View Mobile Site

LES THOMAS

Manteca’s flag man

Text Size: Small Large Medium
LES THOMAS

Les Thomas has coordinated the distribution and collection of the 2,400 flags that are part of the Flags Over Manteca from the very start.

DENNIS WYATT/The Bulletin


POSTED January 21, 2012 2:24 a.m.

NAME: Les Thomas

AGE: 76

HOW LONG IN MANTECA
: 30 years

BORN: Grand Coulee, Washington

WORK HISTORY
: Retired from construction working as a carpenter and a supervisor. He worked on a variety of projects ranging from Hell’s Canyon Dam on the Snake River in Idaho to building high rises in San Francisco including the 52-story Bank of America building. He figures he got into construction as that is what his father did going across country from dam project to dam project including Grand Coulee and Boulder.

MILITARY SERVICE: Served in the Army three years including in the Korean War. Attained E-4 rank.

MEMORIES OF KOREA
: “I was 17 when I joined. Korea was cold. We had Mickey Mouse boots and lots of clothes.”

PERSON MOST ADMIRE: “My mom. I was the oldest of nine children. Dad left us. She raised us on her own.”

EDUCATION: “I quit high school when I was a senior. I was running wild. I was 17 when I joined the military. I remember taking the papers to mom because she had to sign them and right away she said, “where are the papers, I’ll sign them.”

PERSON WITH BIGGEST INFLUENCE ON HIS LIFE: “Oscar Serry from Muncie, Indiana. I met him in the Army. I was 17 and he was 35. He took me under his wings and helped me grow up.”

FIRST CAR OWNED: 1967 Pontiac Grand Prix

FAVORITE PLACE IN MANTECA: St. Anthony’s Catholic Church. I’m there almost every day doing something.”

BEST PLACE TO EAT IN MANTECA: “The Waffle House. A group of us get together every Wednesday morning. My favorite is the biscuits and gravy.

BEST THING TO HAPPEN IN MANTECA DURING THE PAST 10 YEARS: “The Flags Over Manteca. It’s great to see them out there and knowing people appreciate what they stand for. Manteca is a patriotic town.... A lot of those people (who place and collect the flags) are there every time. It’s great camaraderie. (Thomas has coordinated the distribution and the collection of the flags every time they have been placed on the streets since the Manteca Chamber of Commerce started the effort just over 10 years ago.)

BEST ADVICE HE CAN OFFER
: “Don’t give up.”

FIRST DAY ON THE JOB
: “I was terrified. I had just gotten back from Korea and was out of the Army and my brother gave me a construction job in Redding. I was going 30 feet up in the air doing stuff I had never done before.”

MOST DANGEROUS MOMENT: “A bridge we were working on collapsed. I fell about 33 feet and broke my back. I was luckier than hell.” He was in a body cast in a hospital for weeks. That, however, didn’t keep Thomas from going back up on tall structures to ply his trade. “I don’t really have a fear of heights. We used to work on buildings such as the Bank of America in San Francisco without the safety gear the guys have today.”

BEST PART ABOUT HIS JOB: “The camaraderie. You get to know the guys you work with and look forward to working with them. It’s not something ( the job) that lasts.  la lifetime. You’re maybe a year or 18 months on a project and everyone moves on. Camaraderie is one of the best things in life.”

MOST IMPRESSIVE PROJECT HE EVER WORKED ON: “Hells Canyon. It was an eye opener and an extremely big project. They’d have crane moving around on railroad tracks.”

HOW HE RELAXES
: “I really enjoy watching TV especially a lot of ball games.”

FAVORITE TEAM: “San Francisco 49ers. We didn’t really have a pro team in Washington when I was growing up so I just started following them.”

FAVORITE 49ER OF ALL TIME
: “I’ve got to say Joe (Montana).”

FAVORITE THING ABOUT MANTECA
: “The people. Everyone is friendly.”

ACTIVITIES: Involved extensively in the Knights of Columbus at St. Anthony’s Catholic Church where he has served in virtually every position.



– Dennis Wyatt

managing editor

Commenting is not available.

Commenting not available.

Please wait ...