The narrow road through the stout trees should have alerted us that the final challenge would narrow down ever further.
Sure enough. It did. Such a narrow passage, we had to fold in our mirrors.
If you are planning a trip to the Redwoods, the Northern California or Southern Oregon coast, you might be interested in more pictures of our road trip three years ago. To read about our Accidental Vacation click any of the links below. What started as a disaster ended up to be one of our favorite trips.
I photograph buildings all over the country, but so do you. You even live in some of the places I’ve traveled, and probably have much better pictures of the buildings than I have.
But I bet most of you do not photograph Woodlake, CA. Gotcha, didn’t I?
A Little History of Woodlake
Woodlake began in 1912 as a tourist town nestled away from the beaten path surrounded by the Sierra Nevada foothills. If you head east from Woodlake, you will reach Sequoia National Park. Going through Woodlake is one of the beautiful back ways to get there.
A few of the original 1900s buildings still stand downtown.
This year Woodlake celebrates 75 years of incorporation. Not many of the small towns in Tulare County are incorporated, so it’s a big deal for us. We are having a huge We-R-Woodlake celebration September 23-25th, so things R changin’ round-about Woodlake.
Main Street Woodlake
Woodlake has one north-south main street called Valencia Boulevard, named after a type of orange, which is one of Woodlake’s main crop. The east-west main street which intersects Valencia in the 2016 round-about, is named Naranjo Boulevard (pronounced na rawn’ ho). Some Woodlakers pronounce it (na raw’ no). Naranjos are a different species of oranges.
Three years ago I snapped these pictures before Woodlake underwent a major remodel. One day when the sky is not muddy I’ll go back and do a more thorough job of documenting our buildings and streets as they look now.
In 2015 Morris and his children wanted to retire but hung in there until the building and business sold. Oral E. Micham, Inc. thrilled city and surrounding residents when he bought the business. Morris still comes to work. He started in 1940 the year he graduated from Woodlake High School. 🙂
Those are not all the buildings along our main street, Valencia Boulevard, but they are the some of the bigger ones. Several new businesses have come to Woodlake since I took these pictures. Time changes even the small sleepy town of Woodlake, the Western Mayberry.
For more entries in Cee’s B & W Challenge, click on her image.
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Porterville, CA has an iris festival each year. I took these pictures mid-day, so I tried cropping them and changing the contrast in Photoshop. They had already been processed and reduced in quality, so they are not the best. One one of the pictures I experimented with some filters.
This next one is my favorite.
We obviously don’t get enough rain here, so I’m wishing for a rainy day! hehehe.
February thirteenth dawned as beautiful and gentle as a kitten sleeping on a satin pillow, promising a perfect VIP ribbon cutting ceremony for the new museum in Woodlake, CA.
A major project, nearly three years in the making, Woodlake Valley Cultural Museum, opened to VIP donors on February 13, 2016. Woodlake, a town of nearly 8,000, now has its first museum. Until now people have kept their memorabilia to themselves, some with lots of valuable documents, photos and artifacts from the last 150 years, and some with just a few. Now those treasures are out where the public can enjoy them and remember. It brought tears to my eyes as I watched the slideshow of the pictures imported from my camera. I love seeing the expressions on each face as they saw the exhibits for the first time. I thought Ramona’s was particularly endearing.
Rudy Garcia, the Chamber of Commerce President made sure that the event was well planned. Chamber Board members took on various jobs to make sure that all the details ran smoothly.
Marie and Debbie prepare for registration check in. Debbie did much of the design work in the museum. Do you know how much she charged us? Probably about -$1,500 considering all the materials she threw in, which doesn’t account for her hours.
We are all astounded that Marcy, Debby and Jennifer could put together a beautiful museum with no museum experience, and not much help.
We sailed through the day as Rudy planned. For the first half hour while people arrived the Four Directions Native-American drumming quartet, the Four Directions played and sang.
Woodlake Chamber Board member, Jennifer Malone introduced another member of her tribe, Delbert Davis, to invoke a blessing on the museum. I wish I had video taped it for you, but I was in the wrong place, and it was a solemn occasion, and you’ve already experienced my skill as a videographer.
The 2015-2016 Miss Woodlake Court, Briana Marie Holt, Sonni Hacobian, and Erica Diaz Rodriguez kept busy escorting VIPs to their seats and taking pictures. Most of these pictures are Briana’s, standing above her name.
