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Lunch, old times & friends once a month
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Organizers of the monthly Manteca High alumni luncheon from the years of 1957 and 1964 are, from left, Mary May, Junior Carney, Mary Ellen Arellano and Richard Almaguer from the classes of 1962 to 1964. Two of the original groups not pictured are Eusebio Cavalar, Jr. and Henry Moreno. - photo by GLENN KAHL
It’s a memories’ bash that former Manteca High School students have put together and they are having a ball breaking bread together once a month and talking about the best of their old times as students.

One of a group of six that started it all in August of 2009, Mary May from the Class of 1962, said she and five other Buffaloes first had lunch together at Perko’s Restaurant. And it all grew from that seed of togetherness. They continued to meet at Perko’s for about a year until too many people were attending prompting them to look for a larger location.

“We had such a good time that Albert (Junior) Carney stood up and said, ‘This was a lot of fun – we should do it every month,’” and they did. Wednesday’s luncheon that was held at the Chez Shari banquet room at the Manteca Golf Course drew 71 members of various classes from 1957 to 1964.

Of that number, 14 were first timers, May said, noting there have been as many as 80 at any one time. They had been meeting at the golf course with a buffet luncheon since September of last year.

In addition to May and Carney the initial group included Mary Ellen Arellano, Richard Almaguer, Henry Moreno, and Eusebio Cabalar, Jr.

May said questions abounded at their first lunch that included Arellano who had just returned to the area from Southern California after finishing a career of 35 years in banking. The main topic of conversation was other classmates with the group wondering what had happened to many of their friends.

May, who had a career with the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office, said she went home and searched out a class roster of names and addresses. She made some phone calls, but didn’t tell the other five she had visited with over lunch. She kept that as a surprise until some of them showed up the following month.

The “newbies” were her surprise guests and the lunch group grew month by month, and it continues to grow with more surprises every time they get together. Mrs. Joan Miller, a grad of Manteca High, went on to teach third grade at Shasta Elementary School in the early ‘70s.

Now she puts 3x5 cards at every place setting asking the past grads to fill them out with the names of friends who graduated from Manteca High over the years and who should be invited to the May event. She said that while their group has focused on the seven years from 1957 on – all are welcome.

She said they chose the buffet selections for lunch to eliminate the time element of everyone having to order from the menu.

Wednesday’s meeting began with small talk between old friends before May took the microphone and welcomed the group. She had set up a table of memories that included pages from yearbooks and a special album on the Merced Blue Notes that everyone quickly recognized. Manteca’s elementary schools were also included in the albums of note.

The luncheons are held the third Wednesday of every month, with the exception of December. May said the Christmas season is just too busy. Anyone wanting more information on the luncheons may call Mary (Vallejo) May at (209) 538-7571. She is also planning to put up a Facebook page in the near future entitled MHS Luncheons.