MODESTO -- From the phones and e-mails:
SOME VACATION In June, Jack and Janis Martin of Ceres loaded their 1930 Ford Model A convertible into their trailer, climbed into their 2001 F-250 pickup and headed to Marquette, Mich., for a Model A convention. The couple recently received their pins as 35-year members of the Modesto Area A's Model A club.
On June 25, with the convention over, they drove to Dearborn to tour the Henry Ford Museum. They locked the truck and trailer and then spent the next eight hours eyeing the exhibits. When they came out, though, they couldn't find their pickup and trailer.
"Gone," Janis Martin said. So were their belongings.
"We literally had the clothes on our back," she said. "All of our luggage everything was in the trailer or the pickup."
They decided to hang around Dearborn for a few days, hoping the police would find the vehicles. They offered a $1,000 reward for the return of the Model A. No takers, even though local newspapers and TV stations covered the case. So they rented a car and drove home to California.
"We were back by July 3," said. On the 11th, they received a call from the Dearborn police, who had received a call on a tips line telling them the trailer was in Detroit.
"They say all of the crime happens in Detroit," Martin said.
Except, of course, the crime that happens in Dearborn and ends up in Detroit.
The trailer had been broken into, and Jack Martin's tools were gone. The car hadn't been touched.
"It's probably in parts somewhere," Janis Martin said.
They needed a new one, and a Ford dealer in Dearborn sold it to them.
"They flew us back there and gave us a great deal on a new F-250," she said.
Then they drove back to the valley again from Dearborn for the second time in two weeks and the Model A is safe and sound.
Coincidentally, the same day their Model A vanished in Michigan, burglars struck their daughter's home in Modesto, stealing her TV, jewelry and other items.
HELPING HANDS Last week, I wrote about how someone broke into Dora Houser's garage and stole a motorcycle, tools and other items just two days after her husband, 34-year-old Gabriel Houser, died. A pickup pulled directly into his path north of Atwater July 17 as he rode his motorcycle from Modesto to the University of California at Merced, where he worked as the technical services coordinator in the school's library.
Since the column appeared, numerous readers expressed an interest in helping. Some offered to pay for the damage done to the 2008 Buell motorcycle he rode the day he died. Others offered tips regarding the 2001 Suzuki Bandit cycle stolen from their home, although none panned out. One neighbor sent Dora a photo of his trailer and sport utility vehicle stolen around the same time, in the event the thieves might have used it to haul away her belongings.
Dora, who is pregnant, wants the bike back desperately as a keepsake for the child.
Christopher Dow said the bike bears Gabe's sweat equity and meant a great deal to his friends, as well.
"Gabe bought that bike, and it was pretty well shot," Dow wrote in an e-mail. "The tires had metal showing through, the valves had never been adjusted, the oil cooler leaked, and generally it preferred not running to running. He worked hard to get her up and running. Injured his knuckles trying to get seized bolts off of it, bled onto it and generally resurrected it. It was running pretty good when he died."
There's more, Dow said.
"The woman he bought it from didn't even have the pink slip and was several years behind on registration," Dow wrote. "He had to wait in line at the DMV to get it re-registered and legal. That bike wouldn't be worth stealing if it hadn't been for the hard work of a man we all miss terribly. THAT is what those people stole from us. A bike can be replaced, but what we had was more than a bike to us when it was one of the few things we had left that represented him after he was gone."
BEAT GENERATION Modesto's Keelan Tobia, 21, repeated as the snare drum solo champion during Drum Corps International's I&E competition in San Antonio. A 2009 Enochs High grad, he is studying graphic design at Modesto Junior College when he's not pounding the snare with Concord's Blue Devils Drum and Bugle Corps. Next up, the world championships Aug. 11 in Indianapolis. It will be his last competition, because of his age, but he plans to stay involved in drumming as a teacher or performer.
You can watch the video of his winning effort by searching for YouTube and Keelan Tobia. It's dated July 22, 2012.
Jeff Jardine's column appears Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays in Local News. He can be reached at email@example.com, @jeffjardine57 on Twitter or at (209) 578-2383.