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.
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.
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 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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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.
Editor’s note: This is the fifth in a series of articles about McClatchy athletes and teams chosen for its new sports Hall of Fame.
The 50 athletes/coaches and teams from 1938 to 1962 will be inducted as part of the 75 year McClatchy celebration on Sept. 20 at the Riverside Elks Lodge.
For information about the athletes and how to get tickets, go to restoretheroar.org.
At noon on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 27, 1947, 24,000 frenzied football fans squeezed into Hughes Stadium to see the unbeaten McClatchy Lions and the Sacramento Dragons battle for the Sac-Joaquin League championship.
As a wide-eyed 8-year-old, this was my first football game and would become a Thanksgiving tradition for my family that would last until the 1970s, when the Turkey Day game ended.
Turkey Day 1947 would be the greatest sporting event in Sacramento history with more than half the city attending. After the school opened in 1937, the up-start McClatchy Lions began to chip into Sacramento High School’s athletic dominance by the mid-1940s.
One-half of the city was “Lion Red” while the other half was “Dragon Purple.”
North of Broadway, you were a Dragon; south of Broadway in the suburbs of Sacramento, you were a Lion.
In 1939, McClatchy first beat Sacramento 13-6 behind all-city running back Fred Wristen.* The only tie was in 1940, and Bob Geremia was the star of the 1942 game for the Lions.
1943 brought the Lions a close win 13-12 and the undefeated 1944 McClatchy* team slaughtered the Dragons 44-0 and 25-0. McClatchy had won the last five years, two in 1944 and 45 because there were no night games during World War II, and local teams played each other twice.
The 1947 team
In 1947, Sacramento was coached by George Relles and led by quarter-back Jack Higdon and running backs Henry Barsanti, Vic Frediani and Ed Day.
Burt Delevan and Peter Mering anchored the line. The closest game was against Grant where the team trailed 7-0 at half. The second half was led by Day, Frediani and Mering, and Sacramento ended up winning 19-7.
The Lions, coached by George Bican,* were led by the “high-stepping twins,” John Pappa* (14 touchdowns) and Del Rasmussen* (nine touchdowns).
Rasmussen had run for almost 700 yards and averaged 13.4 yards per carry. Pappa had more than 400 yards and fullback Chuck Marino had almost 300 yards.
Tony Geremia* was an outstanding passer and kicked extra points. Ends Curtis Rowland* and John Matulich were his favorite receivers.
The McClatchy line was led by all-city tackle/linebacker Leon King*, guards Sturmer White and Bill Burns*, all-city center Vern Sampson* and tackle Clarence “Tiger” Orr.
Grant Deary, Bob Farmer* and Bob Norris came in on a strong McClatchy defense that had four shut-outs during the year.
The Lions averaged 33 points per game on offense.
The winning streak
McClatchy started its winning ways on Oct. 4, with a 36-0 win over Christian Brothers with Geremia throwing touchdowns to Pappa and Marino.
The following Friday in the rain at Hughes Stadiums, the Lions beat Woodland 26-0 with Rasmussen running for 121 yards and Pappa 77 yards. At Grant the following week, Geremia threw for more than 200 yards and the “twins” each scored once for a 45-13 victory.
Bican pulled out his bag of tricks and put Leon King at fullback for a touchdown and extra point.
Meanwhile, Sacramento was rolling along beating CBS 27-0, Turlock 12-0, Stockton 12-0, Modesto 25-7, Lodi 13-6, Woodland 21-13 and Grant 19-7.
Defense was the heart of the team, and everyone expected the Lions to give a tough match when they met the Dragons on Thanksgiving Day.
Leading up to the big game, McClatchy visited the Lodi Flames, and before 5,000 fans, Pappa (94 yards and 3 touchdowns), and Rasmussen (68 yards and 2 touchdowns) ran wild for a 39-0 victory.
Rowland blocked a punt and Farmer intercepted a pass to preserve the shutout. The following week against Modesto, with Pappa having a bad heel and Rasmussen the flu, Marino was the workhorse with 104 yards and two touchdowns.
Rasmussen still had 89 yards, Rowland a TD and Deary an interception at linebacker.
Nov. 27 was here at last.
Turkey Day game
The city was in a frenzy.
The local radio station KFBK had a huge pep rally on the air at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday with Tony Koester, the Sacramento Solons announcer, as the MC. On Thanksgiving morning, people began lining up for tickets four hours early at 8 a.m.
