From Memphis to 50th High School Reunion in Sacramento

From Memphis to 50th High School Reunion in Sacramento
June 24, 2011

By Lewis Nolan

Updated July 29, 2011. Please visit again.

Remains of Pete Siller at East Lawn Cemetery's El Dorado Mausoleum

Sacramento Revisited – 2011

From Memphis to 50th High School Reunion in Sacramento, CA

June 24 – 27, 2011




Part 1: Flights to Sacramento

Part 3: At Sutter Lawn with Swimmers

Part 2: Sac High Reunion, Cemetery

Part 4: Flights home to Memphis


-          Updated July 22, 2011


Several photos taken by Betty Nolan of her  and husband Buzz Nolan visits to his Sacramento High School’s 50th reunion, several former members of the Sutter Lawn Tennis Club swim team he coached in the early 1970s, the graves of family and friends at East Lawn Cemetery and commemorative Rose Garden/Vietnam War Memorial near the California State Capitol are posted at www.kodakgallery.com in various albums registered under Lewis “Buzz” Nolan’s email address. Email lewis_nolan@yahoo.com for instructions how to access the pictures those visits. 






June 24, 2011 – Friday – Travel from Memphis to Sacramento, CA


Betty and I got up quite early in our Memphis home – at 3:30 a.m. – to take advantage of the best possible airline flights and prices to Sacramento, CA. I had done most of my growing up in the capitol city of California and had been looking forward to attending the 50th anniversary celebration of my graduating class from Sacramento Senior High School. Due to the cancellation of most airline flights immediately following the tragic terrorism events of September 11, 2001 (popularly known in shorthand as “9-11”), I was unable to attend the 40th anniversary reunion of my class.


It has been a half century since I’ve seen most of my classmates even though I’ve been back to Sacramento several times for various visits to family and friends since the early 1960s. I had relocated to the Deep South for most of my college education and work life during most of the latter half of the 20th Century. Now that it is the early 21st Century and I have been joined in retirement by my beloved wife, Betty Trapp Nolan, we have the freedom and fortunately the means to pursue our love of travel when the mood strikes and the itinerary is appealing.


The recent purchase and pending merger of the old Northwest Airlines by Delta Airlines has resulted in a reduction of flights in and out of Memphis, which had been one of Northwest’s hub locations. With Delta now by far the biggest airline serving Memphis, the prices it charges have accordingly gone up. Our excellent travel agent, Erin Bobbitt de Padilla of Gulliver’s Travels in Memphis, had put together the trip arrangements for us that including flying from Memphis to Houston on a smallish Continental jet then transferring to a large jet operating under the merger agreement between Continental and United Airlines. At her recommendations, we parked my Ford Taurus station wagon at a fairly new parking service “Fast Park and Relax” near the entrance to Memphis International Airport. A coupon good for one free day of parking with the balance of our four-day trip charges at only $6.95 per day – a substantial discount over the regular airport parking charges – had been provided came with the airline boarding passes we had printed out on our home computer. A shuttle bus provided quick transportation and luggage handling from Fast Park to our C-1 terminal at no extra charge.


Despite the early morning hour, about 5 a.m., the Continental desk in the C Terminal was reasonably well staffed and efficient. We got processed fairly quickly, thanks in part to our Internet “check in” from a home computer.  We soon found that the cramped-but-full, regional jet - with three seats across in tourist class and only a single row of tiny, overhead storage bins - provided for the Memphis-Houston service no longer serves peanuts or other snacks on the economy flight. Soft drinks are available, but the provision of pillows and blankets for travelers is long gone. But we did fly out at 6:30 a.m. and arrive in Houston on time after one hour of flying.


We had less than one hour at the huge airport in Houston before boarding a Boeing 757 with six seats across in tourist. Thankfully, Betty’s packing three ham-and-cheese sandwiches in our carry-on luggage was thoughtful foresight. The Continental jet was nearly full but like its smaller cousin, provided no free snacks. A meal cart made available various snacks and light meals for a fee that seemed uninteresting but a little pricey. The sandwiches from home plus courtesy Diet Coke from the free drink cart hit the spot.


