‘Great Imposter’ came to Madera

For The Madera Tribune - Before he came to Madera County in 1964, to open up a school for boys in North Fork, Fred Demara had already built a national reputation as a con man. Demara had successfully passed himself off as a civil engineer, a lawyer, an editor, a teacher, and a surgeon. So outlandish were his exploits that Hollywood made a movie of his life

People called Ferdinand Waldo Demara the world’s greatest con man and for good reason. He had such persuasive skills that his life story was made into a book and a movie, the titles of which were, not surprisingly, “The Great Imposter.” Born in 1921, by the time he was thirty years old, Fred Demara had […]

Blackface in Madera

Blackface Jamboree - Madera Lions club event - first half of the 20th century

“Living black and white,” or should we say, “Black on white?” Either way, there has been a lot of talk recently about something that was once considered quite acceptable — Blackface minstrels. Some research suggests that the idea began in earnest around 1900 as comedic performances of “blackness” by whites in exaggerated costumes and make-up. […]

MHS — 5 graduates — 2-hour program

1905 Madera High Graduates

For the first time in the history of Madera High School, in 1905 its senior class did not graduate in Athletic Hall on Yosemite Avenue. The commencement exercises took place in the assembly room of the brand-new High School building on L Street. Therefore, it is entirely understandable that excitement would fill the air on […]

Holding on to the Hensley family

For The Madera Tribune - Olive Hensley is shown here with her sons Leonard and Earl and her husband; we are just not sure which husband, Charles Hensley or Walter Hensley?

It was Sunday night, and all was calm in Madera, or at least it appeared to be. No one at the shooting gallery on Yosemite had any idea what was going on in the mind of Charles Hensley. They didn’t know that he would be dead before midnight. The 32-year-old lumberman, son of Thomas Jefferson […]

Reliving Madera’s past

Original Students of the first Madera Method Project: The Minturn Chronicles

The Minturn Scholars come home Thirty-four years after they made national news and drew a world-renowned author to Madera, Howard School’s Minturn Scholars met again Thursday to celebrate the latest chapter in the story of their uncommon achievement. As honored guests of Madera Unified, School District, they gathered in the library of Madera South High […]

Pete Cardoza: The passing of a legend

Pete Cardoza

When Pete Cardoza died in May 1967, The Tribune called him a legend, and indeed he was, but not for the reasons the local newspaper cited. True enough, three years earlier he was honored as the Grand Marshal in the Old Timers parade. True enough, everyone remembered him as the man who tied his horse […]

They shot Medgar Evers

For The Madera Tribune - The Rev. Naaman Haynes.

On June 12, 1963, Medgar Evers pulled into his driveway at Decatur, Mississippi, after returning from an integration meeting where he had conferred with NAACP lawyers. Emerging from his car and carrying NAACP T-shirts that stated, “Jim Crow Must Go,” Evers was struck in the back with a bullet that ricocheted into his home. He […]

Crappa Brothers had a busy place

Crappa Brothers American and Italian grocery

Joe and Frank Crappa owned the Crappa Brothers Grocery, which stood on the northeast corner of 4th Street and Gateway Drive in the 1920s. It was a prosperous little Italian market until Frank Crappa got himself in trouble during prohibition. There is no evidence that the law ever had its eyes on Joe Crappa. He […]

MSHS preparing book on Sunny Nishimoto

Sunny Nishimoto in his army uniform, 1945.

One of Madera’s most respected and compassionate community leaders will soon be the subject of a Madera Method project conducted at Madera South High School. Led by teacher Valerie Shelton, students in the school’s historical literacy class are researching the life of the late Sunny Isao Nishimoto and will publish their findings in a book. […]

Madera matches lit the sky

C.M. Petty is shown here inside his Yosemite Avenue store in 1938

The month of May held a high and a low for Madera’s self-esteem. A visit by President Theodore Roosevelt represented the zenith of community pride, but then came the nadir. Just eleven days after Roosevelt’s departure, Madera‘s Pacific Coast Match Factory went up in flames. At 1:30 in the afternoon of May 29, 1903, C.M. […]

Skip to content