Who Opens A New Business in Woodlake on Veteran’s Day?

#WoodlakeChamber, #Veterans, #AMVETS, #TulareKingsHispanicChamber

Veteran’s Goin’ Postal, Of Course!

These two brave vets, Angelica Cabrera & Angel Gomez, came back to Woodlake to start their new franchise business, Goin’ Postal.

New Owner Angel Gomez
New owner Angel Gomez and Angie Cabrera

Today they cut the ribbon, and made the grand opening official.

The office is beautiful and clean inside, and they will offer a variety of useful services. Since Woodlake is 20 miles from the larger town, Visalia, it will save residents a lot of time if they want to use Fed X or other services.

Angie chats with a friend at the ribbon cutting ceremony.
Angie chats with a friend at the ribbon cutting ceremony.

The new business will also have computers available for people to use, if they need a place to do business.

Local residents and service club members helped paint and remodel.
Local residents and service club members helped paint and remodel the store.

Angie and Angel offer notary and immigration services as well.

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With support of two Chambers of Commerce Angie and Angel hope business will be booming for the holiday season.

Woodlake chamber President, Rudy Garcia and Treasurer, Pauline Federico welcome Goin Postal.
Woodlake Chamber President, Rudy Garcia and Treasurer, Pauline Federico welcome Goin Postal.
Chambers of Commerce welcome the new business.

 

Chambers unite to wish Goin Postal a huge success.
Two Chambers unite to wish Goin Postal a huge success.

And finally, they cut the ribbon. Goin Postal has gone public.

You can Google them already!

Goin’ Postal Woodlake
Address: 250 E. Antelope Ave.

Owners: Angelica Cabrera & Angel Gomez

Woodlake, CA 93286
Suite F
Phone: 559-769-7788
Fax: 559-769-8559
Email: woodlake@goinpostal.com
Hours: 9-6 Mon-Fri
9-2 Saturday

Services Available
UPS, FedEx, DHL, Stamps, Notary, Faxing, Packaging, Gifts, Packaging Supplies, Office Supplies, and Passport Photos

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250 E. Antelope Ave.

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Where to Have Fun Like a Pilot

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Pretend that you’ve never been to Woodlake, CA. Never even heard of it.

But you want to fly somewhere and have a fantastic breakfast.

You go online. Search for airport cafes. And VOILÁ! There it is!

RUNWAY CAFE

Frank Holbert from Corona, CA is just like you. He had never heard of Woodlake, CA. Decided to come.

That was in 2008 before it became “THE” pilot’s place to have breakfast and lunch.

Owners Butch Reed and Charlotte Scott
Owners Butch Reed and Charlotte Scott

I wish I could fly. I don’t.

On Sunday my husband and I drove to the Runway Cafe just south of Woodlake at the Airport right after church. We did not beat the crowd.

 

It did not matter. Charlotte caught my eye over the crowd milling around the cashier’s stand, “Just two today, Marsha? Gottcha!”

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We headed outside and sat at one of the empty picnic tables. Normally we sit out there, but the temperature on Sunday headed towards 108, and HE wanted to sit inside. While we waited we chatted with another couple and pet their large golden retriever.

“I’ve got a Beggin’ Strip for Annie,” Charlotte told them. Annie sniffed around the wood floor for other treats while she waited and we talked.

We did not know the couple before we arrived. They lived in Visalia and came often out to the Runway on the weekends. Like us, they enjoyed the excitement of watching planes and helicopters land.

The only Learjet we ever saw land in the tiny airport.
The only Lear jet we ever saw land in the tiny airport.

Runway Cafe is Woodlake City property. In 2014 when Butch Reed and Charlotte Scott decided to look into leasing it, they had six competitors.

But they got it, and the locals were thrilled. Let the good food roll!

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My favorite is the Turkey Melt with regular fries. My husband loves the Chili Verde Omelette.

One customer said, “It’s a shame! Such good food we pig out!”

Another laughed, “The food was great! Now, we’ve got to find a couch!”

So who comes here, you ask?

