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BS: Who knows what Sacramento was like back

GUEST,Beachcomber 14 Mar 13 - 05:35 AM
Mr Happy 14 Mar 13 - 07:54 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 14 Mar 13 - 01:32 PM
JohnInKansas 14 Mar 13 - 08:06 PM
GUEST,999 14 Mar 13 - 08:21 PM
JohnInKansas 14 Mar 13 - 10:37 PM
GUEST,Arkie 14 Mar 13 - 11:12 PM
JohnInKansas 15 Mar 13 - 12:22 AM
open mike 15 Mar 13 - 03:58 AM
open mike 15 Mar 13 - 04:07 AM
GUEST,Beachcomber 15 Mar 13 - 06:46 AM
JohnInKansas 15 Mar 13 - 12:44 PM
Joe Offer 15 Mar 13 - 02:36 PM
GUEST,Beachcomber 15 Mar 13 - 05:12 PM
Joe Offer 15 Mar 13 - 05:18 PM
JohnInKansas 15 Mar 13 - 09:10 PM
Joe Offer 16 Mar 13 - 01:56 AM
JohnInKansas 16 Mar 13 - 02:56 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 17 Mar 13 - 08:17 AM
JohnInKansas 17 Mar 13 - 03:41 PM
Joe Offer 18 Mar 13 - 04:08 AM
GUEST,Beachcomber 18 Mar 13 - 08:26 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 18 Mar 13 - 09:02 AM
GUEST,Beachcomber 18 Mar 13 - 11:28 AM
Joe Offer 18 Mar 13 - 09:50 PM
Bonnie Shaljean 19 Mar 13 - 04:34 AM
GUEST,Beachcomber 19 Mar 13 - 11:24 AM

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Subject: BS: Who knows what Sacramento was like back
From: GUEST,Beachcomber
Date: 14 Mar 13 - 05:35 AM

I am still seeking information about Sacramento in the 1920s. Does anyone have any history , in particular of the docks, of that city from those times. Are there any books that can be referenced or any websites, that are known to Mudcatters ? I will greatly appreciate any info that anyone can give.
I am trying to get a flavour of what the city was like when my Dad worked there on the "lighters" (or whatever they were) in 1925-7. I have often wondered if Sailing ships were able to reach that far up river ?


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Subject: RE: BS: Who knows what Sacramento was like back
From: Mr Happy
Date: 14 Mar 13 - 07:54 AM

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sacramento


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Subject: RE: BS: Who knows what Sacramento was like back
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 14 Mar 13 - 01:32 PM

The article cited by Mr Happy will lead to others. River steamers reached Sacramento in the Gold Rush days (1850), so the port has a long history.


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Subject: RE: BS: Who knows what Sacramento was like back
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 14 Mar 13 - 08:06 PM

While I can't provide anything specific, should further research be required I can suggest that a number of very good references were produced by the US WPA programs, and specifically by the "Writers Program of the Works Projects Administration."

For the most part, these were initially kept only by local libraries and historical associations, but a number of them have been republished for more general circulation and might be available (most likely by special order still).

One that I have at hand is The WPA Dallas Guide and History, originally published ca. 1940 by the Dallas Public Library and republished by the University of North Texas Press (1992). The names and identity with WPA might be clues to where/how to look.

I can't say that there was a "Sacramento" book of similar origin, but there is a very good probability that there was. If an applicable one was created, Sacramento libraries or local/regional historical associations might be possible places where one might be found, or, like the Dallas book, there may be a "republished" version to be had.

I'll leave further searching up to those who want the information, since all I have is a tenuous clue about where to look for where to look.

John


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Subject: RE: BS: Who knows what Sacramento was like back
From: GUEST,999
Date: 14 Mar 13 - 08:21 PM

Beachcomber: "like when my Dad worked there on the "lighters" (or whatever they were) in 1925-7".

Were they (lighters) some sort of boat?


