The Best of the Land Park News 2014

Dear readers,
This year, the Land Park News has enjoyed bringing you stories about your neighbors and about the history that has made up the community you call home. What follows are summaries and excerpts from some of our favorite stories from the past year. Also, see some of the best photos of the year on page 19. Additionally, movie reviewer Matias Bombal shares with readers the top five movies he has reviewed for Valley Community Newspapers since he started writing for us in 2014. Without further adieu, here are the top stories and columns selected by staff this year.
Sincerely, Monica Stark

Over the Fence: Political Sign Season by Greg Brown: Some folks feel so strongly about a candidate they put a political sign in their front yard for the whole neighborhood to see. It’s a political endorsement. I’ve seen them all over. Vote for Fong. Cohn for Assembly. JAY for City Council – political clutter dotting the tree-lined streets of Sacramento.

But what if you were out and about all day and come home to a political sign staked in your front yard without your approval?

Some local residents have told me they have had people from the Kevin McCarty campaign sneaking lawn signs in their front yard without prior approval or knowledge. Council member McCarty is running for State Assembly against his fellow City Council member Steve Cohn.

Local real estate agent Matt Bistis, who lives in Hollywood Park, told me he and his wife were running errands one day and when they arrived home somebody had stuck a bright yellow McCarty For Assembly sign on their front lawn. Matt told me he “doesn’t do political lawn signs”….especially in his line of work. He had to pull it out and toss it in the trash.

Perhaps it’s an innocent mistake or just sloppy campaign work. But it doesn’t seem to be an isolated incident.

A woman named Melanie from Curtis Park, who didn’t want her last name used, told me she had left for a couple of hours on a Saturday and came home to find a Kevin McCarty sign staked in her front yard after her husband specifically told McCarty’s campaign representative “We are NOT OK with signs being placed in our yard.” Since the McCarty camp ignored the couple’s wishes, they picked it up, took it apart, and placed it in the garbage. She added, “A shame and a wasteful campaign practice…I will not be voting for McCarty!”

Another person who got a McCarty For Assembly sign she didn’t ask for was Michelle La Grandeur. She actually has one for Jay Schenirer. Michelle said, “The McCarty team came around with leaflets and such. I took one and said I’d probably vote for him, but they didn’t ask if I wanted a sign, and I didn’t ask for one either.”

Michelle got a McCarty For Assembly sign on her lawn last week and promptly removed it.

My wife reminded me that WE got hit by the rogue McCarty sign placers when he was running against Roger Dickinson in the last election. We never asked for a sign, but my wife had contacted his campaign. No yard sign was ever discussed.

I called McCarty campaign headquarters and asked a woman named Kathryn why would residents get lawn signs they never asked for? She told me, “They got it because that address was on a list of people who have requested yard signs.”

I told her none of these folks requested lawn signs. She replied, “We are human. Humans do make mistakes. That’s why God invented erasers. That’s why we put the note on the porch.”

The McCarty campaign usually leaves a note that says “If you didn’t request this lawn sign and this is a mistake, please call us and we’ll pick it up.”

I left a voicemail with McCarty’s campaign manager, but she never returned my call.

So if your neighbor has a McCarty sign in their front yard…don’t assume they’re voting for McCarty. They just haven’t gotten home from grocery shopping.


Veteran hotel proprietor, William Land, accumulated fortune in Sacramento by Lance Armstrong: In being that William Land Park and the Land Park community owe their names to former Sacramento Mayor William Land (1837-1911), it seems logical that from time to time, the community’s newspaper, the Land Park News, pay tribute to this locally legendary man.

Land, a New York native who came to California in 1860, once worked as a sweeper and a busboy at the Western Hotel on K Street, between 2nd and 3rd streets. He later became one of the city’s most successful and wealthiest residents, as his estate would be eventually valued at about $2 million.

The kindhearted nature of Land will always be remembered, especially with his greatest gift, the $250,000 he bequeathed for what would eventually become William Land Park.

During his tenure as mayor from 1898 to 1899, William Land loaned the city $80,000, interest-free, for the purpose of reducing taxes and retiring city bonds.


Local artist created famous artwork for Van Halen album by Lance Armstrong: C.K. McClatchy High School graduate Margo K. Nahas has accomplished many things in her life as an artist, but none of her achievements in that field have brought her more attention than her artwork that appears on the cover of the album, “MCMLXXXIV” (Roman numerals for “1984”), by the globally famous rock band, Van Halen.

In being a milestone anniversary year for the release of that album, which reached number two on the Billboard magazine album chart behind Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” it is quite timely to share a few details related to that album’s cover.

During her interview with this publication last year, Margo provided behind the scenes information regarding the creation of the artwork that would eventually appear on the “MCMLXXXIV” album.

And as part of that segment of her interview, she noted that her famous Van Halen album cover artwork of a mischievously looking cherub holding a cigarette was not originally intended to be used as cover art for any album.

“How it came about was my girlfriend (Colleen Helm) – my best friend – her son (Carter Helm) was about 3 years old and I just wanted to take a picture of him,” said Margo, who graduated from C.K. McClatchy High School in 1967. “He was like the perfect model. He was just as cute as could be. I went over to their house (in Malibu) with my camera, lots and lots of candy, especially candy cigarettes, and my Dippity-do (hair styling gel). And so, I went in to style his hair and he immediately had a tantrum. But my girlfriend, knowing so much about babies, she said, ‘Just wait a minute and he’ll be fine.’ We waited a minute (and) I styled his hair in what I thought was a Mohawk (hairstyle) for a baby. You know, it was kind of a 1950s Mohawk, without shaving it. We went outside in the backyard and I gave him candy, which he absolutely loved. He never smoked a cigarette, of course. They were all candy (cigarettes). And I set it up and it was perfect. I got the perfect shot.”

After taking her ideal photograph of Carter, Margo went to work on her project to create an illustration, which unbeknownst to her would later become recognized throughout the world.

In being that Margo was already well known for creating artwork for album covers of many well known rock bands, it was not an usual situation when she was asked to create the cover artwork for Van Halen’s sixth studio album.


Congratulations to our very own: Lance Armstrong: The Sacramento County Historical Society recognized Valley Community Newspapers’ very own historical writer, Lance Armstrong, at its annual dinner on Tuesday, March 25 at the Dante Club, 2330 Fair Oaks Blvd.

Lance’s early interest in history led to his many years of researching local histories and preserving historical documents, photographs and other historical items from throughout Sacramento County and other areas of the Golden State in his vast personal collection, which is recognized as the Lance Armstrong Collection.

After graduating from California State University, Sacramento with degrees in journalism and music, Lance began his professional writing career, which includes his work for local newspapers such as the East Sacramento News, Land Park News, Arden-Carmichael News, Pocket News, Elk Grove Citizen, The Sacramento Union, Capitol Weekly, Sacramento Downtown News, Sacramento Midtown News, Old Sacramento News, Natomas Journal, The Folsom Telegraph and the Sacramento News and Review.

Lance, who is presently employed by Valley Community Newspapers, has used his knowledge, researching abilities and personal archives in the process of producing local history articles for each of these publications.

These informative and entertaining articles provide a valuable resource for the present and future understanding of the area’s rich history.

The majority of Lance’s local history articles include oral history quotations from his interviews with people from various levels of society.

In addition to his hundreds of local history newspaper articles, Lance is the author of Echoes of Yesterday: Elk Grove – the first book in his Echoes of Yesterday history book series.

In 2007, Echoes of Yesterday: Elk Grove was recognized as the nation’s top regional history book for that year by the American Authors Association. Lance is presently nearing the completion of several comprehensive history books about Sacramento from the times of Captain John Augustus Sutter to present.


Odd Fellows Lawn Cemetery was founded more than a century ago by Lance Armstrong: Odd Fellows Lawn Cemetery at 2720 Riverside Blvd. is among the city’s historic cemeteries, as it dates back to the early part of the 20th century.

But that cemetery’s history links directly to earlier established burial grounds: the Odd Fellows plot at the old city cemetery, which is officially known today as the Sacramento Historic City Cemetery.

In telling the story of Odd Fellows burial sites in the capital city, it is perhaps best to present a brief introduction to the existence of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows in Sacramento.

General A.M. Winn, who would eventually become Sacramento’s first mayor to be elected under a state charter and the founder of the Native Sons of the Golden West, is recognized as introducing Odd Fellowship in the city as early as August 1849.

According to the 1913 book, “History of Sacramento County, California,” Winn desired to form that local, informal organization of Odd Fellows for the “purpose of affording relief to the sick members of the order, as well as to others.”

The same book praised the early work of the Odd Fellows, noting, “Their noble deeds should never be forgotten, for they spared neither time, work, nor money in relieving the distress and sickness that were prevalent at that time.”

Like the neighboring Masonic Lawn Cemetery, Odd Fellows Lawn Cemetery is not limited in use to those associated with a respective fraternal order. Odd Fellow Lawn’s manager Anthony F. “Tony” Pruitt assured the community that Odd Fellows Lawn has a stable future.

“We are here forever,” Pruitt said. “Basically, as a fraternal organization, which owns this property, nothing is going to happen to this property. It will stay here and stay here. There are other (Odd Fellows) organizations that will take over for us, if we’re not here (some day). We have people in Stockton and in Yuba City, Shingle Springs, Placerville. It will always be Odd Fellows Lawn Cemetery.”


St. Joseph’s Cemetery: A place of memories by Lance Armstrong: The 149-year-old St. Joseph’s Cemetery on 21st Street, just south of Broadway, is one of the city’s oldest existing cemeteries.

Regarding that cemetery and an earlier established Catholic cemetery, on Sept. 8, 1864, The Sacramento Union published the following words: “Several years ago, a tract of land was purchased on the Lower Stockton Road, four miles from the city, by the St. Rose Church for burial purposes, which was afterward known as St. Rose Cemetery. On account of the distance from the city, it was finally determined to abandon that locality as a cemetery and purchase a new one, more conveniently situated. A week or two ago, a tract of land was purchased, and yesterday the first interment in it took place. It is located south of Poverty Ridge and embraces about twenty acres. The ground was formerly known as Russell’s ranch, but was recently purchased of L. Stanford and others. No name has yet been adopted for the new cemetery.”

The first interment at St. Rose Cemetery was that of former Sacramento County Hospital steward Martin Kennedy, who was buried on Nov. 18, 1860. The cemetery grounds were consecrated on May 12, 1861.

As part of the establishment of the new Catholic cemetery, which would become known as St. Joseph’s Cemetery, arrangements were made for the remains of those who were buried at St. Rose Cemetery to be transferred and reinterred at the newly acquired site.

A reference to the Catholic cemetery on today’s 21st Street appeared in an article in the April 21, 1893 edition of The Union.


Prospecting through The Prospector: A look into early pages of McClatchy High’s student newspaper by Lance Armstrong: The Prospector, C.K. McClatchy High School’s 76-year-old student-run newspaper, is as old as the school itself. And with a prospecting approach, this article delves into some of that paper’s early editions to pluck out a few of its nuggets – pun intended.

For those in the community who would have trouble figuring out that pun, it is best to review a bit about the school’s yearbook, The Nugget, which was first published in 1938.

The Dec. 15, 1937 edition of The Prospector includes a front page article about the school’s annual.

While taking this ride down memory lane in search for golden kernels from times gone by, it became apparent that presenting selections of McClatchy High memories from the earlier years of The Prospect is a worthwhile endeavor that need not end with one article.

And with this understanding, readers of this publication should be on the lookout for similar articles in this paper in the future.


Remembering the Riverside Baths by Lance Armstrong: For decades, the Congregation B’nai Israel and Brookfield School have operated on property on the west side of Riverside Boulevard, between 11th and 13th avenues. But present day Sacramentans who are aware of what popular business previously operated in that area are undoubtedly of the minority.

In 1909, locals contributed to efforts to establish a swimming destination spot called the Riverside Baths, on the old Riverside Road at 11th Avenue.

With the assistance of community members who purchased stocks toward the construction of this local swimming center, the dream of that establishment became a reality.

The indoor pool was constructed through the Sacramento Riverside Bath & Park Co., which had its headquarters at 430 J St.

For many years, the center, which would later be known as the Land Park Plunge, provided an alternative place to cool off for many Sacramentans during the warmer months of the year.

Advertisements for Riverside Baths often noted that the site’s 65-foot by 120-foot pool was filled with artesian water from a half-mile deep well and that the pool was emptied and cleaned each night.

According to a 1936 article in The Sacramento Union, the artesian water was highly mineralized, carried 600 percent less bacteria than approved drinking water and had a natural temperature of 82 degrees.

Certainly, one of the pool’s greatest attractions was its 60-foot-tall swimming pool slide.

Various swimming competitions were held at the baths during the business’s early years.

Like many local amusement sites of earlier generations, the Land Park Plunge is but a distant memory, as it was closed in the mid-1950s.

But despite its absence, for most who remember it, Riverside Baths remains one of the most cherished recreational sites in the city’s history.


Mary Healy memorialized at the Sacramento Zoo by Monica Stark: Just outside the gates of the Sacramento Zoo, a solemn moment of silence filled the air on the evening of Saturday, Aug. 9 for the passing of Mary Healy, the zoo’s longtime director who died on Thursday, Aug. 7 while en route from Ecuador to the Galapagos Islands. She suffered a cerebral aneurysm, and later that day she was declared brain dead and then suffered a massive coronary heart attack.

Mary was a leader in the community and a passionate advocate for animals. As was evident on Saturday, she is greatly missed by zoo staff, colleagues, supporters, the larger zoo community as well as neighbors from the Land Park area.

Saturday’s moment of silence came on the heels of the already planned unveiling of three sculptural bike racks, one resembling Mary’s favorite zoo animal – the giraffe, as well as a chimp and cheetah (which dons a gold medal around his neck) that were planted behind, as if they were chasing the 9-foot African mammal.

While Mary’s death occurred on a trip doing what she loved – learning about animals in their natural environments – she was also saddened that her vacation was scheduled at the same time of the unveiling of the bike racks, Jane Richardson of the Land Park Community Association told the Land Park News on Friday.

Commissioned by the LPCA, the animals are the latest bike racks by midtown welder Gina Rossi as a donation to the Sacramento Zoo. Made from hundreds of horseshoes from various northern California ranches, Gina said she wanted the bike racks to be made from recycled materials and when the idea came to her to use old horseshoes she thought how perfect it would be that they were once attached to an animal. “I was fascinated from a historical end – the rebirth of something that once was. It was challenging to think outside the box.” But as the saying goes: “Someone else’s junk is someone else’s treasures.”

Jane recalled Mary’s excitement over the bike racks during the conception phase. “Mary wanted the bike racks not to be necessarily interpretative of those at the zoo. You could never play with them (the live animals). (Gina’s) creation is interactive. It’s unique. It is art that is structurally sound and you could use it for your bike.”

Upon speaking about the process of nailing down which animals she was going to make bike racks to resemble, Gina recanted a tour of the zoo she had with Mary Healy. “When she gave me a tour around the zoo, she was passionate about the giraffes. Mary really loved the giraffe. It was one of her animal must-haves.”

Born in 1953, Mary began her career in the zoo profession as a bird keeper at the Riverbanks Zoo and Garden in South Carolina. Years later, after a stint with a Disney animal park, she made her debut as the Sacramento Zoo Director in December of 1999. Under Mary’s direction, a full-scale veterinary hospital was built at the Sacramento Zoo and renovations for new habitats have been completed for lemurs, Thick-billed Parrots, Giant Anteaters, Ground Hornbills, Burrowing Owls, Yellow-billed Magpies, Tamanduas, giraffes, Red Pandas and North American River Otters.

Mary would come to the quarterly neighborhood association meetings and Jane recalls speaking with her at least once a quarter. What comes to mind in regard to Mary, Jane said: “She had such intelligence and was such a leader too. She was a very powerful communicator and (exhibited) the passion for what she did with the animals and zoology. (Mary’s passion) went much beyond the zoo. She planned on having many new things happen at the zoo. From new exhibits to train excursions (from Old Sacramento to the zoo), she was full of ideas. She was not only passionate, but she led her vision to fruition.”

Adding symbolism to the late zoo director’s love of giraffes and the appreciation Gina has over Mary’s dedication to the animals at the Sacramento Zoo, the artist wrote in paint on the giraffe’s red heart, “Mary Healy 1953-2014” on the front and a testament to Mary’s impact on the zoo on the back: “Inside of (the giraffe) it has a 6-inch by 6-inch heart on a chain. I put the whole message of who she is on that heart. (Mary) is the heart of Land Park, the heart of the Sacramento Zoo and I want her to feel it. I am going to put neat things about her passion,” Gina said.

On a chain, the giraffe’s heart has constant movement, which Gina likens to Mary’s spirit floating through William Land Park.

Gina said she remembers one day when she was about 8 years old she, her mother and her brother were walking around the perimeter of the zoo, trying to peak through the cracks in the fencing. “We couldn’t afford to get in. One of the people let us in. They were really, really sweet. They figured it out. It was really neat because we got to hang out in there. No matter how bad (life) was, it was OK (at the zoo). Animals don’t know anything. They only know love. It’s weird when I was in third grade I went there; now I am the one who gets to imprint something. That zoo had touched so many people’s lives. That zoo does so much for people. I’m glad to be a part of it. It’s just a neat thing.”

