Hubacher Cadillac had long history as a north area business

Note: This is part two in a series about and related to Hubacher Cadillac.

A large piece of property lies vacant at the northwest corner of Howe Avenue and Fair Oaks Boulevard. But there was a time when the site was a very active place.
The property was for many years associated with the name Hubacher.
Elmer Hubacher took over the entire operations of the old J.J. Jacobs Cadillac dealership, about two blocks south of the Sacramento Memorial Auditorium, in January 1966.
Hubacher, who served as a naval aviator in World War II and the Korean War, had already been a partner with Jacobs for two years when he purchased Jacobs portion of the company.
Prior to working with Jacobs, Hubacher had become a veteran Cadillac employee, as he had been associated with Cadillac since 1947. He worked as a salesman before becoming a zone manager.

Hubacher Cadillac opened at 1 Cadillac Drive at the northwest corner of Howe Avenue and Fair Oaks Boulevard in 1972. / Photo courtesy of Jacobs family
Hubacher Cadillac opened at 1 Cadillac Drive at the northwest corner of Howe Avenue and Fair Oaks Boulevard in 1972. / Photo courtesy of Jacobs family

The Sacramento Bee, in an article in its Jan. 8, 1967 edition, recognizes the then-recent official establishment of Hubacher Cadillac, Inc. through the signing of an agreement between the Cadillac Motor Car Division and Elmer Hubacher.
During the previous month, Hubacher had begun to unofficially refer to his business as Hubacher Cadillac.
An early 1967 advertisement for the company refers to the “credo of Hubacher Cadillac,” as follows: “A progressive sales philosophy, personal and satisfying service policies, a sincere interest in serving you and a deep concern for your satisfaction in America’s finest motor car.”
Hubacher would eventually move his business to the aforementioned corner of Howe Avenue and Fair Oaks Boulevard.
On Dec. 15, 1970, The Sacramento Union reported that Hubacher Cadillac would be relocating to that site.
The article mentions that a 45,000-square-foot building would be constructed on the property, which had been acquired from the Commons Development Co.
It was also recognized in the article that Hubacher also purchased additional land on the south side of that property.
The same article notes: “Sacramento architect Harry Devine, (who was related to the Jacobs family through marriage), said the building will feature colored concrete, expansive use of glass and will house showrooms, offices, parts and service facilities with parking service spaces for 63 spaces.”
As mentioned in the previous article of this series, the reason for Hubacher’s relocation to this north area site was due to the company’s insufficient space at its previous referred to downtown site.
At that time in the company’s history, that site, which was the location of the company’s main sales center, was one of six Hubacher locations.
Another reason for the company’s plan to move to the Howe Avenue and Fair Oaks Boulevard site was based on a survey that showed that 70 percent of the company’s customers were residents of the Fair Oaks area.
Another statistic revealed that this north area intersection received more traffic than anywhere else in the county, besides freeways.
In addition to the main structure, other Hubacher buildings would be built at this north area site.
The 1970 article mentions that one building on the site would house an automotive museum that would feature agency-owned cars, including a 1904 Cadillac and a 1959 Eldorado Brougham custom.
A reference to Hubacher Cadillac in the March 12, 1972 edition of The Union notes that the completion of that dealership was scheduled for August 1972.
Among those who were then associated with the dealership at its 1501 L St. location were Elmer Hubacher, president; Stanley Hindsley, secretary-treasurer; Hilary T. Martin, general sales manager; Alfred E. Marwick, used car manager; and Jesse B. Vinson, service and parts manager.
Hubacher Cadillac, which eventually became known as Hubacher Cadillac & Land Rover, Inc., remained in business at 1 Cadillac Drive, at the aforementioned northwest corner of Howe Avenue and Fair Oaks Boulevard, until 2010.
Elmer Hubacher, who was a member of Del Paso Country Club, the Sutter Club and the Rotary Club of Sacramento, died during the previous year.
The old Hubacher north area property was sold for about $7.1 million to CVS pharmacy last December.
James Teare, of Terranomics, was the broker who represented CVS.
In a very brief interview for this article, Teare said that although a CVS store will be a part of a future shopping center at that site, he could not make a comment regarding what other stores might be located in that center.
“There are other stores going in. That is public knowledge,” Teare said.
Mike Luca, vice president of the CBRE, Inc. brokerage firm in Sacramento and one of the brokers who was involved in the sale, also spoke about the property for this article.
“We sold the property at the end of last year,” Luca said. “We had the property on the market for over three years. It sold to CVS. We did not represent the buyer. We only represented the seller.
“The city sold them a 1-acre piece of property that’s actually the true hard corner of Fair Oaks (Boulevard) and Howe (Avenue). And then the rest of (the property) was the Cadillac dealership. They bought that also. The buyer didn’t close until they knew they would be approved (for the site).
“There will likely be additional occupants on that corner, but I do not know who those are. There have been rumors of a (grocery) market, but I can’t confirm any of them.
“Obviously, they tore the whole (Cadillac) building down, and the Cadillac dealership is no longer there. It will be all new construction, new buildings. Before that, the dealership was closed for three or four years before the property actually sold. So, it’s going to turn a dead corner into something a lot more vibrant, and it will be a nice development.”

When We Were Colored: Retired Bee associate editor Ginger Rutland releases play based on her mother’s memoir

It’s Sacramento 1952 and you’re the first black family on your block. Ginger Rutland invites you to come laugh and cry with the Rutlands in, “When We Were Colored,” a play she adapted from her mother Eva’s legendary memoir.

The play, like the book from which it springs, tells the story of a middle class black woman born and raised in the segregated south before World War II who moves West to raise her children in integrated California after the war.

In this homage to her mother, Ginger Rutland, former television reporter, NPR commentator and editorial writer for The Sacramento Bee, puts her family’s story on stage. Performances of “When We Were Colored” will be at Pioneer Congregational Church, 2700 L St., the weekends of Aug. 21 and 28; Fridays at 7:30 p.m.; Saturdays at 2 and 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 6 p.m. Tickets are $20 and are available at or by calling 443-3727.

Ginger, a Curtis Park resident, sat down with this publication to discuss the creation of the play, her love and admiration for her mother, what it was like growing up going to the integrated neighborhood Sierra School and to shed light on stereotypes of the black experience.

“The stereotypical stories were that blacks were slaves, sharecroppers, that they were lynched, that they came from welfare mothers. But, not that is not authentic, there’s also a huge swath (of the population) that has been ignored,” she said upon introducing the play.

From the segregated deep south in Georgia, Ginger’s parents and grandparents were upper-middle class, despite her grandfather Isaac West Moreland’s societal position as a slave.

Shown here is Ginger Rutland, former associate editor of The Sacramento Bee. Now also a playwright, Ginger has taken the story her mother wrote, "When We Were Colored: A Mother's Story" and adapted it for the stage, with its first showing on Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Pioneer Congregational Church, 2700 L St. / Photo by Stephen Crowley
Shown here is Ginger Rutland, former associate editor of The Sacramento Bee. Now also a playwright, Ginger has taken the story her mother wrote, "When We Were Colored: A Mother's Story" and adapted it for the stage, with its first showing on Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Pioneer Congregational Church, 2700 L St. / Photo by Stephen Crowley

Eva’s memoir, which was first published in 1964 and used in sociology classes through out Sacramento, has been endorsed by Willie Brown, Jr., former mayor of San Francisco; Cornel West, activist, professor and author of “Race Matters.” After several printings of the book, it eventually went out of print and it wasn’t until 2007 when Ginger’s father, Bill Rutland, passed away that everybody at the funeral wanted a copy. So, Ginger decided to re-release it but changed the title (with stern consternation from family members) and added family photos, which were absent from the earlier printings.

