Jim Ford writes about Napa history.
It was April 1942, 76 years ago last month, when my mother and I loaded up our car and a rental trailer and left Los Angeles for Northern California and a place called Napa. I was 12 years old and in the sixth grade.
Some time ago, while in discussion with a contemporary of mine, we somehow got on the subject of second childhood, the mental ailment that afflicts many of us folks of an advanced age.
Paul Cassayre of Napa, a 1948 graduate and classmate of mine at Napa Union High School, and a continuing close friend and compatriot, recently sent me an email and photograph of a group of Napa Boy Scouts of long ago.
America’s second-favorite holiday is set for Thursday. I say second-favorite holiday because, for many of us, Christmas is the first. At this advanced stage of my life, however, I have decided that I like Thanksgiving better. (You can do things like that when you are a seasoned citizen.)
Today’s essay is a bit different from my normal offering because it is not about old-time Napa or old-time citizens of Napa but, instead, is about old-time lifestyles and things: things that are not done anymore and other things that have disappeared.
When I venture out for an appointment or to go shopping, I am frequently approached by local senior citizens who offer comments on my biweekly articles about old-time Napa for the Register.
Three weeks ago, I and 12 of my schoolmates from Napa (Union) High School reunited for a luncheon at the Napa Elks Lodge. We did the same thing last year and are planning on doing it again next year.
Normally, my biweekly offerings have to do with Napa of old, back when I was a youth and young adult some 60 or 70 years ago. However, today’s article is about Napa Valley Bank (NVB), a local financial institution that officially opened its doors in 1971, a mere 44 years ago.
The major news story of the July 4, 2015, edition of the Napa Valley Register was that the earthquake-damaged downtown Napa post office was facing demolition, rather than restoration. The building remains red-tagged.
In his June 6 column titled “Obeying a higher law,” Napa Valley Register Editor Sean Scully cited various kinds of laws: laws of the universe, physical and mathematical laws and some more whimsical ones evolving from repeated themes of Register reader letters to the editor.
On May 24, 2010, the Napa Valley Register published one of my articles about the popularity of the game of softball in Napa. It was titled “Napa, capital of softball, part 2.”
Today’s offering is actually about two different entities: One was a theater in Washington, D.C., where our 16th president was murdered 150 years ago this month and the other a friend and Napa schoolmate of mine from the 1940s.
It’s springtime, and as they do every year, the San Francisco Giants are in Scottsdale, Arizona, undergoing spring training, getting ready for the 162-game 2015 baseball season.
When my family moved to Napa in 1942, some 73 years ago next month, Napa did not have a radio station. Locals relied on the few stations in San Francisco for music, news and nighttime entertainment. For most, television was still a few years in the future.
When I started writing my biweekly articles for the Register several years ago, I made notes from portions of the Napa library’s copy of the 1947 Napa City Directory. I refer to that material frequently when composing my essays.
A recent edition of the Napa Valley Register had a story about Napa-based The Doctors Company dedicating its south-county headquarters to Dr. Joseph Sabella, its founder and former CEO.
Through my many email contacts, I receive a lot of political writings and cartoons, jokes, how-to-do projects, memorabilia of the 1930 to 1970 eras as well as photos of past wars, exotic places, animals and trees. I get a lot of stuff, and some of it I forward on to other contacts. My comput…
Every year, as part of Christmas programming, television networks feature the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” starring James Stewart and Donna Reed. I never get tired watching that meaningful film classic.
In 1971, I, and my family consisting of wife Eileen and daughters Pam and Debbie and son Jeff, returned to our hometown of Napa at the end of my career in the U.S. Army.
I don’t think I would be too far out of line if I were to say that there is a restaurant or some sort of eatery on every corner — and many that are not on a corner – in downtown Napa today. Eating has become a big business in my hometown. It seems like new ones are opening weekly.
At about 3:20 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time, on Aug. 24, 2014, my wife and I were sound asleep in our comfortable king-size bed when a freight train went through our house. That was followed by violent rolling and shaking accompanied by sounds of breaking glass and toppling furniture. After wha…
The Napa Valley Register has, of late, carried numerous front-page articles about what is happening to the north side of the 1200 block of First Street, between Coombs and Randolph, in downtown Napa.
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The first half of the 20th century saw the downtown area of the city of Napa growing in size and permanence. Beautiful stone buildings replaced the original wooden structures of the 19th century and it appeared that they would be around for an eternity. Some are still here but others are not.
I have to admit, I have a hang-up about old downtown Napa buildings — buildings that were around during my youth and young adulthood. I have devoted a few of my past biweekly columns to those with history.
For most of Napa’s schools, school year 2013-14 ended a few days ago. I am assuming that this year’s seniors had an activity-filled year, had lots of fun and learned a lot. They are probably just now realizing that with the graduation ceremony, it was all over. They are no longer in high school.
A few weeks ago, I received an email that forwarded a photo of the old Wright Spot Drive-in in Napa. The photo brought back a lot of memories of Rome Wright, the owner, and his hole-in-the-wall diner on Third Street of the 1930s and ‘40s and, later, his 1950s drive-in restaurant on Soscol Av…
I was not around in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, but I am sure there were occasions where herds of cattle were driven through the center of what was then a small downtown Napa. While the likelihood of a cattle drive through downtown Napa in the 1990s might be remote, it actually h…
I recently received an email that forwarded a photo of the old Wright Spot drive-in and restaurant, a mid-20th century favorite. I don’t know the origin of the photo but it has been making the email rounds of local retired law enforcement officers. One of their members forwarded it to me.
Not long ago, our country sprang forward when it made its annual time adjustment from standard to daylight saving time, and, as I have done so many times in the past, I overslept that morning.
A few years ago, Russ Daugherty of Napa sent me some black and white photos of buildings that were prominent in downtown Napa about 1947 — right after World War II.
One of my Register essays of a couple of years ago was about the “good old days” — the days of my adolescence, teens and young adulthood in Napa — and how I missed them. Many of my seasoned citizen readers agreed with me.
I am composing this bi-weekly offering on the day after Thanksgiving, a day that, thanks to the advertising media, has become known as “Black Friday.” (I have heard it referred to as “Bleak Friday” by Thanksgiving purists because they say that it further erodes the purpose of what once was a…
Six days after the Dec. 7, 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, I celebrated my 12th birthday. I remember that Sunday morning attack like it happened yesterday. Our citizens were in shock, and their morale was low.