Jeff Jardine

Kind heart give hero Purple Heart

From the e-mails and voice mails:

FROM THE HEART — Some 20 years ago, David Lucero's Purple Heart medal was stolen during a break-in at his Turlock home.

Now he has two medals.

Lucero got the first one by taking a German bullet in the leg at the Battle of the Bulge during World War II.

The military replaced the one that was stolen.

Over the weekend, the 81-year-old former prisoner of war received a bouquet of roses, a letter and another Purple Heart from Turlock resident Linda Taylor. She'd read the story last week by Bee reporter Michael R. Shea, who told how Lucero was beaten badly by thugs at his apartment in January. They nearly killed him for the $80 in his wallet. Lucero relied on his military training to survive 22 hours until he was able to summon help.

Taylor, meanwhile, said she had no idea Lucero's Purple Heart had been stolen more than 20 years ago. Her father had served in two wars, and she collects war medals. Somewhere, over the years, she picked up a Purple Heart at a yard sale or in some store.

"I always knew I was saving it for a special reason," Taylor said. "I thought it was befitting of the situation. Here's this war hero, a POW, who has to live through a war experience again for being assaulted by a group of criminals in Turlock. I wanted him to know there are people in the community who care."

Shea's story brought many offers of help, including replacing the $80, which Lucero has declined.

"I just want to thank the people who called and wanted to help," Lucero said.

Including one with a heart to spare.

DUES AND BLUES — One night a couple of years ago, with Ernie Bucio's band playing its final set at the Barking Dog restaurant in downtown Modesto, the crowd dwindled to just a handful of customers.

Between numbers, one of them approached Bucio and asked if his band was available to play a month or so later at the AIDS Coalition of Silicon Valley's annual "Unmask the Mystery Ball."

It's worked into a profitable gig for the past two years, Bucio said — all because he had a place to play in town on a Saturday night.

Now, Bucio and his various bands will play a freebie at the Barking Dog in April so that the venue will remain available for his bands and other musicians.

The reason? ASCAP — The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers — has been pressuring restaurant owner Hanibal Yadegar to pay a fee for copyrighted music played live at the restaurant.

ASCAP's purpose is to protect composers and publishers, getting them their due cut whenever someone else makes money off the music they produce.

Bucio, who has composed some of his own songs, understands and appreciates the protection. But Yadegar determined that he couldn't afford to pay the musicians plus roughly $700 a year in ASCAP fees and still break even on the shows.

"I was going to stop the whole thing," Yadegar said.

That's when Bucio volunteered to put together a show April 22 at the restaurant in which his Little Big Band, Gottschalk Concert Band, wind orchestra, Latin jazz band and others will play for free. While Yadegar usually charges no admission, customers that night will pay a small cover charge, and proceeds will go toward paying the restaurant's ASCAP fees for the year.

It's worth it, Bucio said, because veterans as well as student musicians will be able to keep playing, honing their skills and getting new gigs through word-of-ear advertising.

"It helps keep my name out there," Bucio said.

"I get exposure for my place," Yadegar said.

And the songwriters, publishers and rights holders get their cut, as they should.

TICKETED OFF — Early on the morning of Jan.31, several residents of Rue de Yoe, a street in downtown Modesto, got a rude awakening when they woke to find parking tickets on their cars.

At least eight cars were ticketed, resident Debra Salas said.

For decades, residents of the street have parked perpendicularly to the curb on Rue de Yoe, a street about twice as wide as most other streets in the city's older neighborhoods. In fact, residents claim that no one had been ticketed for parking that way in more than 30 years even though Modesto's municipal code requires parallel parking within 18 inches of the curb unless there are diagonal parking stalls.

So why now?

Modesto police Sgt. Craig Gundlach said it came down to nothing more than a community service officer patrolling the street, seeing the infractions and writing the tickets. It was not, he said, the result of a planned crackdown on illegal parking.

"It was just a CSO doing her job," Gundlach said.

Salas said she and other residents are frustrated because they have, over the years, called the police for a number of problems only to find slow response times or being told to handle it themselves. So when they get ticketed for doing something they've done for decades, it doesn't sit well.

"We've been more than willing to work with the police," she said.

All of the folks whose cars received tickets, Salas said, filed forms requesting informal reviews with the Police Department. It's a process in which the department can review the tickets and circumstances, and determine whether the parking fines are merited.

The residents also can petition the city's traffic division to change the parking on that street, which Salas said she plans to do. Diagonal parking would be preferable to parallel on a street where some of the homes do not have garages.

HOMELAND SECURITY — The U.S. Coast Guard in Rio Vista was honored last week with the Sumner I. Kimball Readiness Award. The Coast Guard posted a photo of the award on its Web page, with Petty Officer James C. Atkinson of Oakdale among those receiving it from Rear Adm. Jody A. Breckenridge.

Check out the photo at www.piersystem.com/go/site/823.

Jeff Jardine's column appears Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays in Local News. He can be reached at jjardine@modbee.com or 578-2383.

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