Question: The miniseries "Fresno" includes scenes of the Fresno Water Tower. Was filming really done at the Water Tower, or on a Hollywood set?
-- Joe Ceballos, Clovis
Answer: According to Ray Arthur, who heads the Fresno Film Commission, the exterior shots of the Water Tower were filmed in Fresno.
"That was before my time, but I've been told all the exterior shots were filmed on the tower," Arthur said. The few scenes filmed in Fresno included those in front of the Water Tower and at the Fresno County Courthouse.
The 1986 five-episode series on CBS starred Carol Burnett, Dabney Coleman and Charles Grodin, with a small part played by Michael Richards, who later gained fame as Kramer on "Seinfeld." The show spoofed the popular "Dallas" evening soap opera, with the Valley's raisin crop standing in for the Texas cattle industry.
Fresno Mayor Dale Doig had a bit part playing himself.
Q: Did the Pledge of Allegiance ever include a straight-arm salute?
-- Phyllis Luallen, Sanger
A: Francis Bellamy, who wrote the original Pledge of Allegiance in 1892, described how the pledge should be recited.
People should stand with hands at their sides facing the flag, Bellamy directed. As the pledge begins, the military salute -- straight right hand touching the forehead -- should be made.
When the pledge comes to the words "to my flag" -- which were changed to "the flag of the United States of America" in 1923 -- "the hand is extended gracefully, palm upward, toward the flag and remains in this gesture till the end of the affirmation, whereupon all hands immediately drop to the side," Bellamy said.
The military salute was abandoned soon after in favor of the right hand over the heart, but raising the right hand remained part of the salute, except that the palm was turned down.
In the early 1940s, during World War II, the extended arm move was abandoned in favor of holding the right hand over the heart during the entire pledge, because the straight arm salute was considered too similar to that of the Nazi Party, according to the Independence Hall Association of Philadelphia.
Q: What happened to the Sun Maid Furniture Co. on Broadway? My parents bought all their furniture there and I loved the big stairway to the second level.
-- Jamie Davies, Kerman
A: The Sun Maid Furniture Co. opened in about 1922 at 841 Broadway.
In 1942, owner Arpiar Markarian and his sons bought the former Barrett-Hicks Hardware Co. at 1027 Broadway between Tulare and Mariposa streets and moved the furniture business there. The new location was twice as big as the first store.
In 1949, a fire in the attic caused $75,000 damage to the store, which reopened five months later after a $100,000 remodel. New to the store was a model of an "all-electric kitchen and laundry room," according to a Fresno Bee story.
The store closed in 1973 and the building was torn down. A parking lot covers the property today.