Narrow Escape Through the Stout Trees

The narrow road through the stout trees should have alerted us that the final challenge would narrow down ever further.

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Sure enough. It did. Such a narrow passage, we had to fold in our mirrors.Klamath Canon260

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.

For hundreds of narrow views, click the icon below.

I participate in WordPress' Weekly Photo Challenge 2016
I participate in WordPress’ Weekly Photo Challenge 2016

 

Seven Storefronts to See on Your Way to Sequoia National Park

Storefronts with Signs Abound

I travel a lot.

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.

Woodlake Hardware Built in 1917 taken in 2013.
This new Woodlake Hardware building was built in 1917. This picture and the article about Morris Bennet, the 92-year-old owner, attracted Arcadia Publishing to me. A random article resulted in a book, Images of America: Woodlake. In this case, a picture was worth 18,000 words, and 210 more pictures.

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. 🙂

No offence, Baldo. I just think it's funny to have a barbershop named Baldo's.
No offense, Baldo. I think it’s funny to have a barbershop named Baldo’s. Even baldos need a hair cut from time to time. 🙂
This is one of the older buildings in Woodlake. Most of the buildings were brick because of fire danger.
This is one of the older buildings in Woodlake. Most of the buildings built in the early 1900s  were constructed of brick because of fire danger.
Bank of America built a new building when the "brick block" on the corner was torn down in 1961. Newer buildings are stucco.
Bank of America had to move when the  1912 “brick block” on the corner was torn down in 1961. Some of the newer buildings are at least covered in stucco. Bank of America closed in 1985 and Valley Business Bank took over the banking needs in Woodlake some time later.
Notice the original brick. I think they did a creative job of including the past when they update it.
Notice the original brick. I think they did a creative job of including the past when they updated it.
Cinderblock buildings do not burn easily. Dick Edmiston erected this government building in the late 1960s.
Cinderblock buildings do not burn easily either. Dick Edmiston erected this government building in the late 1960s.
The Gongs bought Haury's Market, the Liquor Store and the Theatre in the 1960s and created the General Food Store.
The Gongs bought Haury’s Market, the Liquor Store, and the Theatre in the 1960s and opened the General Food Store. The well-equipped fire station just down the road protects the wood structure. General Food reflects the western motif of the town.

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.

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Other articles you might enjoy about Woodlake.

Flower of the Day – Bearded Iris

#Flower of the Day

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.

TC Iris Festival

TC Iris Festival

Porter

This next one is my favorite.

2013 Iris Festival035LCsplatterWe obviously don’t get enough rain here, so I’m wishing for a rainy day!  hehehe.

Which one did you like best?

Do you have a picture of a bearded iris you’d like to share on Cee Neuner’s Flower of the Day Challenge?

Woodlake Valley Cultural Museum Has First Event

# WoodlakeValleyCulturalMuseum

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.
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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.

Lupercios

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.

2015-2017 Woodlake Chamber of Commerce Board
2015-2017 Volunteer Woodlake Chamber of Commerce Board  minus three members.

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.

Maria & Debby

We are all astounded that Marcy, Debby and Jennifer could put together a beautiful museum with no museum experience, and not much help.

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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.

Delbert Davis Blessing

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.

Woodlake Museum 3For 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.

Woodlake Museum iPhone photos
Carl Peden

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.

Wood's Award
Marcy Miller, Rudy Garcia, John Wood, and Bertha Hernandez watching on.

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.

Plaque

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 tchistorygal@gmail.com if you’d like to make an appointment.

Maui-Donation Ticket-Proof

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Rather Than Out with the Old, Keep History Alive

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.

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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.
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This view faces the offices on the east end of the building.

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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.

Redbanks001

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”.

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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.

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“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.

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I fell in love with the buildings, and took some odd angled pictures of them.

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I liked the geometry in this one.

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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.

For more of Cee’s Challenge Click Here.

Cee's OddBall

For more about Ernie’s and my day at Redbanks, Click here.

For more research about Redbanks Click here.

Surreptitious Photography: Black and White Sunday

sur·rep·ti·tious

ˌsərəpˈtiSHəs/
adjective
SURREPTITIOUS, Ah, surreptitious

kept secret, … shhhhh … quiet do not repeat this … especially because it would not be approved of

Visalia Streets014 BW

Not this time.

Google or Bing driving rapidly through the neighborhood,

Camera perched high on the car roof.