A nurse for Kaiser Permanente, Gina said she puts in 20 hours a week at the hospital after deciding in 2009 she wanted to open up an art studio and not further her career in the medical field. “I had to decide if I wanted to become a physician’s assistant or weld.”

And, well, she’s a self-proclaimed scrapper who went to Oakland to figure it all it. “I became certified as a welder and decided I wanted to teach our youth, our kids, retired people – anybody who wanted to pick up a hobby and not pay high crazy prices.”

Gina writes on her website (in the second person) that her childhood was laced with many difficulties: “Although her experiences may not have been entirely unique, her response to these challenges definitely sets her apart.” Asked for this article to describe her challenging childhood, she said, “In a nutshell, my mom was schizophrenic, and my brother has a handicap. That’s why Sacramento means so much to me. The moments like that – there are all these challenges and what do you do with those? How do you turn to something cool that will make a difference? Whether it be with wives, battered kids – I do pro bono pieces. I bring them into the studio. I get them to feel and believe again that there is possibility – doesn’t matter (one’s background).”

Gina is a self-taught artist, and one who has embraced those less fortunate to participate in the creative process of creating the zoo’s new bike racks. “(Homeless people) would sit there and clean off the rust (on the horseshoes). We have that rapport. It was a neat experience. We’ve had conversations. At the end of the day, they felt needed. They felt they were doing a service. You got to know their story. They always have a back story.”

As important as it was to listen to their stories, Gina was drawn to learning about the history behind the hundreds of horseshoes she welded together to make the bike racks. Recognizing the fact each horseshoe has had its own journey, Gina said one of the farmers she received boxes of horseshoes from, Samuel, “a little old man” told her the stories behind a few of the horseshoes. Recanting those conversations between she and Samuel, Gina said: “(Samuel) is the coolest little guy. I got to eat his apples. He had about 10 dogs, and a cat. He talked about the journey of the horseshoes and the lives they touched before they got ready to weld. A few of (the horseshoes) were from the 1950s, for sure. You can just tell the different work on each one. There’s writing on them. (One read) London. They have this inscribed stuff on them. Samuel was trying to educate me on the metal work back in the day.”

Samuel’s stories, stories about Mary’s love of animals, Gina’s artistic talent – all comes full circle and will be enjoyed for years to come as visitors arrive to the Sacramento Zoo.


Despite Daisy Mah’s retirement, she still dedicates time to the WPA Rock Garden by Lance Armstrong: Daisy Mah, whose name has become synonymous with the rock garden in William Land Park, certainly has a story to tell about her longtime dedication to the garden.

Despite having retired last year from her many years as head of the garden, which she named the WPA Rock Garden in the mid-1990s, Mah has not entirely left the garden.

Although Duane Goosen became her replacement at the nearly one-acre garden in January 2014, Mah can still be seen working in the garden, generally twice per week in the morning hours.

In discussing her continued involvement with the garden, Mah said, “At the end of July, I returned (to the garden). They call me a utility worker, which is a temporary parks employee. I am currently still at that position and I try to limit it to twice a week. I’m still helping with the maintenance.”

Mah, who was born in the capital city and raised in Walnut Grove, added that part of her work in the garden has been sharing her knowledge about the place with Goosen.

“There are a lot of unusual things that I’ve planted and it’s hard to know what they are,” said Mah, who graduated from Delta High School in Clarksburg in 1971. “There are no labels to speak of, and so Duane is truly interested in knowing what’s out there. He’s a very good photographer, and I think he has pretty much identified all of the plants.”

Mah explained that throughout the years she learned many things about maintaining a successful garden.

“Eventually I kind of turned my nose to some of the plants that were in the garden,” Mah said. “Over the years, you realize that some of the plants that you thought were so common were actually very good plants to have. I also learned that (the garden) was subject to people running through and breaking things and stealing plants. I learned that if you cleared out plants too early and tried to replant, your chances of survival are really bad. I learned to appreciate that there was something there to build upon, instead of eradicating it and starting from scratch.”

In explaining how long it took her to reach her first overall satisfaction with the garden, Mah said, “It took a long time. It was a big struggle to get things to survive. And it probably was about 12 years ago, (when) I finally could admit that things were looking the way I wanted (them) to look. It wasn’t completely the way I wanted it, and part of it was keeping plants maybe longer than I should. (It) was a very challenging area.”

Mah, who resides in midtown Sacramento with her husband, John Hickey, who she married in 1979, added that she eventually became involved in attracting wildlife to the garden.

Overall, Mah, whose present activities include home gardening and her involvement as a member of the Sacramento Perennial Plant Club, finds the garden to be a place that she feels proud of having restored and very satisfied by the joy it continuously brings to its visitors.

“(People) find (the garden to be) a beautiful place and I think they have found a lot of satisfaction from it,” Mah said. “And personally, it’s been a source of unending challenges and pleasure.”


Land Park artist’s latest works dedicated to his late father by Lance Armstrong: Sacramento artist Jeff Myers, whose studio is located in Land Park, last fall presented a solo art exhibition, titled “The Nature of Droids & Machines.” The works of the show are dedicated to his late father, Tom Myers, who was a national level photographer.

The oil on canvas and oil on wood exhibition debuted at the Alex Bult Gallery at 1114 21st St. with preview and opening night receptions, and continued through Dec. 6. In an interview with this publication, Jeff spoke about the relationship he had with his father and the impact that he made on his life.

“(Tom was) the most dominant character in my life in a positive way, and I spent just hundreds and hundreds of hours with him going all over the West on different photography assignments,” Jeff said. “And, of course, he built this remarkable photo library of the West from politics (to) animals. And together, he would take me on these photo journeys. One day would be for photographing like the tallest redwood for National Geographic and then next, we would be photographing (in) Salt Lake City in a helicopter for some magazine or for our own files. So, his adventuresome (personality), his curiosity, his humor (and) his love for people in life, just absolutely sustained my own life with those aspects. And that is just invaluable, and I can’t believe he’s gone. It was just an awesome relationship. (Tom was a) remarkable human being. I know that relationship has ended, but I feel like I lived twice because of him. I painted this entire body of work after his passing. He passed on April 7 and I painted this body of work between April 7 and now.”

Jeff, who attended Crocker (elementary) School (at 1616 Vallejo Way) and graduated from C.K. McClatchy High School in 1986, also spoke about his early involvement with art.

“I kind of grew up in a family environment that revolved around visual creativity,” Jeff said. “I can’t remember a certain starting point. Growing up with them, I had a camera in my hand very early on. Before that (part of his life), I had probably a paint brush in my hand. But I started very seriously (with painting) about 30 years ago. I had my first one-person show (in 1984), when I was 15 years old, (at DeVille’s Desserts at 2416 16th St.). I started very young, very serious. That’s all I did after school was paint.”

Jeff, who resides in midtown Sacramento with his wife, Sonja, noted that his current exhibition, which features 21 works ranging in size from 16 inches by 16 inches to 66 inches by 59 inches, represents “the relationship between land, technology and humans.” The subjects of these works are motorcycles, tractors and droids.


Happy 90th birthday, Al Balshor by Lance Armstrong: Sacramento native Antonio Alberto “Al” Balshor, a man known for his longtime ownership of Balshor Florist on Riverside Boulevard, just south of Broadway, celebrated his 90th birthday last November.

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

Al was educated in local schools, as he first attended the very integrated Lincoln School, was a student at William Land Elementary School before returning to Lincoln School for the 7th, 8th and 9th grades.

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

Al continued to speak about his many years of working, noting that he once had three Sacramento Bee routes, sold programs for boxing matches, pitched watermelons at the Sacramento Farmers Market, washed bottles at Jones Howell pickle works, and worked as a motorcycle courier. After being drafted into the Army in 1943, Al was sent to Camp Carson (now Fort Carson) in Colorado. Six months later, Al went to Nashville, Tenn. Then in December 1943, he was sent to Camp Kilmer, near New Brunswick, N.J.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Over the Fence: Look, up in the sky, it’s a drone in Land Park by Greg Brown: Some drone videos showcase remote Alaskan ice caves, cascading waterfalls in Costa Rica, even earthquake damage in Napa. Sacramento resident Tim Pantle showcases the beauty of the Sacramento area with his aerial photos and drone videos on his blog, “Love Where You Live.”

I hung out with Tim while he was getting aerial views of the Urban Cow Half Marathon that was held in William Land Park recently. He also filmed some nice shots of the golf course, Fairytale Town and the Sacramento Zoo.

We spoke about the good, the bad, and the ugly of quadcopters. Drone videos have been somewhat controversial but Tim is the “Mister Rogers of drone video operators.” He does nothing nefarious — just good, wholesome, fun videos of the Sacramento area.

What spurred Tim’s quadcopter hobby is he wanted to start a blog of some kind. One day, he saw a picturesque drone video of the old Fair Oaks Bridge and he was hooked. “I’ve always been that tech-geek and used to be really into photography,” Tim said. He loves the challenge of “getting the good shot.”

He was getting plenty of good shots of the Urban Cow Half Marathon and William Land Park the day we got together.

At the start of the half marathon, the announcer told runners to “wave to the drone,” as Tim’s Phantom 2 Vision Quadcopter was filming over head.

When Tim was filming on the fifth hole at Land Park Golf Course, a golfer took a practice swing from the fairway then turned around to smile and wave. The drone makes a loud buzzing, swarm-of-bees sound, so I was surprised the golfer let the quadcopter bother him. Most golfers demand complete silence before hitting a fairway wood on a par 4 hole.

The Phantom 2 Vision reminds me of the Starship Enterprise from the old Star Trek series. It has a similar look. If you can operate a joystick, you can certainly operate a quadcopter. Tim syncs it up with GPS. It’s the ultimate in tech gadgetry for a photographer. If the battery goes dead, or it loses connection with his remote it’ll fly back to where it started and land. It has a brain! The controller has a WiFi extender that allows the drone to send a signal to his phone so he can see what the camera sees.

The Phantom 2 Vison has quite a few different names, including an aerial drone, quadcopter, UAV or Unmanned Aerial Vehicle. The term drone came about because the vehicles sounded like worker bees known as “drones.”

Tim’s a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker and he thought the quadcopter or drone would be a great aspect of selling real estate. “Unfortunately I can’t use it for real estate because of FAA rules of no commercial, at the time that I bought it that rule wasn’t in place.”

There are a few rules when it comes to the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle. The laws are still trying to catch up with the technology.

You cannot use it for commercial purposes. You can’t go above 400 feet. It’s also a big “no no” in national parks. Yosemite National Park has banned drones after they became a nuisance to vistors of the park. Another rule is you can’t fly within three miles of an airport.

Whereas Tim uses his drone for good, clean, wholesome fun, other drone operators aren’t as level headed and responsible as Tim.

There have been many publicized incidents of aerial drones causing problems. One drone operator flew over a nude beach in Hawaii that created an online stir.

Technically, there’s nothing illegal about being a “creepy pest” because it was a public beach. When the operator was confronted by one of the sunbathers he accused him of breaking the law by being nude in public, which is technically illegal in Hawaii.

Got that? Being nude illegal, filming people nude, legal.

One man actually shot down a New Jersey man’s drone after it hovered near his home. He blew it out of the sky with his shotgun. Kaboom! The guy who shot down the drone was arrested and charged with Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose and Criminal Mischief. Oops.

Then there is the case of a 17-year-old teen who was innocently filming the shoreline of a beach in Florida. A woman became enraged and assaulted him because she thought he was filming bikini-baring beach goers. The video of the confrontation is quite disturbing. The woman called the police; but, after they viewed the I-Phone video from the teen’s camera, she was arrested for assault.

Tim told me he thinks “some of the news coverage is overblown.”

I spoke with Rob Watkins at RC Country Hobby on Folsom Boulevard and he said, “I’m more concerned in the type of person and how they’re flying them than the quadcopters themselves.”

Rob mentioned an incident where a guy was flying his drone over the Sand Fire in the Sierra Nevada foothills. It caused the grounding firefighting aircraft.

“We sell a lot of them here and they’re fun to fly. It just concerns me what people are doing with them,” Rob said.

What Tim is doing with his drone videos is making people feel good. The feedback Tim gets is all positive. His most popular drone video is the Del Campo High School campus. He’s actually from the graduating class of ’86. His quadcopter gives an aerial documentation of the campus as it slowly glides over the mighty oak tree that is at the center of the campus. The aerial video ends on the newly build Cougar football stadium. He also has an ethereal soundtrack that plays during the video. It elicited quite a few emotional responses on a Del Campo High School reunion page. Gregory Hansel, a class of 1984 alumni said, “Am I the only one who got a bit emotional seeing that? School hasn’t changed much. A lot of memories.”

Tim also has an enchanting drone video of the Sacramento River at the Tower Bridge. The quadcopter glides right over the golden bridge to reveal an aerial shot not many people have seen — the tip top of the Tower Bridge. It’s accompanied by some Joe Satriani-style guitar riffs. He also filmed a video of the American River near the Fair Oaks bluffs and bridge, another picturesque drone video of the area Tim calls home.

If you search You Tube, there are numerous beautiful, edgy, and just plain magical videos of nature’s beauty. These drone videos, by far, outnumber the irresponsible and innocuous ones that tend to get headlines. Waterfalls, cliff diving, and amazing Alaskan glacier views are just some of the subject’s drone videos have beautifully captured.

Drone videos are also publicizing social justice like the Occupy Central protests in Hong Kong. There is an aerial drone video of hundreds of thousands of people in the street peacefully protesting.

There’s also aerial drone videos by The Swandiri Institute, an organization focusing its research on the political-ecology and social-ecological analysis of environmental change happening in Indonesia.

Drones are even helping to save the whales. The Ocean Alliance is a group that uses aerial drones to collect a broad spectrum of data from the whales without disturbing them. From the data, they advise scientists and policy makers on pollution and how to prevent the collapse of marine mammals and other sea life.

See? Aerial Drones are being used for good.

Which brings me back to Sacramento’s drone video photographer, Tim Pantle. He takes great pleasure in making drone videos that people have an emotional connection to. Tim also uses his common sense. “I don’t fly over people’s houses and if somebody shows any inkling they’re upset, I just leave. I’m not looking for any trouble.”

Tim is very careful and cautious with his quadcopter. When we were together, his plan was to fly over the Sacramento Zoo, but he was also a bit hesitant. Tim said, “I don’t know if I could fly over the zoo because it might disturb the animals. Common sense says, don’t bug the animals.”

He did manage to get some aerial footage of the zoo and no animals were disturbed.

Whether it’s Sacramento parks, historic bridges or our beautiful waterways Tim only uses his quadcopter for good. He also takes pride in giving Sacramento a bird’s eye view of the city he loves.

To check out all of Tim’s videos go to www.LoveSacramento.Blogspot.com


Don’t call it a Mcmansion/dumping the dish by Greg Brown: There’s a new McMansion being built in Carleton Tract just North of Hollywood Park. Well, it’s not exactly new. The palatial two-story house with over 3,600 square feet is getting a complete makeover since it was sold in August of last year. The new owner says she wants to “flip it” and already has some interested buyers.
A residential care home? A halfway house? A frat house? She wouldn’t say.

The new owner, who’s also a contractor, is really fixing up the property on the corner lot. Sparing no expense, everything is new — granite countertops, shiny silver appliances, new tile and fixtures…the works! There’s a whole new outside, too. There are structural changes as well as new landscaping to replace dead grass in the front and the back.

The big two-story house on the block has seven bedrooms and six baths. Sounds like whoever moves in will have plenty of bathrooms to choose from. A home with six bathrooms is unheard of in Carlton Tract. Most of the homes nearby are two or three bedrooms, one bath with 1,200 square feet of living space. One of the neighbors remarked: “This house is bigger than some of the homes in Land Park.” It even has two staircases leading to the upstairs. “One to go up and the other to go down” as one neighbor put it.

The house and its residents have a colorful history. Let’s just say “The Brady Bunch” never lived there. It’s “more like the Addams Family” did, as one of the neighbors told me. The house was moved in the late 1960’s from Hollywood Park to an empty plot of land on 20th and Attawa. It was located right behind what is now Mak’s Gas Station on Freeport. This is according to one of the neighbors who wanted to remain anonymous.

The old man who relocated the house died in the early 90’s and that’s when things went downhill. His family took over. One of the neighbors deemed them “The Addams Family.” They mentioned the pale-faced “high-stepper” who would walk the neighborhood like a drugged-out zombie. There were all types of strange people crashing at the house. It turned into a flophouse.

The house was eventually sold around 2003 and it subsequently turned from Flophouse to Party House with flashy cars coming and going and big parties every weekend. According to one neighbor, there were “nasty-looking toothless hookers in and out”. One of the neighbors told me there was “a lot of stuff going on.” I asked him, “What kind of stuff?” He said, “Nothing good”.

The guy who owned the house allegedly ran a counterfeiting operation. He always had a big wad of cash and was always flashing the Benjamins. “He thought he was Tony Montana.”

Soon it all came crashing down. The counterfeiter guy had one of the neighbor’s sons do some work for him. The son never got paid. He got stiffed. He decided to let the local police know of the fake money he was printing up.

That’s when the Police and SWAT team moved in. Battering Ram and all. They told all the neighbors gathering to “get back inside your homes now!”

The counterfeiter guy is now living in an even bigger house…with bars on the window. The home should be ready for sale in the coming month.


Good Brew News!
There’s a new brewery coming to Hollywood Park on 24th Street. It’s just what the neighborhood needs, a local gathering spot where people can eat, drink, and be merry.

