Happy 90th birthday, Al Balshor!

While sitting alongside his wife, Marie, Al Balshor blows out candles on his birthday cake during a gathering in his honor at Balshor Florist on Nov. 22, 2014. Photo by Lance Armstrong

While sitting alongside his wife, Marie, Al Balshor blows out candles on his birthday cake during a gathering in his honor at Balshor Florist on Nov. 22, 2014. Photo by Lance Armstrong

Sacramento native Antonio Alberto “Al” Balshor, a man known for his longtime ownership of Balshor Florist on Riverside Boulevard, just south of Broadway, recently celebrated his 90th birthday.

Al, who was born on Nov. 22, 1924, grew up in a large family in a home at 315 U St., near Southside Park.

In speaking about that residence during an interview with this publication three days prior to his birthday, Al said, “My parents (Portuguese natives Arthur and Grace Secco Balshor) bought that home in 1921 from (Daniel) Stanich, (who had moved into the house in about 1912).”

Al also mentioned that he was literally born in the aforementioned U Street home.

“In those days, people made house calls,” Al said.

Al then explained that his mother was also known for making house calls.

“(Grace) delivered a lot of babies in the neighborhood,” Al said. “She was kind of the unofficial midwife. Back in those days, you helped each other. There were a lot of midwives in those days.”

In addition to her unofficial midwife work, Grace, who became a widow in 1929, was also a local cannery worker.

And in speaking about the longtime importance of canneries in Sacramento, Al said, “Canneries put a lot of people’s food on the table, you bet your life. That was a big operation. The (Southern Pacific) shops were the same way.”

Al added that Grace would also pick prunes in Colusa with her family.

“We picked prunes at Colusa during the off season up there,” Al said. “A lot of the people around that neighborhood went up to Colusa (to pick) prunes. I hated it. My mom would give me 10 boxes and it would take me all day long to pick them. It was a nickel a box. We made enough to buy shoes and stuff. It was around August and then we would come back and go to school.”

Al was educated in local schools, as he first attended the very integrated Lincoln School at 4th and Q streets. He was then a student at William Land Elementary School at 1116 U St. for the 4th, 5th and 6th streets before returning to Lincoln School for the 7th, 8th and 9th grades.

Next, Al attended Sacramento High School, where he played on the school’s football team and graduated in 1942.

Al continued to speak about his many years of working, noting that he once had three Sacramento Bee routes.

His other jobs included selling programs for boxing matches at the old L Street Arena at 223 L St., pitching watermelons at the Sacramento Farmers Market at 2630 5th St., just south of Broadway, and washing bottles at Jones Howell pickle works at 315 T St.

Al mentioned that he also worked as a motorcycle courier.

“I drove (three wheeled) motorcycles for Willis & Martin Co. at (1001-1003 K St.),” Al recalled. “I delivered drugs. I got paid $50 a month, but I had to quit the job, because I got two tickets and I couldn’t afford to get them. Hollywood stop.”

Following high school, Al obtained a job as a flower wholesale worker for Lino Piazza at 1328 7th St., before accepting a position delivering ice for the Consumers Ice & Cold Storage Co. at 831 D St.

Although Al had intended to attend Sacramento Junior College – today’s Sacramento City College – he stated, “The U.S. Army was my college education.”

After being drafted into the Army in 1943, Al was sent to Camp Carson (now Fort Carson) in Colorado.

Six months later, Al went to Nashville, Tenn. Then in December 1943, he was sent to Camp Kilmer, near New Brunswick, N.J.

Al was eventually given official clearance to return home after his brother, Joe, died in the war on Jan. 13, 1944, but Al opted to remain in the Army.

On Feb. 12, 1944, Al traveled overseas on the Queen Mary troopship for seven days.

Sacramento native Al Balshor, who has worked and resided in the Land Park area for the past 64 years, recently celebrated his 90th birthday. Photo by Lance Armstrong

Sacramento native Al Balshor, who has worked and resided in the Land Park area for the past 64 years, recently celebrated his 90th birthday. Photo by Lance Armstrong

During his interview for this article, Al pointed to a display case on a wall, and then said, “I was a medic and an ambulance driver. Right outside here, I’ve got my little shrine. There’s (a photograph of Gen. George) Patton (in that shrine) and I’ve got the little ambulance (replicas) in there, and some lady from France brought me some things over. She came visiting some graves across the street (from Balshor Florist), then I got to talking to her, and I said, ‘Oh, I was in (France).’ And she came up and gave me a big hug and said, ‘I never met anybody that helped save my country – France.’ So, what she did was she came back two years later and brought me these (coins from the five campaigns before the war ended).”

Al, who spent six months in Wales before D-Day and was on the border of Poland when the war ended, recalled his postwar return to the United States.

“I went down to Marseilles, France,” Al said. “I came all the way from Marseilles into Newport News, Va. Then I went from Virginia on the train all the way out here (to Sacramento). I came through Reno, came all the way to Sacramento (to the Southern Pacific passenger depot). We had to come here to go back to Camp Beale (today’s Beale Air Force Base). For some reason or another, the train had to come here to go back. I asked the conductor, ‘How long are you going to be here?’ He said, ‘Oh, about four hours.’ So, I got in a cab at midnight and came down and started banging on my mom’s door. She was crying and screaming. She didn’t know I was coming home. I got back on the train and three days later I was home. So, that was the story.”

In 1946, Al became one of the charter members of Southside American Legion Post 662.

Al, who is also a longtime member of the Sacramento Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Southside Improvement Club, the American Portuguese Club and the Portuguese Historical and Cultural Society, also spoke about his wife, Marie, who he first met on her family’s farm in Dixon in 1934 when he was 9 years old and Marie was 6 years old.

“(Al’s sister), Lucille, and Marie (who had developed a longtime dislike for Al during an incident in Dixon that ended in a water fight) went to the Pelican Club (at 2231 10th St.) one night,” Al said. “(Marie) happened to go there with my sister. So, we ended up there, had a couple of drinks and then we went to the Swing Club at (541 N. 16th St.). They had a band and Marie and I were dancing. When the dance was over, I gave her a kiss on the cheek and we’ve been in love ever since. We used to have bands in those days. That was in (April) 1947 and we got married on Jan. 1, 1948, on New Year’s Day. We got married in Dixon at St. Peter’s Church.” The couple eventually had three children, Judie, Al, Jr. and Jerry.

While dating Marie, in 1947, Al went to work at Relles Florist at 2220 J St. by way of the GI Bill.

In 1950, Al opened the original location of Balshor Florist at 730 O St.

Twenty-two years later, a plan to redevelop the site forced Al to relocate his business to its present location at 2661 Riverside Blvd.

In describing his business, Al said, “We’re a certified, all-around florist – a full service florist. We do weddings, parties, we do funerals, anything. We’re just a full fledged florist. We’re qualified to do anything we need to do.”

Sixty-four years after establishing Balshor Florist, Al remains very active in the operations of his business.

“I got out of the service on Nov. 4, 1945, and I opened my shop up on Nov. 4, 1950,” Al said. “And I still work every day, six days a week. That’s what keeps me young.”