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Subject: RE: BS: Who knows what Sacramento was like back
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 14 Mar 13 - 10:37 PM

Wikipedia gives one common definition for "lighters." My impression is that by the 1940s or so there were other slightly different usages for the term in the US. The Wiki description suggests some variants, but probably doesn't (?) describe all usages of the term - if my memory is as perfect* as usual.

* = ???

John


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Subject: RE: BS: Who knows what Sacramento was like back
From: GUEST,Arkie
Date: 14 Mar 13 - 11:12 PM

Beachcomber, have you checked with the Sacramento Chamber of Commerce? They should be able provide a list of historical resources.   An area of the city has been restored and is known as Old Town or Old Sacramento, I cannot remember which, and there is supposedly an old river boat docked there. You get a glimpse of Old Sacramento on the tv series "The Mentalist" every week. Have not been to Sacramento in over 30 years so my memory is a bit foggy.


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Subject: RE: BS: Who knows what Sacramento was like back
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 15 Mar 13 - 12:22 AM

A bit fuzzy, but a book found on my shelf:

A Field Guide to America's Historic Neighborhoods and Museum Houses: Western States, V. & L. McAlester, Alfred A Knopf, Inc ©1998, ISBN 0-679-42569-1 (hc) 0-375-70172-9 (pbk)

reports that most home construction in Sacramento from 1918 and for some time after was in the "East Sacramento" district, and the earlier houses there were mostly "Craftsman" or "Four-square" styles. Since these are simpler styles than what was popular in the earlier building periods (or simpler than what survived from those times) it might indicate a "working class boom" of some significance at about the begining of the 1920s. This is, of course, pure speculation, but might be suggestive enough to help with interpreting other more solid narratives you come across.

Many states and localities within them do have "Historical Societies" and there are often "Genealogical Societies" with lots of materials about the people in a particular area. (Some of these may have web sites that could be useful.) References at public libraries often don't have as much as might be expected of the kind of information you want, but the libraries should be able to steer you to a Historical or Genealogical group with more "pithy" references if they don't have sufficient information in their own holdings.

I'm not sure whether the time frame is quite right, but many places in the US produced "anniversary books" at 50th or 100th anniversaries of first settlements, city charters, etc.. Since these were often produced by local newspaper printers (only a few of which could really be called publishers) they're much more likely to have survived in small towns near the area of interest (local libraries or town museums) than in the larger depositories in "the big cities."

Since the railroad arrived only a little before the time range of interest, you might find significiant bits and pieces of local/regional history in railroad union newsletters, many of which are on the web although most of them may require a little more than "casual searching" to find. I'm not sure that shipyard unions were all that well organized by the time you want, but most such, if they existed, would have produced regular "newsletters" that might possibly be found online.

John


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Subject: RE: BS: Who knows what Sacramento was like back
From: open mike
Date: 15 Mar 13 - 03:58 AM

http://oldsacramento.com/
there is a river boat there...and these boats travelled up the sacramento river as far as Gerber...between Chico and Gerber, about 100 miles north of Sacramento.
There is also the oldest performance space...http://www.csrmf.org/visitor-information/other-california-state-park-sattractions-in-old-sacramento/eagle-theatre an "opera" house
where I have attended historical music performances...with songs about the early railroads...there is a railroad musieum there where trains sometimes run from Portola in the high sierra --- sometimes steam trains make this run.

I have ridden on the river boat, but i guess it stays at dock these days...http://www.deltaking.com/ there is some historical info on their web page.


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Subject: RE: BS: Who knows what Sacramento was like back
From: open mike
Date: 15 Mar 13 - 04:07 AM

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Sacramento_State_Historic_Park

http://www.legendsofamerica.com/ca-oldsacramento.html


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Subject: RE: BS: Who knows what Sacramento was like back
From: GUEST,Beachcomber
Date: 15 Mar 13 - 06:46 AM