It will be called The Fountainhead Brewery. One of the owners, Mark Bojecsu, was thinking “water theme” and his partner Daniel Moffatt was thinking literary titles or characters. “We eventually came across the Ayn Rand novel that seemed to cover both of those,” Daniel told me.

Maybe they’ll have an Ayn Rand Ale!

Fountainhead Brewing is going to take over the TS Auto Repair shop on 24th street. Neighbors received the notice and were ecstatic to hear there would be a new gathering spot within walking distance. Although, the owner of the auto shop Sam Lee was caught by surprise by the news. I’m sure he’ll find another spot to fix cars. Besides, the neighborhood is thirsty! There are a voluminous amount of auto repair shops in the area. Sacramento breweries are a Sacramento institution. Auto shops are a dime a dozen.

They’re going to turn the old run-down auto repair shop on 24th Street into a unique gathering spot where local folks can taste an IPA or Imperial Ale and hang out.

Daniel is the brewer. He’s very experimental. One of his most popular craft beers at the Shack during Beer Week was the coffee porter. It’s one of Daniel’s personal favorites and one he runs out of the most. “It’s for the dark beer tasters out there,” he said.

He also brews an IPA with four different kinds of hops. “It’s pretty straight forward and not overly aggressive like you’re chewing on hops,” Moffat added.

They’ll also brew some Imperials, Daniel likes Imperial reds a lot. Belgiums and barley wines, sours too. So like the neighborhood, the craft beer selection will be eclectic.

In the back of the property there’s a spot where they’ll have outdoor seating and a nice pergola where people can sip the suds of their favorite new brewery. It will be family friendly as well as dog friendly.

They also will be serving food. They won’t have a full kitchen but they’ll have some fryers and also serve up some sandwiches. “We definitely want some choices other than a random food truck once in a while. More stability and reliability,” said Moffatt.

They should be open by July. USA! USA! USA!

Fountainhead Brewing is very excited about coming to the neighborhood. They have been talking with Panama Pottery to partner up for events. The folks from Panama Pottery came to one of their tasting events at The Shack and “we had a lot of fun, they’re super nice people,” Moffatt said.

The guy with the hot rod shop next door who’s got a thing going on every Thursday in the summertime. “So they’ll be some activity over there.”

It’s a narrow lot so we’re debating on how we’ll either do parking or make it a social area. We’ve already talked to the city about trying to get parking on the other side of the street since there’s no parking on either side of 24th Street.

Daniel told me it’s a dream come true. “We’ve talking about this for over two years and it’s finally coming to fruition. We are beyond excited.”

Sounds like it will make a great addition to the local brewery scene. New Helvetia, Track 7 and now Fountainhead Brewery. A trifecta of tasty craft beers.


Over the Fence, featuring Cactus Pete by Greg Brown: I’m a little late to the party on this one. Eddy’s Deluxe has moved from its East Sacramento location on J Street to a new warehouse location right next to Track 7 Brewery in City Farms. This all happened last September. Again, late to the party.

Better late than never, right? And the kick in the dungarees is, it’s right next to Track 7!

It’s now just a one-woman show at Eddy’s Deluxe. One woman, one barber chair, same retro barbershop theme. “If no one shows up, it’s just me,” owner Rea MacSems said. She now takes appointments. While I was there, a few guys wandered in accidentally looking for Track 7 Brewery. One guy even had a growler in his hand searching for a refill. She’s gonna get a lot of accidental business. Spillover you know? It’s ingenious!

The warehouse location on Pacific Avenue is where Rea has her Cock Grease hair pomade empire. She’s also been slapping together some cool live music shows a couple times a month.

Get a haircut, get a Panic IPA. Rea told me, “The shows have been pretty sweet, too.” They just rolled up the metal doors to see what would happen and folks just came filtering in.

“The shows have been low-key and fun. Very people friendly,” Cruz Ordonezy, who was getting his hair coiffed and cut by Rea, said. They actually met over at Track 7 when Rea told him about her new barbershop location next door.

Back in February, they had the Booze Bombs all the way from Germany, as well as, the Twilight Drifters. Coming up on March 23, they’ll have another free show with The Hucklebucks performing some New Orleans Blues.

They were having a real hootenanny at the Cock Pit when I dropped by recently. A fun little record party at the Pit. Cactus Pete, a soft-spoken gentleman, came by to spin ‘78 and ‘45 vinyl records for a few hours. He’s a big collector of Old Country, Boogie Woogie stuff from the 30s, 40s, and hot jazz.

Then he put the needle down on Struttin’ With Some Barbeque. “It’s an old classic,” Pete said.

He followed that up with a song called “Trucker Boogie” from Arthur “Guitar” Smith. Cactus Pete added, “When you’re middle name is Guitar, it means you must be awfully good on guitar”.

People were dancing along to Cactus Pete’s hot jazz tunes and putting some cash in his tip jar. There were quite a few couples dancing to the Lindy Hopper’s Delight, too!

A lot of the folks were taking advantage of the Track 7 brewery next door and the food truck parked outside, too. The sliders from the Krush Burger food truck were being devoured while people listened to Cactus Pete’s Record Roundup.

Eddy’s Deluxe is a marvelous addition to the new vibe over at City Farms. Perhaps, it will spur even more coolness to the neighborhood.


A little bit of country in the midst of a little bit of controversy by Monica Stark: Habitat to local fauna Regional Transit’s tracks between Sutterville and Pocket roads are overgrown with lush greenery and natural beauty. It’s just a little bit of country in our backyard. The South Land Park refuge attracts neighbors who enjoy taking walks with friends and family, and, of course, the family dog. With signs like – “You forgot to pick up your dog’s poop? Oh, my gosh, really?” – or landscaping with plants like golden poppies, and cacti, the greenbelt is a beacon of neighborly do-goodery – one that has been saved, at least for the time being, from having trains run on the tracks again.

At an Old Sacramento State Historic Park General Plan meeting, which was held Tuesday, April 15, inside the Stanford Gallery, 111 I St., representatives from the department clarified an important piece of information. The part of the proposal to use the RT tracks has been cut from the plan, which was voted on by the California State Park and Recreation Commission on Friday, May 2 at the State Natural Resources Building auditorium. What remains in the plan now is the potential use of the rail line right-of-way from Old Sacramento to the Sacramento Zoo and from Pocket/Meadowview roads to the town of Hood, with views along the way of Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge.

In an interview with this publication hours before the April 15 community meeting, project manager Steve Musillami said the plan will include improvements to the railroad museum, depots, as well as the rail yards and “some property state parks owns around the Sacramento River. It’s a visionary plan for next 20-plus years, but all proposals are based on funding issues. As far as between The Zoo and Pocket Road – we don’t own (the railway). That’s up to Regional Transit. It could be reintroduced as another rail line again. It could be paved a trail line. It could be a rail trail.”


Congratulations to Jonah Eldridge CKM rugby star by Monica Stark: Jonah Eldridge, a senior at C.K. McClatchy High School, is a nationally-ranked rugby star. Eldridge made the USA Sevens Rugby Tournament, the largest rugby competition in North America, and performed so well he was selected to captain the second side, shocking tournament organizers by taking third place in the Jan. 24-26 Las Vegas event.

In an interview with the Land Park News, Eldridge described the competition “Sevens” referring to having only seven people on the team. “It’s meant for smaller people, unlike the usual set up with 15 versus 15 on the field at a time. So it’s a lot more running, benefiting the smaller, quicker people, me I guess.”

Jonah plays the position of scrumhalf, which, in rugby, is the link between the forwards and the backs. They’re similar to halfbacks in football. A difficult position to master, scrumhalves have to be able to pass with both hands, which Jonah likens to a “quarterback doing a 10-yard up and out play on passing it 10 times perfectly with his right hand and doing the exact same play, throwing it with his left hand.”

Is the young man gifted as being ambidextrous? Well, it’s hard to tell. “Past rugby I can’t write with my left hand; I can’t hold sticks with my left hand; I can’t do anything with my left hand but I’ve been doing rugby for so long, it’s like second nature at this point,” he said.

Jonah has been playing since sixth grade when he turned 10 years old, which was a much frowned upon thing to do since most of the players were at least in the seventh grade. But he joined the Motley Land Park anyway. “I was a 10 year old playing against 14 year olds, so, that’s how it all started.” Then Jonah went to McClatchy where he “kept on playing, kept on playing. Then, if you play well, you get invited to All Star Teams and that’s where you get sucked into the next level.”

Asked if competition has been too easy for him, he said: “NorCal has the best in the nation, so the competition is great.” And he said it’s not just that but the sport itself is very much a team sport. “Not just one person can take over a game.” As such, he explained how typically there are 15 players on the field, lending itself to a lot of action between multiple players. “It’s not like basketball where the best player of the team can score 30 points, rugby is a team sport contributes their part.”

So rugby being such a team oriented sport lent itself to the obvious question: How do officials choose who will be on the U.S. Rugby Team? That’s a good question, said Jonah. “You have to be invited to the camp in Arizona and then they just pick people from there. If you have what they’re looking for you’re invited or if you fit their mold, then you get invited.”

His grandmother Paula Ridgeway had a different explanation: “He’s just the best, that’s all there is.” She went on to describe her admiration for the way he plays. She said, “He can control that ball. It’s like a flip ball. Jonah throws it in a tight spiral.”

Among the more memorable experiences Jonah has had playing rugby, was when he was in the eighth grade when the Land Park Motley had a great season, as he recalls making it to the finals. “The team worked on a sequence where one of the players kicked the ball deep into a corner and our big four tackled him out of bounds and we balled in and scored. That’s what we worked on in practice. In the opening kick off, it happened. There was a feeling that went right so how much worse can the rest of the game be? We went out winning the game, so I went out in eighth grade as a NorCal champion, so that was fun. It was a good experience.”

The fact that Jonah started playing in sixth grade didn’t seem to matter too much as the coach and his teammates knew his age. “There wasn’t a rule against it. If your parents signed a waiver, you could do it but it was frowned upon because I was only 60 pounds at the time, so the average seventh or eighth grader weighed maybe 120 (pounds). They were double my size,” he said.

No, he didn’t double his weight in a year, in fact he has always been small, but just recently he has been able to slightly catch up. His second year, he was maybe 80 pounds tops and he came in as a freshman at 105 pounds. “I’ve never been on the big end; I’ve always been the little guy and not much has changed.”

A senior at McClatchy, Jonah wants to continue playing in college, though he’s undecided where. He’s talking to colleges, seeing what his options are. As he said, “I am just feeling it out.”


Batting cage debacle brings other maintenance issues to light by Monica Stark: C.K. McClatchy varsity baseball coach Mike de Necochea sat down for an interview with the Land Park News to discuss maintenance issues on campus, including problems with the sprinkler system, dog waste and litter.

Because the school doesn’t have a gardener on staff and because the Sacramento City Unified School District has had to cut janitorial and maintenance services by nearly 50 percent over the last two years, it recommends coaches and staff fill out and submit a work order form to the maintenance department.

“Just turn in the forms into to Tommy they would always tell me, but no one knew he retired,” de Necochea said.

District spokesman Gabe Ross said the district prioritizes what the work is. “If there is a fire sprinkler that goes out, that may get to the top of the list,” he said, adding that SCUSD Landscape/Labor Supervisor said Tommy Greer has been using vacation up until he retires and there has been a temp in for him. “Given limited resources, it’s an all automated system. Somebody may have called, but it’s all prioritized by need,” he said.

Just in the 2011-12 school year, the district had 209 custodians and plant managers, compared to the 125 on staff today. Meanwhile district-wide maintenance staff (service repairs and gardeners) has seen a 42 percent decrease since the 2010-11 school year, amounting to a cut of about 90 people.

Regardless many of the maintenance problems have gone by the wayside. For instance, problems with the sprinklers have been going since at least before school started at around the same time the previous batting cages were torn down.

“It’s been since at least August when I noticed (the sprinklers) turned off. I think it was due to the construction,” de Necochea said. More recently, he said after district staff installed the new batting cage, they happened to put in a workable sprinkler system for a small plot of sod around the structure, but failed to fix the sprinklers through out the rest of the baseball field, resulting in very dry grass.

“While the City (of Sacramento) has required residents to reduce water usage by 20 percent, we’ve been conserving since summer,” de Necochea quipped.

As part of the cuts the district has to make to the maintenance department, they’ve eliminated gardeners at individual school sites and have instead consolidated and have created district wide work crews that visit various schools on set days each week. Gardening crews man the lawns and most of the watering is automated.

“We now have a crew that works at several schools and I guess the front yard is a priority,” de Necochea said.

Undoubtedly this has affected the appearance and general cleanliness of the campus – dirtier locker rooms, irrigation problems with the fields and pool maintenance.

While the district does have an employee drive a large mower to cut all the grass on campus each Tuesday, de Necochea said the worker drives over the trash, which exacerbates the garbage clean up problem – one that he said the baseball team has to clean up. On the bright side, de Necochea said this encourages players to take pride in what they have, adding that he’s used trash clean up as a punishment for being late to practice.

“It is important for the boys to help with the upkeep. But at the end of the day, we’re the ones paying for it, using it,” he said.


Taking deliveries: South Land Park resident hand delivers donated clothing items and more to the homeless By Monica Stark
About eight or nine years ago, Regina King lived on the streets of Sacramento suffering from alcoholism, drug abuse and humiliation. Today, Regina, now a resident of South Land Park, is married to Gina Backovich, has a 17 month old son named Rex and is one semester into completing a masters degree in speech pathology from California State University, Sacramento. What changed from that dark time was the realization of who she wanted to be. Cognizant of resources around her, Regina was driven after a couple months of living on the streets to check into a county rehabilitation program.

But what she experienced while homeless was deep.

“There’s something dehumanizing. Either people don’t see you or they move away from you or they fear you. And sometimes there’s reason for that and often there’s not. There’s definitely a sense of dehumanization.”

That affect on her has been a motivating factor for her efforts over the last few years to put out a call on social media for essential winter items like warm clothing, socks, and toiletries – items that she picks up from people directly and hand delivers them to the homeless she sees during her side-street commute to and from school. By February in years past, she’s taken to donating what she hasn’t been able to hand deliver to the Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services.

To kick off her homeless supply drive event, she puts out a call on Facebook to her friends and for them to let their friends know she is collecting warm items for the winter. Then she takes it right back out into the community, not anywhere specific. “It’s just a matter of walking around Midtown, Downtown and whenever I just see somebody it’s just me leaving it with their stuff or asking if they need anything. I keep a stack of blankets.”

With a sense of humor, Regina joked when asked more about the process. “There’s no organization, whatsoever, none at all. It’s like, hey, you have something? I’ll put it in my trunk. It’s really, really, very basic.”

Usually, she parks her car, scopes out the people and then hands them items she thinks they might need. “I try to judge by size and gender and try to figure what they would prefer. Like today, it’s been raining and I received a big plastic poncho and I don’t even know who I left it with. It was just a person wandering around over near Panera (Bread) on Howe (Avenue) and I saw where she put all her stuff.”

Unlike previous years when she’s put notice out in October, this year she’s just getting started As of the interview with this publication last Thursday, she had only received the aforementioned poncho and two small food packets.

Regina proceeds with the deliveries without judgment, without agenda, except that of having a bit of a human interaction. “To have human interaction and human touch is really a big deal,” she said. For that reason, it’s important to her to hand deliver items as opposed to donating them to the food bank initially. Further explaining that, she said, “one of the things about homelessness is that people get really turned off by smell or lack of cleanliness and I like to be able to touch people, touch somebody’s hand or look into somebody’s eyes – just human connectedness; it’s incredibly important to me.”

Asked about the response from homeless individuals she gets upon delivery, Regina said it has been mixed. Elaborating on her experiences, she said: “I’ve had a lot of people who are really distrusting and people have gotten really upset with me for coming up to them. But I’ve gotten to hear a lot of stories of how people got on the streets and I’ve gotten a lot of people who are silent. It’s across the board.”

Regina’s efforts started in 2009 with one of her friends and has been going strong for nearly four years. “I think when I started it was just a friend who asked me, hey, do you want to help me with this? And then as time has gone on, I’ve noticed myself complaining about going from my heated house to the rain, to my heated car, into the rain, into the heated building at work or at school and complaining about that. And I’ll catch myself doing that. I have more than I could ever need. And I just think so many of us have so much. We go through our closets every year. I’ve had more jackets than I could ever know what to do with and there’s people out there really in need.”

Regina, a former volunteer at a residential treatment center for women coming off of drugs and alcohol, used to cook for the residents. The amount of gratitude she witnessed face-to-face “was such a big deal and I think I’ve been searching for that ever since. For the love of humanity, for the love of people. I think we live in a nation where homelessness shouldn’t even be an issue, so the fact that it is, breaks my heart and I feel like it’s something I can do and there’s a lot of things I feel like I am helpless about. And, this, I feel is something.”

Speaking about one donor who heard about Regina’s efforts through mutual friends on social media, Regina said, “She lived in Rosemont. I went to her house and she was wheelchair bound and she just shared her story of having had real tough times before and she wanted to do what she could to help, so she gave me boxes of hotel shampoos, and just hygiene stuff. It was amazing. So I’ve gotten to meet really great people, too.”

