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Detouring to Clovis for antiques.

If, say, Sheriff Pat Garrett had stalked bottle glass or roll-top desks instead of Billy the Kid, he might well have made tracks for Old Town in Clovis, California. With its clapboard false fronts, the Fresno suburb's newly restored downtown seems ready-made for showdowns and shootouts. But it's actually an antique hound's heaven-well worth a detour.

In downtown Clovis, antiques of a feather flock together

Incorporated in 1912, Clovis thrived as the site of a lumber mill that was the terminus of a flume carrying logs clear down from the Sierra. Most downtown buildings date from the prosperous 1910s and 1920s. But by the 1980s, the area was decidedly down-at-heels, unable to compete with new suburban shopping centers. The city decided to fight back. Declaring nine blocks a redevelopment district, it added parking and streetscaping, then restored a 1921 supermarket as a pilot project. Several merchants were given grants and advice to help them restore their own buildings.

Even before redevelopment, a handful of

antiques dealers had found the area congenial. Today, 15 stores line Clovis and Pollasky avenues and Fourth and Fifth streets. You can get a free, one-page guide at most shops in the area.

Largest and oldest of the stores is Osterberg's Mercantile, at 460 Clovis Avenue. Do you want spool cabinets? Old sheet music? Sterling silver tea sets? A Fibber McGee Hilarious Party Game? Osterberg's (open 10 to 5 Tuesdays through Saturdays, noon to 4 Sundays and Mondays) has it-along with farm equipment from saddles to scythes to chicken roosts, reminders that Fresno is the nation's agriculturally richest county.

Other interesting stops are tucked in among the antiques. Baseball Heaven, in a redone post office at 622 Fourth Street, vends cards, caps, and pennants, and displays a baseball signed by Babe Ruth and

Lou Gehrig when they barnstormed through Fresno in 1927. It's open 10 to 6 Mondays through Thursdays, to 9 Fridays, to 6 Saturdays. The Clovis-Dry Creek Museum, 652 Fourth Street, holds local history exhibits, including a piece of the flume that got the town started. Visit from 11 to 3 Fridays, 10 to 4 Saturdays, or during Farmers' Market (see below).

This month: a market and a Clovisfest

If you bit town Friday night, stop by the Clovis Farmers' Market, on Pollasky Avenue between Fourth and Fifth streets. Some two dozen farmers sell locally grown produce. The market runs from 5 to 9 Fridays now through October 27. From 8 to 6 on Saturday, September 30, Old Town hosts Clovisfest, with a street fair and antique auto display. For information, call the Clovis Chamber of Commerce at (209) 299-7273.
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Date:Sep 1, 1989
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