By Peg Bos | Clovis Museum
Frank De Luca shared memories of his life in Clovis on May 10, 2005 (“Let’s Talk Clovis”). We are sharing a two-series portions of that speech. His parents Ciriaco (1888-1971) and Maria (1899-1981) arrived in Clovis in 1923. The family settled in their home in 1924 at the Stanford/Bingville area of Clovis.
Frank was the seventh of 12 siblings. He graduated from Clovis High School in 1948 and served in the U.S. Air Force from 1948-1953. He is recognized as a Clovis Historian and serves on the Board of the Clovis Museum.
“Things I remember as a young man: Clovis Garbage service was started in (1939-1940?) by P. Wilson Matlock, who was our next door neighbor. He hired my brother Angelo who worked approximately two years. Later Angelo left to work in the shipyards in Richmond. Joe, Vic and I continued until Deputy Henry Rose impounded our 1923 Model T truck because none of us had driver licenses. I remember the magneto cells attached to the truck’s fire wall.
The rodeo grounds had wooden grandstands and a half-mile racetrack. We would collect coke bottles and trade them in for two cents or a candy bar. To get into the rodeo grounds, we would pull nails off the fence boards and crawl through and run to the area where the Brahmas and horses were corralled. We would sit on the chutes and watch them herd the animals. We were always told to be careful.
Bob Turner owned an airplane. He would land his plane east of the Rodeo grounds and would charge a couple of dollars for a ride.
A carnival would arrive east of the water tower at Fifth and Hughes during the Clovis Rodeo. I can remember the song played on the Merry-go-round, “Drinking Rum & Coca Cola.” The small jail was nearby and was over capacity during the Rodeo.
The Post Office was on 4th Street (our box number 275). Valla’s grocery store was west of the Post Office. There was an old water tower behind the back entrance to Jim’s Place (Clovis Avenue.)
The John E. Good store building was on the corner of Fifth and Clovis. The Sons of Italy held their meetings and their annual Christmas party on the second floor for years.
In the late 30s, a fire consumed three homes on 4th Street near Sunnyside (Bingville). One house east of Jack Clark’s home, the Wilcox home next to it and a third home. The Clovis Volunteer Fire Department arrived and watched the houses burn. As a small kid, I couldn’t understand why they stood there and watched those homes burn. Later I found out they were not allowed to cross the City limits. There was no Mid Valley Fire Department at that time.
A huge swamp would evolve on the corner of Bullard and Fowler. Dog Creek would flood each year and at one time the area was one huge swamp on three of the four corners of that intersection. It would also flood areas of DeWitt, Woodworth, Clovis and Pollasky Avenues in Old Town.
There was a vineyard of the south west corner of Barstow, Jefferson and Sunnyside. The August Roberts family had a vineyard on the northeast corner of Fifth and Sunnyside. They raised grain and planted a small peach orchard.
Midway Market was at the intersection of Tollhouse Road and Sunnyside. They sold groceries and gas. I remember the glass tops of the gas pumps.
A larger store was owned by George Phebus and later Charles Nevins was directly east of Midway Market. They sold everything from ice to feed for animals plus groceries. As kids coming from picking figs all day, our treat was to go to his store and buy a pint of ice cream (25 cents) and sit in front of his store and eat.
Fred Bright’s Welding and Machine shop was also located there. He had the bushiest eyebrows of any person I had seen. A 1937 aerial photograph documents the 10 homes that he built. They were removed when the Clovis Civic Center was built.
We will continue with the second part of the De Luca story. They were and remain an important part of our rich heritage.