We enjoy sitting outside on the porch and watching planes come in.
We enjoy sitting outside on the porch and watching planes come in.

Charlotte said, “We get about 15 pilots on Fridays and Saturdays, 10-25 on Sundays, and a total of about 10 during the rest of the week.”

That’s it? Just pilots?

Motorcycles attract all ages.
Motorcycles, like Runway Cafe, attract all ages.

Butch chimes in, “I’m in the hot rod and bike business. I build bikes from scratch. Bikers know me. We get lots of bikers and hot rod guys. For example, the Five of Diamonds Motor Cycle Club of Tulare. They just had a Run and raised $15,000-$18,000. We like to help out.”

Some Woodlakers come every day. We love the weekends. We always see someone we know when we come.
Some Woodlakers come every day. We love the weekends. We always see someone we know when we come.

Charlotte’s eyes teared as she looked at me.

She said, “I just want everyone in Woodlake to know how much we appreciate them. We are just so grateful”

A large party at the two tables behind us got up to leave. Charlotte stopped our interview briefly to give each person a hug and thank them for coming in.

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Butch sits outside and chats with a guest while he waits for a table.

Butch had a larger vision of “locals” than just Woodlake.

“People drive in from Visalia, Hanford, Porterville, Bakersfield, Reedley – all over. There’s a picture over there in the corner of a couple from Germany. They’ve been here several times.”

I don’t think the German couple is local even if they’ve been here more than once!

Pictures line the walls. Most are of guests who come by plane. One morning when my husband and I came for breakfast Charlotte wanted her picture taken with the pilot and crew. Volunteering to hold the camera, I rushed out with the crew to take the pictures. Charlotte was so busy, she never made it to the picture.

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The pilot offered to fly me to Visalia with them. Breakfast was waiting for me. Should I stay or should I go?

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There was room for me. It would only take 4 minutes to get to Visalia. Hmmmm

I hadn’t said anything to my husband about going. I would miss my great breakfast.

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I wished them well and ran back to eat my delicious breakfast.

Butch is so grateful to have the Cafe and the opportunity to serve coffee that he drives to Runway Café at 4:30 AM and works until 7:00 AM. Then he goes back to his Transmission Shop in Visalia and works there. Retirement is not in his vocabulary. Workaholic is.

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“I went into partnership with Charlotte because she is the hardest working woman I know. And she’s honest.”

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She’s the friendliest person I know. Everyone else follows her example.

First owner of the cafe.
First owner of the cafe.

Runway Cafe started 40 years ago as Woodlake Outpost Cafe under the ownership of Velma Dearmore. Dora, who owns Dora’s restaurant in Woodlake, had it for a while then Sherry Foreman from the Exeter Whistle Shop ran it after that. It sat empty for a few months. Finally, Butch and Charlotte started running it December 20, 2014. Yelp has given them a 5-star rating, in case you are wondering.

 

Charlotte, Kelly, Butch in front, Brandon Edmonds, Steve Ferris, Ricardo Bonilla and Charnae Edmonds are in back.
Charlotte, Kelly, Butch in front, Brandon, Steve, Ray , Ricardo, and Charnae are in back.

Charlotte said, “We are a team. Owners in other places I’ve worked asked the workers to do things they wouldn’t do. We don’t do that here. I’ve cleaned the grease trap, bathrooms, mopped, swept,, washed dishes, cooked – not as good as Brandon Edmonds, Steve Ferris and Ricardo Bonilla, but I do it. And yes, they are all local.”

Kelly Mittel, one of the waitresses who used to work with Charlotte and her daughter, Charnae Edmonds, left there and came to work at the Runway Cafe. She never regretted her decision.

Kelly said, “You can be yourself here. No uniform. It’s like family here.”

Charnae, Charlette, Kelly work like a well-oiled team.
Charnae, Charlotte, Kelly work like a well-oiled team.

Runway Café supports the community in many ways. Of course, they donate to many causes. Since there is so much foot traffic, it is a favorite place to hang banners and flyers for community activities. They sell the book I wrote, Images of America Woodlake, the proceeds of which go to the Woodlake High School Foundation.

