The activities and actions of the local municipal governments and their agencies offered ample stories for the 1950s editions of the Napa Register. These stories ranged in topic from new facilities, operations and ordinances to would-be scandals and even live entertainment.
In early 1950, the Napa Register ran an intriguing front page headline, “Just Rumors! Cop Gossip Is Found Invalid.” According to the article, for several weeks stories were circulating throughout Napa that members of the Napa Police Department had been arrested for stealing produce from grocery delivery trucks.
The Register said, “City officials, in an unprecedented move today, took action to quash (these) unfounded but persistent rumors...” Following many weeks of interviewing individuals regarding the source, or sources, of this supposed incident, “the inquiry disclosed no facts to substantiate the rumors.” The Register continued, “The public statement was issued for the purpose of clearing any shadow of suspicion from the city’s law officers.”
During the investigation, the probable event that gave rise to those rumors was actually quite innocent. Apparently, early one morning, a grocery truck driver was experiencing problems with his vehicle. After the Napa police officers successfully assisted the driver, he expressed his gratitude by giving the officers bunches of bananas.
Long after Napans had settled down following the quashing of that rumor, St. Helenans also had something to talk about. Nearing the conclusion of 1953, the Register reported the St. Helena council members had unanimously adopted a resolution authorizing the purchase of a site for the community’s new city hall and firehouse. As part of that resolution, the council also allocated $25,000 to purchase the desired parcel. It was the Main and Pine Streets property owned by Grace and Warren Wright.
Two years earlier, 1951, the city of Napa held a groundbreaking ceremony for its new city hall. Its location is the present-day School Street site of the current city hall. By the end of the decade the new municipal government building was fully occupied and operational. During the summer of 1959, in an effort to increase community access to the departments housed within city hall, the city offices stayed open later on Fridays until 6 p.m.. The expanded office hours lasted for only the initial 90-day trial period.
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With all of these new programs and facilities, Napa welcomed any possibility to increase its revenues. A mid-1954 Register reported the details regarding a hopeful boost to the city’s coffers. “A special census, expected to increase the city’s share in state per capita taxes, will be launched here...The census will cost approximately $2,410 to conduct.”
The potential benefits appeared to outweigh those expenses. The Register explained, “According to City Auditor Perry Scott, the estimated population increase is between 1,000 and 1,500 persons...(and) could result in an increase in state funds of better than $12,000.” The article noted the census takers would go door-to-door to conduct the “head-count.”
While those census takers were welcomed by Napa’s residents, the typical door-to-door salesperson frequently received a cooler reception. In fact, the Napa County Board of Supervisors were so concerned about the increase in solicitations as well as the declining ethics of those individuals, they called for the writing of a new county ordinance to strictly govern those solicitors.
The intent of the proposed ordinance was “to protect the public from unscrupulous persons...” The Register added, Napa County Sheriff “Clausen said that all peddlers and solicitors should be fingerprinted and registered by the sheriff, so that persons with long criminal records could be kept out of the county.” The article also stated the proposed county ordinance resulted from Napa City’s strict solicitors regulation that “forced peddlers into the outlying areas...”
On a lighter note, an early 1959 Register article announced, “The fame of (Napa) Mayor Joe Greco’s singing family is slated to spread to new fields... when Station KTVU (Channel 2) airs ‘Salute to Napa’... The mayor and the Greco Quartet will star on the weekly show extolling the virtues of California cities.”
While most of the program was to feature the quartet’s performance, for five minutes Greco promoted the attributes of Napa and all of the county to entice the viewers to visit Napa Valley.