Our flight landed just before noon at Sacramento’s relatively new airport on farmland a fairly long drive from town. We were pleased that our checked, two bags of luggage arrived. Due to the charm and excellent salesmanship of an Alamo car rental clerk we upgraded our reservation from an econobox to a new Lincoln sedan that was luxuriously equipped. With the easy-to-follow directions provided by the clerk, we drove across the Sacramento River and skirted the new, downtown area on U.S. Highway 50 to the 59th Street exit near a familiar part of town to me near the campus of a college I had attended back in the 1960s. Then called Sacramento State, it is now part of the University of California system.


We drove by some of my familiar haunts on Folsum Blvd., including a drive-in burger restaurant that I and classmates at the old Kit Carson Junior High a few blocks away used to patronize then called “Bossie’s”. We also drove past a few familiar places like Corti Brothers supermarket, where my mother sometimes shopped, the old Hilltop tavern where I and others used phony IDs to buy drinks and hang out, East Lawn Cemetery where members of my family and old friends are buried and 41st Street, site of the old Nolan, two-story family home at the address of 1517.


As we’ve noticed on previous trips, our family home has been extensively upgraded since it was sold following my mother’s death Aug 6, 1985. She never would sell it as long as she lived even though upkeep had been beyond her financial and physical capabilities. During this drive down 41st Street just off Folsum I again pointed out to Betty various bits of information about onetime neighbors and their homes on the street. The neighborhood eventually became known as “the fabulous 40’s” by local newspapers because so many homes are now selling from the high hundreds of thousands of dollars to well over $1 million and are occupied by professionals and very-well-to-do families. On this trip I was told that neither the public David Lubin Elementary School nor the Kit Carson Middle School no longer attract the majority of children from my one-time fairly ritzy, East Sacramento neighborhood,. Supposedly, the majority of the neighborhood children now attend either private or Catholic schools. 


We also drove by the long-existing First Christian Church at 39th Street and Folsum, where I attended Sunday school and youth group meetings as a teen and eventually was baptized. Former Rev. Cecil Fellers, pastor of the Disciples of Christ branch, lived down the street from us with his wife.


Not far from the intersection of 39th Street and Stockton Blvd, on Y Street, is what has become our favorite hotel in Sacramento. It is the Courtyard by Marriott property on the campus of what is now the Sacramento branch of the University of California at Davis Medical School. Also there is a children’s hospital under construction by the Shriners and other medical facilities. The site is where the old Sacramento County Hospital – where my late father, Dr. Lewis E. Nolan, M.D., served as chief of Pathology until he and my mother divorced and he relocated to the upper Peninsula of Michigan to take a similar post at a hospital in Hancock, Mich. I would on occasion go with my father to his Sacramento hospital laboratory, where I got my fill of seeing medical specimens to the point that I forever closed out any possibility of studying hard and becoming a physician. It looked like the old hospital structure where my father worked and maintained a private bedroom for occasions when he worked late at night is still being used, possibly for current use as a parking garbage. 


The Sacramento medical campus of the Cal-Davis facilities along Stockton Blvd. also occupies a large portion of what served as the California State Fair during the 1950s and early 1960s. I spent much of the August fair season at the old fairgrounds when growing up, spending what little allowance money I had on rides (my favorite was the Tilt-A-Whirl) and poking around the carnival and assorted exhibits for free.


We had reserved a large room at the Courtyard for $89 a night, which wasn’t a bad price for Sacramento during the summer season. The first room offered to us was unacceptable because it was a roof level room with an ugly view of the roof of an annex. After complaining, we were offered at the same price a larger “suite” with a view overlooking a park-like section of campus property that included the hotel pool and well-used hot tub. After calling my old friend Bob Reid and brothers Bill and Pat Nolan who are now retired and living in Sacramento to make meeting arrangements, I napped for a couple of hours.


Pat and Bill joined Betty and me for a very good dinner at the Courtyard’s Italian restaurant that evening. It was a delight to catch up with them, especially because neither is very active with Internet communications and we have pretty much lost regular touch.


(Continue with Part 2, Cemetery Visit and High School Reunion  /  Return to Nolan Travels)