Madera County Historical Society
Fifty years ago, Willis Petty, retired treasurer of Madera County, died. Before his terms of public service, he worked in this store with his father, C.M. Petty, shown here.
50 Years Ago
Week of May 6, 1968
PLAQUE DENOTES STATE’S CENTER HERE — The Madera County Board of Supervisors gave its consent to place a four-ton granite stone in Courthouse Park to commemorate the geographical center of the State of California. Ralph Baraldi, chairman of the County Diamond Jubilee Committee, proposed the project to the board this morning. “In searching for some unique aspect of Madera County to tie in celebrating our 75th anniversary, we realized that the county is actually the center of the state. Since Madera is the county seat, the Historical Society agreed that the stone should be placed in Courthouse Park,” said Baraldi. “We are grateful to the Board of Supervisors for their enthusiasm and foresight in granting the request.”
STUDENTS URGE PARK IMPROVEMENT — A group of Madera High seniors offered Tuesday to design a sign for the Courthouse Park and help with other improvements in the hope of sparking a community project. The seniors, organized into the Young Citizens Improvement League, said they have become concerned about citizen “apathy” and selected the park as a project because of its prime location and historical significance. Board Chairman Harold Balmat encouraged the students to prepare suggestions for the sign and to carry on with proposals to supply new picnic tables and benches. The seniors suggested a sign to be placed on the northeast corner of Yosemite Avenue and Gateway Drive, where pillars and pipes sticking into the air indicate a sign formerly existed.
WILLIS PETTY DIES AT 72 — Willis Petty, life-long Madera resident who served three terms as county treasurer, died at his home Tuesday. He was 72. Petty was elected in 1938 and served in the position until retirement in 1954. Earlier he worked in the family grocery store under the name of C.M. Petty & Son at the downtown location now occupied by Paul Jones Gift House. Active in work with the Boy Scouts, Petty was one of the local holders of a Silver Beaver Award, scouting’s highest award for adult leaders. His major retirement interest was an extensive collection of guns. Funeral services are pending at Jay Chapel.
LATTANZIO SAYS NEW REGIME ON CITY COUNCIL — Mayor Pro Tem Bruno Lattanzio told the Madera Lions Club members Wednesday that the balance of power has shifted on the City Council, and he sees a new image for the community. “The last election gave the majority on the five-man council to a new regime which is looking for a better image,” Lattanzio said, speaking on behalf of the new mayor, John Wells. He discussed industrial potential, stating that use of a portion of the airport land holdings would greatly increase the value of the remainder of the property. The councilman also called for the establishment of trade schools in Madera, possibly with War on Poverty funds.
MADERA MARINE WOUNDED DURING VIETNAM ACTION — Lance Marine Corporal Frank R. Brazil, 22, son of G.S. Brazil, is recovering from wounds suffered in Vietnam. He is in the U.S. Army 249th General Hospital, Camp Drake, Japan. The Madera High School graduate was wounded in action near Dong Ha. He received a fragmentation wound in his left leg from a grenade while engaged in action. During the battle, the tank he was on was blown up. Everyone else on the tank was killed. Brazil, although wounded, kept loading an auxiliary gun to protect others who had been wounded. Brazil was taken to Japan from Vietnam. He recently underwent surgery.
100 Years Ago
Week of May 6, 1918
MOUNTAIN RESIDENTS PROTEST F STREET IMPROVEMENTS — Residents from the more remote parts of the county are planning a petition to stop the county of Madera from paying $50,000 toward the improvements of F Street, which are now under way. They claim it is not fair to the taxpayers of the county who reside in the hills. The movement is headed by A. B. McGilvray, the granite man from Raymond and proprietor of the well-known McGilvray quarries. McGilvray said he did not think it fair to taxpayers of the hill country, who have been pleading and begging for a better road, for the county to pay $50,000 toward the improvement of F Street for the benefit of a few tourists who pass through town and who are never known to stop and spend a nickel.
VAGRANTS MUST LOOK OUT NOW — It suffices to say that Judge G.W. Raburn, the local justice of the peace, is on the warpath. He has declared war on all able-bodied vagrants and any members of the vag society who happen to come under his jurisdiction. They will feel the strong arm of the law in good earnest. “There is no excuse for you fellows who go running around the country with nothing to do, now that everybody is looking for hired men,” said the Judge this morning. “And I want you to understand fully, and you can tell this to your traveling companions along the road, that they will be handled pretty roughly if they come into this court,” Judge Raburn told one lone vag who was picked up yesterday.
LINCOLN SCHOOL CLOSED TO SPEAKER — One of the most regrettable instances that has every occurred in this city took place Sunday afternoon when Freeman Armstrong, the Canadian soldier who was to speak to an audience of men and women at Lincoln School on his experiences in the war, found the doors shut to him. When the crowd gathered at two o’clock, they found a notice posted on the Auditorium door that no meeting would take place there. It was signed by the board of school trustees. Dr. Dow Ransom, a trustee, was seen this morning, and stated that Armstrong was speaking merely for personal gain and that neither the Red Cross or any other organization reaped any funds from the collections taken, therefore the board made its decision.
OPIUM PEDDLER NABBED HERE — A Chinese Opium dealer who has been traveling this valley peddling opium, was nabbed in this city about 2 o’clock this morning by Marshal J. H. Barnett. The Chinaman gave his name in jail as Ah See. Last night Marshal Barnett was informed that the peddler of the drug was due in Madera. The Marshal decided to wait up all night to land the suspect. At two o’clock a Chinaman carrying a flour sack was discovered on the Avenue and was immediately placed under arrest. He offered the officer ten dollars to let him go. When searched at jail, the opium and smoking outfit were found in the sack, and $21 on the Chinaman’s person.
CRAZY MAN ARRESTED — A crazy man was arrested on the street at an early hour this morning and was landed in jail where he has been keeping things stirred up ever since. The fellow is N. Canbau, a Frenchman who says he has been chopping wood above Raymond. He put in an appearance in town during the night and kept up a yelling all night long. This morning he was arrested on D Street near the corner of Third. He as placed in a cell at the jail and soon water was heard running, and Canbau was yelling “fire” at the top of his voice. He had flooded his cell and soaked himself and also soaked Deputy Sheriff Osborn over the head with a wet towel before he could be subdued. He has fits at times and is a well developed lunatic. His case will be heard as soon as a judge can be secured. It was first thought he was crazy from drinking wine, but no liquor can be detected on his breath. Canbau is a man about 35 years of age. Where he originally hailed from, nobody knows.