I am most grateful to all of you who posted. I knew that there was a good chance that you would steer me in a good direction for research.
I used the term "lighters" off my own bat, meaning the kind of cargo carrying barge that would unload a vessel and take goods upriver from a seaport. Perhaps the spelling is incorrect? I remember my father telling me of hearing sailors singing aboard ships and so I wondered if they could have been on board sailing ships in the Sacramento Docks ? he hadn't worked on any other dockland.
Dad was born 1900, emigrated to the US in 1924 and died, having returned in 1932, at home here, in Ireland, in 1971, but, he had a keen memory at all times and often spoke of his days in "the States".
I'm sure that if I can get among any of those sites or publications that you recommend, I will be able to find out a great deal about Old Sacramento. (Because of the stories and reminiscences, the name has always had a somewhat romantic ring for me even though I have never been there) I have already done similar research on his other "ports of call" over there in Quebec, Canada and New York as well as San Francisco and Vancouver. As you may gather, from what I've said, , he was an "illegal" for most of the time.
Thanks again ,
beachcomber


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Subject: RE: BS: Who knows what Sacramento was like back
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 15 Mar 13 - 12:44 PM

It's quite popular for towns in the US to have an "Old Town" district where they've simulated (with varying accuracy) an earlier time in local history. Even my little town of Wichita Kansas has:

1.) a "Cow Town" that includes a number of actual "historic buildings" that have been moved to a selected area on the edge of a park,

2.) an "Old Town" district on one side of what was formerly the "downtown business district" (when there actually was something other than law offices there) that's a farce as far as historical fact is concerned, but provides a place for them to isolate the (especially young) "drunks with money" by having lots of bars,

3.) a "Delano** district" that's essentially an effort to make things more liveable for a "formerly disreputable ghetto" where some of the "lower classes" used to live.

** Delano was once the separate town "across the river" where all the prostitutes, drunkards, gunfighters, and other shady characters were allowed to go when the "good citizens" in Wichita ran them out of town, having the convenience of keeping the disreputables from associating with "the good people" but still quite handy should a "good citizen" want the services of one or more of them. It would have been "the other side of the tracks" instead of the "other side of the river" but there wasn't a railroad then.

A difficulty that might apply to the information wanted is that most such "historical districts" are intended to preserve the "flavor" of times earlier than is of interest. It seems likely that a "Sacramento Old Town" would favor the "gold rush era" and sail/steamer ships. (Sutters mill where the first gold was found in California is there?) and discernible traces of 1920-1930 history may be obscure. In the midwest, such "preserves" are mostly "cattle drive era" with most reflecting memories (or hallucinations) about times prior to about 1870 - 1890.

This isn't to suggest that no good information may be found in such places, but only that it may not represent the time period of interest as well as might be assumed.

John


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Subject: RE: BS: Who knows what Sacramento was like back
From: Joe Offer
Date: 15 Mar 13 - 02:36 PM

Hmmm, Beachcomber, I'll have to think about that. My mother-in-law was born in Fallon, Nevada, in 1915. She moved to Sacramento sometime in the 1920s, and attended Sacramento High School. I used to love listening to her stories of the way Sacramento used to be.
It was a small town at the time, with Front Street at the river and the east edge of town at about 34th Street. The "Fabulous Forties" neighborhood of palatial homes may go back that far, but I think it's more recent - that extends to 46th Street.

There were canneries to the north of town along "B" Street, just south of the American River, and a huge Libby's cannery on the southeast corner of town. The main businesses were the canneries, the Southern Pacific and Santa Fe railroads, and state government.

The old city extended south to Broadway (equivalent to "Z" Street), so you have a city that's 34 streets east to west, and 26 streets north to south. The suburbs of Oak Park, Land Park, and Curtis Park were built in the 1900s to 1920s. Oh - and the popular Sacramento Solons played baseball on the south edge of town. A separate city of North Sacramento was located northeast of Sacramento.

The Delta Queen and Delta King sternwheeler riverboats began service in 1926, making an overnight trip down the Sacramento River to San Francisco. The Delta Queen now touts its history as a Mississippi Riverboat, but it traveled the Sacramento River until the late 1940s, spending the war as a troop ship on the Sacramento River, covered with grey paint.

My mother-in-law died about 15 years ago, and I still miss her. I also got great Sacramento stories from a friend about the same age who was a newspaper columnist for the Sacramento Bee, but he died last year. Alas, I don't know any other longtime Sacramentans that age.