The headline of the Sacramento Bee on Friday, Nov. 28, read: “Lions roar to 35-14 victory over Dragons before record 24,000.”
The article read: “A storming fireball C. K. McClatchy High School eleven collaborated with the greatest crowd in the annals of Sacramento sports yesterday to bust the record books wide open in the most dynamic and colorful Thanksgiving Day football game ever produced within the confines of Hughes Memorial Stadium.
While more than 24,000 gridiron enthusiasts crammed into every cranny of the arena for the first time in its history, overflowing into the aisles, hanging precariously on the rims, and spilling out on to the track surrounding the playing turf, THE RAZZLE DAZZLE LIONS cannonaded their way to the Sac-Joaquin section championship with a glittering 35-14 conquest of the Sacramento Dragons.”**
The Lions struck early and often building up a 21-0 halftime lead. Del Rasmussen* carried only nine times for 189 yards and 2 touchdowns.
The Sacramento Bee article continued: “The fair haired boy…was dashing Del Rasmussen, a swivel hipped, squirming, prancing ball packer of all-conference magnitude who broke the Dragons’ backs with two long touchdown scampers. Fronting the way for him and sidekick John Papa was a dominant offensive line led by the 220 pound Leon King…who was tremendously effective at tackle and linebacker. Geremia had an outstanding game, with fourth and goal at the three, he crossed up Sacramento with an end-around to Curtis Rowland for a touchdown and a 21-0 halftime lead.”**
McClatchy scored twice more in the third quarter with Marino scoring a touchdown in his fourth straight game against the Dragons.
Sacramento blocked a punt and scored to start the fourth quarter. Again in the fourth quarter, a missed handoff resulted in a fumble at the Dragon 22.
“Henry Barsanti caught the ball in mid air and set sail for the goal line. Pappa, however, picked himself up off the turf and, after spotting Barsanti 15 yards, amazingly overhauled him on the Lion nine. Fumbleistis set in on the second play, and Rasmussen recovered to thwart any hope of a Dragon rally.”**
When the game ended, it took Bican and Principal S. A. Pepper 20 minutes to break through the many well-wishers to celebrate the Lions’ first section title in football. When they arrived at the locker room, the team went crazy.
“The Lions coach waited for the cheering to subside. Bican tried to speak but was choked up with emotion before he finally said, ‘My 45 boys all looked good.’ My boys all blocked in excellent fashion and we were ready for this one.’”**
The 1948 graduating class had many outstanding athletes. Section championships were won in football and track, a tie with Sacramento for the baseball championship, and the basketball team led by Rasmussen, Dick Balfour and Matulich won the northern section, but lost to Stockton for the Sac Joaquin title.
Roger Osenbaugh* and Jim Westlake would go on to play professional baseball with the Solons.
Balfour would win the section pole vault and Pappa would win the section 100 and 220 for the third straight year.
Pappa would go on to UC Berkeley and score two touchdowns in the 1951 “Big Game” and play in two Rose Bowls.
Rasmussen would become a star running back at Santa Clara, and King would be a starter at Stanford and play in the 1952 Rose Bowl.
However, 65 years later, I think I remember Rasmussen dashing for long gains, Pappa chasing Barsanti over 60 yards to catch him on the nine, crushing hits by King and Sampson, and Geremia throwing darts to Rowland, Rasmussen, Matulich, and Pappa for big gains.
24,000 people in Hughes Stadium for one exciting, colorful, afternoon – I definitely remember that.
*Denotes Hall of Fame inductees
**Sacramento Bee quotes from sports writer Murray Olderman and Tom Kane
In June of 1964, I graduated from Sacramento High School – in what seemed like a momentous accomplishment at the time.
During the last week of school, I carried my yearbook around with me and solicited signatures and comments from my friends and fellow alumni.
When he signed the book, my friend Jim Edwards scrawled, “See you over at Freeport U.”
Yes, that was my plan.
During high school, other kids planned for college, earned top notch grades, took the SAT and applied to attend the best universities.
I hadn’t done that, so Sacramento City College (SCC), also called “Freeport U.,” and also called a “high school with ash trays” was my only option for higher education.
I decided to make the best of it. I enrolled in two classes that summer and earned B grades in both.
When I showed up for fall classes, my friend Mark Lazarotto collared me saying, “I am starting a new political club on campus, want to join?”
I reluctantly agreed.
The club was an ultra-conservative organization: The Young Americans for Freedom (YAF). This was definitely not my politics, but – Mark insisted – so I joined.
