Madera County Historical Society
One hundred years ago, Tighe’s Department Store was at the center of Madera’s downtown business district. Shown here is the store’s women’s department. Owner Bill Tighe can be seen on the far right.
50 Years Ago
Week of April 29, 1968
CHESTER BIDWELL WILL OPPOSE JACK SCMNITZ — Chester Bidwell, a tailor and downtown merchant, is circulating petitions today for candidacy for the District 1 seat on the Board of Supervisors. Bidwell is running in the election to recall Supervisor Jack Schmitz. Voters who say “yes” to the question of whether or not Schmitz should be recalled must then select a candidate to replace him. Voters cannot cast votes for a candidate without checking “yes” for recall of Schmitz. Bidwell is retired from the U.S. Army Reserve with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He moved to Madera in 1952 and has been in the tailoring and men’s wear business.
TREES ALONG HIGHWAY 99 TO BE REMOVED — Bids will be opened at the Division of Highways office on May 14 for the removal of 139 trees along Highway 99 between Avenue 16 and Avenue 20 in Madera County. All of the trees to be removed are within areas, which would have to be cleared for the future freeway construction. Sixty-four trees between Avenues 16 and 20 not within the future construction site will be left in place. In the period from January 1964 to November 1966, there were 29 trees hit by automobiles along this section of highway resulting in three fatalities and twenty-two injuries.
BUCK MELIKIAN, SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER, DIES — Buck Melikian, 48, a member of the Madera Unified School District board of trustees, died in St. Agnes Hospital in Fresno Wednesday. Mr. Melikian entered the hospital last Thursday. He had been stricken by another heart attack about six years ago. Mr. Melikian had been a grape grower in Madera for the past 14 years. He had been active in Little League and Babe Ruth League baseball. Mr. Melikian had been a member of the MUSD board of trustees since the district was unified. Before that, he had served for eight years on the Eastin-Arcola board.
GOVERNOR MAKES JUBILEE YEAR HERE OFFICIAL — At three o’clock Wednesday afternoon, Governor Ronald Reagan signed the Proclamation officially declaring 1968 as Madera County Diamond Jubilee Year. The proclamation was designed by Ira Landerman and delivered to the governor for his signature by Ralph Baraldi, chairman of the Diamond Jubilee Committee. The meeting with the governor was arranged by Senator Howard Way, who escorted the Madera contingent into Reagan’s conference room for the historic occasion. A desk set was presented to the governor as a memento of Madera County. Baraldi explained to the governor that the base is of white Raymond granite.
ADOBE RANCH HEIR DIES IN BAY AREA — Mrs. Florence Floto Kirksey, operator and heir of the Adobe Ranch holdings northeast of Madera, died Friday in San Francisco. Mrs. Kirksey, 72, was born and reared in Madera in the Frank Floto family, early-day residents, and lived for many years on the Adobe Ranch. She was the niece of the late Mrs. Charles Saunders Moses, former owner of the ranch, and managed the property during Mrs. Moses’ prolonged illness prior to her death. She is survived by a daughter, Mrs. Margery Brammer Smith of San Francisco, two grandsons, Clark and Ronald Smith, and a niece, Mrs. Charlene Floto Piper of Madera. She was the widow of the late Col. Guy Kirksey, USAF Ret.
100 Years Ago
Week of April 29, 1918
WICKHIZER FELL OFF THE WAGON; WILL BE RETURNED — F.M. Wickhizer, the attorney-editor of Hughson, who was recently in trouble in this county and charged with driving an automobile while intoxicated and injuring an old man on the highway, will be brought back and compelled to serve his one-year suspended sentence. He entered a plea of guilty to the charge and asked for leniency of the court when arrested here. He was fined $300 and was given a one year suspended sentence, which was to hold as long as he remained sober. He appears now to have gone the limit. The sheriff’s office received communication from Modesto, asking that Wickhizer be sent for. It isn’t likely that any more mercy will be shown him in Judge Conley’s court.
GREEN APRICIOTS CAUSE DEATH — The eating of green apricots has caused the death of one child in this community. This time it is Freddie, the six-year-old son of Mr. and Mrs. G. Sellai, who passed away at the local sanitarium last night from illness caused from eating green apricots nearly a week ago. Shortly after the lad had eaten the fruit, he was taken violently ill, and a physician was called. Medicine was given and an effort made to get the fruit out of his system. It was discovered a couple of days ago that the fruit has caused a stoppage of the bowels. The poison had gone so completely through his system that nothing could save him. The funeral will take place at 11 o’clock from the Catholic Church.
EAT POTATOES; WIN THE WAR — The potato drive is due to start next week, and the government expects everyone to consume them as a means of winning the war. The food administration asks, “Will you do your bit?” Thirty million bushels of potatoes will be wasted unless the potato crop now held is moved immediately. If this 30,000,000 bushels of potatoes can be consumed before the first of June, It will mean a direct saving of wheat and other foods we desire to save for export. The eating of potatoes makes less likely the eating of bread. To eat potatoes is the best kind of local, home grown patriotism. The potato is a good soldier. Help it to fight the Hun.
ITALIAN QUARTERS RELIEVED OF TWO MORE STRUCTURES — At 2:30 this morning, the fire department was called to put out a fire that had broken out in the frame building on F Street owned by A. Pistoresi. Negotiations had been going on for a man named Del Porto to lease the place for a soft drink establishment. But as Del Porto has two partly grown daughters, City Marshal Barnett refused to issue a license on the ground that it would be no place for girls. The fire spread to the adjoining building, also owned by Pistoresi and used as a pool hall and residence. It looks as though the blaze was of incendiary origin. There is said to be a good deal of jealousy between the Italian people doing business on F Street.
WOMAN IS BURNED TO DEATH — The home of Mr. and Mrs. George T. Hughes, five miles southwest of Madera, was destroyed by fire, and Mrs. Hughes was burned to death. The fire started in the kitchen and quickly spread. Mrs. Hughes and her husband made it out of the burning house, but she reentered the building to retrieve a box of keepsakes belonging to her son who is in Camp Lewis. She might have escaped with her husband but the lights went out, and in the smoke she lost her way. Mr. Hughes heard her cries and tried to reach her but was unable to do so. Undertaker Jay arrived about 1 o’clock, but it was some time before he could remove the badly charred remains of Mrs. Hughes. The neighbors formed a bucket brigade and threw water onto the body for some time to prevent its entire destruction.