The Review of “The History of Clovis, 50 Years of Progress” By Author William T. Atkin, Editor Malcolm Johnson in 1962

The 1962 “The History of Clovis, 50 Years of Progress” book. (Courtesy of Clovis Museum)

Author William Atkin was an educator for 36 years and was superintendent of Clovis Union High School for almost 10 years.  Malcolm Johnson came to Clovis in a troop train in 1945 and returned to Clovis in 1949 to become Editor and Publisher for multiple publications.

The artist of the book cover, Nadine Chiladoux, was the director of the Art Department of Clovis High School. He was recognized nationally for his paintings.

Early Clovis pioneers were honored. Joseph Edwin Bretz’s (1887-1957) father established the first mill in the Shaver lake area in 1875. The Bretz family remained successful lumbermen and Clovis civic leaders.

James G. Ferguson (1860-1936) was also a lumberman and civic leader. He and his wife would lead the first dance of the evening at the 1897 McCord Hall (north of the corner of 4th Street and Clovis Ave).

Clovis M. Cole (1858-1939) was proclaimed “pioneer rancher, grain raiser, school trustee and public-spirited citizen.”

Mayor Douglas R. Dresser was chair of the “Clovis Golden Anniversary Committee”. Committee members: H.R. Beaver, Wally Boswell, Bill Rhode, Delbert Smith, Dutch Van Whye, Tony Torano, Ted Takahashi, Mary Martin, Beryl Linenbach, Lettie Rasmussen, Edna Rhode, Henry Damsen and Bill Rose. You will recognize their siblings remain active in Clovis.

The “new” Clovis Chamber of Commerce office was in the Southern Pacific depot building (4th Street and Clovis Ave). The original 1891 Depot (San Joaquin Valley Railroad depot) was destroyed by fire in 1897 and replaced by a one-story depot from Visalia.  Vernon “Mugs” Smith was President of the Chamber.

Their article on the Marcus Pollasky (promoter of San Joaquin Valley Railroad, arrived here 1891) asked if he was a “Saint or Sinner?”.  The main street of Old Town Clovis bears his name.

The importance of the Fresno Flume and Irrigation that arrived in 1893 was documented. Also, a picture of “Sierra,” a steam engine of the Shaver Lake Railroad that traveled 14 miles from Shaver Lake to Dinkey Creek. Boy Scouts later discovered parts of the engine in the lake.

A picture of the Clovis Police Department identified eight patrolmen, one sergeant, Lt. Gino Pishione, and Chief Thomas Higgason. Our first woman Police officer Frances Qualls was pictured but not identified. 

Wayne Riley was Chief of the Volunteer Fire Department from 1957-1964. 16 volunteers were pictured. Their department was adjacent to City Hall. Mid-Valley Fire Department occupied the same building. They served outside of Clovis. The DMV was built there later and it is now the two-story Centennial Plaza.

Published facts about modern Clovis: Clovis Judicial District (located former 1912 First State bank building, now Clovis Museum) served over 206 miles. The Moyer Stage line provided nine bus trips (front of White Front, near NE corner of 5th Street and Pollasky) to downtown Fresno.

The U.S. Census for Clovis in 1961 was 7,704. In 2020, it is 118,014. There were over 57 active civic, service, fraternal, veterans, and social organizations in 1962.

In 1962, Clovis Unified School district had 5,950 students, 10 elementary schools, and a high school. Today, there are 45,264 students, 34 elementary schools, 5 Intermediate schools, and 5 high schools.

It was stated: “Clovis is also known as the geographical center of the state of California (intersection of 5th Street and Clovis Ave). The center is now designated at North Fork and Italian Bar.

Their publication provided a review of our rich heritage.

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.