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

East Sacramento nonprofits to benefit from United Way’s Toilet Paper Drive

United Way California Capital Region is asking the community to spare a square by donating to its 6th Annual Toilet Paper Drive on June 12 that helps local nonprofits offset the cost for this staple item, including two East Sacramento nonprofits. Local nonprofits spend anywhere from a few hundred to thousands of dollars a year on toilet paper – money that could be invested in programs changing lives.

Sacramento Life Center, whose primary medical clinic and headquarters are located in East Sacramento, spends $1,300 a year on toilet paper between its primary clinic and its two Mobile Medical Clinics. Thanks to the Toilet Paper Drive, Sacramento Life Center will instead be able to provide the 2,000 women and teen girls they see each year with 80 free pregnancy testing appointments, 70 free STD testing appointments, 40 free ultrasounds or 25 free well woman exams.

TLCS Inc., also based in East Sacramento, spends $7,520 a year on toilet paper through its interim housing program for people with psychiatric disabilities who have been homeless. Instead, the nonprofit will be able to provide food for a month for all 113 residents.

Last year’s drive raised 229,485 rolls of toilet paper and this year’s goal is 240,000 rolls.

“We all take toilet paper for granted, but our nonprofit partners sure don’t,” said Stephanie McLemore Bray, United Way president and CEO. “At a dollar a roll, this drive will help more than a hundred local nonprofits save $240,000. Every dollar counts, and so does every roll. Together, we can make sure nonprofits have the resources to do what they do best – change people lives.”

United Way’s Toilet Paper Drive will take place 7 a.m.-7 p.m. on June 12 at the Cal Expo main entrance, 1600 Exposition Boulevard in Sacramento. Residents also can donate toilet paper online at  www.yourlocalunitedway.org/tp-drive. For updates, visit facebook.com/uwccr or follow @unitedwayccr and #tpdrive on Twitter. Senior Gleaners, a Sacramento nonprofit, will store the toilet paper and help distribute it the following week to many of United Way’s 160 certified nonprofit partners in Amador, El Dorado, Placer, Sacramento and Yolo counties.

Partners in United Way’s Toilet Paper Drive include FOX40, Sac-Val Janitorial Supply, Clear Channel Media & Entertainment, Clear Channel Outdoor, The Sacramento Bee, Senior Gleaners, Cal Expo and River City Printers.

For 90 years, United Way California Capital Region has actively worked to address the community’s most pressing issues, now focusing on innovative solutions related to high school graduation rates, household financial stability and obesity. United Way’s team of nonprofits, businesses, donors and volunteers have formed the Live United Movement to provide positive, measurable results on these issues through United Way projects: STAR Readers, $en$e-Ability and Fit Kids. Community members can give, volunteer and advocate in support of the causes they care most about, benefiting United Way and hundreds of nonprofits in Amador, El Dorado, Placer, Sacramento and Yolo counties. United Way is an independent, local affiliate of United Way Worldwide. For more information, visit www.yourlocalunitedway.org.

Upcoming McKinley Library events

From a special program “Sunflower Power” to the weekly baby lapsit, The McKinley Library, 601 Alhambra Blvd., has a few exciting events on the calendar. The hours of the library are as follows:
Sunday and Monday, closed; Tuesday: noon to 8 p.m.; Wednesday and Thursday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Friday, 1 to 6 p.m. and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For details, telephone the Sacramento Public Library at 264-2920 or visit www.saclibrary.org.

Sunflower Power: Why do plants produce seeds? California Food Literacy will show visitors how to remove sunflower seeds from the flower, create seed packets to take home, and make a spread called Sun Butter! Visitors can eat the homemade sun butter on graham crackers and read a book about sunflowers. Funded by the Friends of the McKinley Library, the program takes places on Saturday, May 17 at 2:30 p.m.

Sabrina’s Craft Corner: Come join the library as you work on your current craft project, or start a new one. Funded by the Friends of the McKinley Library, this program happens on Tuesday, May 27 at 5 p.m.

SFSQUARED Book Club meeting: Fantasy – Science Fiction – Mainstream Paranormal Fiction – this month’s selection is “Snow Crash,” by Neil Stephenson. Come to the library on Saturday, May 31 at 1 p.m. to discuss this book.

Read to a Dog: Read to a Dog is a fun and proven method for boosting a child’s reading skills by reading to a trained therapy dog and adult volunteer. Children may bring their own books to read to a furry friend, or they may borrow a book from the library’s collection. This program will be held on Tuesday, June 3 at 3 p.m.

