Oakhurst in 1959

By Ann Topham / Guest CommentaryDecember 20, 2012 

As I attended the Oakhurst 100th Anniversary time capsule ceremony Dec. 16 at Fresno Flats Historic Village & Park, I couldn't help but think about the past 52 years I have lived in Oakhurst and the grand opening of Top Drugs in 1959.

My husband Fred and I opened the store, along with our two boys, Bryan and Randy, on Aug. 15 of that year. Our first customer was Oakhurst florist/accountant Ida Baker.

Oakhurst was a small and quiet community in 1959 with no stop lights and little traffic. There was one elementary school in Oakhurst and the principal was Freddy Wadell. We never saw teenagers during the week because they were riding the bus to Sierra High School in Auberry -- Three hours round-trip.

It was also 1959 when the post office and Lisle Funeral Home opened and Bank of America opened two years later.

Other businesses I remember at the time were Midway Market (Guil Whitehead), Norberg Market (Barney and Jeanie Norberg), Francis Clark, Bob Marshall and John West all had gas stations, Oakhurst Lodge (Jack Thompson), Holiday Village (Olive Burnett), the Frost Shop, Clemmie Wupio's diner, Sierra Sky Ranch (Don Ely), builder Bob Huff, lumber yard (Jim McNally and Carl Muller), rancher Lindsay Wright, electrician Ray Bennett and backhoe operators Ralph Gorden, Sr. and Jess Love.

I also remember painter Gene Marshall, realtors Hugh Schollenberger and Naomi Ashby, Judge Paine, plumbers Stan Hartwell and Bert Palmberg, Oakhurst Lumber Mill (manager Jim Dee), dentist (Dr. Buzz Baxter), Sierra Telephone (Harry Baker), the Sierra Star (editor Cal Ragland and publisher Jack Gyer), the French Poodle bar (Bud Roberts), the Pink Elephant liquor store (Herb and Peg Reynolds), rancher Lester Bissett, Binnendyk's Department Store (Frank and Frankie Binnendyk), Oakhurst Community Church (pastor Kelsey Prinzing) and A&W Root Beer to name a few.

Our drug store shared a roof with the Oakhurst Post Office on Crane Valley Road (426) and Warren Meharg was the post master.

There was one doctor in Oakhurst, Dr. Richard Wheatly, and one doctor in Bass Lake, Dr. Walter Snyder.

Fred always said it was 'poison oak' and campers at Bass Lake who forgot to being their birth control pills that kept us open in the early years.

Christmas was always a special time of year for us at Top Drugs and I remember Pam West painting the windows for us. We had a nice gift section in the store and Santa would also visit to help with the drawing we held every Christmas. One year Lindsay Wright won a train set and another year one of the Binnendyk girls won a two-foot tall doll.

I just wanted to congratulate Oakhurst on its 100th birthday and happy holidays to all the 'old timers' in Oakhurst. And to the more recent residents of Oakhurst, enjoy life in this great town for the next 100 years.

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