2022 Winters History Mural
The "Before" and "After" Photos
Alligator at the Post Office Explained
Bill Gray, beloved ex-postmaster, shared the story of the alligator that lives at the Winters Post Office in Winters Friends of the Library's Winters Tales.
"Probably about 1966, Joyce Martino had married Wally Neely. They went to Florida, I think. He was a Lt. Comdr. In the Navy, and her little brother, Joseph Martino, started coming in and he'd say, 'Hey, did my alligator come in yet?' 'What alligator?' 'I'm getting an alligator through the mail!' Well he came in for about two weeks. He was about ten years old. One day we got this long cardboard box, with all these holes punched in it. This was before they were endangered and you could buy them and sell them. And we could hear all this flawing and scratching and gnawing in there. So here came Joseph after school. 'Did my alligator come?' 'Right here, Joseph!' And he said, 'Give me something to cut it open with!' We got a knife and cut it and all of a sudden this long beak came out, snapping, and this big yellow eye. This thing was trying to claw its way out. We shoved it back down in there, taped it over, and he took it home."
"When I was in high school, I was going somewhere with my folks in the car, and they turned on Jack Benny. And Jack Benny and Rochester went down into the basement and the basement was full of water and full of alligators. And they were yelling and Rochester was hollering that the alligators were getting him. And it stuck in my brain. So when this alligator came through the mail, we started telling everybody that there was an alligator in the basement of the Post Office. We'd have little kids come through on tours from the school and when they were up in the front, one of us would go down in the basement and go 'Rowr! Rowr!' Also, in the sidewalk there's a metal grate and you can look down in the basement, and on hot afternoons we'd hear little kids laughing and giggling, and we'd look out there, and these little kids going to the swimming pool would be laying on that hot sidewalk in their swimsuits, shading their eyes, looking down there trying to see the alligator."
"I'd tell a little kid that when the alligator made me mad, I'd grab him by the tail and pull him out of his tub and let him run on the cement, but his little claws would slip, so he'd run but he couldn't get anywhere. 'What are you going to do with him?' I said when I retired I was going to shoot him and make him into a sports coat. So then when we moved to the new Post Office, we told them that they couldn't see him any more, like people used to see him, because he would thrash his tail and throw all the water out and snap, and we said he's too big. 'Well how long is he?' Oh, we said he's probably four foot long, not counting the tail. He might measure six or eight feet. We perpetuated that forever. You still go in there and you see pictures of the alligator in the Post Office. The little school kids draw pictures of the alligator. Little kids to this day still think there's an alligator."
[Bill Gray was interviewed by Pat O'Connor-Marer in September, 2000, for Winters Friends of the Library's Winters Tales--Stories, poems, and recollections about life in Winters, California which was edited by Diane Cary, includes photographs by Jamie Chomas, and was published in 2002.]
On behalf of the Board of the Winters Participation Gallery, it is my sad job to give you the news of Kate Humphrey's death on Tuesday, September 12. Kate was a leading player in the creation and implementation of the Winters Historical Mural Project. Years before the actuation of the murals themselves, she and I brainstormed how it might come to fruition. Without her, it would not have even been considered. She was a true pioneer and vibrant spirit that generated this whole thing into being. I shall miss her greatly, as I know you all will.
With great sorrow,
[Photo by Debbie Hemenway]
2022 Mural Photos
Creating the Post Office Mural!
Mural Artists at Work!
Post Office Wall - Starting point for Mural 2022
The Wall has been power washed and primed.
Mural Design Diagrams
Mural Design Field Trip
Kate Humphrey and the design crew went to the Winters Post Office on Wednesday.
The field trip was both informative and fun. The team had a personal tour from Cel Galabasa, postman extraordinaire, and Aimee Lassalle, Winters Postmaster. They learned about the alligator that lives in the Post Office basement! Members of the design team took photos of items they found interesting.
The Story Behind The Winters Historical Mural Project
The members of the Board of Winters Participation Gallery thank you for your contribution to our Big Day of Giving fundraising drive. WPG relies on your Big DOG donation to support the annual Historical Mural Project that takes place each summer.
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