Madera County Historical Society
This sign at the corner of Yosemite Avenue and Gateway Drive stood as a beacon of hospitality, inviting tourists to visit Yosemite Park. The invitation did not extend, however, to a group of 87 “Hippies” who were caught having a huge marijuana party there 50 years ago.
50 Years Ago
Week of June 25, 1968
CHOWCHILLA BROTHERS KILLED IN HEAD ON CRASH — Two Chowchilla brothers were killed last night in a head-on crash involving their motorcycle and a pickup truck on Avenue 25 and Gill Way. Little John Fears, 18, and his brother, Riley, 17, were dead on arrival at Chowchilla Community Hospital shortly after 9 p.m. Fears was driving his motorcycle in the east bound lane of Avenue 25 ½ while headed west. David Lee Baker, 24, of Chowchilla, driver of the pickup, was uninjured. Baker’s vehicle struck the cycle and carried it approximately 125 feet. The motorcycle was traveling without its headlamps on. Services for the two brothers are pending at Worden’s chapel.
D.A. BLASTS COUNTY’S SALARY SCHEDULE — Two of the three deputies in the district attorney’s office have resigned for higher paying jobs, District Attorney James Hanhart announced today. Hanhart reported that David Stockman, a staff member for more than four years and the chief trial deputy, is leaving for the San Bernardino County district attorney’s office. Clifford Carver, here for a year, has been hired by the Fresno County public defender’s office. Hanhart said both will receive $200 a month more in their new positions than they have been earning here. Hanhart complained of losing four deputies in the past two years s0olely because of salaries.
2 SUSPECTS IN ORANGE STAND SHOOTING ARRESTED — Two suspects in the May 29 holdup and shooting of the owner of the Giant Orange Stand in Chowchilla were arrested Monday in the City of Indio by Madera County Sheriff’s Deputies and are en route back to Madera. John S. Whitley 32, of Indio and Diana Hunt, 24, of Indio, were booked into the Riverside County Jail Monday on charges of robbery and attempted murder. They are former Madera residents. The robbery occurred May 29 at the Giant Orange Stand on Highway 99 south of Chowchilla. Mrs. Ardie Smart, 43, of Chowchilla was critically wounded when she was shot near the right ear. The assailants escaped with $25.
MADERAN PRAISED FOR KINDNESS TO 2 PUPPIES — William R. Bare is being called a hero today after he came across two puppies, one with a broken leg and the other with deep cuts apparently from a dog fight. The owners of the pups said they could not finance the proper care for the pups, so Bare took the dogs to a veterinarian. He learned that unless he was willing to pay for the medical expenses, the puppies would be turned over to the pound and be put to sleep because the area has no Humane Society. Without hesitation, Bare chose to meet the cost of medical expenses and to construct a fence around his back yard for the pups. The Bares sold a sofa and a chair in order to finance the project.
87 HIPPIES ‘BUSTED’ AT YOSEMITE PARK — A group of 87 partying young people were detained by Yosemite Park Rangers for interrogation relating to the use of marijuana last night in Curry Meadows near Camp 14. After being brought in, each member of the group, including 16 girls, was individually advised to leave the park immediately and not to return for one year. Officials said the mammoth roundup was the latest in an effort to disprove the groovy, grapevine word that “Smokey the Bear” is wide open. In addition to enough marijuana to make about 250 “joints,” rangers found an assortment of pills, capsules, inhalers, and unidentified compounds. The evidence was turned over to the FBI.
100 Years Ago
Week of June 25, 1918
RANCHER HAULED TO COURT TWICE IN HALF HOUR — H.E. Peterson, a rancher residing near Fairmead, was arrested twice last night within a space of a half an hour and charged both times with exceeding the speed limit. He entered pleas of guilty to both charges before Justice of the Peace G.W. Raburn and paid a total fine of $35. Peterson was driving a Ford and went up D Street about 6 o’clock with the exhaust wide open and the car traveling around 30. O.C. Owens was soon on the job and brought a charge of exceeding the speed limit against Peterson to which he entered a plea of guilty and paid a fine of $10. He again struck out for home and no sooner had he struck the highway than he opened it up until the old Lizzie sounded like Barney Oldfield’s Blitzen Benz doing a hundred and a quarter.
He soon met and passed Deputy Sheriff A.W. Clark and Constable A. J. Russell. Peterson almost upset the officers as he passed them, and they concluded the driver must be intoxicated. Striking out after Peterson, their Overland was unable to overtake the little Ford. Meeting Dr. Hely, who was also crowded off the road by Peterson, he was asked to assist in the chase. The pursuing party, making 50 miles an hour, over hauled Peterson and again he had to face the court. He entered his second plea of guilty and paid a fine of $25, issuing threats of vengeance against Deputy Sheriff Clark. Officer Clark is now regretting that he did not file a charge of driving a machine while intoxicated.
SHORT MEN; LIGHT MEN MAKE READY TO GO — If you are rather diminutive in size or are of bantamweight, that cuts no figure now with your induction into the service. It will not be necessary to stand on your toes or drink a couple of quarts of water to slip over the mark now and get into the “physically fit” class. The government has reduced the requirements in both instances. If you are a bare five feet in height now, you will be accepted. The minimum before was 63 inches. If you weigh 110 pounds, you will be looked upon as a man capable of serving your country. The weight before was 116 pounds.
TWO HOLDUPS IN TWO NIGHTS — Two daring holdups have taken place in this city during the past two nights, and while the hold-up men have not been very successful in their hauls, it has been no fault of theirs. It appears the robbers are three in number. The hold-ups have both been committed upon Mexicans in the vicinity of the Sugar Pine Mill, and the belief is that the hold-up trio is composed of Mexicans. Two of the robbers keep watch while the third goes through the pockets of the victim. On Tuesday night, a local Mexican was held up and relieved of an empty wallet. Last night another Mexican was held up in the same vicinity and relieved of a gold watch.
KILLING SAID TO BE JUSTIFIED — Mrs. Grace Irene Varian, after an unhappy married life of almost three years, during which time she suffered many beatings at the hands of her drunken and brutal husband, Julian W. Varian, shot and killed him Thursday morning in their home at about 9 o’clock. The shooting followed one of many quarrels between the couple, which began almost from the date of the marriage and continuing up to his death. On the morning of the shooting,
Varian returned to his home in a drunken condition and administered a severe beating to his young wife, striking her in such a manner as to badly cut her tongue beside inflicting various other bruises. Varian was about 25 years of age, and his wife is but 19.