Editor’s note: This is the eighth part of a series regarding the history of the “four corners” of Watt and El Camino avenues.
The northwest corner of Watt and El Camino avenues has for many years included a wide variety of businesses that serve the community.
This corner, which extends north along El Camino Avenue to Yorktown Avenue, is divided into six separate business sections.
The first of these sections, when heading eastward along El Camino Avenue, features the Farmer’s Daughter local specialty foods and café at 3405 El Camino Ave.
Located within the corner’s second section are Country Club Food & Liquor (3407), Capital City Loan & Jewelry (3409) and a store space recently vacated by Esoteric Records.
Continuing eastward is the corner’s third section, which is home to the following businesses: Pied Piper tavern (3415), Domino’s Pizza (3417), Teriyaki to Go (3419) and India Fiji Food & Fashion (3421).
The corner’s fourth business section heading eastward along El Camino Avenue is A Vicky Beauty Salon (3423), Massage Therapy (3425), Alterations to Go (3427) and Dan’s Vacuums & Sewing Machines (3429).
The final two business sections are occupied by a single business per section.
One of these businesses is J.R.’s Texas Bar-B-Que at 3435 El Camino Ave.
And sitting at the most extreme part of this corner is a Valero service station at 3449 El Camino Ave.
This area has also included businesses with Yorktown Avenue addresses.
One of the north area’s more notable businesses of the past, Jack’s House of Music, was operated for many years at 2528 Yorktown Ave.
The business was opened in about 1956 by E. Norton “Jack” Hyde (1916-2006), who resided for many years at 4512 Argonaut Way, near El Camino and Mission avenues.
For Jack, opening his own music store made perfect sense, considering his background as a musician and his employment history.
While growing up in Kansas, Jack began playing the saxophone and for some time during that era, he was a member of a traveling band.
Eventually, Jack, who also later learned to play the clarinet and piano, was on the road again, as he spent time as a traveling salesman for the band instruments company, C.G. Conn Ltd.
Jack later moved to San Diego with his first wife, Betty, and their son, Larry.
And while living in San Diego, Jack supported his family with his earnings from his employment as an employee at Thearle’s Music.
But it was in Sacramento where Jack spent the majority of his years as a salesman of musical instruments.
Among the earlier customers of Jack’s House of Music was the longtime local guitarist Eddie Lovato, who performs with his current band every week at senior dances held at the Mission Oaks Community Center in Carmichael.
“(Jack’s House of Music) is where I bought my first Stratocaster guitar,” said Lovato, who remained a customer of the store throughout the existence of this business. “That was back in either 1956 or 1957. I think it was 1957. Back then, there was hardly any traffic (in the area). At the time, I was playing at a little joint called the J & T (Club) at Franklin Boulevard and Fruitridge Road, right on the corner. I was playing with a trio. There were two guitarists (in the trio). I was one of the guitarists and Roy Haynes was the other guitarist. The drummer was Mel Stitt. Every club in Sacramento had a trio or quartet playing and we were the (house band) at the J & T (which was then owned by Joseph Morelli). (Haynes and Stitt) also went to Jack’s. I used to buy all my guitar strings there and all my (sheet) music. (Jack) was a beautiful person to deal with. He had all types of sheet music there, musical instruments, anything you wanted in music, he had it. Overall, I think (Jack’s) was a super music store.”
Another longtime local musician, Paul Narloch, who is the drummer of the local surf band, The VibroCounts, remembers visiting Jack’s House of Music and the nearby Sherman Clay & Co. at 2536 Watt Avenue, between Tower Records and Sam’s Plaza Hof Brau, during the 1960s.
“Those were the two big music stores in Sacramento at the time – Jack’s House and Sherman Clay,” Narloch said. “Jack’s House of Music was real popular and a little more high priced. That’s the first time I saw a Fender Telecaster (and a) Fender Esquire (was in the 1960s at Jack’s). (Jack) would have real high priced stuff and we were like, ‘Wow, look at that. That’s not a Stratocaster. That’s an Esquire or that’s a Telecaster.’ Surf bands would come in. They had Fender Stratocasters, Ludwig drums, Slingerland (drums). Sherman Clay, which is where I got my early drums, they were still known as a piano store and gave classical music lessons. When The (Rolling) Stones and The Beatles and all that came out, (Sherman Clay) started doing like a rock thing. People would come in with their old drums sets and guitars. They were still doing the classic piano thing at Sherman Clay, but they had all kinds of guitars and amps. That’s where the hip musicians and the surf people would hang out.”
Other early north area music stores included the California School Music Service and Ye Music Shoppe, which were both located at various times in Town and Country Village.
A 1971 advertisement for Jack’s House of Music included the following words: “Jack’s House of Music. For quality instruments and all musical needs, band instruments and accessories, pianos, radios, TV(s) and phonographs, records and sheet music, instrument repairing.”
The store was also renowned for renting out many musical instruments, mainly to young music students of area schools or for private instruction.
Jack, who was a member of local Elks and Masonic lodges, also enjoyed playing music with other musicians. His musical resume included performing in a Shriners band.
Some longtime local residents may recall that other Jack’s House of Music locations were established in the 1960s – first at 3251 Fair Oaks Blvd. in Sacramento (1961-1962) and then at 6749 Fair Oaks Blvd., near Carmichael Park (1962-1964).
Much later during the history of his business, Jack opened another Jack’s House of Music store in Roseville.
In 2002, to the disappointment of generations of Sacramentans, Jack, who outlived his second wife, Mae, closed his longtime popular north area store.
Although Jack’s House of Music ceased existing a decade ago, the memories of this business remain strong in the minds of many people who fell in love with this store at some point during its nearly half-century of serving the musical needs of its customers.