Baby Lapsit storytime: Babies from birth to 18 months old and their parents/caregivers can enjoy great books, lively songs and rhymes, and meet other babies in the neighborhood. This recurring program starts at 10:30 a.m., with dates as follows: June 4, 10, 11, 17, 18, 24, 25.

Toddler preschool storytime: Join the library for songs, fingerplays and stories especially for ages 18 months to 5 years, followed by playtime! Make new friends and play with toys. This recurring program starts at 10:30 a.m., with dates as follows: Wednesday June 5, 12, 19, 26.

Journey to Bubbleland: Let’s kick off summer and summer reading with a pop! Join the library for a spectacular show of bubble artistry, comedy, stories and music. You’ll see dancing bubbles, people inside of bubbles, and bubbles in the shape of dragons, whales and spaceships. It’s a show you won’t forget! Partially funded by the Friends of the McKinley Library, the show starts on Thursday, June 5 at 4 p.m.

Sabrina’s Craft Corner: Learn a new craft technique every month, using simple household items and affordable materials. Paper Mache will be the craft on Saturday, June 7. Funded by the Friends of the McKinley Library, the program starts at 12:30 p.m.

Light Sabers with Art Beast: After reading a rousing tale of space adventures, friends will use pool noodles and a range of decorative tapes and jewels to create a one-of-a-kind light saber for battling unfriendly space creatures. Partially funded by the Friends of the McKinley Library, the program will be held on June 12 at 2 p.m.

Juggling, Magic and Inspired Silliness: Join the library for juggling, magic, and balancing tricks with Owen Baker-Flynn. Owen will amaze us with fun tricks, comedy, and other goofy stuff. Get inspired to have a silly, fun summer! Partially funded by the Friends of the McKinley Library, the program starts at 2 p.m. on June 18.

Sacramento residents recall their newsboy days

Newspapers in the capital city have a rich history, which dates back to the Gold Rush era. And long before the founding of Valley Community Newspapers in the 1990s, newspapers began to be delivered to homes through the use of newsboys.
In an attempt to present a bit of the history of the era of newsboys – and in some cases newsgirls (although none were interviewed for this article) – several former newspaper carriers were asked to share their memories.

Al Balshor

Al Balshor is shown around the time he was delivering copies of The Sacramento Bee during the late 1930s. Photo courtesy of Al Balshor

Al Balshor is shown around the time he was delivering copies of The Sacramento Bee during the late 1930s. Photo courtesy of Al Balshor

One of the city’s busiest newsboys during the 1930s was Al Balshor, who many people know today as the longtime proprietor of Balshor Florist at 2661 Riverside Blvd.
Balshor, 89, recalled those busy times, saying, “I had three routes at one time. This was in 1938 and 1939 (while he was attending Lincoln Junior High School at 4th and Q streets).
“I used to go out and get the first papers off of The Sacramento Bee’s press, and that was at 7th and I (streets). I would take the first papers. There would be 25. They would come up the chute and I would run down the hallway, get on the bike and I had 10 minutes to get over to the (Southern Pacific) depot and catch the train going to San Francisco. The papers would come out at 12:15 (p.m. and) the train left at 12:25 (p.m.). Many times, I caught it on the go, too. The red cap was standing on the deck. I would throw him the papers and then I would go back to school. I made $7.50 a month for that.
“I had another route after school (at 3:30 p.m.) and I went around and put papers in the drugstore, (grocery store and other business) chutes. They had the stands outside. I put them in (the stands) down on J Street (and) K Street. I delivered about 75 papers or whatever my bag would hold.
“My last route was at 4:30 (p.m.) when the papers came out. I had the (residential) route, 12th (Street), 14th (Street), E and F (streets). I delivered about 90 papers. That’s when I made $15 a month. The other two (routes), I made $7.50 (per route).
“The Bee was good to us. We always made trips to San Francisco, I got a baseball glove through them, we got a trip to Santa Cruz, and this was all because of selling subscriptions.”

Marvin Delfendahl

In sharing his own newsboy memories, Marvin Delfendahl, who like Balshor, graduated from Sacramento High School in 1942, said, “I delivered The Union for a couple years (in Oak Park) when I was 14, 15 (years old). A few of my buddies (including brothers Bill and Vic Cuccia) also had (routes). We would pick (the papers) up at some central spot in Oak Park. Everybody got paid the same rate. It was (based on) the number of papers (that were sold). They gave you the papers all month long and (on) about the 26th of the month, they gave you a figure. You owed them so much money. It was a lot of fun. It was kind of a joy getting up at 5 o’clock in the morning. It was something to wake up to and go out for about an hour or so. I had late classes at Sacramento High School, so I didn’t have to worry about getting there until 10 o’clock or so.”

