Madera County Historical Society
100 years ago, Madera celebrated the 4th of July with an elaborate parade down Yosemite Avenue. Seats were set up along the boulevard and ice water barrels were liberally distributed for the comfort of the onlookers. After the parade, there were Independence Day activities in the Park, complete with orations, patriotic music and fireworks.
50 Years Ago
Week of July 1, 1968
$100,000 FROM SHERMAN THOMAS TO HOSPITAL — The donor of a $100,000 sum in the memorial gifts division of the Madera Community Hospital drive has been identified as the Sherman Thomas Foundation. The contribution is expected to be one of the largest in the memorial gifts division, in which donors may provide bedrooms at $3,000 each or other portions of the hospital in memory of their families or individual loved ones. Thomas, co-chairman of the community hospital drive, also announced that he expects to continue participation in the campaign until its successful completion this summer.
WOMAN DROWNS IN CREEK NEAR NORTH FORK — A 23 year-old woman drowned in Chiquita Creek near North Fork Saturday night. Mrs. Carolyn Jean Frye was reported missing by her husband Saturday night. Searchers found the body at the bottom of a 10-foot pool early Sunday morning. An autopsy revealed the cause of death as drowning. Mrs. Frye apparently had slipped while crossing the creek by jumping on rocks. Her flashlight was found where she apparently slipped into the creek. Searchers using diving equipment discovered the body at the bottom of the pool. Mrs. Frye had been on a fishing trip with her husband and two daughters.
SCHMITZ SCORES BIG WIN IN RECALL VOTE — First District Supervisor Jack Schmitz scored a smashing victory in the special recall election Tuesday. Eighty-five percent of the 1,567 voters who turned out for the election said “no” to the proposal to recall Schmitz. The no vote was 1,334 to 233 yes votes. Schmitz issued a statement today commenting that the district residents have been subjected to a “rather traumatic experience.” He termed the election a “tough battle” because the election date came at a poor time for a good turnout. “I am particularly happy,” he said, “that the voters of District 1 showed a rather sophisticated political attitude in being able to decide which was fact and which was fiction.
STUDY UNDERWAY TO CONVERT OLD COURTHOUSE INTO A MUSEUM — An opening study toward use of the Old Courthouse for a museum was launched Tuesday. The Board of Supervisors voted to ask the county engineer to dust off old architects’ studies of the building and report within 30 days. The action was in response to a request from the Madera County Historical Society. Society representatives also asked the board to consider assigning the granite block structure to museum use and establishing a tax rate of one-half cent or more to cover operational costs. The courthouse basement, which has already been assigned to the society is filled and has no room for displays. Society officials have in mind “an old-fashioned work picnic” to put the place in order.
STOREKEEPER FOILS PHONE-YANKING THIEF — An attempt to hold up the Madera Supermarket at 527 Sunrise Avenue was foiled by the storeowner. George Stites, the owner, reported to police he heard a glass break, went to investigate, and saw a man crawl through the store window. He told police the man had a gun and wore a ski mask. Stites said he attempted to call police, but the man yanked out the phone and then chased him around the store. Taking another store telephone outside, Stites again called the police, and the man jerked that one away from him too. Stites said he then grabbed the gun away from the would-be robber, who fled. The gun, a .38 caliber revolver, contained only one shell.
100 Years Ago
Week of July 1, 1918
LEGLESS MAN TRIES SUICIDE — Deputy Sheriff H.E. Baker felt that the job of “tending jail” is not what it was cracked up to be last night when he spent several hours endeavoring to prevent an unfortunate legless man from ending his earthly existence at the County Jail where he had been taken on a charge of drunkeness. The fellow had been seen around town yesterday and before night he had managed to get hold of enough booze to make him a fit subject for the can. He was arrested and escorted to the jail by the city marshal and then the troubles of the deputy sheriff began.
The fellow was carried up the flight of stairs that to him had the appearance of the road that leads to the gallows. Deputy Baker booked him in a sunny outside room and turned the key. Walter Toney, for this was the name given by the legless individual, looked around him a few moments. He glanced out upon the blue of the ocean and then at the pier. He imagined he was at the seashore. With a whoop, he clambered upon the wash stand and dove off headfirst onto the steel covered floor of the cell. Once was not enough, and he was about to repeat the performance when Deputy Baker put in an objection.
He spent some time trying to convince the fellow that he was locoed in the head and the thing for him to do was to go to bed and sleep it off. But there was nothing like this for the prisoner, and it finally became necessary to handcuff him.
Then the fellow sat down by the side of the cell and began bumping his head against the steel bars. The officer stood by and looked for a few minutes and finally decided to let the fellow pound a little sense into his bean, which he evidently did, as the blows against the side of the cell became lighter and lighter as his head grew more sore at every rap. He finally quieted down and this morning was taken before Judge Raburn on a Five-A charge.
Entering a plea of guilty, the fellow pleaded for mercy, and the heart of the Court was touched with sympathy. Sentence was suspended, and Toney was ordered to leave town at once.
JUDGE RABURN MUST TRIM HIS LIGHT — Judge G.W. Raburn, who conducts a confectionery store and ice cream parlor down by the S.P. depot is the only local merchant who will be affected by the recent ruling of the fuel administration, to curtail on electricity and gas where the same are used for illuminating purposes. Judge Raburn has one big light hanging in front of his place of business, and he has been notified that he must henceforth refrain from lighting the lamp until the sun has been down one-half hour and must not burn it after sunrise in the morning. Judge Raburn illuminated his store with a gaslight, the gas furnished by the local gas company.