Driving openly,

Driving fast,

Snapping pictures of streets and homes.

No one cares.

Grandmas sipping lemonade under umbrellas in their light cotton robes,

Willing to represent neighborhoods on the internet.

Wave to Google on wheels.

Visalia Streets014 BW

This time

Innocent-looking  driver

Creeps along the abandoned street,

Fifteen miles an hour

Rounds  the corner.

Grandmas gone

Lemonade littering the gutter cleared from view,

Children obscured behind air-conditioned walls

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Windows smeared and speckled with dog nose prints

Cool inside rolling wordless pale green exterior

Passenger slumped toward the window,

Face obscured, hidden behind the camera lens,

Visalia Streets015a BW

Feigning interest, where none exists.

Seeking drama, not fluff

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Alert to the quiet that lurked beyond the corner,

Drawn irresistibly towards the

The controversial

house influenced by

Frank Lloyd Wright, his secrets buried with lives already erased

 

Visalia Streets006BWCR

Life oozing from protective plants,

Oven-temperature air weighing down tree limbs,

Heavy with dust,

 

Behind the camera ,

Behind the glass,

Behind the camera,

SNEEZE squeezed into a tiny squeak.

Visalia Streets006BWCR2ACCSTRPrius creeping in electric silence past the target home,

Recording the house,

Mid-century spaces for intrigue,

Time elapsed storing secrets within clean lines,

Visalia Streets005BWTWI

Looking for what was not there.

Slowly,

Secretly,

Visalia Streets005BWAccEdg

Envisioning lives that did not exist,

Except in the author’s mind.

Visalia Streets005BWRIP

Visual fuel for Girls on Fire,

Stolen surreptitiously from the unsuspecting home owners.

Visalia Streets005BWPaint Dabs

For more on surreptitious pictures Click here on on the image below.

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If you enjoy blogging and writing, please visit my new site, Just Write, or like me on Facebook. thanks so much!

Volunteer Sales Force Heads for the Hills

Woodlake Kiwanis Club publishes a magazine, “What’s Happening in the Foothills…” available on street corners everywhere, and delivered to nearly 30,000 homes.  The premier product we promote is “what’s happening” in the form of a calendar centerfold.  The money we raise from selling advertising pays for the magazine and funds Kiwanis activities for schools.

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Friday Sally Pace and I headed east for Three Rivers, the town on the Kaweah Rivers at the base of the Sequoia National Park where the big trees live.  We stopped along the way to sell advertising.  What that meant was Sally talked to people while I played around and took pictures.  This is a great little place to stop and get all kinds of schlock from great food to speciality gifts.  It seems like a beary nice place to hang out and relax.

2014 Kiwanis calls132You might get a little too relaxed after the wine tasting event they are going to have.  This gal hasn’t awakened since the event last time.

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This tourist came all the way from Russia to see the trees.  She posed for me, but she didn’t understand what I said.

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You might want to come with a group of folks and fill up the place.  It’s a cozy place that seems larger than it is because of the mirror.

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I wouldn’t advise standing on the tables and dancing.  I stood on one of the chairs to take this next picture, and it swiveled (you can see my bare feet).  That is my excuse for why the picture is a bit blurry.  The table was beautiful – even if it did have a big hole in the middle where you could throw your cups when you finished. (That’s if you had too much to drink and didn’t know what you were doing, or lost control of your cup.)

2014 Kiwanis calls102

If you really drank too much, this fellow might see you out the door.

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If you didn’t designate a driver, you wouldn’t have to go far.  The hotel is right next door.  But don’t get hung up on your way over there like these guys did.

2014 Kiwanis calls141This was just our first call.  The next stop was only logical.

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Once thoroughly cleansed outside and in…

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We adjourned to the first lunch place.

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Then met some real buckaroos….

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getting ready for the next meal rush hour.

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We were already stuffed. Good thing they just opened to show us the view.

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Feeling a little groggy after our ice cream lunch we headed over to the folks who could make us feel well again.

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They have the best prices on drugs, and we decided it paid to shop locally.  Next, we moseyed down the hill towards home feeling pretty good.  Too good, maybe.  We found a great bargain at this next stop we could hardly pass up.  Look at all those choices in the display window.  I think my husband called about then, and gave me some strict instructions. (He’s a realtor, for those of you who don’t know me very well.)

