Reedley Street Faire, Then & Now

Apr 23, 2011 | 2011 Articles, Arts & Entertainment, Community, Hometown History, Jim Bulls, Reedley News

by Jim Bulls

The Reedley Street Faire, and its counterparts in Dinuba, Kingsburg and Porterville, are all geared to the auto enthusiast. In order to write about the beginning of today’s street faire, we have to go all the way back to the beginning—tracing events that took place at the end of WWII and the return of servicemen to civilian life.

Elkins Rebuilt: Yellow Model A Sport Coupe built by D. Olson & A. Scroggins from D. Elkins’ car—powered by a small block Dodge—at the Reedley Street Faire

It wasn’t easy to come home from war and fade back into civilian life as if nothing had happened. Many veterans had to deal with the horrors of war on their own. Others found a void in their lives after being out of combat theater and were looking for a new adrenalin rush. The excitement of speed was a good substitute, and cars and motorcycles could be had fairly inexpensively.

Jim Bulls & his 1940 Ford Coupe—the “Heap of the Week” at RHS c. 1960

Ex-GIs bought up the war surplus supply of motorcycles and clubs like the Hell’s Angels and the Boozefighters were born. Other veterans found that a pre-war Ford was an excellent platform to build a “hot rod” out of. Across the nation, hopped up Fords began to cruise the boulevards hunting for a drag race. The “drive-in” became the hangout for the speed demons, those who liked to look at the cars, those who liked to look at the girls, and vice versa.

In an effort to control illegal street or drag racing, some police departments began sponsoring car clubs. They held drag races on air strips to keep racers off the streets, but the streets continued to be a problem. Even in little ol’ Reedley, one would try to avoid being downtown when school let out at 3:00 p.m. as “G” Street would be flooded with teenagers leaving the campuses of Reedley High, Immanuel, and Reedley College. They were soon joined by students from Parlier and Dinuba. It could take 20 minutes to back out of a parking space on “G” Street.

The Mecca for dragging main was Fresno’s Fulton Street and the drive-in of choice was Stan’s. Stan’s had a radio program where you could dedicate a song over the air; every night from 10:00 to 12:00 p.m., Stan’s Private Line would be playing from most AM radios. They signed off at midnight to the song “Good Night Sweetheart.”

Sometime in the early 60s, Fresno turned Fulton into a mall and the cruisers moved to Belmont Avenue and Mars Drive-In, then to Blackstone between Royale Drive-In and Bob’s Big Boy in the late 60s and early 70s, and finally to Kings Canyon Boulevard when the City enacted a no cruising ordinance. In Reedley, the City installed “No U-Turn” signs all along G Street and Foster’s Freeze closed off their exit so cruisers could no longer drive through the parking lot.

The Birth of the Nomads
Unlike car clubs in larger towns, where recruiting younger members was easy, clubs in smaller towns were usually short lived. After high school, members were off to college, joined the service or got a job. Sometimes cruising had to be given up for diapers and pabulum.

The Reedley Nomads was originated when I was at General Grant Junior High. Charter members were Dennis Olson, Adron Scroggins, Melvin Barrett and John Peterson. Dennis designed the club plaque and Vice Principal Horton was the club sponsor. They were my idols.

The original Nomads Car Club at Reedley High School (c. 1956). Top L/R: Les Davis, Richard Goertzen, Charlie Celaya, Bill Chance, Melvin Barrett, Lan Witter, Gary Kroeker, Dale Pannahill. Bottom L/R: Fidel Sauceda, John Cox, Adron Scroggins, Jack McGlashan, George ?, Dennis Olson

By the time I reached high school, there was only one active member of the Nomads on campus. There were over 20 Model A Fords though, so we started a club that unfortunately met the same fate. A new generation of hot rodders started hanging out with Dennis and Adron when they started building a Model A Sport Coupe and Olson reactivated the Nomads Car Club. And this brings us to the Street Faire.

Jim’s A: Jim Bulls 1928 Model A ragtop stock coupe (c. 1959)

As I said earlier, the Reedley Street Fair was originally organized to offer the auto enthusiast a place to congregate, show off his ride and spend money. For 22 years, the street faire has provided a car show, live entertainment, food booths, kid’s booths, lots of vendors and always on the first Sunday in May, rain or shine. On May 1, 2011, the 23rd Street Faire will take place on G Street. In addition to the usual food, games and entertainment, the public can expect to see an awesome car show sponsored by the Reedley Nomads.

There should be something to appeal to everyone – perhaps an antique or two, a classic Packard, hot rods, T-buckets, muscle cars, customs? Who knows what exactly will show up. Registration and judging will be handled by the Nomads, and believe me, they know cars. Hope to see you there.

One of the live entertainment corners, 10th and G Street, will be sponsored by Kings River Life Magazine where bands, singers and comedians that have been featured in the magazine will be performing from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. that day! Come on by and check out the entertainment, pick up some great freebies and information, and enter a drawing for local theatre tickets and a KRL t-shirt! Hope to see you all there. Learn more on KRL’s event page!

Jim Bulls is a contributor to our Hometown History section, being a charter member of the Reedley Historical Society; he also restores vintage cars.

1 Comment

  1. Hello there. My name is Jim Horstmann from Kingsburg. I have a 34 Ford pickup with a Joe Boghosian built 48 Merc in it and a 52 Ford pickup as well. Joe Ibanez is a friend of mine and a member of the Nomads. I’d like some info on joining the Nomads if you’re open to new members. Please have Joe call me or anyone else. My # is 559-790-1395. My email is jhorstmann34@gmail.com Thank you and I’ll look for your reply. Jim

    Reply

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