Manny Perry

While residing at 2010 4th St. in 1944, Manuel “Manny” Perry began working as a newsboy, with a route from 5th Street to 8th Street and from Q Street to S Street.
Perry, 82, who attended Christian Brothers High School before transferring to C.K. McClatchy High School, where he would graduate in 1949, said that he learned a lot about managing money during his two years of working as a newsboy.
“I had a bill to pay every month and the only way I paid the bill was to collect the money,” Perry said. “And whatever was left over, that was usually what my take was, and that probably was just somewhere between $15 to $20 a month, with delivering the paper, including tips. That was good money. Heck, I could eat lunch for 10 cents at Christian Brothers at the cafeteria.”

James Foote

James Foote, 81, who graduated from McClatchy High in 1950, said that he was also employed as a newsboy.
“I was a newsboy at 10 or 12 years of age,” Foote said. “I delivered papers in the Land Park area. That was more than 70 years ago. I did that for a few years and later on I became an automotive machinist and front counter man (and a farmer).
“(Working as a newsboy) was a way to make some pocket change. That’s all.
The papers were a nickel a paper back then, so we were not paid much.”

Mickey Abbey

Mickey Abbey worked as a Sacramento Union newsboy for only two weeks in about 1955. Photo courtesy of Mickey Abbey

Mickey Abbey worked as a Sacramento Union newsboy for only two weeks in about 1955. Photo courtesy of Mickey Abbey

Long before Mickey Abbey, a 1961 graduate of Hiram Johnson High School, established his custom glassworks business at 2118 19th St., he took a job with The Sacramento Union as a newsboy in Colonial Heights. But Abbey explained that he quickly found out that the position did not interest him.
“(In about 1955), I got fired for dumping a load of papers in the alleyway after two weeks,” Abbey said. “You had to roll the papers and put the rubber band (sic) on (them), and then get up at 4:30 or 5 o’clock in the morning to deliver the morning paper, and then go to school. After two weeks, that got old real fast. I was going, ‘You know what? I don’t like this. For what?’ So, after a while, I just dumped the papers in the alleyway. Of course, it didn’t take long for the people looking for their morning paper to start calling (The Union to say), ‘Hey, where’s my paper?’ You’ll find it in an alleyway over on 34th Street.
“After that, I realized I much preferred just doing the lawn business in the neighborhood on the weekends.”

Bud Gordon

Sacramento artist Bud Gordon was delivering editions of The Bee in the early 1960s.
And in recalling that time of his life, Gordon said, “My manager was Eugene Ramsey. This was 1962 to 1964. I was a Bee boy for a couple years in the south area. I had 140 and some odd customers. I delivered the newspaper in the afternoon when I got home from school, and then I would deliver the Sunday paper at 4 in the morning.”
Gordon also remembered an experience that occurred while he was going door-to-door collecting payments.
“I would go out collecting for The Bee and they would pay me,” Gordon said. “(On one such occasion on Feb. 25, 1964), just about every house that I went to had the Sonny Liston-Muhammad Ali (then Cassius Clay) fight on, and that was a big deal.”
Gordon added that he also learned a lot about the news of that time by reading headlines while he was folding papers.
“They would drop the bundles off and I would fold (the papers) in my garage, and I was reading the headlines,” Gordon said. “Some of the headlines I remember reading at that time, China had just acquired the nuclear weapons, then a lot of civil rights stuff started taking off, and oh, yes, the assassination of (President John F.) Kennedy. I got a lot of education by reading the headlines.”

Lance@valcomnews.com

Helen Keller visited Sacramento a century ago

Courtesy of the Helen Keller archives in New Zealand  Black and white photograph of Helen Keller with the inscription: To the Helen Keller House Girls, with my grateful love Helen Keller, November 1947. Inscription written in pencil by Helen Keller on the photograph. Typed letter written by Helen Keller and signed by her in pencil, to Kathleen Devonshire. Dated November 4th, 1947 and sent from Arcan Ridge, Westport, Connecticut.  (Archives reference: AAAA 8279 W5318 1/) For more information visit Archway: www.archway.archives.govt.nz/ViewEntity.do?code=8279

