The following "Back in the Day" column originally appeared in the Fairfield Daily Republic on Sept. 23, 2016
By Tony Wade
I wrote a column last year on longtime Fairfielder Walter Clyde “Red” Wright Jr. (1918-2011) who was famous for his “gravity is a push” theory. I was recently provided with copies of his old newsletters and among them was a history of Fairfield and a 1997 Daily Republic column he’d written. I found snippets of them interesting enough to share.
WALTER WRIGHT'S FAIRFIELD HISTORY SNAPSHOTS
City Limits: Before 1940, the city limits of Fairfield were Texas and Clay streets across from Armijo High School to the east, Texas Street and the Pennsylvania Avenue creek near the Daily Republic to the west, and Kentucky Street to the north. Kentucky Street wasn’t paved and had very few houses so it was used as “Lover’s Lane.”
Mr. Crowley: Walter Wright was present at the dedication of the old county library (now the Solano County Events Center) in 1931 – seven years before the Chief Solano statue was moved there from its original location by the Highway 80 truck scales.
“Mr. Ernest Crowley, who was California’s assemblyman from this district, was asked to dedicate our new library and I happened to be there. He was standing right about where the chief stands and like the chief was pointing towards the old county jail across the street. His wife politely turned him halfway around to face the library. Mr. Crowley was blind.”
Crowley had been blinded in a childhood accident using Wright’s grandfather’s shotgun.
“You would never know he was blind. He walked the streets of Fairfield with no white cane or dog. He would walk into stores, buy what he wanted, get his change and walk out. Someone should have made a movie about him called, ‘The Most Unforgettable Person I Ever Saw.’ ”
David Weir: The name of the weekly paper was The Solano Republican. The big news would be about somebody in town taking a ride up the Redwood Highway. David Weir was the publisher and like the name of the paper, he was a die-hard Republican. He was so die-hard that, according to Wright, “he refused to drive his car on Truman and Roosevelt streets.”
Talkies: “I had been to a few movies in the Fairfield theatre (Solano Theatre, later Fairfield Cinema I, and still later Pepperbelly’s comedy club) and watched as someone in the pit played an organ along with the action taking place on the screen. In 1930, my sisters Ruth, Marvel and I went to see the Marx Brothers in ‘Animal Crackers.’ I couldn’t believe it because they were talking. Even though the movies only cost a dime, we very seldom ever went because we did not have that dime.”
Electrical permit: Wright in 1950 was perturbed that he had to buy a $28 building permit from the city to construct his house on the corner of Webster and Ohio streets. He was more perturbed later.
“The inspector for my wiring called me one day to fix his son’s electric train he had bought him for Christmas. The reason why it wouldn’t run was very simple for me to fix, but not for the inspector who checked out my electrical work for my house.”
1997 – REMEMBER WHEN...IN THE 1930's, THE POLICE DEPARTMENT WAS ONE PERSON: HOWARD by Walter Wright
In the thirties, Fairfield had one cop, Howard Yatsie, that everyone just called Howard. He used his own car equipped with a red light and siren that he bolted to the fenders. He always parked his police car in front of the local theater on Texas Street.
Howard would stop speeders and ask them to slow down. He’d take people home who were drunk downtown. He also ran the Boys Club. Howard was also much more efficient than any DMV when it came to issuing driver’s licenses.
“On June 21, 1936, my 18th birthday, I asked Howard for a driver’s license. He took a pad from his pocket and wrote one out for me. No test . . . nothing!”
One domestic disturbance stood out in Wright’s mind:
“We lived on Missouri Street and one day our neighbor got married and that night they gave the newlyweds a party. The party got a little wild so someone called the cops, which meant Howard. Howard showed up, saw that one of the newlyweds was his cousin and joined the party.”