Jeff Jardine: Online tour of Modesto includes gift-wrapped McHenry Mansion

02/17/2014 7:19 PM

02/17/2014 7:20 PM

From the emails and voice mails:

TOUR DE MODESTO – A new online tour created by the Modesto Art Museum gives viewers the opportunity to match current buildings in downtown Modesto with historic buildings that preceded them on the same site – or, in some cases, remain today.

Historypin uses Google Maps for its modern-day street views, while Janet Lancaster of the McHenry Museum provided the matching old photos. The only glitch is the fabled McHenry Mansion. The old photo is great, but the street view it uses shows the mansion encased in white plastic as it was during the restoration after the December 2011 fire. Other photos of the mansion on Google Maps show the refinished product. The site needs updating, with the mansion undressed. Otherwise, it’s a cool cybercruise.

SIGN OF THE TIMES? – The Bee’s first Living in the Valley premium section gave readers a look at the Valley’s history through old photographs depicting its people, towns and lifestyle. Among the photos was one from the 1940s of downtown Oakdale. It featured an archlike sign over F Street, which doubles as Highway 108 west of the main intersection and triples as 108 and 120 to the east. The sign read “Oakdale/The City of Almonds” looking east to west. The reverse side read “Oakdale/Gateway to Yosemite.”

Glenn Burghardt, who ran the local museum for years, said the state ordered the city to remove the sign sometime after World War II because it didn’t want decorative archways over its state highways. What happened to the sign? Nobody seems to know.

“We heard lots of stories,” Burghardt said. “But I don’t know. It possibly was destroyed.”

Or, it could be in somebody’s garage or shed somewhere.

A group of Oakdale residents would like a more definitive answer. In fact, the folks would love to recover the sign. Restored, it would make a nice entry feature for the plaza in front of the Gene Bianchi Community Center; or to the park at Yosemite and F; or to Dorada Park, which is home to a wooden play structure.

If you remember the sign, know its history or – better yet – know if it is still exists, contact Monica Perrone at

GIVING DUE CREDIT On Feb. 8, Olga Alvarado visited the Target store in Turlock, did some shopping and headed for her car. Her mind occupied by her 3-year-old grandchild, Alvarado hastily unloaded her purchases from the cart into her vehicle and headed home.

Two hours later, she went to get something from her purse. Except the purse wasn’t there.

“I figured I must have left it in my car,” she said. So she checked the vehicle. No purse. That, of course, triggered pure panic. She began retracing in her mind everything she’d done that day. That included a trip to the bank to get cash, and in a larger amount than usual.

She called Target, and an amazing thing happened: She’d left the purse in the cart out in the parking lot. It remained there until one of the store’s employees went to retrieve the carts and bring them back into the store.

“The employee found it and turned it in,” she said, totally relieved and thankful. “Everything was in it.”

Considering the security breach the retailer experienced before Christmas, her purse turned out to be safer left in a shopping cart in the store’s parking lot than her debit card would have been inside the store during the holiday season.

“That’s why I wanted them to get some positive attention,” she said. “They were so nice and so honest. They really saved me.”

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