Lance@valcomnews.com

Sacramento’s Chinatown fell to revitalization project in the 1960s

An entrance to the Chinatown Mall is shown in this 2007 photograph. The mall was created in the 1960s as an urban redevelopment project. Photo by Lance Armstrong

An entrance to the Chinatown Mall is shown in this 2007 photograph. The mall was created in the 1960s as an urban redevelopment project. Photo by Lance Armstrong

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

Chinese history in Sacramento is a story of gradual growth, dedicated laborers, family values and overcoming adversities. And the perseverance of earlier generations of the city’s Chinese led to their integration and increased acceptance into the mainstream society.
As mentioned in the latter portion of the last article of this series, Lincoln School at 4th and Q streets provided a formal education for children in Chinatown and other places in that vicinity.
Some local Chinese children attended McKinley School at 705 G St. and William Land Elementary School at 1116 U St.
These students continued their education at the old Sutter Junior High School and Sacramento High School. And some Chinese students attended C.K. McClatchy High School, which opened in 1937.
In addition to becoming students at the general public schools, Chinese children were also educated in Chinese language schools on weekday evenings and on Saturdays.
Besides Chinese laundries, which were also mentioned in the last article of this series, other common businesses in the early days of Sacramento’s Chinatown were restaurants and grocery stores.
Many longtime Sacramentans recall the now defunct Hong King Lum restaurant, which was located at 304 I St. in its early years and relocated to 415 J St. in 1969.
A 1934 advertisement for the restaurant reads: “Hong King Lum Café, dine and dance, no cover charge, we serve a real Chinese full-course dinner, 304 Eye (Street), cor. 3rd (Street), MAIN 1841.”
Among the Chinese restaurants in Sacramento during the 19th century were eateries on I Street, between 2nd and 3rd streets; 104 I St., between 4th and 5th streets; on the south side of I Street, between 5th and 6th streets; in the brick building on the north side of I Street, between 6th and 7th streets; on J Street, near 12th Street; on the east side of 3rd Street, between I and J streets; and on 6th Street, between J and K streets.
Certainly, the opening of Chinese grocery stores in Chinatown proved to be the beginnings of much greater operations, as the existence of those small stores led to the opening of Chinese-owned, post-World War II supermarkets such as Bel Air, Farmers Market, Jumbo Market and Giant Foods.
Today, only one of those supermarkets’ histories continues, as locals can still shop at locations of Bel Air, which was acquired by Raley’s from the Wong family in 1992.
The roots of the store began in the 1930s, when Chinese immigrant Gim Wong, who came to America in 1916 and eventually helped his family establish Bel Air, began selling produce that he grew on his 5-acre farm in Penryn, about 30 miles east of Sacramento. Assisting him with his business was his wife, Lee Shee Wong, and their children.

A statue of Dr. Sun Yat-sen stands in front of the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall in this 2007 photograph. Photo by Lance Armstrong

A statue of Dr. Sun Yat-sen stands in front of the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall in this 2007 photograph. Photo by Lance Armstrong

After establishing his produce-selling business on his farm, Gim eventually opened his own store in Penryn. And after moving to Sacramento in the late 1940s, he founded a grocery store at 28th and P streets.
The first Bel Air Market opened at 6231 Fruitridge Road in 1955.
Another very successful Chinese owned business founded in Sacramento is the General Produce Co., which began its operations in 1933 and continues its existence in the capital city today. The business was founded by Chan Tai Oy, who immigrated to Sacramento from Canton, China in the early 1900s.
A significant moment in local Chinese history occurred in the 1950s, when the city’s Chinese were granted the legal right to purchase homes in Land Park.
In 1959, the Confucius Temple was constructed at the southeast corner of 4th and I streets.
The three-story building, which was a $500,000 project of the Chinese Benevolent Association, was constructed as a center for worship, social activities and education, and includes classrooms, a gymnasium and other features.
During 1960s, a major urban redevelopment project called for the demolition of old Chinese buildings on I Street, marking an end to the city’s historic Chinatown.
That project was followed by the Sacramento Redevelopment Agency’s establishment of Chinatown Mall, which is located between 3rd, 5th, I and J streets.
The mall became home to such places as some Chinese associations, a bank and a hotel.
Additionally, the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall at 415 Chinatown Mall was opened on June 6, 1971. A statue in Sun’s likeness stands in front of the structure.
Sun (1866-1925), who once visited Sacramento, was known for leading the Chinese revolution to overthrow the Manchu monarchy in 1911.
The Wong Center senior citizen, low income apartment building opened in Chinatown Mall in 1973.
Although Sacramento’s historic Chinatown is a thing of the past, the mall is both a reminder of that past and a treasure for present and future generations.

Lance@valcomnews.com

Tuesday Club of Sacramento: 1896-2014

McKinley Park’s water features are shown in this 1920s artist enhanced image. The Tuesday Club was involved in a project to have the site purchased and enhanced for the benefit of the community. / Photo courtesy of the Lance Armstrong Collection

McKinley Park’s water features are shown in this 1920s artist enhanced image. The Tuesday Club was involved in a project to have the site purchased and enhanced for the benefit of the community. / Photo courtesy of the Lance Armstrong Collection

Editor’s note: This is the second article in a series about the Tuesday Club of Sacramento.

With the news presented in the last edition of this publication that the Tuesday Club of Sacramento had disbanded after a 117-year run, it is timely to present a history of this historic women’s organization.

The club, which was originally known as the Tuesday Literary Club, was founded by Mrs. Findley R. Dray, the wife of a surveyor for Sacramento Bank at 431 J St., on Dec. 1, 1896.

Dray’s efforts to establish such an organization was an unusual endeavor at that time, as women’s clubs were then quite rare and only two states had extended the right for women to vote, California excluded.

According to an article in the Dec. 19, 1897 edition of The Sacramento Union, the club, which originally met on Tuesday afternoons, had a modest beginning.

Included in the article were the following words: “It was at first intended to be merely a gathering of a few students at the homes of one another, but so strong an interest was manifested, so much enthusiasm aroused, that it outgrew its original plan, and from that nucleus of a small beginning, it has evolved into its present scope of usefulness. Under the leadership of Mrs. E.B. Purnell, the first year’s life of the young club was devoted to the study of history, commencing with the period of Greek civilization, ranging through topics of Roman, English and American history up to and including the Civil War.”

Although Purnell did not serve as the club’s president in its first year, she did present lectures for the club during that time.

In addition to Dray, who was married at 16 years old and had eight children, and Purnell, a former second assistant (vice principal) of Sacramento High School, the charter members of the organization were Mrs. William Beckman, Mrs. J. Frank Clark, Mrs. Ben F. Crocker, Mrs. Mary Cushman, Mrs. E.I. Galvin, Mrs. A.A. Goddard, Mrs. Helen Hopkins, Mrs. Cy H. Hubbard, Mrs. Hugh M. LaRue, Mrs. Preston L. Lykins, Mrs. Samuel Pope, Mrs. T.A. Snider, Mrs. L. Tozer, Mrs. Albert C. Tufts and Mrs. Edward Twitchell.

Beckman, who was a writer and a painter, served as the club’s first president and Lykins was its first secretary.

The first mention of the club in The Union appeared in that publication’s Dec. 20, 1896 edition, and includes the following names of several other early members of the organization, who gathered together for a meeting at the Twitchell residence at 1414 H St. on Dec. 15, 1896.

Those additional members were Mrs. Fred Birdsall, Mrs. James Budd, Mrs. McMorry, Mrs. Charles A. Neale, Mrs. L.A. Terry, Mrs. Jessie Titus and Mrs. Orlando P. Willis.

On Feb. 9, 1897, the club met at new quarters in the state Exposition Building at the northwest corner of 15th and N streets.

The lecture topic for that evening was the political, religious and intellectual development of England from 1661 to 1714.

By the following month, the club had a new meeting place in the Foresters’ Building on I Street, between 7th and 8th streets.

In one of the club’s early meetings held at that location on March 23, 1897, a lecture was given on the topic of old colonial times, and the club’s vice president read a paper that she had written about witchcraft.

A week later, in another meeting of the club, Eliza Tupper Wilkes gave a lecture that was entitled, “Club Life and How It May Help Women.”

The popularity of the club was apparent during its first year by the number of its members alone.

After having officially met for the first time with 17 members in the parlors of the Beckman home on Dec. 1, 1896, the club, during its inaugural year, had expanded to include 53 members.

In celebration of the club’s first year in operation, and in recognition of Dray for founding the organization, a special reception was held on May 27, 1897.