2014 Kiwanis calls187“Yes dear, we’re on our way now.  Yes, I got you something…”  Oops, I hadn’t gotten HIM anything.  So we made one last stop (not counting the ladies gift store).

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That big cookie in front is no longer available. We kicked ourselves for eating so much ice cream.  These are new owners.  As we waited to talk to the owner, our eyes popped out when she served her customers.  We both wanted to sit with them and eat family style.  There was plenty there for all of us.  No one invited us to do that, though.

2014 Kiwanis calls194

She had just enough time to give us a smile and sell us cookies before she headed back to the kitchen.

2014 Kiwanis calls195

Laden with goodies, we jumped in, making sure got in the right car this time (another story), and headed five miles for home.  We sold some ads, and our clients sold some things too.   Our pay …a fun day!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Contrasts

This picture contrasts not only light and dark, hot and cold, but has good and evil within the same object.

Contrast1

The steamy waffle mingled  companionably with ice-cold ice cream tickling my palate!  The day I ate it, the waffle named Love, was good.  The next day when I stepped on the scale, it was evil.  Go figure! (That’s exactly what is happening to mine, one waffle at a time!)  🙂

Contrast 2

Thanks Mary for introducing me to such a great sin. (There’s a naughty contrast.)

For more delicious waffle treats visit More Than Waffles in Encino, CA.

For more photo challenges click here.

Ask Marsha: The Ins and Outs of Guest Blogging

Before I get to guest blogging, let me make a confession.  The pure, honest, and whole truth is I’m not sure why my husband thought people would write in and ask me questions on my website.  Really!  It’s not that I don’t get tons of questions daily.   I do.  “Where are my glasses?”  “Have you seen my keys anywhere?”  “Could you come here and hold this?”  “Do you know if this or that person is on this or that committee?”  “Do you want me to make coffee this morning?”  “What are we having for dinner?”  “Did your power go off in the storm last night?”  Each of those questions would make a marvelously interesting post, don’t you think?

Glasses male

I mean, after all, where could glasses be?  In the refrigerator, I doubt that?  I’m always in the middle of something when Vince asks me that question in a  tone reminiscent of lost homework when you can hear the school bus is turning the corner approaching your stop.  So mid-email, I get up, start looking for the glasses, in all the right places, and can’t find them.  I’m worried for him.  I know he has an important meeting sometime that morning.  So I search all over the house, and in the meantime, he quietly slipped outside to check the truck, found the glasses, put them on, and is now out in the back yard watering.  Meanwhile I’m still looking for the glasses.  There ought to be a rule, if you answer your own question, please tell the researcher so they will quit researching.

Where are my glasses

To be fair to Vince, turn about is always fair play, and I FINALLY found my sunglasses the other day wound up in the dog’s retractable leash laying on the antique sewing machine, right inside the front door, where we always dump stuff.  I don’t remember if I told Vince that I found them after we both looked for 10 minutes – EVERYWHERE – even in the bathtub.

The the only question that might interest you this week involved preparing a guest post. My friend, Carol, graciously asked me to do an article for her blog.  I think that is an honor, by the way. I mean she could have just pressed the reblog button.  I’m not sure there is a lot of difference, really.  The problem she ran into was that even though she had access to all my pictures, some of them were in galleries.  WordPress galleries don’t transfer when you cut and paste.

When you trade posts, or write articles for magazines, it is best to have the pictures in a folder to pass on to the publisher.  In the case of blogs, it is best to resize them to either 400 X 600 or 600 X 400 pixels.  If you want credit, you can either put a watermark signature or embed it in the photo information.  Then save them at a low quality – I choose 3.  This takes time to prepare the photos unless you do batch processing in Photoshop, and that is another lesson.

I have a blog just for unpublished materials, and Carol has administrative access to that blog.  In her case she could open two windows of the post from “our” blog.  Leaving one post open in preview form, she could use that as a template to see what pictures were intended to got with which paragraphs.  Then, in the other window, she could edit the post, remove the galleries and go to the media library to insert the pictures individually into the article.  Finally, she could cut and paste the finished article into her other blog, The Eternal Traveler.  Look for it on September 3rd.  She’s already scheduled it.  How cool is that?  (Another question!)

After
Take a journey with the Eternal Traveler to a far away place, Fresno, California.  

Sharing blogs with someone else is another lesson for another day, but it can be either interesting or forgotten.  I’ve done both!

