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The selection for today was easy. Don Martin to the right in snap is a lovely man. He and his lovely wife were at the 'Evening of Music'. The other day, Don came and knocked on my door. Seems he had written MOI a letter and had the wrong address on it an it was returned. Don wanted to tell MOI about HIS Calaveras remembered. It is a long letter and MOI is going to put it in here, save for part where he gives personal information about another lovely lady MOI must contact. Right, best get comfy and grab a cuppa and brickie............
Memories by Don Martin
The Martin Family moved from a ranch in the country into 149 N Calaveras in 1932. I was 8 years old and my brother was 3. It was in the midst of the great depression. My father was a building contractor, but there was little work bing done then. He bought the house at 149 for a ridiculously small amount from the Salvation Army. It had been willed to them by the original owner, but I suppose the Army was in great need of funds.
North Calaveras was an old neighborhood even then. It was built as the Altamont Addition. At the time we go there Divisadero did not go through where Calaveras turned in Calaveras as it does now.
Except for the time my brother and I were away in the Army during World War II and the Korean War, we lived at 149 N Calaveras until we two got married and our parents died. After that we had it rented to a couple for a few years and then sold it to the people who live there now.
We went to Lowell Elementary and then to Washington Junior High School and then to Fresno State college(then on University Avenue - and always on my bicycle) to prepare for my teaching career. My brother attended Fresno Technical High School near home and became a talented craftsman like his father.
Growing up on Calaveras was not overly eventful. There were other children on the block, and we had various playmates that we enjoyed.
Next to us at 209 lived Mr. & Mrs. Rollis and their daughter Edna. Mrs. Rollis was a volatile lady from Central America. The Martins and Mrs. Rollis had their troubles. More than once she called the police to report things my little brother and his 'gang' did. My father was rather volatile too,so..... In later years Edna and her husband Mr. Bernardi lived in the house at 227 where they were loyal members of the North Calaveras Neighborhood(there was a article in the Fresno Bee where she told about Calaveras). The granddaughter Anita married Michael Clifton and they lived for a long time at the home at 209(Think the still own the property).
In earlier days 227 N Calaveras was owned by the Glahn Family, whose son was a special pal of mine. I vividly remember one day his father, showed us something he had made for their house. It was a big box on the window with moistened material, fanned by an electric motor. It was a great invention for the very hot, dry Fresno summer, later manufactured as a 'Swamp Cooler.'
The apartments at 254 N Calaveras were owned by Mr. & Mrs. George Green. He was a skilled Finish carpenter who worked for our father.
The house at 245 N Calaveras, I remember, was built as the home of the Society for Hard of Hearing.
The site of your apartments at 119 N Calaveras was the site of a little house where an old Italian man had a fenced front yard filled with vegetables and flowers.
The two storied house at 115 N Calaveras had various tenants. It was at one time the original home for battered wives and children, now called Evangel Home.
Growing up on North Calaveras was not overly eventful. We played at Dickey Playground. Mt brother R.L., was especially popular with other boys. He was a Cub Scout, and our mother was a den mother. He rigged our basement as a den for their meetings. I was more interested in growing cactus and fish. We had three fishponds in the back yard and a dozen aquariums in the house.
One memorable event was my little brother's winning of a Shetland pony. My Scout group sold tickets to the Yankee-Patterson Circus which was held in the old municipal auditorium downtown. The circus and the Neehigh Bottling Company donated a little Shetland pony named Neehigh to be raffled off to someone who was a ticket holder in the audience. R.L. had the lucky ticket.
We led the horse across town and by Dickey Playground. It was a Saturday with lots of kids playing there. When they saw us with the horse, they ran out to the street and followed us home. When we arrived at 149 N Calaveras, our mother looked out and said; 'what in the world.'
We found a stall for him in an old pigeon house in the back yard, and we soon learned the chores of caring for a horse. The lot at 219 was vacant at that time, and there was grass there for grazing. We were given a saddle, but we did not do much riding. I was too heavy and R.L. was afraid to mount him. So we rigged a wagon and had him pull us. Neehigh was not too happy with this and he sometimes ran off. Father would go off in his old Hudson and find him many blocks away, gently grazing on some grass. Dad was able to put him in the back seat of the car and bring him home.
Finally, Mrs. Rollis, complained to the police for our having a horse in the city, and we had to take him to Uncle Ralph's ranch, where he was finally sold.
The lot at 219 N Calaveras was later used to build the nice house that still occupies it. It was built for Miss Hawk, a teacher at Roosevelt High School, a lovely lady who lived there for the rest of her life. The house was then bought by George Clark, who came as a young man to be an apprentice to my father, eventually became a skilled carpenter and a lifetime friend of our family.
With the coming of World War II our lives changed. I was drafted into the Army, building in Fresno was halted, father gave up his business and went to Northern California to work in defense projects. Mother and R.L> remained alone at 149. They rented the front bedroom to a couple with the husband stationed at a local Army post.
With the end of the war, we were reunited once again at 149 N Calaveras. R.L. worked with dad on construction jobs. I worked with them some while I was going to school. We built the 'Bachelor' apartment that stands in the back at 345 N Calaveras.
After my brother and I married, our parents Roy and Grace Martin lived happily at 149 N Calaveras until their very last days.
Truly apologize for being so tardy in writing this. I am failing and have completely given up using the computer
HISTORY - of Fresno and Calaveras. Mr. Martin is 84 years old. He remembers well what Calaveras and the neighborhood was. How can we let this part of Fresno past die? Where is the Civic Pride on the part of the City of Fresno. Is it possible that a chap invented the 'swamp cooler' right here on Calaveras? How historic is that?
When Mr. Martin knocked on flat door, he thought MOI did not remember him from the 'Evening of Music', MOI did indeed.
You ask why I fight for Calaveras and the neighborhood. This is why. Every time MOI gets a letter or note from one who remembers Calaveras, it brings the road alive. Every time one knocks on my flat door to let me know that they remember and appreciate Calaveras being saved it fills MOI with much pride.
Councilwoman Sterling and the City of Fresno should be ashamed of selves. How can HISTORY be allowed to die???
Post done on www.calaverasstreet.com, the best place to read about Historic Calaveras Street, the road MOI lives on.