lawn Memorial Park

A selection of plants is on display in this early view at East Lawn Nursery. Photo courtesy of East Lawn Memorial Park

lfred O. “Fred” Fick began his longtime association with East Lawn three years later, when he moved to 1133 35th St. and began working as a chauffeur for the East Lawn Nursery. He eventually served as the nursery’s manager for many years.
Fred, who began residing in East Sacramento with his wife, Druscilla “Dru” in 1936, moved to a home on the cemetery grounds in 1947.
Despite moving from that home a decade later, Fred, who with Dru had a daughter named Carol, continued to serve as the nursery’s manager until about 1974.
Another person who dedicated many years to the nursery was a florist named Armand “Mandy” Guidotti, who resided with his wife, Katie, at 1070 55th St.
After leaving his position as a florist at the now 92-year-old Sacramento business, G. Rossi & Co., at 1026 8th St. in about 1941, Mandy spent about the next 30 years working at the East Lawn Nursery.
Many cemetery visitors were assisted by Mandy, who served as head of the nursery’s flower shop.
East Sacramento’s Rust Florist at 5215 Folsom Blvd. is directly linked to the old East Lawn flower shop, as Joseph F. “Joe” Rust opened Rust Florist in 1970 after working at the old cemetery flower shop for the previous 25 years.
Joe, who was the business’s head designer, and his wife, Katherine, raised nine children, George, Larry, Dennis, Loretta, Greg, Mary Rose, Marty, Dolores and Vickie.
In sharing his memories about the cemetery’s florist, Marty recalled that the business also had about five designers.
He also noted that about three, old greenhouses, which were eliminated in about 1981, stood behind the flower shop, which is still in operation near the cemetery entrance gate at 46th Street.
Antone J. Niederost was serving as general manager of the nursery at the time of its closure about 32 years ago. And with the nursery’s demise, Niederost retired.
Marty is one of very few people who can honestly tell one that he was a living resident at East Lawn.
“There were three (houses) there (at East Lawn),” Marty said. “We lived in the last (house). Those homes are all gone. Two of them were kind of small. I think they were two-bedroom homes. But our house was a bigger one. It was a two-story, four-bedroom home, with a bath and a half, a kitchen and a living room and a family room. The dining room table was in the kitchen, so it wasn’t a real big kitchen. It was like a concrete house. It was cold in the winter and it was hot in the summer. It had a fireplace and one of those old-fashioned floor heaters and a couple of balconies. It was kind of an unusual house.”
Marty recalled when Fred Fick was his family’s neighbor, and added that East Lawn nurseryman Robert R. “Bob” Johnson lived in the other house on the cemetery grounds.
And in explaining how his father became involved with East Lawn, Marty said, “(Fred) is the one who brought my dad over (to East Lawn). They were both Swiss. I think he felt like (Joe, who was born in Oregon) was a fellow countryman, so he talked my dad (who was working as a machinist for the Southern Pacific Co.) into coming to work at East Lawn.”
The Rust family, as Marty recalled, moved away from their home at the cemetery during the late summer of 1969.
Despite the fact that East Lawn Florist continues to add to its long history, many cemetery visitors are still unaware of its existence.
Jim Miller, who has been operating East Lawn Florist for about the past 25 years, said that part of the reason for that situation is the florist’s physical address.
“Our address is 4590 Folsom Blvd., officially, but a lot of people come up to that spot on Folsom (Boulevard) and they don’t see a flower shop there, because we’re down the driveway,” Jim said.
After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of California, Davis as part of the Class of 1975, Jim decided to take a different direction in life.
Jim, after becoming interested in the idea of operating his own florist, trained at a floral school, and operated The Flower Mill florist at 5363 Elkhorn Blvd. for about a decade prior to his time with East Lawn Florist.
In discussing the latter named florist, Jim, who has a wife named Patricia, a son named Christopher, two daughters, Susie and Jenny, and a granddaughter named Chloe, said, “We try to maintain a quality flower shop in the tradition of East Lawn. East Lawn is probably the oldest flower shop in Sacramento. Many of our customers are East Lawn customers, so we try to maintain that connection with the East Lawn family, and operate within the East Lawn community, as well as the Sacramento community, not just for funeral needs, but also for the quality needs of a full-service florist. We do weddings, we do anniversaries. Many things that a lot of customers don’t expect us to do, we do as a full-service florist. And there’s great parking here!”
East Lawn Florist is open Mondays through Fridays from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
For additional information about this business, call (916) 732-2016 or visit the Web site www.eastlawn.com.