While Eva’s book was first called “The Trouble with Being a Mama,” Ginger thought to make the title more evocative of the era and decided to call it, “When We Were Colored: A Mother’s Story” as the term “colored” was a polite description of black America.

Found on the back cover of the re-released version of the book, Brown writes: “Eva Rutland’s chronicle of child rearing during the transition from segregation to civil rights is warm, poignant, and funny. It is also a powerful object lesson in how and why women – as mommas and grandmothers – have long anchored the soul of Black America.”

For Eva’s particular situation, she lived her early years in a segregated South, a place where a certain comfort was felt. Around her, she saw middle and upper class blacks working in such professions as doctors, teachers, and funeral directors.

“It was like the Huxtables. Because of segregation, we had to have black business people who became leaders of these black communities. Some of these were wealthy, but (many) were solidly middle class. There’s a lot of them but you never read about them or see them. So mother wrote a story in which a world she grew up. She was protected, loved, happy,” Ginger said.

Having lived to age 95, Eva died on March 15, 2012 and her granddaughter, Eva Shields, wrote an obituary for the Curtis Park Viewpoint, which describes her as the “quintessential Southern belle.”
Born in Atlanta on Jan. 15, 1917, a granddaughter to former slaves, despite discrimination, Eva Shields writes, “(Eva Rutland) had a happy childhood.” In 1943, she married Bill Rutland, a civilian employee at the Tuskegee Army Air Base, and in 1952 they moved to Curtis Park. Eva already had published articles in the leading women’s magazine’s of the day, Redbook, Ladies’ Home Journal and Women’s Day, “not bad for a black woman in the 1940s and early 50s.”
“She grew up in the segregated South and loved it,” continued the younger Eva. “She worried about her children who would have to interact with whites in the integrating West of the 1950s and 1960s. Eva started writing stories about her children to tell white mothers, ‘My children are just as precious and just as fragile as yours. Please be kind to them.’ She compiled these stories into a book entitled The Trouble With Being a Mama, published in 1964.
“When she was in her early 50s, grandma went blind but she didn’t let that slow her down. She bought a talking computer and became one of Harlequin’s most prolific writers, eventually writing over 20 books for the well-known romance publisher.”
Ginger said Eva’s magazine pieces told about the transition from segregation to integration and as such told stories about her children, the PTA, “how Johnny can’t learn his Algebra” and other social problems brought to a relatable down-home level, with questions like: “Will they be accepted at Miss Diddy Wattie’s class? What happens they are called a nigger?”
Even though Ginger herself is an accomplished writer, growing up under the same roof as a Victorian romance novelist and magazine writer, to her Eva didn’t strike her as out of the ordinary.
“When you are a kid, it’s just your mom, but she was the president, the vice president of the PTA. She was the combatant mom and she was the girl scout leader, the little league mom. She was a classic ’50s mom. She wrote plays and the PTA would perform them. She wrote morality plays. She wrote a lot. Short stories for magazines.
“But, truly her writing career took off when she going blind when I was in college. She loved Victorian romances that featured lords and ladies. Her favorite author was Jane Austen. She wrote books patterned on that. She had white characters, but had black characters (through out). She would populate the novels with us to remind people that we’re there and people just like they are,” Ginger said with emphasis.
As Eva feared her children would be a minority in Sacramento, the move out West was brought on by her husband Bill’s military involvement.
Hired to work at McClellan Air Force Base, it was that chapter in the Rutlands’ lives in which Bill was trying to buy a house. While he saw “better than average track homes for $250 down near McClellan, Ginger noted, “There were restrictions on blacks, Asians, Jews” and being black, they weren’t allowed housing near the base.”
So, Bill was driven around town, looking at neighborhoods like Del Paso Heights and Oak Park, but neither of those neighborhoods, to say the least, felt like home. So, he drove himself around other areas and found Curtis Park. And he noticed, Ginger said, “If they are going to sell to Orientals, they will sell to us.”
But owning a house in the Curtis Park neighborhood came with a caveat for minorities. “They could only own above 2nd Avenue. Below 2nd, you couldn’t,” Ginger said.
This was before freeways cut through the area. There was no Highway 50 cutting through downtown. There was no 99. And Ginger loved her home and her neighborhood. “It was a two-story house. It was quite nice, treelined. It was an idyllic childhood. The Yees lived across the street, and Alfred. He was Japanese. So, there was a Chinese family across the street, Japanese, black and white people all around. It was a very integrated neighborhood.”
A student at Sierra School, Ginger recalls the demographic makeup with “some of everything, but there was mostly white people.”
While Eva’s notoriety grew as a writer, Bill’s job at McClellan was “to sell weapons of mass destruction to allies around the world. We’re talking the Middle East, Europe, everywhere,” Ginger said.
A family on the move, the Rutlands eventually moved to South Land Park with the help from a sympathetic white colleague of Bill’s, Ginger said. “The two of them always tried to buy a house and mom found a lot we could afford” at 35th Avenue and Holstein Way, “but they wouldn’t sell to her, so she went to a colleague of Dad’s and he bought the lot for her. They built (the home) from the ground up.”
Ginger started at The Sacramento Bee in 1988 and retired in 2013. Before that she was a television reporter for Channel 4 in San Francisco covering Sacramento news. Then she was at Channel 3 for seven years, followed by a job providing radio commentary for Capital Public Radio.
At The Bee, she was on the editorial board, often writing the opinion of the paper, and she also wrote columns. Her father’s favorite column his daughter wrote was in favor of President Bill Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, she said. “I wrote columns on gay marriage. You name it. I did stuff on the parking lot at the train station that was a mess, the cost of buses for kids going to school. I wrote a lot about pensions, which I thought were too fat. So public unions hated me, the teachers union.
“We liked charter schools and things like that. You write opinions and if they are any good, they are controversial. You take a stand and there were people on the other side. I tried to be fair, omniscient. In my own head I always said, ‘blah blah blah blah blah blah blah or not.’ I always try to keep aware that we always make mistakes.”
Asked what piece she was most proud of during her time at The Bee, Ginger said it was one that probably no one remembers, but was representative of the reason she went into journalism – to expose injustice. About a poor black man who had been charged with hit and run and assault, Ginger said there was something different about this man who wrote her a letter from jail. “He wrote all of these letters, some to the NAACP and one of his letters landed on my desk. As a journalist, you get letters from prisoners and you don’t pay attention, but this letter rang so true to me. I called his public defender. The woman who claimed to have been hit had a record of insurance fraud.” Meanwhile, the district attorney kept offering him dealings, trying to convince him to plead guilty and to get over it. But, the young man wanted to be in law enforcement and knew if he pleaded guilty he wouldn’t reach his goal. “The D.A. wouldn’t drop it and the people who were in the jury were like, ‘huh?’ The evidence was that he was a victim of a scam. In the end, he was not only acquitted but was declared factually innocent” by black judge Alice Lytle, a friend of Ginger’s.
Ginger wrote a couple of pieces on the young man, first when he was acquitted, then secondly when the judge brought back the case. And while she didn’t keep in touch with him, she wondered what
eventually happened to him.
While no one may remember those stories Ginger wrote about him, her legacy as a voice of The Sacramento Bee will never be forgotten and will stand the test of time, just as that of the writing of her mother Eva’s book, which will soon be brought to life with the performances of it starting this week at Pioneer Congregational Church.
“When We Were Colored” is a one-act, hour-plus play organized in a series of vignettes featuring three characters, Ginger, Bill and Eva, respectfully played by Brooklynn Solomon, Kelton Howard and Shawna James and directed by Maggie Adair Upton. What follows are biographies of the director and actors, courtesy of Ginger.

