Com­mu­nity col­lege, credit cards, burg­ers among Fresno’s firsts

The Fresno Bee (Sunday) - - Stay Connected - BY JOSHUA TEHEE jte­[email protected]­nobee.com

Those fol­low­ing Los An­ge­les food trends no doubt no­ticed the nos­tal­gi­cally charged “Good Burger” pop-up that opened in West Hol­ly­wood on Wed­nes­day. The restau­rant is based on a fic­tion­al­ized eatery from the ’90s Nikelodeon show “All That” as a promo for the show’s up­com­ing reboot.

Of course, fol­low­ers of the Fresno Griz­zlies will re­mem­ber when the team cre­ated its own “Good Burger” pop up back in 2016. It com­mem­o­rated the 20th an­niver­sary of the movie spin-off and fea­tured spe­cial food and jer­seys and a visit from “All That” star Kel Mitchell.

Sam Hansen, the Griz­zlies’ mar­ket­ing man­ager and idea man, has a his­tory of be­ing ahead of the curve on these kind of things. He was also part of the Tu­pac-in­spired Powamekka Cafe pop-up, which opened in Fresno a full six months be­fore some­one did it in New York City.

Also, he was talk­ing about the vi­a­bil­ity of a county/rap mu­sic hy­brid long be­fore Lil Nas X.

This isn’t the first time Fresno has been his­tor­i­cally ahead of the curve. Here are five other times Fresno beat the trends.

COM­MU­NITY COL­LEGE

It should be ob­vi­ous from the ar­chi­tec­ture that Fresno City Col­lege is one of the old­est in­sti­tu­tions in the city. But the school ex­isted for a full half­cen­tury be­fore it moved to its cur­rent lo­ca­tion on Univer­sity Av­enue back in 1956. The col­lege was ac­tu­ally founded in 1910 and was the first com­mu­nity col­lege in Cal­i­for­nia.

It was the sec­ond in the na­tion.

CEN­TRAL AIR

When the eight-story T.W. Patterson Build­ing re­placed the chiller sys­tem on its air con­di­tion­ing in 2015, it be­came a case study for the com­pany that in­stalled the sys­tem.

It was fit­ting given the build­ing’s his­tory as the first multi-story build­ing in the U.S. to have an air con­di­tion­ing sys­tem in­stalled. The orig­i­nal sys­tem was in­stalled by the Car­rier Com­pany in 1926. Prior to that, the sys­tem had only been seen in de­part­ment stores and movie the­aters in big cities like Los An­ge­les and New York.

FAST FOOD NA­TION

For good or bad, Fresno seems to have an in­fat­u­a­tion with drive-thru

chains (see the con­tin­ued ex­pan­sion of Dutch Bros. in the area). One could ar­gue that traces back to 1955, when Fresno got its first Mc­Don­ald’s.

The restau­rant opened on Black­stone Av­enue near Shields Av­enue and was one of the first of Ray Kroc’s fran­chise lo­ca­tions (Kroc is the guy who made Mc­Don­ald’s a global pow­er­house).

The Fresno lo­ca­tion was run by Art Ben­der, who is cred­ited with sell­ing Mc­Don­ald’s first ham­burger while work­ing for the Mc­Don­ald broth­ers at a burger stand in San Bernardino in 1948.

Ben­der went on to own seven Mc­Don­ald’s in Fresno, ac­cord­ing to his obituary in The Fresno Bee.

DANCE, DANCE, DANCE

The film “Breakin’ ” was re­leased in 1984, fol­lowed by its se­quel “Breakin’ 2: Elec­tric Booga­loo” later that year.

That’s five years after The Elec­tric Booga­loos were fea­tured on “Soul Train.” The dance group fea­tured Fresno’s Solomon broth­ers (Sammy and Ti­mothy). Sammy was known as “Booga­loo Sam.”

Ti­mothy was “Popin’ Pete” and is widely cred­ited with cre­at­ing and pop­u­lar­ized the body jerk­ing ro­botic dance style that came to be known as pop­pin’.

WHAT’S IN YOUR WAL­LET?

When Bank of Amer­ica in­tro­duced its new credit card pro­gram in 1958, it didn’t make much news. The Fresno Bee men­tioned it on an in­side page be­tween the busi­ness briefs and the live­stock re­port, ac­cord­ing to the Wall Street Jour­nal.

Of course, it was of lo­cal in­ter­est.

The bank is­sued 60,000 credit cards (in the mail and to­tally un­so­licited) to Fresno res­i­dents as a kind of mass ex­per­i­ment. While other, smaller banks had at­tempted credit cards, the so-called BankAmeri­card (later Visa) would rev­o­lu­tion­ized con­sumer credit.

BONHIA LEE Fresno Bee file

The orig­i­nal 1926 Car­rier Corp. air con­di­tion­ing sys­tem is seen in the T.W. Patterson Build­ing.

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