Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The sacred corner of Temperance and Butler

I received an email recently from my 90 year old Uncle. He 
was explaining to me the significance of the corner in Fresno 
of Butler/Temperance Avenues. My grandparents owned 40 
acres on that NW corner from 1938-1943. 

I became curious about the school Mom and her brothers 
walked to...just a short ways from their 40 acres where they 
lived. 

So Monday evening Dennis and I did a "drive through" ...to 
sort of get the feel of what my mom experienced everyday 
walking to school. 

Take a look what I mean....





Should you be interested....
here are the details of my Uncle's email:
Hi, Jill,
 Our 40 acres of alfalfa was at the NW corner of Temperance and Butler. Dad
bought the place in 1938 and sold it in 1943 as it became evident that Ted and I
were headed to war and he would be without help. Besides, he was in foreclosure.
Mom took a job to try to save the farm, and we would have been evicted but for
a Depression-era law that allowed farmers in default to enter bankruptcy and stay on
the land. As part of the deal, Dad and Mom were supervised by a bankruptcy referee
who oversaw their checking account. Any expenditure — even a check for $5 —
had to be approved by him. I can't recall his name but Dad called him Uncle Bulgy. 
Security First National Bank of Los Angeles held the mortgage. The nasty
letters threatening my father were always signed by a vice president named
J.A. Carter. Of course we kids turned that into Jack Ass Carter.

The farm was subdivided in the 1960s. Our two-bedroom, two-bath house
was long ago razed. The second "bath" was an outhouse we called the Hotel
Tulare because the metal door was a highway sign that advertised that hotel.
Dad paid $200 an acre, or $8,000 for the 40 acres and a house. After five years
of hard work and futility, he sold for an amount unknown to me. His down payment was
the $2,000 settlement he got from workman's compensation for the broken hip he
suffered his first day on a bridge-building project. The wonder is that there was workman's
comp at all in 1934. The other wonder was that his new job, after years of unemployment
and fruit-peddling, paid $1 an hour, or the sum of $40 a week! Far better than the $18
he got from workman's comp to support a family of five.

I was born in Mercy Hospital in Bakersfield. It's still there. Today, new mothers are
kicked out the day after birth. Then, they were confined two weeks. It was an
especially hot summer and of course there was no AC. She spoke of her discomfort
often. 

Love,
Uncle Don

Since it was difficult making out her report card on the movie, 
I put it again here:

Good thing they gave her excellent in "courteous and 
considerate" because many many years later she kept in 
touch with 3 of her teachers, 
even visiting them in care facilities. 

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

What a nice post for posterity! Love it! I've driven some of the routes I took, walking, as a child. I really did walk a long way! But, it didn't seem long to me. It was an effective way to unwind after my school day. Also, it was often a social time with my friends, and I loved that.
darlene

Richard said...

Wow! That's priceless. Don sure is a good writer...

Richard said...

In the 1950's, before the church acquired the 80 acres of grapes in Madera, they used to farm a parcel on Butler, east of Temperance where the Butler chapel sits today. We worked tree fruit (plums I believe) and raisin grapes. For a year or two, before the Butler Chapel was built, we had assignments at both farms, Butler and Madera...a daunting task given the relatively few members to do the work. I'm sure the irony did not escape mom that we were donating labor so near her childhood home.