Tag Archives: Modesto

A Raisin (City) in the Sun

Fresno Growing Up

Fresno Growing Up – A City Comes of Age: 1945-1985 by Stephen H. Provost (Craven Street Books, $24.95, 230 pages)

Anyone who grew up in Fresno, California, or who has lived there for a period of years, should enjoy perusing and reading the coffee table book Fresno Growing Up. This is a 230 page biography of the Raisin Capital of the World accompanied by beautiful color and black and white photographs. The first two-thirds of the book is strong as it fondly examines restaurants and movie theaters that used to exist, the once prominent Fulton Mall downtown (similar to Sacramento’s K Street Mall), TV and radio personalities, and the offerings for adults and children in Roeding Park.

Fresno Lost

Fresno Crest Theater

Fresno also provides a detailed look at the past noteworthy music scene. Stephen Provost’s argument that Fresno gave birth to “the Bakersfield Sound” in country music is not fully convincing, but worth considering.

Fresno State Football

The book flounders in its third section which focuses on sports. Readers who are not fans of bowling, baseball, college football, boxing or hockey will find that it stretches on for far too long. This space might have been better devoted to the history of dramatic arts in the area, bookstores that once flourished (like the Upstart Crow Book Store), family businesses, etc. And the growth of greater Fresno-Clovis from west to east, and south to north might have been visibly charted. Still, this work might serve as a template for future efforts looking at the modern history of Sacramento, Stockton, Modesto, Chico and Bakersfield.

Go, Bulldogs!

Well recommended.

Joseph Arellano

Fresno+Sign

A review copy was provided by the publisher. Note: The finished product I received contained a large number of typos. Hopefully, these will be caught and corrected in future printings.

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Last Journey: A Father and Son in Wartime

Last Journey (small)There is no doubt that the late Staff Sgt. Darrell “Skip” Griffin was an American hero.   Darrell Griffin, Sr. went on to complete the book that he and his son intended to jointly write.   This is admirable, but I think the story would have been clearer in the hands of a professional writer.

There are too many citations to the thoughts of famous philosophers from Plato to Descartes, Nietzsche to de Tocqueville.   I wondered when the first reference to St. Augustine would appear (it comes on page 88).   I studied philosophy, yet I could not see the connection to the fighting in Iraq.   The high notions of philosophers do not seem to equate with the heavy-handedness of war.

Still, the portions of the book dealing with the war are strong.   This is the tale of a young man who died fighting a war that he was not sure was the right one.   As his father wrote to him, “We both love America, but you are man enough to prove it.”   Despite its flaws, this is a book worth reading.

Atlas and Co., $25.00, 304 pages

This review was written by Joseph Arellano.   Reprinted courtesy of Sacramento Book Review.

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