From the emails and voice mails:
THE BIG TIME – Kudos to 11-year-old musician Francisco Ortiz, a sixth-grader at Patterson’s Creekside Middle School. He’s been chosen for the Middle School Honors Performance Series at Carnegie Hall in New York.
Francisco plays the trumpet and will perform in June with the honors junior band, meaning he is one of the top middle-school musicians in the nation. He’ll be among performers from 49 other states and some Canadian provinces. He plays in Creekside’s concert, mariachi and jazz bands and in the Pleasanton/Livermore Youth Outreach Symphony. He recently earned first chair in the Stanislaus County Honor Band.
The young musicians will spend five days in New York prior to the June 27 performance.
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GET USED TO THIS – For all of the major ways the drought will affect the state, it also shows up in little ways, as a sign suggests at Fremont Elementary School in Modesto. As they walk in the school’s front doors, visitors to the campus see a flier telling them a benefit car wash has been canceled due to the state’s mandate for water conservation.
Sixth-graders planned to soak sedans to raise money for science camp, and presold about $500 worth. Many of those who purchased tickets in advance are considering it a donation to the cause. Otherwise, they can get a refund.
The bigger picture is that school car washes such as Fremont’s are destined to become casualties of the drought, now into its fourth year.
THANKS FOR THE OFFERS – Last week, I wrote about Earl Smith Jr., a 96-year-old Modesto resident and lifelong musician who, as World War II neared its end, joined the Manila Symphony Orchestra under orders from Gen. Douglas MacArthur. He performed with the orchestra during a concert in the bombed-out ruins of the Santa Cruz Church in Manila, and in other places. Last week, the Manila Symphony conducted a concert commemorating the 1945 event, including the same Beethoven and Dvorak symphonies it played that year.
The column put Smith, a longtime Modesto school music instructor, back into the public eye. He received offers to ride in the Mother Lode Roundup parade in Sonora on Mother’s Day weekend and to conduct Atwater High School’s band during a concert featuring patriotic music.
“I have declined both, regretfully, but with deep appreciation,” Smith wrote to me in an email.
Also, a World War II veteran who had been in the Philippines at the war’s end wanted to talk with him.
“We had quite a visit (Sunday) afternoon,” Smith wrote. “We shared some stories and pictures. The interesting thing is that we both sailed from San Francisco to New Guinea; from there, he went to Australia, while I went to Bougainville. Then we both wound up in Manila. At this point, our assignments and stories are quite different.”
SLOGAN SCHMOGAN – You might have seen recent reports or read Dick Hagerty’s community column in The Bee regarding the ill-conceived plot to reslogan Oakdale from the “Cowboy Capital of the World” to “Pioneer Perfect.” Of course, the cowboy types objected, and the idea went back to where it came from.
Like so many other towns in the West and particularly California’s Central Valley, Oakdale was built on profiteering, not pioneering. In the late 1860s, Central Pacific decided to build a line south from Stockton. Henry Langworthy, founder of tiny Langworth, courted the railroad barons in hopes they’d bring the railroad through his town and transform it into a bustling metropolis.
The railroad, however, didn’t validate towns. It created them and profited by controlling or selling the land adjacent to the tracks. The Big Four (Charles Crocker, C.P. Huntington, Mark Hopkins and Leland Stanford) saw no upside in sharing the wealth. They ran their new line three miles to the east, giving birth to Oakdale in 1871.
Today, Langworth is little more than a historical marker and an abandoned cemetery amid farms and orchards. Oakdale once erected an archway over East F Street, which triples as Highways 120 and 108. The lettering on the arch read “Oakdale/The City of Almonds” on one side and “Oakdale/Gateway to Yosemite” on the other. And the city also once called itself the “Ladino Clover Center.” But the only slogan ballyhooed there in the past four decades or longer is “The Cowboy Capital of the World.”
The snafu by the Oakdale Tourism and Visitors Bureau reminded me of a similar bad idea Stockton concocted in the 1980s. That city, too, wanted to change its slogan from whatever to something else. It settled upon “California’s Sunrise Seaport,” suggesting its inland port was the state’s easternmost.
They hailed it until someone looked at a map and noticed Stockton is west of the ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach and San Diego. In fact, the only major ports to Stockton’s west are Sacramento (barely), Oakland and San Francisco.
Later, the city tried “Someplace Special” and now employs no official slogan at all, according to its Convention and Visitors Bureau.
As for Oakdale, many of its “pioneers” likely came by train, albeit in perfect comfort.
FRUSTRATED FAMILY – An “In Memory Of” accompanying the numerous obituaries in Sunday’s paper told of a family’s anguish in the death of Alycia Mesiti-Allen, a teenage homicide victim in 2006. Her murder case still is wending its way through the court system.
“We are still waiting and praying for justice, but justice is repeatedly delayed and denied by the Court,” the paid notice read, attributed to her maternal family.
Alycia’s father, Mark Edward Mesiti, is charged with sexually abusing and killing her, with the case mired in court by legal challenges and five attorneys representing Mark Mesiti at different times.
He’s due back in court April 1.