Staten Island Web logo

In 1969 I took a position with the Vought Aircraft Division of LTV (of Jimmy Ling fame) in Dallas, Tx. Until the 1990 merger's, Vought was one of the original aircraft manufactures. He designed the Kingfish, the first carrier aircraft. During WWII the government decided to disperse the defense industrial plants. The Vought plant in Connecticut was moved to Dallas.

In 1969 Vought started delivery of the A-7E Corsair to the Navy. In the late 1950's the Navy started to look for a remote site, on the West Coast as civilization was creeping in on their bases in the San Diego and San Francisco areas. They chose land 10 miles west of Lemoore, California. (During WWII there had been an Army Air Corps base in the same area). Construction started in 1960. The base, NAS Lemoore, is unique in that it has a seven mile buffer zone. What they did not build on they agreed to lease back to the local farmers. In addition the Navy leases "ease ways" that extend beyond the base, and air space above it. So when you drive through any of the gates you have a seven mile drive through farmland before you get to the operations area.

In the fall of 1969 I was given a three month assignment to support the introduction of the A-7E to NAS Lemoore. It replaced the A4. The assignment lasted till 1991. By that time three kids were attending California colleges and another was about to enter. And over the years temporary became permanent.

In 1969 Lemoore was a town of 2,500 with one stop sign; Hanford 5,000 with one stop light; and Fresno 50,000. All have grown with a general population of 1,000,000 in a 50 mile radius. Hanford is the Kings County seat. Kings county is bigger than Rhode Island with only 100,000. With the exception of Lemoore and Hanford there are only a few small tows scattered throughout the county. The rest is devoted to farming, dairies, and cattle. To the east rise the Sierra's (MT Witney is 90 mile due east. To the west the Colinger Hills (about the same distance). It is flat to the north and south. In this area there are an estimated 90 different ethnic groups. The latest being from southeast asia due to the Viet Nam War. The two dominant groups are Haspanic and Portuguese. If you head due west for about an hour you are in the wine country of Pasa Robles, and then a short drive to the central coast. AMTRACK runs north/south and you can be in downtown San Francisco in about four hours, or go south to L.A. Makes for a nice outing, plus you can sit in the club car on the way back and avoid the traffic. In the winter we have Tule fog and the train becomes a major source of transportation. In the summer 100 degrees plus.

The county has a diverse population. One third earn $16,000 or less, another third $16,000 to $30,000, and the final third &30,000 plus. As such housing is about half of what it is in L.A or S.F. There is an influx of retiree's who sell in those areas, buy the same house here for half and invest the rest.

Farming is big. Due to the climate there are four growing seasons (cotton, citrus, vegetables, fruit, nuts,...). Come harvest the field are lit up like a city as the operation goes on 24 hours a day. There is no major industry to speak of. Therefore a high unemployment rate, 17%, therefore high welfare,and the ills that go with it. Public education here has really declined, as in the rest of the country. The majority of students that go on to Universities and college come from the private. So in a since we have a third world economy i.e large low income on the bottom, middle class to support the wealthy farm owners.

At times Fresno would rival NYC or other big cities for violent crime. Haspanic/black/asian gangs fight over the drug traffic. As such Fresno has a very aggressive police force, who at times look like an army as they sweep various neighborhoods. As far as Tark at Fresno State he keeps recruiting talented kids from the inner cities of America, but they seem to spend as much time in justice court as they do on the basketball court.

Lot of interesting history. West of Lemoore was the sight of one of the last big gun fights in the old west between the railroad and the farmers. To the east, Visalia was the seat of Southern support during the Civil War and was occupied by Union troops.

Politics, conservative. Dem/Rep to the right. What keeps it that way is the fact that with such a small population the local congressman has to face the voters in all the local coffee shops. Maybe that is why Boxer and Fienstein have never been here! The mayor lives around the corner, you get the idea. The good news everybody seems to know everybody, the bad news everybody seems to know everybody. Kind of like S.I. before the bridge went up.

Staten Island WebŪ Forums Index.