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Ceres' west side, 1936
Ceres has grown a bit since the photo of Fourth Street (lower right) was taken, looking north into the downtown district.

You can see the old Ceres Hardware building where I bought B-Bs for my B-B gun when I was a youth in the 1930s, and nails when I was grown. An early car is parked on Fourth Street. The Joe Vincent wooden water tower is evident, along with the site of the Union Oil Company service station, and the TID building which still stands today.

Hasn't Ceres grown west of the railroad tracks in recent years? Many new homes, schools and another new high school has been built at Service and Central.

But let's go back through the years and visit this area in a entirely different time when life was of a slower and gentler pace. Taking notice of the names of the roads you will see many old families represented: Blaker, Morgan, Kinser, Hackett and Service. Some of the names of people living in this area were:

• The Quigleys, (Sadie May Quigley was in my class all through school)l

• Eddie Bispo, a bachelor who lived in a one room building which was formally a Southern Pacific section house for railroad track workers, (he had many dogs that lived in the house with him);

• The Pink family on Blaker Road near Kinser. Miss Inez Pink, a daughter was one of my grammar school teachers and married Clyde Prickett of Ceres.

• There was of course the Blaker family on Blaker Road and Kinser corner.

Mr. Quigley drove Greyhound bus and I saw him many times in his uniform when he stopped at The Ceres Drug Store where Greyhound took on passengers. Bus fare to Modesto was 10 cents and a just few dollars to San Francisco! Later Mr. Quigley had a bar on highway 99 about a mile north of Whitmore Road and when he was forced out because of the highway 99 rebuilding he moved to a new place on Yosemite Avenue in Modesto.

I recall being in the fine big house of the Morgan Family on Morgan Road with my dad one evening when we went to visit Mr. and Mrs. Hansen. The Morgans were Mrs. Hansen's parents. This big beautiful home sat on what is now part of the Ceres sewer farm.

The site of the Blaker home is now a school.

Frances Stevens was in the class above me and lived on the northeast corner of Service and Morgan roads where a convenience store is operated today.

There was the Hackett family who lived on Hackett Road and another bunch that lived on Blaker Road.

A classmate of mine, Nino Foustina, born of Italian immigrants lived on Morgan Road on the east side just north of Service Road. Jean Scamahorn, another classmate lived on Blaker Road near Whitmore and David McBride, a friend, lived on Kinser Road. His father was a ditchtender for the Turlock Irrigation District. We lost David during the conflict of World War ll.

A large family called Bacon lived on the west side of Blaker just south of Service Road.

This area is now bursting with construction of homes and businesses, not to mention the Stanislaus County facility on the corner of Service and Crows Landing roads. This land was considered by many in the 1930's as worthless because of its sandy and unproductive soil good only for sandburs, gopher snakes and coyotes.

The Stanislaus Farm Supply on Service Road is a replacement of "Hap" Plegling's old warehouse where I took my blackeye bean crop each year to be cleaned and stored until sold.

E.R. Vine & Sons Inc. has a self service gasoline and diesel card lock facility nearby.

The Ceres Cemetery has been enlarged to the west. In the earlier times of the 1930's it fell into deterioration with many weeds, probably for lack of funding. As a Boy Scout project our Ceres Troop 9 helped clean up this facility just before Memorial Day in 1937. I also remember a tank house and windmill on the property which supplied water.

In the 1930's, I'd walk or ride my bicycle to Ceres on Creamery Road. I could clearly see both the Sierra Nevada and Coastal Range mountains for there was no smog as we see it today.

It was very quiet but I could hear the sounds of chickens in the Brown Hatchery located on Hackett Road a bit west of Creamery Road (now Central Avenue). The whistle of a Southern Pacific train could be heard in the distance.

According to a 1926 California State textbook printed by the state printing office in Sacramento, Ceres had a population of 637 in 1920. Ceres was incorporated on Feb. 25,1918 by some visionaries like S.W. Cartright, J.U. Gartin, C.T. Haynes, C.H. Sikes, and Vaugn D. Whitmore. And so this little city of 637 people has grown into the population of today which is estimated to be close to 40,000 - and rapidly approaching 43,557, the population of Stanislaus County in 1920. These responsible men of yesteryear have left the citizens a legacy, something to build and expand. It appears that the people of Ceres and its officials have done a pretty good job! So good that now the wastewater from the enlarged sewer farm now has to be delivered to the city of Turlock in a pipeline costing millions of dollars!

Yes, this area was sparsely inhabited in the 1930's and we felt that this section would never be much good, but just look and see what has been done over the past 65 years. Looking further into the history of our great country we learn about the pioneers of the 1800's who migrated west by wagon trains pulled by oxen.

Bill Noble may be reached via email at