Gina Backovich, who works full time and helps with the household has been a great support to her wife’s efforts to help the homeless population. Describing Gina’s efforts, Regina joked, “The garage is her domain and I get to take it over for a few months, so it’s really, very sweet of her. But I try to turn things around as soon as I get them.” On a more serious note, Regina added, “She also comes with me. Last year, we filled the back of her truck with these flashlights (that her sister-in-law donated), and batteries and coats and we made lunch. My wife and a friend and her three kids – we parked the truck near Loaves and Fishes and let people come and she just did it. She’s so personable. She really gets to talk with people. She loves it. She’s really great.”

Originally from San Jose, Regina did spend some of her formative years in Sacramento, however. “I spent a few years here from when I was 10 until I was 15. My parents were split, so I stayed with my mom for a few years up here and then went back to live with my dad. And then I don’t know, somehow I just kept ending up back in Sacramento. So, I moved back here seven years ago and here I stay. I settled down, had a family.”

TO HELP:
WHAT: Donations for the homeless: Blankets, jackets, coats, sweatshirts, socks (“a big deal, especially in the rain”), and hygiene products like toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, combs, nonperishable foods (anything that could be “packed up and handed out easily – water bottles, stuff like that.”)
HOW: Regina will come to you (within reasonable distances from South Land Park). She can be reached at 470-2092 or find her public event on Facebook called “Homeless Supply Drive” hosted by Regina King.

The Best of the East Sacramento News 2014

Dear readers,
This year, the East Sacramento News has enjoyed bringing you stories about your neighbors and about the history that has made up the community you call home. What follows are summaries and excerpts from some of our favorite stories from the past year. Also, see some of the best photos of the year on page 19, many of which were taken by our star photographer, Stephen Crowley, who has had six photos nominated for awards by the California Newspaper Publishers Association. Additionally, movie reviewer Matias Bombal shares with readers the top five movies he has reviewed for Valley Community Newspapers since he started writing for us in 2014. Without further adieu, here are the top stories and columns selected by staff this year.
Sincerely, Monica Stark

Bizarre vandalism hits East Portal Park area by Michael Saeltzer: David Powell has lived in his house since 1973 and is well known in his part of the neighborhood as being a good guy. He’s a retired firefighter, once having helped lead a grassroots movement to rebuild the playground at East Portal Park. He lives across the street from many nice rentals on 54th Street near J Street.

A few blocks away from David’s home, a woman living near Curtis Park for more than 13 years informed her neighbors that somebody had vandalized her home by spray painting the words, “Put can away,” in silver paint across the wall of her porch right next to her front door. Then, it got worse. It pretty much happened again to her neighbor. This time in dark blue spray paint were the words – “Don’t put cans out so early.” Important to note, is that the second time, the people involved have young children so they requested anonymity.

Courtesy of David Powell This is one photo that illustrates the graffiti that took over a small section of East Sacramento near East Portal Park earlier this year. Residents were targeted for over-watering their plants, putting their garbage cans out too early or leaving them out too long.

Courtesy of David Powell This is one photo that illustrates the graffiti that took over a small section of East Sacramento near East Portal Park earlier this year. Residents were targeted for over-watering their plants, putting their garbage cans out too early or leaving them out too long.

A few weeks later is when David received a call from Patty, an elderly neighbor across the street. She was telling him that someone knocked on her door, and when she answered, the man standing there told her she was using too much water. He then asked if he could borrow a wrench to turn it off. Then a week or so after that, the neighbor living nearby awoke to a large spray painted tag done in the same color blue as Kathy’s neighbor saying: “Stop over wating! (sic)”

After learning about all of these incidents, David stepped into action. He already had a preexisting relationship with police officer and local George Chargin. Officer Chargin helped when the area was having trouble with homeless people and this time he set up a meeting for all the victims to attend to share their stories, gather facts, and see if a person suspected of possibly committing the crimes could be detained. When confronted by Chargin, the suspect in David’s words, “said all the right things.” No charges could be filed.

When asked if the neighbors have a neighborhood watch program, each of the victims said that there is a neighborhood watch sign in the area, but none of them know of such a formal group. One neighbor named Meme said, “When something happens we know where to go, straight to David, he’s awesome!”

David explained he had his own form of protection in his house. The hunting pictures didn’t leave one guessing as to what that meant.

Ray and Dorothy Bertolucci are shown in front of their 37th Street guest house in this c. 1949 photograph. Ray was unofficially known as the “Mayor of 37th Street.” / Photo courtesy of Lois Lindstrom

Ray and Dorothy Bertolucci are shown in front of their 37th Street guest house in this c. 1949 photograph. Ray was unofficially known as the “Mayor of 37th Street.” / Photo courtesy of Lois Lindstrom

Remembering the ‘Mayor of 37th Street’ by Lance Armstrong: There are many memorials that can be found in various places throughout the capital city. But one of the most hidden and less known memorials is that of former East Sacramento resident Ray Bertolucci (1911-2011).

At the end of a cul-de-sac on 37th Street, just south of P Street, is an area, which is rich with trees, ivy and other plants.

Although it is necessary to do some investigating on the southeast side of that area to locate Ray’s memorial, with relatively little effort, one can find that memorial, as well as memorials to his wife, Dorothy M. (Herbert) Bertolucci (1915-1997), and Jamil D. Nammour, a professor at Sacramento State University from 1969 to 1986.

Ray’s plaque has a short inscription, as it reads: “Raymond Bertolucci, ‘The Mayor,’ 1911-2011.”

With a glance at a listing of mayors who have served Sacramento, one would not find the name, Raymond Bertolucci.

So, with that in mind, the obvious question would be: Why was this man, Ray Bertolucci, recognized as a mayor on a memorial at the end of a portion of 37th Street in East Sacramento?

Although Ray passed away three years ago in his 37th Street home, and thus would not be available for comment, the answer to that question can be easily answered by many people who remember him as having acquired that title.

In an interview with this publication, Larry Bertolucci, who was Ray and Dorothy’s only child, said that his father began to be referred to as “the mayor” by his neighborhood friends in the 1980s.

“(Ray) was just very active in terms of when they closed 37th Street off (south of P Street, near the old freight train tracks/light rail tracks) and made it a cul-de-sac (in the mid-1980s), and he was just a real advocate for that general location,” said Larry, who graduated from Sacramento High School in 1962, and later graduated from Stanford University. “When people would move in, he would welcome them. If anybody was doing any nonsense, he was not afraid to confront them and say, ‘That’s kind of unacceptable for this area.’ And everybody just kind of rallied around him. I think it was partly because of age, partly because of his personality and partly because of his tenure of living there. So, you know, it just kind of came into fruition if anybody needed any answers about the area, (they would ask for his assistance). The guy had phenomenal recall. It was amazing that he could put the dates and names to places. He could tell you in Old (Sacramento) what store was there on what corner, what they did, who owned it. He would meet a guy in a store, at Corti Bros. or maybe at Safeway, and he would say, ‘Larry, I know that guy.’ He wasn’t afraid to go up and (talk to) the person and say, ‘I know you, tell me your name,’ or ‘I think your name is this. You were related to this guy.’ And the next thing you know, they were carrying on a conversation. He was absolutely uncanny.”

The grave of Dorothy Millette Bern is located at East Sacramento’s East Lawn Memorial Park. / Photo by Lance Armstrong

The grave of Dorothy Millette Bern is located at East Sacramento’s East Lawn Memorial Park. / Photo by Lance Armstrong

East Sacramento cemetery marker recognizes woman with unique Hollywood connection by Lance Armstrong: A grave marker reading, Dorothy Millette Bern, lies at East Lawn Memorial Park in East Sacramento. And although that name may mean nothing to most Sacramentans today, there was a time when locals were well aware of details pertaining to Dorothy and her association with a real-life Hollywood mystery.

The year was 1932 and headlines of newspapers across the nation were announcing the latest daily news pertaining to the sudden death of the German-born Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film producer Paul Bern. He died in his Hollywood mansion two months after marrying the notable film actress Jean Harlow, and his remains were interred at the Inglewood Park Cemetery in Inglewood (Los Angeles County).

Also mentioned in the first part of this series was an article, which appeared in the Sept. 8, 1932 edition of The Sacramento Bee.

That Associated Press article noted that Paul had been married to another woman a decade earlier and that he was never divorced from the woman, who was “a mental incompetent in a New York sanatorium (sic).”

The hotel officials also claimed that Dorothy was visited by Paul at the hotel on an annual basis, and that she had ceased residing at the New York hotel a short time prior to Paul’s marriage to Harlow.

Dorothy once again made the news on Sept. 9, 1932.

The Bee then-reported that Dorothy had been a passenger on the Delta King during one of its voyages from San Francisco to Sacramento. She had, according to River Lines officials, boarded the vessel under the name of “D. Millette” on Sept. 6, 1932 at 5:30 p.m., a day following the announcement of Paul’s death.

Earlier in the day, a woman arrived at Plaza Hotel in San Francisco and registered as “D. Millette, New York City.”

It was also reported by The Bee that Dorothy, who had checked into the King’s stateroom No. 304, appeared to have been missing when the riverboat arrived at its destination, and that police believed that she had ended her life by leaping into the Sacramento River.

A coat and a pair of shoes that were identified as belonging to Dorothy were discovered on the boat’s observation deck, and a large portion of her belongings were discovered in her stateroom after the King docked in Sacramento.

H.L. Karrick, a passenger on the same Delta King voyage, would later say, “Everybody on the boat was watching (Dorothy). She kept wringing her hands and appeared to be weeping.”

Additionally, Karrick stated that he witnessed Dorothy standing by a rail of the ship and gazing into the water at 2:30 a.m., when he departed the vessel at Rio Vista.

In an article published in the Sept. 10, 1932 edition of The Sacramento Union, it was noted that based on the theory that she had jumped to her death in the river, constables and fisherman in every river township below the capital city were keeping a lookout for a floating body.

Meanwhile, faced with the possibility that Dorothy may have swum ashore and was still alive, and possibly involved in a suicide hoax, police also searched transportation systems and rooming houses.

Aiding in support of the then-theory that Dorothy committed suicide was the fact that $38 was found in her purse that had been left in her stateroom.

Although a statewide police search for Dorothy was reinstated, that search would be short lived.

On Sept. 15, 1932, The Union ran the front page headline, “Dorothy Millette’s body found in river.”

The Lady of the Lake: Judy McClaver’s journey to clean up McKinley Park pond activates the community by Monica Stark: With pointed fingers and curious faces, McKinley Park visitors have taken to watch neighbor Judy McClaver row a paddle boat back and forth across and around the pond, filling up a large trash can with garbage, tree branches, tennis balls, fishing lines, hooks and even syringes. She and her friend, Rick, have also worked together to remove domestic birds, replant the island, fix the sprinklers, and prune the shrubs.

A local hero to the community, Judy has taken on a mission to educate the public and city officials about the health of the water and the importance of feeding the waterfowl a proper diet. The pond, measuring about an acre in size, she explained, should not have more than 30 birds in it at any one time. In this pond, at the worst time of year, migration time, Judy estimates the pond as being home to about 100 geese and 100 ducks, compared to now with about 20 geese and about 30 ducks. It’s also home to about 75 turtles and a variety of fish.

“I knew the pond was dirty – that it had no care,” Judy told the East Sacramento News on a warm Thursday afternoon, as she did her routine maintenance. Pointing toward the island that sits in the middle of the pond, she described the gravity of its spoilage.

“That whole island was in disrepair. The birds were getting hurt over there; they were being trapped because of the bamboo. They would trip over it. It’s so thick when it grows, and the females would go into the bamboo when they were chased by the males to get away, but they couldn’t get out. And there were rats on the island. And there were rotten eggs. It was definitely horrid over there,” she said.

Though the pond is much cleaner now thanks to her ongoing work, she knows that her physical efforts aren’t enough – that the water is disgustingly dirty.

“I am the one that told the city how dirty this pond was and about its lack of maintenance and management, so that they finally commissioned an estimate to be done of four city ponds. This estimate proved what I had been telling them…this pond is a human health hazard,” Judy said.

Sure enough, deemed as such, a Lake Management and Assessment Report, commissioned by the City of Sacramento identified dangerous levels of E. coli from the waters of McKinley Pond. And after much insistence from neighbors to repair and clean it out, the city has set aside $225,000 in Park Impact Fees and Quimby funds, which was approved in June, parks staff will work with the community on the scope and design of the revamped pond. It’s estimated the construction will be completed this year.

They’ll drain it, erect a fence around it, but someone will need to find homes for all the wildlife living there. As Parks and Recreation Director Jim Combs said in a phone interview, “You can’t just clean these ponds every year. It’s not like your bathtub. We have to relocate the animals. It’s a big undertaking.”

Lady of the Lake attacked during 8 a.m. routine maintenance by Monica Stark: Judy McClaver, McKinley Park’s very own Lady of the Lake, was attacked while picking up trash at 8 a.m. on Saturday, July 19. Assaulted from behind, a known felon ripped Judy’s t-shirt, knocking her to the ground where she hit her head on the sidewalk. She got up, but he came at her again, so she hit him with her trash reacher, but he sent her to the ground again, hitting her tailbone.

“I was screaming for 9-11 the whole time and there were plenty of people around witnessing, yelling at him and calling 9-11,” Judy told the East Sacramento News two days after the incident. At that time, she said she was doing “OK,” that her headache had been resolved, but that her tailbone still had been very painful. She said X-rays did not show fracture, but that there were a few other bruises. “It’s difficult to lay on my back with metal clips on back of my head, but I survived.”

During the incident, people made a barrier between Judy and the man, while emergency medical technicians and police officers made their way to her aid. When the first officer arrived, he directed the man to sit and called him by name. “Obviously well known to the police, (I) later found out they get calls on him frequently,” Judy said. “We could hear the guy refusing to cooperate with police commands and being threatened with a taser. The guy was one step short of going into the pond. I was hoping he would, but that would then mean the police would have to deal with the filthy pond water. Eventually five more police (officers) showed up.”

Judy said she spent about six hours in the emergency room, “getting CTs, X-rays and waiting. I also got seven staples to a laceration on the back of my head.” Described as “6 feet something, black with dreadlocks and always (wearing) dark clothing,” Judy said she had seen her assailant in the park repeatedly for the last few weeks prior to the incident and described his odd behavior as follows: “the guy who attacked me – I never saw him never interact with people in the park, but he would make wide circles around (them).”

Janey Way Memories: My First Christmas Away from Home by Martin Relles: In September of 1969, I completed my military training at Fort Lewis, Washington, and then the U.S. Army issued me orders to serve in West Germany. In early October, I boarded a charter plane headed for Frankfurt, Germany. After three days in Frankfurt, I received orders to serve at the 510th Ordinance Battalion in the small German town of Gunzburg.

If the truth be told, I arrived in Gunzburg ill-prepared for the German climate. It didn’t help that my army duffel bag, filled with most of my clothing, disappeared en-route. It eventually arrived, months later, but initially, I had minimal gear.

By mid-November, the first snow fell and it covered the ground until, April. You got used to it though. I soon began to enjoy it. Thanksgiving came and went and Christmas approached. I started to feel a little home-sick then. However my first Christmas away from home turned out wonderfully.

Mom sent me a care-package in mid-December full of treats. We went out and bought a small tannenbaum (Christmas tree) for our room. We decorated it with ornaments purchased at a store in town. In town, they decorated the streets with red ribbons, greenery and ornaments. I bought small presents, and mailed them home.

On Christmas day, I attended services at the beautiful Gothic cathedral in town. That evening, the officers hosted Christmas dinner for the men in the dining hall. They came, in full military dress attire, accompanied by their wives. After a fine turkey dinner with all the trimmings, they distributed small presents to all of us. Christmas away from home wasn’t so bad after all.

Know your neighbors: Don Coan and Barbara Jodry by Monica Stark: Eighty-seven-year-old Don Coan, an East Sacramento resident who was a human rights activist, according to The Sacramento Bee died Oct. 2 of prostate cancer. Don and Barbara spoke with the East Sacramento News in July to promote Solar Cookers International’s solar cook-out, which was held in William Land Park and featured dozens of demonstrators from around the world. What follows is some information about Don and Barbara from the July interview.

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“I enjoy using the sun for baking during the summer. It saves on gas and doesn’t heat up the house.” –Don Coan, East Sacramento resident, Solar Cookers International Order of Excellence (2009), SCI Volunteer of the Year (1989, 1993)

East Sacramento residents Don Coan and Barbara Jodry bought a nice, new stove in 2000, only to have used it maybe a dozen times since then. “We like to do the Thanksgiving turkey in it,” laughs Barbara. “It’s a running joke. We just really like to use our solar cooker,” she said.

Living on 38th Street near F Street, the two helped spawn an annual “solarcue” down the street in Rick and Heidi Kantola’s sunny front yard.

As solar cooking conventions started taking place around the world, Barbara and Don thought: “Why couldn’t we do it in the neighborhood?” So they did, “solarcue” fashion. “It seemed like a lie to call it a solar barbecue, but they started calling it a ‘barbaracue’ because my name is Barbara. As you can tell, we have a sense of humor here. This was in the 90s, early in our efforts to boost publicity about solar cooking,” Barbara said.

For several summers on a day near the solstice, Don and Barbara attracted quite a few passersby who saw the solarcue. “Barbara and I were just looking at the home movie that a friend of ours took of one those events. It was great to be reminded about that period in our lives,” said Don, who, just a few weeks prior to the interview, stopped volunteering regularly inside the Solar Cooking International office, located at 1919 21st St., No. 203. Don received the organization’s Order of Excellence award in 2009 and the SCI Volunteer of the Year award in 1989 and again in 1993. SCI facilitates humanitarian and environmentally focused partnerships around the world through a database of connections. As an umbrella organization to numerous groups that try to spread solar cooking worldwide, SCI helps facilitate partnerships.