Courtesy of the Helen Keller archives in New Zealand Black and white photograph of Helen Keller with the inscription: To the Helen Keller House Girls, with my grateful love Helen Keller, November 1947. Inscription written in pencil by Helen Keller on the photograph. Typed letter written by Helen Keller and signed by her in pencil, to Kathleen Devonshire. Dated November 4th, 1947 and sent from Arcan Ridge, Westport, Connecticut. (Archives reference: AAAA 8279 W5318 1/) For more information visit Archway: www.archway.archives.govt.nz/ViewEntity.do?code=8279

For many years, the life of Helen Keller (1880-1968), the famous deaf-blind woman who overcame great disabilities, has been one of intrigue to many people. Those people included the Tuesday Club members and guests, who attended an event featuring Helen and her notable, skillful teacher, Johanna “Anne” Mansfield Sullivan Macy (1866-1936), who was best known as Anne Sullivan.
The event was of such interest to the community that several hundred people arrived at the Tuesday Club at 2724 L St., across the street from Sutter’s Fort and just west of East Sacramento, to greet Helen and her teacher on Monday, March 16, 1914 at 8 p.m. The crowd was believed to have been the largest audience to have ever assembled at the Tuesday Club in its then 18-year history.
A report on the event in the following day’s edition of The Sacramento Bee was quick to note that Anne was of “almost equal interest” to the attendees of the gathering due to her dedication and success in working with Helen.
Prior to Anne’s involvement with Helen, she had been raised in poverty by Irish immigrants. Her father was an alcoholic and her mother died from tuberculosis when she was 9 years old.
When she was about 7 years old, Anne, who was a native of Feeding Hills, Mass., developed trachoma, which severely affected her vision.
Anne, who began attending the Perkins Institution for the Blind (now Perkins School for the Blind) in Watertown, Mass. in 1880, underwent successful eye operations in 1881 and 1882.
On March 3, 1887, about a year after she graduated as the valedictorian from the aforementioned school for the blind, Anne began her work tutoring Helen.
Helen, who was born in Tuscumbia, Ala., was the daughter of Civil War veteran and newspaper editor Arthur Keller and Kate Adams.
Although Helen was born with the ability to see and hear, when she was 1 and a half years old, she had lost those abilities due to what was then described by Helen’s doctors as an “acute congestion of the stomach and brain” or “brain fever.”
The professional medical belief today is that the mysterious illness that nearly took Helen’s life was possibly meningitis, scarlet fever, or encephalitis (inflammation of the brain).
With her condition, Helen often threw temper tantrums, broke items and physically attacked members of her family.
While seeking assistance for Helen, Arthur and Kate were referred to Alexander Graham Bell.
Bell, who was best known for inventing the telephone, also worked on projects to assist the deaf.
After spending time with the Kellers, Bell referred them to the aforementioned Perkins Institution for the Blind.
That school eventually recommended that Anne become Helen’s teacher and instruct her under the methods of Perkins’ first director, Dr. Samuel Gridley Howe (1801-1876).
Anne’s first project was to teach Helen discipline and self-control.
And once Helen became a calmer person, Anne began to teach her words by outlining letters with her fingers in Helen’s hands and associating those words with particular things.
Helen, who once said, “I have always felt I was using the five senses within me,” would eventually learn to read, write and speak. She also became competent in a few foreign languages and mathematics, and learned to ride a horse and dance in time to a fox trot or waltz.
Helen’s studies included formal schooling at the Wright-Humason School for the Deaf in New York City and the Cambridge (Massachusetts) School for Young Ladies.
In the fall of 1900, Helen became the first deaf-blind person to attend college, when she enrolled at Radcliffe College (now Radcliffe Institute for Advance Study) in Cambridge. She accomplished the remarkable feat of graduating cum laude from that institution four years later.
Helen also became a published writer of both magazine articles and books. Her first book, “The Story of My Life,” was published in 1902.
With the assistance of Anne as an interpreter, Helen became involved with many lecturing events, including the featured lecture of this article: the Sacramento lecture of March 16, 1914.
