Janey Way Memories #102: Deer Hunting

Recently, I attended a screening of a locally made, low-budget film called “Deer Season.”  My Janey Way friend, Tom Hart, had a lead role in the movie.  One scene featured two back-woods men hunting for deer.  It brought back memories of a hunt I went on with my neighborhood friends.
Back in the mid-1960s, I often hunted for doves, pheasants and ducks with my father.  After one of those hunts, I sat on the Puccetti’s front lawn talking with the gang.  As we shared our hunting experiences, Bill Jones suddenly said, “We should go on a deer hunt.”  I said, “I would,” and soon Randy Puccetti and Dick Kinzel joined the fray.
And so it was, that one Friday afternoon in October, Bill Jones pulled up to my house in his dad’s pickup truck.  I loaded my gear into Bill’s truck and soon the other guys drove up in Dick’s white pickup.  Then, we all headed up Highway 50 to Placerville where we turned south on Highway 49.  There, we drove through the small town of Somerset, and then the hamlet called Grizzly Flat.  Soon the road changed from asphalt to dirt.  Eventually we crossed a stream and stopped at a P. G. and E. campsite called Capp’s crossing.  Fortunately, no other hunters occupied the site.
We quickly unloaded our gear and erected a tent. Then, Bill set up his camp stove and cooked our dinner, which included hot dogs, canned beans and salad.  After dinner, Bill pulled out a map and circled the area we would hunt in the morning.  It featured a long canyon, which narrowed at its end.  After dinner, we drank coffee and watched the night settle in. The blanket of stars that dimly lit skyline was a site to behold.  After a while, we headed off to bed.  Tomorrow would come early.  At 5 a.m., Bill’s alarm clock shocked us into consciousness.  Bill went off to make breakfast and we quickly dressed. The cool temperature chilled our bones. By 6 a.m., we were off to the hunt.
Our hunt proved unsuccessful.  We did spot a few does, but no bucks.  When we reached the end of the canyon, we sat down, drank water from our canteens and planned our next drive.  Bill suggested we hike up a ridge, then back to the road leading to the campground.  We did that, but again encountered no bucks, only one lonely doe high up on the ridge. Soon we landed back at our campsite where we planned out the next day’s hunt.  Bill suggested we hunt up a neighboring canyon, and when night fell we climbed into our bags for a peaceful night’s sleep.  Our next day’s hunt proved equally unsuccessful, but we learned much from our experience:
1. Hunting for deer was hard work,
2. Successful deer hunting required advanced scouting and good planning.
In later years, our same group went on other deer hunts with similar results.  In a way, I am glad we didn’t take any deer.  We always had fun despite our failure to bag a trophy deer.
These days, I don’t hunt any more.  I ride my bicycle almost daily along the American River. There, I often see deer, ducks and wild turkeys.  They seem at peace in this protected environment, and I enjoy sighting them.
Now my time spent deer hunting with my friends, is just another bold and adventurous Janey Way Memory.

Janey Way Memories #95: Tragedy Strikes Janey Way

Thursday, April 4, 2013, started out like a normal day for me.  I woke up early, fed the cats and made coffee for Barbara and me.  Later, after doing my chores, I drove to La Bou on Howe Ave. to meet my aunts, Kay and Alice, for coffee and a croissant.  My brother John was there too on that day.  After one hour and one half of chit chatting, we headed off in different directions.
Then, when I arrived home, I received a cryptic text from my brother, which brought darkness to an otherwise sun shiny day:  “Denis Tomassetti killed last night in auto accident.”  I texted John back immediately saying, “no way”, but sadly it was true.  Minutes later, I contacted our mutual friend Tom Hart to confirm John’s text.  In a broken voice, Tom said, “yes, it is true; Denis was killed last night on the way home from work.”
This shows how fleeting life can be.  Here one minute, gone the next.
I have known Denis Tomassetti pretty much all my life.  He entered the world in the year I moved to Janey Way, 1952.  He was part of a bunch of kids we called the younger Janey Way boys:  Denis, the three Johns (Tomassetti, Relles and Ducray) Rick Thomsen and Tom Hart.  I remember watching them play Senior Little League baseball games on the field behind our house where St. Francis High School now stands.  I watched and thought, “these little guys have sure grown up, and they are good.”
Years later, after we all came back from serving in the military, I attended some rock concerts (the thing he really loved to do) with Denis.  I recall seeing the Kinks at Sacramento State College and Bob Dylan at Cal Expo.  We always had a great time.  He had an encyclopedic knowledge of contemporary music as well as an incredible sense of humor.  Going places with Denis, was always fun.
We played golf together too:  Denis, Tom Hart, my dad and I.  Dad took golf seriously and was known to hurl a club after a bad shot, but not with Denis in the foursome.  Denis would have needled him too much for that. Again, we always had a lot of fun.
More recently (over the last decade) Denis enlisted me to play with him and Tom Hart in an annual POW (prisoners of wives) golf tournament.  He and Tom usually picked me up at my home on Friday afternoon, and then we drove up the hill to Lake Tahoe.  It made for a great weekend:  golf, gambling, a few beers and good friends.  Who could ask for more?
Denis won’t be playing with us this year in the POW Tournament.  All of his POW friends will miss him dearly.  Now, the great fun I had over the years with my dear friend Denis is just another heart-felt Janey Way Memory.