But mostly, they serve good food in huge portions for about $9.00 on average.

Butch's bucket list - to own a coffee shop and serve coffee.

“It makes me happy to know that I’ve done something for Woodlake. I’ve helped it to become better known.” Butch said.

In addition to the regular German couple, people from as far away as New Zealand, and Australia have found their way to Runway Cafe for their delicious specials: fish and chips on Fridays, taco salad on Wednesday, and chile verde on Sundays. Other customer favorites include chicken fried steak, sausage patties, and omelets. I like their peach cobbler. Go figure!

If you are flying or driving into town on Fridays or Saturday, Butch and Charlotte invite you to visit the Woodlake Valley Cultural Museum and the Woodlake Botanical Gardens after breakfast or lunch.

If you haven’t tried the Runway Cafe yet. Fly in, bike in, drive or walk from town and try it out 6:30-2:00 seven days a week. You can’t miss! And you will make some new friends.

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Do you have a favorite diner at a small airport?

Please share if you love Runway Cafe.

 

 

 

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.

Where Imagination Happens – Glimpses of Artists’ Studios

Would you expect an artist’s studio to be spotless on a visitation tour? Please don’t! Would you expect their display areas to look like an art museum? Read on to find out for yourselves.

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Foothill near Rick Badgley’s studio in Three Rivers new St. Anthony’s Retreat

The day was magic, perfect temperature, warm sunshine bathing the mountains highlighting the California poppies, a few wispy clouds against the clear blue sky. A drive to Three Rivers, CA at the foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountains never disappoints, but some days thrill more than others. This was one of those days.

Outside the Louise Fisher Clay Studio in Three Rivers
Across the highway from  the Louise Fisher Clay Studio in Three Rivers

We visited five artist’s studios, signed up for art classes, made design notes, and met some incredibly talented individuals. This studio sits atop a mountain overlooking the Kaweah River as it flows from the mountains on one side, and Highway 198, which is pictured above.

Art students pounded and molded clay projects this studio, even on tour day. One student had to thin her brick when she found out that thick pieces explode when put in the kiln.

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Budding artists work with clay.

We met two of the three artists, Christine Sell-Porter and Bill “Hopper” Sullivan. To take us on the tour, Christine stopped working on her orchid pot that has holes throughout to let the orchid roots breathe.

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Clay orchid pot before firing

My husband chatted with Hopper, and signed up to take a class.  Christine displayed her paintings and her new experiments with clay, including the ones that did not work. You can get an idea of the beauty of the spring wildflowers from her paintings. She points out another pot she made with the orchid starting to grow.

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Christine Sell-Porter’s paintings and clay pot

We also visited a popular painter and photographer across the highway named Nadi Spencer. You can tell artsy people by the fact that the junk in their front yards looks impressive and not like the country dump. My eyes went immediately to the bike, but my husband, who is artsier than I am, noticed the paint cans with matching flowers, and the chairs with matching sweaters draped across the back. You can see the aqua one in this picture after you quit focusing on the bike.

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Outside Nadi Spencer’s studio in Three Rivers

Nadi sells most of her paintings on Facebook by joining groups that love the kinds of things she paints. She paints a lot of dog portraits. Her realistic paintings look like photographs for a high-quality restaurant or brochures with just enough artistic touches to make them fun.  She sold both cards and paintings at the show.  You can see her self-portrait on the top right.

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Inside Spencer’s gallery

People came and went the entire time we visited her gallery. One woman came in to pick up some 40 year-old teddy bears she had advertised online. Only a half-door and a huge dog separated her studio from the gallery.

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Spencer’s color packed studio

It was getting near closing time for the artists so we headed back home to Elderwood to visit our two neighbors. Not that the Sundstroms and I are unfriendly, but I have walked by this studio several hundred times in the last 15 years, walked with John Sundstrom’s wife, and never met John nor seen the inside of his work area.

South Valley Artists' Tour
Artist John Sundstrom’s studio driveway

John may well have been the most prolific and diverse of any of the artists we visited. He taught for 25 years or so at the Creative Center in Visalia for disabled adults. He said that having the same students for years pushed him to explore many artistic mediums.

