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Mural captures essence of Manteca cruising days
A segment of the Cruising Manteca mural in the 100 block of North Main Street. - photo by HIME ROMERO

Frank Vieira is there. So is his best buddy Frank Brazil.

Vieira is leaning against his 1950 Ford while Brazil has his Model A.

Lillian Brazil - Vieira’s best gal and future wife - is hanging with the two best friends.

Up a way decked out in a business suit Antoine Raymus walks on the sidewalk.

Down the street Manteca Police Officer Tillie Denero is keeping an eye on everything, leaning against a light post at Yosemite and Main with a cigarette dangling from his lips.

The Manteca cruise is picking up.

It’s all depicted in arguably the most popular of all downtown murals - the 145-foot long and 12-foot-high “Cruising Manteca” mural on the side of Accent Carpets in the 100 block of North Main Street.

The Dave Gordon creation commissioned by the Manteca Mural Society depicts the Yosemite Avenue cruise in the 1950s and 1960s. The mural captures what it was like to cruise from Ed’s Patio east of Fremont Street to Foster’s Freeze west of Walnut Avenue.

Gordon placed the two Franks and Lillian outside of Smitty’s where you could catch the Greyhound Bus back in the day. They are in the best James Dean pose complete with slicked back hair, haunting glances, white T-shirts and rolled up Levis.

The mural does include a piece of artistic license, Gordon put a license plate on one of the pals’ cars that reads “FFD053” which represents the first letters of the first names of Frank Vieria, Frank Brazil, and their buddy Dave Fells who is depicted elsewhere in the mural.  The number “53” represents the year the photos were taken that Gordon used to create the images on the mural.

Summer nights, teens, The Patio Drive-In, and Yosemite Avenue were all made for cruising.

The heydays of cruising in Manteca was when a young person did something wrong, your parents found out if not from the police then from other community members.

It was a time of Poodle skirts, James Dean-style threads, 1957 Chevys, and tricked out Model T roadsters.

It was a time when everyone in the neighborhood knew everyone else and if something was amiss they’d be quick to step up to see what was wrong.

The Cruising Manteca mural depicts roughly a point from near Manteca High to the corner of Yosemite Avenue and Main Street.

The El Rey Theatre is among the most prominent buildings. You can also see names that those who were around 50 years ago will recognize such as Conterno’s Men’s Wear.

The newest car is a 1967 Mustang and the oldest includes the 1933 Model A.

The mural is popular with out-of-town visitors who see the life-like images and start reminiscing down memory lane.

If you’re lucky, you might get some locals to share their cruising stories.

Among them is Toni Raymus.

During the mural’s dedication a few years back, she related how her father would have his car washed by a teen by the name of Art Reif. Unbeknown to Raymus’ father, Reif would cruise Manteca with Antone’s beloved Cadillac.

Raymus, who graduated high school in 1975, usually cruised in her fiend Michelle Dickman’s car. Raymus couldn’t recall the make or year of the car but she definitely remembered what they called it - “La Bamba.”


209 staff reporter