Town Walk – Saturday, April 28,2012

Come to the Saroyan Town Walk-Saturday, April 28, 2012

You will learn about William Saroyan and his early years in Fresno and experience the sights and sounds of the area that he gave voice to in his works.

One of those places is Valley Lahvosh Baking Company still in the location where this historic photo was taken.

Valley Lavosh Historical Photo
Photo courtesy of Janet Saghatelian.

 Attendee’s of the Saroyan Town Walk 2012



Views from the Saroyan Town Walk 2007 and 2008

Town Walk Watkins 2008
Photo courtesy of Howard Watkins
Town Walk Fresno












Al Garabedian as Mr. Saroyan in Courthouse Park. Photo by Howard Watkins.


Town Walk William Saroyan













Photo of presentation at Holy Trinity Armenian Church by Edward Ashjian.


Town Walk Hye Bakery 2007








Visiting Hye Quality Bakery. Photo by Edward Ashjian.


Town Walk Valley Bakery 2007










Visiting Valley Lahvosh Baking Company.

Saroyan Award at the Young Writers’ Conference

At the 2012 Young Writers Conference on March 28, Taralyn Culpepper from Lemoore High School was presented by Society Board member Brenda Magarity for her story of The Boxer’s.

Taralyn Culpepper and Brenda Magarity

William Saroyan Society

Young Writer’s Conference winners on March 28,2012

At the 2011 conference on April 6, Borin Setha from Duncan Polytechincal High School was presented the award by Society Board member Brenda Magarity for his work of creative fiction ALONG THE ROAD.

Borin Setha and Brenda Magarity

William Saroyan Society
2010 award was presented to Emily Kroeker from Clovis East High School for her work of creative fiction THE SOUND OF LIFE.
2009 award was presented to Victor Sandoval from Yosemite High School for his work of fiction entitled TRISHA.

2012 William Saroyan Story Writing Contest

Here are the winners of the 2012 William Saroyan Story Writing Contest.

William Saroyan Society Writing Contest 2012

William Saroyan Winners 2012

The William Saroyan Story Writing Contest 2010-2011

The Society presented the 2011 Contest Winners at the Awards Ceremony on April 14, 2011 at the Woodward Park Regional Library.

The William Saroyan Story Writing Contest 2009

2009 Award Winners

Each honoree’s name is followed by the name of their school and the city/state in which they reside.

Grades 1-2

1st Ryan Bishop – Quail Lake Charter (Clovis);2nd Ryan M. Hioe – Garfield Elementary (Clovis);

3rd Mark Topoozian – Malloch (Fresno)

Grades 3-4

1st Talie Lynn Cloud – Quail Lake (Clovis); 2nd Adam Abajian – Quail Lake (Clovis); 3rd Morgan McLaury – Sun Empire (Kerman)

Honorable Mention: Jordan Ayerza – Sun Empire (Kerman); Amanda Street – Big Creek Elementary (Big Creek); Macey Hammerstrom – Reagan Elementary (Kingsburg)

Grades 5-6

1st Leslie Chavez – Powers-Ginsburg (Fresno);2nd Samantha C. Apodaca – Fancher Creek (Fresno)

3rd Uriel Bosques – Powers-Ginsburg (Fresno)

Honorable Mention:  Luis Figueroa – Powers-Ginsburg (Fresno);Brandon Pattillo – Powers-Ginsburg (Fresno)

Grades 7-9

1st Faith McCoy – Mariposa Middle School (Mariposa); 2nd Chlorissa Prothro – Foothill Middle School (Tollhouse); 3rd Arianna Brown – Central H.S. West (Fresno)

Honorable Mention:  Sandra Limon – Bullard H.S. (Fresno); Pamela Bobadilla – Edison H.S. (Fresno)

William Tang – Kastner Intermediate (Fresno); Kristin Simmons – Rayburn Intermediate (Clovis)

Julia Crespi – Mariposa Middle School (Mariposa); Raquel Campozano – El Monte Middle School (Orosi)

Grades 10-12

1st Quinn Western – San Joaquin Memorial (Fresno);2nd Charles M. Kennedy – The Wardlaw-Hartridge School (Edison, N.J.; 3rd Elijah Cotton – J.C. Montgomery (Hanford)

Honorable Mention:  Molly Kim Lao – Sunnyside H.S. (Fresno)


1st Christel Teesy – Fresno Pacific University (Fresno); 2nd Eileen Frank – College of the Sequoias (Visalia); 3rd Deborah Hamilton – Clovis Center (Clovis)

William Saroyan Centennial Prizes for Fiction, Non-Fiction & Drama

The William Saroyan Society in cooperation with the San Joaquin Valley Writers Project has not yet set a new schedule for the prize program.

Centennial Awards published in In The Grove, issue 17 Summer 2009.

