Debby Carter

Remember when ...

The Yosemite shuttle.
The Yosemite shuttle. Sierra Star / Fresno Flats Archives

NOTE: Compiled by Debby Carter from the archives of Fresno Flats Research Library and the Sierra Star.

50 years ago

Although it is August, most passes on trails higher than 9,500 feet are still under deep blankets of snow. National Park personnel advised that while most high lakes no longer are frozen over, the land around the lakes will remain under water until snow melts completely.

As of this month, several taxes on various products were increased by the State of California. The basic sales tax was increased from 3 to 4% of the purchase price. Thus, the state tax combined with local sales taxes add up to 5%. The state cigarette tax went from three to seven cents for a 20-cigarette pack. On Oct. 1, an additional tax of three cents per pack will be added for city and county governments. The excise tax on liquor will go from $1.50 per gallon to $2 per gallon.

A new shuttle bus service has been inaugurated in Yosemite Valley. As many as 100 cars remain parked each day as occupants use the shuttle to travel between valley points. The shuttle, operating from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., makes 13 stops around the valley.

Classified Ads: 3-bedroom, 2-bath, fireplace, family room, built-ins, carpeting, forced air heat, and refrigeration, $15,000 - $1,500 down.

40 years ago

Sheriff Ed Bates declared that the county Board of Supervisors acted childishly when it took operation of the county jail away from the sheriff and created a Department of Corrections. The transfer came after the grand jury and state agencies complained about the conditions at the 83-year-old jail. Speaking at the local Lions Club, Bates said that the problems at the jail are due to lack of money. He said he had been telling supervisors about the conditions since he first was elected in 1970, and stated “I’ve got 10 staff members for 134 men in a jail that should be torn down.”

The ways, customs, and artwork of American Indians will be displayed in North Fork during the annual two-day Indian Fair sponsored by the Sierra Mono Museum. There will be authentic Indian dancers from various areas of the west that will display their skills twice each day. Indians will take part in hand games, many of which were performed by their ancestors. There will be a BBQ and a drawing for prizes.

Values of the average house in Oakhurst have nearly doubled in the past three years, according to a population survey conducted by California State University, Fresno. An average home that went for $27,000 now sells for $45,000. The survey revealed that one-third of the population of Oakhurst had moved to the community within three years, and half of the residents had lived there for five years or less. Of them, 40% of the residents had come from the San Joaquin Valley and 30% had moved to the mountains from Southern California. Up to 70% of households said that the mountain environment was the reason for locating in the area.

Sheriff Ed Bates has regained control over the Madera County Jail. Earlier, the Board of Supervisors had stripped the sheriff of authority over the jail and established a new Department of Corrections. Superior Court Judge Dean C. Lauritsen of Mariposa issued an order prohibiting the supervisors from interfering “in any manner” with jail operations.

30 Years Ago

The old railroad box cars up on the hill above the “Talking Bear” in Oakhurst began a journey to a place called “Rainbow’s American Dream,” a theme park to be located in Camp Verde, Arizona. The cars will be used for shops and motel rooms. The park will depict the Arizona Territory from 1869 to 1912. The park will be run for and by the developmentally handicapped in association with three other ventures overseen by Dr. Ralph Showers. He has published a book, Reach for a Rainbow, and was assisted in writing the script by his friend, Rusty Murphy of the MET Cinema.

The Oakhurst Community Park was opened with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Development of the park was the result of many hundreds of hours of volunteer service, according to Park Committee Chairman David Linn. Supervisor Harry Baker, Jr., who leased the land to the committee for $1 per year, and Linn cut the ribbon to open access to the park over the bridge across the Fresno River behind the library. Members of the Naval Reserve Sea Cadets Color Guard led the way across the bridge, followed by members of the local post of Veterans of Foreign Wars. Before the day was over, some 1,500 people had crossed the bridge and toured the park. Also participating were the first park committee chairman, Maynard Vogel, and his successor, Bill Kidwell.

A selection of currency from around the world is on display at Valley and Federal Savings and Loan, courtesy of Will and Finkas of Oakhurst. They have been collecting coins and bills on their travels through 30 nations.

20 Years Ago

The ball is rolling on an ambitious project to build and install combination benches and banner-holders throughout Oakhurst. It is part of the Chamber of Commerce Business Committee’s goal to have Oakhurst viewed as a mountain village. The 16-foot-tall poles will be used to display banners, one reading something like “Welcome,” and another banner also hanging from a cross-arm reading “Mountain Village of Oakhurst.”

“Max,” the Madera County Sheriff’s Department K-9, has lost his battle with lymphoma. “Max was in his favorite place, his patrol car, when his spirit left us, says Sheriff-Coroner Glenn Seymour. “Max” worked the Mountain Area with Deputy Jim Bernardi. “Max’s absence on patrol is a loss that will be felt by everyone,” says Sheriff Seymour.

Paintball range owner Marty Montgomery has won his appeal of a county Planning Commission veto of his operation at Yosemite Lakes Park. Mr. Montgomery contends that he operates a safe, organized field, playing on only a few acres of the 40-acre property. Comments from supporters include there are rules and structure at the range, it is a great activity for the youth, who have limited entertainment options in the Mountain Area, and it is a safe and professionally run environment. They also believe Mr. Montgomery has done his best to maintain good neighbor relations.