The event included a review of the club’s inaugural year by Mrs. Galvin, and musical performances, among which were a piano, violin and cello trio presentation with pianist Laura (Dray) Perry, and a flute solo by Charles A. Neale.

Although the organization spent its first three years operating as the Tuesday Literary Club, it was noted in the May 23, 1897 edition of The Union that the club was already seeking to adopt a “more suitable name.” It was not until March 27, 1900 that the name was changed to the Tuesday Club of Sacramento.

A report on the club in the Nov. 21, 1897 edition of The Union noted that 22 additional women had then-recently joined the organization and that the membership included “some of our most prominent society leaders.”

Nine days following that report, the club moved into new quarters at 610 ½ J St.

After maintaining that meeting place until the following spring, the club returned to hold their meetings in the Foresters’ Building.

The club continued its progression as its first by-laws were presented to its members on Dec. 28, 1897.

In an article about the club’s first meeting of the 1898-99 season, The Union noted that the “aim of the Tuesday Club is to instruct and develop rather than to entertain and amuse.”

The club, which would reach a total of 129 members during its first two years, was more than an organization that limited its activities to simply conducting its own meetings.

Instead, it underwent philanthropic work, including the first of such work to provide equipment and maintenance for a free, cooking school for young girls.

The club’s first monetary donation was presented in May 1898, when the club made a $20 contribution to the Sanitary and Red Cross Society of Sacramento.

Undeniably, one of the greatest activities in the club’s history was its involvement in the negotiations of the property known today as McKinley Park.

Working with the land’s owner, Albert Gallatin, and the city government, the club persuaded Gallatin to sell the then-poorly maintained and swamp-filled property to the city for $12,500.

As previously mentioned, the club became known as the Tuesday Club of Sacramento in 1900, since the organization was no longer solely a literary club.

Under that new name, the club established its mission to “form a recognized center for social and mental culture; to further the education of women for the responsibilities of life; to encourage all movements for the betterment of society; and to foster a generous public spirit in the community.”

Lance@valcomnews.com

Remembering the ‘Mayor of 37th Street’

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.
Nammour, who taught philosophy for many years and was honored through the naming of Sacramento State’s annual Nammour (philosophy) Symposium, resided at 1633 37th Street from about 1978 to about 1985.

The plaque for Nammour, who was born in Backline, Lebanon on Sept. 3, 1937 and died in Carmichael on Jan. 13, 1986, reads: “This tree is dedicated to the memory of Jamil Nammour by his friends on 37th St. May 1986.”
The plaque honoring Dorothy, who graduated from Sacramento High School in 1933 and married Ray seven years later, reads: “In loving memory of our dear friend and neighbor Dorothy Bertolucci.”

Ray’s plaque has a shorter 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.
Mayor Photo 05

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 last week, 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.”

Mayor Photo 03In speaking about his father’s approach to helping his friends, Larry, 69, said, “His friends that were close to him, whatever help (they needed), he gave it to them. Whether it was financial – he didn’t have much, but he would give it to them. And he never expected anything in return. My dad said, ‘If you loan money to that person, just pretend you’re not going to get it back. You give it to them, because you know they need it for a reason.’”

Larry added that his father, along with Ray’s close friend Jack Peterson and others, played an active role in establishing the East Sacramento Little League in 1951.

“He was just an advocate for the kids,” Larry said. “Every kid in the neighborhood loved him. He tolerated absolutely no nonsense. He was old school. He would give them hell, then he would put his arm around them and love them. All practices in Little League ran an hour and a half. They were run like a major league practice. Everything was done drills, drills, no nonsense. We got our work done and then we went home.”
In regard to Ray’s aforementioned longevity as a resident of the neighborhood, he moved into his home at 1641 37th St. with Dorothy in 1941 and continued to live there for 70 years.

Ray, who was born in McCloud, Calif., was raised with his brother, Lorenzo (1904-1979), by his parents, Luigi and Matilda (Dini) Bertolucci, who were natives of Lucca, Italy.

In about 1920, Luigi acquired work as a laborer for the Southern Pacific Co. in Sacramento, and the Bertolucci family moved to 916 33rd St. in about 1920.

During his youth, Ray enjoyed playing baseball and later in his life, he played fast pitch softball.
When he was 16 years old, Ray abandoned his studies at Sacramento High School and began working for the Southern Pacific as a sheet metal worker, a position he would hold, except for brief periods of time, until his retirement 41 years later.

On one occasion when he was not employed by the Southern Pacific, Ray, who served for many years as the vice president of the Sheet Metal Workers Union No. 162, drove a hearse for the local funeral director George L. Klumpp.

Ray also spent some time working on a surveying crew in the Mojave Desert.

Certainly, one person who knew Ray and Dorothy very well was Dorothy’s sister, Lois (Herbert) Lindstrom.
In speaking about Ray, who married Dorothy in 1940, she said, “He did so much for his neighbors. On street pickup days, if there were tree branches laying in the street that they had put out to be picked up and they weren’t cut up in little pieces, Ray would take his chainsaw and go down and cut them up and pile them up for them.”

Additionally, both Ray and Dorothy would often take many of their neighbors’ garbage cans back to their neighbors’ properties after they had been emptied.

Lois described Ray and Dorothy as “the most hospital people you would ever want to meet.”

And after being asked to speak about Ray’s recognition as the “mayor of 37th Street,” Lois said, “They just sort of tagged that (title) on him, because if there was a problem of any kind in the neighborhood – sidewalks, trees or whatever – he was the one that went to the county. He knew all the county supervisors, he knew the assemblymen, he knew everybody that was connected to East Sacramento, and they were all on a first name basis. He would call their offices and they would say, ‘Oh, hi, Ray.’ And he was the one that got action, so they sort of tied that mayor name onto him.”

Lois named several people who recognized Ray as the “mayor of 37th Street.” Those people included his good friends, Dr. Tim Tautz and fireman Mike Taylor.

Larry added that he believes that Nammour was among the people who referred to his father as the “mayor of 37th Street.”

Both Lois and Larry mentioned that Ray had a sort of “open door policy,” which attracted many people to his house.

In speaking about some of those people, Larry said, “Everyone would come to his house and have cocktails at 5 o’clock, especially (during) the last 10, 15 years (of his life). They would always come over to his place. But one little nuance that he had was he hated people to come when he was getting ready to eat dinner. That always bugged him. You didn’t want to interrupt his dinner time.”

Ray, who drove his car until he was about 98 years old, passed away less than seven months shy of his 100th birthday.

Kathryn (Casey) Peterson, 91, who formerly resided at 1311 38th St. with her husband, Jack Peterson, fondly spoke about Ray and Dorothy.

“(Ray) was a terrific guy,” Kathryn said. “Even into old age, he was just somebody you could always count on. He was very clever. There wasn’t anything he couldn’t fix or do. And he was just a wonderful husband, and his wife was just charming.

Everybody knew him. He would be sorry if you were in the neighborhood and you didn’t stop to visit him. He was just that way, and his wife was, too.”

Julie Peterson, who is not related to Jack and Kathryn Peterson, presently resides in Ray’s old, white, brick house, which was built in about 1928 for John B. Matthews, a teacher at Sacramento Junior College – today’s Sacramento City College.

After being asked what she knew about Ray, Julie said, “I know that shortly after we moved here, a young man in his 30s or 40s came by to see him and didn’t know he had passed (away). It was just really heartwarming. He said that he lived in this house (next door) many, many years ago and that Ray helped raise him and was like a father to him. I know that we’re new to Sacramento, but we’ve met tons of people that knew (Ray) and knew our house, because they knew him. It really affected me, because I heard so much about Ray, and then for the guy to come by, I thought, ‘Wow, (Ray) really did affect a lot of people.’”

