history

Fresno County Historical Society's Civil War Revisited Website

Last week, the Fresno County Historical Society announced that its annual Civil War Revisited event won’t be happening this year due to COVID-19. However, the Society is planning an event centered around telling more stories of the 19th Century, beyond the Civil War. 

On this week's Valley Edition: There's only one proposition on the ballot this year, Proposition 13. Some say it will deepen state debt, while others think it’s the fix for California’s aging schools.

Plus: We’ll speak to a California native who served in two presidential cabinets. Secretary Norman Mineta was pivotal in convincing the U.S. government to formally apologize to Japanese Americans after their internment during World War II. 

 

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

 

This year, the Tower Theatre in Fresno turns 80 years old. The theatre’s iconic marquee and tower have flashed fluorescent pink and purple since it opened in 1939. 

“The Memorial Auditorium was built then, and so the Tower Theatre was really the very last of those big, glorious, neon-lit theaters,” says Elizabeth Laval, President of the Fresno Historical Society. 

She says one of the theatre’s developers was A. Emory Wishon, who worked for the utility company San Joaquin Light and Power.

On this week’s Valley Edition: The dairy industry has been called upon to dramatically reduce its greenhouse gas emissions - and thanks to a technology called methane digesters, it’s looking like it will get there. 

We also visit one company that’s keeping the tradition of neon alive in the Valley, one fluorescent tube at a time.

Plus: We look into Kern County’s rising fees to access court documents, and we speak with a handful of the Valley’s youngest politicians about why they chose to run for office in their early twenties.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

Steel tycoon and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie built libraries all over the U.S. with at least 14 of them in the Central Valley. Today, only a handful of those original buildings remain. One of them is in Hanford. There’s now a museum inside, but its future may be at risk.

Bradley Hart / Thomas Dunne Books

Over the last year and a half, we’ve seen how the Trump Administration has threatened to pull away from trade agreements, close borders, and champion an “America First” agenda. But this isn’t the first time that phrase has gone around. Before the attack on Pearl Harbor, many in the U.S. actually favored a similar isolationist policy, with hopes to keep the U.S. military out of World War II. And it wasn’t just isolationists touting this idea. Among their ranks were Nazi sympathizers.

Miriam Pawel / Bloomsbury

Acclaimed biographer Miriam Pawel's newest work tells the story of the most influential family in California political history. In The Browns of California: The Family Dynasty that Transformed a State and Helped Shape a Nation, she traces the rise of Governor Pat Brown and his son Governor Jerry Brown, and examines how they both shaped the state in their own unique and unconventional ways.

UCLA

The San Joaquin Valley’s farm workers are some of the hardest working people in the world. They toil for long hours in the fields to pick the food that feeds the world. While we all eat their produce, for many Americans farm workers don’t inspire admiration, but instead resentment and hostility. Anti-immigrant sentiment often revolves around the notion that undocumented workers are taking jobs that legal residents would otherwise be happy to do.

Ernest Lowe

A new exhibit at the Fresno Art Museum opening Friday July 13th, sheds new light on the history of rural African-American communities in the San Joaquin Valley. It features the work of photographer and journalist Ernest Lowe. From 1960-1964 he documented life in the communities of Dos Palos and Pixley, with fine art, black and white photographs.

It’s been 76 years since Japanese immigrants and Americans were incarcerated, and sent to internment, also known today as concentration camps, during World War II. They were sent there by Executive Order 9066 from President Roosevelt. The action was under the pretense of defending national security on the West Coast. It wasn’t until the war’s end in 1945 that the government  began closing the camps. A new book co-written by Heather C. Lindquist and Edgar Award winning author Naomi Hirahara examines that period after the camp’s close, and before the redress in 1988, when the U.S.

