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The Madera Tribune

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Let’s go drag main

August 7, 2017

I hate graffiti. Code enforcement should sell vandal tags similar to those issued by fish and game for deer hunting. Since actually using firearms would be lethal instead of rifles or shotguns citizens could shoot paintball guns to take down taggers.


I also have a big problem with sidewalk chalk because it is graffiti training. It makes it appear as though drawing on public property or buildings is acceptable. There is even colorful chalk that comes in aerosol cans. On Google, a case of 24 cans of spray chalk is $30. This stuff washes away with water, but it sends a terrible message to impressionable minds that it is acceptable to consider the trash they paint is art.


There is a very good reason I’m not in charge of anything important.

Does anyone else in Madera still drag main? If I need to drive from point A to point B and I can use Yosemite Avenue I will. When I do I can still see a lot of the Madera from my high school years. Sadly the Duncan Sheid building has sat empty for too many years. In its day, Duncan Sheid, later known as William Carol, was a great place to buy clothes.


Next door to it was the 88 Cent Store. When I was in college the manager was named Rob Branstom. He was a really nice man that I haven’t heard of or seen for better than 40 years. We went out a few times. Does anybody else remember Rob or know what happened to him when the store closed?


When I was growing up, clothes shopping in Madera meant a trip to Ceroni’s, James Department Store, O’Grady’s Ladies Wear, Maiden Lane and Vizcarra’s Department Store. We also had a J.C. Penny in downtown.


Bruno’s Army Navy Surplus Store had the greatest bell-bottom blue jeans. Eveveryone just called the place Bruno’s. The storewas owned by the Barratta family.  The son, Bruno, was what is now called a little person; he rode a tricycle. They also had Lionel Trains in addition to much other interesting merchandise on their shelves.


Brammer’s Shoes was the place to get the coolest kicks in the class. We had a Karl’s Shoe Store, too, that sold cheaper non-name brand shoes.


At the beginning of every school year Daddy took me to Brammer’s for a new pair of saddle-oxfords. I was hard on shoes, and if I didn’t out-grow them, oxfords were the only shoes that had a prayer of lasting the school year. My mom and I polished those white shoes almost every night. She polished her nurses’ whites and I polished my school shoes. We spread out newspapers on the kitchen table, because I liked polishing the soles of my shoes too. We ran through a ton of white shoe polish.

The typical route for dragging main began at Montari’s Big-Top drive-in and terminated at the Dearborn Hospital. The Big-Top was at Yosemite and North Q streets; today there is a convenience store on that spot. The hospital is now the Bank of America at Yosemite and North A streets.


The Big Topper hamburger was a double-decker burger that would make a hamburger eater throw rocks at the Big Mac. The shoestring French fries came is a bag big enough to share and were amazing. The drive-in restaurant had speaker menus and car hops delivered the food on a tray that hung on the driver’s-side car window. Fresh baked cookies, vanilla Cokes or a cherry lime Rickey served over crushed ice topped off the meal.


If the Big-Top was too busy there was also the Arctic Circle. They served their fries with what they called Arctic Circle super sauce, a mixture of ketchup and mayonnaise. They had fried chicken too. There is a donut shop on West Olive Avenue where the Arctic Circle once sat.


Across South B Street from the Madera Theater was the A&W drive-in. My girlfriends and I would meet our dates there after our parents dropped us off at the show. The Reed Bell drive-in on Gateway Drive near 4th Street had carhops too.


Cars full of teenagers driving aimlessly up and down Yosemite Avenue for hours on end doesn’t really sound that entertaining. But if you were there you remember the fun. It was a time when everyone in the car contributed their allowances or babysitting money for a few gallons of gas, soft drinks and fries.

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