STOCKTON — Tony Rivera stood on the patio of the Stockton Golf & Country Club during a recent class reunion.
From his line of vision, he could see the Port of Stockton across the way along with a few passing water vessels trudging along the San Joaquin River.
Rivera, who resides in Arizona, enjoyed “cooling off” with Delta breeze on this otherwise hot mid-August evening.
“Now this is what I miss about Stockton,” he said, remembering the days of his youth where he’d ride his Schwinn bicycle in most any direction in town and somehow bump into some nearby river.
That’s because the geography here is like no other in the Central Valley.
In around the Port City are thousands of miles of waterways and plenty of farmland. But outsiders may simply think of Stockton as a tough place based on its history of violence.
This might not be too far from truth.
Take Conor McGregor, for starters, He learned firsthand about the infamous “Stockton Slap” – a term that went viral after hometown hero Nate Diaz pummeled McGregor using the open-palm strike earlier this year.
He and brother, Nick, grew up in Lodi but were strongly influenced by Stockton.
Alvaro ‘Yaqui’ Lopez, who is in the World Boxing Hall of Fame, was a middle weight contender who fought the likes of Matthew Saad Muhammad, Victor Galindez and Michael Spinks back in the 1980s. He, too, hailed from Stockton.
This place is far from perfect, but don’t tell that to Dallas Braden. The Stockton product pitched the 19th perfect game in Major League Baseball history on Mother’s Day 2010 against the Tampa Bay Rays as a member of the Oakland A’s.
He also had the guts to yell out at Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez to “get off (his) mound.”
If you lived in Stockton, you just might understand what it means to be a little bit crazy.
The Stockton State Hospital – later known as the Stockton Developmental Center – was here from 1851 to 1996.
It was constructed as the Insane Asylum of California on land donated by city founder Capt. Charles Weber.
The most popular “Psycho” from here was none other than Janet Leigh, who starred in the 1960 Alfred Hitchcock thriller. That grizzly shower scene had folks thinking about taking baths.
Speaking of baths, Stockton was once known for its renowned mineral baths.
The famous Jackson Baths had been around since 1893 at the present location of McKinley Park. The Weber Baths were built in 1883 at the current site of the historic Hotel Stockton.
The mission revival style building was renovated in 2004 and now serves as affordable housing for seniors.
But before that, it was where the character Willie Stark made his victory speech from the balcony of the old hotel in the 1949 classic film, ‘All The King’s Men.’
When it comes to the big screen, ‘American Graffiti,’ is one of my personal favorites about Modesto – albeit, it was actually filmed in Petaluma – with the band “coming all the way from Stockton.”
Over the years, Stockton has been the setting of well over a dozen movies.
The exterior of Indiana Jones’ college is that of Faye Spanos Concert Hall at the University of the Pacific in ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981).’ A young John Cusack can be seen playing touch football on the grounds of UOP in ‘The Sure Thing (1984).’
Film director John Huston directed ‘Fat City (1972),’ based on Leonard Gardner’s novel about a couple of down-and-out boxers from Stockton that was also filmed in Stockton.
Here are few other noteworthy bits of the Port City:
Situated along the banks of the Deep Water Channel, Banner Island Ballpark is home to the Oakland Athletics’ Class-A affiliate Stockton Ports (formerly, the Modesto A’s).
Next door is the Stockton Arena, a 12,000-seat indoor facility that’s home to the Stockton Heat of the American Hockey League.
Klein Family Field at UOP is home to the Tigers’ baseball team.
Historic Billy Hebert Field in Oak Park was once home to the Ports and the Pacific Tigers.
The Brubeck Institute at UOP honors legendary jazz piano player and Pacific alumnus Dave Brubeck. The institute’s Jazz Quartet composed of student from music conservatory tours widely.
The Stockton Symphony is the third-oldest professional orchestra in California (second only to San Francisco Symphony and Los Angeles Philharmonic).
The Bob Hope Theater (formerly the Fox California Theatre), Faye Spanos Concert Hall, Stockton Memorial Civic Auditorium and Atherton Auditorium at Delta College are where you can catch live performances in town.
When it comes to the visual arts, Haggin Museum, the Reynolds Gallery (UOP) and the Horton Gallery (Delta) display various works from local along with some well known artists.
Stockton has numerous places in which to shop, starting with the two indoor malls – Sherwood and Weberstown.
Boutique items can be found along the Miracle Mile on Pacific Avenue along with Stone Creek and Lincoln Center.
Trinity Parkway just off Eight Mile Road is home to several big box stores – Walmart, Target, Kohl’s, Lowe’s, etc.
Health & fitness
Stockton is the headquarters of the In-Shape Gyms, which has well over 70 locations throughout California.
The St. Joe’s half-marathon is always a popular run that takes place in November not to mention the Thanksgiving Run & Walk and the New Year’s Resolution Run hosted by Fleet Feet.
For more information on upcoming events, click on to www.visitstockton.org.