For me, one of the highlights was the presentation by Carl Peden. Carl graduated in 1947 from Woodlake High School. He went on to become a pilot. Little did his teachers dream that one day he would pilot several United States’ presidents and their families around the world in Air Force One.
You made it through that without getting dizzy, I hope. My video skills aren’t improving much, but in my defense, you are seeing a raw unedited amateur recording.
Some asked me what Air Force One had to do with Woodlake, and had Carl Peden not been the pilot I could have answered, “nothing.” But this man showed me that Woodlake, small agricultural town in the rural outskirts of the San Joaquin Valley, reaches and influences far beyond Woodlake.
At the end of his speech, he took off his jacket and handed it to Rudy Garcia to put in the museum. His action inspired many others to come forward with ideas of things they could donate to the museum which will keep it fresh for many years to come. Carl stands in front of the list of the many community members who joined to make this project a possibility. I thank each one.
Rudy Garcia recruited these generous contributors to follow the dream of building a museum in Woodlake. One man, John Wood, fell in head over heels in love with the vision, and gave it his all, building the edifice to house the dream. He reminded me in many ways of my former boss, Jim Vidak. Very shy, not bringing attention to himself, he worked for reasons other than bringing honor to himself. Nonetheless Rudy wanted everyone to know how grateful the Chamber is for his hard work.
Finally, no building would be complete without a plaque. This one was ordered and had not arrived by Thursday before the big ceremony on Saturday. My nails would be bitten to the quick, but Rudy remained calm and collected. He made the phone call and Phil drove it up from Tulare on Friday. Soon it will hang on by the front door, next to my new office.
I will be in the office for the next two Fridays recording oral interviews of Woodlakers who want to share their memories. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to make an appointment.
I’ll also be selling donation tickets to anyone who wants to win a trip for two to Hawaii February 10-17, 2017. The trip features a beachfront resort suite at Ka’anapali Beach in Maui, HI. This suite includes one bedroom, one bath, a full kitchen, living room, dining room, lanai, and laundry. Included in the trip is a stipend for round trip tickets for two from LA to Maui, and car rental. The package is valued at $4,000. Suggested donation is $10.00 per ticket. The drawing will be held at the Chamber of Commerce meeting on October 11, 2016.
For Cee’s Oddball Challenge, Out With the Old, I wanted to tell you briefly about an important company in Woodlake, CA whose history spans the century. You can read more about it in posts listed at the end of this post.
Founded in 1904 Redbanks Orchard Company shipped trainloads of fruit around the country on the Electric Railroad in the early 1900s, “The Hotel,”near Woodlake, California, was one of the most beautiful Spanish style buildings in the area. Resembling a Southern Pacific depot, the building, constructed in 1914, served as the headquarters of the company.
This view faces the offices on the east end of the building.
I met Ernie Garcia over 20 years ago when I taught at F.J. White Learning Center. He hasn’t aged a bit in those years, so we are almost the same age now. Ernie Garcia, whose family came to live and work at Redbanks in the 1940s, remembered Wylie, the one-eyed Chinese man who was an excellent cook who presided over the kitchen. Unfortunately, no one had a picture of Wylie, nor much information about him.
The building faces Colvin Mountain to the north. In the center of the north side of this headquarters building, a hall and stairway gave access to the upper floor. At first there were only rooms for workers up there. Then in 1932, the upstairs has converted into a five-room apartment known as “the penthouse”.
The east half of this building as seen above, contained rooms for bachelor workers. Hence it was referred to as “the hotel.” In the late 1920s, the east end was remodeled to create offices.
“The Hotel” held a large restaurant for the workers at its west end. Immediately behind the dining area was a large kitchen and food storage area with ice lockers in the center directly below the upstairs. West of the headquarters building, which can be seen in the distance nearest to Cottonwood Creek was the shower/lavatory building.
I fell in love with the buildings, and took some odd angled pictures of them.
I liked the geometry in this one.
I love shakes, even when they are coming off. Where else but an oddball challenge could this hope to be a good picture, but I love it. I hope you do too. It was a magically clear fall day with one of my favorite people learning about where he grew up living in apartments that no longer exist in a place that affected so many lives in this area, and shipped fruit to people all over the world.