Sold on the logic of solar cooking instantly when Sacramento State University professor, Dr. Bob Metcalf, first introduced the cooking methods to them in the 1980s at a demonstration at Sacramento State University, Barbara said it seemed “like idiocy to walk away from.”

“If the sun could give you sunburn, why wouldn’t it cook food?” she asked.

At the time, 1988, Don had just retired from his career as the Sacramento County Welfare Department (now Department of Social Services) Bureau Chief. Not one to really “retire,” Don described how he became involved with his then-newfound passion of solar cooking. “I was looking around for interesting things to do other than going fishing or that kind of stuff and it happened there was an article in Christian Science Monitor on solar cooking and there happened to be an office in Sacramento that promotes solar cooking. They said, ‘if you send in a dollar to this address, then you can get the instructions to construct a solar box.’”

So, he learned to make his own solar box cooker out of cardboard and figured he might as well help teach others how to do the same thing. And he put in volunteer work once a week doing “one thing or another” for Solar Cookers International. As the organization grew, his ability and interest grew too.

Shortly after they learned how to solar cook, Don and Barbara began raiding bins in the back of local businesses for cardboard boxes – a basic solar cooking material. “We’d get permission and take away corrugated cardboard and build a box, 30 by 30 inches. We insulated it with crumpled paper. The idea was to build something from practically nothing, something poor people could handle,” Barbara said.

Discussing their involvement with worldwide conferences, Don said he and Barbara went to their first conference in 1992 in Rio de Janeiro. “This was a conference related to environmental issues. We had cookers there to show people how they worked.”

Explaining further, Barbara said: “We went down there and took our solar cookers. We weren’t with the high muckety-mucks discussing world environmental issues. We were demonstrating one small solution cooking using the sun versus fossil fuels and how the process is not endangering lives.”

Rick Edwards and Leanne Mack work with East Sac Pet Pals, which is much more than a simple dog walking business.

Rick Edwards and Leanne Mack work with East Sac Pet Pals, which is much more than a simple dog walking business.

On the Curbs: East Sac Pet Pals is more than just dog walking by Michael Saeltzer: Rick Edwards is the former owner of East Sac Pet Pals. He used to be seen jamming around in his small jet black super charged 2003 Honda Element with the pink stripe around it reading “East Sac Pet Pals.”

He owned the business with his wife Deb who overcame one bout of ovarian cancer, but ultimately was not able to overcome the disease. After Deb passed away, he transferred the business entirely over to Leanne Mack who is quickly making herself known in our community for her decision to quit corporate life and pursue a different lifestyle. Rick and Leanne both experienced situations in their lives that unexpectedly included pets, community, and personal transformation.

Rick explained to Leanne that East Sac Pet Pals is much more than a simple dog walking business. They provide the full package emphasizing home security and safety (Rick worked with the Sac Police to develop best practices for pet sitters), the ability to help out in a jam (think locking your keys in your car on your lunch), and years of knowledge about pet behavior and their health needs. Also included as part of the service is a daily journal of your pet’s day, pictures sent via the web, and a special package of care upon their passing – which is always a time of grief.

Janey Way Memories: The Australians by Martin Relles: After serving two years in the military in 1969-1971, I took a European Out and was honorably discharged at my duty station in Gunzberg, West Germany. Then, my friend Jeff Lucas and I purchased an old Volkswagen and headed south.

We drove first to Austria, visiting picturesque Salzburg, then stately Vienna. After that, we drove through the northwestern edge of Yugoslavia down to Trieste, Italy. From there, we drove along the coast, eventually arriving in Venice. As we pulled into Venice, we stumbled onto a campground. It featured a big sign labeled, “Camping Fusina.”

Little did we know, but that campground had a reputation as the best party spot for young tourists in southern Europe. All the youth bus tours came through Camping Fusina. And, Renato Rossi, the manager of the campground, accommodated them. Tourist buses arrived daily at the campground, then later at night Renato hosted a barbecue and rollicking party. This daily reveling took place throughout the tourist season. Jeff and I fit in well with this merry-making.

In addition to meeting lots of attractive young ladies, we met a whole host of interesting people from all over the world. Among them were three disheveled guys I called, “the Australians.” Their names were David, Peter and Charles (AKA Cobo). They had worked for a full year on a cattle ranch in the outback to cobble together the funds to travel in Europe for six months.

They pulled into the campground one day in a World War II vintage black and white ambulance set up like a camper with sleeping bags laid out in the rear portion of the vehicle. It was their home away from home. Little did I know, but later that summer, I would be traveling with them in that vintage transportation.

Jeff and I immediately took a liking to these blokes. They were short by American standards. David stood about 5 feet, 10 inches. The other two barely reached 5 feet, 8 inches. They were also stout, even paunchy, but also strong and tough…They shared their stories about the Australian outback and we told them about New York City, Hollywood and San Francisco.

We showed them how to play American football and they demonstrated Australian rules rugby.

Most of all though, we just partied together. They taught us the Australian tradition of the “shout.” In Australia, a shout is a group of blokes drinking together. When the glasses are empty, one of the blokes buys another round. This goes on until the party is over. Nobody will ever accuse the Australians of being light-fisted drinkers. They like a good party. And, we joined right in with them. We earned a spot in their shout, for life. What a hoot they were. I’d love to see them again someday.

Eventually though, we all went our merry ways. Jeff and I set off for Florence, Italy and David, Peter and Cobo headed off in the direction of Spain, muttering something about running with the bulls. But, that is another story.

Now my days of celebrating with Australians are just another arm-bending Janey Way memory.

A fire occurred at the old Squeeze Inn on Fruitridge Road on May 14. Shown in this photograph is the back of the building, which reveals the majority of the structure’s exterior damage caused by the fire. Squeeze Inn was founded in East Sacramento. / Photo by Lance Armstrong

A fire occurred at the old Squeeze Inn on Fruitridge Road on May 14. Shown in this photograph is the back of the building, which reveals the majority of the structure’s exterior damage caused by the fire. Squeeze Inn was founded in East Sacramento. / Photo by Lance Armstrong

Squeeze Inn restaurant was founded in East Sacramento by Lance Armstrong: Many Sacramentans today are familiar with the popular hamburger restaurant chain, Squeeze Inn. But most longtime Squeeze Inn customers do not recall a location of the business prior to its operation at 7918 Fruitridge Road, where a suspicious fire coincidentally occurred on May 14, about nine hours after the first article of this series by this author was printed in the East Sacramento News.

The history of this business began 32 years ago, when Sacramento natives Ken Noblett of 1449 Arvilla Drive and Shane Dickenson of 1512 55th St. opened the restaurant’s original location at 4087 C St. at Elvas Avenue.

However, on a side note, research revealed that an unassociated restaurant by the same name was established in the capital city long before the 1982 opening of the Squeeze Inn on C Street.

Ruth Noblett, widow of Ken Noblett, who co-founded the Squeeze Inn in 1982, explained that the business’s existence at 4087 C St. in East Sacramento was short-lived due to a change in plans by the building and property’s owner, the East Sacramento business, National Linen Service, at 3391 Lanatt St.

The fire, which caused mostly interior damage to the Fruitridge Road location, was deemed suspicious due to the structure’s vacancy and barred entries, and has been under investigation as a suspicious incident.

As for the Nobletts, despite selling their business in Sacramento, it would not be long before they would return to their routine of operating a Squeeze Inn restaurant.

After moving to Stockton, Ken decided to establish a Squeeze Inn in that little Missouri town, which has no stoplights and a population of about 2,000.

The location of that eatery, which opened at the address of #10 Public Square, in April 2002, served the community well until a tornado blew its building away on May 4, 2003.

Ruth said that she had to be talked into continuing the existence of Stockton’s Squeeze Inn.

“We had a partner (Rod Tucker) and dissolved that partnership after the tornado,” Ruth said. “I didn’t (want to continue the business). I wanted to retire. (Ken) really wanted to and Rod really wanted to, so they kind of talked me into it.”

Additionally, Ruth said that because of a high interest loan, they “couldn’t really not reopen.”

The second Squeeze in Stockton opened at 404 Arby Road in October 2004.

Ken died at the age of 63 in November 2009, and Ruth has been the sole owner of the business since that time.

Ruth noted that she has some good news in terms of the continuance of Stockton’s Squeeze Inn.

Former Tuesday Club of Sacramento members Nancy Leneis, left, and Anita O’Bryan met with the East Sacramento News in 2014 to discuss the decision to cease operations of the club, which met for many decades at the organization’s clubhouse, just south of Sutter’s Fort. / Photo by Lance Armstrong

Former Tuesday Club of Sacramento members Nancy Leneis, left, and Anita O’Bryan met with the East Sacramento News in 2014 to discuss the decision to cease operations of the club, which met for many decades at the organization’s clubhouse, just south of Sutter’s Fort. / Photo by Lance Armstrong

Tuesday Club of Sacramento ceases operations after 117 years by Lance Armstrong: The Tuesday Club of Sacramento, a women’s organization that was founded 117 years ago, has came to an end in 2014.

In a meeting with the East Sacramento News, former Tuesday Club members Anita O’Bryan and Nancy Leneis explained the decision to cease operations of the club.

“The Tuesday Club took a very difficult vote to disband, because of declining membership, and less (members) were able to come due to health (issues),” Leneis said. “And younger people are not as interested in clubs, so they decided to disband. And it was a vote of the board taken first and then a vote of the entire membership at a meeting (at the Dante Club earlier this year).”

O’Bryan, who was one of the club’s 50-year life members, as she had been a member of the club since 1959, added that the club had been contemplating the idea of disbanding since last year.

“A year before that (final decision), we felt that the club was in trouble and should we consider closing,” said O’Bryan, whose mother, Irene Sweet, was a former president of the club. “And we tried to see if we couldn’t get it going before we made the final decision with the membership.”

Another former Tuesday Club member Irene Ryder was the first person to inform the East Sacramento News about the club’s demise.

At that time, Ryder said, “We have probably had our last meeting as a club.”

And after those words became a reality, a decision was eventually made to break the unfortunate news about the club to the public through the East Sacramento News.

That decision was partially made due to the fact that the club had met just west of East Sacramento for the majority of its years of operation.

Ray Jenkins, who owned Cycle Tune Co. for more than 40 years on Alhambra Boulevard, sits on his 1984 Honda Trail CT110. / Photo by Lance Armstrong

Ray Jenkins, who owned Cycle Tune Co. for more than 40 years on Alhambra Boulevard, sits on his 1984 Honda Trail CT110. / Photo by Lance Armstrong

Cycle Tune building demolished, but memories remain by Lance Armstrong: For the past year and a half, a small, cinder block building sat vacant a block from McKinley Park and across the street from Sutter Middle School at the address of 900 Alhambra Blvd. But about two months ago, that structure, which for the majority of its existence housed Cycle Tune Co., was demolished.

The 30-foot by 30-foot building was a destination spot for more than 40 years for motorcyclists who sought to have their bikes fine tuned and repaired in an efficient manner at reasonable rates.

Ray Jenkins, a 1968 graduate of Grant High School, was the sole owner of the business for practically the entire duration of the business’s operation, which began in 1976. Jenkins explained that his road toward becoming involved with Cycle Tune began when he was 20 years old.

In speaking about the founding of Cycle Tune, Jenkins said, “It was a motorcycle repair place set up by a guy by the name of Richard Northam, and he was a highway patrol officer that worked graveyards. He had a family of four kids and a wife and he wanted to get into some kind of business and he liked motorcycles and there were a lot of officers that had bikes. So, he was there for about six months (before Jenkins became a partner in the business).”

The recent demolition of the old Cycle Tune building represents an end of an era, as the structure was the last surviving building that had stood on the southwest corner of Alhambra Boulevard and I Street during a time when the Alhambra Theatre (present site of Safeway) and Helvetia Park (present site of Sutter Middle School) were a part of the area’s attractions.

The Sacramento County Historical Society recognized Valley Community Newspapers’ very own historical writer, Lance Armstrong, at its annual dinner on Tuesday, March 25 at the Dante Club. Lance is currently working on a book project on the history of Sacramento.

The Sacramento County Historical Society recognized Valley Community Newspapers’ very own historical writer, Lance Armstrong, at its annual dinner on Tuesday, March 25 at the Dante Club. Lance is currently working on a book project on the history of Sacramento.

Congratulations to our very own: Lance Armstrong: The Sacramento County Historical Society recognized Valley Community Newspapers’ very own historical writer, Lance Armstrong, at its annual dinner on Tuesday, March 25 at the Dante Club, 2330 Fair Oaks Blvd.

Lance’s early interest in history led to his many years of researching local histories and preserving historical documents, photographs and other historical items from throughout Sacramento County and other areas of the Golden State in his vast personal collection, which is recognized as the Lance Armstrong Collection.

After graduating from California State University, Sacramento with degrees in journalism and music, Lance began his professional writing career, which includes his work for local newspapers such as the East Sacramento News, Land Park News, Arden-Carmichael News, Pocket News, Elk Grove Citizen, The Sacramento Union, Capitol Weekly, Sacramento Downtown News, Sacramento Midtown News, Old Sacramento News, Natomas Journal, The Folsom Telegraph and the Sacramento News and Review.

Lance, who is presently employed by Valley Community Newspapers, has used his knowledge, researching abilities and personal archives in the process of producing local history articles for each of these publications.

These informative and entertaining articles provide a valuable resource for the present and future understanding of the area’s rich history.

The majority of Lance’s local history articles include oral history quotations from his interviews with people from various levels of society.

In addition to his hundreds of local history newspaper articles, Lance is the author of Echoes of Yesterday: Elk Grove – the first book in his Echoes of Yesterday history book series. In 2007, Echoes of Yesterday: Elk Grove was recognized as the nation’s top regional history book for that year by the American Authors Association.

Lance is presently nearing the completion of several comprehensive history books about Sacramento from the times of Captain John Augustus Sutter to present.

Janey Way Memories: Remembering Catholic Youth Organization Basketball by Martin Relles: Last Friday night, I watched my grandson Angelo play in a youth basketball game. It was a blast. Angelo, at 4 feet, 10 inches tall, was one of the big kids on the court.

The boys played on the main basketball court at San Juan High School—a regulation court with 10-foot baskets. They looked pretty small on the big court, but their enthusiasm and endurance amazed me. When Angelo took a rebound, he drove the ball quickly up court, before passing the ball to an open shooter. Later in the second half, he took a long shot which rolled around the rim and dropped in. That shot gave his team a 2-point lead which they never relinquished. The final score was 33 to 31.

Watching the boys play, brought back memories of my own youth basketball experience in the Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) basketball league. I joined the Saint Mary’s CYO right after graduating from Saint Mary’s School in 1960. Father John Puliz, the pastor of the church, started the club that same year. He felt the teenaged kids, who attended the church, needed a wholesome outlet for their youthful energy. The activities sponsored by the CYO included dances, trips, and team basketball. I signed up for the right away for basketball.

We had our first fall practice at Kit Carson Junior High School in East Sacramento. Bob Hocking served as the coach of our team. Coach Hocking had played basketball at Sacramento State College. He had lot of knowledge to share with our inexperienced, young team which included my friends Dan Petrocchi and Dick Mckechnie. We learned how to play a three/two zone defense and how to run a one/three/one offense. We had already knew the basics of basketball (dribbling, passing and shooting), but did not know how to play as a five-man team. Coach Hocking had his work cut out for him, but over time he molded us into a pretty good team.

In October, we started our 10-game season. It was so exciting. Coach Hocking assigned me to the point guard position. My responsibilities included dribbling the ball up court and initiating plays. I had a pretty good set shot, and the coach encouraged me to take it when I had the opening. I remember scoring in double figures during a few of our games. That made me feel like my hero Bob Cousey of the Boston Celtics. Other times, I passed the ball to big Dick Mckechnie in the key or to Dan Petrocchi on the wing. Dan had a good jump shot and often scored on those opportunities.

Our team played against teams from Sacred Heart, St. Francis, Immaculate Conception, All Hallows and Saint Patrick’s churches. All the teams were very competitive, and the games were close—no blow-outs here. In the end, we took second place. Immaculate Conception, with their 6-foot, 8-inch center won the league.

I have never forgotten, my CYO youth basketball experience. In fact, I often see coach Hocking at meetings of the Dante Club of Sacramento. He always says, “How are you doing kiddo? Keep writing those columns.” I am glad the old coach enjoys reading my stories. I certainly have never forgotten all he taught me, another inspirational Janey Way Memory.

St. Francis High teacher furthering notoriety in the art world through Johnny Cash project by Lance Armstrong: Adan Romo, a longtime teacher at St. Francis High School in East Sacramento, has earned much recognition as a creator of public art. And that notoriety has come through a variety of art projects, including one that is beginning to earn him widespread attention.

His latest project, and one that will become the largest artistic endeavor of his career to date, will be a series of Johnny Cash sculptures in Folsom.

During his interview with this publication, Adan spoke about his co-operation of an art business and his acquisition of the Johnny Cash-related art project.

“I have my own company with my father (Jesus Romo),” Adan said. “It’s called Romo Studios and we’ve been doing public artwork now for almost 20 years now. (The business’s projects include) public artwork for churches or communities or schools or monuments. And so, the opportunity came up (in 2013) for the (Cash project).