So is my husband right?  Do you have questions for me?

 

 

Investing Before and During Retirement

Today I thought I would write about investing for retirement.  I didn’t invest by doing anything difficult or brilliant, but I am pleased with my outcome at this point.

When I started teaching I was fortunate to have a wise investment counselor who told me “cash is trash,” and taught me to invest the maximum I could from my income into a 403 B.  I did this faithfully for the 20+ years I worked as an educator.  I invested in moderately conservative funds.  Some years they grew a little, one year they lost about half of what I had invested.  I left the money in the market, and eventually all that money was regained.  The long and short of it was that at the end of my career I basically had the money I had invested, without too much gain.

Interest rates are extremely low right now for investors.  I have come to the age when I must think about withdrawing the money I invested.  In the program I have I can pull out a guaranteed sum each month, and at the end of 15 years the principal is gone.  I say guaranteed because even if the market dips to below that amount I am still guaranteed that amount of money for 15 years.

My husband is a realtor, and he wasn’t very excited about that investment.  Vince convinced me now to invest in real estate instead.  I opened up a self-directed IRA and transferred the money from my  403B account.  Then we made a cash offer on a beautifully restored home in an older part of Visalia, CA.

SFW SF Walking Tour #2001

The process was simple, if not a little strange.  We couldn’t have anything to do with the purchasing process including writing the check to hold the property.  Because of regulations Vince’s sister had to do that.  We also can’t rent to anyone to whom we are related ie. kids.  The entire process from writing the offer to closing took three weeks.  The income will be about the same, and at the end of 15 years I will still have income, AND I will still own the house free and clear.

1816 Heritage

There are many ways to invest as you prepare for retirement.  Stocks have been pretty good for me in spite of the extreme dip in the market.  We have also bought and sold a few pieces of property over the years we’ve been married, and some of those have made money, and some have broken even.  The difference between buying property and owning stocks are many, but here are a couple.

First stocks are liquid.  You can cash them in for money in just a few days, and spend the money.  Houses and land are not so easily exchanged for money – usually.  A house that is priced right, in a good neighborhood, and is clean may sell in a few days, as did the one we purchased, or in a bad market, it may sit for a few years.

We have two beautiful pieces of property that have been for sale for several years.  We bought them at the right time, split the land, and by the time the county had processed the split, the property had dropped in value.  At this point if it sells it will sell for half of what the other two pieces sold for 4 years ago.  Nonetheless, the two pieces that we did sell just about paid for the cost of splitting the property, and we do still have two pieces of property that some day will be worth something.

Second, houses and land retain some value, you can lose everything in the stock market.  We did have a guarantee for our stocks, but in the end the money would be entirely gone.  That will not be the case with our property.

Similarly, you can invest in the wrong stocks, and you can invest in the wrong land.  If you invest in the wrong land, and say the soil is found to have cancer producing chemicals in it, there is nothing you can do about it.  No one will buy it.

The moral of this story is that you have to be wise and careful with how you spend your money all your life if you want to live comfortably.  I think you have to work hard, and spend as though you won’t have millions of dollars later to pay it back.  Most people don’t have.  I also think you have to be faithful to God and give away part of your income.  The Christian church calls it a tithe, or tenth. Research shows that people do better financially if they give away 1/10 of their income to charities outside of their immediate families.  To me it is a way of expressing gratitude, and humility, realizing that my existence in this world was not caused by me, and I am extremely fortunate to be here.

Some people seem extremely lucky, almost like they win the lottery – everything seems to turn rosy for them.  Other people appear extremely unlucky.  They buy the property that has cancer growing in the garden.  Most people can expect to be somewhere in between.

How are you preparing or have you prepared for retirement?

Here are some pictures of our new rental.

If you live in Spain, you probably don’t want to rent it, but if you live in Visalia, and know someone who might be interested, the rental company is

Millcreek Management and Real Estate Inc.

300 School

Visalia, CA  93291

559-733-7145

 

A Little Foothill High School History

Sally Pace asked me to do a column of Foothill History for the Kiwanis magazine which is published quarterly.  Our larger community consists of several small foothill towns ranging from populations of about 3,000-8,000.   From north to south the communities are:  Woodlake, Lemon Cove, Three Rivers, the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, and Exeter.  Then a little farther south,  still in the foothills, but not considered in our neighborhood are: Lindsay, Porterville (about 45,000 pop.), and Springville (very tiny and very high into the mountains).

