Dreams of Woodlake, CA Past

I have embarked on my newest project, writing a pictorial history of the town in which I taught, and now live.  Since I don’t have many pictures, and none of historic Woodlake, I’ve spent a couple of days in the Annie Mitchell Room of the Tulare County Library in Visalia.  The volunteers and staff there are so helpful.  Woodlake newspaper_0091rcI thought this was interesting.  The city jail arrived from Tulare in Woodlake on August 23, 1940.  I’m pretty sure it’s closed now.  At that time, some of the more mischievous town’s members planned a criminal act to test the new jail.

Lake TheatreI heard that the theatre flooded, and kids swam in the basement.  It’s gone now, too.  Downtown buildings burned, got flooded, or demolished, and businesses changed hands – except Woodlake Hardware.  Very little of Woodlake resembles the town it was 60 years ago.

Blah sky photoshopped into blue.
Blah sky photoshopped into blue.

Laura Spalding, a sweet woman in her 80s from a little community named Ivanhoe, shared an entire photo album  of pictures she took in the 1940s. Dress codes were quite different then.  I photoshopped this one slightly so as not to shock anyone.  I’m not sure what the occasion was.  I remember in the early 50s I played outside and swam in my only my underpants, but I was under five.  🙂


Laura Spalding-24rcb

Laura informed me that in the 1940s they “wore their dresses short.”  I could have sworn I saw her eyes twinkle a bit.



Author: Marsha

Hi, I'm Marsha Ingrao, a retired educator and wife of a retired realtor. My all-consuming hobby is blogging and it has changed my life. My friends live all over the world. For thirty-five years, I lived in the most beautiful area in Central Valley of California in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains minutes from the Sequoia National Park. As a child I moved from Indiana to Oregon. With my first husband I moved from Oregon to Colorado to California. Every time we moved, it hurt so much to leave friends. I never wanted to move again. After Mark passed, I married again. I told Vince that I could never budge from my roots in California. He said he loved the high desert. I don't think he ever thought he would realize his dream. In November, 2020, we sold everything and retired to the mile-high desert of Prescott, AZ. We live less than five miles from the Granite Dells, four lakes and hundreds of trails with our dog, Kalev, and two cats, Moji and Nutter Butter. Vince's sister came with us and lives close by. Every day is a new adventure.

18 thoughts on “Dreams of Woodlake, CA Past”

  1. Martha,  There is a sight  on face book,  You know you are from Woodlake if .  if you want to friend me on face book, you would probably be interested in several members on there who were from Woodlake.  Lots of discussion goes on..  Lots of picture, particularly class rooms photos.    Alice Asman Estes


  2. The jail reminds me of the movie Planet of the Apes! Interesting town there. Very dynamic over the years. Keep up the good work; you are unearthing a lot of historical facts there.


    1. You are right, it does look kind of Planet of the Apey. Great observation Steve. I look forward to chatting with you both this week. V and I are taking turns sniffling, sneezing and coughing. His son just left annoyed that we didn’t tell him that we were sick, but it came on rather suddenly, probably after our flight. I almost think we should wear masks in the plane since they don’t recycle the air.


  3. I would love to use pictures of old San Diego County but it seems all of the pictures are owned by either the San Diego U-T or the San Diego History Society, and they both protect their copyrights quite vigorously. In order to use any of their pictures, they want money, and in the case of the San Diego History Society, they want big money, making it impossible for the average Joe like me to use them


    1. I definitely have a different situation here. The library only has 105 pictures of Woodlake. They granted me permission to use them. The public museum has zero pictures of Woodlake. I have gone from family to family with my scanner gathering pictures and memoirs. Some people have written on the back of the pictures, and that’s helped some. It’s been fun.


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