I can tell you lots more, but maybe it's better to contact me by e-mail.
-Joe-
joe@mudcat.org


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Subject: RE: BS: Who knows what Sacramento was like back
From: GUEST,Beachcomber
Date: 15 Mar 13 - 05:12 PM

Thank you very much Joe, Yours is the very type of information that I seek. I will take up your offer and e-mail you later. Thanks again .You too, John in Kansas. Your caution will be borne in mind but, since I'm an avid reader of all kinds of history, I'm sure that I shall get some enjoyment from all that I get.


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Subject: RE: BS: Who knows what Sacramento was like back
From: Joe Offer
Date: 15 Mar 13 - 05:18 PM

Oh, another thing to consider is that Sacramento was property of the Southern Pacific Railroad from about the 1870s to 1950. The railroad controlled the majority in the legislature, and nothing happened in Sacramento without the consent of the railroad.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: BS: Who knows what Sacramento was like back
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 15 Mar 13 - 09:10 PM

The "houses" book I made reference to has about 12 pages on Sacramento. It does include a fair amoung of history, including some description of "how the city grew" that might be helpful for your purposes.

The Sacramento pages extracted from my PDF the way I save them (for good printing if I decide to) is about 13 MB, but an "optimized for html" version of those dozen pages is "only" a little over 3 MB, which could probably be emailed(?) and looks readable. (The whole book is about 764 MB - way too big.)

PM an email addy if interested, or I can email to Joe for forwarding if you decide to get in touch with him (or if he might want it?). I'll try to keep the extract handy for a few days at least.

John


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Subject: RE: BS: Who knows what Sacramento was like back
From: Joe Offer
Date: 16 Mar 13 - 01:56 AM

As John says, "Old Town" districts are not always historically accurate. Sacramento's Old Town State Historic Park is meant to represent Sacramento as it looked in the 1850s, without the raw sewage that ran down the center of the streets. By the 1920s, Old Town had become a "skid row" district for winos and other homeless people.
This Flickr Page has a nice collection of Sacramento photos, although most aren't as old as the 1920s.

This page links to several Websites with photos of historic Sacramento.

I found that googling for Sacramento historic photos was far better than Old Sacramento photos, which brought up only the Old Town tourist area.

John, I'm curious about the etymology and usage of this word "delano." Can you explain more? How does it jive with the city of Delano in Kern County California (near Bakersfield), which was a center of United Farm Workers activity?

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: BS: Who knows what Sacramento was like back
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 16 Mar 13 - 02:56 AM

Joe -

About all I know about the Delano on the other side of the river from Wichita KS is that it's the name of the "separate" town where all the bawdy houses were said to have been, quite likely named after a "notable citizen"(?). They've renamed a fairly large area, from the river westward to about Seneca street (a little less than a mile) as the "Delano Business District" and have several "renewal projects" going to encourage small businesses. Some street improvements(that's what they call them?) have been made, and there's quite a bit of new paint and cleaner windows on some of the shops. The area now has a fairly high proportion of Hispanic residents, although that wasn't a feature in earlier years.

By the early 40s - 50s the "West Side" was just where the cheaper houses were, so that's where lots of the airplane factory workers (and a few railroad maintenance types) settled during the WWII boom days. I only vaguely recall hearing the "Delano" name a couple of times during that time, although some people knew vaguely that "it was somewhere around here."

Just south of Wichita there's a small bedroom community called "Derby, KS" but as of a few years ago the railroad still showed it as "El Paso, Ks" in their schedules, because there was a rocky shallow strip in the river there where you could drag a wagon across without sinking it in the mud.

One business that probably should be branded as a "historical landmark" is the old Billiard parlor on Douglas (the main E/W street) near the west end of the district that some say has been there "forever" and that does have a couple of "full size" tables with ca. 1850 patent labels (solid bronze) still legible on them. Reputation is that "the oldest still working barber in Kansas" has his shop only a little further west, but since "Brownie" was in my HS graduating class ... (well we won't talk about that).

