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Because I Say So

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The Buckhorn

Copyright (c) 2010
Winters Express
312 Railroad Avenue, Winters, CA 95694
(530) 795-4551
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And all that were left were two buildings

It has been exciting on our downtown half block lately. Over the years I have watched building going up, and coming down around us. In the 1970s the fire department was expanding and building new buildings. In the late 70s they tore down the Winters Theater and American Legion Hall, but on once corner of the property Mike Taylor built Taylor’s Heating and Air. That building was used for various businesses, even a community center for a few years, sign shop and other uses. It was torn down a few years ago in anticipation of the hotel.
Before my time, 1947, Cody’s Club was built on the corner. It may have changed names over the years, from Cody’s Club, Sam’s Club, Johnny’s Club, JJ’s Club, the Wild Ox, and JJ’s again, but it was always a drinking bar. It will be missed. My father tells me that when he came to Winters it was an empty lot. The previous building that housed the D.O. Judy Auto Shop had burned down earlier.
Cody’s was there when I was growing up. It was called Cody’s Package Store and sold everything from groceries to guns. Over the years it turned into a liquor store and then a deli. It burned down a decade or so ago and was rebuilt as a restaurant with a screen printing business in the back. The city bought both JJ’s and Cody’s to make way for the new hotel.
The building where I sit and write my column was a shoe repair shop when I was a kid. The Winters Express was in the building on the alley with the pressroom in the back, offices in the front. Kal’s Barbershop was in the middle and when my father bought the shoe repair shop when Mr. Wright passed away in 1962, he cut a hole in the wall and we expanded next door.
The big news that year wasn’t that Pop bought another building, but that he bought a pool table and put it in the office. It is still here, by the way. When we moved into our new office, my father rented the old space to a beautician. I’m not sure when Herman Lopez took over the space, but Herman was our neighbor for over 40 years. I miss him, too.
The building on the alley burned down in 1914. It had housed a grocery store, J.C. Campbell & Sons. The fire damaged the bulding next door that housed the Union Garage that was also the home of the Wells Fargo Express Company. If you look in our attic the rafters are all charcoal from that fire. They used some of the salvaged wood to add 10 feet onto the back of the building that is now Debra’s office. The Bank building, that now houses several businesses, including the Putah Creek Café, Turkovich Wine and Cheese Company and ARC Guitar, was also damaged in that fire. I’m sure there were other tenants over the years, but that research will have to wait. Maybe after the dust has settled I’ll find more history in some overlooked desk drawer.
We have been moving stuff to the Old Library for over a month now, and as soon as we dot the “i”s and cross the “t”s we will move the rest of our stuff and watch someone with an excavator tear down our buildings, too. Until then, we’ll just stay where we are, watching the world being loaded up in trucks and hauled away.
A few people have asked me about moving and having the buildings that the Wallaces have called home — one since 1947 and the other since 1962 — destroyed. These aren’t the best built buildings in Winters, so I won’t be sorry to see them go. As for the offices themselves and the memories, it will be a sad day, and I’m sure my father and I will share a couple of cold ones and a few tears when that day comes. Until then, we will just keep putting out the Express, fighting with the city about a building permit and looking forward to a new building on the alley.
Enjoy Mother’s Day and have a good week.