Elementary school building once stood on site of Sacred Heart Church

One of the more renowned architectural structures in East Sacramento is Sacred Heart Church at 3860 J St. And although few people are living today who recall when this church was not located at this site, the property was previously occupied by another institution.
Research for this article reveals that about two decades prior to the 1931 dedication of the present Sacred Heart Church, an elementary school opened at the same site.
That school, which was known as East Sacramento School, began providing instruction for local children in about 1909.
The first and only principal during the school’s history was Celia E. Jones.
At the time of the school’s opening, Jones was residing at 1623 18th St., and by 1918, she was living at 2215 N St.
Several historic newspaper articles, which were discovered during research for this article, mention East Sacramento School.
One of those articles, which was published in The Sacramento Bee on Feb. 13, 1915, summarizes a PTA meeting that was held at the school during the previous afternoon.

Sacred Heart Church, which was designed in the fashion of a church in Ireland, was dedicated by Bishop Robert J. Armstrong in 1931. / Photo by Lance Armstrong
Sacred Heart Church, which was designed in the fashion of a church in Ireland, was dedicated by Bishop Robert J. Armstrong in 1931. / Photo by Lance Armstrong

At that meeting, Mrs. Carl Koch, whose husband was a local building contractor, led a discussion regarding motion pictures that had an age restriction, which required their attendees to be at least 17 years old.
According to the article, one of the opinions shared by PTA members at the gathering was that movie houses had been distributing free passes for local students to view films that “were of no benefit, but, on the other hand, most harmful to children over sixteen.”
One of the school’s teachers, Miss Grace Maxwell, led another discussion, as she spoke about the “handicap” that children were experiencing through being forced to dress in a certain manner.
The article notes: “It is the ‘poor, little, rich boy,’ who is forced to dress in Lord Fauntleroy fashion, who has a hard row to hoe while attending school. Miss Maxwell pointed out that such a lad is made the butt of jokes among his schoolmates and cannot become one of them in their play. Naturally, he is affected in such a way as to embarrass him in his studies and general school work (sic).”
In the 1923-24 school year, Jones began serving as principal of David Lubin School at 37th and K streets. She maintained that position at that school for about two years.
Celia E. Jones resided in this home at 2215 N St. during a portion of her years as principal of East Sacramento School. / Photo by Lance Armstrong
Celia E. Jones resided in this home at 2215 N St. during a portion of her years as principal of East Sacramento School. / Photo by Lance Armstrong

The last city directory to recognize the existence of East Sacramento School at 39th and J streets is the 1923 directory.
In its May 11, 1923 edition, The Bee mentions that “the old East Sacramento School at Thirty-Ninth and J streets” had recently been sold to James Griffith for $10,000.
Also included in that edition is a report that Christian Brothers College – today’s Christian Brothers High School – would soon vacate its building at 12th and K streets, as the site had been sold to Weinstock, Lubin & Co., which would occupy that spot with a new, $850,000 department store.
The article mentions that Christian Brothers would possibly be temporarily relocated to the former school site at 39th and J streets until construction on its new campus at 21st and Y (now Broadway) streets was completed.
It was eventually decided that the vacant East Sacramento School would accommodate Christian Brothers’ temporary plans.
The dedication of the new Christian Brothers buildings at 21st and Y streets was held on Sunday, Nov. 23, 1924.
The cornerstone of today’s Sacred Heart Church was laid on Sunday, March 15, 1930.
Among the members of the parish at that time was architect Harry J. Devine, who had been commissioned to create the plans for the new church and the offices and residence of the priests.
Those plans were completed in November 1930, and William C. Keating was selected as the project’s general contractor.
Within a month after the plans were completed, work on the buildings began at the 39th and J streets site.
The church, as previously mentioned, was dedicated in 1931.
During that special, dedication day, Bishop Robert J. Armstrong blessed the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which had been known as St. Stephen’s Church at its previous location.


