Jeff Jardine: Pinecrest’s rebuilt amphitheater ready for summer

05/19/2014 7:59 PM

05/19/2014 8:00 PM

From the emails and voice mails:

AMPHITHEATER REBUILT – A couple of years ago, I wrote about the planned rebuilding of the old amphitheater at Pinecrest Lake east of Sonora. Fred Axton, whose father helped build the original in 1963, wanted to help in the revision as a tribute to his dad. Bob Axton suffered from Alzheimer’s disease and died in June 2012.

Fred was able to work on the project, which includes new rock work, a new sound system, stage screen and other amenities. It fulfilled a promise he had made to his dad.

“It couldn’t have worked out better for me and Pop,” Axton said. “It was a blast working on it.”

The projected was funded by Pacific Gas & Electric Co.

WAR MEMORIES – Documentary filmmaker George Retelas attended California State University, Stanislaus. His mom, Lilly Retelas, lives in Oakdale.

Going through his grandfather’s war memorabilia, he learned that grandpa George had served on the aircraft carrier USS Hornet in the war in the Pacific, and was aboard when the carrier launched Doolittle’s Raid of Japan in 1942, as well as survived attacks by the Japanese at Guadalcanal.

Retelas decided to create a documentary on CVG-11, the Hornet’s carrier group. Hoping to draw interest, he put his grandfather’s journals online.

Retelas soon was contacted by a Navy historian who introduced him to a former Hornet shipmate who remembers George “Rattleass” Retelas well. Filmmaker George was able to interview the veteran, 91-year-old Kermit “Tim” Enander of San Jose, for the project.

“The goal is to complete the documentary by Veterans Day (Nov. 11),” Retelas posted on his web page. “This date is important as it will coincide and lead up to the opening of the exhibit honoring CVG-11 aboard the USS Hornet Museum later this year.”

AERODYNAMICS – A half-century ago, Ford launched the Mustang. Earlier this month, turning a field near Gustine into Cape Kennedy and using the Merced hunting sanctuary for the splashdown, the folks at Big Valley Ford commemorated the 1964 event by sending a mini-Mustang 21 miles into space.

They equipped a weather balloon with a pair of cameras, a dealership official told the Central Valley Business Journal. After receiving clearance from the Federal Aviation Administration and attaching a GPS tracking device to it, they sent it into space.

“The footage on this thing is incredible. It’s amazing,” Manager Steve Kubitz told the publication. “You really see, at one point, about one-third of the Earth. That’s not doctored. That’s from a GoPro (camera) mounted on that balloon.”

The success of the stunt hinged on weather – specifically, wind conditions that would enable them to locate the gear after it came back to Earth.

“Seriously, we could have had 100 things go wrong,” Kubitz told the Business Journal. Everything functioned properly, and the car landed largely intact.

See the video at http://

DEDICATION SET – My May 11 column detailed the combined efforts of E Clampus Vitus and La Grange residents to build a gateway sign and monument welcoming visitors to historic La Grange. The gateway is complete and will be dedicated at a ceremony June 14 at 10 a.m. It’s at the corner of Highway 132 and La Grange Road.

AUTHOR! AUTHOR! – Roberta Edwards Lenkeit’s new book, titled “High Heels and Bound Feet: And Other Essays on Everyday Anthropology,” is available in book form through Waveland Press Inc. and in ebook form through CourseSmart, Google Play, Kindle and VitalSource.

The book consists of 22 essays on everyday anthropology. She is a professor emeritus, having taught anthropology at Modesto Junior College from 1976 until 2004.

Also, Ken White of Modesto has published “Getaway Day,” a novel set in Modesto that incorporates the time rain in San Francisco brought the New York Yankees and San Francisco Giants to work out in Modesto during the 1962 World Series. It is available on Amazon, at Barnes & Noble and other booksellers. His interview on Capital Public Radio’s “Insight” is scheduled to air at 9 a.m. today.

AND FINALLY – I’ve written about Ronn Cossey of Turlock, a Vietnam veteran who along with an Iraq War veteran from Ohio turned their series of letters and email exchanges comparing their war experiences into a book titled “NamRaq.” The book was published by the Sacramento Library Press.

Cossey began donating copies to groups and individuals, including Mike Stavrakakis, who regularly distributes reading materials to veterans medical clinics throughout Northern California.

Cossey never expected anything in return. But some veterans and readers thought otherwise. He’s received numerous donations ranging from $100 to $500, which he’s using to print and give out more books, and is working with Stavrakakis and the Modesto Vet Center to distribute them.

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