“The city of Folsom put out a call to artists to create concepts for a new project they have there, which is to create a three-mile long trail near Folsom Prison that connects all their other existing trails. And they chose to call that three-mile portion the Johnny Cash Trail.

“Then they wanted to select six different artists to create six different artworks along that trail to celebrate Johnny Cash.”

The project will also feature a phone application created for the Johnny Cash Trail, which was opened with a ribbon cutting ceremony that was attended Johnny Cash’s eldest daughter, Roseanne Cash, on Oct. 4.

It’s show time! Tahoe Park pub theater to have debut movie next week by Monica Stark: A transformation of the Tahoe Food Market on 14th Avenue is complete. Just last March, the inside was a bit of a disaster area with wet plaster drying over large holes in the walls. There were bars on the windows.

Upon arrival to 5440 14th Ave., Jackie Nadile, the visionary and business owner of the latest incarnation of the space, opened the doors on Friday, Sept. 26 to what she and her husband Alan Lee have named, Public House Theater. Rows of old Del Paso Theatre chairs, obtained from Alan’s boss, line the inside as red curtains border a large movie screen. Also in the seating area are a comfortable couch and the kind of recliners you just sink into.

Behind the seating area, in a separate room, is the bar, which features beer from West Sacramento micro-brew, Bike Dog (whose owner, like Jackie, is a Tahoe Park resident.)

Whereas most movie theaters charge a lot for popcorn and soda pop to recoup the costs of proceeds lost from ticket sales to the movie companies, Nadile said she’s hoping to keep the prices down. With regular menu items such as sandwiches, paninis and pizza, Public House Theater will also offer specials from time-to-time from local restaurants, including sushi night with sake and fare from Kansai Ramen & Sushi House (2992 65th St.,Ste. 288).

From opening day on, she plans on keeping the theater open for Monday Night Football games, as well as movie nights Friday and Saturday and Sunday matinee. Food and drink are served in a laid back atmosphere.

Know your neighbor: The Candy man from East Sacramento by Monica Stark: (Editor’s Note: This was published last April, just in time for Easter.) Chock-full of countless chocolate Easter bunnies and eggs, Andy’s Candy Apothecary, located at 1012 9th St., is a pastel-colored paradise decorated with kid-tested baskets, as well as slightly more “grown up” baskets. Just two months ago, it was all about chocolate hearts wrapped in red. “We sold out of all of the chocolate!” East Sacramentan Andy Paul, the store’s owner, then said about the holiday made for sweeties. “I was floored by how much business we had. It was crazy, but it was a good problem to have.”

The easy-go-lucky, but highly organized sweet tooth, has a high bar for quality candies. Winning last year’s Sacramento Downtown Partnership foundation’s “Calling All Dreamers” business competition Andy said owning a candy store has been a dream, a “pipe dream really” for about three years, though he’s been passionate about candy all of his life.

Under the direction of what he calls “curated collection” concept, Andy decided that while he is an amateur candy maker, he refrains from making anything for the store, since it would complicate business operations. Plus, he said his “stuff really doesn’t compete (yet) with all of the amazing things” he can find. While he first searches the local candy scene for the best products, he doesn’t limit himself geographically.

A father of two daughters, ages 6 and 10, Andy said the girls’ opinions of their dad owning a candy store has changed since opening day, Dec. 13, 2013. Though the novelty has worn off, they still get excited when he brings home samples.

Janey Way Memories: The Last Father: The Last Father by Martin Relles: Last Friday night, my wife and I attended the Music Circus production of “A Chorus Line.” We loved the show.

One of the most compelling stories in the production was the story of Paul, a young, gay, Puerto Rican dancer trying to earn a part in the chorus line.

During his interview for the part, the choreographer asks Paul to tell his story.

Despite his reluctance to open up about his life, Paul breaks down and tells all.

As a boy he was different from all the other boys. He didn’t like sports and really didn’t want to rough it up. He wanted to dance.

So, he taught himself to dance by watching Hollywood musicals. By the time he got into high school, his difference from other children caused trouble for him. They teased and bullied him. Eventually, he sought the help of a psychologist who told him he was perfectly normal and urged him to drop out of school and pursue a career in dance. So, he took the psychologist’s advice and left school. But, it wasn’t that easy for 16-year old boy from the Bronx find a job as a dancer?

Ultimately, he got a job dancing in drag in a club on the lower east side of New York. His new occupation embarrassed him and he didn’t dare to tell his parents. However, when the manager of the show decided to take it on the road to Chicago, Paul asked his parents to give him a ride to the airport after the evening show. That night his parents surprised him by arriving early to pick him up, and when he walked by them in full costume, gaudy dress and all, they recognized him. This made him feel horrible, but he went on to finish the show.

After the show, he walked out the stage door and discovered his parents talking to the show manager. He saw his dad point a finger at the manager and say, “you take good care of my son.”

At this point in the interview, Paul broke down and said tearfully, “that was the first time my dad ever called me his son.”

This was a touching moment in the show and it brought back memories of my father. I remember him introducing me to his friends, saying proudly, “This is my son, Marty.”

What made Paul’s story even more meaningful to me is that just two days before seeing “A Chorus Line,” I attended the funeral of one of the Janey Way fathers, Virgil Petrocchi. In fact, he was the last surviving Janey Way father.

His son Dan delivered the eulogy. It was a good story about a man who lived a good life, had a good sense of humor, gave sound advice to his children and cared deeply about all the children in the neighborhood. Virgil, like all the Janey Way fathers, played a special role in my life.

These men coached Little League, took the boys camping, set off fireworks on the 4th of July, and taught us how to live our lives with honor and dignity.

With Virgil’s passing, all the Janey Way fathers have left us, but we will always remember them in our Janey Way Memories.

Valley Community Newspapers sales manager leaves legacy

Valley Community Newspapers sales manager Patricia (Patty) Colmer, of Sacramento, passed away on Tuesday, Dec. 2 after a tough, eight-month battle with cancer. Patty was a loving wife, aunt, great aunt, auntie, second mother, friend and sister. Born on Oct. 31, 1945, Patty has been very close to all her friends and relatives to the point where quite a few friends think of her more as a sister than a friend. She was the most giving person you could ever meet. She gave until she couldn’t anymore. As her husband of 23 years, Bruce Colmer said, she was, “Giving, giving, giving. You couldn’t give her something without knowing she was going to give you something in return.” Patty was the kind of person you could confide in; she was a true friend and a fun one at that. Patty had a zest for life. She was so entertaining herself and always brightened up your day. She and her husband Bruce spent every waking moment together on adventures big and small. They traveled to the ocean, the Yucatan, and spent a lot of time riding on his Harley Davidson together. Patty even had special clothing for the rides. Patty liked glider flying and she’s up there gliding around right now. She was an avid skier and enjoyed life to its fullest. She loved the golf tournaments up by Lake Tahoe.
Patty and her mother Lola Chan were as close as sisters. Patty would visit her mother every Friday. They’d go to lunch and go sight-seeing together. Until the past year, Patty would do all the driving. With Bruce, they drove down to Long Beach, stopping to visit Patty’s great-nieces Silk and Quinn, and her great-nephew Bode, whom she adored tremendously.
On the many trips together, Patty photographed landscapes, plants and animals, and from her photographs, she created many gifts for people, including beautiful cards, pendants, photo canvasses and even glass cutting boards. Patty was well known throughout the area for her photography and art works. She showed some of her work at local craft fairs, such as the Holiday Craft Fair and Book Sale at the Maidu Community Center in Roseville and the annual Christmas craft fair at the Elks Lodge, No. 6, where she was a long-time member.
Patty once wrote, “My passion is using color, texture and lighting to capture the simple, often overlooked finer things that life has to offer.”
Her adventurous and giving spirit lives on in those she is survived by, including, of course, Bruce, mother Lola Chan, and brothers Sam Chan Jr. (Nachi) and Dan Chan (DeeAnn). Patricia was aunt to Aki Chan, Kenji Chan, Lyle Chan, Katie Chan, Russell Colmer, Alyssa Trebil, Maura Hanrahan and Gordy Hanrahan.
Patty graduated from C.K. McClatchy High School in 1964 where she was a cheerleader and from where she won an art scholarship. She became a graphic artist for Pacific Bell in the late 1960s. During her long career in the magazine and newspaper business, she published and co-owned Sacramento Magazine, worked for the Sacramento Union, the Press Tribune, the Washington Post and the Sacramento Bee, where she became the publications manager for Discover Magazine. Patty was the sales manager for Valley Community Newspapers for the past 12 years.
Per Patty’s wishes, she will be buried under an oak tree because she loved oak trees. Funeral services will be held on Friday, Dec. 19 at 2 p.m. at Sylvan Cemetery, 7401 Auburn Blvd., in Citrus Heights, 95610. If you would like to make a donation in honor of Patty, please make it to the charity of your choice.

“Wee People”
Editor’s note: What follows is a poem written by Patty Colmer, found recently by her husband Bruce Colmer.

I have a guardian angel, his name is
Henry O’Hare
He watches my every move – He’s
oh-so aware.
One night he came to me, a Ouija Board
He was even with me on my Bunji cord
Everything I do; I just can’t shake him away
In the pubs a singin’ – He kneels and a prays.
What am I to do with this wee man of a person.
He always leaves me a cussin’ & a cursin’
He does bring me friendships beyond compare
and luck in love, this Henry O’Hare
I guess I’ll keep this wee little man
For he makes me know for who I am
To Henry O’Hare, the best to you always for you give me so much in many, many small ways

Happy 90th birthday, Al Balshor!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Al mentioned that he also worked as a motorcycle courier.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lance@valcomnews.com

KXOA continues legacy through former Arden area resident

George Junak, who is known in radio as Greg Mitchell, established the 24-hour per day Internet radio station KXOA in 2009. Photo courtesy of George Junak

George Junak, who is known in radio as Greg Mitchell, established the 24-hour per day Internet radio station KXOA in 2009. Photo courtesy of George Junak

Editor’s Note: This is the sixth article in a series about the history of broadcasting in the Sacramento area. This series was inspired by readers’ positive responses to previous articles about local television history in this publication and several requests to feature histories of local radio stations.

In the previous article of this series, it was noted that the end of the use of the call letters, KXOA, in Sacramento came in 2004. But that does not mean KXOA is completely a thing of the past.
Instead, fans of the old station, which debuted in 1945 and could once be found on both the AM and FM dials, can tune into a live re-creation of the station via the Internet.
Because the deaths of KXOA 1470 AM in 1998 and KXOA 93.7 FM in 2004 left the KXOA call letters available, former Arden area resident George Junak, who has worked in radio for many years, took the opportunity to acquire those letters in 2008.
Junak, who is known by the on air name of Greg Mitchell, had made the decision to create his own Internet radio station and was familiar with KXOA. He had once worked for KNDE 1470 AM, which had replaced KXOA 1470 AM from 1971 to 1978, before KXOA-AM returned to the air for two additional decades.
In 2006, Junak, 61, moved from San Diego to Jacksonville, Fla., where he would later launch his Internet radio station.
And in recalling his work to establish that station, Junak said, “In between (2008) and July (2009), when we actually signed the station on the air, I needed to get the automation software to run the station, build a little studio, load all the music into the computer system, load everything that we were going to run into the system. That was just pretty much done part time, so it took quite a few months. So, by the time July (2009) rolled around, everything was in place and we just put it on the air one day.”
Junak had no difficulty recalling the precise date of his station’s debut, as he said that, coincidentally, a KXOA-related incident occurred in Sacramento on that day.
“(July 15, 2009), the day that we signed (the station) on the air on the Internet was (when) a couple of towers came down at the 1470 (AM) transmitter site (near Commerce Circle and Lathrop Way),” Junak said.
The Sacramento Bee reported on July 16, 2009 that during the previous day, firefighters had responded to a fire that had toppled one of the former KXOA radio towers, damaged another tower and destroyed a small building containing radio equipment. A third tower was mentioned as having been threatened, but not damaged.
Junak who spends the majority of each day dedicated to his other radio-related business, California Aircheck, said he has enjoyed the responses of former KXOA of Sacramento listeners who have heard his KXOA station.
“People who had grown up in Sacramento were happy to have KXOA back,” said Junak, who began his radio career in Palms Springs in the early 1970s. “I enjoy hearing from people that come across it on the Internet.”
Junak added, “I also enjoy trying to be creative in a different way than just (through) California Air Check, where I just spend time editing things on that. So, doing KXOA is something that’s more creative on a daily basis than my full-time job.”
And after being asked if the station has reconnected him with radio people of his past, Junak said, “It did when I first put it on the air. I did hear from a couple of people that I had worked with, and I did hear from Martin Ashley, who went by the name of ‘Wonder Rabbit’ at (the now defunct Sacramento radio station) KROY. He sent me a couple of jingles from when he was at KXOA.”
Junak explained that most people discover the new KXOA by accident.

The original KXOA was one of Sacramento’s early radio stations. It debuted at 1490 AM in 1945 and moved to 1470 AM three years later. Photo courtesy of George Junak

The original KXOA was one of Sacramento’s early radio stations. It debuted at 1490 AM in 1945 and moved to 1470 AM three years later. Photo courtesy of George Junak

“(Operating KXOA is) pretty much just a hobby, so I haven’t really gone out of my way to advertise,” Junak said. “Most people just stumble across it and either like it or don’t (like it).”
In responding to the inquiry of what people can listen to on today’s KXOA, Junak said, “The format is called Motown, soul and rock ‘n’ roll. So, basically what you don’t hear is the really soft stuff that you might hear on a typical oldies station like the Carpenters and John Denver and Captain & Tennile and Brenda Lee. So, basically we’ve taken the best soul music, the best rock ‘n’ roll, mixed it together and left off the wimpy stuff. We play tons of The Beatles. We play like over 100 different songs of The Beatles, Creedence (Clearwater Revival), Cream, The Temptations, Steely Dan, Barry White, Stevie Wonder, The Moody Blues, Marvin Gaye, Eagles, The Byrds, (The Rolling) Stones, Four Tops, Foreigner, ELO, Elton John, (The) Mamas & (The) Papas, (The) Spencer Davis (Group), (The) Guess Who, Chicago. Basically things you might hear on a classic rock station. Typically an old station these days might play about 500 different songs. We play about 2,000. So, there are a lot of songs you’re not going to hear over and over and over again, and things that you probably haven’t heard in years.
The station, compared to what else you’re going to hear on the Internet, I think has a lot more personality and sounds like the stations of the 1960s, where it’s not where you can go for an hour and here’s the disc jockey two times, and just hear songs back to back to back to back all hour long. It makes it sound more like radio was back in the 1960s.”
Junak said that he works at the station seven days per week.
“I spend a couple hours a day on the station,” Junak said. “Usually I have to go through the logs and fix the problems on it during the day, and I usually decide that there are more minutes in the hour than there actually are, so I typically have to go delete songs at the ends of hours and I basically have to correct any problems.”
Listeners of the station can hear Junak from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Geoff Richards from 2 to 6 p.m., Bob Oscar Johnson from 6 p.m. to midnight and from 6 to 10 a.m., Bill Earl from midnight to 6 a.m., and Doctor John Winston from 2 to 6 p.m. on Saturdays.
In addressing readers of this paper in regard to his station, Junak said, “We’re here 24 hours a day and if you enjoyed radio more in the 1960s and 1970s than you do today, then KXOA, ‘the Giant X,’ would be more of a station that you would want to listen to other than some of the other stations in Sacramento. So, we’re basically four people that aren’t really looking for radio as just background. We want you to hear something interesting along with the music.”
KXOA can be heard through the website www.147kxoa.com.

KROY was among Sacramento’s early radio stations

Editor’s Note: This is the third article in a series about the history of broadcasting in the Sacramento area. This series was inspired by readers’ positive responses to previous articles about local television history in this publication and several requests to feature histories of local radio stations.

The now defunct Sacramento AM radio station KROY made its debut in 1937. Its history also includes the operation of the FM station, KROI – later KROY FM. Photo courtesy of the Lance Armstrong Collection

The now defunct Sacramento AM radio station KROY made its debut in 1937. Its history also includes the operation of the FM station, KROI – later KROY FM. Photo courtesy of the Lance Armstrong Collection

Sacramento radio station KFBK, which was featured in the last article of this series, remained the city’s only commercial radio station until Monday, March 15, 1937. It was on that date that KROY, which would eventually operate in the Arden area, made its official debut at 1210 AM.

Efforts to establish KROY was described in an article in the Nov. 6, 1935 edition of The Sacramento Bee. In that article it was reported that San Francisco native Royal Miller (1884-1976), who then-resided at 1325 45th St., had applied to operate a new radio station in Sacramento.

Miller, according to the article, commented that KFBK was on the verge of doubling its advertising and enlarging its facilities, and therefore, he believed that Sacramento was in need of a second and smaller commercial radio station.

In addition to his eventual notoriety as the owner of KROY, Miller was well-known as the president of the Miller Automobile Co. at 1520 K St. That company then had an estimated net worth of $136,000.

At various times during his life, Miller had a variety of other roles, including serving as a member of the Sacramento City Council, second vice president of the Sacramento Chamber of Commerce and president of the board of directors of the Sacramento Municipal Utility District.

As previously mentioned, KROY officially went on the air on March 15, 1937. That action occurred at 2 p.m., with a push of a button by Gov. Frank F. Merriam from his office in the state Capitol.