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First impressions at John Sundstrom’s two-story solar-powered studio

The front and center of the studio featured his sculptures out of stone.  He showed us the hand chisels and files he used to carve. Being a former dental assistant, I had visualized a power tool like a dentist’s drill that he might have used on these hard rock. He told us that only the company that sold the stones used a power tool to cut the rocks into flat-bottomed chunks. My favorite sculpture glowed from the inside out when illuminated.

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The glowing stone

Reluctantly we headed upstairs away from the sculptures, but the diversity of his fabulous drawings and paintings quickly captured our interest. He accented this Japanese kimono with gold leaf.

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Japanese Kimono by John Sundstrom

After visiting until after closing time, we left for home, saving the tour of our friend, Linda Hengst’s studio for the next day, and our Visalia artists for Sunday.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Want A Beautiful 1.25 Acres in the Country?

A few years ago Vince and I purchased five acres of beautiful property, and subdivided it into four parcels. Three have sold. Two have beautiful homes, and my favorite remains.  We thought it had sold to one of my former fourth grade students, but financing fell through. I was so sad – instant grandchildren came with that sale. But maybe there is someone else just as lovely that wants to build a home there.

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Two days ago the weather was so perfect, I had to do a photo shoot there. It’s on a cul-de-sac and has a pad already cleared for building. This is the house across the private road.

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It was about 4:00 pm. The full moon peeped out of the clouds in broad daylight. I see a rabbit. What do you see?

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The lot has five or six oak trees that are probably between 50 and 100 years old. They are indigenous to this area, but are not protected like the Visalia Oak. The cute little house across the street is ours.  It is small, but very I think very adorable. He’s getting ready to redo our master bathroom. His son is coming to help him today, and I’m going out of town. (Whew!)

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The trees have many birds, mostly owls, woodpeckers and vultures. They are camera-shy. I waste so much time trying to capture them with my camera.

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I almost missed this one, and it’s not clear. I’m probably spinning as I follow it. I shot using my telephoto lens, which gets really close, but it sticks out so far, I can’t hold it steady. You are looking at the underbelly of a woodpecker. They love telephone poles. Every pole stores thousands of acorns. They like to put them in our gutters as well, up under the edge of the roof.

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This is probably a vulture in the top center of the maze of limbs.

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He doesn’t want to even land.

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To the east beyond the foothills, you see the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range on a clear day.

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There is a vacant lot right across the street next to our house. Vince has always wanted to plant a vineyard, but there are many regulations, and neither of us knows what we are doing, so it sits fallow.

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You can see that the trees will bloom any day now.

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The young couple that planned to buy the property asked about snakes. Mama Kitty ate one the other day. I think it was a garter snake. She made the funniest screaming noise while she was playing with it. After munching it down, she later gave it back, but  was no worse for the wear.

2015 BV March115We have seen about 2 tiny rattle snakes in the 15 years we have lived there, so they are there. We had Kalev rattle snake trained, so she is alert. The cats just eat them. They also catch gophers. The squirrels are too much for them, so we have help catching them and the raccoons. Scardy Kitty got stuck in the trap one morning. He was quite irritated as he waited patiently for me to figure out how to open it.

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Country life doesn’t appeal to everyone, but city slickers, Vince and Marsha wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.

 

 

Iconic America: Bob’s Old Barn

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Who doesn’t love old barns? It’s un-American to hate barns, the image of rural life that once predominated in this country. Today the golden hour arrived with dark gray ominous clouds in the east and brilliant sunlight in the west blasting the spotlight on all the wildflowers in bloom on the foothills. I told Vince I wanted him to take me to the barn we had both decided would make a great photo shoot. I hope you agree with me.

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He decided to drop me off, and let me walk home, so I took my time.

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The weeds turned out to be nearly as interesting as the barn. They don’t look that high from the road, but in places they could do some intimidating. That black thing  holding out gigantic arms is me to give you some perspective on the height of this particularly lovely weed. I am five feet five inches tall.