About the actors
Maggie holds a masters of arts in theatre from Sacramento State University and has been teaching, acting, directing and managing for the region’s theatre for many years. Currently she is a member of the Playwright’s Collaborative Steering Committee. Most recently she directed The Third Date at the Wilkerson for Ray Tatar; The Flu Season and Time Stands Still for Ovation Stage, and appeared as Queen Hecuba in Resurrection Stage’s Trojan Women. At Chautauqua Playhouse, she appeared in Maternal Instincts, directed Steve Martin’s Picasso at the Lapin Agile, and will direct a production of Calendar Girls there next year. As managing director at River Stage projects, she directed Five Women Wearing The Same Dress, The Waiting Room, and appeared in Sympathetic Magic. Her favorite directing projects include productions at the Thistle Dew.
Brooklynn received a bachelor’s of arts in theatre. Her credits include The Trial of One Short-Sighted Woman vs Mammy Louise and Safreeta Mae, as Victoria Dryer, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone as Mattie Campbell and North Star as Aurelia Taylor. Most recently she was seen in Celebration Arts’ productions of Bourbon at the Border as May Thompson, (a role which earned her an Elly nomination for best lead actress in a drama) and The Bluest Eye as Claudia.
Shawna just completed her freshman year at Boston University where she is pursuing her BFA in Theatre Arts. She has spent most of her summers training professionally at Center REP’s Young REP program and Interlochen Arts Camp. Some of her favorite shows include Every Five Minutes (Magic Theatre Arts.

If you go:
Performance of “When We Were Colored: A Mother’s Story”
Where: Pioneer Congregational Church, 2700 L St.
When: Aug. 21-30; Fridays at 7:30 p.m.; Saturdays at 2 and 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 6 p.m.
Tickets are $20 and available by visiting www.brownpaperticket.comor by calling 443-3727.

J.J. Jacobs planted roots for north area’s Hubacher Cadillac

Note: This is part one in a series about and related to Hubacher Cadillac.

This month marks five years since Hubacher Cadillac ceased operations at the northwest corner of Howe Avenue and Fair Oaks Boulevard. And with the sale of that property last December and the recent demolition of the old Hubacher building, it is timely to review the history of that automobile dealership, including its roots.
Those roots were planted by another automobile dealer, Joseph John “J.J.” Jacobs, who was born into a Pennsylvania Dutch family on a farm in Darby, Delaware County, Pa. on Christmas Day in 1885.

 J.J. Jacobs operated his Sacramento automobile business from 1916 to 1966. Photo courtesy of Jacobs family
J.J. Jacobs operated his Sacramento automobile business from 1916 to 1966. Photo courtesy of Jacobs family

J.J. became orphaned during his youth, as his father died before his 10th birthday, and his mother died about five years later. Both of his parents were born in 1854.
After his parents deaths, J.J. spent time living with his older brother in New Jersey and attending school. But J.J. would eventually drop out of school to begin making a living in what would be various lines of work prior to establishing a career in the automobile industry.
In explaining to The Sacramento Bee, in 1966, how he became involved in selling cars, J.J. said, “I got into the automobile business in New York City in 1910 after answering an ad for a Ford salesman (job) while I was selling typewriters in Montana. I got the job, but I didn’t like selling in New York, so I came west to sell Fords in Los Angeles in 1911.”
After two years of working in that position, J.J. left that employment and began working in the motion picture industry as an extra in comedy films with such notable actors as Charlie Chaplin, Chester Conklin and Mabel Normand.
After his work in about 10 films, J.J. found employment as a salesman of Studebakers in Los Angeles, and then Bakersfield, before heading to Sacramento to establish his own Studebaker agency.
During the summer of 1916, J.J., who was then residing in the Hotel Sacramento at 10th and K streets, partnered with Rodney C. Bridge, who also lived in that hotel, to establish the Bridge and Jacobs Motor Co. Studebaker dealership at 1806 M St. (now Capitol Avenue).
During the following year, J.J. was operating his own Studebaker agency, the J.J. Jacobs Motor Co., on leased property at 1500 K St.
At that time, he was residing at 3100 21st St., in the former home of Roger L. Scott, who was the secretary of the John Breuner Co., at 600-608 K St., and the president of Economy Department Store at 802 L St.
From about 1919 to about 1921, J.J. resided at 630 22nd St., and then from about 1921 to 1927, he lived at 2110 21st St.
It was also in 1927 when construction began on the original, portion of the Jacobs’ home in the Sacramento neighborhood that would eventually become known as the Fabulous Forties. The final stage of that original portion of the house was completed in March 1928.
In that two-story home at 1225 45th St., J.J. and his wife, Marjorie, who he married in October 1922, would raise their daughters, Marilyn, Marjorie “Marge”, Jacqueline “Jackie,” Mildred and Elinor.
Mildred and Elinor were daughters from J.J.’s previous marriage to Marjorie’s older sister, Dorothy “Dora” (Morissey) Jacobs. Dora, who married J.J. in about 1916, died on Dec. 22, 1920.
Mildred was born as Mildred Miner during Dora’s previous marriage to a Dr. Miner.
During the mid-1920s, the J.J. Jacobs Motor Co. operated a branch at 3152-60 Folsom Blvd.
In about 1929, the company, while still selling Studebakers, became a Pierce-Arrow dealer.
The 1933 city directory recognizes J.J.’s agency as then offering Rockne automobiles, which were built and marketed by the Studebaker Corporation in 1932 and 1933 as a tribute to the legendary University of Notre Dame football coach Knute Rockne (1888-1931).
J.J. became strictly a Buick, Cadillac and LaSalle distributor in 1934.
Six years later, General Motors discontinued its manufacturing of LaSalles, which were a brand of GM’s Cadillac division.
Cadillac I Photo 02The original portion of this unique house at 1225 45th St. was built by the Campbell Construction Co. for the J.J. Jacobs family from June 1927 to March 1928. Photo by Lance Armstrong
Cadillac I Photo 02The original portion of this unique house at 1225 45th St. was built by the Campbell Construction Co. for the J.J. Jacobs family from June 1927 to March 1928. Photo by Lance Armstrong

The 1950 Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Co. telephone directory mentions the J.J. Jacobs Motor Co.’s dealership and towing, paint and metal shop at 1500 K St., the used car department at 1401 L St., and another towing, paint and metal shop at 18th and S streets.
The old J.J. Jacobs Motor Co. began its longtime existence as solely a Cadillac dealership in 1950, when J.J.’s son-in-law, Newton Cope, took over the Buick dealership.
Cope, who was married to the former Marilyn Jacobs from 1945 to 1966, sold the Buick dealership in 1959 and opened The Firehouse Restaurant in Old Sacramento about a year later.
Among those who worked for Cope at his Buick dealership at 1500 K St. was Kenneth V. Riggs, a former longtime sales manager for the J.J. Jacobs Motor Co.
With Cope’s operation of the Buick dealership, the address of J.J.’s business began to be regularly recognized as 1501 L St.
At that time and until 1966, the vice president of the J.J. Jacobs Cadillac Co. was J.J.’s son-in-law, Don E. Reid.
After being asked to describe her father, J.J., Jackie Devine said, “He was highly unusual in that he had really unusually strong family values. We always sat down and had dinner. He respected the family so much. He raised his children strictly, but (kindly). He read everything. He didn’t have an education, so he read so much, because he really respected education. But he was very close to his children and he always put a tie and jacket on to eat. We always sat down at 6:30 (p.m.), and he always worked six days a week. He always went to work in the morning and came home for dinner. He was very disciplined. He was a very good father.”
Marge Reid also described her father, who passed away on Dec. 17, 1971.
“(J.J.) was a self-made man, who was very bright,” Marge said. “He could have sold anybody anything. He worked very hard, I remember. He was a very devoted person, so his family and his business was it. He was very loyal and trustworthy. His handshake would go a long way with him. His honor was his word. He really cared about his clients.”
In January 1966, the San Francisco-born Elmer Hubacher (1919-2009) purchased J.J.’s interest in the dealership, and began operating the business in the same midtown Sacramento location as Hubacher Cadillac.
Hubacher had been a partner and general manager in the firm since 1964.
The agency officially became known as Hubacher Cadillac, Inc. in December 1966.
A 1967 advertisement for the company recognizes the business as then operating at 1501 L St. and 1501 K St. at that time.
Due to insufficient space, Hubacher Cadillac relocated to 1 Cadillac Drive at the aforementioned northwest corner of Howe Avenue and Fair Oaks Boulevard in 1972.
Among the people associated with Hubacher at that time were Elmer, who served as the company’s president; Stanley Hindsley, secretary-treasurer; Hilary T. Martin, new car manager; and Jack Wendell, used car manager.
Additional details about Hubacher Cadillac and its former north area site will be featured in the next edition of this paper.

