Fresnans bring picture memories to share in keepsake book (video)

The Fresno BeeJune 28, 2014 

Fresno County residents brought photos to the Fresno Central Library on June 28 to be included in a photo history book being produced by The Fresno Bee. The book will be available later in 2014.


Jill Southfield brought a faded photograph of a little girl to the library in downtown Fresno.

The picture captured her mother, Frieda Schafer Southfield, sitting on grass with relatives who were taking a break from picking grapes.

Today, the farm land is part of the Fig Garden Golf Course, but it once belonged to Jill Southfield's grandfather, Carl Schafer, who came to Fresno in 1918 from Russia. He lost the land during the Great Depression.

Southfield's picture was one of many scanned Saturday morning at the library for a hard-bound keepsake book about Fresno's early history that is being produced by The Bee.

The 144-page book will showcase photos taken from the late 1800s to 1939 that are submitted by readers and also provided by the Fresno County Public Library, the Fresno County Historical Society and the Clovis-Big Dry Creek Historical Society and Museum. The book will be called "Fresno Memories -- The Early Years."

Southfield, a historian for the Civil Air Patrol, said the book will be a treasure: "These were our pioneers that built Fresno."

The Valley's early residents will be well represented, said Brad Fenison of Pediment Books of Vancouver, Wash. He was scanning photos at the library. "They're just amazing photos," he said. "There are lots of great street scenes and scenes of agriculture and logging."

Fresno's early commerce also will be on display.

Jerry Bird, 78, of Fresno, brought a photo of his father, Otis Bird, circa 1930. His father is shown outside Bird & Owens Groceries -- Soda Fountain. The store was in downtown Fresno where the UCSF-Fresno building now stands, Jerry Bird said.

The photo harkens to a simpler and cheaper time: A copy of The Bee was 5 cents -- 10 cents on Sunday -- as advertised on a little blackboard propped outside the store.

Jerry Bird, a retired Air Force officer and former director of Tree Fresno, said the family photo is special. "I keep that picture framed in a very important spot."

About the time Jerry Bird's dad was selling groceries, Irwin David Chow Jr.'s grandfather was selling fruits and vegetables from a produce market that spanned a half-block at Mariposa and C streets in Fresno.

The David Chow Produce Co., as captured in a photograph taken in the 1930s, shows David Chow standing in front of a shiny black car with workers standing by dusty produce trucks that are lined in a row. The picture was taken in the 1930s, said Irwin Chow, 69, a Fresno pharmacist.

His grandfather built the produce business after coming to the Valley from China, he said. He died in 1960, his grandson said.

Susan Kidder, 68, a retired letter carrier, belongs to a "You Know You're From Fresno" group and brought photos of her family's long history for the book.

Her grandfather, George Larsen, was a blacksmith and lived at Poplar and Belmont in a house that still stands, she said.

She has happy memories of his blacksmith shop at Fresno and E streets. The Larsen-Krog shop probably opened at the turn of the century, but closed in the 1970s, she said. "It was a kid's Disneyland to just go down there."

The keepsake book can be pre-ordered online at The preorder cost is $29.95, which is $10 off the usual price. First orders will ship Dec. 5.

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6310, or @beehealthwriter on Twitter.

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