A retrospective on artist Horst Leissl

As I child I was fascinated by The Incredible Hulk. Just about every morning from kindergarten through first grade, I looked out the window of the car and saw “The Hulk” bursting through the wall, granite flying, water splashing, the wall full of cracks, rips, and tears. Strange, cryptic looking images could be seen in the largest holes. A hand could be seen reaching through the cracks, like something out of the cover of Clint Eastwood’s Escape from Alcatraz. To a child who carried around a large Hulk doll with torn purple pants and a ripped white shirt, and watched Lou Ferrigno become the hulk on television in the evening, this was a dream come true. The Hulk was gigantic and in color. The painting was awesome, it was a spectacle.

This is the Riverside Water Treatment Plant on Riverside Boulevard. As we continued to drive by, some graffiti appeared along the bottom edges of the water tower. Then, one day, much to my dismay, the expected happened. The graffiti and the entire water tower was painted over in gray. I never saw The Hulk or anything painted on the water tower again.

It wasn’t until over 30 years later that I learned that the water tower had really been sandblasted, and that some residents had actually complained about the paintings. Obviously, they weren’t the cool people. Some of the cryptic images were surrealist art, and the artist was influenced by the French surrealist painter, Rene Magritte. The lips were that of Man Ray, another surrealist, who had recently died at the time. Also pictured was the 1969 image of the Earth as seen from the historical moon landing, and in another large crack was Riverside Boulevard and the water tower itself. This created the illusion of kind of a perpetual image, repeating itself continually but growing smaller and smaller into infinity. I wondered who could have created such a wonderful scene.

After doing some research, I finally found out who made the painting. A man with a German name. It looks like the mural existed from 1976 till about 1982. According to the Nov. 8, 1976 edition of The Sacramento Bee, city engineer Ron Parker saw Mr. Leissl’s sketch for the then-proposed painting and said, ” You’ve got to see the sketch of the mural to appreciate it. It’s very unusual.” I found out that this Mr. Leissl had actually made many other works of art, and must be an interesting man.

Horst Leissl was a local artist known for public displays of art. It was he who created such works as the very large house fly, seen way up high. The “fly” was near the top of the water tower next to the Safeway, at Alhambra Boulevard. This conspicuous insect could be seen from the highway, while heading north toward H Street on Interstate 80 Business. It was known as “The Sacramento Fly.”

Speaking of water towers and freeways, Horst also created the giant praying hands under the freeway at X Street. He made the much smaller display of “Incredible Inedibles” that could be seen in a gallery at the now-destroyed Downtown Plaza, as featured in the showcase section of the Monday, Oct. 1 edition of The Sacramento Union. Richard Simon writes that the cakes were “decorative and fun.” In fact, Leissl’s works could be seen in several places in Sacramento.

If you ever visit Old Sacramento and are walking around on the docks, you will still see evidence of his works…at least at the time of this writing. Look for the ducks on the concrete walls, near where the boats and restaurants are. You may have to look for a bit to notice the large but faded outlines of waterfowl on the some of the walls.

Tom Raley of Raley’s Supermarkets commissioned Horst Leissl to create the drawings for a large mural on the concrete retaining wall along the river in Old Sacramento. Preston Trevor painted Horst’s sketches onto the wall from a rather dangerous rope scaffolding. In the Sept. 27, 1980 edition of The Sacramento Bee, on page B4, Horst mentions that in the event of a flood, it would be better to have ducks pictured on the wall rather than houses.

One of Horst’s buddies, Darell Forney wrote about the Sacramento artist in the July 1987 edition of the Sacramento Arts Magazine, “On The Wing”. In Volume VII, number 6, page 4, Forney writes about Horst’s murals in Melarkey’s. Now XXXX, formerly Melarkey’s, Formerly Maurice’s American Bar, 1517 Broadway is across the street from the Tower Theatre in Sacramento.

Another intriguing planned public display was actually proposed and not built. Capitol Mall in downtown Sacramento was to be renamed “The Richard M. Nixon Memorial Boulevard” for 31 days in 1978. The “proposed, but NOT built” Richard “Nixon Monuments” were actually miniatures superimposed over pictures of Capitol Mall. Pictures of these can be seen on page 41 of of the June 1978 copy of Sacramento Magazine. The photos look realistic.

