Alpaugh marks its 100th
About 200 past and present residents celebrate the town's centennial.
By Sarah Jimenez / The Fresno Bee
ALPAUGH — Hugs, laughter and smiles filled the air at the Veteran's Memorial Building in Alpaugh Sunday as about 200 residents from the past and present reunited and celebrated the town's 100th anniversary.
Display boards featuring old pictures and newspaper articles hung on the walls of the building while a slide show of pictures played on a television.
People shared stories about their childhoods and greeted classmates they hadn't seen in decades at the event, which also served as an unofficial high school class reunion.
The town was founded in 1905 and named for one of the founders, John Alpaugh. A subdivision map was officially filed on Feb. 5, 1906, for the town that is now home to more than 700 residents.
The Alpaugh Historical Society organized the centennial celebration that included food, music and dancing.
Ruth Cotton, 72, traveled from Fremont to attend the event. Her family moved to Alpaugh in 1934 during the Dust Bowl era.
"We came from Oklahoma and times were hard then," Cotton said. Cotton was the youngest of 10 children and the only one to graduate from high school.
She graduated from Alpaugh High School, where she met her husband, in 1951. Cotton and her husband, who is now deceased, moved to Fremont about four years after she graduated.
"We wanted a little better opportunity for jobs and education," Cotton said.
But Cotton said she still feels very connected to Alpaugh and has returned to her hometown for most of the reunions over the years.
"Friends and roots are very important to me," she said. "People our age are interested in keeping friendships going."
Cotton stayed with her friend Barbara Lamb-Greenlea, 70, who lives in Tulare. The women and about six other friends got together Saturday night to reminisce about bonfires, hayrides and other fun times shared during their childhoods.
"We had a lot of good times here," Cotton said.
Friendships also were rekindled for many at the centennial celebration.
Earline James, 66, saw a friend she hadn't seen since 1967. The friends discovered their homes are just two miles apart in Hanford.
"When you get to a certain age you never know if you'll see each other," James said.
James' parents moved to Alpaugh from Oklahoma in 1940 and became cotton farmers. She graduated from Alpaugh High School in 1956.
"There are so many of my classmates here that I haven't seen since graduation," James said.
The event also gave families an opportunity to see each other. Tim Mead, 53, and his father, Clifford Mead, 83, traveled to Alpaugh's anniversary from King City. They met up with Clifford Mead's brother and sister-in-law, Cecil and Jean Mead, who live in Oregon.
"You've got people here from everywhere," said Tim Mead, who graduated from Alpaugh High School in 1969.
Cecil Mead, a 1953 graduate of Alpaugh High School, said the historical society has done a good job of keeping people in touch and holding reunions. He attends the society's events to "see all my old friends," he said.
(Originally published Monday, May 30, 2005 in the South Valley edition of the Fresno Bee)