Rosie and Mom

In 1952, my family moved into a three bedroom, one bathroom house on Janey Way.

Marty Relles

Marty Relles

With three young children and another child on the way, my dad felt like we needed a “bigger” house. Our family fit right into this neighborhood, as it was filled with other young families. Not only did my brothers and I meet lots of new friends, but my parents also met a whole group of great neighbors.

The Thomsen’s who lived across the street, the Costamagna’s next to them and the Puccetti’s and Viani’s down the street all welcomed Mom and Dad to the neighborhood. Phyllis Thomsen, Leda Costamagna and Pat Puccetti all pitched in to help Mom who was pregnant with my brother John at that time.

However, soon after we moved onto Janey Way, another family moved in down the street who would become Mom and Dad’s closest friends: Bernie Hart, his wife Rose and their infant son, Tom.

Like my dad, Bernie worked as a patrolman for the Sacramento Police Department. He met Dad there and probably moved to Janey Way because of the things he heard about our neighborhood.

Soon after the Harts moved in, Mom became fast friends with Rose who everyone affectionately called Rosie. It would prove to be a lifelong friendship.

It’s hard to figure what made these two young women such good friends. Their backgrounds could not have been more different. Rosie hailed from the back woods of West Virginia and mom grew up on the seacoast in Santa Cruz, California. Rose had a wry wit and told racy jokes and tall stories. Mom took things seriously. I am sure she made a good “straight man” for Rosie.

Every morning, back then, Rose left her home early, got into her mint green Cadillac sedan and drove up to our house. When Mom saw her coming, she always put a fresh pot of coffee on the stove to brew, then let Rosie in the kitchen door. Then they sat down at our big round maple dining table to drink coffee, smoke cigarettes and talk for the entire morning.

I remember even today the great stories Rose told about her childhood in West Virginia. She could really spin a yarn. Mom too, had wonderful stories about growing up with five brothers in Santa Cruz. When they weren’t telling stories, they chatted about the goings-on in our neighborhood. It seems like they spent an entire lifetime sitting at that table talking.

Right around noon, Rosie gathered up her young son Tom and drove off the grocery store to buy something to cook for dinner. Mom often took my little brother John and went with her. I remember them driving off in Rose’s big caddy while my brother Terry and I played in our front yard. It seems so long ago now.

Rosie passed away several years back. In 2009, my mom followed her. I guess she missed Rosie and wanted to join her.

There is an interesting twist to this story. My brother John lives now in our family’s home on Janey Way. Rosie’s son Tom inherited her house and has recently remodeled it. Later this month, he and his wife Diana will move into the home where his mom lived for her entire adult life. Both John and Tom look forward to being Janey Way neighbors again.

I bet that Rosie and Mom are looking down from the heavens and smiling.

The Death of Bernie Hart

Early one Saturday morning in 1961, I woke up to the sound of sirens screeching down Janey Way.

Marty Relles

Marty Relles

Startled, I sat straight up and then walked up the hallway to the front door. I opened the door and looked out.

There, up the street, in front of the Hart’s house, I saw a fire truck, an ambulance and a police car.

This did not look good, so I went right back to my parent’s bedroom and woke up my mom to tell her what had happened.

She dressed immediately and walked down the street.

Minutes later she returned and said, “It’s Bernie Hart. He had a heart attack. It doesn’t look good.”

It wasn’t good.

Later that day, we found out that Bernie had passed away, right there in the hallway of his own home.

