Fair Oaks Historical Society Newsletter
Volume 96 - April, 2011

Tuesday, 4/26/11, 6:00 pm
Fair Oaks Community Clubhouse
7997 California Avenue
Please remember to bring a casserole, salad, or dessert to share with others.

Website - www.fairoakshistory.org
Editor-Publisher: Jim Pearce             Circulation: Maria Brugger

President’s Message—

It looks like spring has finally emerged from the rain clouds. That could only mean that our April meeting will be coming up soon. In honor of the official end of California’s three-year drought, Maria Brugger has lined up a great program on Fair Oaks water and the Fair Oaks Water District. Start planning your potluck dish now, and look forward to a wonderful get-together. Complimentary water will be served to celebrate the occasion.

Special presidential thanks to Joe Dobrowolski and Dick Easterbrook for keeping things moving ahead on the new history gallery. Dick has installed a new back door and new door locks. With legal consultation, Joe has ascertained the accessibility improvements that must be completed before the facility is ready for public access. Thanks too, to Blaine Lamb for preparing a vision for the gallery. And to my wife Sherrie for performing a Sheriff’s security survey and recommendations on the new facility. We have a great team already at work, but we will need more volunteers for developing new graphic displays, performing some of the construction work and planning for facility operations and activities. We are looking for grants, and, as you will see elsewhere in this newsletter, we already have received memorial funds to put to this effort.

In addition, as a partner of the Fair Oaks Recreation and Park District, the Society has been invited to assemble a group to participate in the second annual “It’s My Park Day” coming up on Saturday, May 7 from 8am to noon. At noon there is an appreciation BBQ for all participants. If we have more than ten participants, we will be provided an information booth at the BBQ. Work involves clean up, painting, planting, mulching and other enhancements. Participants will also get a park day T- shirt. We will circulate a sign-up sheet at the potluck, and I encourage you to come out and help.

Also, put the Memorial Day Celebration – 10am, Saturday, May 28 – on your calendar. This year’s ceremony honors the men and women of “Operation Enduring Freedom” serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I also want to welcome new Family Life Members: Jeanne and Joe Maloney, Eleanor and Barry Brown, Sandra and William Parrott, and Hedda and Tom Smithson. And, recognize the promotion to new Family Memberships for Marilyn and Jim Pearce, and Sherrie and Ralph Carhart.

Vice-President's Message:

(from the minutes - thanks Janet) January's program: Vice-president Trude Vasquez introduced the program for the evening about George’s Oak Room...... The program started with Bob Brugger who talked about the bars in Fair Oaks and the fourth bar which was the Oak Room. The Oak Room was on the Northeast corner of Sunrise and Fair Oaks. Ora McGinness, George's wife, was the first speaker. She shared the story of the last night of the Oak Room when Mac Huss came in dressed as a bum, who brought in a farewell message and a bottle of Thunderbird wine, which Ora read. Bob and Billy Russ, who met at the Oak Room, talked of Mike Curtis who was a fixture at the bar. Bob Bonner who worked with George at Mather. Dick Underdown had a real estate office across the street, and gave gift certificates from the Oak Room (at a discounted price) for his clients. Warren McWilliams shared that he used his Standard Oil credit card at the Oak Room, also the letter carriers ate a lot of breakfasts there. Ron Hankens, an ex Aerojet employee spoke of John Luis a good friend of his that they had many great times. The years of operation was in the 1962 - 1982. In 1985 it was La Posta restaurant for a few years.. .

April's program, which Ralph already covered, is the Fair Oaks Water District.

Docent's Report:

On March 20 the History Center was opened for a special 80th birthday party for Dorothy Stump, a long time resident. Many early Fair Oaks residents attended. Approximately 30 people signed the guest book.

The History Center will be open on Saturday, April 30 and Sunday, May 1 from 10:00 am to 4: 00 pm for the Fair Oaks Spring Fest (Fiesta). On Sat., May 28, 10:00 am the Fair Oaks Cemetery will hold their Memorial Day celebration. The theme this year will be "Operation Enduring Freedom" honoring Iraq and Afghanistan theater veterans. Possibly 500 people are expected. The Historical Society and grange will serve cookies and lemonade.

Thanks to the following people for being docents this year. Fran Sargent, Lois Frazier, Larry & Meg smart, Cheryl Welch, Ralph Carhart, Merina West.