In a preview for that hour-long event, The Bee, in its March 14, 1914 edition, referred to Helen’s ability to rise above her adversities with the help of Anne and others as “one of the greatest educational achievements of the age.”
And in commenting about Anne’s remarkable work with Helen, The Bee noted: “Mrs. Macy has been the teacher, guide and friend of Miss Keller for twenty-seven years. She made an accomplished woman out of a sightless, voiceless, deaf little animal that at 6 years of age (when Mrs. Macy first took charge of her) had not seemingly the semblance of intelligence.”
In further publicizing the event, the article included the following words: “About two years ago, Charles White, a singing teacher of New England added his efforts to Mrs. Macy’s in an attempt to teach her to talk, the success of which will be demonstrated next Monday evening by Miss Keller herself. The young woman speaks three (languages) and reads five languages besides playing the piano and violin. She has written two successful books and has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Radcliffe – a well-known women’s college.”
Despite this historic account’s reference to Helen’s piano and violin playing ability, it should be recognized that she actually did not play an instrument.
In a June 25, 1950 New York Times article, which was written in celebration of Helen’s 70th birthday, it was mentioned that “legend has guilded (sic) the lily of her achievement and by exaggeration almost belittled it. Helen Keller does not paint or play the piano. Even as a child she was too impatient to model in clay; she wanted to use her hands in reading and she read so much the tips of her fingers ached.”
Prior to the night’s lecture at the Tuesday Club, which was entitled “The Heart and the Hand,” the audience experienced some suspense as only Anne initially appeared on stage.
During that time, Anne, who married a Harvard University instructor named John Albert Macy on May 3, 1905, explained that the audience should not expect too much when listening to Helen’s speech.
Anne later demonstrated the method in which Helen learned to speak.
That method was explained in the March 16, 1914 edition of The Bee, as follows: “Even more Herculean (than reading by Braille) was the task of learning to speak through pure mechanical development of the muscles of the throat, the position of the tongue and the vibrations received by placing her hands on the throat and lips and nose of her teacher.”
In describing the moment in which Helen spoke at the Tuesday Club, The Bee noted: “Listening intently, the greater portion of what she said could be heard, and little or none of it was missed by those seated near enough to see the movement of the lips and mouth. It was really an overwhelming moment for most of her listeners.”
During a question and answer session at the event, which was free to Tuesday Club members and had a nominal cost for other attendees, Helen was asked how she was enjoying California.
With a smile, Helen replied, “Oh, I like it. It’s so full of sweet smells.”
And after being asked to name her favorite faculty, Helen spoke about “hearing” the vibrations of music through her feet.
Helen also expressed her disappointment with not being able to speak to Sacramento schoolchildren during her visit to the capital city due to her scheduled trip to San Francisco on the following day.
Anne and Helen later took on another joint activity, as they performed in vaudeville acts from 1922 to 1924.
Anne passed away at the age of 70 on Oct. 20, 1936. She was completely blind in both eyes at the time of her death.
As Anne was beginning to lose her sight completely in about 1933, Helen began teaching her to use a new form of Braille.
In commenting about that act of kindness and appreciation, The New York Times noted: “The ‘blind leading the blind’ will henceforth have a new meaning wherever the story of Anne Sullivan and Helen Keller is known.”
After the death of Anne, Polly Thomson became Helen’s aide. Thomson died in 1960, and Winifred Corbally took on the role of Helen’s assistant until Helen’s death.
Although Helen, who became an advocate for the disabled, a political activist and visited in the White House with every U.S. president from Grover Cleveland to John F. Kennedy, died 26 days shy of her 88th birthday on June 1, 1968, her legacy as one who overcame tremendous obstacles in life remains one of America’s most inspirational stories.