I tried to take a selfie of me and the weed to show you how tall it was.
I took a selfie with this weed to show you how tall it was.

Along the way I found some items of interest. From the highway this field looks uninhabited, but wait till you see what I found. My favorite might be the road hugger.

 

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The road has gotten a bit overgrown, but the road hugger hugs on. But I also love the old trough.

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I don’t know what that bulb is, but it added to the excitement of finding the trough buried in the greenery. However, this find can’t compare to the underground house I found just lying around next door to the barn looking like a well-read book lying on a nightstand.

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I’m not sure what this blue container held, but I didn’t look for a spigot. I think it might have landed here from outer space. Bob used to launch rockets not too far from here. Maybe one returned with a present.

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The weeds amazed me. If they’d been in the mountains I could call them wildflowers, but here on the valley floor, I know better.

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They made a great  frame for my Bob’s barn.

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I finally quit dallying and did what I came for. It actually still smelled like a barn inside.

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Someone must have slept here a while back, and left their bed unmade.

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I’m sure this bed belonged to a boy. It seriously looked like the kinds of things my brother hid under his bed, when he was a kid, except the old Halloween candy was missing here. Maybe I didn’t look hard enough.  What do you mean you can’t tell it’s a bed?

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It would spring up and strike you if it were a snake coiled up like this. Klutzy me, I had to bounce on it a bit. (holding my camera securely against me, of course)

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The guy must have gotten mad one night and threw the head off to the other side of the room. Maybe he just had a bad dream and lost his head. Either way this sissy road hugger that came in out of the weather ended up with a bed head on it, so it’s stuck there now.

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Enough with the stuff. You came here to see a barn.

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This barn has an open door policy.

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The view out the back is wild. (flowers that is)

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It’s got good bones, and lots of them.

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The open floor plan is ever popular.

 

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Good views from every door window  opening.

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It’s built with long-lasting, high-quality parts.

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Upon close inspection, I didn’t find any evidence of termite damage.

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But if someone from Central California ever advertises foothill acreage, filled with wildflowers, with a top-notch barn, you might want to take a look first before you buy.

2015 Hengst Barn205Thank you Bob for letting me take pictures of your barn. I loved it. 🙂 I hope my blogger friends did, too.

 

Cee’s Odd Ball Challenge

For being such a 100% gorgeous day, Saturday, November 29th turned oddball early on.  First of all I called my friend’s dad, Clarence.  I know his name is Leonard. I only said it wrong twice. Leonard Hansen was Woodlake’s famous World War II POW.

hansen with flag

He was on the Tulare County Office of Education Board of Education.  I worked there.  I’m Tulare County’s History Gal.  We filmed a video about his experiences.  I called him Clarence.  It promised to be an odd day.

Woodlake Farm

Then I picked up Robert Edmiston.  He had promised to show me landmarks in Elderwood that I didn’t know.  So we went to the Woodlake High School Farm.  I couldn’t see a single crop.  How odd was that?

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The 100 year old palms listed oddly

Bill Ferry

California is  in the middle of a drought.  Hardly a drop of water sits idle.  Sally, Linda and I easily amble around the circumference of Bravo Lake in an hour.  Farmers pumped Tulare Lake dry over 150 years ago. The only ferry in Central California is Bill Ferry.

Easter Island of Elderwood

Someone in Elderwood replicated Easter Island. This individual wanted to redevelop the Mini-Ha-Ha Ranch and destroyed the 100-year-old stately palm trees that lines the access road by setting them on fire.

Easter Island2

Palm tree trunks don’t burn well.  This violent act clearly disturb the Plane Gods.

Elda School 2014

Someone left the door open at Elda School.

Blue Oak's last stand

The only native stand of blue oaks left is not in a nature preserve, but sits in a hog wallow field across from an orange grove in Elderwood.

Converging signs

The signs are all there, but where’s the road?  Robert pointed out Lone Oak Mountain in the background.  The lone oak died.