Former mayors, other notables memorialized at East Lawn Memorial Park

The final resting place of early Sacramento hotel and land owner, William Land, sits on the highest level of East Lawn Memorial Park. Photo by Lance Armstrong

The final resting place of early Sacramento hotel and land owner, William Land, sits on the highest level of East Lawn Memorial Park. Photo by Lance Armstrong

Editor’s Note: This is part 12 in a series about the rich history of and associated with East Sacramento’s award-winning East Lawn Memorial Park.

East Lawn Memorial Park, as has been presented in other articles of this series, serves as the resting place for former notable Sacramentans. And with a walk around this historic cemetery, one can encounter the names of many more people who achieved noteworthy statuses during their lifetimes.
Among those memorialized at East Lawn Memorial Park are city mayors.

William Land
One of these mayors, William Land (1837-1911), had his legacy preserved through Sacramento’s grand William Land Park and a local elementary school bearing his name.
Land, a New York native who served as Sacramento’s mayor in 1898 and 1899, bequeathed $250,000 to the city for the purchase of property to establish William Land Park.
This former mayor also founded the Sacramento Chamber of Commerce – today’s Sacramento Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce – and was the proprietor of local hotels.
In addition to his ownership of local hotels, Land also held large real estate interests in stock and grain ranches.
It is quite simple to locate the resting place of William Land, as he was entombed within a large, white, columned, Greek-inspired mausoleum on the cemetery’s highest elevation.

Clinton L. White
Another former Sacramento mayor, Clinton L. White (1850-1925), was also interred at this featured cemetery.
Long before he began his term as Sacramento’s mayor in 1908, Clinton, who was a native of Iowa, taught school in Placer County.
In 1877, he became an attorney and wrote a criminal law book, which was published in 1879.
Clinton served as secretary of the judiciary committee of the California State Senate in 1880 and 1881.
He was, at separate times, a partner in several law firms, including White, Miller & McLaughlin, which was located in the People’s Bank Building at 8th and J streets.
Together with his wife, the former Olive Margaret McKinney, he had two children, Herbert E. and Edith M. White.
Clinton L. White officially stepped away from his mayoral duties on Jan. 7, 1910, when Marshall Beard began his second term as mayor.
William Alpheus “Jimmie” Hicks
New York native William Alpheus “Jimmie” Hicks (1906-1961) had an eventful employment career, which included working as a newspaper columnist, editor of The Sacramento Valley Union Labor Bulletin and a postman.
While serving as Sacramento’s mayor in 1954, he resigned after being appointed deputy director of the state Department of Employment by Gov. Goodwin Knight.
William was married to the former Bertha Vivian Nelson for 30 years and together they had two children, Betty Marie (Hicks) Hogue and Nancy Anne (Hicks) Parson.

Hiram H. “Hi” Hendren
Hiram H. “Hi” Hendren (1903-1977), who served as the city’s mayor in 1954 and 1955, began his political life when he was appointed to fill a vacancy on the city council in December 1948.
Among his notable accomplishments was his founding of the Sacramento Valley Insurance Agency in 1934.
Additionally, Hiram, who was a native of Sacramento, provided much assistance to the Sacramento Chamber of Commerce and the Volunteers of America.
He also served as co-chairman of the Citizens Committee for Good City Government and played an essential role in construction planning for the Sacramento Community Center.
In a timely awarded honor, Hiram was named “Sacramentan of the Year” by the chamber of commerce six months prior to his death at Sutter Memorial Hospital on July 4, 1977.

Former Mayor Joe Serna, Jr. was laid to rest at East Lawn Memorial Park in 1999. Photo courtesy of East Lawn Memorial Park

Former Mayor Joe Serna, Jr. was laid to rest at East Lawn Memorial Park in 1999. Photo courtesy of East Lawn Memorial Park

Joe Serna, Jr.
Joe Serna, Jr., who was interred at East Lawn Memorial Park following his death at the age of 60 on Nov. 7, 1999, passed away during his sixth year as the city’s mayor.
He was considered one of Sacramento’s most popular mayors and has the notoriety of being the city’s first and only Latino mayor. He was also a professor at Sacramento State University.
Serna, who was the son of migrant farm workers and a supporter of the United Farm Workers of America, worked toward revitalizing downtown Sacramento and renamed the park across from city hall, Cesar E. Chavez Plaza.
In 2001, in honor of the life of Serna, the 25-story Cal EPA Building at the northeast corner of 10th and I streets was renamed the Joe Serna, Jr. EPA Building.
Additionally, the Sacramento City Unified School District’s office at 5735 47th Ave. is known as the Serna Center.

