Question: For the longest time I’ve been looking for the monument to the Japanese internees in Pinedale, but can’t find it. I’ve heard that it’s very small, which is shocking after what they went through. Where is it located?
— Marilyn Madrid, Fresno
Answer: A small granite marker was installed in about 2001 by the former Coalition of Community Trails, according to founder Mark Keppler of Clovis. The group has since merged with Tree Fresno.
At that time there were no other markers or memorials to recognize the thousands of Valley citizens of Japanese descent who were interned in camps during World War II, Keppler said.
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The marker was placed along Nees Avenue near the Highway 41 overpass and beside a trail that traces former railroad tracks. Keppler said the location “was the furthest west we could place the marker on the Sugar Pine Trail and we wanted to do something to recognize the Japanese internment since nothing had been done on the actual (Pinedale) site at that point.”
The stone was etched with wording indicating its historical significance, but Keppler said he doesn’t recall the specific wording.
However, the wording proved offensive to at least one member of the local Japanese-American community. Dale Ikeda, a Fresno County Superior Court judge who is involved with the Central California District Council of the Japanese American Citizens League, objected to the stone’s wording and location.
“I thought the wording suggested that the internees were Japanese nationals, not citizens,” Ikeda said. “It struck me as sounding more like the site of a prisoner of war camp rather than a place where citizens and legal residents were held against their will without charges, trial or findings of guilt.”
Keppler said the memorial stone was later flipped over, obscuring the wording, but he’s not certain what became of the stone. “I’m not even sure it’s still there,” he said.
After Japanese war planes bombed Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 in 1942 calling for the internment of Japanese-American citizens.
In Fresno, there were detention centers in Pinedale and at the Fresno Fairgrounds, where Japanese Americans lived while awaiting the construction of 10 internment camps throughout the western United States.
Since the granite marker’s demise, the Central California District Council of the Japanese American Citizens League has installed two memorial plazas featuring story boards and history. They are in Pinedale at 625 W. Alluvial Ave., dedicated in 2009, and at the Fresno Fairgrounds, 1121 S. Chance Ave., dedicated in 2011. Both memorial plazas are open to the public.
Q: A photographic exhibit by Group F.64 took place at Fresno State College in 1933. It was only the group’s third public exhibition. Can you find any information about it?
— Matthew Roberts, Clovis
A: Group F.64 was formed in the fall of 1932 was an “energetic alliance” of seven San Francisco Bay area photographers who “joined to fight for recognition” of photography as an art form, according to Mary Street Alinder, historian and author of “Group F.64,” a detailed history of the group.
Group F.64 took its name from a lens setting that produces the “qualities of clearness and definition of the photographic image which is an important element in the work of members of this group,” according to a manifesto written when the group formed.
The initial seven members were Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, Sonya Noskowiak, Imogen Cunningham, Willard Van Dyke, John Paul Edwards and Henry Swift — all “brash and young and passionately committed,” wrote Alinder, who was Adams’ chief assistant from 1979 until his death in 1984.
Group F.64 staged its first exhibition at the M.H. de Young Memorial Museum in San Francisco in 1932. Its second exhibition was at the Carmel gallery owned by Dene Denny and Hazel Watrous in January 1933.
According to Alinder, the Fresno State exhibit from about Feb. 11 to Feb. 25, 1933, included works by Adams, Weston, Cunningham, Van Dyke and Noskowiak. At that time Fresno State was on the current Fresno City College campus.
The exhibit likely included the same prints the five photographers had shown at the de Young Museum and the Denny-Watrous Gallery. Each print was priced to sell at $10.
The titles of their prints were:
• Adams: Cottonwood Trunks Yosemite Valley, Golden Gate (without the Golden Gate Bridge, which opened five years later), Nevada Fall Yosemite Valley, Factory Building, Boards and Thistles, Pine Cone and Eucalyptus Leaves, and three portraits.
• Weston: Monterey Cypress, Pelican’s Wing, Eroded Rock Point Lobos, Kelp, Eroded Plank, Egg Plant (sic), Rock and Shell Arrangement, Artichoke-Halved, Pepper.
• Cunningham: Hen and Chickens, Rubber Plant, Leaf Pattern, Agave, Water Hyacinth, Sedum Crestate (a plant), Blossom of Water Hyacinth, Umbrella Handle and Hand, and a portrait.
• Van Dyke: Bone and Sky (Numbers 2, 3, 4 and 5), Yucca Blossom-Cross Section, Funnels, Fence Post, Death Valley and Plant Form.
• Noskowiak: Leaf, Kelp, Sand Pattern (two prints), Water Lily, Palm Blossom, Cactus, Hands and Water Lily Leaves.
While these five photographers would go on to notable careers, their Fresno State exhibit “opened and closed with only a whisper of notice,” Alinder wrote.
Q: There was a restaurant in Fresno in about 1984 called The Captain’s Table. It was very classy inside with lots of crystal lights, gold decor and linen tablecloths. The food was excellent. Who owned it and when did it close?
— Deby Simpson, Fresno
A: The Captain’s Table at 4061 N. Blackstone Ave. south of Ashlan Avenue operated from 1980 to 1985. Owners listed in Fresno city directories were Floyd and Carolyn Russ in 1980 and Sam Zraikitis after 1983.
The restaurant was next door to the Santa Rita Lodge in 1980, which became the Tropicana Lodge in 1983. By 1987 the hotel was the Rodeway Inn and the restaurant was called My Place.
An advertisement from the era boasted “Continental dining in an old San Francisco atmosphere” and promised “an elegant evening of dining and dancing.”
In 1982, The Fresno Bee’s restaurant critic, the late Madeline Davidson, wrote that “the food is fine, but not perfect. It’s the atmosphere at The Captain’s Table that I’m crooning about. What a great, nostalgic old-time supper club atmosphere this restaurant management has created.”
The night Davidson reviewed the restaurant she had fresh cream of asparagus soup that was “creamy, rich and a smashing shade of green.” The onion soup her dinner companion had was “a splendid marriage of deep, dark, flavorful broth, plenty of onions, fresh croutons and a sprinkling of hot pepper flakes for kicks.”
Davidson gave the salad course “a slightly better than average grade” for its “variety of crisp greens, the proverbial shredded carrot and cabbage and some slivers of beet.” The oil, red wine vinegar and dry Roquefort house dressing was “tart and light.”
She ordered chicken Oscar, a poultry version of a classic veal dish served with fresh asparagus and crab legs, but she judged the chicken to be “on the dry side.” Her companion had red snapper on a bed of spinach with “a delicate wine-mushroom cream sauce” served alongside carrots “redolent of rosemary and onions” and zucchini “treated with a shot of garlic.”
A strawberry tart was the star of the dessert tray, she said.
In the early 1980s the chef was Jean Pierre Hannart. Dinner prices ranged from $9.50 and up but included soup and salad. Pianist Bud Noble and his combo played Monday through Saturday nights for dancing.
“It’s odd that restaurants connected to motels cause the experienced gourmand to wrinkle his nose,” Davidson wrote, encouraging readers not to judge The Captain’s Table by its surroundings.