Sometimes we get stuff in the mail that is too good (well,... Enter Now
I had to repost this from a year ago because Robbie Fung posted and tagged me on Facebook...
It's hard to tell that 1403 Tulare ave. in Fresno was where Lightning Co. started in 1946 because now it's just a parking lot.
The building that housed one of the coolest selections of hard to find records torn down long ago to make way for a growing business.
Owned and operated by Bob and Walt Mah they repaired radios and tvs in the back and sold records out front. For the record collector it was a good place to find those rare 45s and LPs. Especially if it was R&B, Jazz, Blues, Doo-Wop or Rockabilly.
I posted a scan of that Lightning Co. merchandise bag on my Facebook page and was surprised at the flood of responses I got from asking, "Anybody remember Lightning Records?" Turns out, a couple of guys I know were directly connected to the Mah family. Brothers, Robbie and Jay Fung were nephews of Walt and Bob and spent time there growing up, digging through the records and digging the music.
By the time Robbie and Jay were there the store had moved from it's original location on Tulare st. to a new location on 3551 E. Ventura, about a mile away. That's where I visited in the 80s looking for those oldies 45s. Especially the ones that had gone out of print but were still there in the rows of records that filled the store. I would hear from my record collector friends that if you were looking for those oldie 45s Lightning Records was thee place to find the cool titles.
I only went in there a few times, during the 80s, as I remember. But the reason for me, as a record collector was to go in there and get lucky and find that rare, out of print record that just happened to be overlooked by everyone else. Of course that never happened, but I did find some cool oldies 45s. My friend, David used to live near there in the mid 60s and he would play for me records from Lightning at the time. Lightning must have had a pretty good selection of psychedelic LPs, as that's what I remember seeing and listening to in '64-'66.
Some time in the late 80s they finally closed the doors on a business that was vital to musicians and other lovers of music, but the building is still there on Ventura and 5th in southeast Fresno.
The neighborhood has suffered a decline since Lightning left but it may come back some day. I could see an awakening in this neighbord. Like what they have done with downtown. But, maybe this neighborhood could be a renewal of upgrading and just fixing the place up with a fresh coat of paint. Maybe get a festival going.
It's funny how so many neighborhoods in Fresno were so nice in decades past but have seemingly been chewed up by the onslaught of progress and the race to the north part of town.
To tell you the truth, I can't believe the major media hasn't done a big story on this, a cool part of Fresno's RocknRoll, R&B, Jazz and Country history.