From the e-mails, snail mail and voice mails:
CIVIL WAR MANIA With the nation commemorating the Civil War, and the movie "Lincoln" having snagged a best actor Oscar for Daniel Day-Lewis, fascination about the war is experiencing a growth spurt.
The official title of this four-year event is "Civil War Sesquicentennial." That's a big word rarely used and relatively difficult to pronounce that promoters felt the need to explain by adding "150 Years" to the bottom of the logo.
That clarified, this is a big Civil War week here in the valley.
It begins Thursday with the Turlock Historical Society's presentation of "Turlock's Veterans of the Civil War" at 7 p.m. in Berg Hall at the Covenant Village retirement community.
The keynote speaker will be Kenneth Beard, a Turlock High School junior, Historical Society volunteer and Civil War re-enactor. He'll be joined by Austin Bettencourt, who will dress in Civil War re-enactor clothing as he discusses the uniform designs and gear worn during the war.
The talk is open to the public, and the historical society is extending a special invitation to young people, hoping to pique their interest in history. Call the museum at (209) 668-7386 for more information.
Then, head out to Knights Ferry this weekend to watch the re-enactments. Strange as this might sound when read aloud, reliving the Civil War is educational and great family entertainment. And it's a whole lot safer than the original, when spectators drove their carriages and buggies from Washington, D.C., to Manassas, Va., to witness the first Battle of Bull Run in July 1861, fully expecting to see Union forces put down the Southern rebellion in one afternoon.
Instead, Confederate troops unveiled the so-called rebel yell, and sent the Union troops and their rooting section fleeing for their lives back across the Potomac. Bull Run was a mere skirmish compared with vicious battles at Gettysburg, Chickamauga, Spotsylvania, The Wilderness (where one of my kin died) and so many other places. By the time the war ended in April 1865, 620,000 soldiers Union and Confederate had died in battle.
The Battle of Knights Ferry is significantly more fan-friendly, and casualties usually are limited to a twisted ankle here and some aching muscles there. If someone bleeds, it's purely accidental.
Battle times are at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. Saturday, and 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Sunday, with re-enactors manning the encampments and talking about Civil War life both days from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
HISTORY, PART II Modesto's McHenry Museum is in dire need of docents to expound the history of the valley from the 1840s into the 1960s. So it will hold a docent training session March 25 beginning at 9 a.m. at the museum, 14th and I streets downtown. The program is open to anyone 18 or older. For more, call Ellen La Coste at (209) 577-5235.
WITH INTEREST Steven Velasquez served in the Marine Corps. He's unemployed and certainly could have used the $1,100 in money orders he found on the ground near a bus stop on Paradise Road in Modesto a week ago. Just one thing:
"It's not right," Velasquez said. "That could be somebody's rent money."
So he turned the Western Union money orders one for $1,000 and the other for $100 over to the Modesto police. If you lost them and have the receipts to prove ownership, go the Police Department and claim what's yours, thanks to Velasquez, who ended his e-mail with "Semper Fi."
BRIDGING TIME Last week, I wrote about the death of longtime local musician Lynn Russell, who was a member of Frank Mancini's Modesto Boys Band. But, as it turns out, he wasn't the last living link to the man known as "Proof" Mancini after all. I received a call from John Allen, 92, who now lives in Stockton. He said he began playing clarinet in Mancini's bands as a 13-year-old in 1934 and became the band's first-chair clarinet, performing with Mancini for celebrations opening the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge in 1936 and the Golden Gate Bridge a year later. And he knows of at least one other survivor from Mancini's early boys bands: 97-year-old former Ripon resident Lester Newstrom, now living in a Stockton retirement facility.
"There's still a few of us," Allen said.
AUTHOR! AUTHOR! Domenic Serio of Ceres will sign copies of his book, "The Autobiography of a Not-So-Well-Known- Individual" Sunday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Jenny's Restaurant and Lounge, 1515 Herndon Road, Ceres.
"Because I never really talked much about myself, it was understandable when my son asked the question one day, 'Pop, who are you really?' " Serio said.
Now, his son and everyone else gets to know.
Jeff Jardine's column appears Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays in Local News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, @jeffjardine57 on Twitter or at (209) 578-2383.