TC history gal bites the dust

I don’t think I forgot to put the car in park.  Sometimes my Prius doesn’t turn off when I press the off button.  Sometimes it doesn’t go into park.  Even so, it shouldn’t have gone backwards.  Usually, when it doesn’t turn off, it goes forwards while I’m still in the car, and I press it again.  This time it sat still as though it was really in park, so I got out and took a picture.  Then I looked around to see the car starting to take off!  I ran towards the car as it moved gently backwards and tried to stop it, but I fell out of the car as I tried to get in.  I don’t know how Robert got in the driver’s seat.  The car didn’t crash.  I bit the dust, but the car didn’t run over me, nor did the open car door jab me in the face.  My camera, which I threw on the ground as I fell,  could still shoot pictures.

Blurred vision

The autofocus doesn’t work any more.  Thanksgiving paid it forward for me.  Another one of my X# lives with only one little scratch on my elbow!

022714-odd-ball Yesterday was odd ball.  Click the icon to see more odd ball responses.

 

 

Doncha Wish You Lived In California NOW?

The cloudless sky, leaves turning bright yellow and red, clean cool air that didn’t blow your hair off; it couldn’t have been a better day for photography.  I wanted a better picture for my book of FJ White Learning Center.

FJ White Learning Center

Ernie Garcia worked with me at Francis J. White Learning Center.  He volunteered to come with me on my photography spree and pose for a fake picture for my book.

 

Ernie unlocking gateBWWe took some great pictures there then he said, “Now where are we going to go?”

History is all about geography, and geography changes over time.  So when someone says to me, “I worked at Redbanks,” I think Dead Rat Saloon, and trees on the hill.  I love it when people want to drive around town with me and point out where things used to be.

entering Redbanks

 

 

Ernie suggested, “Let’s drive to Redbanks.  I haven’t been there in quite a while.”  So we drove to the real Redbanks where Ernie worked in the 1940s before Uncle Sam pointed his finger Ernie’s direction.

Old hotel1

Looking left from the bridge I saw the old hotel that Chuck Hackett told me resembled a Union Station. Over the years Redbanks (and probably others) had used Cottonwood Creek as an equipment gravesite, which lay exposed in the dry creek bed.

old hotel2

Ernie came to Redbanks in 1933, and attended Paloma School.  When we drove in, the manager pulled his pickup next to my Prius.  I started to introduce myself  and explain why we were trespassing, but he interrupted me.  “I know this guy!”  You would have thought Ernie was a rock star!  We were in.

Old hotel3

He and Ernie chatted while I snuck off and took pictures of the old hotel.

Old hotel4

Janet Livingston gave me a little history about Redbanks.  Mary Anne Terstegge Tulare County Historical Librarian wrote in the March 1991 Valley Voice p. 27,

On the north bank of Cottonwood Creek was the ranch headquarters. Immediately west of the road is the two-story manager’s house. Bill Murray lived there from 1921 until 1929. Then the Bill Mayfields moved into it. Wilbur Mayfield was a pipe man from Goshen who served as superintendent until 1934.

old hotel7

Beyond the manager’s house was … the main building which is of Spanish style resembling a Southern Pacific depot. Constructed in 1914. This building had a large restaurant for the workers at its west end.

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Immediately behind the dining area was a large kitchen and food storage area with ice lockers in the center directly below the upstairs. The kitchen was presided over by Wylie, a one-eyed Chinese man who was an excellent cook. In the center of the north side of this headquarters building, a hall and stairway gave access to the upper floor.

Old hotel5 In the late 1920s, the east end was remodeled to create offices. West of the headquarters building and near the creek was the shower/lavatory building.

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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 contained rooms for bachelor workers. Hence it was referred to as “the hotel.”

Ernie guided me back into the Redbanks complex past the ranch garage for motorized equipment.  Earlier it had been a blacksmith shop area.  Ernie called this next house the “Hindu Building.”  Originally it had been the Hindu irrigator’s bunk house.

Hindu bunkhouse1

Ernie’s brother had his wedding reception in this, once beautiful building.  Looking across the fence to the north we saw Colvin’s Mountain.

