Let’s Talk Clovis: “You can’t see the town for the people” Prose by William W. Wamsley, Part I

By Peg Bos, Clovis Museum

William W. Wamsley (Grandfather of Dwayne Wamsley) arrived here in the early 1910’s. He was noted for his talent to speak and write prose. We are quoting his article (published in the Clovis Independent in 1939) that lists the merchants in Old Town Clovis. The article was found in a scrapbook that Lela Sassano Vineyard (Les Sassano’s mother) had created during the years of 1936-1939.

“Harry B. Owens sells the Chevrolet car, As a salesman H.B. is always above par, He will tell you of knee-action, beauty and power, If you give him a tumble you’re stuck for an hour.

Trav is our druggist and a very fine man, He peddles his wares the best that he can, If you don’t want to buy from him it’s all the same, He will tell you how U.S.C. beat Notre Dame.

Fitz is your banker with his smile so sunny, Each day of the year he takes care of our money, But when his work is done with a very fine grace, He will tell you how Jack Collins won his last race.

Lawrence Sassano will sell you a shirt, And guarantee Levi’s to stay free from dirt, He will sell you suspenders, neckties and hats, And if you insist he will sell you some spats.

And Galen, the barber with razor in hand, Will give you a shave, the best in the land, He does very fine work for both of the sexes, And tells you of things that happened in Texas.

Chester, the grocer has a very fine store, If you buy from him once you will go back for more, Potatoes, Spaghetti, bananas and rice, And all kinds of food at just the right price.

Coach Stoney’s the lad who has all the fun, He plays with the boys till the set of the sun, He teaches them plays that are better and better, Till finally they get the big C for their letter.

Mr. Stone has the hardware store on the main street, J.P. is a man most pleasant to meet, He displays his goods till the fall of the year, Then goes to the mountains and brings back a deer.

Jim and Clayton together will cure all your ills, As doctors they’re good, they prescribe the best pills, If Indian Broom ever runs a good race, They’ll be tickled to death, for they bet show and place.

A. Frame is your lawyer, he knows the best way to keep you from going to jail, there to stay, He will fix up your deeds and your mortgages too, And collect all your bills as they may fall due.

Judge Burke is the man who levies your fine, If on the state highway you get out of line, And you’d better pay up for the verdict is just, Or he’ll give you ten days in the hoosegow—or bust.

Toll Black is the constable of the township, Very few law breakers give him the slip, He takes them to Fresno and then brings them back, Sometimes you could think he was running a hack.

Earl Burke and Bill Hutchison with J.E. Good, have the general store in this neighborhood, They have been here for years, as everyone knows, With groceries, hardware, dry goods and clothes.

There’s Dimmen and Tom, both in the same shack, If you go to their place they both take a whack, But you need not worry, for when they are through, Your face will be smooth an your boots look like new.

Wayne is the man whose name is Rall, Who sells the Ford car in the springtime and fall, In summer and winter he does the same thing, If you need any service, just give him a ring.

Paul E. Andrew is head of the schools, He fires and he hires and he makes all the rules, When a pupil finishes this hall of knowledge, He will be well prepared to enter a college.

On the front street is a place that is new, It’s Chapman’s Drug Store and you’ll like it too, Amos and Andy help pay his rent, For on one of his shelves you find Pepsodent.

John Forest Kingen runs the big Ten and Five, He has plenty of business to keep it alive, There’s pots and there’s pans, there’s neckties and socks, There’s needles and pins, cups, platters and crocks.

Cary A. Booher sells goods new and old, And when he sells them they are sure to stay sold, But the biggest position he has to hold down, Is being the mayor (1938-1939) of this Clovis town.”

This delightful prose of Old Town merchants will continue in the next edition. The merchants are a part of our rich heritage.