William Albert Curtis
Massachusetts native William Albert Curtis (1857-1914), who was interred in a family mausoleum at East Lawn Cemetery, came to the Sacramento area when he was about 14 years old.
About a decade later, Curtis, with W. H. Wood, established the Sacramento wholesale produce and fruit packing and shipping firm, Wood, Curtis Co.
Curtis, who later founded a similar firm, the William A. Curtis Company, in San Francisco, was an extensive land owner in the Sacramento Valley and served as vice president of the California National Bank, of Sacramento.
Prior to his death on Dec. 27, 1914, Curtis had established himself as one of the city’s wealthiest residents.

The gravesite of Newton Jasper Earp (1837-1928) is located on the west side of the cemetery. Photo by Lance Armstrong

The gravesite of Newton Jasper Earp (1837-1928) is located on the west side of the cemetery. Photo by Lance Armstrong

Newton Jasper Earp
Many visitors of East Lawn Memorial Park enjoy visiting the gravesite of Newton Jasper Earp (1837-1928), the half-brother of Wyatt Earp (1848-1929), the notorious deputy town marshal who participated in the legendary gunfight at O.K. Corral in 1881.
The employment history of Newton, who was a veteran of the Civil War, included working as a farmer, a saloon manager and a carpenter.
Newton had a wife named Jennie, and five children, Effie May, Wyatt Clyde, Mary Elizabeth, Alice Abigail and Virgil Edwin.
At the time of his death, Newton was residing at 4426 10th Ave.

RAF Officers
Four Royal Air Force officers were interred at the cemetery in 1943 after being killed in a crash of an American aircraft in the Fair Oaks area.
The men, Fred Hodge, John R. Latour-Eppy, John H.G. Moriarty and James A. Paterson, had been testing the aircraft, and RAF pilots and co-pilots had made 12 successful flights prior to the crash.
Although these men’s graves are occasionally inspected by a British official, no attempt has been made to return their remains to their native land.

Gypsy king
On Feb. 1, 1947, The New York Times published an article with the headline, “Gypsies bury leader.”
The Associated Press report noted that during the previous day, “laughing and crying” Serbian gypsies gathered at the East Lawn Cemetery to pay tribute to the life of Dushon John (1879-1947), their “unofficial western king.”
The laughter, according to the article, occurred because it was the gypsies’ custom to “send their people into the hereafter under joyful circumstances.”
The gathering included the toasting of beer and soft drinks to the music of a 12-piece band from Sacramento.
John, who was a native of Belgrade, was buried with a mirror, hair oil, a toothbrush and other such items for his journey into the future.
Other notable people interred at East Lawn
East Lawn Memorial Park is the resting place of many other notable people, including Florence Clunie, who willed $150,000 to the city for the construction of a clubhouse and swimming pool at East Sacramento’s McKinley Park.
Also interred at East lawn are James R. Garlick (1888-1962), a former funeral director, county supervisor and city Board of Education member; Frank M. Jordan (1888-1970), who served as the secretary of state from 1942 to 1970; and B.T. Collins (1940-1993), who served as a state assemblyman, chief deputy to the state treasurer and a director of the California Youth Authority and the California Conservation Corps.

East Lawn Memorial Park is home to notables of the past

An American flag adorns the gravesite of Robert T. Matsui at East Lawn Memorial Park. Photo by Lance Armstrong

An American flag adorns the gravesite of Robert T. Matsui at East Lawn Memorial Park. Photo by Lance Armstrong

Editor’s Note: This is part 11 in a series about the rich history of and associated with East Sacramento’s award-winning East Lawn Memorial Park.

East Lawn Memorial Park serves as the resting place for many notable Sacramentans of the past.
In addition to those who have been featured in previous articles of this series, there are many others who were interred at East Lawn who have stories worth being retold.
One of the more notable people who made their post mortem home at East Lawn was movie and television actor Neville Brand (1920-1992), who was interred in the two-story mausoleum at East Lawn.
Brand, who was born in Griswold, Iowa and raised in Kewanee, Ill., served in the Army as a platoon sergeant in Europe during World War II.