SMUD’s history began through local voters’ approval in 1923

Editor’s Note: This is part one of a two-part series about the Sacramento Municipal Utility District. Part two of the series will feature details regarding the renovation of East Sacramento’s SMUD headquarters building.

For well more than six decades, the Sacramento Municipal Utility District has been serving the electricity needs of residents of Sacramento and beyond.
Presently, SMUD serves all of Sacramento County and a small portion of Placer County.
The company recently made news when it was reported that its more than half-century-old headquarters building at 6201 S St. in East Sacramento would undergo a $100 million renovation.

Caption: SMUD relocated its headquarters and offices into this building at 2101 K St. in 1949. / Photo courtesy of SMUD
Caption: SMUD relocated its headquarters and offices into this building at 2101 K St. in 1949. / Photo courtesy of SMUD

That project, albeit one of the major projects of the district, marks just one of the many highlights in the company’s history, which dates back to July 2, 1923.
On that day, 87 percent of voters approved a $12 million bond issue for the creation of SMUD.
Additionally, a five-member board of directors was elected to serve a one-year term. Those original directors were Mayor Albert Elkus, Judge C.E. McLaughlin, George L. Herndon, Robert L. Jones and Ben Leonard.
In 1921, The Sacramento Union had published the following words: “It has been very definitely proved that municipalities can provide their own power and light at a cost considerably below the rate charged by private hydroelectric companies.”
During the same year, efforts to establish a community owned electric distribution system and water and power rights on Silver Creek in El Dorado County were investigated by SMUD representatives.
The district’s original service areas were the cities of Sacramento and North Sacramento and adjacent territory of approximately 48,000 acres or 75 square miles.
SMUD’s early history also included the expansion of its service area from 48,000 acres to 420,000 acres, with the inclusion of the communities of Elverta, Rio Linda, Elk Grove and Herald.
This 1958 photograph shows a group of men who were employed as SMUD meter readers at that time.
This 1958 photograph shows a group of men who were employed as SMUD meter readers at that time.

An article in the Dec. 29, 1986 edition of The Sacramento Bee summarizes SMUD’s major challenges of its early years, as follows: “SMUD had been created by voters in 1923. But it took most of the intervening 23 years to win independence from (the Pacific Gas and Electric Co.), which was loathe to relinquish the territory.
“In fact, for several years, even after the 1946 takeover (of PG&E), SMUD was a captive of PG&E. It bought most of its power from the big private utility until 1952, when it won an allotment from the federal Central Valley Project.”
Regarding the change from private to public distribution and sale of electricity, The Bee, in its December 31, 1946 edition, notes: “It would have been easy during the long fight for (SMUD’s) directors to have become disheartened and to have given up. But they kept tenaciously at their task and saw it through. And for that they deserve the thanks of the entire community.”
That night, at 6 p.m., the Sacramento area’s power distribution facilities formally passed from PG&E to SMUD, and Sacramento became the nation’s seventh largest city to obtain its electric service from a publicly owned power system.
At that time, SMUD was operating in rented rooms at 1325 K St. and in tin Quonset huts at the present 59th Street site.
A 50th anniversary (1947-1997) SMUD booklet describes the change in the usage of electricity in Sacramento homes from the end of World War II to the beginning of the 1960s, as follows: “In 1945, many homes in Sacramento and outlying areas were lit by kerosene or gas lamps and kept warm by wood stoves. But by 1960, the average Sacramento home not only had electric service – it had become a veritable electricity consumption center. Sacramentans had bought electric ranges, central heating, electric washers, dryers and dishwashers, and a remarkable range of small electrical appliances, from waffle irons and griddles to electric blankets and bathroom space heaters.”
In 1949, SMUD relocated its headquarters and offices into the then-recently remodeled, former Northern Motor Co. building at 2101 K St.
The 1949 city directory lists SMUD as then having its administrative and general offices at 2101 K St. and its operating headquarters at 59th and R streets.
During the late 1950s, SMUD began to build its own hydroelectric power plants on the upper American River, and by 1961, the company had lowered its electricity rates three times.
SMUD’s aforementioned headquarters building in East Sacramento opened in 1960.
In 1966, the company purchased 2,100 acres in Herald, in southeast Sacramento County, for the purpose of constructing its once controversial Rancho Seco nuclear power plant. The plant was built from 1969 to 1974.
Fifteen years later, Rancho Seco – Spanish for “dry ranch” – was permanently closed following a public vote to have the place decommissioned.
During those years, the Arab oil embargo led to an energy crisis in this country, and the federal government requested that Americans limit their energy consumption.
Furthermore, a major drought in Northern California in 1976 resulted in the drying out of SMUD’s largest reservoir. Subsequently, its hydroelectric power output was decreased by 50 percent.
 SMUD switchboard operators are shown in this 1947 photograph. / Photo courtesy of SMUD
SMUD switchboard operators are shown in this 1947 photograph. / Photo courtesy of SMUD

In response, SMUD’s directors approved a comprehensive energy conservation program, which involved the input of its customers.
Folsom was annexed by SMUD from PG&E via a vote of that city’s residents in 1984. The acquisition added 141 square miles to the utility district’s service area.
Among SMUD’s highlights in the 1990s were the construction of three cogeneration plants, the expansion of generation capacity at its upper American River power plants, and the opening of its Energy Management Center.
In regard to the center, the aforementioned 50th anniversary SMUD booklet notes that it “dovetailed to allow the district to make its own minute-by-minute decisions on buying power and managing energy sources, a method far more cost effective than relying exclusively on long-term power contracts.”
Furthermore, the booklet notes that SMUD employees were able to cut costs by $56 million, and avoid a tenth rate increase in eleven years.
The 2000s brought the Y2K bug concern that never actually became an issue and the state mandated deregulation of the electric utility industry, which resulted in shortages of power, rotating outages and an increase in wholesale energy costs.
Additionally, the Sept. 11 attacks led to an elevation in security at the SMUD facilities and offices.
Now in its 68th year of providing energy services to its customers, SMUD continues its efforts to improve its offerings.
An official SMUD document, which includes a section, entitled, “The New Century,” notes: “Even as we coped with deregulation and other difficult issues, we forged ahead with a (sic) major green-energy efforts such as our wind-power project in Solano County,”Smart Homes”Greenergy”SolarShares, plug-in hybrid vehicles and a host of other initiatives.
“We’re well on our way to building a smart grid to help us operate more efficiently and give you better choices in the way you use energy.”
Last week, in speaking about the company’s past and future, SMUD CEO and General Manager Arlen Orchard said, “SMUD’s value to the community is deep and far reaching, and we’re doing everything in our power to make that relationship even stronger in the years and decades to come.”

River lessons: Teachers never really know how lessons will follow students

“My parents drilled river safety into us with one rule: Don’t swim in the rivers.”

