Jeff Jardine

Modesto just a dot, unnamed,on a map

From the e-mails and voice mails:

NO RESPECT — After reading my June 19 column on how Modesto moms were dissed by a Victoria, British Columbia, newspaper columnist, reader Joyce Giese of Riverbank called to point out that the city also has been ignored on occasion. And she provided the evidence.

Several years ago, her nephew flew from Texas to Sacramento to visit her. He rented a car from Avis and the clerk gave him a road map that featured Sacramento on one side and all of California on the other.

The map, revised in 1991 and printed by a company in St. Louis, includes Stockton in a large typeface. It shows Manteca and Caswell State Park, Oakdale, Ceres, Turlock and Atwater. And there's a dot on the map where Modesto is situated, but no name "Modesto." Never mind that it's the valley's biggest city between Stockton and Fresno, and was in 1991 as well. Left it off completely.

The omission struck Giese enough that she stuck the map in a drawer and forgot about it until she read the paper a week ago.

Avis, it appears, needs to try harder, as its ad slogan suggests.

AND — The aforementioned Canadian columnist found it amusing that a Modesto sporting goods dealer advertised, in The Bee, a Mother's Day gun sale.

Now another reader points out that the same day my column appeared, June 19, a short story in The Bee was headlined "Women invade home for robbery."

WINNER'S CIRCLE — In April, I wrote about Bill Nichols, author of "Seabiscuit: The Rest of the Story." Nichols got the idea to write his book while speaking four years ago to the Red Hat Society women's group in Hughson. The 82-year-old began his career as a trainer and breeder by working with the legendary racehorse, and his book was published in the spring.

Saturday, Nichols and wife Lill attended the unveiling of a Seabiscuit statue at the Ridgewood Ranch near Willits, where the horse died in 1947. It's a replica of the statue at the Santa Anita racetrack in Southern California.

Among the guests were former Vice President Walter Mondale and his wife, and they dined with the Nicholses the night before the event.

Joan Mondale, Nichols said, was the first person in line for his book-signing after the statue dedication.

"It's a very exciting time for me," said Nichols, who lives in the Sacramento County town of Wilton.

A ROUNDABOUT WAY — Members of the La Loma Neighborhood Association will put the finishing touches on their re-landscaping of the La Loma roundabout Saturday. Over the past few weeks, roughly 20 or so people have spent their Saturdays cleaning out the roundabout and planting new flowers.

John Gray of the Modesto Garden Club did the redesign, and the cost is borne by a $10,000 Community Block Grant through Modesto. The La Loma Neighborhood Association, which counts owners of 250 homes as members, is involved in the Neighborhood Watch program along with beautification projects. It maintains the area's parks and the roundabout.

"Anything we can do to make the neighborhood better," said Mike Moradian, the association's president.

Saturday's workday will conclude with a barbecue.

18TH GREEN — Often, one simple sentence can tell you more about the dearly departed's personality than anything else in an obituary.

Consider the recent obit of Richard "Dick" Wilson of Modesto. It began, "Stepped up for the first tee on the BIG Golf Course in the Sky on June 16, 2007."

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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