Let’s Talk Clovis: The Clovis Independent

M.A. Hinkley (right) served as publisher and editor of the Clovis Independent after purchasing the newspaper from May and Spurgeon Case in 1939. CONTRIBUTED BY CLOVIS MUSEUM

In 1953, the town of Clovis had a population of approximately 3,000. The city limits had not expanded from the 1912 (1.00 square mile) boundary. By the end of 1959, the city limits would be increased to 1.37 square miles.

M.A. Hinkley was the editor and publisher of the newspaper that was published every Thursday ($2.50 annual subscription, extra copies 10 cents). The paper had six two-inch wide columns. This issue published 12 pages. Hinkley had purchased the paper from May and Spurgeon Case in 1939.

Shirley Pendergrass (1895-1960) was selected as “Mother of The Year.” She had been nominated by the Clovis Concordia Chapter, Order of the Eastern Star. The award was presented by Loris Grossi (Clovis Bad Boy merchant) of the Clovis Chamber of Commerce. Every page of the publication had advertisements honoring Mother’s Day.

After graduating from LeGrand High School, Shirley secured her teaching credentials from the two-year vocational Fresno Normal School. In 1935, it became the four-year Fresno State Teachers College. She would teach for 39 years, 35 of those at Clovis Elementary School.

Shirley married Travis Pendergrass on Aug. 19, 1919. They arrived in Clovis in 1921 and Travis began working as a pharmacist at Clovis Drug Store on the northeast corner of Fifth and Pollasky. He purchased the drug store and provided three decades of 24/7 service to his customers. The descendants of the Pendergrass family remain Clovis civic leaders.

A major headline: “City Opposes Plan of Dry Creek Flood Control Operation.” The Clovis Council did not support the proposed Dry Creek flood control dam northeast of Clovis (now located opposite of the Harlan Ranch residential development). The council and north Clovis ranchers believed that water should continue to flow down the Dry Creek channel and not be diverted to the San Joaquin river.

Mayor Wayne Rall and the City Council voted to approach Pacific Gas & Electric Company to investigate the possibility of purchasing our local distributing system from them.

Headline: “Recreation Program Moves to High School Pool.” Print: “The afternoon and night recreation program held in the gym for the Clovis Community will be moved over to the high school softball field area and pool beginning May 11. The Memorial gym will be closed except on Tuesday nights for gymnastics.”

Headline: “Blood Bank Coming May 11th.” Print: “All those who can donate a pint of blood should present themselves at the American Legion hall (southeast corner of Woodworth and Fourth) at this time. There is a great need of blood to be flown to the war front in Korea.” We lost two Gold Star Heroes in that war: Richard Caster and Antonio Lopez.

Headline: “A. Jay Evans Prominent Cattle Man Dies.” Print: “In 1922 Evans (1881-1953) purchased the pioneer cattle herd of Tom Ockenden, acquiring at the same time 5,000 acres of foothill ranch property on the Kings River above Piedra. During the summer months he drove his herd of about 1,000 head into the high Sierra, making his summer quarters at Stratham Meadow.”

About 10 Clovis Churches listed their worship schedules. Mrs. Fred Rodman reported Academy activities.Local “family” news was reported. Clovis High news was reported. The Clovis Theatre was showing “Zombies of the Stratosphere.”

Congressman Allan Oakley Hunter published his report from Washington. A portion of his article was dedicated to understanding Washington terminology: “An expediter is a fellow who knows where a file should go and sees that it doesn’t go there; a coordinator is the chap who has a desk between two expeditors; a consultant is anyone more than 50 miles away from home and to expedite means to compound confusion with commotion.”

An ad from the 20-30 Club of Clovis, No. 404 thanked the community of Clovis for its financial support that enabled them to award a $75 college scholarship to a deserving high school student, send six Clovis youngsters to summer camp (full week in the Sierra) and sponsor a boy’s baseball club.

Ads: Clovis Food Lockers (530 Fifth Street, Joe Stehlik, Owner) sold a half-gallon of Meadow Gold milk for 75 cents and frozen orange juice (6 ounce), two for 29 cents; Clovis Radio & Electric (433 Clovis Ave.) ad to buy a Motorola TV ($299.90) to be ready for Channel 24 coming soon; Skyline Club (corner of Clovis and Shaw) served Italian and American dinners and a “help yourself “Bar-B-Q.” Friday and Saturday dancing with Smitty’s Western Pioneers (Red Willis, vocalist and MC) and Sassano’s (444 Pollasky) sold good dress shoes by Bailey from $1.95, $2.95 and $3.50, Panama Straws $2.95 to $4.95 and cotton seersucker sport shirts, long or short sleeves $1.95 and $2.95.

Clovis Appliance (622 Fourth Street) published an ad entitled “Lindy Lou by Gene McGaughy.” Two young lovers were sitting on a couch and she stated: “I figured you’d ask me to marry you, so I ordered a refrigerator from the Clovis Appliance.”

The Clovis Independent remained an important part of our rich heritage until it was discontinued in 2008.

Peg Bos :Peg Bos is the president of the Clovis Museum on 4th and Pollasky avenues in Old Town Clovis. She not only manages the museum but she also writes her Let's Talk Clovis column in our publication which features and highlight the amazing history of our city and culture. One fun fact about Peg Bos, she was the first female mayor of Clovis from 1984-86.