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Whats in a (street) name
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Managing editor of the
Manteca (Calif.) Bulletin
Villa Ticino is Manteca’s little Switzerland.

It’s a neighborhood where you’ll find names such as Geneva Way, Matterhorn Street and Zurich Drive.

The homes built by Frontiers even had a whimsical Swiss touch assuming American-style developments with lots bigger than 6,000 square feet and homes bigger than a baron’s castle in the heart of European neutrality.

Across town at the French Collection - a stylish subdivision that gives one the impression of the French countryside - cries for catchy street names such as Chateau Drive or Pyrenees Lane. The streets are named Swan Drive, Cinnamon Teal and Blue Teal. Not bad fits but the fabled wine streets such as Chenin Blanc Drive, Vin Rose Way Bordeaux Lane and Champagne Drive in the adjacent neighborhood known as Vintage Estates would have had a better ring with the French Collection homes.

Vintage Estates, of course, isn’t the only subdivision to salute wine in Manteca. There’s Tuscany in northeast Manteca with names such as Port Street, Napa Valley Avenue and Blush Street.

Then you’ll come across places such as the Joshua Cowell School neighborhood where new homes built by the same developer line streets they named such as Olympus Way, Hana Way, Chardonnay Way, Micheltoes Way. There’s obviously a Greek touch.

By there are still other neighborhoods that show no rhyme or reason even when you exclude established streets that were named years before.

Developers get to name streets
It’s all a part of the Manteca name game when it comes to streets.

There is no established municipal policy for naming streets that residents will be referring to for generations to come. Developers get to name them. The only condition is they must pass a “no duplication test” scrutiny of the fire department and public works director. Any duplicate names -whether they are in front of a street or a place - are discarded.

Manteca has plenty of pedestrian and predictable street names such as streets named after trees - Maple Avenue, Sycamore Avenue, Poplar Avenue, Fir Street, Willow, and Pine Street.

Manteca also has a wealth of unusually named streets either following one theme or named after Manteca pioneers or families.

And Manteca’s street naming can be downright democratic at times. There’s a program in the past decade that raised $1,000 a pop for the Boys & Girls Club endowment fund in exchange for you getting to name a street as you saw fit.

A  number of the streets benefiting the Boys & Girls Club appear in Chadwick Estates that has a definite British flair as developer named streets  include Picadilly Way, Hastings Drive and London Avenue. Crutchfield Lane was paid for by the Crutchfield family. Komenich Drive was purchased by friends of the Manteca High graduate who got his start as a photographer at the Manteca Bulletin before going on to win the Pulitzer Prize for his chosen field at the San Francisco Chronicle.

Other streets named with $1,000 donations are NuShake after the roofing company and streets such as Bergthold, Wickford and Lauritson honoring Manteca families.

Other developers such as Mike Atherton took it upon himself to donate the name of a street to raise money for other causes such as the American Cancer Society. That’s how the names Dody and Azevedo came to grace signs for streets that intersect in Woodward Park. Farmer John Azevedo was the highest bidder for the two streets and promptly named them after his late wife.

Lots of streets honor mayors
When it comes to names, mayors count.

There are streets such as Cowell Avenue in Powers Tract named after the father of Manteca and its first mayor. It’s located in Powers Tract three blocks over from Powers Avenue named after pioneer Ed Powers who was known as Manteca’s Melon King and the predecessor to Pumpkin King George Perry. Edward Avenue is also named after Powers.

The late Antone Raymus made sure his friend Carl Hansen, a former mayor, was honored in one of his numerous developments. Raymus, by the way, does have a street partially named after him -Raylow - which is actually a combination of the first three letters of his surname as well as the first three letters of the last names of one of his former partners with the surname Lowery. Marie Avenue, a block to the west, is named in honor of Raymus’ wife.

And while Ed Pine was a contractor for many of the homes Raymus built on Raylow Avenue and it intersects Pine Street, Pine wasn’t named after him although Mylnar, which also intersects Pine, was named after a Manteca contractor by the last name with Czech heritage who built in the city in the 1950s.

But when it comes to the sheer dropping of names of former civic leaders, no place is as concentrated as Mayor’s Park on the southwest corner of Louise Avenue and Union Road.

Fifteen former mayosr are honored including Jack Snyder, William Phillips, Cliff Parr, Trena Kelley, Mark Oliver, John McFall, Ed Pitts, Chuck Shafer, Rick Wentworth and H.C. Buchannon. Actually, as Manteca historian Ken Hafer points out, Buchannon is misspelled. It should be “Buchannan.”

Across the way there are many jewels of streets with names such as Topaz, Ruby, Agate, Sapphire, Jade, Amber, Coral, Garnet, Diamond, Emerald and Turquoise.

You’ll find a Mountain Dew in Springtime Estates but no Pepsi.

Names related to California’s mountain regions - proper nouns and nouns - abound in  the Shasta Park neighborhood. There’s Evergreen, Summit, Nordic, Slalom, Snowshoe and Meadow. There are also four mountain counties reflected in Shasta Park names - Siskiyou, Alpine, Placer, Plumas, and, of course, Shasta.

California has big influence too
There are also other California counties throughout the city - Yolo, Merced, El Dorado, Nevada, Sierra, Lassen, Sutter, Trinity, Marin and Amador.

There’s also a California Avenue as well as a Virginia Street, Nevada Street (counts as a county as well), and Michigan Avenue.

You can’t help if speeding is a problem in the sports car neighborhood by Union Park where names such as Masserati Court, Ghia Way, Mercedes Avenue, Bughatti Court, Ferrari Court and Alpha Romeo Court can be found.

Up north of East Union High is the Sherwood Forest with Nottingham Drive, Richard Way, Sherwood Place, Tuxford and Canterbury Way to name a few.

Golf is big north of the golf course with streets carrying the names of Nicklaus Way, Silverado Drive, Casper Way, Murietta Way, Clubhouse Way and Titleist Place.

Then there’s Magna Terra behind Doctors Hospital that is literally out of the world by honoring astronauts such as Cooper, Slayton, Mitchell, Stafford, Shepard, Glenn, Schirra, Armstrong, Grissom and Lovell.

Manteca’s proximity to Yosemite is recognized in a  number of ways with the most obvious being Yosemite Avenue which appropriately intersects with another national park - Sequoia.

The biggest concentration of Yosemite names are southeast of the Yosemite Avenue and Union Road intersection with locations such as Curry Court, Tenaya Court, El Capitan, Tioga Way, El Portal, and Wawona Street. Just to the east of those streets are three mountain passes - Ebbetts, Carson and Sonora.
Then there are the streets named after builders and real estate agents.

Contractor Charles Cunninghman is the namesake for Charles Avenue while real estate agent Kyle Tobin Williams’ name was taken apart one proper noun at a time to create Kyle Court, Tobin Court and Williams Court south of Wawona Street and east of Union Road.

And where else but in Manteca would you find an intersection of Frank Street and Louise Avenue? Actually Frank Street and nearby Frances Street and named after Frank and Frances Fiore.
As far as Louise Avenue goes, it was supposed to be Louisa Avenue after the wife of Noah Clapp. The Clapps arrived in San Joaquin County in 1849 and bought land initially in Stockton where they were the neighbors of Captain Charles Weber. A short time later, they moved to what is now the Manteca area and started wheat farming.

It was originally named Louisa Avenue but when the county put the signs up it read “Louise” instead. The only family on the road for years was the Clapps.

Years later when  Mrs. Clapp was asked why she didn’t have the name corrected, she reportedly replied, “it’s just a little lane” and that it would never amount to much.