Fair Oaks Historical Society General Meeting Minutes
General Meeting
January 25, 2011

The meeting was called to order by President Ralph Carhart following another wonderful potluck (Some of the raffle was conducted during dinner). Guests were introduced.

Program: Vice-president Trude Vasquez introduced the program for the evening. The program was about George’s Oak Room (see VP's report in this newsletter for details).

Business Meeting:

Ralph thanked Warren and Judy Blomquist for the kitchen set-up. He also mentioned that we are collecting emails. Others were thanked that have been doing things for the group.

President’s Report: Ralph talked of the last years accomplishments. Highlights of this was the lease of the “Buddies” building, the lease has been signed. Help is needed to get the building ready. Joe Dobrowolski is heading this committee. Ralph also reported that we had a very successful Soup Night and raised $7400. The website has also been improved thanks to Jim Pearce. Plans for the future, informal talks with the tape recorder, perhaps a new updated book. He also announced committee assignments for the next year. Installation of New Officers: Past President Warren McWilliams installed the following officers for the 2011 year: President, Ralph Carhart; Vice-president, Trude Vasquez; Treasurer, Joe Dobrowolski; and Secretary, Janet McWilliams.

The minutes of the previous meeting were approved as published in the newsletter.

Family-Life Memberships: The following Life memberships were considered by the group: Hedda and Tom Smithson, new Family- Life membership; upgrading of the Pearce’s and Carhart’s family memberships. These memberships were approved.

Treasurer’s Report: Treasurer Joe Dobrowolski reported that the organization’s total worth was app. $51,000. There will be expenditures this next year for the new building. Treasurer’s reports are published in the newsletter.

By-Laws Amendments: Joe moved that we accept the By-laws changes as published in the newsletter. Lois seconded the motion. Motion passed.

Fair Oaks Racquet Club: This club will be 50 years old this year, they are planning a celebration. Members were encouraged to share information with them.

Meeting adjourned at 8:00 p.m. Respectfully submitted, Janet McWilliams, Secretary.

Memorial Donations to the Fair Oaks Historical Society, 2011

Memorials made in the name of Lowell Sherman from out of town:
Michael and Daniel Fry-Shaw of Bakersfield , CA
The Richard Carrington Family of Newcastle, CA
Dale and Annette Miller of Mt Pleasant Mills PA
Cary, Randy, Matt & Angie Becker of Omaha NE
J.R. and K. White of Carmel CA 93921
Laura Catchot of El Dorado Hills
Dennis & Alice McCary of Grand Junction CO
Carol & Ardell Friesen of Crete NE
Timothy & Susan Fitzpatrick of Citrus Heights CA
William & Joyce Wulff of Connersville IN
Douglas & Terri May of Clovis CA
Bruce and Janice Sherman of Pine Grove, CA
And From Fair Oaks:
Douglas and Joanne Schwilk
Janet & Warren McWilliams
Peter & Nancy White
Joe and Marge Dobrowolski
Nan & Manvil Hendrickson
Lois Frazier
Nancy Sherman

A memorial was received in the memory of Harold Milligan who was the owner of Milligans Food Center

3 memorials were received in the memory of Dr William Mahon
Larry & Meg Smart
Bette Bendetti of Carmichael, CA
Lucy Milligan of Prescott, AZ

Sue Burmaster

It's with great sadness that we report that our good friend Sue Burmaster, longtime member of the Fair Oaks Historical Society, and author of many Old Homes articles, passed away after a valiant fight with cancer on April 4, 2011. Our sympathys go out to her husband Ray and her family and many friends in Fair Oaks. Services will be announced.

Jim and Marilyn Pearce


Proposed Bylaws Revision

The annual audit of the Fair Oaks finances pointed out that the Treasurer is required to obtain prior Board approval of every payment, "Pay all bills that have been approved by the executive board or the general membership." This would be extremely time consuming if implemented and make it difficult to pay routine bills on time. The Board proposes the following language be added to 5.3-4(c). "The Treasurer may pay all bills for items included in the budget or approved by Committee Chairs." This amendment will be voted on in the April General Meeting.