Lance@valcomnews.com

KCRA Channel 3 first aired nearly six decades ago

KCRA’s radio and television studios were once located at the address of 310 10th St. in the buildings shown above. The structure to left was used for television purposes, while the other building was used for radio operations. Photo courtesy of Sacramento Public Library, Sacramento Room

KCRA’s radio and television studios were once located at the address of 310 10th St. in the buildings shown above. The structure to left was used for television purposes, while the other building was used for radio operations. Photo courtesy of Sacramento Public Library, Sacramento Room

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

The Sacramento area received its third television station – behind the original Channel 40 and Channel 10 – with the debut of KCRA-TV Channel 3 on Saturday, Sept. 3, 1955. The station officially began with a 2 p.m. telecast from the State Fair, which was then located at Stockton Boulevard and Broadway.
In being that television was still in its pioneering days, attendees of that year’s fair were educated by KCRA-TV as to how television worked.
Among those who visited the 1955 fair was Gov. Goodwin J. Knight, who, like other visitors, was shown his own image on television sets in KCRA’s fair booth.
KCRA had been scheduled to begin its telecasting during the evening of Sept. 2, 1955, but technical difficulties prevented that goal from being met.
The Sacramento Bee, in its Sept. 3, 1955 edition, described the broadcast delay as being caused by the failure of a hoist motor that was intended to be lifted onto a 14,500-pound antenna atop the station’s 573-foot transmitter tower at 310 10th St.
Preliminary broadcast test and tone patterns were conducted during the evening of Sept. 2, 1955, and were continued the next afternoon, with periodic pickups from the State Fair.
The station, which has been an NBC affiliate since its inception, began its second day of televising regular NBC shows on Sept. 4, 1955 at noon.
Also appearing in the Sept. 3, 1955 edition of The Bee was architect Grant D. Caywood’s sketch of KCRA’s radio and television studios, which were being completed at the 10th and C streets site.
A caption below the sketch noted that the completed television studio had formerly been a garage and was undergoing remodeling for its intended television purposes. The structure, which was more precisely an old, Crystal Cream and Butter Co. dairy truck barn, had 16,000 square feet of floor space.
Adjoining that unit would be a new two-story radio studio, which would include 7,600 square feet of floor space.
KCRA-TV was originally under the proprietorship of Ewing Cole “Gene” Kelly, who co-founded radio station KCRA-AM in 1945, and brothers, C. Vernon, Gerald and Kenneth Hansen, owners of the Crystal Cream and Butter Co., which had its plant at 1013 D St.
KCRA-TV’s desire to present news in a timely manner was apparent in the station’s early years.
This point is evident alone in the fact that Channel 3 has used the slogan, “Where the News Comes First,” since 1957.
During the previous year, ‘Five-Minute News’ briefs began to be presented four days per week at 11 p.m. Those news spots were called “Channel 3 Reports,” a name that would be used for many years to come.
In explaining why KCRA-TV’s news spots lasted for only five minutes at that time, Carmichael area resident Bob Miller, who spent a decade working as the station’s art director, said, “The wisdom at that time amongst management – and not just at Channel 3, but throughout the industry – was news did not sell. So, you had five minutes of news and that was about it. I think Channel 3 was the first to go to 15 minutes. They finally went to a half an hour and everybody said, ‘You’re nuts.’ But it turned out to be very popular and, of course, they were the first to go with an hour. And when they said, ‘the news comes first,’ they really meant it, and they still do (mean it).”
A 1957 KCRA-TV advertisement notes: “KCRA-TV is the number one station in the big Sacramento market. Its daytime and nighttime popularity is demonstrated by its steady rise in (American Research Bureau ratings) to nearly 50 percent share of audience in less than two years. A growing list of national spot programs and more features from more major producers have contributed mightily to KCRA-TV’s overwhelming dominance in Sacramento.
“At night, KCRA-TV reaches 13 more counties than the second Sacramento station (Channel 10), which reaches only 10 counties.
“In the daytime, KCRA-TV reaches 10 more counties than the second Sacramento station, which reaches only two counties.”
