Fresno is home to many historic sites. However, even though one may be from Fresno, one may not know where all of the historic sites are, or why they are important.
This happened to me.
I am a native Fresnan. I grew up in Fresno, graduated from Central High, and later Fresno State. My family is from here, and even though I’ve lived in many different places throughout California, my heart brought me back to Fresno. Well, that and my family, who eventually moved away. However, that’s a story for a different day.
Growing up in Fresno meant that school field trips were inevitable to local historic sites. I remember visiting the Meux Home and Kearney Mansion. Even though my teachers did their best to expose me to all of Fresno’s history, there was one person who I did not learn about. That person was William Saroyan.
Not too long ago I had taken my daughter to an event at the Saroyan Theatre. While there, she saw a huge quote on the wall from William Saroyan. She asked who he was, and all I knew was that he was a local author. That was it. I decided to come home and research the man for whom the building was built. Many of you may know already who he was. I, obviously, didn’t know a whole lot.
Here is the Cliff Notes version. William Saroyan was born in Fresno. When his father died, he was sent to an orphanage, out of Fresno, at the age of 3. He came back to Fresno, with his mother, at a young age. He pretty much took ownership of his education, as well as earning money for himself and family. As a young boy he decided to become a writer, mostly due in part of his father’s love of writing. Saroyan wrote many books, short stories and plays. He won an Oscar and a Pulitzer Prize.
I truly had no idea that such a renowned person came from Fresno.
I have been to many a play at the Saroyan Theatre. I even saw Dora the Explorer there one time. (I thank my daughter for that one.) The theatre is home to the opera, musicals, Fresno Philharmonic and plays. You can watch a comedy show on some nights, see a concert or go to a community event. Saroyan Theatre is a central part of our community, and of course it would be named after William Saroyan. He loved the arts and he loved his hometown. It’s a perfect fit.
So, if you have never gone to an event at the Saroyan Theatre, look for one to attend. The building is nice and the seats are comfy. There really isn’t a bad seat in the house. Well, unless you’re at the very, very, very top. In that case, just pretend you’re in the sky box. 😉