Just so that you understand the history here in Tulare County, I will give you a little background.  There were NO white, Mexican, Asian, or any outside people here before 1852.  NONE – not even explorers.  Well maybe one or two Spanish explorers.  But let me tell you, they didn’t stay.  Heck no, they went back to the Central California Coast.  So when the world rushed in to find gold in “Californey”, a few of the folks headed south of gold country to Tulare County. Native Americans from the Yokuts tribes lived here peacefully before the OTHERS arrived.

Terry Ommen, Tulare County Historical Society, conducts a tour of Tulare County.  This stop, near the original site of the Election Tree.
Terry Ommen, Tulare County Historical Society, conducts a tour of Tulare County. This stop, near the original site of the Election Tree, near Road 182.  Tulare County was the size of West Virginia.

Standing around an old Oak Tree,  (there were no yellow ribbons tied around it), named The Election Tree for the occasion, a group of white men founded what we now know as  Tulare County.  In that time the county was HUGE.  Now it is the size of Connecticut, but then it included Fresno County and Kings County and part of Inyo county.  It didn’t take long before folks back then decided that was WAY too much land for any one county, and they split it up,

April 1852
April 1852

For Historical Society purposes, I found out that you really need to count three generations here before you are considered blue – blooded, that is.  I’m purple back in Indiana, or even further back to North Carolina, and Pennsylvania, but I’m clear-colored here. (I’m distantly related on both sides of my family to Robert Morris, signer of the Declaration of Independence, my one and only claim to fame.)  I’ve lived in Tulare County for 28 years, and if I’d had kids, and they’d had kids – they would be royal blue by this time, but …

"In 1964 the last remaining part of the original Woodlake High School buildings were razed to make way for new construction.  Courtney McCracken donated $250 for the construction of a new library named for the Exeter benefactor."
“In 1964 the last remaining part of the original Woodlake High School buildings were razed to make way for new construction. Courtney McCracken donated $250 for the construction of a new library named for the Exeter benefactor.” 1

Yesterday I was blessed to have interviews with 4 people who have lived in the area longer than I have.  My friend, Sally, of Running P Ranch, was one of the impromptu interviews.  Sally and another neighbor, Frank Ainley, discussed the good old days of teaching high school in Woodlake.  One story they swapped started with the words that the principal said to Frank one day at school, “I need to see you.”  (That sounds familiar, but read on…)

“I can’t come right NOW!  I’m right in the middle of class,” Frank answered the intercom voice that the entire high school could hear.

“That’s ok, if you’re a good teacher, your kids will keep doing what they are supposed to do while you’re gone,” the principal responded

Add they did for about 25 minutes.  That was back in the late 1960s (when I attended junior high and high school in Indiana.)  Weren’t we the Perfect Generation, or something like that?

Both Frank and Sally talked about the kids doing projects.  The high school kids kept the teachers organized so that the projects ran smoothly.  Students could drive in those days – if they had a license.  So if the students needed something for the project, the teacher would just ask one of them to go get it at the store, and come back to class with it.  If they had to travel for sports or field trips, the kids just drove there – if they were over 16, and had parents written permission, of course.  There were SOME laws back in the 1960s.

The principal, Bud Loverin, said to Sally, the JUST hired home economics teacher, “We have an opening inservice for all the teachers the first day back to school. There will be about 60 people for breakfast and lunch.”  You got the implication of that statement, didn’t you?  The administrators made the assignments, then trusted the teachers to somehow accomplish them.  and somehow they did (or they didn’t, I’m guessing).  These two teachers remembered going into the Loverin’s office upset about some issue, and coming out apologizing for taking up his time, and thanking him for the new assignment he just gave them.  Yet they both said teacher morale was at a high.

Evaluations?  Frank asked his principal, “When are you coming in to do an evaluation of me?”

Bud Loverin answered, “If I didn’t think you couldn’t do the job, I wouldn’t have hired you.”  He didn’t have an evaluation that year.  He didn’t have very many evaluations.  To be fair, I never had too many evaluations that ever seemed like evaluations, and I taught from the late 80s on.  But my experience is unusual because I left the classroom and didn’t become a principal, but a consultant.