Ellen Cochrane
Ellen Cochrane

On the first day of each school year, I pull out a laminated story from The Sacramento Bee. The picture shows a boy in a life vest and the story covers safety on the river. My tanned students, fresh from summer, eye the paper and pass it around. Then I tell my stories.

Many years ago my father took me aside to show me a small clipping from the paper. A young girl drowned in the American River. Her last name was Brown, and I sat behind her the prior year in school. She tripped into an underwater hole and was overcome by the currents. She died on a beautiful July day playing with her family and friends.

My parents drilled river safety into us with one rule: Don’t swim in the rivers. They were lifelong Sacramentans and had their own stories of river death.

Years later, one of my students died in the Sacramento River. He was being chased by a group of boys who were angry that he’d flirted with one of their girlfriends. He jumped into the river to evade them and drowned.

I teach immigrants – children from Laos, Vietnam, Mexico and other warmer climates. Equally dangerous rivers flow in these countries, but they are often not as cold, as deep or as fast moving as ours. Many of my students don’t know how to swim, let alone understand icy mountain water. Pushed by blazing summer heat, the young and invincible will wade into the rivers. But in my silent classroom, wide-eyed students listen to my stories of dangerous undertows, snags and Sierra snow runoff.

Sadly, these stories are not new to some students. To keep their interest, one of my fall assignments is making a game. Students experiment with writing rules, and planning paths and strategies.

Xiong turned in a two-sided paper, handmade dice with pencil point dots and no instructions. The paper was covered with dozens of numbered spaces, arrows, ladders and pictures. The setting was Laos and the drawings depicted each of the perils he lived through before coming to America. There were villages with huts and gardens, men with guns, burning houses, mountains, rivers and an airplane that could go either to happy California with sun and dancing children or to a camp with barbed wire. You rolled the dice to begin your journey. The river square showed a person drowning.

Quickly I changed the tone from healthy fear to education: Learn how to swim. I smile and pass out papers that cheerfully announce swim lessons at the local pools. Look at these free life-jacket stations. I flash pictures of the jackets from Howe Avenue and Discovery Park. Tell your folks my stories, and don’t swim in the rivers. Swim in pools.

I’ll never know if I have saved a life. Teachers never really know how lessons will follow students. They might be instantly forgotten or resurrected much later. But if a child brings lessons home, parents listen and information is passed on.

August is around the corner and teachers will be thinking of their new lesson plans. In the flurry of the first school days, teach a lesson that might save a life. Tell the stories you know, and then, come May, tell the stories again. Act flustered. Did I tell you this at the beginning of school? Yes, well, it must have been so important I have to repeat it. Summer’s coming, and the rivers will tempt you, but …

Ellen Cochrane is the Sacramento City Unified School District trustee for Area 2.


Coy Rene Granderson, Sr. sits in a corner book nook at Sacramento Avid Reader, signing books and visiting with friends and family. He is a large, attractive man with a sunshine smile that lights up as he talks with admirers. It’s the beginning of summer and the heat is seeping into the bookstore. By his side is his youngest teen daughter who is drawing. Coy proudly introduces her and talks about her creativity.

Granderson has just published his first novel, Accounts of a Reporter, about an adventurous New York investigative reporter, Jamal Montgomery, who leaves his unfaithful, pregnant ex-wife Desiree and moves to Sacramento to start a new life. Wanting to forget the past, Jamal gets involved with drug lords, police corruption, love triangles, sexual encounters, and strippers. The story takes Jamal from Sacramento to Barcelona where…”he has his wits, his balls, and his instincts,” but will these be enough to save him from international crime boss Francis DaPrato?

The author spent his formative years in Oak Park, Rio Linda, and the Watsonville, Santa Cruz and Monterey bay areas. He says, “I spent my playboy years in cool places like Oakland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego Bays. These locations and my experiences shaped my outlook on life.”

Now Coy Sr. is a family man, married to his wife Suanne for forty years. They have three children, son Çoy Jr. and daughters Sucoyia and Coyanne. He attended Cosumnes and Sacramento City College while studying graphic arts and writing. He describes himself as a digital composer. He says he always loved art as a child and polished his skills through classes that helped him create a productive life in communications.

The author, now retired, says he worked for 35 years in Sacamento local publications and California state agencies: The Sacamento Observor, The Sacramento Bee “Neighbors” section, the Board of Equalization, the Office of the Secretary of State, the State Library, and State Printing. Granderson says he felt so privileged to work with State Librarian Kevin Starr, “He was incredible – you’d ask him anything, and he knew the answer

But, more about Jamal… who gets involved with lovely Roxanne Jones, a young sexy school teacher and dance choreographer. In an attempt to lure Jamal into marriage, she hooks up with her ex-boyfriend, an international drug dealer G-Dogg. The story is a merry romp through an international adventure where G-Dogg’ s boss sends two corrupt detectives on Jamal to silence his journalistic life.

Book reviewer Jessie G. Love says, “Accounts of a Reporter has it all! You will not be disappointed while reading because C.R. Granderson captivates your attention and keeps it. His writing is vivid, enthusiastic, and you feel yourself in the presence of the characters…Well done. I expect to see future masterpieces!”

When asked what next, Granderson says he’s developing a sequel to the book. He also is finishing up a collections of short stories and has an idea for another novel about a “holy roller” congregation and a pimp.

Hearing him talk about his writing is like hearing a bubbling well. The joy of creation is evident in his face. Obviously he’s enjoying this fun time of his life.

Accounts of a Reporter is available at Avid Reader Bookstore on Broadway and also can be ordered from The author can be contacted at


Leigh Stephens is a retired CSUS Professor of Journalism and Communications and the author of more than 500 articles and several books.

