California Dreaming

Flights from Memphis to Sacramento

September 17 – 22, 2009


Part I:  Flights from Memphis to Sacramento

Part 5: Santa Cruz

Part 2: Sutter Lawn Swim Team Reunion

Part 6: Monterey and Pacific Grove

Part 3: East Sacto Neighborhood and Cemetery

Part 7: To Sacramento and Flights Home

Part 4: Lodi-Clements for Sac State Fraternity Reunion

Link to 2005 Sig Bust Reunion


Updated Oct. 13, 2009


About 85 photos mainly taken during the trip by Betty Nolan are posted at in five separate albums under member name of Lewis “Buzz” Nolan’s email address. Email for instructions on how to access.




There’s an old saying about a fox always returning to its original hole.


While at age 66 and retired, I’m sure not a fox. But I had been wanting to revisit my old haunts for some time, and hopefully not the last time. So I took advantage of an opportunity to attend what could be for some a 50th  Anniversary Reunion of my college fraternity at Sacramento State College. I flew with my wife of 41 years, Betty, from our home in Memphis to Sacramento to attend the Alpha Sigma Phi get-together and also to renew some great friendships and stop by a few of the places where I grew up and made the sometimes difficult transition from boyhood to manhood.


I had upgraded my American Express credit card to “Platinum Member” status and as a perk was given the opportunity to have a free “companion” ticket issued once a year provided I paid full fare on a Delta Airlines flight. So of course I took advantage of that opportunity and booked a fall trip to Sacramento with my wife getting the free ticket. Because of the merger underway between Northwest Airlines – which has used Memphis as a main hub for some years - and Delta, I was able to get an early morning flight from Memphis that connected in Minneapolis to another flight to Sacramento.


Betty and I got up at 3:30 a.m. to have time for breakfast and a ride to Memphis International Airport by our good friend, Nancy Russell, who was going into work later in the morning due to a medical appointment. The flight left on time at 6:05 a.m. We had enough layover time in Minneapolis to share a salad before boarding the connecting flight, which was also on time and arrived in Sacramento about 11:30 a.m. The early flight compensated for the loss of two hours of time due to California clocks being on Pacific Coast time standards.


We quickly rented a full-size car, which turned out to be a Hyundai Sonata with controls that were a mystery to us but was reasonably comfortable.


Using directions I had pulled off Google, we drove from the Sacramento Airport in the farming area of adjacent Yolo County, across the Sacramento River and through the edge of downtown to what is now called “Old East Sacramento” to the Courtyard by Marriott Midtown hotel. It is on the campus of the University of California at Davis’ campus for the UC Davis School of Medicine, at 4422 Y Street. I’d stayed there on my previous trip and it was, as expected, a very comfortable and well managed facility.


We checked in, dropped off our luggage and drove a short distance through familiar old neighborhoods to Sutter

Lawn, arriving just before 1 p.m., the announced starting time for the informal lunch Bob Reid had arranged to honor his former partner of long ago.


My friend of more than a half century, Bob Reid, had kindly arranged a lunch and casual meeting with several former Sutter Lawn Tennis Club swimming team members at the club where we once worked in the early 1960s. We started out hosing the tennis courts in the pre-dawn hours, attained our Red Cross Lifeguard and Water Safety Instructor certifications and worked our way up to manage the club pool, coach the swim team and teach lessons during the warm months of the year.  


Needless to say, I was thrilled to see again some terrific swimmers Bob had assembled. They are now all grown up and have their own families – and are just as nice and deferential to us as they were as teens and sub-teens. Those present, including several who were “in and out”  of the lunch gathering due to work responsibilities on this workday, were Peter Anderson, his sister Robin (Anderson) Hayes, Barbara Fackenthall, Marc Rush and his brother Scott Rush, Nancy (Leonard) Szydelco and her youngest brother, Mike Leonard, and sister, Beth Leonard Schatz, Bob Stillwell and Bob Reid.


Bob generously made arrangements to serve as our host so everybody could order sandwiches, salads and such from the Sutter Lawn Snack bar. He is an honorary member in recognition for his past service as General Manager of the club and previous service as a lifeguard, Assistant Swimming Team Coach and instructor for both swimming and tennis lessons and also for his lofty career in public service, which included work as California’s Commissioner of the Arts.


I had last visited Sutter Lawn with Bob four years previously and was pleased to see several of the swimming trophies we had awarded to deserving swimmers were still on display. However, those trophies must have been put into storage or disposed by the time of the 2009 visit since no memorabilia was visible from our time there.


But the club is still pretty much the same, with the clubhouse having been improved with stone flooring and additions in the locker room and meeting room areas, a new color scheme on the tennis courts (now red in the playing areas with blue trim for out-of-bounds), shake roof and meticulously manicured grounds.


The swimming pool now has fiberglass starting blocks for its four racing lanes. The blocks are in the deep end of the pool rather than the shallow end where hand-made, wooden blocks a parent volunteer had made for us near 50 years ago were temporarily placed. A small wooden bleachers has been replaced with a larger, metal model. A main door to the old pump house has disappeared and screening allows for visibility into the coach’s “work room,” that on a few occasions served as a “make out chamber” when lifeguards had dates as their guests. Heavy black lines had been painted on the bottom of the pool in the racing lanes and colored, wave-buffering lane dividers were in place.


It was a treat to see the improvements added value to the pool even while the traditional looks of the facilities were pretty much intact. Even the change rooms equipped with restroom facilities appeared to be about the same. I wondered – but did not inspect -  to see if several holes mysteriously drilled into the wall separating the boys’ room from the girls’ room were still in place. Bob and I had to plug them and curiously found that the girls’ room was usually by far the more messy of the two.


Continue with Part 2 of Travelogue  /  Return to Nolan Travels