Publication of the Best of the William Saroyan Writing Contest

Announcement: A limited number of copies of the book are available at $20 including tax.  To order call 559-221-1441 for availability and delivery costs.

William Saroyan Society
On September 24, the William Saroyan Society announced the publication of selected stories from the winning stories during the 26 years of the William Saroyan Story Writing Contest for students in grades 1 thorough college.  The hardbound book entitled The Best of the Best; 26 years of winning stories from the William Saroyan writing contests was presented to the 23 winning students and their schools.  Shown receiving their books from Superintendent Larry Powell (left) and County Librarian Karen Bosch Cobb & John Kallenberg (right) are Michele (Ediger) Bowling, Juan Rangel, Gabriela Pauli, and John Halajian.

The contest began in 1982 and the stories were selected from the first place winners in each category for each of the 26 years to 2008.  This publication was commissioned during the centennial celebration of the birth of Mr. Saroyan.  19 schools from the San Joaquin Valley were represented in the winning stories.

Major Ben Amirkhanian Letter

As a result of an announcement in the San Francisco Chronicle which asked for letters from persons whose lives brushed with William Saroyan. The following letter was received from Virginia Scardigli who was friendly with Saroyan in 1933. This letter details how Saroyan wrote his first book that made him famous –



This letter was received on October 23, 1995 by Major Ben Amirkhanian who established The William Saroyan Society in 1985

Dear Major Ben Amirkhanian:
Sorry for the long delay in writing to you. I am just now coming out of a total exhaustion from a too heavy schedule which piled up on me in August, September and the first part of October and am now in Hilo, Hawaii, putting body, soul and mind together. Be home Nov. 3 but hope to be able to get this note off to you before that.

So for remembering Bill

We met in the late fall of 1933 when I was working for Ansel Adams– Joseph Danysh Art Gallery at (I think) 133 Gleary St. (2nd floor) in San Francisco. This was a gathering place of writers, artists, photographers- young and old, Bill was 23-24 and probably came in to see this exhibit of Atanas Katchmatov’s (not sure of that name) paintings. Bill didn’t have a job and was living out on Carl Sweet with family. Like so many of the bright, excited young talents of (he depression, he spent a lot of time walking, observing and visiting with all kinds of people and maybe four or five times a week he checked in for some stimulating talk about art, music, the Municipal Railway (5c fare), Mussolini, Hitler. the big world, his little world. After we would pool what little cash we had (taking out 21c for the ferry to Berkeley and Bill’s 5c to Carl street and would walk up to Yee Jim’s in Cbinatown and eat the rest or cross Market Street and go to Breen’s for a 35c turkey leg or the 3′ dinners at The Cannary Den in the basement of the Swedish Old Sailors Home on Drumm Street-pitchers of orange juice, trays of sauerdough bread–a single entree–even a piece of pie if you had an extra dime. Then walking through the commission market and to the Ferry Building-so many ships on the embarcadero then. And talk and talk.

I remember Bill telling me of his time in the orphan home in Oakland when a death in his family (father) made it impossible to care for Bill and his brother. Of his grandmother complaining that she had lived 50 years in Fresno next to a women who had never learned a word of Armenian. Of raiding orchards and garden plots for fruit and vegetables-of his job with Western Union-so many things that turned up later on in MY NAME IS ARAM and THE HUMAN COMEDY.

We went to heat Father Divine at his storefront church on Pacific Street-at first just to hear the music but then holding bands to keep each other from going up to the mourner’s bench to confess our sins (we were so innocent) when the sermon and call began, The title PEACE ITS WONDERFUL came from father Divine-a big black man with a magic voice and white Cadillac and oval following.

Always, Bill talked about being and becoming a writer, of all the stories and ideas inside him that had to come out.

We knew he had been sending out stories all along and collecting rejection slips but the day in 1934 when Joe Danysh and I arrived at the front door of the gallery and found the envelope addressed to us both, we knew it had really begun. Inside were two one dollar bills, two street car transfers and a card which read-One for the, money / one for the show / one For Virginia / and one for Joe.’ Signed William Shakespeare

Bill received $15 for that first story published in Story magazine – THE DARING YOUNG MAN ON THE FLYING TRAPESE-but he paid back his debts and then disappeared for a month and wrote 30 stories-published that year-his first book–same title,

Ben, I have the magazine, I have the book and I have the photograph taken by Ansel Adams of Bill grinning, his black hat cocked on that head of bushy black hair (no beard or mustache in those days) The card I gave to some lovely people in San Francisco who helped set up a chair in Armenian Studies at UC Berkeley-but the other things I would be happy to donate to the Fresno Library or whatever you set up for the public. There’s more in my memory but I’d have to answer a lot of questions.


Virginia Scardigli