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Crafting letters to grandchildren to preserve past
Manteca Historical Society President Leon Sucht helps speaker Jean Chitwood set up her photos. - photo by HIME ROMERO


The Bulletin

If the past isn’t chronicled, did it ever really happen?

Evelyn Moore wants to make sure that’s a question that never has to be asked.

Over the course of the last several months, Moore has been leading a dedicated class of about a dozen seniors in a writing effort to record memories and happenings that can be passed on to grandchildren so that they can feel some connection to the grandparents that they might not ever get the chance to meet.

It’s something that’s near and dear to her heart. She found some old writings in her family that helped provide a window into an era that she knew little about. She looked forward to the opportunity to sit down and write about her experiences spending summers in a small coal mining town in northwestern Arkansas.

But there were challenges.

“How can I possibly explain the things that I saw when I was in Jenny Lind?” Moore asked during the “Letters to Your Grandchildren” recital at the Manteca Historical Society Thursday night. “That’s what I had to figure out.”

The group will next meet on the third Thursday in September at the Manteca Historical Museum at 1 p.m.

The stories delivered on Thursday skipped all over the map. They included topics that ranged from the story of a beloved dog to riding a red trolley car into downtown Los Angeles for a day of shopping with the family.

Norma Bologna talked about the rationing during World War II, and spoke about how she remembered purchasing a stamp at school once a week and collecting them in a book. When the book filled up, she said, her parents would take it down to the bank and exchange it for a war bond.

Jean Chitwood spoke of her Methodist preacher grandfather, “Rev. Tom Majors,” who preached at six different congregations at the height of his career – preaching at three on one Sunday and the other three the next. He would wear out a Chevrolet, she said, every two years and spent a great deal of time in the river behind his home baptizing people in the open water.

And Alan Marsden talked about contracting Purpura hemorrhagica as a young boy in Michigan and how his family had to take him to Florence Crittenton hospital in Detroit where a pair of doctors – Warren Cooksey and Stanley Brown – treated him with cutting-edge medicine. The condition, which left him with many health problems later in life, is a rare blood disorder that impedes the blood’s ability to clot. But all he remembers is that he didn’t like the cooking and that he wanted to go home – something that he said emphatically at the start and conclusion of his recollection.

The Manteca Historical Society operates the Manteca Historical Museum at 600 W. Yosemite Avenue, and holds a public program on the second Thursday of every month. For additional information call (209) 825-3021.

To contact Jason Campbell, email