From the emails and voicemails:
BILL OF WRONGS The new $100 bills the government begins circulating today wont be nearly as interesting as the one Jennie Ford received over the weekend.
Ford and her family staged a garage sale in their northwest Modesto home around 3 p.m. Saturday. As the sale wound down, a man Ford describes as being white and in his early 30s approached. He told them he wanted to buy the desk priced at $25. He handed her a $100 bill, and when she held up the front side in the light, he encouraged her to look it over. She gave him $75 change, and he said hed return to pick up the desk in about an hour after watching his daughter play soccer.
He was really friendly, Ford said. He seemed really nice. (But) when he didnt come back, I knew Id been had.
At that point, she inspected the $100 bill more closely and noticed the flaws on the back: A second image of Benjamin Franklin looking as though it had been made using a rubber stamp and ink pad. The paper was thicker than most currency. And there was a blank, colorless line running vertically down the right side. It wasnt even a good knock-off.
The counterfeit bill explained why the guy sat across the block in his older, dark-colored Toyota Camry for about 20 minutes before approaching, probably watching to see how closely family members inspected other customers currency. It also explains why he didnt arrive with the other early birds.
He waited until we had plenty of change, Ford said.
The bottom line? She failed to follow whats become the first rule of yard/garage sales: Never accept a $100 bill at one of these things. Its happened a number of times, and Ive written on the topic before. Modesto police spokeswoman Heather Graves said the department averages three such cases a week. Ford took the bogus bill to the Modesto police Monday afternoon.
I just want people to know whats going on so it wont happen to them, too, Ford said.
CRIME-INY SAKES Sunday afternoon, a man entered Turlocks Sears, roamed the store and began stashing items in places where it would be difficult for employees to see stuff in his bag later on except that the store has surveillance cameras and employees who are conditioned to watch for such thievery. Store employee Joshua Smith noticed the guy, monitored him on camera and then called the Turlock police. As he spoke with a dispatcher at roughly 12:30 p.m., he saw that the man was about to leave. So he hung up, went back out to the main floor, confronted the suspect and confiscated his bag.
He took off running, and I went after him, Smith said. I chased him down in the parking lot and held him until the police arrived.
At that point, Smith released the man.
I figured hed be cooperative with the police, Smith said.
Think again. The suspect bolted again, so Smith took off after him again and then caught him again. The officer took over from there, arresting 25-year-old Jessie Ortiz of Turlock and booking him on counts of burglary and resisting arrest. The store got back the top-tier Craftsman ratchet set found in his bag, Smith said.
Were a privately owned store, Smith said. Were a small business with lots of loyal customers. Theres been lots of crime, with the economy. We want people to know were watching.
SMALL WORLD, INDEED Chatting with the McHenry Museums Janet Lancaster a few weeks ago about her research on Robert McHenry including his link to Mayflower Compact co-author William Brewster I recalled that a relative had traced my own familys lineage back to the Mayflower as well.
The link, on the maternal side, makes Robert Brewsters desertion from the Army and subsequent name change to McHenry seem pretty petty by comparison. Mine goes back to John Billington, who brought his family over on the Mayflower in 1620. A decade after arriving in America, he, well, killed a man. Billington was tried, convicted and executed a day later after the incident. So much for the lengthy appeals process todays killers enjoy and he wasnt even in Texas.
Heres the weird part: In 1641, the Plymouth Colony court settled a land despute involving Mayflower passenger Francis Billington, John Billingtons son, and Jonathan Brewster, William Brewsters son and ancestor of Robert Brewster, a.k.a McHenry. Jonathan Brewster had already paid Billington seven pounds (British monetary, not weight) in sterling for two-thirds of the land. The court ruled that Brewster pay him in corne the remaynder, according to Plymouth Colony records. (OK, so they were 340 or so years ahead of spellcheck.)
My ancestor, it seems, dealt directly with McHenrys.
ALWAYS A VALLEY LINK No matter the event, no matter the stage, it seems there always is a Modesto connection. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, raised more than a few hackles, including some within his own party, when he spoke for 21 hours, 19 minutes on the U.S. Senate floor Sept. 24 in an attempt to defund the Affordable Care Act.
Cruzs wife, Heidi, is the granddaughter of Dr. Olavi Rouhe, a physician who had a practice at Hatch and Crows Landing roads in Modesto and, later, in Sonora spanning three decades. He also doctored in a leper colony in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo in Africa. Rouhe died at 98 in March 2006.
50 PLUS CLUB AT 72 The 50 Plus Club of Stanislaus County turns 72 this year. The club formed in 1941, open to men who had lived in the county for 50 or more years. Women joined in all the fun beginning in 1958. They meet for dinner annually, with the next one scheduled for Oct. 26 at the SOS Club in Modesto. The cost is $20 and arrangements for reservations can be made by calling Alta Robbins at 578-1524 or Linda Pedego at 523-1420.
AUTHOR! AUTHOR! Shirley Potterton of Modesto is the author of Stable Wisdom: Surviving Midlife with Style. She bases her book on personal experiences along with those of others in midlife. Its published by iUniverse and is available as an e-book for $3.99, paperback for $18.95 or hardcover for $28.95. Its available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other booksellers.