Let’s Talk Clovis: Clovis Memories of Frank De Luca, Part 2

By Peg Bos | Clovis Museum

We continue Frank De Luca’s Clovis memories. His words capture the essence of Clovis in the 1930’s and 1940’s:

“The first time working in the fields for me was picking strawberries for the Foster family who owned property on the corner of Tollhouse and Fowler Avenues. I was young (about 5 years) and my mom and most of the family worked there also.

The family would walk to the Rufrow Ranch on Bullard and First and pick almonds and apricots.

We picked olives at the corner of Fowler and Tollhouse. Our mother would drag us kids there early in the morning.

We picked grapes all over the Clovis area. There is one event in particular that I will never forget. Our father promised Mike Ferrara that we would pick grapes at his ranch (12686 Tollhouse Rd.) and delivered me and my sisters (Eda, Verona & Gracie) there.

I mentioned to my father that if we came across any snakes, or even one snake, we were not going to stay there. Well it wasn’t long before I heard little sister Verona scream (petrified by a snake).

That was the end of our grape picking and we walked all the way home from Academy (12 miles).

We cut apricots and peaches at the Catnzarite Ranch (Sunnyside and Shaw). After work, we would go swimming in the irrigation ditch that ran parallel to Shaw Avenue.

I worked for Dr. James Pendergrass (1212 Third Street) feeding chickens, gathering eggs, cradling them and placed them in egg crates. I moved lawns, weeded flower beds for Dr. Jim and his brother Travis who lived next door. I received 25 cents for each lawn mowed.

In 1936, began attending Clovis Elementary school (Pollasky between 1st and 2nd Streets) where Mrs. Shirley Pendergrass and Mrs. Kate Kneeland were the first grade teachers.

On Wednesdays, children that attended Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church would get out of school half an hour early to attend Catechism classes.

On our way from the school and the church we would walk by the DeGraw family’s ”Rock Garden.” It was located on the corner of DeWitt and 5th Street prior to the City’s rerouting Bullard.

In the summer time, none of us boys liked to wear shoes so on the way to school we would stop near the Thomas home (315 Pollasky) and hide our shoes in the hedges.

Our favorite pass time during the summer was going swimming at the “Chicken Hole” ( dead chickens had been seen floating there) that ran through the Takahashi farm.

At age 13 (1942), I was ticketed (running a stop sign on a bicycle) by a California Highway patrolman at the corner of 5th and Clovis Avenue. It was the only stop sign in Clovis and one would have been lucky to see five cars go by in a day. Judge Bolton made me pay a $2 fine.

Growing up (12 siblings), we didn’t have much in the way of material things. We made our own kites from redwood strips. We would save old sewing thread spools and make what we called tractors. We made our own scooters with two-by-fours and old rolling skate parts.

Our outdoor toilet was the only “4 holler” in Bingville. Two holes for the women and two holes for the men.

We raised a couple dozen laying hens (for eggs/meat) and a couple of goats for milk. Our father made wine (100 gallons stored in the basement) and would share it with friends and family.

During the winter months, our mom would heat bricks in the oven, wrap them in newspaper and put them at our feet. Three pair of feet trying to find that brick was something else.

By 2016 my family of 13 had produced 44 children. I became an uncle 243 times, 44 nieces and nephews, 105 great nephews and nieces and 94 great-great nephews and nieces. We have a family reunion each year to remember our rich heritage.”

The DeLucas are a part of our rich heritage.