Madera County Historical Society
One hundred years ago, work on Madera’s first gas station began. It was finished a year later. The station was located on the corner of 3rd Street and Gateway Drive. Its owner, Alfredo Farnesi, is seen here in front of the station in 1919.
50 Years Ago
Week of April 22, 1968
MADERA GI KILLED IN VIETNAM BATTLE — Army PFC Mickey Alvarez of Madera, a bridegroom of only four months and a combat veteran of only three months, was killed Sunday night by hand grenade fragments in Vietnam action. The son of Arthur and Mattie Alvarez, the 21-year-old infantryman was married last December and left for Vietnam in January. His widow, Saundra, resided with Mr. and Mrs. Alvarez. The grief-stricken father, a veteran of World War II and the Korean conflict, said, “They wouldn’t even let my oldest son’s war wound heal before they drafted Mickey.” The eldest son, Arthur, was seriously wounded in action near Pleiku, Vietnam last summer. Mickey was a graduate of Madera High.
SCHMITZ RECALL ELECTION SCHEDULED FOR JULY 22 — A special election is scheduled for July 22 on the recall measure against Supervisor Jack Schmitz. The July 2 date is exactly 70 days from certification of the recall petitions. The State Election Code requires that special elections be called within 70 to 75 days. The June election is only 36 days away. According to County Counsel Roy Wolfe, the minimum period of 70 days established in the law must be followed. Board Chairman Harold Balmat said that the special election will cost the county about $4,000. The recall petitions were circulated by a San Francisco firm, which specializes in obtaining signatures for state and local ballots.
BOARD TAKES BIG JUMP — OKAYS PARACHUTING — Sport Parachuting in Madera County won approval Tuesday from the Board of Supervisors. Parachutists Jim Clayton and Stan Willis of Chowchilla said they will go next to other governmental agencies to receive clearance for a permanent drop zone at the Madera Airport. Supervisors gave their blessings to the sport without mentioning a site. However, several board members questioned the proposed site, between the runways and Highway 99, because of the air traffic at that post. Clayton replied that no collision between a plane and a sport parachutist has ever occurred.
RETIREMENT DINNER SET FOR W.E. WELTON — A retirement dinner will be held Saturday at the Italo-American Club for Officer W.E. (Bill) Welton, recently retired from the California Highway Patrol. Welton was appointed State Traffic Officer in August 1947 and took his cadet training at Lake Tahoe. Welton’s first duty assignment was in the Hollywood office, where he was a motorcycle officer for three years. He transferred to Madera in October 1950 and worked here until his retirement. Welton and his wife, Miriam, have no definite plans for the future other than some traveling. They plan to remain in Madera.
NEW CALIFORNIA HIGHWAY PATROLMEN — Two new patrolmen, G.L. Ormachea, of Susanville and R.K. Dominici, a native Maderan, have been added to the Highway Patrol office in Madera. Ormachea, 24, a 1961 graduate of Lassen Union High School, entered the CHP Academy in January this year and received his first assignment here. He is married and has two daughters, one 2 1/2 and a 5-month old. Dominici, 23, a 1963 graduate of Madera High School, entered the Academy in June 1967 after two years at Reedley College and one-and-one half years at Fresno State. He has been a patrolman in the Los Angeles area where he was assigned last October. He is married and has a 1-month-old son.
MAN BITES EAR OFF; LANDS IN JAIL — Jesse Castro Vargas, 21, was arraigned on a charge of mayhem. He is charged with biting off the ear of Trinidad R. Bernal on March 2. A preliminary hearing was scheduled for May 18 at 9 a.m. Lester Gendron was appointed attorney. Bail was set at $1,000. In another case, Rosemary Law, 20, has been arraigned on a charge of child beating. She is charged with inflicting cruel, inhuman corporal punishment resulting in a traumatic condition on her two-year-old son on April 18. A preliminary hearing was set for May 7 at 9:30 a.m. Attorney Virginia Gendron was appointed counsel. Bail was set at $1,000.
100 Years Ago
Week of April 22, 1918
NO ARREST FOR WATCH THEFT — “Get my watch, but do not make any arrests,” was the request made last Saturday night of City Marshal J.H. Barnett. A lack of farm labor was the cause given for wanting the men left at large. The watch was lost by a boy on the Bonita Ranch by the name of Andrew Smith. At the same time that it came up missing, two Mexicans employed on the ranch also departed for Madera. With his eagle eye, the Marshal went out and got the watch and respected the request made of him to refrain from “pulling” the thief, although the temptation was strong. Workmen on the Bonita Ranch are a scarce article at present, hence Supt. Miller made the request that the men not be placed under arrest.
SCHOOL DRIVE NETS NEARLY 1,000 SQUIRRELS — As a result of the recent squirrel drive in this county carried on last week by the pupils of the high schools and grammar schools, there are almost one thousand fewer squirrels here. The actual number of tails turned in by the pupils was 981. The drive was not as successful as was anticipated, and the cash prizes were easily won in most instances. The $50 prize offered to the high school turning in the most tails goes to Madera High School. As no other high school in the county took part in the drive, no high school received the second and third prizes. The Marysdale School was the successful contestant among the grammar schools and received the fifty-dollar prize. Alpha came second and claims the thirty-dollar prize while Ripperdan carried off the third place prize of twenty dollars.
AUTOS CRASH ON THE AVENUE — Two autos came together at the corner of Yosemite Avenue and D Street about 6 o’clock last night. “Uncle” Bob Stockton was driving his favorite “Liz” and was heading west on the avenue. Mrs. Fred Barnett was traveling south on D Street in her big car. At the junction of the streets, Uncle Bob’s Ford rammed into the back end of Mrs. Barnett’s auto. He yelled, “Whoa” and said he never saw the other machine until the crash came and added that he was “perfectly sober” besides. Uncle Bob’s many friends joshed him considerably and had the saloons been running, it is feared he might have been forced to “set’em up” a number of times.
OUTLAW GERMAN IN SCHOOLS —The movement to discontinue the study of German in the schools is in keeping with the spirit of the times and should be made nation-wide. Love of Germany was maintained by many people through their permission to continue the use of that language in this country. This is an American nation, with American principles of justice and right, and henceforward no language but English, which is our native tongue, should be allowed to be taught in school where Germany and love of the Kaiser are the first teaching of the young.
ROOSTER ATTACK CAUSE OF DEATH — Little Roberta May Boring, the small daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Walter A. Boring, died yesterday as the result of an injury inflicted by a rooster several months ago. The child, who is but 2 years old, was playing in the yard when she was attacked and struck by one of the rooster’s spurs. A slight injury was inflicted, and the child was ill for several weeks with an abscess of the brain. She got better and finally recovered entirely. Yesterday morning while sitting on her mother’s lap, she died almost instantly. The interment will be in the Arbor Vitae cemetery.