Mayor Photo 04

Sacramento area’s first television station debuted in 1953

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

As mentioned in the last article of this series, nearly 16 months after the Federal Communications Commission lifted its freeze on granting new television licenses, the Sacramento area received its first television station: KCCC Channel 40.
Ground was broken for that UHF station’s studios and 510-foot-tall, steel transmitter tower on the Garden Highway on August 28, 1953 at 2:30 p.m.
Among those present at the ground breaking ceremony were Mayor Leslie E. Wood (1897-1974), William Lawrence Greer (1902-1975), president of the Sacramento Chamber of Commerce, and other members of the city council, as well as members of the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors.
Frank Maloney was the general contractor for the construction of the station’s headquarters. His business’s headquarters were located at 1915 S St.
The television building project was completed in three stages, with the first of those stages being the erection of a basic operations unit, with its reception, control and projection rooms. The second stage of that project was the construction of the studio, and lastly, the third stage consisted of the erection of an office building.
KCCC made national news, as the word spread throughout the country that construction on the station’s structures were completed in only 34 days.
As for the placement of the transmission tower, that endeavor was also completed in a relatively short period of time, as the tower arrived on Sept. 22, 1953 and was installed within three days.
The completed television studios building was a single story structure, measuring about 50 feet by about 124 feet.
It was noted in the Aug. 27, 1953 edition of The Sacramento Bee that it was hoped that KCCC would make its debut on Oct. 1, 1953.
The station was introduced to the community in the Sept. 30, 1953 edition of The Bee through a full page advertisement, which featured the words, “Sacramento’s first television station, KCCC Channel 40 now on the air!”
Actually, the station was located about three miles outside of city limits, but was nonetheless most beneficial to the people of Sacramento. In that regard, it was undoubtedly a Sacramento station.
The advertisement in The Bee was presented by the new TV company’s builders, suppliers and installers, which were entirely Sacramento area businesses.
Those businesses were listed as follows: Brighton Sand and Gravel Co., Jackson Road, quarter-mile east of Perkins; Luppen & Hawley, Inc., 3126 J St.; Dolan Building Material Co., 3030 P St.; The Ellis Co., 1923 Stockton Blvd.; Thomas F. Scollan Co., 2518 B and C streets alley; John R. Reeves, 16th Street at the American River Bridge; Vacher & Brandon, 2316 Alhambra Blvd.; Lentz Construction Co., 2416 Sutterville Road; California Manufacturing Co., Inc., 1716 Alhambra Blvd.; Breuner’s, 604 K St.; Wilkins Draying Co., 601 1st Ave.; Ernest D. Francis, 1012 J St.; Vance Smith, 411 16th St.; The Palm Iron & Bridge Works, 1501 S St.; and W.P. Fuller & Co., 1725 10th St.
The aforementioned advertisement also included the following words: “The owners of TV station KCCC deserve the thanks of the great Sacramento area for bringing television to our community. Here is television at its finest…the very newest development in the field of telecasting equipment.”
The station was originally led by Harry W. McCart, president of the Capital City Television Corp., which operated the station. He was already known in Sacramento for his work as president of the wholesale liquor distributing firm, James P. Keating Co., at 1607-1609 E St.
Frank E. Hurd became the Capital City Television Corp.’s vice president and the Idaho-born Ashley L. Robison (1913-1990) was named its secretary-treasurer.
Hurd and Robison’s contributions to the station also included their acquisition of the permit for the station under the name Cal-Tel Co.
It was also in the station’s early days that Clarence P. Talbot was appointed KCCC’s director of public relations.
Furthermore, George E. Ledell, Jr., former accountant executive with Los Angeles’ KHJ-TV Channel 9, was appointed as KCCC’s special station representative for the Los Angeles and San Francisco markets.
Although KCCC was licensed to operate with 10 kilowatts of power, the station initially operated with only 1 kilowatt of power.
The station originally had affiliations with the television networks, ABC, CBS, NBC and DuMont.
KCCC made its debut with the airing of the opening game of the 1953 World Series on Sept. 30, 1953.
In that game, the New York Yankees beat the Brooklyn Dodgers (known today as the Los Angeles Dodgers), 9-5, at Yankee Stadium before a crowd of 69,734 spectators. The Yankees would eventually win the seven-game series in six games.
Episodes of the now classic sitcom, “I Love Lucy,” featuring Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz, William Frawley and Vivian Vance, were also shown on KCCC. The station began its schedule of presenting the show on Oct. 9, 1953.
On Aug. 31, 1956, Lincoln Dellar, owner of radio station KXOA 107.9 FM, announced that he would be purchasing KCCC from McCart and Robison, pending FCC approval. The sale price, which included assumptions of liabilities, was $400,000.
At that time, Dellar owned the radio stations KHMO 1070 AM in Hannibal, Mo. and KXL 101.1 FM in Portland, Ore. He was also co-owner of KJR 950 AM in Seattle.
It was not until the following October that the sale of KCCC, which was then solely an ABC affiliate, was completed.
With that sale, Dellar appointed Al J. Richards, general manager, and Ralph Guild, sales manager.
Dellar also named Thomas J. MacBride, local attorney and state assemblyman, to KCCC’s board of directors.
Others associated with the station at that time were William Furnell, program director, and Harry Bartollomei, chief engineer.
The station remained licensed to the Capital City Television Corp., but it was controlled by Sacramento Broadcasters, Inc., the licensee for KXOA.
As previously mentioned in this series, in 1957, KOVR Channel 13 became an ABC affiliate, as it acquired that status from KCCC.
KCCC made its final sign-off on May 31, 1957 at 11:40 p.m.
But nine months later, plans for reviving the Channel 40 were announced.
Around that time, the FCC was asked if it would move Channel 12 in Chico to Sacramento, and establish a Channel 11 in Chico.
Nonetheless, Channel 12 would remain in Chico, where it has operated as KHSL-TV since 1953. Its call letters derived from the initials of Harry Smithson and Sidney Lewis, who established radio station KHSL-AM in 1935.
The Bee reported on Oct. 6, 1959 that plans had been made for Channel 40 to return to the air on the first day of the following month.
Additionally, the article noted that test patterns were being shown and temporary studios had been leased in the Women’s Building on the grounds of the State Fair, which was then located at Stockton Boulevard and Broadway.
The transmitter for the soon-to-be-launched station was located at the old city dump off 28th Street.
Known as KVUE, the reemerged Channel 40 was a short-lived endeavor, as it first went on the air on the aforementioned date of Nov. 1, 1959 and continued its broadcasts until March 21, 1960.
According to the Jan. 2, 1961 issue of Broadcasting, a weekly magazine dedicated to television and radio business, KVUE went off the air due to financial difficulties.
The focus of the article was to inform its readers that the station had asked its creditors not to press for payments, because its owners desired to “recapitalize and go back on the air rather than declare the station bankrupt.”
The article referred to a letter to creditors from Melvyn E. Lucas and Henry P. Deane, who held stock proxies for KVUE.
It was mentioned in the letter that KVUE’s financial difficulties were attributed to its position of competing against two other UHF stations.
The letter also claimed that the FCC was still contemplating the possibility of moving Channel 12 from Chico to Sacramento.
Although KVUE made a latter attempt to renew its license, the station never broadcast again.
The demise of KVUE caused only a temporary loss of Channel 40 in Sacramento, as the FCC would grant a license for that channel to a group known as the Camellia City Telecasters later that decade. The group was led by Jack Matranga (1925-2012), a 1943 Sacramento High School graduate, who was one of the founders of radio station KGMS 1380 AM.
The Telecasters established KTXL Channel 40, which first broadcast on Oct. 26, 1968. The station, with its affiliation with the Fox network, is commonly known today as Fox 40.

