This Week in Sacramento History June 25-July 1

June 25, 1874: A crowd of visitors fills the large assembly hall to witness commencement exercises at Sacramento Grammar School. The ceremony opens with "Happy Waltz" by the orchestra, followed by speeches, poems, recitations, songs, awards and more instrumental music. The graduating class numbers 108.

The Independence Day organizers meet in the county Courtroom to hear reports. The following program is approved: military and civilian parade; 80-gun salutes; literary exercises; singing by children and band music; balloon ascension; Capitol illumination and fireworks. The total cost is estimated at $1,500.

June 26, 1920: A Sacramento County Jail guard thwarts an escape attempt when he discovers a large hole dug through the brick wall in the side of the building on the top floor. That part of the jail houses federal prisoners and one of them, Jim Elliott, admits to using a case knife and a metal slat from a bed to do it.

Quote: "When did America give its word to the rest of the world in the League of Nations matter? It is true that Wilson told the world this and that ... but when he asked the country to return a Democratic Congress ... the country replied with a Republican Congress." -- Bee editorial, chiding President Woodrow Wilson's internationalism

June 27, 1899: The Sacramento Board of Trustees considers installing new streetlights. A call for bids resulted in only one. Sacramento Electric, Gas and Railway Co. presents two pricing plans for 250 2,000-candlepower lamps: a "moonlight" schedule for $7.90 a month and an all-night schedule for $8.40 a month. The trustees choose the latter.

The steamer Nippon Maru, which was held in Honolulu because of the death of a passenger from black plague, arrives in San Francisco. The ship is immediately ordered into the quarantine station until medical examinations can be performed on the large number of passengers. But it is believed there are no other cases of plague on board.

June 28, 1962: The California Supreme Court upholds by a 5-2 vote its controversial ruling that cities and counties cannot legislate against sexual relations between adults not married to each other. The court majority concludes that the Assembly, by implication, has decriminalized such behavior.

Quote: "We are only getting about half the work done that should be done. We are not getting ahead. We are getting behind." -- D.W. McKenzie, chief of the Sacramento County Highways and Bridges Division, telling the Board of Supervisors that public financing is falling further behind the demand for local road improvements.

June 29, 1978: The California Supreme Court agrees to hear three separate legal challenges to Proposition 13, the curb on the property tax, but it refuses to delay its implementation July 1. The high court had selected a few cases from the lawsuits brought against the Jarvis-Gann amendment by 29 school districts, seven counties and San Francisco. The court sets Aug. 11 for hearing arguments in the cases. A ruling could be weeks, even years, away, according to a court source.

Quote: "Good old Proposition 13. It was long overdue. I'll admit it's a bit drastic, but it will put a stop to our local and state government and politicians spending us blind." -- Clayton Hane, in a letter to the editor

June 30, 1913: The Water Committee of the Sacramento Chamber of Commerce reports that the Sacramento River is the best and cheapest source of drinking water and urges the city to purchase land for a water filtration plant. The plant would cost $1 million and be paid for by a bond issue put before voters.

Work begins on the strengthening of the Sutterville levee on the Sacramento River. Ten men under the supervision of the city engineer clear the ground near the Riverside Club House to raise the 16-foot levee by 7 feet. Its dimensions will be 150 feet at the base and 30 feet at the top.

July 1, 1925: The first air mail plane to make a regular stop in Sacramento lands at Mather Field on its way east. It is met with great ceremony by citizens and dignitaries, including U.S. Sen. Samuel Shortridge and Rep. Charles Curry. An important feature of the new service is installation of a 500-watt radio station at Mather for pilot communication.

Quote: "I consider the inauguration of the air mail service in this city one of the greatest steps in Sacramento development. The importance of this service to the city will be realized only after it has been in operation for some time. Then the businessman especially will realize what fast airplane service to all points east means." -- Harold J. McCurry, Sacramento postmaster