An artist who expressed himself in various mediums, Horst even used the power of audio and the telephone to create art. Horst, or Hank, as he became known, said “Telephones are media, just like radio, post-cards and television.” In his experimental “Telephone Graffitti”, Horst set up a phone number and let people record whatever they wished on the answering machine. This would be like a Facebook wall today, only in audio. In fact, the Sunday, Aug. 3, 1975 edition of The Sacramento Bee calls it an audio wall. Bee staff writer Charles Johnson says that after radio station KZAP heard about it, Leissl was getting calls from all over the country. One of the callers claimed to be Patty Hearst.

Horst Leissl was an art teacher at Sacramento City College, and created a time capsule to be opened, at least by my assumption, around 2076. This is judging from the November 4, 1976 edition of Sacramento City College’s “Express” newsletter. ( Volume 67 Number 9) Stewart Barnes writes that inside the time capsule are photographs and comments recorded on tape. I wonder if the time capsule still exists, as it was not buried, but given to city officials. However, another article says it was purportedly buried in a cave near Lake Tahoe. (On The Wing, July 1987, page 5)

Horst Leissl was born in Augsburg, Germany in 1933. He escaped from Germany and later came to America in 1952. In January 1987 he had a stroke. He died on October 2nd, 1994. He was 61 years old.

If you would like to learn more about Horst Leissl, there is both a website, and a Facebook devoted to him. Just Google “The Art of Horst Liessl”. His paintings, photographs, documents, and one of his films are available there. The audio reel of his “Telephone Graffitti” is also digitized and downloadable. In doing research about this unusual guy, I learned that he was more than just a painter, more than even just an artist. He was a student of life.

“To become isn’t important, but going through strata and process is” — HORST LEISSL.

Back to the water tower. A sly and intellectual artist, creating pieces most of which could only be understood by adults, Horst still had the heart to make art for children. In the Riverside water tower, he made The Hulk for his son Nikko, a fan of the Marvel Comics’ Incredible Hulk. In The Sacramento Bee on Oct. 16, 1994, Victoria Dalkey mentions that Horst created the Hulk image for kids in general, as they wouldn’t know who Man Ray was. (Horst included an homage to Man Ray on the water tower, the section with the lips.)

But were it not for Nikko, the comics-inspired picture of the angry green giant may have never existed. Nikko is a Hulk fan and even has the 1960s comics that the artist may have used as inspiration to draw the mural. Horst drew the image for his son. After some internet research, Nikko and I concluded that Marvel Treasury Edition No. 5, “The Hulk on the Rampage”, (1975) and The Hulk No. 200, (June 1976) are likely candidates for reference material Horst may have used for sketching the painting.

Although I was never able to meet Horst, I met his family many years after first seeing that huge mural. In fact, had he not taken ill, he most certainly would have been my favorite art teacher at Sac City College.

This concludes my little article. I hope that Horst would give it his “seal” of approval.


Local cameraman recalls filming President Ford assassination attempt 40 years ago

Note: This is part one of a two-part series about local cameraman George Nyberg, who filmed the assassination attempt on President Gerald R. Ford in 1975.

Forty years have passed since an attempt was made to assassinate President Gerald R. Ford in Sacramento. And one person who knows plenty about that infamous day is north area native George Nyberg.
Nyberg, whose former career in film and video production spanned 41 years, was working as a KOVR-TV Channel 13 cameraman when he was assigned to cover a portion of Ford’s local visit on Friday, Sept. 5, 1975. The president’s 16-hour stay was especially celebrated, since it marked the first presidential visit to Sacramento since President Lyndon B. Johnson visited the capital city in 1964.
The Air Force One presidential jet landed at McClellan Air Force Base on Sept. 4, 1975 at 10:42 p.m., and Ford was greeted by about 1,000 people, including Gov. Jerry Brown, who was then serving in the first of his four terms as California’s chief executive.
Ford and Brown were soon escorted to the Senator Hotel at 1131 L St., across the street from the state Capitol.
Gathered outside the hotel were about 300 people who were waiting to welcome the president to the capital city.
After their arrival at the Senator, Ford and Brown parted ways and Ford entered the hotel, where he was welcomed by another crowd of people and a mariachi band, which filled the air with its music.
After spending the night inside a then-recently painted room at the Senator, Ford left the hotel en route for the Sacramento Host Committee-sponsored breakfast at the Sacramento-Earl Warren Community Center, as the Sacramento Community Center was then known.
Ford later returned to the Senator Hotel before departing for a walk to the Capitol, where he was scheduled to participate in three meetings, including a joint legislative session in the Assembly chamber.
In recalling his assignment to cover Ford’s walk from the hotel to the Capitol, Nyberg said, “(Ford) was going to walk from the Senator Hotel to the east steps of the Capitol and he was going to address a joint session of the Legislature. So, that morning, the news department had caught wind that there could possibly be some sort of a demonstration. And so, they brought everybody together, you know, the news staff. By that time, we had like eight or 10 cameramen. But on any given day, there (were) probably eight (cameramen) there. Anyway, this had never happened before, but they decided to assign four teams to cover President Ford.