Lance@valcomnews.com

Sacramento area played roles in television pioneering history

Grant Technical College offered a television course during the 1940s and 1950s. Photo courtesy of the Lance Armstrong Collection

Grant Technical College offered a television course during the 1940s and 1950s. Photo courtesy of the Lance Armstrong Collection

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

In addition to celebrating local people who had roles in the pioneering days of broadcast television, this series also serves as a record of the histories of early Sacramento television stations.
And in presenting those histories, it is certainly beneficial to include some of the beginnings of television in the Sacramento area.
But prior to arriving at that point, it should be of interest to many readers of this publication to learn a little about the development of television.
Various 19th century and early 20th century experiments and developments led to the invention of television, and television itself had many pioneers.
The year, 1884, is an important year in the story of the evolution of television, as it was in that year that a German university student named Paul Gottlieb Nipkow patented the concept for an electromechanical television system.
Among the earlier press reports regarding television appeared in an article in the April 3, 1924 edition of the British film industry trade newspaper, Kinematograph Weekly.
F.H. Robinson, the author of that article, mentioned that he had visited the laboratory of the Scottish electrical engineer John Logie Baird (1888-1946) in the town of Hastings, England.
In writing about his observations of Baird’s electric device, which was referred to as a “Radio Vision” machine, Baird noted the following: “I myself saw a cross, the letter ‘H,’ and the fingers of my own hand reproduced by this apparatus across the width of the laboratory. The images were quite sharp and clear, although perhaps a little unsteady. This, however, was mostly due to mechanical defects in the apparatus and not to any fault of the system.
“Moving images may be transmitted by this means and distance is no object, merely depending on the power of the wireless transmitter and the sensitivity of the receiver employed.
“Undoubtedly, wonderful possibilities are opened up by this invention, its very simplicity and reliability placing it well to the front of many of the various complicated methods which have been evolved to do the same work.”
America’s first prototype home television receiver was introduced in Schenectady, N.Y. by the Swedish-American electrical engineer, Dr. Ernst Frederick Werner Alexanderson (1878-1975) in 1927.
The first intercity transmission of scene and sound was accomplished by the Ives telephone group on April 7, 1927.
The images and voice of Herbert Hoover, then-secretary of commerce and future U.S. president, were carried over telephone wires from Washington, D.C. to New York.
In 1928, a variety show was transmitted a distance of about 200 miles, the first regular programs aired on the General Electric station, WGY, in Schenectady, and the first transoceanic broadcast – a still photograph – was sent using shortwave radio from Purley, England to Hartsdale, N.Y.
On June 28, 1929, The Sacramento Bee ran an Associated Press article that focused on the topic of color television.
It was noted that another “step of that infant science” had been presented during the previous day in the auditorium of the Bell telephone laboratories in New York.
The demonstration involved a woman who stood at one end of the auditorium and presented several objects such as a pineapple, a glass of water and a colored ball.
In a darkened area at the other end of the auditorium, images of these items were reproduced in natural colors.
It was also in the late 1920s and early 1930s that experimental television stations emerged in different U.S. cities.
Unfortunately, none of the stations’ signals were strong enough to create sharp pictures on television sets.
In 1936, the BBC made history, as it transmitted the world’s first regular high-definition (405-line resolution) television broadcast.
During the same year, the Summer Olympics in Berlin were presented to the public via cable television, as the games were broadcast live to stations in the greater Berlin area in Germany. Viewing stations were made available for those who did not own a television set.
On April 30, 1939, Franklin D. Roosevelt became the first U.S. president to appear on television, as he spoke at the opening ceremonies of the World’s Fair in New York.
Although television gained additional notoriety with the American public during the latter part of the 1930s and early part of the 1940s, the United States’ involvement in World War II interfered with its major progress.
At the end of the war, there were only six American television stations, none of which were located on the West Coast. The only networks at that time were CBS and NBC.
But by 1948, those networks were joined by ABC and DuMont, and collectively the networks broadcast daily on more than 128 stations.
In regard to local television history, in the late 1930s, long before the first commercial broadcast of television in the Sacramento area, a young man named Vincent L. Calligori, Jr. headed off to study at the American Institute of Television in Chicago.
He was one of only three students to have been selected by ATI scouts at Sacramento High School as a prospect to receive instruction toward becoming a television technician. And he was the only one of the three selected students to accept that offer.
According to a 1938 Sacramento Union article, the idea behind the ATI training was to prepare “men so that when television becomes an accepted thing, there will be no difficulty in getting technicians.”
The main purpose of the article was to announce that Calligori had returned from ATI, and built Sacramento’s first privately-owned television set.
Calligori’s set was located in a workshop behind his father’s macaroni factory at 2927 L St., and he was being assisted by Harold L. Fiedler of 1224 I St.
The Union article noted that because the range of television was short, many stations and relays would be required.
In a separate article, which appeared in the Oct. 30, 1938 edition of the Montana Standard newspaper of Butte, Mont., Calligori, who was referred to in that publication as an “electrical wizard,” was quoted as saying, “My ambition is to build a television transmitter that will entertain the city of Sacramento.”
The article in the Standard also noted that regular telecasts were being made in New York and London at that time, but equipment was then “too expensive for popular usage.”
Additionally, it was reported in the Standard article that many people in America were then unaware that television existed.

Alvin L. Gregory was head of Grant Technical College’s radio and electronics department, which offered a course in television. He was also the director of the school’s television camera project. Photo courtesy of the Lance Armstrong Collection

Alvin L. Gregory was head of Grant Technical College’s radio and electronics department, which offered a course in television. He was also the director of the school’s television camera project. Photo courtesy of the Lance Armstrong Collection

Television was the focus of a Jan. 7, 1946 article, which had the headline, “Sacramento television center of coast?”
The article, which was published in The Union, noted that the Westinghouse Electric Co. had planned experiments toward making Sacramento the center of broadcasting for a 400-mile radius.
From three broadcasting methods – coaxial cable, point-to-point relays and Stratovision, Westinghouse selected the latter method.
Stratovision, as was explained in the article, involved the use of planes that would fly 30,000 feet and relay signals that had originated on the ground.
In continuing, the article noted: “Planes would be sent aloft over New York; Pittsburgh; Chicago; Kansas City; Curtis, Neb.; Leadville, Colo.; Salt Lake City and Sacramento. This would give a coast to coast chain, while other planes stationed above Dallas, Memphis, Atlanta and Durham, N.C. would blanket part of the south and southwest. By adding six more planes, the company believes all but the most sparsely settled sections of the country would receive television broadcasts.”
The article concluded with the following words: “Should experiments prove successful, Sacramento (would) be the hub of the West Coast from Washington to the Mexican border with the drone of B-29s sounding over the city daily and with the best television broadcasts being received by local residents.”
In 1950, however, Stratovision, which was introduced as an idea by Westinghouse engineer Charles E. Nobles, became obsolete.
In another local television pioneering event, which was reported in The Bee on May 7, 1948, 60 students at Grant Technical College (the predecessor to today’s American River College), built the Sacramento area’s first television camera.
Alvin L. Gregory, who was head of GTC’s radio and electronics department and the director of the television camera project, told The Bee that the public should not respond to the school’s accomplishment by purchasing television receivers, since the camera had been built for training and demonstration purposes only.
In a preview to its daily television broadcast exhibit at the 1948 State Fair, GTC presented the Sacramento area’s first television broadcast at the auditorium on the Grant Union High School campus on Aug. 27, 1948 at 8:30 p.m.
The initial broadcast’s technical director was Gregory, and Lillian Allan was that broadcast’s program director.
During that evening, shots were taken from the stage and transmitted to a television screen in the auditorium.
On Feb. 5, 1952, The Bee ran an article with the headline, “Sacramento TV broadcasts may not come until ’53-’54.”
According to the article, the city had been “full of rumors indicating Sacramento television stations (would soon) flash their Westerns, epics, documentaries.”
Unfortunately, such rumors held no validity since the FCC had announced a freeze on new television licenses on Sept. 30, 1948. The purpose of the freeze was to allot the FCC time to study the new industry in an effort to lessen interference between stations and achieve the maximum use of the available channels.
The freeze, which had been intended to last less than a year, would continue for nearly 3 and a half years.
According to the aforementioned Feb. 5, 1952 Bee article, 304 applications were on file with the FCC at the time the freeze began. Among those applications was that of the McClatchy Broadcasting Co., which had its offices at 708 I St.
The article concluded that the more than 5,000 Sacramento families with television sets would have to solely rely on the not always reliable reception of San Francisco stations until the freeze was discontinued by the FCC and a Sacramento station could be built.
In another article, which was published in the Feb. 10, 1952 edition of The Union, it was noted that through the FCC, “Sacramento (had) been allocated three commercial channels on ultra high frequency, and two (channels) on very high freqnecy (sic), with the stipulation that one channel on UHF be reserved for educational purposes.”
Beyond McClatchy Broadcasting Co.’s request for a television station, Sacramento radio stations, KCRA, KFBK, KROY and KXOA, were among the applicants vying to acquire a license to operate a television station in the Sacramento area.
The FCC, by 1952, had tentatively assigned Sacramento with VHF Channels 6 and 10 and UHF Channels 40 and 46.
Furthermore, KCRA requested that VHF Channels 3 and 8 be approved, and KFBK asked permission for Channel 3 to be added to the city’s allocated television stations.
It was speculated in the 1952 Union article that Grant High could become the site of the Sacramento area’s first television station, and that the station would be dedicated to presenting educational programs, as opposed to entertainment programs.
According to the same article, Grant was then in the best position to acquire a station, considering that it owned about one-third of the equipment that would be necessary to operate a station, and if it applied for a channel, it would face no opposition and could possibly be in operation by the end of 1952. But such action did not occur.
The FCC’s freeze on granting new television licenses ended on April 14, 1952, and Sacramento’s first television station, KCCC Channel 40, went on the air 15 and a half months later.