Location: 4700 Chicago Avenue             Architecture: American Bungalow

Previous Owners: 1898 - 1945: Oliver and Rebecca Ruggles
1945 - 2007: Henry and Katherine Kroeger
2007 – current: John and Raquel Livoni

There are not many homes in Fair Oaks over one hundred years old that have had only three owners. This home on Chicago Avenue was built by Mr. Oliver W. Ruggles in 1898. He and his wife, Rebecca, were early settlers of Fair Oaks. He was a general passenger agent of the Michigan Central Railway. He joined with 12 other successful businessmen to form the Chicago Club. These were successful, well educated gentlemen who assumed leadership roles in the founding of Fair Oaks. Mrs. Ruggles had a large fruit orchard, which she maintained. They had one daughter, Roberta. It is possible that they left Fair Oaks following the freeze in the 1930s.

In 1945, Henry Kroeger and Katherine Van Maren Kroeger purchased the home from an estate sale and lived in it with their two sons, Timothy and John. At one time they owned over 45 acres of farmland surrounding their home. Their crops included olives, peaches and apricots. Mr. Kroeger’s parents, Louis and Pauline, lived next door and they worked the land together. This land was eventually sold for housing developments. They were also the owners of Fountain Square Garden and Retail Center on Greenback from 1977 - 2005. The current gardens on the over two acre property are a reflection of their work. After Katherine’s death in 2005, Henry established a rose garden with 500 plants and 83 varieties, which was designed by Vern Pershing.

The house originally included a kitchen, dining room, living room, parlor and bedroom downstairs and 3 bedrooms upstairs. When first built there was a dormer, which was removed by the Kroegers. During over sixty years the Kroegers lived in the home, they added a large family room, music room, atrium, library and master bedroom/bathroom. The original porch was enclosed by them and a large stained glass window was added at the front of the home. Their son, John said that his father was always adding to the house throughout his life.

Current owners, John and Rocky Livoni are both physicians who purchased the home December, 2007, following Henry Kroeger’s death in February of that year. The Livonis have remodeled the kitchen and will continue repairing and updating the home while maintaining the original quaintness and beauty. The original hardwood floors, built in shelves and fireplaces in the living room and dining room will remain as will the crown moldings, framing woodwork, heat registers, and leaded glass. They have removed wallpaper and acoustic ceilings in upstairs bedrooms. Future plans include reverting the front porch back to a more original design. The gardens, especially the roses, require extensive work. One year a group volunteered to prune the roses and Rocky is looking for other ways to keep the gardens groomed.

The Livonis had a small connection to this home in 1982, when their twelve year old son, Brian, was a paperboy for the Sacramento Union. At the time, they lived off of Sunset and this home was on his route. John and his son would deliver the paper to the Union box attached to the mailbox. After purchasing the home, the delivery box was found amongst some weeds and overgrown bushes.

The house is loved and will continue to be a showcase updated for the 21st century but with old fashioned charm.

 Webmaster & Newsletter Editor

First and foremost, a big thanks to member Kay Schrudder for the Old Homes article in this newsletter on the Ruggles house. I hadn't noticed that there is no byline in that section giving credit to the author. Kay has been doing that feature since last April when my wife Marilyn and Sue Burmaster left the job after four years or so. I know Kay enjoys the old homes, and I certainly enjoy the stories.

I received an invitation from some of the Sacramento Rotary Club members to do a half-hour talk on the early history of Fair Oaks. Their representative, Doug Crumley, a financial advisor, bought the "California House" (on California Ave. between FOB and Sunrise) for his offices and we got to discussing the building's history. We know it was built about 1900, and older generations knew the place as the Johnston house, but there doesn't seem to be much memory of who lived (or worked) there. So, here's the task - if you remember who lived there or did business there, please take a minute and write down the dates, people and other information and send it to me at webhost@fairoakshistory.org or talk to me at the April meeting. I'll add the information to our files and also pass it along to Doug.

At the end of the presentation, Doug handed me his application for a Family Life Membership in the Historical Society. It has been approved by the Board, but too late to make the Presidents message, so I'll welcome Doug and his wife Monica to the Society.

Lastly, while doing some research on Fair Oaks history, I discovered that the University of Illinois has put many of the copies of the early newspaper "Farm, Field & Fireside" on their website. That was from the publisher who sponsored the initial excursion trains to Fair Oaks, and there are articles "from the colonies". One issue had a lengthy letter from one of the colonists telling about the trip out and what life was like in Fair Oaks. I put those pages on our website in the "What's New" section.