Compiled by Debby Carter from the archives of Fresno Flats Research Library and the Sierra Star.
50 Years Ago
* The weekend of Mountaineer Days delights visitors. Coordinator Jack Pamplin and Parade Chairman George Ocheltree and the committee expressed thanks to those who helped make it a success. Joann Baxter was crowned the Mountain Belle Saturday. The parade was hosted by Grand Marshals Teresa and Will Sell. Parade judges Vern Neufeld, Jo Arfwedson, Ida Baker, and Jesse Love awarded the sweepstakes prize to the Oakhurst Chamber of Commerce float depicting Aladdin and his lamp, connoting the magic of Madera County. Following the parade, Senator James Cobey presented Will Sell with the Golden Apple certificate for his many years of service to Madera County. Ken Kirby led an exciting four-wheel-drive derby. The Whiskerino Contest results: longest beard, Lloyd Sullivan; best beard, Terry Bennett; most original, Terry Hatfield; most colorful, Ray Colbern. Prior to the judging, Ken Kirby’s devilish deputies kept the jail occupied with clean-shaven slickers who hadn’t paid a fine. The fund for the Oakhurst Community Center was swelled by the event.
* A coast-to-coast speed record for a locomotive was set by two new prototype 3,600 horsepower General Motors SD/45 locomotive units that traveled 3,325 miles from the Pacific to the Atlantic Coast in the time of 96 hours, 40 minutes. They were pulling up to 6,500 tons behind them.
* The Pines Theatre is playing “The Singing Nun” with Debbie Reynolds. The Excursion Boat will meet both show schedules.
40 Years Ago
* The proposed library, firehouse, and ambulance bay for Oakhurst has reached a state of limbo. Originally, $70,000 of county revenue-sharing funds were appropriated for this construction by the Fresno River. Problems began when the lowest bid was more than twice the amount appropriated. After financial adjustments and engineering items, the project is now open for new bids.
* Yosemite Union High School has been dedicated and will open its doors to 400 students this fall. The need for the three-hour bus ride to Auberry ends as YHS begins. “Guide us to make this, Yosemite High, a true community school where we all gain,” Paul Pitman stated at the dedication. Harry Baker, president of the Board of Trustees, said thanks to the many who contributed to the school.
* The mortgage has been burned for the Oakhurst Community Center, ending a decade of indebtedness. The idea for the building was born in 1960 when the 1,800 citizens of Oakhurst realized the need for a meeting place. Mary Owens offered to donate the present two-acre site to the Kiwanis Club for a community center. After fundraisers and much donated material and labor, the center was open to the public in 1964. Its Board saw the need for more space and purchased the adjoining 11 acres in 1968. In 1974 a new community effort was started, and the RCA Rodeo grounds were completed in 1975.
30 Years Ago
* Quotes from incoming juniors of class of 1967: Liz Weaver, “I want to graduate from YHS and I feel that YHS needs a swimming pool and a swim team.” Leslie Haire, “I also want a swim team. I want to be able to park and not have to walk three miles.” Julie Jines, “I want a lot of fun and to get better parking conditions.”
* Local artists Christopher Cantwell and Calvin Lyster have been chosen to show their work in the 12th Annual Beverly Hills Affaire held along Santa Monica Boulevard and Rodeo Drive. Lyster has made his living as an artist-craftsman for 17 years. He started working with clay and evolved into doing wood sculpture, mainly manzanita, cedar, and walnut. Cantwell also is a woodworker in the category of diverse media. He has won a trophy for Outstanding Craftsmanship for a chess table made with exotic wood inlay.
* The Coarsegold Inn begins its concert summer series with a tribute to Elvis Presley. Johnny Barnes will perform his Elvis revue. He won the Elvis Now Festival of 1984, a sound-alike, look-alike contest, and it was the first time both awards went to the same individual.
20 Years Ago
* State Center Community College District expects classrooms to be completed and ready for the fall semester at its new location next to the Fresno River near the Road 426 and Highway 41 junction. The center will be part of the new Village Square Shopping Center. Approximately 30 classes will be offered this fall. There will also be satellite class offerings in North Fork, Coarsegold, and Mariposa.
* Keeping up with the tradition of Yosemite and Sierra High’s girls softball teams, the local Mountain Thunder 16-and-under team has been taking the Valley by storm. They posted a record of 15-1 while appearing in three tournaments held the past three weekends at Buchanan High and Hanford.
* The steering committee for the Children’s Museum Project will meet in the Yosemite Bank community room. The committee is working on a hands-on museum for families that would include art, drama, science, and local and natural history. Anyone interested in a children’s museum for the mountain area is invited, a spokesman said.