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

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