Colvin's MountainThe first settler in that area west of Woodlake was Elijah T. Colvin, a stockman who in the early 1860s bought three sections of land on the southern slopes of the hill, which bears his name. At that time Cottonwood Creek still ran due south into the St. Johns River. By 1892, Elijah Colvin was dead and some of his property was sold.

Ernie told me that when he worked here, they could see the vegetable gardens planted by the Japanese that once lived on Colvin Mountain.  The government evacuated them sent them to live in internment camps during World War II.  They did not return, and now orange groves cover the lower part of the mountain.

Cottonwood creek

As we left, I pulled the car over, left it running, but did remember to put it in park this time, and ran back across the bridge to take one last shot of Cottonwood Creek and the Sierra Nevadas.  Ernie taught me more in an hour than I could have mastered reading 10 hours of articles about Redbanks.  Thanks Ernie!

 

 

 

Angular: the Daily Post Photo Challenge

I examined 12 posts before I wrote this.  I don’t usually do that, but I needed inspiration.  I smiled at this favorite .  You have to look past the obvious angle to see the real angle, and wonder where the photographer stood to shoot this single picture post.

Angular1CRT

Angles are easy to find in the city, but what about in the country?  I checked out some of my most recent Woodlake pictures for you from my folder of Buttes and Bridges, and found more angles than I expected.  I love this one because it looks like Jack’s steel beanstalk disappearing into the sky climbing to an unknown giant’s castle.

Actually, the power company decided that detouring the installation of these monstrosities into the country served the better good that marching them up the straight path along a freeway.  Not everyone agreed with that angle of thought, but there were fewer voters to object in the sparsely populated areas.

What’s your angle?  Here is the key to others that I liked.

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Every Day You Learn Something – Sometimes It’s New

“In three words I can sum up what I’ve learned about life: it goes on.”  Robert Frost

I’ve had an amazing week learning about our little town and the surrounding area.  There is only one book in the library about Woodlake, published in 1971.  I have a digitized copy of that book.   This week I had the privilege of thumbing through the original handwritten manuscript of that little book housed in a 1950s-style blue canvas three-ring binder.

Grace Pogue ~ Within The Magic Circle copy-1

I have the original manuscript of her other book, The Swift Seasons, in a little blue canvas binder as well, which I am going to digitize starting today.  I get excited about the little things I’m learning or at least surmising.  Yesterday on one of my interviews Robert took me outside to his back yard.

“Want to see the old Antelope School?” he asked me.  “This is it.  It used to be on Grandma Fudge’s property.  Then it moved to Blair’s property, and then they brought it on skids here.”

Antelope School

Robert and I shared information back and forth for several hours.  “This is so much fun!” he told me.

What I know about Antelope School is that it was first built in 1870.  Woodlake erected a new Antelope School in 1895.  So would this have been the new 1895 school, or the 1870 one?

Antelope school3

The builder didn’t date the school anywhere, least of all the floor boards, but look how wide they are.  Keep in mind that we cut down big trees back in the 1800s.  This picture came from Linda and Bob Hengst.

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When I came back from Linda’s house, Vince said, “What were you doing all that time?  You were over there for three hours!”

In the evening I started the boring work.  It takes 30 seconds to copy each picture, but I have someone to talk to the whole time.  I copied about 45 of Linda and Bob’s pictures, and 75 from Robert. At home it takes about 1 minute to create a TIFF file for each picture, and another minute or so to resize it for my blog so I can see what I’m writing about as I write each caption.  Finally I pick which pictures I know enough about to caption for the day, and that takes at least 20 to 30 minutes to write 50-70 words.  You wouldn’t think it would take so long, but here’s the deal.

  1. I wasn’t there when it happened.  I don’t know the people, usually the place, because they aren’t around any more, or the time.
  2. Usually I just have a name to go by, if that on the picture – that’s about 2 words.
  3. Sometimes I have a little story.  That’s about 20 words, if I’m lucky.
  4. I have tons of books about things like trains and floods in Tulare County, Native Americans, and the general history of Tulare County.  I have an 1892 Atlas of each township in Tulare County with the names of all the property owners at that time.
  5. I have notes from all the people I’ve interviewed, and sometimes audio files.
  6. I have a few newspaper articles that are photocopied, but all the archives from the Woodlake Echo have been destroyed, so all those pictures and original articles are gone.
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What do you think Abe and Carl discussed? I’ll give you a clue. It has to do with college.

