History in the Week of Sept. 3

Madera County Historical Society Fifty years ago, Gladys Hunter Wilson reigned as Madera’s Old Timer’s Day queen. She had been a life long Maderan and worked many years in her father’s drug store, shown here. Hunter’s Drug Store was Madera’s oldest family owned business, having operated on Yosemite Avenue for over 100 years.


50 Years Ago

Week of Sept. 3, 1968

NUDIST CAMP TURNED DOWN — A nudist camp and private school proposal failed to receive a recommendation from the County Planning Commission Monday night. The application, filed by James and Ethel (Susie) Hickman, will go to the Board of Supervisors for a final decision. A group of protesting neighbors said they’ll be there too. The proposed camp is on the Fine Gold Ranch below North Fork, where, neighbors complained, the ranch school and its art-ins have attracted hippies and other undesirables. Mrs. Hickman said she doesn’t approve of the hippie types either, and denied that vandalism, which plagues the Hickman ranch, has been caused by anyone on her property. The nudist campsite is sought by the American Sunbathers Association. The proposal calls for use of the area by 100 families during good weather. The area would be fenced, include two mobile homes, a pool, miniature golf, basketball and other recreation facilities and a small dining room. Mrs. Hickman described the sunbathers as a highly moral group composed largely of professional people who believe in nudity for health reasons. They allow no alcohol on the grounds, come only as family groups and are required to supervise their own children.

OLD COURTHOUSE DESIGNATED AS FUTURE COUNTY MUSEUM — The Old Courthouse was designated this morning as a future county museum and historical site. The designation was given by the Board of Supervisors to aid the Madera County Historical Society in applying for grants and seeking local contributions for a museum. Board members indicated that they will, in the future, transfer the building to the historical society, but retain the grounds so that the county would continue to maintain the park. Representatives of the society told the board that the resolution should help “materially.” Mrs. Maude Lindemann said numerous private agencies will contribute to museum projects, but the society must have a building first. Congressman Harold T. Johnson is interested in the project and is assisting the society, although no federal funds are known to be available at this time.

SIX COUNTY PRISONERS FACE CHARGE OF BEATING INMATES —Complaints of felony conspiracy to commit a crime were filed here this afternoon against six prisoners in the Madera County Jail. The complaints charge the prisoners with felony assault and misdemeanor petty theft. One victim alleges he was beaten by fellow prisoners and saw a group of inmates beat another prisoner for around 90 minutes. “I don’t, know how he isn’t dead,” stated the man. Another prisoner, who was booked on a drunk charge, said he had some money and a belt taken from him. He further alleges he was kicked in the groin during his beating and that he was burned in the chest with a cigarette. He said one inmate was hit in the stomach with a large belt buckle after being stripped. He says the prisoner was kicked and “stomped” by other inmates with steel-plated toe shoes. All of the victims were treated at Madera General Hospital for internal injuries and released.

MRS. WILSON, CLAIR NOBLE OLD TIMERS KING, QUEEN — Drug store operator Mrs. Gladys Hunter Wilson and retired grocery man Clair Noble of Raymond will reign over Old Timers’ Day festivities this year. The couple was named Tuesday to ride near the head of the Saturday Jubilee Parade and to be the honorees at Friday night’s Old Timers Reception. Mrs. Wilson is a career woman with a firm belief in women being out in the business world. From the age of 13 until now at the age of 78, she has worked in Hunter’s Drug Store on Yosemite Avenue. The store is the oldest in continual operation by the same family in Madera. It had the first soda fountain in town, and old timers hold fond memories of the ice cream made there. The operation also included a cigar shop. Although born in Mariposa, Mrs. Wilson is nearly a lifelong Maderan. She moved here with her parents at the age of six months in 1890, when her father, W. W. W. Hunter, purchased the drug store from Dr. Surbaugh. Mrs. Hunter worked in the store as a teenager, entered the business full-time after graduation from Madera Union High School, and carried on the business after her father’s death in 1926. 100 Years Ago

Week of Sept. 3, 1918

OLD COLORED MAN DIED LAST NIGHT; SLAVE IN MISSOURI — Theodore Crawford, one of the oldest of the colored residents of this city and one of the best known old men in the community, passed away last night at his home in the southern part of town. He was 86 years of age at the time of his death. The funeral will take place from the Jay Undertaking parlor tomorrow (Friday) morning at 10 o’clock. Interment will be in the Arbor Vitae cemetery. Theodore Crawford is a native of Paris, Missouri, and was a slave before the Civil War. His master was Dick Porter, one of the largest slave owners in the state of Missouri. After the war Mr. Crawford came to California and settled in Yolo County, where he resided until he moved to Madera about 30 years ago. He leaves a number of sons and daughters and a blind wife, who lost her sight some years ago. For some time the Crawfords have been partly dependent upon the county for a livelihood, the small sum received every month added to what the old man could pick up about town for odd jobs making them a fairly good living. Mr. Crawford has always been a hard worker and up until a few weeks ago he was seen trudging about town with his hoe and his spade doing work in yards. He was a jolly old character and was often seen in the center of a bunch of colored boys telling them some plantation story, or a story of the Civil War. Like all other old men of his race, he was thoroughly kind hearted and it gave him the greatest of pleasure to do things for other people.

OLD CURTIN RESIDENCE BURNED TO THE GROUND — A fire which occurred about 1:30 this morning at 207 Vineyard Ave. almost completely destroyed the home of Mr. and Mrs. Chas. Pedrino. The fire alarm was turned in after the fire had gotten well under way and by the time the truck arrived on the scene there was little chance of saving anything except a couple of the charred walls. The interior of the home had been completely ruined. There was no one at home at the time the fire started and there is considerable mystery with regards to the origin of the fire. Mr. Pedrino was at the home of his mother across the river and Mrs. Pedrino was at the home of her mother, near the mill and several blocks away. Mrs. Pedrino claims that she had not been in the house last evening, although neighbors say differently. The fire apparently started in the front of the house and was burning fiercely before anyone discovered it. There was five hundred dollars insurance on the furniture, carried by Pedrino and six hundred on the building. It was being bought by Pedrino on contract. Pedrino had only placed the insurance upon the furniture a few days ago. With the destruction of the Pedrino home, there is destroyed one of the old landmarks of this city. This house was the home of the late C. Curtin and for a number of years the home of County Clerk W. R. Curtin and wife. The building was erected and stood for over 20 years at the corner of C and 4th streets. For a number of years elections have been held in this residence. This was to have been the voting place for voters in Precinct No. 6 of the City of Madera for the November election. A new polling place will now have to be secured.

INFLUENZA CLOSES SCHOOLS — At a Joint meeting of the trustees of the Madera Union High School, the trustees of the grammar school and the health officer last night, it was unanimously decided to close the schools of this city for an indefinite period on account of the Spanish Influenza epidemic. While there are not a great many cases in this city and the epidemic here is not nearly as bad as it is in many other cities in the Valley, many pupils are being kept at home and the work of the schools is greatly handicapped. It is believed that by closing the schools for a week or so the flu can be entirely stamped out here. The pupils gathered at the schoolhouses this morning and were given a lecture about remaining at home and not playing on the streets, and were then dismissed.