After starting the station’s transmitter, Merriam briefly spoke on air to the station’s first listeners.

KROY’s dedicatory program was broadcast from its studio on the mezzanine level of the Hotel Senator.

The program, which concluded at 6:15 p.m., included greetings by other guest participants, including city, county and state officials. Among those officials were Lt. Gov. George J. Hatfield, Mayor Arthur D. Ferguson, City Manager James S. Dean and Sacramento County executive and purchasing agent Charles W. Deterding, Jr.

During the same evening, at 7:30 p.m., the Sacramento Chamber of Commerce honored Miller with a formal dinner at the Sacramento Hotel at 1107 10th St.

The original KROY staff consisted of Robert Barringer, general manager; Al Wolfle, technical director; Robert S. Spence, program director; Bert F. Hews, news editor; George W. Collipp, sales manager; Lucille McCubbin, receptionist; George F. Strahl, radio operator; Alyse Sullivan, women’s programs; and Harry Oakes, announcer-salesman.

A unique, original offering by KROY was its on air interviews with job applicants, for the benefit of employers through the California State Employment Service.

In 1941, KROY’s frequency was changed to 1240 AM, and the station began transmitting from a 195-foot-tall tower at 3502 Kroy Way in today’s Tahoe Park area.

Two major events in KROY’s history occurred in 1943, as the station changed from its original 100-watt operation to 250 watts of power, and KROY’s license was modified to feature a partnership of owners doing business as Royal Miller Radio. That partnership featured Royal Miller and his wife, Marion Miller, and L.H. Penney and Gladys W. Penney.

The Billboard magazine announced in its May 18, 1946 edition that the Federal Communications Commission had approved the sale of KROY to Harmco, Inc. for $150,000.

In the same edition of that weekly publication, it was noted that the Gibson Broadcasting Co. had submitted the same offer, but was turned down by the FCC, because that company was already operating another radio station, as well as two newspapers.

In the fall of 1952, Harmco, Inc. sold KROY to KROY, Inc., a then-newly formed organization headed by Charles L. McCarthy, for $425,000.

KROY was sold once again, in 1954, to Robert W. Dumm, a former manager of Sacramento radio station KXOA. Dumm had also previously worked as the sales promotion manager of San Francisco radio station KSFO.

In 1956, KROY began broadcasting at 1011 11th St., above the Country Maid Creamery restaurant.

KROY was sold to John T. Carey, Inc. in 1959, and then to Sacramento Broadcasters, Inc., which was headed by Lincoln Dellar, a year later.

It was also about that time when Arden area resident A.J. Richards became KROY’s station manager.

As a station that was known for presenting popular music of respective eras, KROY entered the rock and roll era in the same decade.

For a period of time, KROY regularly played surf music.

During research for this chapter, a unique entry was discovered in the April 11, 1963 city council minutes. That entry reads: “In accordance with verbal recommendation of the city manager, (Bartley W. Cavanaugh), Councilman (Philip C.) Mering moved that the written request of radio station KROY for permission to land a helicopter in Edmonds Field baseball park (at Riverside Boulevard and Broadway) on Saturday, April 13th, for a children’s Easter egg hunt be granted with the stipulation that evidence of insurance be filed, saving the city harmless.”

In early 1966, KROY, which was then a Top 40 format station, relocated to 977 Arden Way.

KROY was then managed by Dwight Case and was advertising itself as an “all request” radio station.

The station relocated its transmitter to the city dump, off 28th Street, in 1966.

It was also around that time that KROY persuaded popular KXOA deejay Johnny Hyde to become a KROY deejay and present his unique, non-Top 40 music program, “The Gear Hour.”

A KROY listeners’ survey list from Oct. 8-14, 1966 shows the titles of 40 top songs and 12 “hit-bound” songs. The top five songs on the main list are “I’m Your Puppet” (James & Bobby Purify), “Poor Side of Town” (Johnny Rivers), “Fortune Teller” (The Rolling Stones), “If I were a Carpenter” (Bobby Darin) and “The Fife Piper” (The Dynatones).

Such survey lists were based on a survey of record sales, listeners’ requests, national sales information and KROY’s “judgment of the record’s appeal to the Sacramento audience.”

A KROY document for the week of April 26 to May 4, 1967 notes that the 12 most requested tunes at that time were: “Yellow Balloon” (Yellow Balloon), “A Day in the Life” (The Beatles), “She Hangs Out” (The Monkees), “Blues Theme” (Davie Allan & The Arrows), “Groovin’” (The Young Rascals), “Somethin’ Stupid” (Nancy and Frank Sinatra), “Dry Your Eyes” (Brenda and The Tabulations), “Creators of Rain” (Smokey and His Sister), “On a Carousel” (The Hollies), “The Sound of Music” (The New Breed), “When I Was Young” (Eric Burdon & The Animals) and “Close Your Eyes” (Peaches & Herb).

In 1968, KROY became recognized as Sacramento’s number one radio station – according to Arbitron ratings books – and it would hold that position for several years.

KROY moved to new studios in the basement of a building at 1017 2nd St. in 1975.

In 1976, KROY 1240 AM was joined by KROI 96.9 FM.

According to a July 25, 1978 article in The Bee, during the previous day, the FCC approved the sale of KROY and KROI to Jonsson Communications, Inc. for a combined $4.08 million.

During the following year, KROI became KROY-FM.

Both KROY stations replaced their Top 40 format with an adult contemporary music format in the early 1980s.

KROY 1240 AM remained in operation until 1982, when it became known as KENZ.

On July 26, 1984, The Bee reported that KROY-FM had ended its rock format.

The article’s lead paragraph reads: “Sacramento radio listeners who had their sets tuned to KROY-FM this morning got a surprise when they awakened to KSAC and the sounds of vocalists like Frank Sinatra instead of the rock music of Van Halen.”

In regard to the KSAC call letters, the article noted that Ken Jonsson, who was president of the firm that owned Sacramento magazine, Heavenly Recording Studios at 620 Bercut Drive and radio stations in Sacramento, Manteca and Reno, played an integral role in securing those letters from a college radio station in Kansas.

The KROY letters were revived in 1985 by the station’s then-new owners, Commonwealth Broadcasting of Northern California.

KROY-FM made news again on Nov. 8, 1988, when The Bee reported that the station had been sold to the Great American Radio and Television Company of Cincinnati, Ohio for $11.7 million.

The article noted: “The station is expected to retain its current format of adult contemporary music. Its assets will be transferred from current owner, Commonwealth Broadcasting, to Great American within the next 90 days, a spokeswoman said.”

KROY-FM, which would eventually be recognized as “Hot 97,” officially left the air permanently in 1990 when it was replaced by radio station KSEG “The Eagle” 96.9 FM.

Lance@valcomnews.com

Tuesday Club of Sacramento promoted educational, social and philanthropic endeavors

In order to provide better communication with its members, the club began publishing its own newsletter, The TC News, in November 1946. Shown above is the Oct. 1, 1959 edition, which includes a photograph of Irene Sweet, who was then serving as the club’s president. Photo courtesy of the Lance Armstrong Collection

In order to provide better communication with its members, the club began publishing its own newsletter, The TC News, in November 1946. Shown above is the Oct. 1, 1959 edition, which includes a photograph of Irene Sweet, who was then serving as the club’s president. Photo courtesy of the Lance Armstrong Collection

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

The majority of the Tuesday Club of Sacramento’s existence was spent at its site, just south of Sutter’s Fort, at 2722 L St.
As mentioned in the previous article of this series, this local women’s institution opened its first club-owned meeting place at that location in 1912.
Those familiar with this club know that it consisted of various sections. And some of those sections included, at certain times, its home and garden (originally home and education) section, bridge section, choral section, drama section, dance section, historical and antique section, bowling section, golf section, arts and crafts section, creative writing section, Spanish study section and multiple book sections. The latter section previously operated as the literary department.
In February 1913, following the completion of the furnishing of its clubhouse, the club acquired a Steinway grand piano for its stage.
Fundraising for the rental of an additional piano in the lower hall, as well as for other purposes, began later that year.
The 1915 completion of the construction of the Women’s Building on the old grounds of the State Fair on Stockton Boulevard was a satisfying moment for the Tuesday Club, as it had encouraged the state to add the structure to that site.
The 1920s began with the formation of the Tuesday Club Auxiliary, whose membership consisted of unmarried daughters of Tuesday Club members. The purpose of the organization was to train its members “in the ways of future club women.”
The auxiliary, which began with a membership of 53 in January 1920 and disbanded two decades later, had regular meetings and special programs.
Among the club’s notable events of the 1920s occurred during the evening of Nov. 5, 1923, when the organization presented a special dedication program to introduce its new, $15,000 pipe organ to the public.
Every seat was filled and additional attendees crowded the hall’s stairways and doorways to witness a concert performed by John J. McClellan (1874-1925), organist of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir of Salt Lake City.
The opening number was the “Star Spangled Banner,” which would not become America’s national anthem for another seven years.
In all, McClellan played 20 numbers, including compositions by Wagner, Bach and Schubert.
The organ was a gift from Tuesday Club member Cornelia E. (Bromley) Fratt, who had donated the funds for the instrument in 1917.
The use of those funds for an organ were delayed due to World War I, as Fratt had requested that the money be made available for the possible purchase of Liberty Bonds.
With the end of the war, the funds would once again be made available to the club for the purchase of the organ. The instrument was eventually purchased, and then installed during the summer of 1923.
As part of the dedication event, Nellie Siddons Hall (1868-1943), then president of the Tuesday Club, officially received the organ on behalf of the club.
Another highlight in the club’s history came in 1927 with the burning of the mortgage of its clubhouse.
The club’s philanthropy department kept very active for many years.
For instance, members of the club spent decades providing financial support to the American Red Cross.
During World War II, the club set up sewing machines in its clubhouse and sewed for the war efforts behind blackout curtains.
In its efforts to serve as more than a social club, the Tuesday Club also supported the YMCA, the YWCA, the Sacramento Tuberculosis Association and the Yolo Causeway project. The club also assisted in the establishment of a juvenile court.
In order to provide better communication with its members, the club began publishing its own newsletter, The TC News, in November 1946.
The Dec. 1, 1946 edition of The News notes: “Hale Brothers (department store at 825 K St.) have expressed their good wishes in a tangible way with the gift of The TC News. While we our counting our blessings and achievements, let us remember the sponsor who made our bulletin possible.”
On Dec. 8, 1949, the club established its picture rental section at the E.B. Crocker Art Gallery – today’s Crocker Art Museum.
The section, which was the idea of Tuesday Club member Maud Pook, had the dual purpose of allowing those of lesser financial means to rent quality, original oil and water color paintings – and later acrylic, block prints, collage and other art media – for their homes or offices and providing an outlet for new artists to display their works.
Among the most notable local artists who contributed their works to this section was Sacramento artist Wayne Thiebaud.
In the April 1971 edition of The TC News, it was mentioned that Ruth E. Gorman, picture rental chairman, had reported that about 3,000 paintings were being rented each month.
The picture rental section was relocated to Country Club Centre and reopened at that site on Sept. 8, 1974. And due to a decrease in interest by the public and Tuesday Club members, this service was sold a decade later.
Undoubtedly one of the lowest moments in the club’s history came by way of a fire that virtually destroyed its clubhouse on Sept. 11, 1950.
To make matters worse, fireman Carson Hart was killed while fighting the fire.
Tuesday Club of Sacramento members stand on the east side of the clubhouse in front of the Camellia Room awning in this 1996 photograph. Photo courtesy of the Tuesday Club of Sacramento

Tuesday Club of Sacramento members stand on the east side of the clubhouse in front of the Camellia Room awning in this 1996 photograph. Photo courtesy of the Tuesday Club of Sacramento

Following that casualty, the club established the Carson Hart Memorial Fund to assist in the education and training of Hart’s three daughters.
With the loss of its building, Tuesday Club members, who then numbered 1,160, met for general meetings at the Alhambra Theatre at 1101 Alhambra Blvd. in East Sacramento, as well as at other locations.
It was also during that time that the club set up temporary headquarters and held section meetings at the Scottish Rite Temple, at 2730 L St.
After much discussion among club members, a decision was made by the club to rebuild its clubhouse in the same location of its previous clubhouse.
A contract was let for that project in September 1951 and the structure was almost entirely rebuilt and expanded by contractor Charles F. Unger at a cost of $118,400.
On May 10, 1952, The Sacramento Bee reported that the new clubhouse was completed and ready for occupancy.
In its description of the building, The Bee included the following words: “The front of the two-story structure has been remodeled in contemporary style with native materials. The predominant exterior colors are gray and brown.
“(Architect Kenneth C.) Rickey (of the architectural firm, Rickey & Brooks) said large planter boxes have been included at the main front entrance and the front second story deck.
“The auditorium has been refinished and equipped and front rooms have been enlarged for office and clubroom space. A new entrance to the basement banquet room has been provided and the downstairs kitchen area has been remodeled.
“The rear doorways of the auditorium have been doubled in size and two new steel fire escapes have been added. The ceiling was curved to provide improved acoustics and new flooring and balcony seats were installed. Curtain and stage equipment were fireproofed.”
Fortunately, many of the buildings furnishings were saved during the fire and were placed in the newly completed building.
On May 1, 1952, club officials moved into the structure’s new office area, and a formal opening of the building was held 19 days later.
During the same year, the club was incorporated as a nonprofit organization, with dues of $10 per year.
The Tuesday Club House Association, the stock corporation that had handled the club’s business affairs for the previous half-century, was dissolved in 1953, as the club purchased all of the association’s remaining stock.
In another Bee article, which was published on November 17, 1954, it was reported that the Tuesday Club had discontinued its affiliation with the General Federation of Women’s Clubs during the previous day due to an increase in annual dues from $375 to more than $900.
With the 1960s came the introduction of the sewing section’s fashion shows, which featured creations of that section’s members.
Additionally, the club purchased a Baldwin grand piano during the same decade.
In December 1965, The TC News announced the formation of the club’s travel section, noting: “The travel section is opening the doors to travelers, so that they may travel to all parts of the world with their friends, with the added advantage of group rates.”
In celebration of its 75th anniversary, the club held its “Diamond Jubilee” dinner dance at the clubhouse on March 13, 1971. Music was provided by Eddie Halter’s orchestra.
In 1976, 12 6-foot tables and 25 8-foot tables were purchased for the clubhouse’s Camellia Room and the building’s Ladies Lounge received new, elegant carpeting.
A continuation of the club’s history, some of which will be told by former members of the club, will conclude this series in the next addition of this publication.

Lance@valcomnews.com

Sacramento’s first commercial radio station established in 1922

Editor’s Note: This is the first article in a series about the history of broadcasting in the Sacramento area. This series was inspired by readers’ positive responses to previous articles about local television history in this publication and several requests to feature histories of local radio stations.

KVQ, Sacramento’s first commercial radio station, made its debut in this building at 711-715 7th St. in 1922. Photo courtesy of the Lance Armstrong Collection

KVQ, Sacramento’s first commercial radio station, made its debut in this building at 711-715 7th St. in 1922. Photo courtesy of the Lance Armstrong Collection

For many years prior to the widespread introduction of television, Sacramentans were very much in the practice of utilizing their own blank canvases to paint mental pictures through the sound of radio.

Although there are still many locals who love listening to the radio today, pre-television days in the capital city were obviously much different times when it comes to the topic of broadcasting.

An early reference to radio appeared in the Jan. 27, 1922 edition of The Sacramento Bee.

In that report, it was mentioned that the Sacramento Valley Radio Club would be presenting a free “wireless concert” that evening at the YMCA building at 5th and J streets.

The club, which then consisted of more than 600 amateur wireless operators from Sacramento and its vicinity, designed the event “for the benefit of all interested in the study of wireless and those wishing to join the club.”

On Feb. 2, 1922 – just 15 months after the Westinghouse Electric Co. became recognized as opening the world’s first permanent radio station, KDKA, of East Pittsburgh, Pa. – Sacramento’s first commercial radio station, KVQ 833 AM, with a power of only five watts, went on the air.

The station was originally co-owned by The Bee, making it the state’s first newspaper-owned radio station.

As the story goes, Carlos McClatchy (1891-1933) had been introduced to radio during the previous year through a friend on the East Coast and Carlos’ enthusiasm led him to convince his father, Bee editor Charles Kenny “C.K.” McClatchy, to contribute toward the establishment of KVQ.

Also co-owning KVQ was the local, German-born electrician Joseph Charles Hobrecht (1876-1953), who along with his brother, Philip J. Hobrecht, then-owned the lighting fixture business, J.C. Hobrecht Co., at 1014 6th St.

According to the 1913 book, “History of Sacramento County, California,” the Hobrecht brothers first opened their business at 1012 10th St. on Sept. 20, 1909. They relocated their establishment to its 6th Street location about four years later.

The book also notes that Joseph previously worked in Montana as an electrician, then came to California in 1900. He continued to work in the same profession and eventually spent at least four years employed with the Electrical Supply Co. at 815 J St.

Joseph’s interest in co-founding a commercial radio station in Sacramento was influenced by the fact that J.C. Hobrecht Co. had already gained experience as a radio parts dealer in the capital city.

The inaugural day’s program for KVQ included news and weather reports and music performed by eight Victor recording artists in an office on the second floor of The Bee building at 911-15 7th St.

In its following day report regarding KVQ’s debut, The Bee noted that the station’s inaugural concert was presented from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.