Woodlake High School 2013

Are we missing something today?  Bud Loverin sounds like what current experts (and laws) might consider to be a horrible principal.  He was the type of sales person that motivated his staff.  Sally repeated an oft-said comment about Loverin, “He could have sold icicles  to Eskimos and made a profit. ” The teachers loved him.  He took care of them.

Frank and Sally both said the kids loved the principal and the vice-principal, Herman Ziegler, and most got good jobs after they graduated.  I know both of these teachers, so I know that they both understated their effect on kids.  Both teachers are very well-respected and loved by students and teachers alike.  Frank quit teaching in his 70s, and is still active in the community.  Sally became a counselor in the high school and brought national recognition to Woodlake High School a few years ago because she raised so much money for scholarships, and enabled students to attend college.  She has also retired in her 60s – sort of, and keeps busy in the community.

Frank talked about discipline in the school, when they still used a stick.  Discipline was done by the vice principal – a BIG guy, Herman Ziegler.  Both the principal and the VP were BIG.  I remember our principal in 5th grade.  He would come in to get a naughty boy, and I would quake.  He was BIG.  What was it in those days?  Was that a requirement for being a principal?  BE BIG, and you’re hired?  Apparently they got the job done in Woodlake according to Frank and Sally.

When I was getting my teaching credential in 1986, I interviewed a retired elementary principal, Mr. Crawford, in Woodlake for an assignment.  He told this story.  In the 1940s, as a teacher, he had a 19-year-old 8th grade student with an attitude.  (duh! I’d have an attitude if I were still in 8th grade at age 19.)  This student was about 6 feet tall, and didn’t like the assignment Mr. Crawford had made.  The student challenged his 6 foot tall 40s something teacher, “If you didn’t wear glasses, I’d beat you up.”  Crawford promptly removed his glasses, and the two settled their dispute.  The teacher won, and the student behaved the rest of the year.  By the time the principal, Francis J. White, arrived on the scene, the student was doing his assignment.

I have to say that at the time, I sat in this man and his wife’s living room with my mouth hanging open during most of the interview.  It was one of those unforgettable experiences.  At the time I knew Mrs. Crawford because she and I often substituted in all the classes in Woodlake.  She was tiny, about five feet tall, and probably never weighed 100 pounds, but she knew every student in school, and they all liked and respected her.  She had a no-nonsense way of managing a class that worked.  She never had to raise her voice – or her hand to a student.

Kids today are faced with a far different world than any of us grew up in – even if you are 20.  That’s another amazing conversation Sally and I had.  Kids who are 17 are like adults to the 10 year olds of today.  In the eyes of my fourth graders my high school-aged assistants were no different than their 40 year old teacher.   So if you just graduated, and are 17 or 18, watch out – YOU ARE OLD! (to someone – not me, BTW)

So how have times changed since you were in school wherever you are from?  What was school like when you started teaching?  What was it like when you were a kid?  What worked?  What didn’t work?

Footnotes

1.  Elliott, John F.  A History of Woodlake Union High School The Woodlake 11 Class of 1924.  Three Rivers Historical Society

Kids at Avila Barn

Avila Barn used to be just a summer place to visit, but now it’s open all year long.  I’ve been practicing taking people pictures recently.  I wanted to test my skill with kids, and since I’m a little short of family members, I asked strangers if I could snap some shots of their children.  I was surprised that no one I asked minded having their kids’ pictures taken, even knowing that I would post them on the web.

Even makes his wishes clear.  Hay ride - NO pictures!
Even makes his wishes clear. Hay ride – NO pictures!

Evan is our friends’ grandson.  Evan did NOT want his picture taken, but he did want to ride on the wagon, RIGHT NOW!

Evan's on the run.  The tractor pulled into the station.
Determined, Evan’s on the run. The tractor pulled into the station.  He has a wagon to meet!

He followed every move the tractor made as it toured the farm.

SFW SLO Avila Barn Winter044
But he wouldn’t look at the camera!

He had to work hard not to look, though because he was having so much fun.

"You're not going to get me to look at me, no matter what!"
“You’re not going to get me to look at me, no matter what!”

The rest of the kids weren’t as shy.  I don’t think I’m ready to quit my day job yet to become a professional children’s photographer, but I had a great time!

