Fresno Beehive

The first credit cards were issued in Fresno – and other facts on National Trivia Day

JoAnn Skoufis, right, holding a photo of her father Fred sits with her mother Dorothy Skoufis who holds an originial business sign for the BankAmericard, a credit card that pre-dates Visa and was test marketed in Fresno by the late Fred Skoufis of Bank of America. CRAIG KOHLRUSS/THE FRESNO BEE
JoAnn Skoufis, right, holding a photo of her father Fred sits with her mother Dorothy Skoufis who holds an originial business sign for the BankAmericard, a credit card that pre-dates Visa and was test marketed in Fresno by the late Fred Skoufis of Bank of America. CRAIG KOHLRUSS/THE FRESNO BEE Fresno Bee Staff Photo

January 4 is National Trivia Day, which was marked, on Twitter at least, with a barrage of useless information – from the proportions of Michelangel’s David, to the patent awarded to a Hollywood actress in 1942 for a “frequency-hopping spread spectrum,” known now as Wi-Fi.

For the Fresnophiles out there, here are five pieces of Fresno trivia that you might not know (but probably do).

Did you know – Bank of America issued 60,000 unsolicited credit cards to Fresno residents in 1958? At the time, it was pretty much a failure and BankAmericard lost $20 million — more than $150 million in today’s cash, according to Mental Floss. But the company eventually righted the ship. In 1976, BankAmericard became known as Visa.

Did you know – Director Sam Peckinpah was a native Fresnan? Peckinpah was essentially the Quentin Tarantino of his day, reinventing the western genre with violence and gore in films like “The Wild Bunch,” and “Garrett and Billy the Kid.” He studied theater at Fresno State College, before making it big(ish) in films.

Squirrels

Did you know – There was a time when Fresno’s courthouse park didn’t have squirrels? That was until 1963, when state Assembly Member George Zenovich captured a few from Sacramento’s Capitol Park and brought them back to Fresno. It caused some good-natured hubbub at the time. We all know how that turned out.

Did you know – Fresno has a spot in the hip-hop dance history? That’s thanks to Timothy Solomon, aka “Popin’ Pete,” who popularized the body jerking robotic dance style that came to be known as poppin and got big applause for it when his dance group was on “Soul Train” in 1979.

And in a bit a shameless self-promotion:

Did you know – The Fresno Bee’s winged mascot Scoopy was created in 1943 for a donation of $1,500 to the Army Relief Fund, by none other than Walt Disney? Also, Scoopy had a twin brother Gaby (used for McClatchy-owned radio stations (including KMJ).

scoopy
Scoopy and Gaby, created by Walt Disney in September 1943 (Half Page) ARCHIVE

Joshua Tehee: 559-441-6479, @joshuatehee

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