37 years ago

Jan. 3, 1979

FINANCIAL WINDFALL — Movie and television producers spent $1,425,000 here in 1978 to make seven major films and several episodes of “Little House on the Prairie.” Ernie Durham of the Sonora Motion Picture Association, which assists production companies locally, said several commercials also were filmed in Tuolumne County this year, but spending estimates aren’t available.

Television’s popular “Little House” — portions of which have been filmed here since the series began — outspent all other productions during its three visits to the county in 1978.

“Another big spender was Raid on Coffeeville,” Durham said, “with total expenditures exceeded $250,000 in April and May.”

56 years ago

Jan. 20, 1960

The international flares of racial hatred reached out last night and seared Sonora. When the Drabkin brothers, Izzy and Ike, opened their furniture store on Washington Street this morning they found a huge swastika on one window, another on the other window, together with the word “Jew.” The defacing was done with black spray paint, apparently in haste, with both swastikas approximately three feet in height.

Sheriff Mervin Mullin was summonsed immediately, but there was little evidence left at the scene. The Drabkins, who have been in business here for 40 years, said it was the first time they have been victimized by a graphic display of racial hatred, and they could recall no similar instances in Tuolumne County. The Sonora incident comes after weeks of similar attacks throughout the world — attacks accompanied by reports of Nazi reactivation.

63 years ago

Jan. 27, 1953

Is it a man? A bird? Why, it’s a weather balloon!

Night watchman William Reiser looked up early Sunday morning while on duty at the Montezuma Lumber Company, and thought momentarily all those flying saucer stories might be true. What he actually saw, he now thinks, was a huge plastic balloon settling slowly in a nearby field. Sheriff Don Vars was notified the following morning by George M. Oman, of Chinese Camp, when his daughter Colleen, 13, and a girl friend discovered a parachute with radio equipment while on a picnic. Meanwhile, it has been recently reported that weather balloons have been dropping radio equipment via parachute in and around the Cherry Valley.

69 years ago

Jan. 10, 1947

END OF AN ERA — The retirement this week of J. H. (Jack) Dambacher, ever-popular lawman of Tuolumne County, brings to a close nearly a quarter century of active, colorful and oft times exciting history of our sheriff’s office.

Jan. 17, 1947

A bill proposing that the salaries of the superintendents of the schools in three Mother Lode counties be fixed at $4,000 a year was introduced in the State Senate on Tuesday by Senator Jesse M. Mays, of Angels Camp, and Senator Chris N. Jepersen of Atascadero. The counties to be affected by the bill are Tuolumne, Calaveras and Mariposa.

89 years ago

Jan. 22, 1927

Last Saturday night and Sunday morning was a continuation of the clean-up activities in Jamestown, inaugurated by Sheriff Dambacher and his intrepid force. In the Martinez hotel, Frank Bergantine, the orthography of whose name is vouched for by Under Sheriff Luddy, was caught in possession of two bottles of wine and two bottles of whiskey. John A. Johnson was also taken from a building opposite the Emporium with five bottles of whiskey. This was Saturday night, and both men subsequently appeared before Judge Opie, pleaded guilty to possession, in violation of the Prohibition Law, and were fined $500 each. The fines were paid immediately. On the following Sabbath morning, Frank Rhodes was taken in by Dambacher and his officers at the Club Saloon, where the stock was more extensive in variety. Rhodes, who was the bartender of the place, had a bottle of homemade gin to better satisfy tastes, and he had the old standbys as well — two bottles each of whiskey and wine. He paid his respect and a $500 fine to Judge Opie the next day. Otherwise, it was quiet times in Jamestown over the weekend.

Jan. 29, 1927

Joe Oneto and Ed Hill have made repairs on the partly rebuilt wooden wheel that was formerly used to ring the big bell at St. Ann’s Catholic Church in Columbia. This makes the task of ringing the bell much easier, and its tones ring out loud and clear. It was tried out Sunday, and again Monday afternoon, with very satisfactory results.

113 years ago

Jan. 13, 1903


• You want to keep a watchful eye on your pet canine, for the dog poisoner is abroad in the land.

• Cracking timbers in the No. 2 north level of the Jumper, at Stent, caused the miners employed there to desert that portion of the mine. A short time afterward the entire underground workforce was called to the surface. Upon close examination it was found that the hanging wall in the second north level had broken down. Other portions of the mine have been declared safe, and miners are returning to work.

• Charles Claytor, local telephone man, is keeping busy these days installing telephone boxes in Sonora for the Sunset Telephone Company.

• Old Judge Whiskey is in the race to win!