Rick and Julie Beck, along with their three-generation family, call Manteca home during the holidays.
To put it more accurately, the Family City is their vacation home for the duration of one week starting the day before Thanksgiving, and up to a one-month stay which usually culminates the day before Christmas.
That wouldn’t be so surprising except, the Beck clan happens to have their home anchored in Winchester Bay, touted as “a vacationer’s paradise (and) home to miles of undisturbed beaches, abundant wildlife, and ocean fishing.” For many years, the family also has owned and operated the Winchester Bay Market which mainly caters to vacationers who enjoy crabbing and fishing, among many outdoor activities that this seaside community is famous for nationwide. Family patriarch Rick Beck describes Winchester Bay as a “little harbor fishing village,” and their general store as a one-stop place for everyday errands. They even have a post office with its own postmaster inside the marketplace.
So what keeps the Beck clan coming back to Manteca every year for the past 12 years? Christmas trees.
Thanksgiving week, nearly all members of the family were down at the vacant lot behind the gas station/convenience store on the northeast corner of Louise Avenue and Union Road setting up the Beck Christmas Trees. It was all a family affair. With family patriarch Rick Beck as the general overseer, sons Tom and Jeff, Tom’s wife Mary, and grandson Logan, 16, got busy setting up the cyclone fence around the business area, installing electrical connections, decorating the fences with colorful lights, and setting up the tree-flocking and boutique tents.
For the first time this year, the Beck family also opened another Beck Christmas Trees on West Lathrop Road and North Harlan just east of the northbound I-5 onramp. Both renral lots are owned by Cardoza Enterprises of Manteca.
“It’s a lot of work,” said Rick Beck, but it’s different from the chores they do at their store in Winchester Bay.
“It’s a break from the store,” is how he described the type of work they do in Manteca during the holidays.
“I come down here to help grandpa,” said the teen-aged Logan who mostly worked on the Christmas lights.
But it was also a welcome vacation from rainy Oregon.
“It’s raining in Oregon now with 70 mph winds,” he noted while they were setting up the day before Thanksgiving.
“We love it here (in Manteca). I like the weather, and I like the people,” he added.
For Mary, this trip to California was even more meaningful because this was her first time to come down and help. Actually, “This is my vacation,” she said smiling, and referring to her week’s stay in Manteca helping the family business.
She further explained that “this was the only time” she could get her “workaholic” husband to “get away from work.”
Her husband, Tom, is a first sergeant for the police department in Reedport, a city not too far from Winchester Bay. In addition to being a police officer, he works part-time as an emergency medical technician for an ambulance company.
Tom and Mary have two sons. Older son Michael spent five years in the Marine Corps and is currently living with his family in San Diego where he owns a landscaping business. Younger son Justin is also serving in the Marine Corps as first lieutenant and is training to be a pilot.
Family matriarch Julie did not come to Manteca this year, her husband said, to help look after a granddaughter-in-law who is about to have a baby, and to take care of the 166-acre ranch that the family had just purchased.
Rick Beck said they started selling Christmas trees in Boise, Idaho, about 15 years ago. “But it’s so cold in Idaho,” he said. So when their friend Leroy Johnson from Manteca, who has since moved to Ripon, suggested that Manteca “would be a good place” for their business, they did just that. And the rest, as they say, is history.
“We have a lot of really good return customers who are good us, so we just keep coming back,” Rick Beck said.
The Beck’s Christmas Tree lot is open every day until the day before Christmas.