Lance@valcomnews.com

Janey Way Memories: Our Veterans Remembered

Next Monday, we celebrate Veteran’s Day, a time to honor the sacrifices made by our military, past and present. Being a veteran myself, I have a lot to reflect upon.
Back in the1960s, living at home on Janey Way and attending Sacramento High School, the idea of serving in the military could not have been farther from my mind. I played on the Junior Varsity football team, studied a little and had a pretty normal life. Then, when the Viet Nam War heated up in 1964, things changed in ways, I could never have imagined.
When I graduated from high school that year, my good friend, Mike Gilson joined the U.S. Marines. His family had a long history of military service and he wanted to do his part. He headed off to train at Camp Pendleton that summer. Other friends like Tom Watson joined up too, and I wondered what would become of them. I found out all too soon.
Mike returned home on leave in the spring of 1965 and we had a great time, swimming at the American River, hanging out on Janey Way and just goofing off. Then, he headed off for a tour of duty in Viet Nam. I never saw him again. Eleven months later, he lost his life in a firefight and the news struck our neighborhood like a bomb. People were shaken. Mike was only 20 years old.
My friend, Albert Wilson and I attended Mike’s funeral. I remember a Marine captain giving a carefully folded U.S. flag to Mike’s grieving mother, and I realized I would never see my friend again.
Soon, Jim Ducray, Dick Kinzel, Dan Rosenblatt, Roger Thomsen, my brother Terry and I followed our lost friend into the military, but fortunately we all returned safely. We had served our country honorably and ultimately went on to live normal lives. Mike Gilson was not so lucky, he made the ultimate sacrifice.
A few years back I had the privilege of meeting Mike’s nephew, also named Michael. He serves as a Jesuit priest here in the Sacramento area. Father Mike had read some of the Janey Way stories and wanted to meet me. At that meeting, he shared the story of how he got his name.
Apparently, while Mike was in Viet Nam, he made the following request to his brother Carl, Father Mike’s dad: “If you have a boy, name him Michael.”
In honor of his fallen brother, Carl did indeed name his son Michael. I personally am happy that the good father shares the name of my departed fiend.
Next Monday, as you enjoy your day off, think of Mike and all the other veterans who have given so much to keep us all safe and free.

martin@valcomnews.com

East Sacramento native shares family history

Tony DeFazio is the only living son of the late East Sacramento grocer Louis DeFazio and Christina (Tolerico) DeFazio. / Photo by Lance Armstrong

Tony DeFazio is the only living son of the late East Sacramento grocer Louis DeFazio and Christina (Tolerico) DeFazio. / Photo by Lance Armstrong

Anthony “Tony” DeFazio was once among East Sacramento’s larger families, as he grew up in the area’s Italian section with his parents and his eight brothers and sisters, Bill, Jim, Margaret, Louis, Jr., Richard, Marie, Eleanor and Bernadine.
But with the passing of years, only three of these 11 DeFazio family members are living today. And Tony is the last male member of that immediate family.
Last week, Tony, 81, sat down in his Sacramento home to discuss details about his family’s history.
Tony said that his father, Louis DeFazio (1901-1949), was born in Utica, New York, where he was raised by his parents, Calabria, Italy natives Joseph DeFazio (1860-1955) and Bernadine DeFazio (1867-1939).
“(Joseph) came out to California when he was about 14 or 15 years old, because Uncle Frank, his older brother, and my grandparents were already here,” Tony said.
The 1917 city directory mentions Louis as then residing with his father and his brother, Frank, on Park Avenue (now 5th Avenue), near today’s 59th Street.
By the following year, Louis, Joseph and Frank were living at 5930 2nd Ave.
In speaking about his grandfather’s early years in Sacramento, Tony said, “He originally had a little ranch along S Street, which is now near the SMUD building. (The ranch) was owned by the Davis family. My grandfather used to raise vegetables there and they would sell them at the market.”
Tony said that his father’s first job in Sacramento was working for the Southern Pacific Co.
“(Louis) went to work for the SP,” Tony said. “If it wasn’t for the Southern Pacific, we would have had nothing.”
Frank also worked for the Southern Pacific, as he was employed as a blacksmith for the company.
In 1928, Louis, who was still living on 2nd Avenue, became the proprietor of the Elmhurst Cash Market at 1531 7th St.
Another location of the store was located in the Elmhurst neighborhood at 4905 U St. That store was then owned by William J. Morris and Manuel J. Cordoza, who were also the original owners of the 7th Street store.
Louis’ brother, Antone – who was also known as Tony, but will be referred to as Antone to avoid confusion with the featured Tony of this article – worked as a clerk at the 7th Street market in at least 1929 and 1930.
In 1931, Louis opened a grocery store at 4900 J St. and Antone opened a grocery store at 5859 5th Ave.
Predating Louis’ operation of his 49th Street business, the structure had housed a grocery store owned by Andrew G. Christensen in 1926 and the building had afterward sat vacant until the opening of Louis’ store.
By 1932, Frank was working as a clerk in the 49th Street store. But by at least 1935, he was once again employed by the Southern Pacific, this time as a spring maker.
Frank’s son, Joseph, was also working in Louis’ store as a clerk in 1932.
And as a family business, Antone and Louis’ youngest brother, Peter, also began working at the 49th Street store during the 1930s.
Antone, who also worked for Louis during the 1940s, eventually became the produce man of Louis’ grocery business.
In 1935, Louis continued to operate his J Street store while opening a second store at 601 15th St.
By the following year, the 15th Street store was closed and Louis was operating another store at 2121 J St.
In 1937, Louis’ 4900 J St. store was his only business, and by 1938, he had replaced that store with a larger store with a basement at 4768 J St.
In the spring of 1938, the DeFazios moved from 5930 2nd Ave. to 2715 59th St.
Antone ceased working for Louis in 1943, when he was hired as an employee at East Sacramento resident Joseph J. Jacobs’ automobile dealership at 1500 K St.
About a year later, Antone began operating his own gas station at 4801 Folsom Blvd.
Tony said that his father closed his 48th and J streets store in 1944, and then took charge of a grocery store in Sloughhouse.
In another interview for this article, East Sacramento native Willie DaPrato said that he was a former business partner of Louis.
“I started working for (Louis) when I was about 14 years old,” DaPrato recalled. “When I came back from the service, that’s when we started (as business partners at a grocery store on 15th Street in West Sacramento). He promised to set me up in business. That’s what he wanted to do and he did it. I was there for 30 years.”
DaPrato added that the West Sacramento store opened on Jan. 31, 1949 and that he became the sole owner of the store upon the death of Louis on Sept. 8, 1949.
In continuing with the story of his family, Tony said that his mother, Christina (Talerico) DeFazio (1901-1982), was a native of southern Italy.
“My mother came from the (Italian) province of Catanzaro,” Tony said. “She worked in the mills in New York as a young kid. She was (later) a homemaker. She was a hard working person. She stayed home and sewed all of our clothes. Back in the days when poultry feed would come in a cloth bag – we had chickens – she would take those cloth bags and wash them and make clothes out of them, or make diapers, mainly, from those feed sacks. She would actually make kids clothing out of feed sacks, because the feed sacks were good material then in those days. That was during the Depression. It was an economic thing. Everybody had to deal with it. Everybody was in the same boat, so to speak.”
Louis and Christina’s oldest child, Bill, was born in New York, and like all of his siblings, he helped his father in his grocery business.
Bill was training to play as an outfielder for the Oakland Oaks of the Pacific Coast League when he was drafted to serve in the war.
Tony said that Bill, who fought in the Battle of the Bulge, was reported missing in action.
“We were informed that he was missing and finally he showed up,” Tony said. “He was in a hospital in England and we finally got word that he was there.”
When he returned from the war, Bill assisted Willie at the West Sacramento store before establishing his own grocery store in the Carmichael area.
The DeFazio children eventually had children of their own.
Altogether they had 47 children, with Bill, who married Anna Rose Masi, fathering 10 of those children.
Tony DeFazio sits on his first horse, Gennie, in front of his father’s Sloughhouse grocery store in about 1946. / Photo courtesy of Tony DeFazio