Marshall W. Johnson / Atheneum Books for Young Readers

Seventy five years ago this month, the streets of Los Angeles turned violent in an event that came to be known as the Zoot Suit Riots. The cause is still unclear, but we know this: for 10 days in 1943, white service members attacked young Latino men on the streets of Southern California, while police turned the other way. The attacks are the subject of a new young adult novel by acclaimed children’s author Margarita Engle. In 2009, the Clovis author’s book "The Surrender Tree" won the prestigious Newberry Medal, the first book by a Latina to receive the honor.

The Civil War ended over 150 years ago, but the battle over interpreting it has never really stopped. A new book by Fresno State history professors Ethan J. Kytle and Blain Roberts looks at the way attitudes and interpretations of the war and slavery have changed over the decades in Charleston, South Carolina.

Digital Delano

Many communities across the valley have rich histories. The challenge in many cases is preserving those stories, memories, photos and artifacts for future generations. In one Kern County community, a new effort is underway to do just that. We recently spoke with history professor Oliver Rosales about the Digital Delano project. The effort to collect and record oral histories and more is holding a special event May 1 at the Bakersfield College Delano Campus, and we learn about local residents can help participate. 

Jerry Brown
Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

California Governor Jerry Brown holds the record for being the state’s youngest governor and also the state's oldest governor. As he nears the end of his record fourth term in office, many are turning to talk about the “L” word – legacy. A new profile in the California Sunday Magazine seeks to provide some new insights into Governor Brown, the evolution of his career and his thinking.

Harper Collins

A new biography of billionaire investor Kirk Kerkorian tells the story of how a young boy from Fresno went on to become one of the richest businessmen in America. From airlines to film studios to the auto industry and casinos, Kerkorian was the consummate dealmaker, but he was also a quiet philanthropist, supporting Armenian causes through his Lincy Foundation. We recently spoke with journalist William C.

Google Street View

In 2010, architect Julia Morgan became the first woman to win the prestigious Gold Medal from the American Institute of Architects. It was a landmark achievement for the native Californian, who is most famous for designing Hearst Castle for newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst. It’s the institute’s highest honor, and one shared by icons of the industry like Frank Lloyd Wright, Mies van der Rohe, and Frank Ghery. Even more remarkable – Morgan was awarded the honor 57 years after her death. The award was an attempt in part to correct a longstanding omission by the male-dominated AIA.

Kelly Mizue Aoki / Yonsei Memory Project

A new project organized by fourth-generation Japanese Americans is seeking to preserve memories and create art. Called the Yonsei Memory Project, the effort is a project of Nikiko Masumoto and Brynn Saito. The two will hold events in Fresno on Saturday Febaury 17th and Monday February 19th, including memory tours and an event of poetry and art at the Fresno Assembly Center, the site where local Japanese Americans were processed before they were sent to concentration campus during the Second World War.

Go For Broke

The Kingsburg Historical Society is hosting a new traveling exhibit on the Japanese American experience during the Second World War. The small farming community is known today for its Swedish heritage, but before the interment of citizens in domestic concentration camps during the war, it had a vibrant Japanese American community. The new exhibit, "Courage and Compassion: Our Shared Story of the Japanese American WWII Experience" is on a nationwide tour from the Go For Broke National Education Center, with support from the National Park Service.

Sierra On-Line

It might be hard to believe today, but the Madera County community of Oakhurst was once one of the biggest players in the world of computer gaming. For much of the 1980's and 90's, the mountain community was home to Sierra On-Line, an early pioneer in computer gaming, known for adventure game titles like Kings Quest. Sierra's games featured both innovative technology and groundbreaking storytelling, an approach that came directly from company founders Ken and Roberta Williams.

Heather David / Cal Mod Books

Sixty years ago, taking a road trip in California was a lot different than it is today. In the days before superhighways, Airbnb and navigation software, a family vacation likely included a stop at a roadside motel. Hundreds of these "mom and pop" establishments popped up along the highway in places like Fresno and Bakersfield, offering a clean room, a swimming pool, and maybe even something exotic, like a faux-Polynesian tiki-themed cocktail lounge. Flashing neon signs and space-age architecture were designed to catch the eye from a moving car and bring in new customers 

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