Additionally, the advertisement notes that KCRA-TV was then “the highest rated NBC station in the West.”
As presented in the Stan Atkinson feature in this edition of the Arden-Carmichael News, Atkinson, as a KCRA reporter, traveled abroad to cover news in various countries. The first of these assignments occurred in Vietnam during the early 1960s.
On Sunday morning, Oct. 30, 1960, The Sacramento Union reported the unfortunate news that Ewing, a native of Missouri, had died from a heart attack in his home at 1051 46th St. during the previous day.
With his Texas-born wife, Nina N. Kelly, who he had married in Oklahoma City in about 1926, Ewing moved to Oakland in 1929. And while living in Oakland, he became the national advertising director for the Oakland Tribune.
In 1936, the Kellys moved to Sacramento, where Ewing established an advertising agency at 1007 7th St. And as previously mentioned, he co-founded radio station KCRA-AM nine years later.
Following Ewing’s death, his son, Robert E. “Bob” Kelly became KCRA’s president, and his other son, Jon S. Kelly, took on the role of the station’s general manager.
Additionally, at that time, KCRA was also served by C. Vernon Hansen, vice president; Nina N. Kelly, secretary; and Gerald Hansen, treasurer.
Construction on a 1,549-foot transmission tower near Walnut Creek began in 1959, and KCRA-TV began its transmission from that tower in January 1962.
KCRA-TV entered a new era in April 1962, when the station began operating under the control of the Kelly Broadcasting Co.
In reporting on that moment in the station’s history, The Union, on April 19, 1962, noted that during the previous day, Robert E. and Jon S. Kelly and their mother, Nina N. Kelly, had purchased Gerald and C. Vernon Hansen’s 50 percent interest in the company for $2.8 million.
KCRA-TV made history in 1965, as it became Northern California’s first television station to use color film for its newscasts.
Many longtime Sacramento area residents recall Bob Wilkins (1932-2009), who began working for KCRA-TV in 1963, and hosted horror films on the Seven Arts Theater program from 1966 to 1970.
After leaving KCRA, Wilkins hosted the popular television program, “Creature Features,” which was televised on San Francisco’s KTVU Channel 2 from 1971 to 1984.
He also played the role of Captain Cosmic on a KTVU kiddie show and worked for KTXL Channel 40.
KCRA-TV’s commitment to presenting news became more apparent in 1971 with its introduction of its first hour-long news program.
And with its desire to better serve the community, KCRA-TV launched another program, Call 3 for Action (now Call 3), in 1974. The often successful program is dedicated to assisting local consumers who are struggling with problems related to businesses or products.
The station’s use of remote cameras for live news reports began in 1975.
In 1979, KCRA-TV caught the attention of its viewers, as it introduced the use of its news helicopter, LiveCopter 3.
Seven years later, the station began using satellite technology in an effort to expand its news coverage.
On March 16, 1989, Nina N. Kelly died in Sacramento at the age of 87.
In addition to her dedication to KCRA-TV, Nina was also the founding director of River City Bank, which she assisted in establishing in 1973.
Among the station’s many advancements occurred in 1992, when it commenced its use of Doppler radar technology for its weather coverage.
KCRA-TV began a marketing agreement with KSCH (now KQCA) Channel 58 in 1994. Six years later, KQCA was completely acquired by the owners of KCRA-TV.
As the 20th century was nearing its end, so was the era of KCRA-TV’s operations under the proprietorship of the Kelly family.
On Jan. 5, 1999, Kelly Broadcasting Co. sold KCRA-TV to Hearst-Argyle Television, Inc., which later became known as Hearst Television, Inc.
In addition to such aforementioned people as Stan Atkinson and Bob Miller, among the many people who contributed their talents as employees of KCRA-TV during various years were: Harry Martin (news anchor/entertainment reporter), Tom DuHain (weather forecaster, co-host of “The 7:30 Show” television newsmagazine program, etc.), Bob Whitten (news anchor), Carol Bland (anchor/reporter), Creighton Sanders (sports director), Gary Gerould (sports anchor), Walt Gray (news anchor/reporter), Harry Sweet (photographer), Gary Tomsic (photographer), Ed Sweetman (photographer) and Joan Lunden (news anchor/television special host).
Today, KCRA and KQCA share a studio and office facility at the address of 3 Television Circle, off D Street in Alkali Flat, just west of the former Crystal dairy plant site.

