Madera County Historical Society
Herman Brammer and son William pose in their shoe store 100 years ago — one year before it was transformed into a three-story building that is still standing today on the north side of Yosemite Avenue.
50 Years Ago
Week of Sept. 10, 1968
FORMER ASSISTANT FIRE CHIEF COATS KILLED — Retired Madera City Assistant Fire Chief William Claude (Slim) Coats, 69, of 916 West Yosemite Ave., died Sunday in Madera General Hospital of injuries suffered in a two-car accident on Avenue 12 near the east edge of the Highway 99 overcrossing. The accident occurred after Coats reportedly took his wife to church. According to the CHP, he was travelling east on Avenue 12 and turned left into the path of a westbound car driven by Edward Jones, 18, of 2105 Howard Road. Patrolmen report Coats apparently had been trying out his car after having a new battery installed. Jones and a passenger in his car sustained minor injuries. Coats retired in 1962 after 33 years with the fire department. He joined the department in 1929, starting out as a truck driver, and became assistant chief in 1954. Coats was once the only regular member of the fire department, the other firemen being volunteers. He drove the 1924 city fire truck in Saturday’s Diamond Jubilee Day parade. Coats, a native of Texas, resided in Madera 49 years and was a member of the Church of Christ. For the past five years, he was the caretaker of the Yosemite Bible Camp in Oakhurst.
HUGE NUMBERS FOR FAIR — Madera District Fair set a new attendance record with its 1968 four-day run. Gatekeepers clicked off 33,922 fairgoers, Thursday through Sunday. The total is up 2,279 from the 1967 attendance total, with Saturday, as usual, drawing more people than the three other days combined. A turnout of 19,631 was counted Saturday, with an evening traffic jam so heavy that many fairgoers abandoned their cars on the shoulders of North Gateway Drive and walked the rest of the way. The Diamond Jubilee theme fair scored several special successes, including record prices for lambs and other livestock shown and sold by Future Farmers and 4-H Club teenagers. The Jaycee barbecue attracted 2,400 persons.
PURITY STORE RESTORES GRAPES — PICKETS OUT — Madera Purity Store has restored table grapes to its produce section despite threats of picketing, which struck another local chain market this week. The local Purity management made the decision to stock grapes again under a new headquarters policy allowing individual stores to make this choice. Since the decision was made, the United Farm Workers Organizing Committee reportedly has issued notice that 35 pickets will appear in front of the Madera Purity Store Saturday morning. Pickets have been sent in smaller numbers to Mayfair Market in Bethard Square with from two to four there Thursday night from 6 to 9 p.m. Madera County Farm Bureau President Maurice Barcus today “commended” Purity stores for this action. He said “the housewife should be free to decide what products she desires to buy.” Barcus added, “The grape boycott is an act of desperation by the UFWOC to force growers, through economic reprisals to unionize their workers.
ANSEL ADAMS TO SPEAK AT OAKHURST — Few people know the Yosemite Valley and the surrounding Sierra area as well as photographer and conservationist Ansel Adams, who will present an illustrated lecture at the Oakhurst Community Center at 8 p.m. For the past 52 years Adams has devoted much of his time to photographing the beauties of the Sierra and fighting for the preservation of that beauty. His magnificent photographs capture the quality of life, freshness and vitality that strikes all of us as we visit and live in one of nature’s most beautiful areas. Adams’ skill and imagination in photography have made him famous throughout the country. He has perhaps done more than any other American to show the possibilities of photography as an art rather than simple mechanical reproduction. Exhibits of his photographs have hung in some of America’s best galleries, including The Smithsonian, the Museum of Modern Art, and Yale University. He has published photographic essays in most of the leading magazines in the country and is the author of five books.
100 Years Ago
Week of Sept. 10, 1918
MINSTREL DRAWS BIG DIXIELAND CROWD — One of the biggest times that has been had at the Dixieland school house in some time took place last Saturday night when the people of that part of the county held a combined fair and entertainment consisting principally of a minstrel show. The crowd that attended the entertainment was larger than could be accommodated with seats, and many stood outside and looked in at the windows. There was no standing room left inside the building. A large crowd went out from this city and everybody was surprised and delighted at the entertainment given and the hospitality of the people of that part of the county. The minstrel was well prepared and the show lasted about an hour. It was replete with all of the trimmings that go to make up a real minstrel show, and the jokes were new and original. The most enjoyable part of the minstrel was the singing of the old southern songs that are so dear to the hearts of everybody. Dixieland is fortunate in having a large number of very fine singers and they thoroughly enjoyed Saturday night.
SMALL BOY HAS VERY CLOSE CALL — Little Bobbie Helm, the 4-year-old son of Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Helm of Fairmead, had a very close call for his life last Thursday. The little fellow was either kicked or tramped upon by a horse. It is not known exactly which. The accident happened while Mrs. Helm was attending a Red Cross meeting at Fairmead. The little fellow was outside playing. A horse and buggy was tied out in front and the child got to playing around the buggy. He either climbed into the rig and fell over the dashboard under the horse’s feet or was playing under the buggy and was kicked by the animal. When he was finally missed by his mother, the child was found back of the rig in an unconscious condition. He was rushed to this city for medical assistance and everything possible was done for the child. No bruises could be found on the body and there were apparently no bones broken. The child has been at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Walter Bailey and for 36 hours has hovered between life and death.
WILL NOW DISINFECT ALL STREETS — The streets of this city are to be thoroughly disinfected. A large quantity of expensive disinfectant that was purchased years ago will now be made good. Beginning at an early hour tomorrow morning, every paved portion of the city’s business streets will be thoroughly scrubbed and watered. As soon as they have become dry, the pavement and the gutters will be sprinkled with disinfected water of a sufficient strength to kill any germs of influenza that may have collected. The disinfectant to be used was purchased some four years ago and was intended to be used in the gutters and in the cesspools about town where stagnant water stood. The intention of the trustees was all right, but they had little idea of the quantity needed and instead of buying a few gallons of the stuff were induced to purchase a hundred gallons at an expense of a hundred dollars or more. The large part of this disinfectant has been in storage and it was believed that the time would come when it might be used to advantage. That time has arrived.