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Almond Festival’s rich traditions: Mull, Ed & Talbot

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Almond Festival’s rich traditions: Mull, Ed & Talbot

Talbot Kendall

Photo contributed/

POSTED February 17, 2009 4:13 a.m.

The spirits are with us – the spirits of Clementine “Mull” Mulholland and Talbot Kendall – who for years were central figures in the Ripon Almond Festival along with longtime mayor Ed Feichtmeir.
Mull was looked at as being the mother figure – even the queen by some – of the Ripon community. Considered somewhat eccentric, Talbot Kendall, always opened his home at Second and Locust streets for a private reception hosting VIPs of the region who were coming into town for the weekend. Mayor Ed Feichtmeir was always the perfect gentleman – another outstanding host for the community – year after year.
Mull did much the same hosting dignitaries from near and far to her little ranch on Milgeo Avenue near the truck stop. State senators , assemblymen such as Bob Monagan and Congressman John McFall and other special folks she had invited to take part in the parade were also there as well as department heads from county government.
Her small frame farm house was only three bedrooms in size, but somehow everyone seemed to fit and totally enjoy each other’s company. It was always a thrill for me to stop in at her open house and chat with folks I hadn’t seen for a year. A year that is, unless I made it by her St. Patrick’s Day bash that drew an even larger crowd.
The late Michael Canlis – recognized as the deepthroated “unit one” on the sheriff’s radio – was no stranger to Mull’s open house. Kendall always hosted a dinner at his home where guests were awed by the gate to his London, England-styled courtyard where they entered through an original bank vault door from the historical and demolished early Bank of Stockton building. There is also a period street light in the middle of the courtyard from the streets of London.
When walking into the cobblestoned patio they would pass through a single tower of old brick containing a brass fireman’s pole – where guests would climb the steps of the tower and slide back down to the concrete floor before witnessing Kendall’s hospitality and even a special cocktail or two – his own unique concoction. A second tower housed a Chinese bath at the Locust Avenue home.
Kendall owned the early San Joaquin Telephone Company in Manteca and Ripon. In addition he had a small warehouse next to his home where he parked his collection of old Royal Royce automobiles.
Those three late members of the community set much of the tone for the festival – Mull had kicked off the parade years ago when it was coined “Simpson Lee Daze” sponsored by Simpson Lee Paper Company.
Chamber volunteers Andrew Douma, Leonard Schemper and Mulholland organized the first parade and festival in just two weeks. Mull was always totally thrilled about parades with memories dating back to the days she and her husband C.F.”Dode” Mulholland and their six daughters rode snow white horses in parades up and down the state.
Mull bird-dogged many from out of town to take part and even saw the festival become an international event with the almond growers bringing visitors from Japan, working tirelessly for 29 years until her retirement in 1991. After 28 years she said she had been doing it for so long it had become almost second nature.

Mull was secretary for Ripon chamber

Mull was secretary of the chamber of commerce, and she also controlled what went into the newspapers. She wrote for the Ripon Record, the Stockton Record and the Modesto Bee. Mull was a correspondent for all three.
Another tradition that continued for nearly 30 years was the VIP reception at the paper company – first Simpson Lee and later Fox River – which chamber board members, city officials and parents of the queen candidates all attended. It was always concluded just before the queen crowning ceremonies at 8 o’clock in the community center.
Jeanne Rudd, chamber president from 1992 to 1996, remembers Mull coming over to the Ripon Record where she was working and asking her to come by her house after work for a Tequila Sunrise. It was always an experience – you would just sit down and talk – it was like having an audience in her spacious family room,” she said. Mull had framed state and federal resolutions mounted on her walls with photos of her special friends.
The history of the Ripon Chamber of Commerce dates back to 1914 and 1915 when it was called the Board of Trade and the Merchants’ Association. It was 1923 when newspaper publisher Charlie A. McBrian was the driving force behind the formation of the actual chamber of commerce.
It was in June of 1945 the chamber drew up the articles of incorporation for the city of Ripon and moved forward with their ratification. Also in 1945 the chamber assisted in the development of the Ripon Rural Fire District.
The organization of the San Joaquin County Mosquito Abatement District and the San Joaquin Local Health District were both encouraged and supported by the chamber’s board of directors. In 1952 the chamber joined other civic organizations in working to establish a tax district to make way for construction of a new grammar school.
It was later that same year that the chamber was instrumental in the purchase of the Portuguese hall on Fourth Street as a community center to be used as a cultural center for the city.

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