Lance@valcomnews.com

19th century pioneer graveyard no longer recognized as cemetery

An old pioneer cemetery was located on a two-acre parcel of land at the present northwest corner Meadowview Road and 24th Street. The photograph above shows how the site appears today. Photo by Lance Armstrong

An old pioneer cemetery was located on a two-acre parcel of land at the present northwest corner Meadowview Road and 24th Street. The photograph above shows how the site appears today. Photo by Lance Armstrong

Editor’s Note: This is part 12 in a series regarding Sacramento area cemeteries.

The history of cemeteries in the Sacramento area is undoubtedly an extensive topic, even from an approach of presenting a relatively short summary of each cemetery. This point can be quickly understood when considering the number of cemeteries that have been located in this area throughout the years.
According to the Sacramento County Cemetery Advisory Commission, “there appear to be more than 60 cemeteries in Sacramento County, plus more (local cemeteries that are) no longer evident.”
In concluding this series about local cemeteries, the history of one of those “no longer evident” cemeteries is presented as follows:
A vacant piece of property lies at the northwest corner of Meadowview Road and 24th Street, but most people who pass by the site today are unaware that the land’s history includes the existence of about a two-acre, pioneer cemetery.
Established one and a half miles northeast of the town of Freeport in the old Franklin Township, this “no longer evident” cemetery appears to have had interments from 1860 to 1884. However, the property may have a lengthier history as burial grounds, in that it could have had interments both prior to 1860 and after 1884.
Records show that at least eight burials occurred at the cemetery.
In 1860, John W. Martin, who was 32 years old at the time of his death, was buried in the cemetery, which was at various times identified in records as the Freeport Cemetery and the West Union Cemetery.
It was also recorded that the Franklin family had sufficient burials at the site to lead to the parcel being unofficially referred to at times as the “Franklin family cemetery.”
Members of that family to be interred in those grounds included William Franklin (1834-1869), who was born in Denmark and came to the Freeport area in 1857.
Another record of the cemetery indicates that the twin daughters of William and Louise Franklin were interred at the site on Sept. 6, 1864. The infants died only six hours after they were born.
In January 2003, members of that Franklin family, including Pocket area resident Edward Franklin and midtown Sacramento resident Florence Huebner, told The Bee that they recalled seeing grave markers that had since disappeared from the Meadowview Road and 24th Street site.
Other people to have been recognized as being interred in the old burial grounds include Thomas Ricker (died in 1865), David Crum (died in 1867), William D. Sperry (1866-1868) and Annie E. Harris (1874-1875).
This narrow strip cemetery, which was recognized on quadrangle maps in 1909 and 1939, had various owners at different times.
In March 1870, a Pennsylvania-born rancher named Lafayette Shepler declared through a deed to the old West Union School District that the “parcel of land shall be kept and used as a grave yard (sic) and for no other purposes what so ever (sic), and should the same ever be abandoned as a grave yard (sic) and used for other purposes this contemplates by this deed, then the same shall revert to and become property of the party of the first part.”
The deed, which was accepted on April 12, 1870, also noted that a fence should always surround the burial grounds.
Shepler, who came to Sacramento in the late 1850s and operated a south area cattle business, passed away from heart disease at the age of 48 on Jan. 12, 1875. He became the first member of his family to be interred in the old city cemetery in the area that would become known as Land Park.

The base of a tombstone sits on the old pioneer cemetery grounds during the 1980s. Photo courtesy of SCCO

The base of a tombstone sits on the old pioneer cemetery grounds during the 1980s. Photo courtesy of SCCO

According to an article in the Jan. 16, 1972 edition of The Sacramento Bee, the Freeport School District later acquired the cemetery, followed by the Sacramento City Unified School District, which took over the grounds when the Freeport district was annexed into the city district in 1958.
The 1972 Bee article, which had the headline, “Grave undertaking,” noted that, at that time, the district was in charge of maintaining a cemetery that had not had a burial in three quarters of a century.
In regard to the existence of any markers at the site, there was then only one shattered headstone, and the name on that stone, which was created for a deceased 4-year-old child, was no longer legible.
The old graveyard was described in the article as having been “abandoned for all practical purposes.”
In 1972, the district deeded the site to Dorothy Skelton Edwards, who acquired an interest in the property through previous deeds. The Skelton family sold the property for $85,000 in 1992.
The Bee, in its March 7, 1999 edition, noted that Hmong and Laotian immigrants from the adjacent apartment buildings cultivated vegetables on two vacant lots during the 1980s. Part of that garden was planted on the old burial grounds.
Last week, Sacramento County Cemetery Advisory Commission Co-Chair Howard Sihner spoke about the situation that led to the old burial ground being taken off the list of local cemeteries.
“The cemetery commission had been contacted because the Franklin family wanted to remove the remains of two stillborn children in that cemetery,” said Sihner, whose employment career included serving as Sacramento County deputy coroner from 1961 to 1965. “So, we started the ground penetrating radar type thing (in January 2003) to locate the graves. We originally assumed that there was something like 13 burials there. The ground penetrating radar and the cadaver dogs and things didn’t find anything. We dug up some (wooden) casket pieces and found some teeth that the anthropology people told us belonged to a 7-year-old boy. And unfortunately, we don’t have any records of a 7-year-old boy being buried there.”
Sihner explained that it is possible that the remains of those buried at the site could have completely decomposed.
“What’s going to decompose in the soil depends largely on what type of soil they were in,” Sihner said. “If it was an arid, desert-type thing, maybe that wouldn’t happen. But (in today’s) 24th (Street) and Meadowview (Road area), that was big farm country at one time in history, and assuming that moist soil and everything, everything is going to decompose.”
The Bee, in its Jan. 16, 2003 edition, reported that if human remains had been discovered on the site, they would have been “moved to the west end of the lot and marked by a memorial, per (a) Sacramento Superior Court order.”
Sihner said that because no remains were discovered in the old burial grounds at the present day, northwest corner of Meadowview Road and 24th Street, through a Superior Court order, the parcel is “no longer recognized as a cemetery.”

Lance@valcomnews.com

Sacramento area’s first television station debuted in 1953

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

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

Lance@valcomnews.com

Sacramento area played roles in television pioneering history

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lance@valcomnews.com