Ask Me

Catholic school in Clovis opened 54 years ago

Our Lady of Perpetual Help Roman Catholic School in Clovis opened near the church of the same name in 1962. The land for the church and the school was acquired over six decades.
Our Lady of Perpetual Help Roman Catholic School in Clovis opened near the church of the same name in 1962. The land for the church and the school was acquired over six decades.

Q: How was the land acquired where Our Lady of Perpetual Help Roman Catholic Church and school were built?

Marge Beltran, Clovis

A: The land where Our Lady of Perpetual Help Roman Catholic Church and its school were built at 929 Harvard Ave. and Ninth Street in Clovis was acquired from three different owners over the span of 63 years.

According to the Fresno Title Group, the first parcel was acquired from John J. and Margaret Sullivan on Nov. 14, 1928. The deed notes that the owners were paid $10 “in consideration” for the land.

Jacqui Ramirez, director of parish operations for Our Lady of Perpetual Help, said the $10 was paid so the church would not have to pay a large amount of taxes on the property. (An earlier version of this column erroneously reported that Ramirez worked for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno and that the Sullivans sold the land for $10 so they could avoid paying taxes, which they would have had to pay if the land had been a donation.)

Ramirez said the parcel was acquired for the original church and was at Eighth Street across from where the school sits today.

The title company records show the second parcel was acquired on Jan. 13, 1959, from the partnership of Lowman and Pennington, but it’s not clear if the land was donated or sold to the church.

The Our Lady of Perpetual Help Roman Catholic School was built in 1962. The school held an open house on Sept. 9 that year and classes began the next day.

Classes were taught by nuns from the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception. Five teachers and two aides taught classes in four rooms when the school opened. Two more classrooms were built in 1964. The school opened for first- through eighth-grade students, and a kindergarten class was added in 1976.

The church was founded years before the school opened. Plans for the school began in 1958 under Monsignor Matthew O’Brien, pastor of the church. Today his name is written in the sidewalk near the school, according to a book published for the school’s 50th anniversary in 2012.

According to title records, the last parcel of land, west of the school site, was acquired on Dec. 23, 1991, from Joseph G. Becker, who served as parish priest from 1970 to 1991. The deed shows a “documentary transfer tax of $33.”

Q: When I was a youngster my father worked at Ideal Dairy, which was located in the Easton area. Can you tell me a little about this business?

Bobby Hamblen, Fresno

A: The Ideal Dairy in Easton was first mentioned in The Fresno Bee in 1932 and the last mention was in 1952. The dairy was owned by Walter and Elizabeth Van Gammeren, both natives of Holland.

A 1941 advertisement for Ideal Dairy in The Bee touts “milk for your family from the new cream separation bottle” and shows a drawing of a milk bottle with a slightly curved neck. The dairy’s phone number is listed as 2-3603.

Walter Van Gammeren died in 1941, according to the California Death Index. He was 45.

A 1952 Fresno Bee advertisement extols, “Drink milk for economy. No other food gives you so much for so little.” The advertisement is sponsored by the Fresno Milk Institute and lists Ideal Dairy with other consolidated milk producers. The other dairies are Borden’s, Producers, Purity and Woodbury.

At some point Ideal Dairy apparently merged with Woodbury Dairy, although the dates are unclear. A 1977 Bee story about the Producers’ Dairy acquisition of Woodbury Ideal Dairy said that business was 40 years old, putting its beginning in 1937.

Q: I would like to know more about drive-thru mini marts in Fresno. I remember one on Fresno and Ashlan and another on Barstow near Fresno. I rode my bike to go and buy snacks.

Alan Ball, Fresno

A: Wilson’s Lollipop Dairy Drive In at 4180 Fresno St. at the southeast corner with Ashlan Avenue was opened by Robin C. and Gladys Wilson in about 1960, according to Fresno city directories.

A Fresno Bee story about an attempted holdup at the store in 1968 lists the name as Lollipop Ranch. Wilson, then 62, told police “two boys about 17 years old drove into the place and their pickup truck bumped a display. A discussion developed over the incident.” Wilson said one of the boys then got out of the truck.

“The youth displayed a revolver tucked in his waistband and told Wilson, ‘Give me the money,’ ” the story said. Wilson told the boy, “I’m not going to give it to you.”

“At about that time another customer showed up and the youth got into the truck and drove off,” the story said.

The 1973 city directory lists the store as Woodbury’s Lollipop and the store was vacant by 1974.

The Roselane Dairy Drive In was opened at 485 E. Barstow Ave. east of Fresno Street by Larry Raven in about 1966, city directories show. By 1969 it was listed as R Pantry Drive-in Dairy.

By 1972 the store was Metro Markets but by later that year it was Zip N Go Market.

Ask Me publishes on the second and fourth Sundays of each month. Paula Lloyd is a freelance writer. Send questions to or by mail to Paula Lloyd, c/o The Fresno Bee Newsroom, 1626 E St., Fresno CA 93786. Please include your name, city of residence and a phone number.