So every picture is a bit of a puzzle piece, and I do my best to sort through my evidence, and write the best 70 words possible for each picture.   As of last night I had finished 109 or about 60% of the required 180-200 pictures.  As I talk to more people, I’ll have to narrow it down, and throw some of them out, I’m sure.

A friend asked me what I do all day, and how much time I take writing my book (probably wondering why I hadn’t been calling her much :)).  It seems like I don’t do much, but I don’t seem to have much time to do tons of other things.  I have lots to talk about – as long as you are interested in Woodlake’s history.  Otherwise, I’m kind of dull.  I chose the think I’m focused.  🙂

Marsha climbingcr

You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough – Mae West

Weekly Photo Challenge: ZigZag

California mountain road contain numerous “hogbacks” as my friend, Darlene, calls the switchbacks on the way to Sequoia National Park. It turns out that those same kinds of roads exist on the Coastal Redwood Highway as well.  This park called Mystery Trees was about where our truck’s worn out transmission tired of lugging our new trailer. oregon trip 201320130915_0021138We rented a car and enjoyed the “break.”  Not only did the roads and the paths twist and turn, so did the trees, providing beauty and shade. oregon trip 201320130914_1105230R When we did get going again, the fog wanted us to slow down more than the zigzags. SFW Wildflower class20130420_93R These zigzags are closer to home – to anyone’s home.  I never tire of the zigzag shapes of tree branches.  These trees are in an educational property called Circle J Ranch owned by Tulare County Office of Education where I worked.  It is close to a tiny town called Springville, east of Porterville, CA.

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I apologize for the quality of this picture.  I heard that someone zig zagged on their responsibilities to posterity, and put the archives in the trash instead of the scanning machine, so this is the best picture I have.  In this newspaper picture it was the Kaweah (Kuh wee’ uh) River that zagged.

The headwaters for the Kaweah River begin their zig zag course out of the Great Western Divide where mountain summits rise to over 12, 000 feet.   The North Fork, which is just east of us begins at 9,000 feet.  If the river could go down the mountain in a straight line, the Kaweah River would drop in excess of 2 vertical miles in a distance of 30 linear miles.  The Kaweah River loses the same altitude as the Colorado River, but is 97% shorter.  It is the steepest river in the United States. Even with a dam to control flooding, in 1969 the water zig zagged its own way into the Woodlake Valley.  (Tilchen, Mark.  Floods of the Kaweah)

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To see more entries for this Zig Zag challenge, click the icon above.  🙂

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

What’s Happening …In The Foothills

I NEED your opinions!!!

I am so excited.  When I voted on Tuesday I ran into my friends, Sally and Alice who used to work with me when I was teaching.  I love voting.  As we chatted afterwards, and Sally asked me if I wanted to contribute a spring photograph for the cover of the magazine published by Kiwanis Club.  You  all know I said YES!

So now the problem comes of WHICH photograph of the tri-town area do we choose out of hundreds of photographs?  This morning I thought of all you, my unbiased friends that don’t know the area, and some that do.  I’m going to pick some that I like, and let you choose which picture might pop as a magazine cover.  AND if you have other ideas, I might have a picture that goes with it.  SO LEND ME YOUR OPINIONS, PLEASE.  OK, just give the to me.  I won’t give them back.

Foothill Flowers#1

Wild flowers?

Wildflowers #2

Wild flowers with a boy?

Baby Animals #1

Animals?

Spring Creek#1

A stream which is dry all year except spring?

Cherry blossoms #1

Blossoms?

Foothill Agriculture in the Spring

Agriculture in the foothills.  The foothill area is a huge citrus area.

I have tons more pictures, but my computer is not loading very well this morning.  So please help me out, and tell me which of these you think might make a good magazine cover.

Thanks!!!