The club’s tenure at City College lasted one year. But joining the YAF had a good outcome for me personally. The small membership (five students) voted me vice president of the club. That qualified me to represent our organization on the Inter Club Council, the group of students which acts as a liaison between the entire student body and the administration.
Participating on the ICC affected me in ways I could not imagine at the time. It gave me the opportunity to work with the “best and the brightest” at SCC and to learn the dynamics of working on an important school organization. This experience benefited me immensely later in life.
The ICC met monthly. In addition to planning school events such as dances and the annual Pioneer Day celebration, the organization presented student’s concerns and needs to the administration. To this day, I am thankful for having that experience.
In addition to my participation on the ICC, City College had another benefit for me. I reconnected with a group of kids I knew from Christian Brothers School: Henry Aguire, Joe Cisneros, Pete Sartlidge, Michael McDermott and others such as Jim Hansen (police officer Tiny Hansen’s son) also attended SCC at the time. We hung out together at school.
We formed a bond which lasted well after college. We met in the cafeteria for lunch, had parties, went to dances, and joined in extra-curricular activities such hunting. We were a “band of brothers.” Sadly, I subsequently lost touch with most of these guys, including Mark Lazarotto, the President and founder of the YAF, but the memories of our time together at SCC remain strong.
In the fall of 1966, I transferred to Sacramento State College. My time at SCC had come to an end. It was time to take on more serious educational challenges.
Sac State would prove to be a much greater challenge than City College. Ultimately, it took me another nine years to earn my Bachelor of Arts Degree, counting a two year tour of duty in the U.S. Army.
Now my time at Freeport U. is another unforgettable Janey Way Memory.
Sacramento is undoubtedly a place in which many people take pride. But when it comes to life experiences in this city, few people remember Sacramento better than Lou Bordisso, Sr.
For the great number of years he has lived in Sacramento alone, Lou cannot help but have many memories of the city. But his connection with the area extends well beyond simply living here.
Born in Sacramento on Nov. 17, 1913, Lou was one of the three children of Italian immigrants Frank and Maria Bordisso.
Frank worked for the Pacific Gas and Electric Co. and Marie was a local cannery worker.
During his early childhood, Lou grew up with his family at 1919 14th St. The family, who also included Lou’s siblings, Bill and Katherine, moved to 2710 X St. in about 1927.
Attended local schools
Lou began making friends with many local children while he was attending William Land School at 1116 U St.
He continued his schooling at Newton Booth School at 2620 V St. and Sutter Junior High School at 1820 K St. before becoming a student at Sacramento High School in the early 1930s.
While at Newton Booth and Sacramento High, he was a classmate of Herb Caen, who would eventually become a renowned columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle.
Like many boys growing up in Sacramento at the time, Lou was very interested in the sport of baseball.
And with this interest, Lou began playing baseball at Southside Park when he was 12 years old.
Among Lou’s fondest memories in the game were his years as a third baseman on Sacramento High’s team, which was led by its coach, Edmond A. “Ed” Combatalade.
In reminiscing about these years, Lou said that the Sacramento High team included Alex Kampouris (1912-1993).
“The players named me the captain of the team and we also had (then-future Major League Baseball player) Alex Kampouris on the team,” Lou said. “I remember when we went to Berkeley to play and Kampouris – he was fussy about who he liked – picked me to stay over night. I almost fell over.”
Another notable player on the Sacramento High team was Bill Svilich, who later played for the Sacramento Senators, and Joe Bagley, who was known to practice baseball on a nightly basis at Southside Park.
Minor league player
Lou’s success in baseball in Sacramento led to his signing with the Des Moines (Iowa) Demons, the minor league affiliate of the Chicago Cubs.
And through this experience, Lou was able to practice at Chicago’s famous Wrigley Field.
“I worked out on the Cubs squad with Dolph Camilli (1907-1997), first baseman,” Lou said. “That was a thrill for a kid. I was only 20 years old.”
Camilli, who played for 11 years in the majors, later managed the Sacramento Solons.
The Winter League
Lou was also a baseball manager, as he led his Winter League team to 11 championships. At different times, the team was sponsored by Julius Men’s Shop at 1023 K St. and Matt Transfer and Storage at 851 Richards Blvd.
Local golf phenom
In addition to baseball, Lou also experienced notable success in golf.
Although he did not begin playing golf until after he retired, Lou accomplished a feat that is only dreamed of by most golfers.
Lou made hole-in-one shots on both the first and second holes at Bing Maloney Golf Course at 6801 Freeport Blvd.
