Vintage Auburn

Fireworks and smokes

By: Tessa Marguerite, Reporter/Page Designer
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Editor’s note: The following news articles have been taken from the Auburn Journal archives with light editing. To comment on Vintage Auburn, contact staff writer Tessa Marguerite at

10 years ago

Fireworks displays closely monitored

July 1, 2008

The hugely popular Colfax fireworks display has been canceled for 2008. Auburn’s fireworks display, however, will blast off at 9:40 p.m. Friday.

Colfax’s Fifth of July event will not include the fireworks that are a staple of the annual gathering. City Manager Joan Phillipe said the city called off the fireworks display because “there’s a lack of resources available,” she said.

Her decision came after a meeting with Cal Fire Unit Chief Brad Harris. She explained that usually fire departments are available to put out any potential fires caused by fireworks. But this year, due to multiple wildland fires in the state, there are not as many fire crews available.

Vince Sauter, Auburn Family Fourth coordinator, said barring any unforeseen circumstances, the celebration will conclude with a firework display.

“Public safety is No.1,” Sauter said. “It’s not so much that things are drier or different around where the fireworks are set as much as it’s whether safety personnel will need to be called out to other communities.”

For residents in unincorporated parts of the county, setting off fireworks is off limits.


30 years ago

County smoking ban enforced today

July 1, 1988

Much to the relief of non-smokers, Placer County’s new ordinance prohibiting smoking except in designated areas in all county-operated businesses goes into effect today, and even smokers seem to be willing to give the rule a chance.

“It gives me a good reason to quit smoking,” said Lt. Eric Engellenner, of the county jail. “It won’t be a problem – I’ve done it a hundred times.”

Engellenner was unsure about how other employees in the jail would react to the ordinance. “We have a very interesting situation here,” he said. “The prisoners will be allowed to smoke, but the employees won’t. I don’t know if this will cause problems. There are non-smoking prisoners who have been breathing the smoke from other inmates, but we don’t get many complaints from them.”

Placer County Personnel Department Director Jim Carey, like Engellenner, said he did not anticipate any major problems because of the new rule.

“I’ve heard of a few cases of employees who smoke quite a bit saying they won’t be able to get any work done without smoking, but since the ordinance hasn’t gone into effect yet, I really don’t know what will happen,” Carey said Thursday.

Businesses are not required to provide a smoking area for their employees, Carey added, so smokers may be climbing the walls by lunchtime, or taking lots of breaks.

Carey, who quit smoking about seven years ago, advised current smokers to do the same. “It’s a piece of cake,” he said. “I only missed it for the first two years.”


50 years ago

Man accused of Newcastle bank robbery is found in Nevada grave

June 27, 1968

The two and one-half year mystery surrounding the whereabouts of George Benjamin Williams, who made the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s “Ten Most Wanted” list after robbing a Newcastle bank, has been solved.

Authorities in Pershing County, Nev., reported that the skeletal remains of a man found in a five-foot grave 40 miles northwest of Locklove have been identified as those of Williams, who had been accused of being one of a pair of robbers who took more than $20,000 from the Newcastle branch of the Bank of America Dec. 22, 1965.

Pershing County Sheriff D. S. Higgins said the bones were unearthed May 26 by William Thompson, a Nevada prospector, who was using a bulldozer when he made the grisly discovery.

Higgins and Lt. Robert Kellher of the Washoe County Sheriff’s crime laboratory, along with FBI agents, secured Williams’ dental charts from the California Adult Authority.

“The teeth and the charts matched perfectly,” Higgins reported. He added that it appeared Williams had been shot at least once in the back of the head.

Pathologists opined Williams had been dead since two months after the Placer County bank job.

Suspicion immediately focused on Williams’ admitted accomplice in the holdup, Encarcion Rodiguez, who is serving a lengthy term in federal prison for his part in the crime.

Rodiguez was arrested in Wells, Nev., at about the time Williams died. He had nearly half the loot with him at the time. The remainder still is unaccounted for.

Williams, possessor of a long criminal record, and Rodriguez reportedly were cellmates for a time at Folsom Prison, from which they were released on parole shortly before the Newcastle stickup.


70 years ago

Business men play baseball ala donkey

July 1, 1948

Nineteen good-humored businessmen locked horns Sunday night in a stubborn game of softball played on a collection of stubborn donkeys. The score, if the scorer’s information is accurate, was 1 to 1. A fast ball club known as the Wallace Allstars scored first in the top of the first when Ernie Terry hit, and managed his small friend around the bases. The other squad, laboring under the misnomer of Bryan’s Allstars, scored their big run in the third frame with Kauffman maneuvering his donkey across the rubber.

It was a great night for the kids as many players were unseated frequently from their low altitude chariots. Other weary mounts rested when they got tired, and nobody in the ball park could do anything about it – except let them rest.

The game was played in Municipal Park and ended at 10 p.m. after the fourth inning had been completed.

The batteries were the luckiest people on the rosters as they played with both feet on the ground. Pahlka for the Allstars and Bryan for the Bombers handled the pitching duties, and Spencer caught for the Allstars while Weller was behind the plate for the Bombers.

Evidence that the hurling was good is to be found in the hit columns which shows a total of five safe blows. Wallace proved to be the best combination hitter and mule handler when he poled two hits in two time up. Berquist of the Bomber team was the only other player to hit besides Terry and Kauffman.

At the end of the fourth, nearly everyone was glad the thriller was over — but the donkeys seemed especially satisfied.


90 years ago

Cassidy speaks to 20-30 club

July 5, 1928

Urging his audience to register and have their acquaintances register, and at the same time to vote and urge others to vote, B. A. Cassidy, editor of the Auburn Journal, yesterday addressed the members of the 20-30 club at their weekly luncheon at the Hotel Auburn.

It is not the single vote that makes the election or the single drop of water that makes the ocean, but the ocean could not survive without the drops of water. Neither will the nation progress unless the people express themselves at the polls on affairs that have a great bearing on the future.

Touching upon the birthday of the nation, Cassidy said: “We are again in the throes of a great crisis, but this time it does not call for physical combat. It is a battle wherein the giants of autocracy, the giants of greed, the giants of licentiousness and the giants of lust are gnawing at the vitals of our government, our homes and our people.

“We cannot fight it with the weapons of war; we must fight it with education. We have a duty to perform, and one of the immediate times for performance is at the polls.”

Paul Oethler acted as chairman of the day. It was an enthusiastic meeting.