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Clovis is generally considered to be very peaceful and quiet. In fact, it’s been called the number one city in which to raise a family in California. However, there’s one bank in town that gets robbed Every. Single. February.
Thankfully, it’s just a melodramatic reenactment of the Great Bank Robbery of 1924 and not the real deal. Still worth watching, though.
If you want to watch some old-time criminal history, stop by the Clovis-Big Dry Creek Museum this Saturday, because it’s time for the Lone Wolf and the Owl to make their annual appearance.
In the early days of the town, the Clovis-Big Dry Creek Museum was the Clovis Bank. One exciting day in 1924, two men with interesting nicknames walked inside and robbed the bank at gunpoint.
The Lone Wolf (Felix Sloper) and the Owl (Thomas Griffin) made off with $31,000, despite being chased by the town’s Sheriff. They sprinkled nails in the road to escape, which heretofore I didn’t think would be effective. Clearly, I’m no expert.
The money was never recovered, but both robbers eventually met untimely demises. The museum has photographs of the bank, and the vault still stands, now holding Clovis’s precious memories in yearbooks and other documents. In addition, the bank has a revolver and a nail from the getaway on display in a case surrounded by sheriffs’ badges.
What You’ll Find at the Clovis-Big Dry Creek Museum
Naturally, the Clovis-Big Dry Creek Museum is not only about the Great Bank Robbery of 1924. You could spend a whole day inside learning about local history. Recently, I enjoyed a fabulous museum tour by Docent Marian Prindiville, who is knowledgable and friendly, and offered my kids a free pen to remember their visit.
Marian walked us through the museum and explained the history behind the photographs that line the walls, as well as some of the museum’s other artifacts, including a piece of the great flume that went all the way from Shaver Lake to the Clovis rodeo grounds. Seeing the photographs of rows of lumber where the rodeo grounds are now really shows how different Clovis is, 100 or so years later.
The museum also houses a section featuring artifacts from the indigenous Yokut people, and a wall dedicated to the city’s founder, “Wheat King” Clovis Cole.
My sons loved the Veterans’ Room, which had uniforms and photographs of local heroes who have served our country. There’s also a Heritage Room that houses outfits of yore, including some very fashionable bonnets.
And of course, there’s an area dedicated to “Gunsmoke” actor Ken Curtis (he played Festus Haggen), who lived out his later years in Clovis. Did you know the cowboy statue in front of the Educational Employees Credit Union on Pollasky Ave. is his likeness? I had always thought it was a random cowboy, but you learn something new every day, especially if you go to a museum with an informative docent.
After visiting the museum, I feel like I have a better connection with Clovis. It’s always grounding to know where a place has been and what sort of adventures have happened on the streets we currently walk on. From revolvers to bonnets, there’s really something for everyone at the Clovis Dry-Creek Historical Society Museum.
To Visit the Museum
Museum Hours: 10 a.m to 2 p.m, Tuesday through Saturday, or by special arrangement at 559-287-3033
Location: 401 Pollasky Avenue (the corner of Pollasky and 4th)
Admission: Free, but donations are welcome
To Watch Saturday’s Robbery Re-Enactment
Bank Robbery Hours: Saturday, Feb. 25, 2017 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., every 15 minutes. (If you’re reading this in 2018, the date is Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018.)
Extras: During the melodrama hours, you can enter to win a $100 door prize
More info: Click here