From the e-mails and voice mails:
BACK HOME AGAIN -- Last year, The Bee ran a "75 Years Ago" item on Howard Frey of Manteca, who spent nine months of his senior year at Manteca High making a violin in a shop at his home.
He used redwood for the top and spruce for the sides and back. He fashioned the neck from a piece of oak from an old Model T Ford frame.
Today, you'd call it recycling. Back then, they considered it resourcefulness.
Frey played his custom-made violin during graduation ceremonies for Manteca's Class of 1932, and he considered exhibiting it at the California State Fair in Sacramento.
Instead, he kept the violin and played it at the Brethren Church in Lathrop for many years. Shortly before his death a few years ago, he gave the violin to his niece, who now lives near Lake Tahoe.
Frey's son, Dan, had other ideas. He wanted to donate the violin to the Manteca Historical Museum. His cousin agreed and gave it to him. He delivered it to museum officials last week.
"It's a very nice-looking instrument," Dan Frey said. "It's pretty worn and has lots of character to it. (Howard Frey) played it pretty much all of his life."
"(Dan) came in with it in a box, with the violin case inside the box," museum director Evelyn Prouty said. "He joked that he looked like a gangster with a machine gun in the case."
The violin will go on display with other musical instruments from Manteca's past within the next couple of months.
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS -- How do you go from driving a truck in Waterford to being featured in an English newspaper?
Try meeting a man from another country on the Internet and marrying him 26 days later. In its May 8 edition, the paper detailed the long-distance and short-courtship romance of former Waterford resident Rosaria "ZaZa" Fontana and Paul Motyka of Nelson, in England's Lancashire County.
According to the story on the Web page of the Lancashire Telegraph newspaper, Fontana began chatting online after her son went off to college and left his computer and Webcam behind.
Motyka, meanwhile, frequently surfed the Internet after working all day repairing looms at a textile mill in Nelson.
They met via the Net on Aug. 20, 2006. Call it a worldwide whirlwind romance. Fontana told the paper they chatted online for 36 hours during the first week alone.
After seven days of e-conversation, he popped the questions. Why wait?
Her friends staged a wedding shower a week before the wedding, though she hadn't met him yet.
They were married on a friend's cattle ranch near Waterford on Sept. 15, just 26 days after their initial online chat.
The couple got to utter their vows face to face instead of typing them and clicking "send."
Hence, the 1975 Ceres High graduate's days of hauling rock out of the Santa Fe Aggregates or 7-11 Materials quarries east of Waterford for a private contractor ended.
Motyka flew home to England the next day, and Fontana joined him there the following month. They've been married more than 20 months now.
"I think the bottom line is that you can find love online," Paul Motyka told the paper. "And that love at first sight doesn't have to be in person."
Her story, Fontana said, could become an inspiration to other women hoping for Mr. Right to come long.
"He's just living on another continent," she said. "They might have to look on the Internet."
IT'S ALL OVERRATED -- Last week, a community information and real estate Web site called Relocate-America.com named Charlotte, N.C., the nation's most livable city for 2008. It replaces North Carolina neighbor Asheville, which dropped to seventh after receiving the designation in 2007. Modesto failed to crack the Top 10 or even the Top 100.
Having only made an airline connection once in Charlotte, and never having visited Asheville, I suspected that after Asheville got the nod last year, people decided it was the place to be. So they moved there to share in the bliss, bringing more traffic, overcrowding and the very problems that kept their previous hometown from making the list. Maybe some of them came from Charlotte, which moved up to No. 1 when they left and knocked Asheville down a few pegs. Just speculation on my part, of course.
Wrong. The rankings are based, in part, upon how many people visit the Relocate-America.com Web site, nominate their city, then vote for it.
But if that was all it took, we could mount a campaign to stuff the ballot box and at least crack the Top 100. Unfortunately, they consider other factors such as unemployment and crime rates, education levels, parks, recreation and the cost of housing.
That being the case, we're toast.
Jeff Jardine's column appears Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays in Local News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2383.
The Manteca Historical Museum is open Tuesday and Wednesday from 1 to 3 p.m.; Thursday through
Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m.; or by appointment by calling 823-3021.