 Sacramento resident George Nyberg, who grew up near Town & Country Village, spent 41 years working in film and video production. Photo courtesy of George Nyberg
Sacramento resident George Nyberg, who grew up near Town & Country Village, spent 41 years working in film and video production. Photo courtesy of George Nyberg

“My job was to cover him from the time he left the Senator Hotel to go to the east steps. Arsen Matlejan, who was (KOVR’s) photo supervisor, he was inside to record (Ford’s) address on film. We had a third cameraman by the name of Jeff Shaff, who was up in Sen. (James R.) Mills’ office, which actually looked down onto the east side of the Capitol. He was up there and he was going to get like just an overhead shot. And then we had a fourth cameraman named Richard Viegas, and Richard was like a floater. He was just supposed to capture anything. You know, if something broke or something happened, he was there. He was supposed to kind of, in essence, back me up.”
Although many people are well aware today what transpired after Ford crossed L Street and walked about 150 feet up a sidewalk in Capitol Park on Sept. 5, 1975, Nyberg had no idea that he was just moments away from standing about 10 feet away from the scene of the 13th presidential assassination attempt in U.S. history.
During his interview for this article, Nyberg, who grew up just a short distance from Town & Country Village, provided a detailed description of that walk, including the incident that led Ford to being rushed away by the Secret Service.
“I remember covering (Ford) crossing the street, and he gets into the park and stops and he starts shaking hands,” Nyberg said. “So, I ran ahead of him, because you always want somebody coming to you. You don’t want somebody’s back of their head. So, it was when I had just ran around and got into position that (the then-26-year-old, red-haired, attempted assassin) Lynette (Alice ‘Squeaky’ Fromme) pulled out the gun and pulled the trigger. But there was no round in the chamber. If you can imagine, she was about (2 feet) from him. (It was) a big (.45-caliber Colt automatic pistol), and you hear click. He would have been dead (had a bullet been fired). Oh no, there’s no question about it. He would have been dead. They could tell from the bullets in the gun, she had practiced chambering around, because then you reload your magazine again, if you haven’t fired them.
“So, I just happened to be at the right place at the right time and then did the right thing by filming, you know, rolling my camera. And as soon as that (incident with Fromme) happened, the Secret Service was going to whisk him into the Capitol. And what happened was they started to form a wedge and I slipped inside the wedge. But there were people all around him. We were all moving as a group, but I was moving backwards (sic). You know, I’ve got him here and I knew Arsen was inside, so when I got up to the steps, I stopped and let the president go by.
“And (a notable Associate Press photograph) was taken by somebody who was up on the steps looking at the president face on, and of course, I’m over his shoulder. Immediately, once I was done filming him being whisked inside, then I ran back to where they had Lynette and they had her pinned up by a tree. And the weirdest thing is she kept yelling, ‘He’s not your president, he’s not your president.’ I didn’t know what the hell she was talking about. But anyway, so, I got the film of that (moment), as well.”
Although Nyberg had about as good of a view as one could have of this incident at Capitol Park, he left that scene in wonderment of what had actually occurred.
Nyberg said that with the fast pace of the event and the fact that he was filming, he never saw the gun, nor was he aware of the identity of Fromme.
“I had just got ahead of (Ford), and (Fromme) had pulled out the gun,” Nyberg said. “I didn’t see the gun. You know, I’m looking through a camera, but I’m keeping this eye open too, because I’m looking for whatever is going on. Well, that took place, but it didn’t really register. But when they started pulling him to get him inside and I slipped into that little wedge that the Secret Service had formed, I got (very) close to him. And I knew that something traumatic had happened to him, because he was pale and he looked like he was in shock. And I (recognized it was a serious situation), but at that particular moment, I wasn’t sure exactly what it was.”