Also, in context with the thread, should be noted that there also is/was a Sacramento, Nevada - according to the T.O.C. in the book I cited, although I haven't looked at what it has to say about that one.

Incidentally, two emails sent. Separate sends due to attachment size. (My email program doesn't have a very good preview, so ignore the typos. And let me know if the attachment bounces.)

John


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Subject: RE: BS: Who knows what Sacramento was like back
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 17 Mar 13 - 08:17 AM

There are some interesting insights in Joan Didion's memoir Where I Was From which make good reading on the subject. She wasn't born until 1934 so her own memories are going to be after the period you are interested in, but if I remember correctly she also talks about her parents' lives there and some of the local history. Worth a read anyway.

http://www.amazon.com/Where-I-Was-Joan-Didion/dp/0679752862/ref=sr_1_9?s=books&i

I'm originally from Stockton, about 50-ish miles south of there, and also enjoyed her essay about Highway 99, "Notes From A Native Daughter". There are also some other Sacramento reminiscences in other articles she wrote. You can take California out of the gal, but...


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Subject: RE: BS: Who knows what Sacramento was like back
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 17 Mar 13 - 03:41 PM

My resident genealogist has suggested that census results for California in 1920 and again in 1930 should be easily accessible now, and if the person was anywhere in the area at those times a fairly precise address would be given. The ancestor in question might have come after the 1920 and left before 1930, or might appear in records for a nearby area (rather than Sacramento) in either of those years(?).

My "associate expert," Lin, has indicated a willingness to take a look, but would need a full name (sometimes likely variations/spellings would be helpful) to eliminate unrelated persons.

Beachcomber can email me if he has a more complete name and wants Lin to take a look, but others should know they should always look for the census records for the shady ancestors. In my personal case I have a few close ancestors who always seemed to be "out of town" when anyone who looked like a "revenooer" might come around. Census reports from that era did not record whether a person was a citizen or "just passing through" although some people did "avoid" the guv'ment agents of all kinds.

Lin also found a number of "historic pictures" at http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/index.html with a search there for "Sacramento CA" there, but the links returned by the search frequently don't indicate dates so it's necessary to look at each one to see if a time can be pinned down for the ones that look interesting. (This is a popular site for genealogists and historians, as well as for people who just like old pictures, and can usually be found as "Library of Congress American Memories" or similar search terms.)

Another web site that might be of interest is at http://www.flickr.com/photos/library_of_congress/sets/, but we haven't figured out how to search effectively for what's there applicable to specific interests.

A single image specifically of interest here should be at http://www.flickr.com/photos/cotie_california/7971058134 that claims to be "Sacramento California Docks 1900 to 1920." This picture seems to be from an individual Flickr user's posts, so may or may not be what is claimed, although it looks pretty much like one might expect for the scene claimed.

John


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Subject: RE: BS: Who knows what Sacramento was like back
From: Joe Offer
Date: 18 Mar 13 - 04:08 AM

I forgot about Joan Didion, Bonnie. She comes from a very old Sacramento family, and she's one of the best-known authors to have come from this area. I sing with her cousin.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: BS: Who knows what Sacramento was like back
From: GUEST,Beachcomber
Date: 18 Mar 13 - 08:26 AM

Thanks again, to all of you, for all the wonderful information and advice. I think that I am beginning to get a "picture" of what Sacramento, California must have been like back in the 1920s.
Although not a complete dissolute it does seem as though a penniless "transient" such as my father was then, would of necessity have lived in the rough side of town. Unfortunately he could not have featured in Sacramento in the 1920 census as he had not arrived in the US.
I have his note that on 3rd June 1925 he was on the "OVERLAND LTD -bound for 'Frisco" .
I have a record of his being accepted as a legal immigrant from Vancouver via Seattle to San Francisco on the 10th April 1927.
I already have also seen his entry in the 1930 census when he was living (Legitimately by then)at W181 St., in New York City.
That photo, purported to be of Sacramento Docks 1900 -1920, does seem authentic as it features a bridge and the dock walls which I also noted in many other photos on some of those Sacramento sites that you sent and posted.
I will look up the site that Ms Shaljean posted this afternoon and thanks to her for doing so.


