Ask Me

Blackstone Ave. building in Fresno once housed Thrifty Green Stamp

The New Joy Church occupies the building at 1649 N. Blackstone Ave. in Fresno.
The New Joy Church occupies the building at 1649 N. Blackstone Ave. in Fresno.

Q: What is the history of the building at 1649 N. Blackstone Ave.? I used to attend a church that met there.

Elizabeth Anderson, Fresno

A: The address originally housed the Thrifty Green Stamp Co. in 1957, according to Fresno city directories. At least by 1965, the building was divided into two small storefronts. That year the Green Stamp business is shown as being in the rear of the building with a lawyer’s office in the front.

The address was vacant in 1968 but housed Party Bazaar party equipment sales and rentals the following year. Starting in 1972, People’s Furniture occupied the front part of the building for two years, but the rear space was vacant.

By 1975 California Piano and Organ had moved in. The building was vacant by 1981. Discount Tire Service was there in 1982, but the space was vacant again in 1983.

In 1984 the RTO appliance rental business was there, but only for one year. It’s not clear what else was in the building over the next five years, but GP Industries cabinetmakers occupied the space in 1990.

The following year Leo’s Professional Audio is listed as the occupant, followed by the Sound Stage in 1993 and other music businesses until 2001. The building remained vacant until 2003, when the Open Door Ministries had a church there.

Since 2014 a variety of retail businesses, including a smoke shop, have occupied the address. Pastor David Jarrez said New Joy Church moved into the space on Easter last year.

Q: My dad, Mike Pavlovich, and his business partner, Bob Bartulovic, owned and operated the Alaska Ice Cream Co. on Belmont Avenue. Before then it was located downtown. I would like to know the history of the downtown location.

Nick Pavlovich, Clovis

A: The Alaska Ice Cream Co. opened at Fresno and M streets downtown in May 1935, according to a Fresno Bee story. The owners were Robert Bartulovic and L.G. Peterson. Bartulovic had worked for other ice cream makers for seven years. Peterson had worked for a bank.

Their new business featured “fixtures designed for the convenience of the drive-in customers,” the story said.

A May 25, 1935, Bee advertisement said the Alaska Ice Cream Manufacturing Co. would open at 7 p.m., with free ice cream served until 8 p.m.

Mike Pavlovich became the new partner in 1936.

A July 3, 1940, advertisement in The Bee announced that the ice cream shop was moving to 1415 Belmont Ave. at San Pablo Avenue and told readers to “watch for grand opening soon,” which followed on July 18.

“Many attractive uniformed waitresses have been employed to care for your orders and see that service is prompt and courteous in your car or at the counter,” a grand opening advertisement said. It pictured nine waitresses in dark uniform dresses with white collars and aprons.

In addition to ice cream, the shop served lunches, including chili, barbecue sandwiches, hamburgers and “all the other wanted sandwiches,” which would be “prepared in a most appealing fashion.” The shop also served milkshakes, sodas, frosted drinks and sundaes.

The opening of the new store featured a free ice cream cone to visitors from 5 to 7 p.m. The store was closed on Tuesdays.

Another advertisement the following week included prices for cartons of take-home ice cream. Ice cream hand-scooped out of large buckets was 20 cents a pint, 40 cents for a quart. “Ready-pak” ice cream was 13 cents a pint or 25 cents for a quart.

Ronald and Evelyn Letnes bought the business in 1958.

More about: After an answer about the history of the School House Restaurant building appeared on July 10, Bobbe Newman of Sanger wrote to say that the last name of her great-grandfather, Milton Moseby Jack, had been misspelled.

The incorrect spelling of his last name as Jacks was found in a history of Frankwood School in the book “Public Schools of Fresno County.” Jack helped organize the school in the late 1800s.

Jack served as “an assessor for that part of Fresno County beginning in April 1871 when he was 28,” Newman said.

“His daughter, Lucy Emmaline Jack, was my grandmother. She, my great-uncle Robert Jack and a great-aunt, Ida Mary Jack, were part of the first class at Frankwood School,” she said.

The former schoolhouse now houses the restaurant.

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.