Several years later, some of Lou’s friends from Joe Marty’s bar at 1500 Broadway had a bench installed and named in his honor at the 12th hole at William Land Park.
Another one of Lou’s fondest memories was his Oct. 30, 1938 marriage to Rose Elizabeth “Sunny” Thomas. The couple was married by the Rev. Silvio Masante at St. Mary’s (Italian Catholic) Church at 1915 7th St.
Fifteen years later, the couple adopted their only child, Lou Anthony Bordisso.
The adoption was made possible through a letter that was written by Grace “Ciss” Kennedy, who was a friend of Sunny.
The couple’s son, who was adopted through an agency in San Jose, was given the middle name of Anthony as a show of appreciation to the Kennedy family. Ciss’s son is U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.
While there are many people who associate Lou with his baseball days, others know him as the former owner of two local bars.
After returning from his service in World War II, Lou partnered with his brother in the ownership of Old Ironsides at 1901 10th St.
In 1968, Lou sold his interest in Old Ironsides and purchased the Flame Club at 2130 16th St.
Despite selling the Flame Club a decade later, Lou spent little time away from the bar business before accepting a part-time position as a bartender at Joe Marty’s.
Lou continued to work at Joe Marty’s for a few more years, at which time his legs became too weak to withstand the pressures of standing for hours at a time.
‘Local living legend’
During an interview with this publication, Lou Anthony said that his father is somewhat of a local celebrity.
“There is not a place where we can go to in Sacramento where my father is not recognized and approached,” Lou Anthony said. “People always come up to him to reminisce and share with him how he has influenced their lives. He really is like a local living legend.”
Man about town
Despite being less than two years away from becoming a centenarian, Lou remains active in every day life.
Lou continuously dedicates himself to his social life, which includes writing letters to friends and weekly visits to one of his favorite local businesses, the La Bou Bakery and Café at 4400 Del Rio Road, just south of the Sacramento Zoo.
He also often returns to the Old Ironsides and the Flame Club for lunch and reminiscing about his local baseball days and his other fond memories in the capital city.
When asked what his secret to success has been for maintaining a healthy and happy lifestyle for nearly a century in his hometown of Sacramento, Lou said, “My life has been very good, very good. I exercise and eat pretty healthy. I stayed out of trouble, had a good marriage, had a very good boy (Lou Anthony). I’ve had everything I’ve wanted, a nice business, a lot of fun in baseball and (other) sports and I’ve made a lot of friends. Things have been good. That’s all you can ask for in life.”
Editor’s Note: This is part one of a two-part series about East Sacramento native Gregg Lukenbill’s many activities in the capital city.
For many local residents who recall the days when the capital city was introduced to major league sports through the Sacramento Kings, the name Gregg Lukenbill is very familiar.
Gregg was part of the group that purchased the Kansas City Kings in 1983. The team then relocated to Sacramento for its inaugural 1985-86 season.
Although it may seem surprising to many people, this is the 20th year since Gregg sold his stake in the team.
During his interview with Valley Community Newspapers, Gregg spoke about his former association with Sacramento’s National Basketball Association franchise, as well as other details about his life.
In sharing a bit of a chronological voyage of his life, Gregg, who presently resides in East Sacramento, noted that he actually grew up in the area.
“I was born right over there at Mercy (Hospital at 4001 J St.) and I lived at 44th and C (streets) for the first 10 years,” Gregg said. “We ended up with five kids in one room and it was a little crowded over there, so my dad (Frank Lukenbill) bought a bigger house on Meister Way, which is about four blocks away. I lived there until I lived on my own.”
Gregg’s educational background consisted of attending Sacramento schools, as he was initially a student at Sacred Heart School at 3933 I St. before being enrolled at Jesuit High School.
After a year at Jesuit, Gregg, who was his parent’s only son, transferred to Sacramento High School, where he graduated in June 1972.
Gregg said that he became employed for the first time at a very young age, as he began to work for his father, who was a construction superintendent.
“I always worked for my father during the summertime, so that’s just the way that it was from the time I was about seven years old on,” Gregg said. “In about 1962, I think I got my first paycheck. Back then, I was just doing labor – cleaning up the job sites. He used to build houses and commercial buildings and remodels and things like that, so there was always cleaning up to do after the work.”
Eventually, Gregg began learning how to hammer nails, dig ditches, move dirt and use a saw.
Gregg said that with this experience, he became a “mass production kind of a guy” by the time he was about 12 years old.