Tony DeFazio sits on his first horse, Gennie, in front of his father’s Sloughhouse grocery store in about 1946. / Photo courtesy of Tony DeFazio

Tony briefly spoke about his other brothers and sisters, as follows:
Jim: “During the war, Jim (did not) go in the service. My father got a deferment for him, because he needed him (for the store). He was the only one who could drive a vehicle at that time. (Jim) met Inez (Fernandes, whose parents were natives of Spain) and got married and had nine children.”
Margaret: “She worked for the state of California as an accountant. She was the (family) historian. She had a good memory and she was accurate with all the dates and everything. She ended up marrying a fellow named Raymond Jacobs, who worked at the (old Sacramento) Signal Depot for many years.”
Louis, Jr.: “He died at 12 years old of meningitis back in 1941. He had such charisma that as a 12-year-old, he was so mature. He would work in the store and he got along with people so well. He would watch over the little girls and everything. When we were little kids learning our prayers, he knew them all very well. He was very bright. Everybody loved him.”
Richard: “He was given the nickname, Scratch, when he was a teenager. I never could figure out why they called him that, but he picked it up somewhere. Scratch got called up to play (baseball) in the California League, and he got mad and quit after a couple of seasons. He played with Fresno (in 1952 and 1953 and Visalia in 1955) and they won a pennant (in 1952). He was a good ball player. He (eventually) worked as a batch man for a big cement company in North Sacramento. Scratch later bought my parents’ old house (at 2715 59th St.).”
Marie: “Marie lives in Paradise, above Chico. (During the 1940s), in Sloughhouse, the Gypsy kids (of some of the farm workers) would come in there and stay for a week during the harvest season. (Marie) would gather up the kids and she would get the water hose and wash them up and put clean clothes on them. Some of them expected it and some didn’t. She was like a little mother hen taking care of the little kids.”
Eleanor: “Eleanor married Royce Hodgkins and lived in Napa. She worked for a school district in the Napa area for a while and her husband was a (California) Highway Patrol officer.”
Bernadine: “Bernadine married Don Thayer and she lives in Anderson, near Redding. She taught school near Red Bluff and later went into the meat business with her husband.”
As for Tony, who graduated from Sacramento High School in 1949, he was known by the nicknames of Hambone and Swede. He received the latter name, since he had the lightest complexion of the DeFazio children.
Tony eventually spent many years riding horses and working as a horseshoer and a truck driver, first hauling freight and then gasoline for the Richfield Oil Corp./later Atlantic Richfield Corp. – a company that became a subsidiary of the United Kingdom-based BP in 2000.
From the union of Tony and his wife, Shirley, who he married 60 years ago, came their three children, thus adding to this notable Italian family’s history in the Sacramento area.

lance@valcomnews.com

Kline Music honored for its 50 years of service in the music products industry

Kline Music is presently celebrating its 50th anniversary. Photo by Lance Armstrong

Kline Music is presently celebrating its 50th anniversary. Photo by Lance Armstrong

One of the success stories of local businesses is undoubtedly the story of Kline Music, which is celebrating its 50th year in business.
And in honor of its longevity in the music products industry, the store, which is located at 2200 Sutterville Road, across the street from the Sacramento City College softball stadium, recently received the Milestone Award from the National Association of Music Merchants.
According to a press release, “The award recognizes retailers and manufacturers who have succeeded over the years through best practices and strong community standing to reach a landmark anniversary.”
Joe Lamond, NAMM president and CEO, said, “Those that endure in the music products industry credit their longevity to providing exemplary customer service, becoming integral members of their communities, adapting over time and forging strong succession plans. NAMM is honored to call (Kline Music) a member and looks forward to supporting their success for many years to come.”

Betty Kline sits at her ivory Yamaha piano, which she purchased from a music dealer in Placerville. Although she founded Kline Music, Betty does not consider herself a musician. Photo by Lance Armstrong

Betty Kline sits at her ivory Yamaha piano, which she purchased from a music dealer in Placerville. Although she founded Kline Music, Betty does not consider herself a musician. Photo by Lance Armstrong

NAMM is a not-for-profit association with a mission to “strengthen the $17 billion music products industry and promote the pleasures and benefits of making music.”
The association includes about 9,000 member companies in more than 87 countries.
In commenting about her family’s store, Penny Kline, one of the daughters of the business’s founder, Betty Kline, and the store’s afternoon manager, said, “I am proud to say that Kline Music employs four generations of the Kline family and continues to be family-owned and operated.”
Candy Anderson, another one of Betty’s daughters and a violin and flute teacher at the store, noted that considering that her father, the late W. Russell “Russ” Kline, was a musician, grew up in a musical family and established the Sacramento Youth Band, many people assume that her father founded Kline Music.
A year after establishing a very basic music accessories store in the basement of her Curtis Park residence at 3429 Franklin Blvd., Betty founded Kline Music at its original location at 5032 Franklin Blvd. at 26th Avenue in the Farmers Market Shopping Center in early 1963.
During an interview with this publication last week, Betty, who graduated from Sacramento High School in 1945, shared details about the pre-history portion of her business.
“Before the store front, my husband (who was a 1942 graduate of Sacramento High School and a woodwind instrument instructor) was giving private (music) lessons at home,” Betty said. “We had bought this two-story house on Franklin Boulevard, and he taught downstairs and we lived upstairs in one of those high-rise houses. People would drop their kids off and he had been teaching in our house since they were just small children in a different location (at 2511 23rd Ave.). When we moved there to (the Franklin Boulevard house), I got the brilliant idea, ‘We could have other teachers teaching here.’ So, we got a couple more teaching rooms going downstairs in the basement. And (Russ Kline) was always sending me downtown because the kids, ‘Well, they’ve got a broken reed,’ or the mother cut off the reed or whatever. And we had a guitar teacher (Zeke Nuez) right from the beginning and he would come to (teach) a lesson and he would have a broken string. So, I ended up buying a little showcase-like thing (stocked with music supplies) and kept it locked downstairs in the basement. So, I would go running downstairs, if somebody needed something. Russ would knock on the water pipe to get my attention. And so, that’s really the (unofficial) start of the store. And one day, our washing machine broke down – I had four children – so, I go down to (the FM) Laundromat (at 5036) Franklin Blvd. and there’s this place for rent (at 5032 Franklin Blvd., where Bookkeepers’ Business Service Corp. had previously operated). I figured I could lease this building, and so that’s how the store officially started.”