Robert T. Matsui (1941-2005) was one of the most notable Sacramento-born politicians. Photo courtesy of East Lawn Memorial Park

Robert T. Matsui (1941-2005) was one of the most notable Sacramento-born politicians. Photo courtesy of East Lawn Memorial Park

His many Army decorations included a Purple Heart, as he was struck by a bullet in his right arm.
After residing in New York’s famed Greenwich Village, working in off-Broadway shows and attending drama school in Los Angeles, Brand began his film career in Hollywood in 1949.
Among the films Brand appeared in were “Stalag 17” (1953) with William Holden, “Love Me Tender” (1956) with Elvis Presley, and “Bird Man of Alcatraz” (1962) with Burt Lancaster.
On television, Brand was seen playing roles in episodes of such series as “Bonanza,” “Gunsmoke,” “Rawhide,” “Tarzan” and “Kojak.”
Brand, who resided in Sacramento for about the last decade of his life, passed away at Sutter General Hospital on April 16, 1992, three days shy of his 72nd birthday.
When it comes to music, East Lawn is well represented through Dick Jurgens (1910-1995), who gained his fame as a prominent composer and big-band leader during the 1930s and 1940s.
Jurgens, who was a 1933 graduate of Sacramento Junior College (now Sacramento City College), wrote his theme song, “Day Dreams Come True at Night,” in the college’s instrumentation class of music, which was led by its director David Burnham.
While attending the college, Jurgens and his orchestra performed at school events, including a Halloween dance on Oct. 30, 1931 and the Art Ball on Nov. 7, 1931.
Jurgens signed with Decca Records in the 1930s and performed at various sized venues in Sacramento, San Francisco, Berkeley, Catalina Island, Chicago, Denver and elsewhere.
Today, there are many people who grew up in Sacramento during the big-band era who recall the music of Dick Jurgens.
The marker on Jurgens’ grave appropriately includes a G clef musical symbol and the words, “Day Dreams Come True at Night.”
Also interred at East Lawn was Democrat Robert Takeo “Bob” Matsui (1941-2005), one of the most notable Sacramento-born politicians.
After graduating from the University of California, Berkeley in 1963 and the Hastings College of Law three years later, Matsui founded his own law practice at 1214 F St. in 1967.
During the 1970s, he served as a member of the city council, including his time as the city’s vice mayor in 1977.
A year later, Matsui was elected to Congress, following the retirement of Rep. John E. Moss, and he represented Sacramento in the U. S. House of Representatives for a quarter century.
Matsui, who was interred at the Tule Lake, Calif. relocation center with his family following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, co-sponsored a 1988 law that preceded the federal government dispersing $1.6 billion to Japanese-Americans, who had been interned and their heirs.

Dick Jurgens gained his fame as a prominent composer and big-band leader during the 1930s and 1940s. Photo by Lance Armstrong

Dick Jurgens gained his fame as a prominent composer and big-band leader during the 1930s and 1940s. Photo by Lance Armstrong

His activities also included leading the congressional effort to preserve Social Security and serving as regent of the Smithsonian Institution.
Locally, Matsui was a leader in the efforts to ensure federal assistance for flood control, light rail, parks and housing projects.
In response to the news of Matsui’s passing, former President Bill Clinton and his wife, U. S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, issued a statement, which, in part, read: “Bob Matsui leaves behind a rich legacy of service that improved the lives of his own constituents, all Americans and people throughout the world. He also leaves a loving family and a legions (sic) of friends who were touched by his grace and goodness.”
Another notable Sacramentan who was interred at East Lawn was Frank Fat (1904-1997), the founder of Frank Fat’s restaurant at 806 L St.
Today, this business has the notoriety of being Sacramento’s oldest eatery that has been operated by one family in the same location.
An early advertisement for Fat’s restaurant reads: “Most beautiful Chinese café, regular Chinese and American dinners served daily, featuring charcoal-broiled steer steaks, private banquet room for parties, clubs, lodges, etc., finest mixed drinks served in our cocktail lounge.”
As the popularity of Fat’s restaurant grew, so did the number of the Fat family’s restaurants. The first of these non-L Street restaurants was located at 2312 Watt Ave. in Country Club Plaza, accompanying the Stop-N-Shop grocery store in the Gourmet Lane food court.
Fat, a Canton, China immigrant who interacted with many notable political figures at his L Street restaurant, would eventually become involved in politics himself. This involvement included his work as a lobbyist for the interests of Chinese-Americans.
He later assisted in the founding of the Chinese-American Council of Sacramento.
Fat retired from his many years in the restaurant industry in 1971 and passed away on April 5, 1997, about a month prior to his 93rd birthday.

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.

Lance@valcomnews.com