When Gregg was about 17 years old, he began to construct buildings and foundations on his own.
At the age of about 20, Gregg went into business with his father, who was the co-owner of the construction company, Lukenbill Bros. Together they formed Frank Lukenbill & Son.
As part of the creation of Lukenbill & Son (later Lukenbill Construction), Frank’s brother, Berkley Lukenbill, who was the other partner of Lukenbill Bros., sold his interest in the company to Gregg for about $12,000.
Among the places where Gregg and Frank worked on projects together were the California Almond Growers Exchange at 1802 C St., where the Lukenbills had established a longstanding contract, and Superior Ambulance at 1221 30th St.
Gregg said that it was also during this time that he began to construct commercial tilt-up buildings.
“I started with the tilt-ups, because I was watching Buzz Oates and Joe Benvenuti build these tilt-ups around town and I thought that was a pretty efficient and fast way to build a building,” Gregg said.
To assist with the construction of two of these buildings, Gregg hired Mike Chilimidos, a high school friend of his who was then working at Knott’s Pharmacy at 4819 J St. Chilimidos later served as the superintendent for the construction of today’s Power Balance Pavilion.
Gregg was very close to his father. Frank Lukenbill died about two weeks before his 88th birthday in 2007. Gregg said that his father was a great business partner.
“I always trusted him and he trusted me and he was a godsend for me, because he was always a natural with people and a great hands-on guy,” Gregg said.
Overall, Gregg said that he was very fortunate to have parents who made such an impact on his life.
“I was just really blessed growing up,” Gregg said. “My mom (Leona Lukenbill) was a fanatic about school and my dad was a fanatic about work. My dad was a really hard worker and my mom was a really hard worker from an educational standpoint.”
In honoring the paths of both of his parents, Gregg worked in the daytime and attended college at night.
Gregg took classes at American River College, Sacramento City College and Sacramento State University. He continued with these studies until the fall of 1978, when he was 23 years old.
Although he did not know it at the time, Gregg was on a path that would bring a major league sports franchise to Sacramento just seven years later.
Editor’s note: This is part one of a two-part series highlighting local baseball players who live in the publishing area of Valley Community Newspapers.
For a group of mostly Sacramento natives who grew up playing baseball in this very rich baseball city and a few other places, a tradition was born about five years ago.
It was around this time that a group of seniors calling themselves the Noah’s Bagels Baseball Gang began meeting once a week at Noah’s Bagels in Town and Country Village.
Continuing their weekly gatherings since this time, this social group has grown to include 18 members.
The very first members of the group were Jim Westlake, Dick Alejo and the late Danny Mooradian, who are considered the founders of the group.
In speaking about the formation of the group, Dick said, “We just felt like every time we would go out and see some guy, we would say, ‘Hey, we meet here for coffee. Why don’t you join us.’ Pretty soon, here we are (as a large group).”
Joe Duarte, one of the earliest members to join the group, said that there are various ways that one can be eligible to become a member of the group.
“(To join the group, one should) know somebody, played ball with somebody (or) went to school with them and played ball with them,” Duarte said. “Some of these guys played minor league baseball. Only one – Cuno Barragan – played in the big leagues. He caught for the (Chicago) Cubs for (three) years. Almost all of them, except for two or three, played high school baseball. I never played high school baseball, because I went in the merchant Marines in 1944, when I was 15 years old.”
Duarte said that he eventually became a baker, but chuckled when asked about bagels, saying (back then, in the 1940s), I’d never heard of them.”
During one of the group’s recent gatherings, the following members of the group in attendance shared information about their connections to baseball.
Barragan: “I was born (on June 20, 1932) and raised in Sacramento. I graduated from Sacramento High School in January 1950, and I played football and baseball at Sacramento Junior College. I signed a contract with the Sacramento Solons in 1952, and I played my first year of professional baseball in 1953 for Idaho Falls and then came back and went in the service in 1954 and 1955. I did two years of active duty in the Navy. I went to spring training with the Solons in 1956, was optioned to Amarillo, Texas, Western League, and had a reasonably good year there, and played with the Sacramento Solons in 1957.”
Barragan added that after a brief retirement in 1958, he eventually was drafted from the Solons by the Chicago Cubs in 1961.
“My first at bat was (at Wrigley Field on) Sept. 1 against the San Francisco Giants and I hit a home run off of Dick LeMay on the first pitch. It was pretty exciting.”