The station officially began when the following words were spoken into a microphone: “KVQ, KVQ, KVQ, Sacramento Bee calling. Hello, hello.”

It was also noted in The Bee’s Feb. 3, 1922 report that the aforementioned eight recording artists had their part in the concert shortened by 30 minutes due to the late arrival of their train from San Francisco.

The Victor singers who performed for KVQ’s first concert were Frank Banta, Henry Burr, Albert Campbell, Frank Croxton, Fred Van Eps, John Meyer, Billy Murray and Monroe Silver.

These artists, who were referred to in the article as the “Victor eight,” performed five numbers.

The program began with a piano piece by Banta, who was well-known for his abilities as a skillful jazz pianist.

The next number featured Billy Murray, who sang, “Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes.”

One of the more lively numbers was a banjo solo by Van Eps.

In a special Bee report from Roseville, it was noted: “All of the Victor artists could be heard plainly (in Roseville) and the banjo solo by Fred Van Eps was interesting, because every stroke that Van Eps used on his banjo could be heard and every trill and run of his masterful touch could be heard as if he were playing in the next room.”

Another one of the pieces of the evening highlighted the vocal talents of Burr, a tenor, who was accompanied by Banta at the piano.

In addition to KVQ’s inaugural radio performances, a concert featuring the same artists was held later that evening at the Clunie Theatre at 809 K St.

An advertisement in the aforementioned edition of The Bee noted that phonograph records featuring recordings of those artists could then be purchased at the John Breuner Co., the well-known general home furnishings business at 600-608 K St.

The initial venture of KVQ was considered a success, as The Bee estimated that about 1,000 wireless set operators in Central and Superior California tuned into that evening’s broadcast, and among the listeners of that program were hundreds of amateur wireless receiving set operators in Sacramento.

Furthermore, in taking into account that many neighbors and friends of those particular operators joined them in listening to that now-historic program, The Bee noted that “thousands of Bee readers” heard that first broadcast.

Following the station’s first day of operation, it continued with a program schedule of 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. each day, except for Sundays, and Wednesday and Saturday nights, when the station broadcast from 8 to 9 p.m.

Those programs included daily local and Superior California news, market exchanges, weather reports, music from phonograph records and occasional live music performances.

In order to attract additional listeners to its radio station, The Bee, in its Feb. 4, 1922 edition, ran an article and diagram directing its readers how to make a wireless receiving set.

It was mentioned in that edition that with such a set, KVQ’s broadcasts could be heard by those living in the city and residents of places within an eight to 12-mile radius of Sacramento.

The popularity of KVQ and radio, in general, continued to increase, as The Bee received hundreds of letters praising its decision to enter the radio broadcasting world.

It was also learned through those letters that thousands of receiving sets had been constructed in Sacramento since KVQ had gone on the air.

As radio was becoming one of the nation’s largest industries, KVQ made advancements of its own.

Its improvements included expanding to 50 watts in August 1922 and constructing a soundproof studio in The Bee building. And as a result of its wattage increase, the station could be heard as far away as Canada, Alaska, Pennsylvania and New York.

Despite its many successes, KVQ was discontinued following its evening program of Dec. 20, 1922 due to most local listeners’ preference to tune into stations from other areas.

The Bee, in its Dec. 20, 1922, edition noted that radio fans found “more pleasure and greater opportunity for development in increasing the efficiency of (their sets) to include the detection of waves from stations hundreds or thousands of miles away.”

Unfortunately for wireless operators who were continuously seeking a greater variety of listening options, during KVQ’s broadcast hours, the station drowned out the reception of all of the otherwise obtainable radio stations.

After explaining its desire to “enable those interested in radio to get the most out of their sets,” The Bee concluded its aforementioned Dec. 20, 1922 article with the following send off: “Hello, Hello! KVQ calling. The Sacramento Bee. Adieu, radio fans; KVQ gives way to your interests and a greater radio.”

lance@valcomnews.com

Riverview II social club established in Carmichael more than 60 years ago

Jackie (Leam) LaCornu holds a copy of the newly published book, “The History of Riverview: 1926 to 2014, and Counting.” Photo by Lance Armstrong

Jackie (Leam) LaCornu holds a copy of the newly published book, “The History of Riverview: 1926 to 2014, and Counting.” Photo by Lance Armstrong

Editor’s Note: This is the second of two articles about the Riverview and Riverview II social clubs.

Riverview II, a local, primarily social club that first met in the Riverview clubhouse along the American River in Carmichael, was established in 1953.
The group was founded as a result of the original Riverview organization’s desire to continue its history through the formation of a secondary club with younger members.
The senior club, which was officially founded as Riverview Lodge in May 1926, was recognized in its constitution and by-laws as a club that was organized “for social and benevolent purposes, and to encourage social activities among its members and their families.”
Original Riverview members Jack and Helen Conger wrote a creative, poetic story about that first Riverview club.
The beginning portion of that story reads:
“It happened like this, so the historians tell,
Many decades ago a bunch of – well,
Mighty nice people got itchy feet
And decided to depart from the street.
They thought if they could find a cozy nook
With trees and vines and a babbling brook,
They might get together every now and then
And enjoy themselves – both women and men.”
Twenty-seven years after the original club found that “cozy nook,” the Junior Riverview club – renamed Riverview II in 1985 – was established.
And since the one-time Junior Riverviewers have grown to become seniors themselves, Riverview II members decided to create a book to preserve memories of their cherished club. That 70-page, spiral-bound book, which also includes a brief history of Riverview Lodge, was published on March 1, 2014.
The book is divided into various sections, including a section entitled “Governance.”
In that section, it was noted that Riverview II’s constitution was written in 1954, and dealt mostly with the topics of club officers, elections, duties and membership.
Originally, membership in the club was limited to couples, and only men could serve as officers.
The book recognizes Jack Kemmler as acting chairman of Riverview II in 1953. That position was basically comparable to the position of president.
Virgil “Virg” LaCornu began serving as the club’s first president a year later.
It was not until 2009 that the club elected a female president – Bobby Kramer.
In a recent interview with this publication, Jackie (Leam) LaCornu, whose parents, Jack and Mildred Leam, were among the founding members of the first group, said that she played a large role in the creation of the new Riverview club’s history book.
The book’s committee met at least once a month for one year at Jackie’s house, and according to the book, the committee was fueled by plenty of coffee, tea, water and cookies.
It should come as no surprise that Jackie was able to provide much assistance with the book project, since she was a founding member of Riverview II, which emphasizes a “fun first” approach, which has included many parties and other social activities.
Jackie spoke with much enthusiasm about both Riverview Lodge and Riverview II.
And as she recalled both of those organization’s old clubhouse on the river, Jackie related information about that building’s absence, practically as if she was speaking about the death of a member of her family.
The old clubhouse was undoubtedly Riverview II’s most memorable meeting place.
In explaining why Riverview II lost its old clubhouse, Jackie said, “(In 1980), the senior Deterdings had passed, and the younger Deterdings – Russell Deterding and his wife – owned it. And they had decided to go ahead and turn (the property) over to the county. The county said that the (clubhouse) had to be up to code. It would have had to be completely rebuilt from the ground up, and even then we wouldn’t have owned the land. (The county) would have ended up taking whatever we built.
“The county tore it down, even though we thought it would be perfect for scouts and different county activities.”
The aforementioned Riverview book included the following words: “Riverview II has utilized a number of locations during their existence. However, none are more memorable than the original lodge by the river.
“We sadly said goodbye to the lodge on the river, but felt confident we would have wonderful times together no matter where we gathered.”
Following Riverview II’s departure from its lodge on the river, its members began meeting at the Sacramento Horsemen’s Association’s lodge at 3200 Longview Drive. The group continued meeting at that site until 2001.
Later meeting places of the club have included: the Ryde Hotel in Walnut Grove, the Arden Manor clubhouse, the Campus Commons clubhouse, Aviators Restaurant at the Sacramento Executive Airport, the Buggy Whip restaurant at 2737 Fulton Ave., Jackson Catering at 1120 Fulton Ave., a home for seniors and residences of members of the group.

Members of Riverview II are pictured at one of their gatherings at Aviators Restaurant at the Sacramento Executive Airport. Photo courtesy of Riverview II

Members of Riverview II are pictured at one of their gatherings at Aviators Restaurant at the Sacramento Executive Airport. Photo courtesy of Riverview II

One of the things that Jackie and other members of the club speak about the most is the many fun times they enjoyed as a group.
The largest section in the book is dedicated to fond club memories of Riverview II members.
A few of those memories are presented, as follows:
Milt Faig
“Those were the days, my friend. We thought they’d never end. We’d sing and dance forever and a day. We’d live the life we choose (sic). We’d fight and never loose (sic), for we were young and sure to have our way.”
Ora Wichmann
“(Ora’s husband) Don loved to make decorations for our parties. He made the room and table decorations for many parties: Hawaiian, beach, Italian, Mexican, cowboy-western, Chinese and Christmas. One year for Christmas, he made a 5-foot-long red Santa sleigh and a 6-foot-tall snowman with top hat and scarf (made from chicken wire and cotton balls).”
LeRoy “Pete” Peters
“(Pete’s wife) Arlene and I moved to Sacramento in 1964 and were very shortly thereafter, in 1964 or 1965, sponsored for membership into Junior Riverview, as it was then called, by Fred and Barbara Taylor. Fred and I were both working for the same consulting engineering firm.”
Dick Ryder
“Our relatively recent (five years) becoming part of Riverview II for (his wife) Irene and I has been a meaningful renewing (of friendships) with a number of people we’ve been associated with over the course of our lifetime, including connections from grade school, high school, college, scouting, work, skiing, fraternity and business. Riverview (II) is truly entwined with our background and with Sacramento history.”
Mary Lydon
“The Horseman’s (sic) hall was decorated (for a party) as though it was underwater. Walls were lined with plastic. There was (sic) a treasure chest and a mermaid, I believe. It was a very elaborate setting for the party.”
Other parties of the club included the Playboy club party in the 1950s and the Orient Express party in the 1960s.
The old Junior Riverview club even made the news on occasions.
For instance, The Sacramento Bee once published a photograph of the group, with a caption, which partially reads: “Songfest – Members of the Junior Riverview Lodge had an old-fashioned pajama party and campfire session Saturday evening at the clubhouse on the American River. The members slept in sleeping bags on the clubhouse lawn and were served breakfast (the next) morning in the lodge by the committee.”
Shown gathered around a bonfire in the photograph were Don and Ora Wichmann, Martin “Marty” and Myrna Luther, Charles “Chuck” and Barbara Wilke, Chalmers and Colleen West, Bob and Barbara Chadwick, Virg and Jackie LaCornu and William and Bobby Kramer.
Although the present day, remaining members of the club are not as active as they once were and have refrained from producing their once often elaborate decorations, they plan to continue to meet for as many more years as they will find possible.
Although it was once a movement of Riverview II to establish an active Riverview III club, that action proved to be a failed endeavor.
And since Riverview II consists of a group of senior members, the club’s existence, Jackie explained, will likely not continue with younger members in the future.
“I don’t think we (will continue with younger members),” Jackie said. “I think (the club) will just have to die like (Riverview Lodge) did. And it wouldn’t be the same (in the future), so I think I’m okay with it. It’s just going to have to die. That’s really why we wanted to do the book, because we were aware of the fact that we’re just getting to the point where we’re fading away.”
But in the meantime, Jackie said that Riverview II members are dedicated to meeting and enjoying each others’ company on a regular basis.

Former Pocket area resident shares memories of his career in entertainment

Steve Masone recently met with the Pocket News to share details about his career, which has included working in community theater, booking entertainment and co-owning a music store. Photo by Lance Armstrong

Steve Masone recently met with the Pocket News to share details about his career, which has included working in community theater, booking entertainment and co-owning a music store. Photo by Lance Armstrong

Note: This is part two in a series about 1970 John F. Kennedy High School graduate Steve Masone.

Steve Masone, as mentioned in the first article of this series, took an early interest in live theater and music.
Shortly before Masone graduated from John F. Kennedy High School, he took a role in a psychedelic rock musical adaptation of Euripides’ “The Bacchae.”
Masone spoke about that production as having made history in the capital city.
“I was one of the chorus line dancers (in ‘The Bacchae’),” Masone said. “Things came together as we went along (in the rehearsals). The director had never worked with psychedelic rockers before. The musical also included the first nude scene in Sacramento community theater. The musical, ‘Hair,’ (which famously included nudity), had not yet been performed in Sacramento.”
After graduating from Kennedy High and completing his service in the Army, Masone began adding to his artistic resume.
In recalling a memorable time in his life, Masone noted that, in 1976, he became involved in the production of a dinner theater in Sacramento.
“I was a theatrical agent with George B. Hunt and Associates (of Los Angeles) and we also booked talent at the fairs, bands and everything else,” Masone said. “George asked me if dinner theater would work in Sacramento. And I said, ‘Absolutely, if it’s a good show.’ We had the Music Circus in town for years, so I knew we had a cultivated audience in Sacramento. And I knew we could make it work, because Sacramento supports theater like no other town I know. I booked us up here and produced the dinner theater at the then Sheraton Inn at (2600 Auburn Blvd.). We cast the talent in Hollywood and some rehearsals down there and then built the stage at the Sheraton and continued the rehearsals (at that venue). Joy Healey (the noted dancer and choreographer who was once a stand-in for Shirley Temple in the 1930s and an entertainer on the United Service Organizations’ circuit during the following decade) was the director/choreographer and I was the producer. Our first show was ‘Kiss Me Kate.’ Opening weekend was sold out three or four weeks before we opened, so we knew (the dinner theater at the Sheraton Inn) would work. We also presented ‘Damn Yankees.’ We were ending that production and planning for our next production, ‘South Pacific,’ in which Mitzi Gaynor was prepared to come do the show with us, when the bankruptcy court took the hotel into receivership.”
It was also in 1976 when Masone made news with The Daily Planet, a band that once performed on top of the Senator Hotel at 1131 L St.
Masone recalled that the band’s high volume performance caused many of the attendees of a political event – a protest against the Cesar Chavez-sponsored farm workers initiative, Proposition 14 – on the nearby Capitol grounds to leave that event to get closer to the music that was being played across L Street.
“The old Senator Hotel (included) one of my rooms with the union,” Masone said. “And I had a band in there called The Daily Planet, and we did a publicity stunt on top of the Senator. I put the band, The Daily Planet, outside on top of the (hotel) during some type of protest across the street with maybe a couple thousand people (or about 200 representatives of the California Women for Agriculture, according to a United Press International report). I put the band up and we started playing rock and roll at that lunchtime event and (protestors) from the Capitol (grounds) came over and enjoyed the band. And it made the front page (of The Sacramento Union) and the headline was ‘Rock and roll trumps politics’ (or) ‘When it comes to politics and rock and roll, rock and roll will always win,’ or something like that.”
After playing harmonica on one song, Masone headed to the ground level to speak to the press.
Following his work at the dinner theater at the Sheraton Inn, Masone established another dinner theater at the Bacchus Theatre at 1027 ½ 2nd St., above the Saddle Rock Restaurant in Old Sacramento.
Masone mentioned that he also spent time working in the media for radio station KROY 1240 AM as a news stringer and for Freedom News Service, writing copy and mostly covering political events.
Additionally, Masone said that his work history during the 1970s included a lot of managerial work, as well as the co-ownership of a music store.
“I was (involved in) personal management and managing several different bands,” Masone said. “I was booking everything, and then another opportunity came up (in 1977). Some friends of mine pooled their money together and we bought a music store down on K Street (from Brian Bailey, who founded the store a year earlier at 2113 Arden Way before relocating it to the K Street Mall). And so, we owned Melodyland music (store) for about a year. We sold instruments and gave lessons in the basement, and had people working with some bands and stuff. But then they tore up K Street Mall (to remove its concrete structures and water features), and it did nothing. All kinds of businesses went out of business down there. (Melodyland) was on the opposite side of (K Street from) the Crest (Theatre at 1013 K Street).
“Bringing up the Crest, that was another project I was involved in was in the saving of the Crest. I worked with Herb Levine. We did some promotions and some productions to help save the Crest. And I also was doing all of the downtown merchant associations events with bands and so forth. I picked up some other big clients like United Cerebral Palsy. We were supplying the talent and stuff for doing their national fundraising events. And they had a big, epic show here, too, and a lot of it was televised and everything.”
In about 1978, Masone produced a disco ballet that was performed on a Red and White fleet cruise ship on the Sacramento River.
In speaking about that experience, Masone said, “We used a disco soundtrack and I choreographed a disco ballet to ‘Romeo and Juliet’ aboard the ship as it cruised down the Delta between Steamboat Slough and Sacramento. It was a four or five-hour cruise that was sold out. To promote the event, my dance partner (Cydney Cannon/now Cydney Welch) and I climbed up to one of the Tower Bridge’s pinnacles as a publicity stunt. It was to get local publicity, and it instead got national publicity. At first, I didn’t think my dance partner would go for it, but she said, ‘I’ll do it. Let’s do it.’ What we didn’t count on was there were 40 mph winds. But there were news cameras there from Channel 10 and Channel 3, and The (Sacramento) Bee was there to cover the event, so we had to do it. (On the following day), the whole front page of the Metro section (of The Bee) was dedicated to photos and that story. It was after that we beat out Northern California’s leading dancers, (Sacramento’s) Darwin Mitchell and (his partner) Jeannie.”

Lance@valcomnews.com