During this week in San Benito County history, the famous Gypsy Tour at the roots of the Hollister Independence Rally announced it was moving the event to July 4 and July 5. It was among issues chosen from select years in San Benito County history for this week’s installment of This Week in History.
First large pipe organ in SBC: The Opal Theatre announced it is installing a large pipe organ, the first in the county at the time. It was the same size and type as one used in a major San Jose theater in 1921.
Mumps hits SJB: Several cases of the mumps forced San Juan School to close before reopening the following week.
Standard Oil to build plant in San Juan: The large oil company announced it would build an oil plant in San Juan Bautista with the contract awarded to local contactors E.J. Sparling & Sons. The news was billed as an economic achievement for the Mission City at the time.
San Juan pioneer passes: One of the first residents of San Juan Bautista, Mrs. Maurice Sullivan, died that week. She was born in Ireland and came to the U.S. as a young girl, crossing the plains during the Gold Rush and settling in the Mission City as a school teacher.
Missing aviator’s wreckage: The wreckage for missing aviator Lt. John Helms, then the fiancee of movie actress Toby Wing, was search here but eventually found in San Bernardino. He went missing in a flight from Hamilton Field a month prior. Searchers extended their effort to this region before finding the wreckage to the south.
Murder suspect pleads not guilty to killing 8-year-old girl: Jose Ramirez, 59, pleaded not guilty to the murder of 8-year-old Alice Morillo on New Year’s Day. Ramirez intended to strike a 21-year-old man but instead hit the girl.
Gypsy Tour moving to July 4: The announcement came down this week in 1936 that that the National Gypsy Tour at Bolado Park would move to July 4. The motorcycle event, at the root of the Hollister Independence Rally tradition that lives on today, drew somewhere around 1,500 motorcyclists each year at the time.
Flu closes down San Juan School for the week: Attendance had plummeted at San Juan School that year, causing the superintendent to close down the school for the week due to the epidemic. The announcement came Feb. 18, and students were to return Feb. 24.
Faster mail service in Hollister: The Hollister Post Office announced that logistical changes would result in saving up to 24 hours in delivery time of local mail.
Dial phone system on the way: Pacific Telephone and Telegraph bought land for a building in Hollister for a dial system exchange. It was part of a broader effort to convert all of California to dial phones.
Lower speed limits: The state at the time adopted 35 mph speed limits, cutting them from 55 mph, on highways serving as primary gateways to Hollister.
The Holland Hotel, formerly known as the Pendergrass hotel and now the location of the Hollister House Bar & Grill, closed its doors after operating for 45 years.
Information courtesy of the San Benito County Historical Society, 498 Fifth St.