Featured Blog

Today I’m featuring for your reading and viewing enjoyment the Mazzarella Photo blog, Forest Foward, http://forestforward.com/.  On this blog Chris, a professional photographer from Vermont, somehow stages photo shoots of critters from the Northeast in their natural habitat.   I don’t know how he got this little guy to pose, but he’s sold me! I’d like to take this little kit fox home with me, but I’m not sure Kalev would approve.  Unrestricted by genres Mazarrella’s work appears “on network television, magazines, calendars, corporate websites and advertisements.”

Photo by Chris Mazzarella.  More on his website
Photo by Chris Mazzarella. More on his website,  http://forestforward.com/about/

Review of Week One of Featured Blogs

I feature these posts for my own enjoyment as much as yours.  As I meet more and more cyber people I need a way to remember them.  I am going through my list from first followed to most recent and visiting each one.  Then, as often as I can, I will “camp out” as Russel Ray says, and choose one blog to feature for the day.  I hope you enjoy this as much as I do.

Sightseeing in Solvang, CA

Although Danes from the midwest established Solvang, meaning sunny fields,  in 1911, it did not incorporate until 1985.  I visited it for the first time ten years later as one of my first dates with my husband, V.  In the summer it is just far enough inland that the quaint town suffocates its visitors at temperatures that reach into the 100s.  On a sunny November day, like we had last week, it was perfect.I yelped for a place to eat, and came up with a 4.5 star restaurant on Mission Road, the main street through town.  Unfortunately, when we strolled up to Succulent Café and Trading Co., we left immediately, and walked next door to the Brewery.  V ordered a hamburger with Portobello fungi, while the turkey with apple-smoked bacon on sourdough with avocados, tomatoes, cheese and lettuce called my name.  I drooled over the half I ate, and took the other half back for dinner.After that we retrieved our sad pouch from the car, and exercised off a small portion of our enormous lunch.  Puppy Girl (AKA PG, Kalev…) loved the walk, but at times didn’t know if she was coming or going.  She loved walking high on the walls.  She is a PRINCESS.PG attracts almost as many visitors as Solvang.  Shirley quickly became a favorite.  Shirley raises poodles, just as my family did when I was a girl.  (Raising poodles was SUPPOSED to build my college fund – another story that you can probably guess did not have a happy ending.)  Nonetheless Shirley told us the same thing a car show visitor had told us months before.  Kalev disguises herself as a mutt, but she is “90%” poodle, according to Shirley.  Her lineage is somewhat in question, however, and she’s a bit leggy.

PG warmed up to Shirley instantly – very unusual.

There were so many places to shop, but with a 90% poodle, it is hard to go into stores.  However Nodding Place Quilts permitted PG to come in, but V preferred not to take her quilt shopping.  (I wonder why???)  Well trained, I spent just a few minutes, snapped a few pictures, and left.  V searched all the Danish Pastry shops for just the right sweet, and you see that he found one.  PG stayed outside of those shops as well, but her nose was active.

“Smells good, Dad. Bring me something!”

Retailers would have a hard time staying in business if they had to rely on us.  Photography occupied most of our time as we ambled down one street then another looking for interesting architecture.  One anachronism stood out among the rest of the Danish-styled buildings, and 1940s beach cottage perched uncomfortably on the main street.

Oops, did I miss the make-over show?  After the 1940s people started changing the facades of their homes.

Five miles east of Solvang at the Chumash Indian Casino V’s brother and sister-in-law together won $10,000 last week when they were supposed meet us for dinner.  V’s eyes turned green.  (OK his eyes are already green.)

What did V, Marsha Lee, and PG do next?  Vote for 1

  1. “V, let’s go back to Avila and walk on the beach. Wouldn’t that be romantic?”  (Yeah Marsha – you dodged a bullet there!)
  2. “Marsha Lee, you wanna go to the casino?   Yeah, they played the high roller stakes, I think $20 per roll.  You’re going where?  What about me?  You’ll drop me where?  OK, well, you sure you don’t want to go to the casino?  It’ll be fun!” (Hey V. , who’s in charge in your family? You’re driving.  Get over to the casino, man.)
  3. PG rules!  “Time for a nice nap, let’s all go home and curl up on the couch.  Come on Mom and Dad I’m ready to go.  NAP TIME!!!”
  4. D, “Hey bro, WE won $10,000, sorry we missed dinner, bummer right?”  OK, well, did I tell you we WON $10,000.  Oh I did, uhuh, well yeah, we REALLY WON $10,000!  No, we didn’t call you, sorry, but we were busy.  But we DID win $10,000.  Right, well maybe next time.  Uhuh, yeah, uhuh, oh well, yeah we really did.  Uhuh.” (Rain-check dinner with bro, D)
  5. B “Pssst D, PSSST… D… Did you tell him that you only won $1,200, and I WON $8,800?  We missed what?  Well tell them you’re sorry, we were busy.” (and sister-in-law, B)

