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Jim Bulls

by Jim Bulls


Let me begin by rectifying a long-held belief by some and perpetuated by others: Jesse Janzen was not an old Danish sea captain. Even though many people will say Jesse retired from the sea and ships, it was actually his father who was the captain. That being said, let’s get back to our story about the Opera House.

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by Jim Bulls


Reedley was just a teenager of 15 years when Jesse Jansen raised the curtain on opening night in 1903 at the brand new Opera House. But in just those few short years leading up to this gala event, so much had happened that it warrants a look further back into Reedley’s history.

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Imprisoned! A Reedley History Article

IN THE December 6 ISSUE

FROM THE 2014 Articles,
andHometown History,
andJim Bulls
SECTIONS

by Jim Bulls



From Craycroft bricks kilned on G Street by Chinese immigrants some 122 years ago, I rose near the railroad tracks of Reedley. I was called the Granger Warehouse and I would soon be known as the largest wheat warehouse west of the Mississippi River. When the bottom fell out of the wheat market, I became the home of the largest raisin plant in the world. I had a part in providing tasty treats to our doughboys during World War I.

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Reedley History: Reunions

IN THE November 8 ISSUE

FROM THE 2014 Articles,
andHometown History,
andJim Bulls
SECTIONS

by Jim Bulls


Old Moral Cemetery, Pottawattamie County, Oklahoma, 1946. I had just turned five and this was my first reunion. The family all gathered around Great-Grandma Eliza Jane’s grave. Her dying wish was never to have rain fall on her grave, so when she was buried the men-folk built a rock box about three feet high with a slightly domed top to shed water. Now, it was covered with picnic baskets filled with fried chicken, corn on the cob, potato salad, deviled eggs and biscuits. For dessert, Uncle Glen churned up some homemade ice cream to be served with your choice of apple, cherry, pecan or pumpkin pie. After lunch, the relatives walked among the graves, reminiscing and telling stories about family members who have gone before, while the kids played tag around the tombstones.

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Prelude to the Reedley Fiesta

IN THE October 4 ISSUE

FROM THE 2014 Articles,
andHometown History,
andJim Bulls
SECTIONS

by Jim Bulls


Before wheat, there were the Yokuts people who lived along the river. They would build rafts to float to the great Tulare Lake during flood time, to fish and hunt for geese and ducks in preparation for the winter. They lived off the land and were good caretakers of the environment.

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The Continuing Saga of the Granger

IN THE September 13 ISSUE

FROM THE 2014 Articles,
andHometown History,
andJim Bulls
SECTIONS

by Jim Bulls


Back in 1976, the year our nation celebrated its bicentennial, we looked around locally and realized that many of Reedley’s historic building landmarks had slipped away.
Gone was the headquarters ranch house of the town’s namesake, T.L. Reed, along with the bunkhouse and barn that once housed harness and tack for hundreds of draft animals needed for a farm operation of close to 30,000 acres. These buildings were demolished in the name of progress–to make way for the expansion of Reedley College.

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Reedley History: Cheap-O-Renovation

IN THE August 9 ISSUE

FROM THE 2014 Articles,
andHometown History,
andJim Bulls
SECTIONS

by Jim Bulls


Early in the 1900s, C.L. Drath, who lived in Los Angeles at the time, traveled north in search of a suitable place to raise his family. On his return trip to L.A., he stopped in Reedley to visit friends and was so taken with the river, the mountains, the community, and the Methodist Episcopal Church, that he picked Reedley as his new home. There were four new homes being built on D Street, and Drath chose the one on the three lot parcel (75′). This house was larger than the others, although they all had the same floor plan.

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Reedley History: The Granger Twins

IN THE July 12 ISSUE

FROM THE 2014 Articles,
andHometown History,
andJim Bulls
SECTIONS

by Jim Bulls


Before the year 1892, Reedley awakened to activity on G Street where today we enjoy Pioneer Park. Chinese laborers were building brick kilns for the Craycroft Brick Company. These kilns would fire bricks that would be used to build two warehouses commissioned by the Granger’s Bank of California, located in San Francisco.

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by Jim Bulls


It was a cold and windy, West Texas thunderstorm that was pounding Amherst’s brand-new South Plains Farmer’s Co-Op Hospital when Howard Bulls joined the ranks of fatherhood. He was well aware that this honor could be short-lived: my mother had been hospitalized since the first day of March, battling toxemia. I arrived at two pounds, and with no incubator available, Dr. McDonald gave me a life expectancy of three days. Using the technology of a chicken brooder, the janitor rigged up a tent and a heat lamp over my crib.

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by Jim Bulls


Last time I left you, we were cruizin’ Reedley and eating cheeseburgers in 1960, as well as checking out the gas stations and bulk plants. But, you might ask, how did kids afford cars way back then, not to mention gas, insurance and cheeseburgers? We’ll get to that, after a little history.

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by Jim Bulls


The last time we slid back in time it was to 1950 and I was pedaling around town on my J.C. Higgins ‘Hiawatha’ bike, checking out the auto dealerships around Reedley. Today we are going to slide back to 1958, while “cruizin” in my 1940 Ford Coupe.

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Rideabout Reedley: Then & Now

IN THE February 22 ISSUE

FROM THE 2014 Articles,
andHometown History,
andJim Bulls
SECTIONS

by Jim Bulls


Flipping back to 1949–I just got a butch haircut at Vic’s Barbershop and as a budding “gear head” I hopped on my bike to check out the car dealers. I was hoping that they had done a sloppy job of covering the showroom windows with butcher paper, because I wanted to get a peek at the new cars for 1950.

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by Jim Bulls



The start of the 1920s finds Drake Manufacturing moving to their new location at East and South Avenues (now Dinuba Ave.). Having perfected the Jadson Motor Valve, Drake closed the garage and Buick agency to devote all their efforts toward the valve business. The Drake Family still finds time for racing and a new hobby: barnstorming. In fact, on the roof of the new building “Jadson Motor Valve Company” is painted for anyone passing or flying by to see. 1920 was bittersweet for the Drake Family however, as family patriarch John Alexander passes away.

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by Jim Bulls



America may have been a late comer to the industrial revolution, but the country had the advantage of possessing the raw materials needed to excel in manufacturing. The only thing imported was cheap labor. The industrialization of transportation began with the “horseless carriage.” These vehicles were propelled by three types power.

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by Jim Bulls



It’s a challenge not to be repetitious while writing for Kings River Life–in many of the stories I have written before, it is inevitable that Reedley’s history will come up. It is also astonishing to realize that the lifetime I have spent in Reedley spans over half of the City’s existence! That’s right, not just the centennial, not even the incorporation, but since the very inception of a town named Reedley (by one year) in 1888.

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by Jim Bulls



In the early 1900s, a great Pentecostal movement started in the Azuza Street Church in Los Angeles, and those called to God set forth on a mission of revivals throughout the United States.

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