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.

The 1947 turkey day game

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.’”**

Great athletes
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

jim@valcomnews.com

‘See you over at Freeport U’

In June of 1964, I graduated from Sacramento High School – in what seemed like a momentous accomplishment at the time.

Marty Relles

Marty Relles

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.

marty@valcomnews.com

Sacramento native recalls 98 years of life in capital city

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.

NEARLY TEN DECADES OF EXPERIENCE. Lou Bordisso, Sr. has seen many things during his 98 years in Sacramento. His memories include playing and coaching baseball in the capital city and owning two local bars. / Valley Community Newspapers photo, Lance Armstrong

NEARLY TEN DECADES OF EXPERIENCE. Lou Bordisso, Sr. has seen many things during his 98 years in Sacramento. His memories include playing and coaching baseball in the capital city and owning two local bars. / Valley Community Newspapers photo, Lance Armstrong

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.

Native son

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.

Baseball captain

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

FAMILY TIME. Lou Bordisso, Sr. and Lou Bordisso, Jr. continue to enjoy each others’ company on a regular basis. / Valley Community Newspapers photo, Lance Armstrong

FAMILY TIME. Lou Bordisso, Sr. and Lou Bordisso, Jr. continue to enjoy each others’ company on a regular basis. / Valley Community Newspapers photo, Lance Armstrong

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.

Family life

MEMORY OF CHRISTMAS PAST. The Bordisso family – Lou Bordisso, Sr, Sunny Bordisso and Lou Bordisso, Jr. – is shown in this Christmas greeting card, which was sent to many of the family’s friends in 1955. / Photo courtesy, The Bordisso Family

MEMORY OF CHRISTMAS PAST. The Bordisso family – Lou Bordisso, Sr, Sunny Bordisso and Lou Bordisso, Jr. – is shown in this Christmas greeting card, which was sent to many of the family’s friends in 1955. / Photo courtesy, The Bordisso Family

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.

Bar proprietor

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.”

lance@valcomnews.com

A visit with original Kings owner Greg Lukenbill

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 LUKENBILL holds a basketball from the first regular season Sacramento Kings game, which was held in 1985. / Valley Community Newspapers photo, Lance Armstrong

GREGG LUKENBILL holds a basketball from the first regular season Sacramento Kings game, which was held in 1985. / Valley Community Newspapers photo, Lance Armstrong

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.