My name is Thomas W. Jarvis. I was born in 1940 to George and Retha Jarvis in Evansville, Indiana.
I grew up hunting and fishing with my uncles and childhood friends. I went to school there until I was 16, when my family moved to San Diego. I spent half my junior year living in a house on the beach. Going from my backdoor to the ocean to play and swim was great.
In January of 1957 we moved to Fresno near Fresno Street and Ashlan Avenue. At that time Clovis School District came into Fresno city limits. I had my choice of three schools to pick from and I went on to graduate from Clovis High School in 1958. In my senior year, I started working for the Star Light Drive Inn Theater near Fresno and Shaw, now the location of Macy’s.
I started at Fresno City College and went on to Fresno State. During college I went to work for Walter Smith Men’s and Boy’s clothing store as a shoe salesman. We were the largest single unit men’s store west of the Mississippi.
Never miss a local story.
In 1960 I married my first wife, Joan Tolle, whose family was in the cattle business. There were a lot of laughs over a suit and tie man becoming a cowboy. I was 21 at the time, so a childhood dream came true: I got to play cowboy.
For the next 18 years it was an interesting time, from cowboy in learning, to suit and sports coat buyer for Walter Smith’s store. I was then promoted to store manager of our Fashion Fair store. In the second year our store in Fashion Fair did over $1 million, setting a record for one store.
Joan and I have two wonderful girls, Cindy and Carey, married to wonderful husbands. Cindy and Randy have three children, the oldest, Maddie and Dan, have given us a great granddaughter. Carey and Michael have four girls. The two oldest are in college at BYU Utah and BYU Idaho.
After 18 years of marriage Joan and I divorced. I left Walter Smith’s to open my own store. It was called Fig Garden Clothing. We were the first store to offer men’s clothing at a discount price, 25 to 30 percent off the normal retail price of other stores in Fresno. After a couple of years the economy took a downturn and all stores started discounting their merchandise, too.
About this time my life took a change for the better, I met my future wife Marci Halstead. We were married three years later — best move I ever made. I was offered a job with Harry Coffee’s as store and operations manager.
After Coffee’s closed, Marci and I opened In Style II Men’s Clothing. We specialized in group sales, along with a men’s store in Fresno. In group sales you have to be able to fit all members, no matter what size. Example: from a 36 short to a 66 extra long. We had to know what manufactures could do this or we had to have it custom made. We closed In Style in 2007 and I retired.
During our working years and after, Marci and I cooked for her school parties and club parties. Our specialty was barrel cooked tri-tip. Our friend Frank asked us to cook for Field Day, an annual contest with Amateur Radio operators talking to each other all over the world. There were different types of communication and you wanted the most contacts in each. We decided that we were not going to be the ones at Field Day that didn’t have a license. We took the test and Marci went on to get a General with code and I got a General license.
We were asked to join Mar IV region for the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services. We had a special truck and satellite trailer that we could set up anywhere for fire, police or others so they were able to have phone and wifi communications.
During the last 10 years we bought a Miata sports car and joined the San Joaquin Valley club. We have been on an 18-day trip to Oregon, many overnight and day runs. Marci and I have both been president of the club. We just bought a 2008 Corvette and joined the Central Valley Corvettes of Fresno. We just got back from President’s Mystery Run and are looking forward to a run in 2016 called North by Northwest to Canada.
The last big event for me was when we moved from Madera to Clovis. I had heard about the Clovis Senior Activity Center, so I stopped by, as I like to play pinochle. It was a rainy day, the front desk volunteer pointed me in the right direction, and I walk in ... My first thought, “old people”, so I walked out, got to the front door and said “Tom you are 70, so you’re old too.” From then on it was wonderful.
About six months ago my friend Richard Van Diest asked me to help out at Jolly Times. We meet the second Thursday of the month for music, dancing, activities and food prepared by the Kiwanis. It turns out that Marci’s mom and dad were Jolly Times members many years ago. We just had our largest turn out in November with 72 guests for lunch. After being at the senior center for five years, you can’t find a better group of staff and volunteers. They always have time for a question and a smile on their face. If you are a senior, this should be your first visit; activities, classes, friends and staff who are about you. Thank you Clovis Senior Activity Center for all that you have done for me and the seniors of Clovis.