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Subject: RE: BS: Who knows what Sacramento was like back
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 18 Mar 13 - 09:02 AM

There's also a page here showing some info about grocery shops in 1920s (among other times) Sacramento, plus an old postcard-photo of the street, so you can get an idea of what it would have looked like when your father was there:

http://www.groceteria.com/place/california/sacramento/sacramento-history/

I'm currently trawling around San Francisco & Monterey history, so if I come across other links that might help you, I'll post them here. That area of California's past is a passion of mine! (Anybody spot my booboo above, where of course I meant "you can take the gal out of California"...) Newspapers and advertisements are a great way to get a feeling of life in another era.

Keep us posted on how you get on -

PS: There's a useful website with lots of period newspaper archives from Calif history, many of which you can actually read online. The words "Alta California"* should help you Google-wise, and I think there was a paper called the "Daily Alta" - but that may be earlier than the 20s. There was also one (maybe still is) called The Sacramento Daily Union which was publishing in the 1870s, and the good old Sacramento Bee, which I remember from childhood and I hope/assume is still going. My info is on another computer and I'm short of time right now (I also live in a different time-zone these days: Ireland) but when I manage to dig it up I'll post - though you may well beat me to it if you surf around.

*Though I'm not sure if Sacramento lies too far to the north to quality - ?


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Subject: RE: BS: Who knows what Sacramento was like back
From: GUEST,Beachcomber
Date: 18 Mar 13 - 11:28 AM

Bonnie, I have an old, very old, Souvenir Booklet (1923) on the famous Central Pacific Railroad. "FROM THE GOLDEN GATE TO THE GREAT SALT LAKE" is it's name. My Dad must have bought it just before he left California heading for New York C.1927. He never went back to the west but he kept it ever afterwards and used to take it out to "illustrate" his stories of those days for us kids in Ireland. There was another one also called "WONDERFUL CALIFORNIA" and the photos within these books just "zonked" my imagination back then but sadly I have never been further west than the "Big Apple".
Pity that I am not able to show those books to you, but my techno skill is deficient.


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Subject: RE: BS: Who knows what Sacramento was like back
From: Joe Offer
Date: 18 Mar 13 - 09:50 PM

I discovered the writings of William Saroyan when I was living in Fresno. I had read his stories in literature books, but his Fresno stuff was fascinating to me when I lived in Fresno. Fresno was an early victim of urban renewal, so much of Saroyan's Fresno had been torn down by the time I moved there in 1976. But reading Saroyan brought it back to life. Too bad Sacramento didn't have a Saroyan.

Herb Caen (1916=1997), the popular San Francisco Chronicle columnist, was born in Sacramento. As I recall, Caen wrote quite a bit about Sacramento. My friend Stan Gilliam was an old-time Sacramentan, and he wrote for the Sacramento Bee. I used to love reading his column and his stories of old-time Sacramento, and then he got to be a friend after he retired.

If you can find these two writers in a newspaper archive, it might be worth taking a look at their columns.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: BS: Who knows what Sacramento was like back
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 19 Mar 13 - 04:34 AM

Amazing, Beachcomber - I have a similar souvenir rail-travel booklet from the 20s too, though it's the SF to Chicago run, full of beautiful old pictures of sights along the way.

Your "us kids" comment makes me wonder - are you from Ireland? I live there now, as I mentioned. Is that where your dad emigrated from?

I don't want to hijack the thread but it would be fun to chat further. Just for reference, my email is my name as it appears above, no spaces or dots, at Gmail,com and there's also bonnieharp at hotmail,com


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Subject: RE: BS: Who knows what Sacramento was like back
From: GUEST,Beachcomber
Date: 19 Mar 13 - 11:24 AM

You're right Bonnie, I live in Ireland and my father emigrated from here to the US (via Canada) in 1924. That book by Didion sounds very interesting. I* will try to e-mail you later.


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