Shockwaves reverberated across Janey Way. What would Rose Hart and her two children, Tom age seven and Suzie, age two, do?

I remember attending the funeral and seeing young Tom, in a grey suit, and little Suzie in a dark dress standing next to their grieving mom.

I was so sad. I truly wondered what was in store for them.

But, surprisingly, Rose and her young family did move on from this terrible tragedy.

Bernie, a wise man, had provided sufficient insurance to pay off the family house and tide them over until Rosie found work.

And, she did find work.

It seemed Dr. Max Sudoff, a respected Sacramento ear, nose and throat specialist was looking for a receptionist at this time, and Rose fit the bill. He hired her, and this began a work relationship which lasted until Dr. Sudoff retired in his late 70s.

With the help of the Janey Way family, Rose’s children did well too.

Little Suzie took up dance and performed regularly in Sacramento events including the popular “Best of Broadway” series. Young Tom graduated from Sacramento High School and earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from UCLA. Today ,he is a deputy director at the California Redevelopment Agency.

Rosie continued to live amongst her friends on Janey Way until she passed away some years back. She never remarried, saying, “I will never meet another man as good as Bernie.”

Now, the story of the death of Bernie Hart is yet another inspirational Janey Way Memory.


Sacramento couple to come full circle on Janey Way

From an East Sacramento street that already receives much coverage in this newspaper by way of Marty Relles’ “Janey Way Memories” column, comes yet another memory of the past, as well as a look at the present and planned future.
Tom Hart stands in front of his childhood home on Janey Way in East Sacramento. The house, which is presently being remodeled, is featured through 13 Internet videos. / Valley Community Newspapers photo, Lance Armstrong

Tom Hart stands in front of his childhood home on Janey Way in East Sacramento. The house, which is presently being remodeled, is featured through 13 Internet videos. / Valley Community Newspapers photo, Lance Armstrong

For those who either grew up on or near Janey Way or for those familiar with Marty’s column, it should come as no surprise that many people have a very deep-rooted love for this local street.

This fact is even more understandable since the street was constructed more than 60 years ago.

But nonetheless, the great number of stories that derive from Janey Way can seem quite remarkable when considering that the street is a mere 909 feet long and never included more than its current total of 32 houses – three of which are actually duplexes.

Certainly, this article is not intended to replace Marty’s popular column. So, be sure to read his current “Janey Way Memories.”

Instead, this first and only edition of “More Janey Way Memories” is presented solely to tell the story of one more person who grew up on Janey Way and his lifelong love for this East Sacramento street and his current project to preserve a portion of its past.

Tom Hart discusses details of a new addition to his childhood home. / Valley Community Newspapers, Lance Armstrong

Tom Hart discusses details of a new addition to his childhood home. / Valley Community Newspapers, Lance Armstrong

This person is Tom Hart, who grew up on Janey Way.

Tom, 57, who follows Marty’s column, is familiar with many of the column’s related stories and people and can sometimes even read about himself, is working on a project that will bring him back to his old neighborhood.

Dust has been flying, machinery has been running off and on and hammers have been pounding at the old Hart house since last July.

This activity, said Tom, who is of Scottish, Irish and English ancestry, is part of a project that will fulfill his dream to move back into his childhood home, where he grew up with his mother Rose (Hawkins) Hart, his sister – the former Susan Hart, now Susan Chevassau – and for a shorter period of time, his father, Bernie, who passed away in 1961.

“When my mother (who passed away in the home on Dec. 19, 2001) was sick and I was staying with her, we would talk in the evenings and one of the things that I told her is I wanted to move back home,” Tom said. “That really warmed her heart and made her feel happy that her son was going to be moving back home and back into the neighborhood.”

Bernie Hart stands behind his boat and car in the driveway of his Janey Way home in about 1951. / Photo courtesy, Tom Hart

Bernie Hart stands behind his boat and car in the driveway of his Janey Way home in about 1951. / Photo courtesy, Tom Hart

The remodeling project includes the addition of about 400 square feet of livable space with the expansion of the living room and master bedroom, a new master bathroom, a new laundry room and the addition of more closet space and a covered porch area behind the house. Additionally, the old garage was demolished and replaced with a two and a half-car garage, the roof and windows were replaced and new insulation was installed throughout the home.

Tom, a 1971 graduate of Sacramento High School, said that although he had hoped to move into the house with his wife Diana by Christmastime, he is now setting a more realistic goal of once again becoming a Janey Way resident by April.