Campbell Soup plant built on former ranch of Southside area resident

As the years pass by, the memories of certain people of prominence also fade. And such is the case of Joseph Holmes, whose sale of his ranch at 47th Avenue and Franklin Boulevard led to the establishment of the West Coast plant of the Campbell Soup Co.
Holmes, who resided a short distance from Southside Park, at 1008 W St., at the time of the sale of that property, is far from a household name today.
But during his lifetime, Holmes built a notoriety that extended beyond his connection to the establishment of the local Campbell plant in this city.
Holmes was also one of the original founders of the Farmers Mutual Insurance Co., master of the California State Grange from 1913 to 1916, and a member of Sacramento Lodge No. 40 of the Free and Accepted Masons.
With the insurance company, Holmes was one of its directors and served as its secretary from 1904 to 1938.
Born in England in 1858, Holmes immigrated to America 12 years later, at which time he began working at a woolen mill in Cornwall, N.Y.
When Holmes was 20 years old, he came to Sacramento and found employment at a ranch on property that would later become home to the St. Patrick’s Orphanage (later known as St. Patrick’s Home for Children) at the south end of Franklin Boulevard.
On Nov. 2, 1887, Holmes married Carrie Rosanna Rich in the Rich family’s home at the then renowned Lemon Hill Farm, which was located a short distance from the then-future Campbell Soup site. Together, the couple had three sons and two daughters.
Holmes died in his Southside area home on Aug. 3, 1946, about 11 months after selling his ranch to the soup firm. At that time, he had 21 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.
Following his services on Aug. 6, 1946, Holmes was buried in the Land Park area’s Masonic Lawn Cemetery on Riverside Boulevard, just south of Broadway.
Although Campbell Soup would later acquire additional property for its Sacramento plant, it was the company’s purchase of Holmes’ property that made possible the establishment of the local Campbell plant, which opened in 1947.
Campbell’s interest in establishing a West Coast plant in Sacramento dates back to 1945, when the company was operating two plants, the original plant in Camden, N.J. and another plant in Chicago.
By June 1946, Campbell’s Sacramento soup plant was under construction, and about a month later, plans were being made to open a portion of the plant for the 1947 season.
In January 1947, Campbell Soup finally obtained its formal building permit for its plant. The plant was previously being constructed under a verbal permit, since the cost of the project had yet to be determined.
Included in an article about local canneries in The Sacramento Bee’s Sept. 1, 1948 edition are the following words about the Campbell’s plant: “This year an additional food cannery is operating (in Sacramento). The $8,000,000 Campbell Soup Company plant at Forty-Seventh Avenue and Franklin Boulevard, completed last year, will complete its first full year of processing, thereby increasing the number of cases of canned foods produced here.
“It is estimated that this year the Campbell Soup Company will employ in the neighborhood of 1,000 persons.”
For decades, the local Campbell Soup plant was an institution that provided employment for many Sacramento area residents.
The Bee, in its Sept. 3, 1989 edition, mentions that the Sacramento Campbell plant was then generating a payroll of $49 million.
In a front page article in The Bee’s May 30, 1992 edition, it was reported that Campbell Soup was contemplating the possibility of whether to expand at its Franklin Boulevard site or, as a last resort, relocate to another city.
The article also mentions that “no decision (would) likely be made for at least 18 months.”
At that time, Campbell made soups, Prego tomato sauce, V8 tomato juice and Franco-American Spaghetti-Os.
An earlier article in the Sept. 14, 1986 edition of The Bee notes: “Over the years, Campbell gobbled up other food companies and it now owns a multitude of labels, including Swanson, Prego, Mrs. Paul’s, Pepperidge Farm, V8, Snow King and others.”
The same article recognizes that Campbell Soup was then processing tomatoes, carrots, celery, potatoes and other ingredients for its soups and sauces.
Campbell announced on Jan. 18, 1994 that it would undergo a $57 million expansion at its then-136-acre Sacramento plant.
Regarding that proposed expansion, which would have a major increase in its price, The Bee, in its Sept. 25, 1996 edition, mentions the following: “Negotiations hit an impasse in 1994 over the company’s demand that local government simply come up with $34.5 million, representing about 10 percent of the cost of a proposed $345 million expansion of the soup plant.”
On Sept. 27, 2012, Campbell announced that it would be closing its Sacramento plant.
At the time of that announcement, the Sacramento plant was the company’s oldest plant.
An article in the Sept. 27, 2012 edition of the Sacramento Business Journal mentions that the company planned to close the plant in phases, with the overall intention of obtaining a complete closure by July 2013.
Plant worker Dave Martin was quoted in the Sept. 28, 2012 edition of The Bee as saying that signs of the local plant’s struggles had been evident for months, and that managers of the company had been complaining about declining soup sales and increased production costs.
Furthermore, the Sept. 27, 2012 Bee article notes: “Campbell’s has been losing market share as consumers drift away from canned soup.”
The closure of the local Campbell plant resulted in the loss of about 700 full-time jobs and the demise of one of the longtime successful institutions of the capital city.

Japanese family established residence, business in East Sac in about the late 1920s

This future development site at the northeast corner of Folsom Boulevard and 58th Street is the former location of the longtime operating businesses, East Sacramento Nursery and El Dorado Savings. / Photo by Lance Armstrong
This future development site at the northeast corner of Folsom Boulevard and 58th Street is the former location of the longtime operating businesses, East Sacramento Nursery and El Dorado Savings. / Photo by Lance Armstrong

A vacant parcel of land at the northeast corner of Folsom Boulevard and 58th Street was once an active place. And rumor has it that it may become active again sometime soon.
Regarding the property, which is located between the Espanol Resturant and Camellia Cleaners, and across the street from Corti Bros. Italian grocery store, Espanol Restaurant co-owner Perry Luigi said, “I was talking to Mr. Cole. He’s part of the corporation that owns that property now and he kind of gave me a little heads up that something is in the works of going in there – five or six little businesses. I think they’re all food things, like a small donut shop, a small pizza place. I think they all have to deal with food, but I’m not sure.”
Presently, signage on the property, in part, reads: “New East Sacramento development coming soon. New development. Retail/restaurant space available. CBRE (commercial real estate services).”
Although CBRE retail team representatives did not respond to requests for further information regarding this Folsom Boulevard property by deadline, details pertaining to the site will be presented in this paper once additional information becomes available.
As for the history of the property, this corner of the boulevard was for many years home to East Sacramento Nursery.
That business, which was originally owned by Kusunosuke Miyai (1878-1972), began operating at this site in about 1929.
East Sacramento Nursery previously operated under the same ownership at its first location at 4746 Folsom Blvd. from about 1927 to about 1929.
It is mentioned on a city building permit record, dated Nov. 4, 1927, that arrangements were then made for a nursery greenhouse to be built at 5801 Folsom Blvd.
According to that document, the property’s owner was then Jeannette Miyai.
A 1928 advertisement for the East Sacramento Nursery recognizes the place as a supplier of “shrubbery and all kinds of plants, florists” at 4746 Folsom Blvd. The phone number of the business at that time was Main 6980-J.
Although several people who resided in that area during the late 1920s and 1930s were contacted regarding the nursery, only one of those people could recall having seen that business’s original location.
And when it came to the nursery’s existence at the featured address of 5801 Folsom Blvd., the majority of those people recalled the business, but had very little to say about the place.
East Sacramento native Willie DaPrato, a former owner of Espanol Restaurant, remembers seeing the business at that site for many years.
In commenting about the nursery, DaPrato said, “I vaguely knew the people that owned it. They would come in (the Espanol) once in a while, but I didn’t know them and I didn’t have any conversations with them. They didn’t really participate in the neighborhood as far as I knew.”
The 1930 U.S. federal census recognizes the then-52-year-old Kusunosuke as then residing at 1425 58th St. with his then-43-year-old wife, Sumiye; his sons, Akira, 16, Kiyoshi, 14, and Ben, 6; and his 14-year-old daughter, Hanna.
The same census recognizes Kusunosuke and Sumiye (1886-1968) as natives of Japan and U.S. citizens, and their children as having been born in California.
In the 1936 city directory, an Arthur Miyai is listed as the nursery’s manager and a George Miyai is recognized as the nursery’s assistant manager. Kusunosuke was still the business’s proprietor at that time.
The 1940 census listing for the Miyai family shows few changes when compared to the aforementioned 1930 census.
Although the entire family had aged 10 years, they continued to reside together at 1425 58th St.
Another change in the 1940 census is that each family member, with the exception of Ben, are recognized as “owner-operator” of the nursery.
Additionally, the 1930 census’ spelling of “Hanna” was altered to “Hannah” in the 1940 census. The latter spelling appears to be the correct spelling, based on the fact that in nearly every discovered reference to this person, her name is spelled, “Hannah.”
The 1941 city directory recognizes George as a clerk at the nursery, Hannah as the bookkeeper, and Arthur as a nurseryman.
As a result of the Japanese evacuation of World War II, the Miyai family is not listed in the following year’s directory, and the nursery building had become vacant.
Following the war, Arthur Miyai and his wife, Amy, reopened East Sacramento Nursery at 5801 Folsom Blvd. and began residing at the aforementioned address of 1425 58th St.
An advertisement in the Dec. 14, 1945 edition of The Sacramento Bee reads: “Announcement: Now open for business – East Sacramento Nursery and Florists, corner 58th (Street) and Folsom (Boulevard). Dial 5-8298. Potted plants, cut flowers.”
Arthur was involved in a two-car automobile accident at 8th and N streets on Nov. 20, 1951. He suffered a knee abrasion and injured ribs.
The Miyais’ misfortunes continued as Ben was struck by a car while he walking at 58th Street and Folsom Boulevard on March 19, 1952.
But both Arthur and Ben experienced some fortune, as their injuries were relatively mild, considering the nature of the accidents.
An East Sacramento Nursery and Florists advertisement in the May 7, 1954 edition of The Bee encouraged readers at that time to give their mothers a potted plant for Mother’s Day.
The selection of potted flowers available at that time included African violets, azaleas, caladium, calceolaria, fuchsia, gloxinia, hydrangeas, rhododendrons, roses and bonsai – “Japanese dwarf trees in dishes.”
Additionally, the advertisement notes that the business was also offering cut flowers and corsages.
In 1955, an addition to the nursery was completed at a cost of about $3,360.
About 12 years later, the business’s name was shortened to East Sacramento Florists, presumably based on its offerings at that time. The place continued to use its previously established slogan, “Flowers for all occasions.”
Arthur and Amy maintained the operation of their business until about 1980, and by 1982, an El Dorado Savings and Loan branch was operating on the site.
El Dorado Savings and Loan ceased operations at 5801 Folsom Blvd. on Friday, June 3, 2011 and reopened at its then-new and present location at 5500 Folsom Blvd. three days later. The building at the latter address had previously housed World Savings and Wachovia bank branches.
After the Wachovia Corporation was purchased by Wells Fargo in 2008, the 5500 Folsom Blvd. building became available on the market, since Wells Fargo was already operating its nearby Camellia City Center branch at 5700 Folsom Blvd.
During his interview for this article, DaPrato recalled another former detail about the featured old nursery site.
“There was a house right behind (the nursery building) – a two-story house,” DaPrato said. “The house was there when the bank was there, too.”
As previously mentioned in this article, this paper will provide details about the former nursery site at 58th Street and Folsom Boulevard once additional information becomes available.

