Let’s Talk Clovis: A look back at the news from February 20, 1941

Carl Merriman (Photo courtesy of Clovis Museum)

We are sharing stories printed in The Clovis Independent on Feb. 20, 1941. M.A. Hinkley was publisher and editor of the newspaper. He stated that the paper was “a progressive newspaper in a progressive city.” It was read by more than 4,000 people and was circulated throughout Clovis and nearby communities each week. The yearly subscription was $2.

Highlights from this week in history include:

Civic leader Carl Merriman was president of the Clovis Horse Show Association, now known as the Clovis Rodeo Association. He announced that the annual Festival and Horse Show would be held on April 26 and 27. He and his wife Bessie were 1911 Clovis High graduates. They established the Merriman grocery store (NW 5th & Pollasky) in 1919.

The Horse Show Association had improved the rodeo grounds by grading the slope between the bucking horse area and the grandstand. It was noted that previously the bucking horses had to do their stunts on a slight upgrade which slowed them considerably. A wire fence between the bucking area and the track was installed to allow horse races and bucking events to be held simultaneously.

The previous season was a sell out and additional seating was needed. The Association would add the current south cement seats in 1950. Merriman noted the financial success of 1940: “A fourth of the money borrowed to clear the property, all deficits, bills and improvement costs were paid.”

The Clovis Chamber of Commerce was actively involved with the City of Fresno to secure an Army Bomber Base at Hammer Field. The project was bounded by Winery, Shields, Clovis, and McKinley avenues. Clovis High Principal Paul Andrews chaired the Chamber committee that included Clovis Mayor Luther E. Weldon and Clovis Grammar School Principal Glenn Reavis.

The City of Clovis contributed a five-acre site for a radio tower. The project would begin on March 17, 1941.

The 7,100 foot long runway was completed in November 1941. In 2012, George F. Gruner, former editor of The Fresno Bee, published “Into the Night: Hammer Field…Camp Pinedale…Fresno Fairgrounds, Central California in World War II.” He identified the following wages paid for the project: “The hourly rates ranged from 75 cents for an unskilled laborer to $1.60 for operators of derricks or cranes. Journeyman carpenters were to receive $1.15.”

Clovis stores were advertising: loin pork roast, 22 cents per pound; chicken legs six for 25 cents; apples eight pounds for 25 cents; beer four bottles for 25 cents; Sealy mattress $18.81 (springs $6.95 to $24.75); 1941 Ford $854.23; Arrow shirts $2.; men’s pajamas $1.29.

Editor Hinkley’s editorial addressed the draftees that were being sent to military camp for a year of training. Four Clovis men (Emil Prudek, Leroy Dean, George Spiropulos and Bernard Taves) were honored by the Cecil Cox Post. By March 3, 1941, 7,000 officers and men of the California National Guard would be inducted into the army. In 1918, C.A. Booher opened a five and ten cent store at 428 Fulton but he soon realized

there was a demand for used goods, furniture and household appliances. He began selling used furniture and goods. He changed his business name to Valley Furniture Company.

In 1936, he moved his business to 470 Fulton (Clovis Ave.) and would sell the property to Jim Sirimarco, popular owner of Jim’s Place, in 1941. Mr. Booher served eight years on the Clovis City Council and two years (1938- 1940) as Mayor. He was the first president of the 500 member Towsend Club. The nationwide club was founded by Francis E. Townsend to expand the 1935 Social Security Act to provide $200 pension for citizens over age 60.

The citizens of this era provided us with a rich heritage.

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.