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Ask Me: National Hardware owner’s daughters helped create Pinedale landmark

The story behind National Hardware rock-decorated wall

Lisa Guzman talks about the concrete wall sections at the family business, National Hardware, that her father built with much family help in the early 1970s.
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Lisa Guzman talks about the concrete wall sections at the family business, National Hardware, that her father built with much family help in the early 1970s.

Q: While on one of the Fresno Mindfulness Walks through the Pinedale area, we came across some interesting artwork behind National Hardware. Could you tell me more about these rock walls?

Amy Roberts, Fresno

A: The block-long wall of concrete panels decorated with river rocks in a variety of artful designs was constructed by the late P. Guzman Jr., owner of National Hardware, and his three young daughters as a summer project in the early 1970s.

Linda Guzman-Ellenberger of Fresno said their father gave her and her twin, the late Laura Guzman Magill, and their older sister Lisa Guzman their own panels to decorate.

Dad was very artistic. He needed something esthetically pleasing, and he always cared about the Pinedale community.

Linda Guzman-Ellenberger on her father, P. Guzman Jr.

He told them, “You get to design one panel, to design yourself,” Guzman-Ellenberger recalled. She and Laura were about 8 years old and Lisa was about 14. “The least sophisticated sections of the wall” were the two panels done by the twins, she said.

“I have tools, what looks like what you find at a hardware store: a hammer, a nail, a tack,” Guzman-Ellenberger said with a laugh. Laura decorated her panel with a landscape theme with the sun and a bird. The twins also spelled out their names on their very own panels.

“It was a huge project. All the panels were laid out across the street. He owned that land,” Guzman-Ellenberger said. Wooden forms were built for each panel and sand was spread in the forms to hold rocks laid out in various patterns. Cement was then poured over the designs. When the panels hardened they were mounted between metal I-beam posts.

“Dad was very artistic. He needed something esthetically pleasing, and he always cared about the Pinedale community,” Guzman-Ellenberger recalled. “He wanted to build a fence, but wanted it to be something for the community.” Her father also built decorative walls in front and behind the family home.

Lisa Guzman designed three panels, two of which reflected her high school years. “I had a VW bus with Keep on Truckin’ and one with a peace sign,” she said. Her other panel featured a geometric diamond design.

68 and 55Energy conservation numbers recommended in the 1970s for thermostats and speed limits

One of the panels their father designed also reflected the 1970s, she said. It has the numbers 68 and 55, references to efforts to conserve energy: keep thermostats at 68 degrees and the speed limit at 55 mph.

The wall is an integral part of the community and the family’s history, said Lisa Guzman, who works at the family business. “If we ever change this place, those are coming to my house.”

Q: In the early 1960s the Fresno Folk Club, now the Fresno Folklore Society, used to sponsor concerts in Beverly Hall. Can you tell me more about the building?

Evo Bluestein, Clovis

A: Beverly Hall, as it was commonly known, was the clubhouse built for the Beverly Park Civic and Social Club in the late 1930s or early 1940s.

A 1938 Fresno Bee story lists officers elected to the “newly organized” club “which has a membership made up of residents and property owners in the Beverly Park addition.” Virgil Safford was elected president and other officers were Mrs. W.A. Shrewsbury, R.R. Robertson, Mrs. R.R. Robertson, Mrs. R.R. Robertson Jr., E.L. Todd, J.L. Harper and E.I. Van Patton (spelled Van Patten in a later story).

The Skirts and Flirts teen square dance club, the Widows of WWI, the Flora Club of the San Joaquin Valley, the Sequoia Camera Club and several churches met there.

In other business, the members discussed plans to build a clubhouse, which was later built at 2970 E. Weldon Ave.

The subdivision was bounded by McKinley and Weldon avenues and First and Mariposa streets and included 110 homes by 1941.

Over the years several groups used the clubhouse. In the 1970s the Skirts and Flirts teen square dance club, the Widows of WWI, the Flora Club of the San Joaquin Valley, the Sequoia Camera Club and several churches met there. It was also used as a polling place.

According to Fresno city directories, the last use of the building was in 2007. The building apparently has been vacant since then and now is boarded up.

More about: After the answer to a question about the Berry house in Selma was published on Nov. 22, Linda Berry of Kingsburg wrote to share more information about the old family home.

When her husband’s parents, the late Ruth and Bob Berry Sr., were married in the late 1930s, the house built by William J. Berry in 1888 was moved from Young Street to their ranch on Rose Avenue in Selma.

“The top floor was removed, but the first floor remained the same,” Linda Berry wrote. “It’s still standing.” Her husband, Bob Berry Jr., grew up in the home. His great-great-grandfather was William J. Berry’s brother.

“Bob and I lived in the house for four years when we first married in 1961,” she said. “I was told it was the first house in Selma to have an indoor toilet. It was still there when we lived there.” The toilet had a steel-lined wooden tank mounted on the wall above the toilet. It was operated by a long pull chain.

Berry said she has heard the top floor of the house is “still somewhere in the area; I need to find it.”

Ask Me publishes on the second and fourth Sundays of each month. Paula Lloyd is a freelance writer. Send questions to askpaulalloyd@yahoo.com 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.

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