Dick Alejo: “I was born in 1936. My professional career was not that big. I just went down to Mexico and played for a team, called Puebla, with Cuno Barragan and Sparky Anderson (who later played and managed in Major League Baseball). Besides that, I played for the American Legion Post 61, McClatchy High School and in the Winter League and at Sacramento Junior College. I did well, but I’m not going to (the National Baseball Hall of Fame in) Cooperstown!”
Nick Capachi: “I played on all the city leagues growing up – the 125-pound, 75-pound leagues – then I played for (American) Legion, high school, county leagues, the Placer-Nevada League and the KFBK all-star team,” said Capachi, who turned 77 last April. “I also played on the (Sacramento Junior) College team. We won the state championship in 1953. We beat Long Beach for the state championship right here at (William) Land Park. I also played in the Army, while I was stationed in the Presidio (in San Francisco).”
Augie Amorena: “I went to Sacramento High School and graduated in 1948. My parents (Amelia and Augustine Amorena) were immigrants from Spain. I started playing baseball when I was about 14. I played Summer League in the different weight divisions. I played (American) Legion, Sac JC and local Winter League, Spring League. We had a team in the Winter League, Julius Style Shop, and Joe Freitas was the manager. We were all young kids, just out of high school. The enthusiasm, the fun, we could hardly wait until Sunday to play ball. We did okay. We won a championship one year. And I played minor league baseball four years (including his time in the International League with the Edmonton Eskimos). I also played in the service for the Army team (in Hawaii).”
Mike Bakarich: “I was born on Mother’s Day, 1944, at Sacramento County Hospital. When we were younger, there was no Little League. You played in the 100-pound league, got weighed. I grew up in West Sacramento and I had to take the Gibson bus and the streetcar to go to McClatchy Park to play baseball. They couldn’t remember my name, so they called me ‘the kid from across the river.’ I played with these guys since I was in the 7th grade, probably. I went to Grant Tech (College, which was located across the street from Grant High School) and I played all three sports there. Then I played baseball in the Winter League, in the National Division, played in the County League and the Rural League and I quit playing hard ball in 1960 or 1961, because I like to play fast-pitch softball. We were playing maybe 75 or 80 ball games a summer, and trying to play baseball and softball was kind of tough. With the fast-pitch softball, I’ve been to two world tournaments and two national tournaments. I played all over the United States. I’m in the fast-pitch hall of fame and the baseball hall of fame in Sacramento.”
My father, Martin Relles, Sr., arrived at Sacramento High in 1931 with great fanfare.
His brothers, George and Ross, who preceded him at the old school had outstanding athletic careers, so doubtless much was expected of Marty.
He did not disappoint them. In fact on his first day of school he had the following slogan sewn on his sweater: “Another great Relles comes to Sacramento High.”
I arrived at Sacramento High in 1962 to begin my junior year with considerably lower expectations. I had just completed two unhappy and unsuccessful years at Christian Brothers School (CBS) and had no idea what to expect at Sac.
I fact, my experience at the old school proved to be a very good one.
For starters, my best friends Mike Gilson and Al Wilson transferred from CBS to Sac with me. This eased my transition.
We all tried out for varsity football that summer and all ended up on the Junior Varsity team.
At first, I felt disappointed by what seemed another failure, but in the end, the demotion worked out well for me. I played every down of an eight-game season at left end. During that time, I caught several passes and scored a touchdown in our final game against the Woodland Wolves.
I had found the success I had longed for at CBS. By the end of the semester, I earned my first athletic letter: bravo.
My academics improved at Sacramento High too, from barely a C average to a B. That is not surprising.
By comparison to CBS, Sacramento High had much to offer.
CBS at that time, was a small all-boys prep-school wedged onto the corner of 21st Street and Broadway.
Sacramento High (one of the oldest high schools west of the Mississippi) sprawled out on a nearly one square-mile campus, which included a football field and a track, a baseball field, a men’s gym capable of seating 1,800 people, a women’s gym, an auditorium large enough to seat the entire student body, shops for technically-oriented students, and science and language labs.
In addition to these physical resources, Sacramento High had an outstanding faculty headed up by its diminutive principal Albert J. Sessarego who held a PhD from Stanford. Under Dr. Sessarego, Sacramento High flourished.
During my two years at Sacramento High, I went on to earn two more sports letters in Varsity track and to attain all the required course work for college.
In the end, although I did not prove to be “another great Relles,” at least I was a “good“ Relles. To this day, I thank Dr. Sessarago and his outstanding staff for my success.
Now my days at venerable old Sacramento High School are another happy Janey Way memory.