Sathre Jewelers built strong legacy in Carmichael

 Sathre’s Watch Shop, which was later renamed Sathre Jewelers, is shown in this c. 1950 photograph. / Photo courtesy of the Sathre family
Sathre’s Watch Shop, which was later renamed Sathre Jewelers, is shown in this c. 1950 photograph. / Photo courtesy of the Sathre family

Left to right, Vivian, Chuck and Mary Sathre stand inside Sathre Jewelers in this 1989 photograph. / Photo courtesy of the Sathre family
Left to right, Vivian, Chuck and Mary Sathre stand inside Sathre Jewelers in this 1989 photograph. / Photo courtesy of the Sathre family

Editor’s Note: This is part two of a two-part series about the Sathre family and their former Carmichael business, Sathre Jewelers.

Among the early post World War II businesses of Carmichael was Sathre Jewelers, which debuted as Sathre’s Watch Shop on April 1, 1947.
The business was originally located in a 10-foot by 10-foot space in a furniture store on the west side of Fair Oaks Boulevard, just north of Marconi Avenue.
Ron Sathre, whose parents, Ray and Mary Sathre, were the proprietors of that business, said that he believes that his father was Carmichael’s first jeweler.
“I think that’s the case,” Ron said. “Later on there was a jeweler by Crestview Shopping Center, plus there was another one down by Marconi Avenue and Fair Oaks Boulevard.”
An advertisement in the Feb. 25, 1953 edition of The Sacramento Bee recognizes Sathre Jewelers as “Carmichael’s oldest and most complete jewelry service.”
The business’s address at that time was 2944 Fair Oaks Blvd.
Altogether, at separate times, Sathre Jewelers had five locations on the same side of Fair Oaks Boulevard.
In speaking about his family’s longtime connection to Carmichael, Ron said, “Robert Davis, my dad’s brother-in-law, his family had been in Carmichael for approximately a half-century (by 1947). So, his family had owned some property around there. And over at Palm Drive and Fair Oaks Boulevard, they had a couple of little places. They’re both there today and one is an antique shop. The first one on the right side on Palm Drive, that’s the antique shop, where my mom and dad stayed with my aunt and uncle when they first moved to Carmichael (in 1947). And they stayed in the back room, which was an add-on room. And Mom complained about the leaky roof. So, when it rained, they got rained on.”
Ron, who has a brother named Chuck Sathre and a sister named Vivian Sumner, recalled being raised by his mother while his father ran the store.
And in further speaking about his mother, Ron, who graduated from La Sierra High School in 1967, said, “She talked about having to go into Sacramento and buy supplies. They would go buy supplies for a dollar, dollar and a half in Sacramento and come back and sell them in Carmichael for 50 cents or 75 cents more to make some money. And that’s how they got into the wholesale end of things. Mom did multitasking before multitasking became popular.
“So, they had started out on a shoestring, basically. Just the two of them. That was in 1947, and I came along in July of 1949.”
And today, Chuck is carrying on the tradition of his father through his love of working on and collecting old clocks.
Vivian, a Carmichael resident, was born in January 1956 and graduated from La Sierra High in 1974.
The Sathre kids played an important role in the business, Ron explained.
“We would have to come over and put things away at night,” said Ron, who now resides in Rigby, Idaho. “On Saturdays, we would have to go over and help my dad open up the store and then close in the evening. And, of course, that interrupted our social (activities), and we didn’t want to do that. We wanted to get paid, and my dad would say, ‘Well, how much am I charging you for your room? How much am I charging you for your food?’ And it would bring reality to our faces pretty quickly. So, we would often say, ‘Ok, you got us. We like eating for free and we like having a place to sleep.’
“So, they were excellent parents. Mom and Dad taught us with their upbringing of good, Norwegian-German stock. You work hard, you play hard, you do the right things for the right reasons and you’ll get your appropriate reward.”
Ron, who joined the Army in 1970, said that his father was a very well respected businessman.
“My dad would bend over backward to help people,” Ron said. “If people couldn’t get off work until 6:30 (p.m.) or so – he would normally close at 6 (p.m.) – he would stay open until they got there. Conversely, in the mornings, he would get up early if someone needed to pick up a watch or their ring or whatever. So, he was very customer service oriented. Everybody loved my dad.
“I remember people sending their items to him for repair. They would move to Iowa, they would move to Florida, they would move to Massachusetts. And because they trusted my dad and nobody else to work on their wedding ring or their watch or their necklace or their clock, they would send it out to my dad to get fixed. And he would mail it back to them. So, that’s the kind of personality and customer service that my dad provided.”
Vivian added that her father would also make house calls for such large items as grandfather clocks.
Furthermore, Vivian said, “My parents were very supportive of the community, and very active in organizations. And they instilled a strong work ethic in us as kids, and my mom and dad could fix anything.”
Ron fondly recalled how his interest in auto racing had an influence on the business.
“One of the things that was interesting about Sathre Jewelers was I really got interested in cars in about 1965, 1966,” Ron said. “They had a West Coast NASCAR race out at the old fairgrounds, and they would be here in October. So, I said, ‘Hey, Dad, we ought to do something with that so that we can go to races and bring in business and so forth.’ And with that, I got connected with the guy who put on the races, and we began selling tickets for this West Coast NASCAR stockcar race at the fairgrounds. So, that brought customers in, plus I think we got a couple of free tickets to do that. And we also had our business mentioned on the radio as a ticket outlet.”
In another moment during the business’s history, Chuck and Ron began collecting coins through their involvement in the Boy Scouts.
That hobby led to the creation of a business venture known as Sathre’s Coin Corner.
In commenting about that experience, Ron said, “We saw what a business could turn into, and my mom and dad were always interested in business opportunities. So, we started selling coins. We called it Sathre’s Coin Corner. My dad actually gave up a 3-foot-wide by 4-foot-tall rotating showcase for us to put the coins in. So, we bought and sold coins and made some money doing that. My mother would buy coins from people walking in. Back then people would go up to Reno or Lake Tahoe and come back after they had won on the silver dollar machines, and pay for things in silver dollars. A win-win (situation). Some of those silver dollars are worth $18 or $20 a piece today, and back then the average silver dollar had a face value of $1.”
While Ray handled most of the duties of Sathre Jewelers, Mary established her own business.
And in commenting about that business, Ron said, “My mom got into the rental business on our property at 6124 Stanley Ave. They built a two-story building, rented the top part out in about 1960 or so, and then they built the bottom part and rented that out. And then in 1961, we went across the street and built a duplex, where we all grew up the other half of our lives. A couple of our first renters were 2nd Lt. Jerry O’Halloran and his wife, Linda. They lived there from May 21 to Dec. 1, 1960. (Jerry) was in the area for bombardier training at Mather Air Force Base.
“My mom was business smart to see the value of having rental properties, so that it would supplement their income. They could go do some of the things they wanted to do, while giving people nice and affordable places to live. So, my mom was in the rental business from about 1960 until she died.
“My mom was working all the time. As they say in German, hausfrau, (or) housewife or house woman (in English). My mom was an outdoor woman. She was watering, hoeing the garden, building, painting, mowing lawns. You name it, my mom was out there working.”
As for Sathre Jewelers, the business continued to serve the community until its closure in 1989.
Although Ray died at the age of 71 in 1989, and Mary died last February, their legacy remains strong in their longtime hometown of Carmichael.

