Pocket Life

By Corky Mau
August 2020

Connecting With Neighbors

Cigar box guitars light up their fans

With large gatherings prohibited and most events canceled, I look forward to my daily walk. I venture through different neighborhoods and explore new scenery. I see familiar people and greet others for the first time. Let’s meet some interesting Pocket neighbors.

I never heard of a cigar box guitar until I stopped at the Free Little Library outside the home of Cristina and Gerry O’Callaghan. My mission was to drop off books and borrow a new one. I was surprised when O’Callaghan came out of his garage to show me his newest creation—a three-string cigar box guitar.
“Last March, I came across a chat forum about making cigar box guitars,” he says. “I was intrigued after I saw a video of Paul McCartney playing one.”

Making a simple chordophone didn’t look too difficult. O’Callaghan, a native of Liverpool, England, thought it would be fun. After snagging some boxes from his cigar-loving friends, he was hooked.

Cigar boxes were invented around 1840. One day, someone decided an empty cigar box could be recycled into an instrument—and the cigar box guitar was born. In the Great Depression, the boxes were popular sources of music. Music legends with cigar box guitars include Jimi Hendrix, Carl Perkins and Bo Diddley.
Early versions had one or two strings. Modern instruments have three or more strings. Typically, the strings are connected to a broomstick or a 1-by-3-inch wood slat and the cigar box resonator.

“Six strings are too complicated for an old geezer like me, so I make them with three strings,” O’Callaghan says.

He customizes each guitar, usually based on the box label. The guitar he showed me was fashioned from a My Father Cigars box, considered a premium cigar brand. It’s a birthday present for his daughter.

If you want to learn more about cigar box guitars, contact O’Callaghan at gtoc54@yahoo.com. Yes, he’ll accept donated boxes. And don’t forget to ask about his connection to another Liverpudlian named McCartney.


Longtime Pocket resident Teresa Carle has rediscovered her love for painting animals and California landscapes. She always had an interest in art, but retirement and lockdowns gave her time to buckle down.

Carle is a cancer survivor. Art is therapeutic. Her favorite medium is oils and acrylics. “I started doing paintings of my family’s pets as gifts for them. Then friends asked me to paint pets who had recently passed away. I’m gratified that my artwork is part of the healing process for all of us,” Carle says. She’s completed more than 30 pet paintings and is eager to do more.

To see her work, you’ll have to visit her home gallery. Carle occasionally posts photos of her art pieces on Etsy and she’s considering participating in the city’s Open Studio program next year. Contact her at tcarle3753@sbcglobal.net.



Masayuki “Mas” Hatano celebrated his 92nd year with a drive-by birthday greeting. But this party was more ride-by than drive-by. Many bicyclists, some riding from Carmichael and Fair Oaks, rode by ACC Greenhaven Terrace to greet Hatano.

Michele Fortes, a retired UC Davis professor, organized the outdoor gathering. “For many years, Mas talked to my students about the Japanese internment experience. He told me his social life was pretty minimal due to the coronavirus. So I thought he’d enjoy a birthday celebration,” Fortes says.

Hatano has lived in the Sacramento region almost all his life, except for three years he and his family were incarcerated at Tule Lake. “I was 14 when we left our Loomis home. At first I thought it was going to be a fun adventure. But it was no fun to live in crowded wood barracks, surrounded by barbed wire and guard towers,” he says. He’s given dozens of talks to schoolchildren about his internment years.

His secret for staying healthy is all about moving. He stayed active long after he retired from state employment. He pursued biking and travel, often in combination. “In my 70s, I annually biked over 7,000 miles in California and around the world,” he says. “I loved leading bike tours throughout Asia.”
When he wasn’t biking, he volunteered for more than 20 years at the California Railroad Museum and California History Museum. Wishing Mas many more happy birthdays!


Twin brothers Sean and Chris Fetros have spearheaded community projects in recent months. The boys just finished eighth grade at Cal Middle School. A requirement for their leadership class was to develop a service plan.

Sean held a pet food drive for the Butte County Humane Society and Sacramento SPCA. Chris’ project encourages residents to support Vientos Mexican Cocina, a Pocket landmark. He put the word out on Nextdoor and Facebook’s The Capital Eats Local. If you visit Vientos, leave a comment on social media for Chris. He’d like to hear from you.

Corky Mau can be reached at corky.sue50@gmail.com. Submissions are due six weeks prior to the publication month. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @insidesacramento.

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