Featured Blog

Map of Time A Trip Into the Past http://jgburdette.wordpress.com/  focuses on nautical history, which wouldn’t ordinarily be a favorite historical pursuit of mine, but I am captivated by this eloquent writer.  “It was customary to spread families around on different ships so that in the event of an accident the whole family would not be lost.”  Now tell me, what do you think is going to happen?   I knew instantly it would not be good, but I had no idea how compelling it would be.  You have to read this post!!!   If you want to explore more historical sites, Burdette has a list for you.

From Wikipedia USS Juneau

One More Thing

A question came up about the copper critters on top of the tower roof.  So I cropped the picture to get a better look.  What do you think these are?

Take a guess.  What are these critters?
Take a guess. What are these critters?
komodo_dragon_tail
Komodo dragon tail, perhaps?

 

Free Wheeling

When you think about American history, probably the first thought that comes to mind is not the bicycle.  However, in Davis, CA, bicycles are VERY important, so this is the perfect place for the U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame.  It is in downtown Davis, at 303 B Street.  Our host, Bob Bowen, was the perfect Bicycles R Us spokesperson!

I remember my first bike, well actually it was my mom’s bike, but my dad painted it powder-blue so I would think it was new.  It weighed more than I did, and the rust and oil from the chain gave my leg the tattoo-look before tattoos were popular.

No, this wasn’t the bike, but in the 1890s my great-grandfather rode one like this one when he was a kid.   Big-wheelers were fairly dangerous, and no helmets were required.  (or even imagined).  The biggest problem was that there were no brakes!!! AND you were 8 feet off the ground, and when you did stop you took a “header” landing head-first in front of the bike.

Bicycle hero, Major Taylor from my home state of INDIANA, caught my attention.  He was the highest paid athlete in the world for a time – a bicycle racer.  Of course that was before pro-football.  Even before pro-baseball.  But in 1899 Major Taylor was the man.

On the second floor of the Bicycle Hall of Fame were more heroic stories, many of them female including Rebecca Twigg, whom I liked for her name.  Born in Seattle, Washington – another of my favorite places, in 1963, she was an Olympic medalist, world and U.S championship race track cyclist.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Twigg9906_699.jpg

Next, we went into the basement.  Here the Hall of Fame houses the collection of bikes from across the ages. Transportation before bicycles was limited to walking and animal drawn vehicles.  Finally, here was a vehicle that people could power themselves.  The bicycle pictured below, called a running machine, started out without chains, brakes or other niceties that we consider essential today.  Running machines, powered Fred Flintstone style, by running them,  were used, mostly to go downhill, from 1817 up to the start of the Civil War.

Thank goodness women got involved in bicycling.  Before women started riding bicycles roads were dirt, or at best, cobblestones.  After women took the wheels, it wasn’t long until paved roads started appearing.  No wonder they called the first bicycles “bone shakers”.  Of course, the metal or wooden tires might have had something to do with that as well.

This is one of my favorite pictures.  At some point bicycling became a family event.  This bicycle seats 6.  I remember riding a bicycle for two, and when the person in front came to a large fallen tree in the path, she wanted to go over it.  I didn’t think that was such a good idea, but she was persistent.  OK, stubborn.  I think I tend to be somewhat passive aggressive.  So when she continued to power forward, I bailed.  I don’t think I made a very good back seat driver, so I hate to think of being in the back seat of this machine.  …Yes, she crashed, and I felt badly, but still convinced that I did the right thing, and she should have stopped.

All in all we had a great time on Bob Bowen’s Bicycle Tour.  I love alliteration.  I looked for a “B” word to substitute for the word tour, and after a few thesaurian clicks on synonyms I found the word “bender” meaning “a period of time escaping life’s harsh realities”.   Unfortunately it means a few other things as well, so we’ll stay with tour.

Some of us had more fun than others.

Some of us crashed.

Some of us  took the sport very seriously!  Win at all costs!

We all had a great time, and recommend this as a fun place to visit.  Thanks again to our hosts.