Sausage City

East Sacramento area was once home to Pureta Sausage Co.

 The Pureta Sausage Co. at Alhambra Boulevard and D Street is shown in this early 1930s photograph. Photo courtesy of the Lance Armstrong Collection
The Pureta Sausage Co. at Alhambra Boulevard and D Street is shown in this early 1930s photograph. Photo courtesy of the Lance Armstrong Collection

Editor’s Note: This is the first article in a series about sausage factories that operated in Sacramento.

The largest sausage manufacturer in the capital city was the East Sacramento area’s highly successful Pureta Sausage Co.
Prior to reaching that status, Pureta was a much smaller operation.
The business was established in a 40-foot by 80-foot building at 316 31st St. (now Alhambra Blvd.) by Alfred Zehnder, Joseph Reichmuth and Herman Zimmermann in 1926.
All of those men resided in different areas of the city, with Zehnder living at 2004 E St., Reichmuth at 4477 G St., and Zimmermann at 3031 D St.
Pureta Cash Market, which was owned by the same people who owned the Pureta Sausage Co., was also located at 3031 D St.
The market began operating at that address after spending its initial three years at 322 Alhambra Blvd. The store continued to operate at its Alhambra Boulevard address until about 1938.
The Pureta plant initially included 10 employees and two delivery trucks.
Pureta was one of the four Sacramento sausage manufacturers mentioned in an article in the Sept. 26, 1931 edition of The Sacramento Bee.
The city’s other sausage manufacturers at that time were Claus & Kraus at 1700 I St., Made-Rite Sausage Co. at 3352 or 3353 2nd Ave., and the Western Meat Co. at 806 6th St.
Those plants were mentioned in the 1931 article as then making between 1.5 million and 2 million pounds of sausages per year.
Another portion of the 1931 article notes: “With the slaughtering and meat packing business, the capital city’s third ranking industry in the value of output, the sausage division has been enjoying a remarkable growth in the past two or three years.”
Pureta underwent address changes from 316 Alhambra Blvd. to 320 Alhambra Blvd. in about 1933, and to its final address of 324 Alhambra Blvd. in about 1936.
The 1937 city directory describes Pureta as “wholesale dealers in fresh meats, mfrs. of high-grade sausage and meat products.”
By 1940, the plant was jointly owned by Zehnder, the company’s president and general manager, and five other Sacramentans, George E. Wurster, A.C. Jacobs, Joseph F. Enos, Anton Holly and Frank Linggi, Jr. The latter three men resided in East Sacramento.
At that time in its history, notes an article in the Feb. 23, 1940 edition of The Sacramento Union, Pureta’s Sacramento plant was recognized as “one of the most modern (plants) of its kind on the Pacific Coast.”
Pureta had then grown to a company with 110 employees, 27 refrigerated trucks, five cars for salesmen, and branches in Redding, Chico, Modesto, Oakland and Santa Rosa.
With its growth, Pureta had expanded to offer its products throughout the state.
Beyond its obvious product, the Pureta Sausage Co. processed meat products such as frankfurters, bologna, salami, smoked bratwurst, liverwurst and head cheese.
In regard to frankfurters, the 1940 Union article mentions that the total number of that product produced by the company each year could line, end to end, a distance of 1,800 miles.
One of Pureta’s most popular products was its skinless frankfurter, which was introduced by the company in 1937.
In an attempt to further describe Sacramento’s extensive Pureta operations, the 1940 Union article notes: “The plant itself contains much more than might be guessed just by looking at is (sic) red brick exterior. With its massive refrigerator rooms, elaborate sausage kitchen, in which like other departments only stainless steel comes in contact with the meat, rows of smoke houses (sic) and meat grinders, it easily lives up to its name as a leader in the business.”
Although it was no Winchester Mystery House, Pureta was very much in the practice of having structural additions made to it Sacramento plant.
Construction on three additions of the local plant was completed during Pureta’s first five years in business.
The Sacramento building had grown to twice its original size by 1940.
Additionally, a second story was added to that structure for offices, employee residences, and a garage for its steam plant and storage.
On July 28, 1941, operations began in Pureta’s seventh addition to that plant, a $75,000 building with 13,000 square feet of floor space.
New machinery in that manufacturing department, notes an article in the July 20, 1941 edition of The Union, could handle 2,000 pounds of bulk meat in 10 minutes and 96,000 pounds of meat per working day. The meat was ground into sausage or 71 other kinds of meat products.
The business had by then increased its workforce to about 140 employees and also expanded its truck fleet to 33 vehicles operating in the Central and Northern California areas.
By 1957, Pureta was employing as many as 200 people during its peak seasons.
It was also at that time that the company had 50 trucks and during an average month,
handled about 2 million pounds of meat.
An article in the March 18, 1957 edition of The Union recognizes Pureta as the manufacturers of “sausages, frankfurters, sandwich meats, bacon, ham and similar products, and wholesale meats to distributors in this area.”
Another expansion of Pureta’s Sacramento plant is mentioned in the Nov. 15, 1959 edition of The Union.
Under a photograph of pre-formed walls being lifted into place at the site is a caption, which notes that the company’s refrigerated storage and processing facilities would be increased by more than one-third of its size.
The caption also mentions that Pureta then had branches in Chico, Yreka, Fresno, Modesto, Vallejo, San Jose and Santa Rosa, and was distributing its products in Northern California, Nevada and southern Oregon.
Pureta’s continued success was evident in 1963, as the company then expanded into the San Francisco area.
Leo Ricketts, Pureta sales manager at that time, was quoted in the May 24, 1963 edition of The Bee as saying, “This (expansion) represents a milestone for the firm, as it will provide a new outlet for our products, which will help us maintain and possibly increase the employment level in our Sacramento plant (which then employed 225 workers).”
Among the many employees of Pureta were John Henry Glettig (1896-1959) and Fred Otto “Freddie” Grosklos (1934-2015).
Glettig, who became employed as a sausage maker for the Tastee Sausage Co. at 915 17th St. in about 1936, was working for Pureta as a sausage maker by 1942.
In July 1959, Glettig retired from Pureta due to health issues, and died about four months later.
Grosklos, who was born in Holtenau, Germany, immigrated to Sacramento in 1953.
During the same year, Grosklos acquired work at Pureta as a meat cutter, a job which he maintained for about 15 years. He next operated Freddie’s Gourmet in West Sacramento from 1969 to 1991.
Pureta, which was last under the direction of its general manager, William J. Snyder, remained in business at its original location until about 1969.