Betty Kline (right) and Candy Anderson are shown in this 1980s photograph. Photo courtesy of Candy Anderson

Betty Kline (right) and Candy Anderson are shown in this 1980s photograph. Photo courtesy of Candy Anderson

One of Kline Music’s first instructors, a trombone teacher named Bob Lindfeldt, built the teaching rooms at the first two locations of Kline Music. Additionally, Bob and his wife, Beverly, are remembered for their longtime association with the Sacramento Traditional Jazz Society.
During the store’s early years, Kline Music had 10 instructors, who taught lessons in clarinet, saxophone, trumpet, trombone, piano, accordion, guitar, drums and even baton twirling by the Satellites champion baton twirlers.
Today, the store has a teaching staff of 26 and provides instruction for nearly 700 private music students per week. Classes range from trombone, saxophone, flute and piano to guitar, violin, accordion and drums.
Kline Music’s longest term instructor is Mike Bobo, who began teaching piano lessons at the business in 1977.
The store has continuously rented musical instruments throughout its existence.
In recalling a certain day related to the store’s musical rentals in the early 1980s, Candy said, “(On one occasion), we rented out 50 instruments. That’s how busy we were. Although the store was nowhere near what it is today (in terms of renting instruments), it was still substantial.”
The current location of the store opened in 1980, following about nine years of operation at 4905 47th Ave., where the business added a musical instrument repairs department.
Betty purchased Kline Music’s present building, which was constructed in about 1956 and originally housed Capital Curtain and Rug Cleaners. The store’s previous buildings had all been rented on lease agreements.
In addition to Kline family members previously mentioned in this article, other members of the family who have worked at Kline’s Music are: Stan Kline (former trumpet teacher, Betty’s son); Paul Anderson (morning manager, Candy’s husband); Nick Meagher (piano teacher, Penny’s son); Katie Dahl (employee, Penny’s daughter); Julie Solorzano (employee, Candy’s daughter); and Anisa Solorzano (employee, Julie’s daughter).
Betty, who also has another daughter named Melody, said that she is proud of her business’s achievement of serving the public for 50 years.
“I am proud of my own ability to start the store,” Betty said. “It is nice to be celebrating 50 years in business. It’s what I have always hoped for and I hope the Kline family will keep the store as a permanent fixture in the city for years to come.”
In reaching a half-century in business, Kline Music will celebrate this milestone with a 50th anniversary party at Sierra 2 Center, Curtis Hall at 2791 24th St. on June 9 from noon to 6 p.m.
Kline Music is open Mondays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 4 p.m.
For additional information about this business, call (916) 456-8742 or visit the Web site www.klinemusic.com.

St. Francis High, Sacramento arts communities mourn loss of artist, teacher Kathy Carlisle

Kathy Carlisle art photo Original art courtesy, Ara Brancamp // Photo courtesy St. Francis High School, Johnathan V. Comer

Kathy Carlisle art photo Original art courtesy, Ara Brancamp // Photo courtesy St. Francis High School, Johnathan V. Comer

With 2,000 handmade origami cranes, tributes of art and testimony and the powerful sounds of Taiko drums, hundreds of mourners from the St. Francis High School and Sacramento arts communities celebrated the life of the late Kathryn M. Carlisle on Saturday, Dec. 15. A memorial service for students and faculty was also held on Monday, Dec. 10.

Known to her friends as Kathy, she was a much-beloved teacher at St. Francis. She died while taking photographs for a school project on the railroad tracks across the street from the high school on Dec. 8. Carlisle was taking images of an oncoming train, when she was struck from behind by a second train. She was 52.

It is possible Carlisle was taking the photos for an upcoming project on the Holocaust. She was in discussions just days before with Holocaust survivors about the trains that took Jews and other “undesirables” to the death camps. Carlisle was passionate about using art to promote issues of social justice.

At the Celebration of Life Ceremony, Liz Irga, Central Valley Holocaust Education Network, said the last time she spoke with Carlisle, they talked about the trains. “The trains that took people to the (death) camps. And we spoke about the people who ran those trains. I will always wonder if it was that conversation that led to her being there on those tracks,” Irga said.

Kathy Carlisle taught visual arts and digital photography at St. Francis High School. She was struck and killed by a train on Dec. 8.

Kathy Carlisle taught visual arts and digital photography at St. Francis High School. She was struck and killed by a train on Dec. 8.

Every year since her arrival at St. Francis in 2008, she taught a unit on the Shoah — the Holocaust. She was deeply committed to the Central Valley Holocaust Education Network. Her students interviewed survivors of that horror, then created works that embodied the lives of those people in a contemporary way, speaking to today’s generations.

The exhibits won many awards, including a scholarship for Carlisle to study the Holocaust at the 2012 Memorial Library Summer Seminar on Holocaust Education.

Carlisle grew up in Detroit during the 1960s. As a young girl, she saw tanks going down the streets of her city. As an adult, she dedicated her life – and her gifts in the arts and in teaching – to shining light on the darkest things in life. She wanted to use her artistic gifts, especially, to bring issues of justice to the forefront.

As a teenager, she would spend afternoons at the Detroit Institute of Art, studying artists. At age 16, she was accepted into a summer art program at the prestigious Parsons School of Design in New York City. She was educated at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago before earning a B.A. in Arts Education and later an M.A. in Drawing and Ceramic Sculpture from CSUS.

Carlisle began teaching at Sacramento High School as an artist in residence, where she developed a cross-cultural art curriculum. Through a grant from the Neighborhood Arts Program of SMAC, she also worked with pediatric oncology patients from the UC Davis Medical Center.

Carlisle also had a great love of Japanese drumming and culture, and was an original member of the Sacramento Taiko Dan. Founding members of Taiko Dan re-assembled to perform at her Celebration of Life service.

Carlisle was known for her huge heart, eclectic style, and sharp sense of humor. She was passionate about gatherings with family and friends, and empowering students to learn through art.

This passion for life was shared and returned by her many friends and family – and especially by the students, staff and faculty at St. Francis High School. In the wake of her passing, the school did something remarkable: all final exams for the semester were cancelled. Instead, the school community members gathered to console one another. Students created works of art in Carlisle’s memory, using her favorite colors: pink and orange.

At the Celebration of Life, Kendall Spector, a junior at St. Francis and teacher’s assistant to Carlisle relayed a message from her to family and friends: “Mrs. Carlisle always told us, ‘I can hardly wait for each of you girls to graduate, so I can see the amazing things you will do in the world. Each of you is full of color, and the world needs you. Because the world is gray, it needs the color you will bring to it.’”

Margo Reid Brown, president, St. Francis High School, said Carlisle was a “unique, colorful and passionate part” of each of their lives.

“Forever, we will be grateful for her presence in our lives. As a community of faith, we know Kathy was our gift…We trust in the Lord to lift our sister Kathy to everlasting life with Him,” Reid Brown said.

Carlisle is survived by her husband Steven Jarvis, her children Will, Bianca, and Violet, who is a freshman at St. Francis; and her mother, Sandy Carlisle of Brighton, Michigan.
A scholarship fund has been established. The Kathy Carlisle Scholarship will be awarded annually to a current student at St. Francis High School who demonstrates a passion and commitment to the arts that were so much a part of Carlisle’s life. Donations can be made via the St. Francis High School website at www.stfrancishs.org.