The upgrading of the old Hart house helps to preserve one of the street’s older homes.

Research for this article revealed the following history of Janey Way:

According to the 1949 city directory, the first houses to be built on Janey Way – those of the late 1940s – were the homes of Ross Relles, James Tomassetti, Dante Viani and Jose “Joe” Micheli.

During the time their homes were built, Relles operated his well-known Relles Florist at 2200 J St., Tomassetti was a painter for the Western Pacific Railroad, Viani worked for Koro Products Co. at 2116 19th St. and Micheli was a bartender at the Square Deal Café at 5723 Folsom Blvd., where the Espanol Restaurant is now located.

Bernie Hart enjoys the company of his nephew, Rick Dixon, and his son, Tom Hart, on Christmas day in 1958. / Photo courtesy, Tom Hart

Bernie Hart enjoys the company of his nephew, Rick Dixon, and his son, Tom Hart, on Christmas day in 1958. / Photo courtesy, Tom Hart

Apparently, at least two other houses existed on the street during this time, since Louie Viani claims that his house was the first home built on the street and Tom said that he was told by his home’s remodel designer that his house was constructed in 1949. Tom added, however, that the house may not have had any occupants until the following year.

Carmen Tomassetti, who married James Tomassetti on Aug. 14, 1948 and raised five children in her Janey Way home, said that she moved into her then-new house on Dec. 10, 1948.

“My house was built in 1948,” said Carmen, who is a native of Monte Porzio, Italy. “The first houses (on Janey Way) were built in 1948, then little by little different companies built different houses.”

The 1952 city directory shows the growth of the street by this time, as follows: Olin N. Boggs, Joseph C. Brady, Dominic J. Costamagna, Raymond Cullivan, Adelbert C. Jacobs, Richard Kinzel, Jr., Eugene E. McKnight, Jose Micheli, Gene C. O’Keefe, Virgil W. Petrocchi, Mateo Puccetti, Ralph Puccetti, Ross Relles, Joseph C. Romel, Loren E. Sizemore, Eugene R. Thomsen, James Tomassetti, Dante H. Viani, Louie E. Viani and three vacant homes. As an historical note, Janey Way no longer extended south of M Street to include its 1300s addresses by the late 1950s. This property is presently part of the site of St. Mary’s School.

Enzo Costa said that he moved into the neighborhood in 1972 and now lives in the last house that was built on Janey Way. He had the house constructed in 1976.

Neighborhood children gather in front of the Hart house for Tom Hart’s birthday in about 1958. Pictured from left to right are: Berna Tomassetti, Denis Tomassetti, Diana Viani, unidentified, Jennifer “Deedee” DuCray, John DuCray, Tom Hart, John Tomassetti and Josie Tomassetti. / Photo courtesy, Tom Hart

Neighborhood children gather in front of the Hart house for Tom Hart’s birthday in about 1958. Pictured from left to right are: Berna Tomassetti, Denis Tomassetti, Diana Viani, unidentified, Jennifer “Deedee” DuCray, John DuCray, Tom Hart, John Tomassetti and Josie Tomassetti. / Photo courtesy, Tom Hart

Tom, who with his wife, has three children, Angela, Rebecca and T.J., said that a prime example that his neighborhood is fairly old is the fact that Costa is considered one of Janey Way’s “new kids on the block.”

Costa may have had the last house built in the neighborhood, but as a resident of the street, he has much seniority over a family, for instance, who moved to a house on Janey Way about two years ago.

Fortunately, due to modern technology, most readers who are interested in seeing the old Hart house do not have to go further than their own computers to do so.

In order that Tom’s sister could observe various remodeling stages of the home, Tom has placed footage of these remodeling stages on the Web site www.youtube.com. The short videos, which currently present 13 remodeling stages, can be found using the search words: “Hart Janey Way remodel.”

Tom plans to load seven more videos onto the site to show a full-range summary of the project. He also plans to eventually take the main highlights of all his videos and combine them to create a 15-minute video that he will also post on the Web site.

Tom said that the simple fact that he desires to move back to his childhood house shows how special the home and its neighborhood and residents are in his heart.

“I just have so many fond memories of the place,” Tom said. “I’m coming full circle. My kids have grown and now I have a chance to come back home to be where still many of the neighbors live. Where, when I was smaller, these neighbors would take care of me, now I’m coming back home, so I can take care of them.”