Little time passed after the incident in Capitol Park before the identity of the woman with the loaded gun was discovered.
The Sacramento Bee, in its same day coverage of the event, reported the following: “The young woman, identified as Lynette Fromme, a longtime follower of cult leader (Charles) Manson, was charged with the ‘crime of attempting to murder the president of the United States,’ according to Donald H. Heller, the assistant U.S. attorney general in Sacramento.”
In speaking about Fromme and other “Manson girls,” Nyberg said, “Of course, (Fromme) was a Manson follower. They were all here (in Sacramento), you know, Sandra (“Blue”) Good and Susan Murphy and (Fromme). They were Manson girls and they were here (living at 1725 P St.) to be close to Charlie, because they would go visit him up at the prison. And at that time, our maximum security prison was Folsom (Prison).”
Nyberg said that it was only by chance that when he filmed the Ford assassination attempt, he was testing out new, Kodak high-speed film stock that “had less wet time than the previous film stock by (about) six or eight minutes.”
“Anyway, it was the first time we ever beat (KCRA-TV) Channel 3 on the air with a story, only because we could get our film out a little sooner,” Nyberg said. “And then, of course, we broke into the news with a breaking news story. We would have broken in the early afternoon, I’m sure. It would have been before 5 o’clock (that evening), because we did a breaking news story. We interrupted local programming, and, of course, we did probably a longer version at 5 (p.m.). And in those days, network news came on at 5:30 (p.m.) and we would do another show at 6 (p.m.). And then everybody had a show at 11 (p.m.).”
Nyberg said that both the color film from the KOVR news camera and the color film from his personal, still-shot camera that he had lent to a KOVR reporter at Capitol Park were quickly made unavailable to him.
“I think it was the Secret Service (or) the FBI, but somebody came and rounded up all of our footage,” Nyberg said. “I was probably out on another story out in the field the day they came in with a subpoena and said, ‘We’re taking the film.’ I think (that happened) within a week.”
Nyberg added that the aforementioned KOVR reporter, who was using his Minolta 101 camera, captured a close-up shot of Fromme, and without his knowledge, quickly sold the photograph for $2,000 to Newsweek magazine.
“I heard that she had sold the photo, or she had sent them actually the film,” Nyberg said. “And she never discussed it with me. She just did it. And then, she wanted to reimburse me only for the film, and I said no, the film is not for sale.”
Eventually, the matter was settled, with Nyberg acquiring about 60 percent of the profit from Newsweek.
The photograph was featured on the cover of the Sept. 15, 1975 issue of that magazine. And also included on the cover were Fromme’s reactionary words to the botched shooting: “It didn’t go off!”
Fromme, whose bail was set at $1 million, became the first woman to be indicted under a 1965 statute that made it a federal crime to “assassinate, kidnap or assault a president of the United States.”
Despite facing the possibility of a maximum penalty of life imprisonment, Fromme opted to act as her own lawyer.
Fromme was eventually sentenced to life in prison, and escaped from a West Virginia prison on Dec. 23, 1987, only to be found two days later. She was released from a Texas prison on parole on Aug. 14, 2009.
After being asked to express his afterthoughts about the incident at Capitol Park that nearly became one of the darkest days in Sacramento history, Nyberg said, “Well, just the image of (Ford) being in shock before I knew what had really happened. I mean, that just like burned something right into my mind, because I still see that today.”

Hubacher Cadillac had long history as a north area business

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Ellen Cochrane
Ellen Cochrane

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Accounts of a Reporter is available at Avid Reader Bookstore on Broadway and also can be ordered from Amazon.com. The author can be contacted at http://www.granderson.com.


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

Campbell Soup plant built on former ranch of Southside area resident

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