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Manteca’s Haskins Girls: 6 degrees of simple gestures
haskin girls
The Haskins Girls pose for a picture. BOTTOM PHOTO: Candi Haskins-Marino poses for a picture with her mother Judi Haskins.

I turned 42 on Saturday. Or 45. 48. Who keeps track of these middle- aged numbers? Let’s just say I’m now twice as old as the women I’d prefer to date — but only half as likely to be able to pull it off. I was lamenting the day, forced to enjoy birthday tidings from the comfort of the tractor cab when an unexpected message arrived - and change our course…

(This is a message received from Christy Haskins Williams via Facebook)

“I have this story I want to share with you. May not mean much, but it was funny to us. Since it’s your birthday, I figured I would share this. I have been meaning to write this to you, but just haven't got around to it.

You are like a local celebrity here in Manteca — or at least to us you are. You are like Mr. Manteca. Most people hear the name Chris Teicheira and know who that is, or at least lifelong Mantecans anyway.

You have like a ton of followers on FB. So you may not even really know who me and my family are, or pay any attention to our FB or when we like or comment on your posts. So back in July when my twin (Candi) was in the hospital with Covid, it was a really rough time for my family and myself. My sisters and I had an ongoing group chat on FB. Well the one day, when I ended up in the hospital with Covid too, I had posted about it on FB. And you "reacted" to my post ( I will post the pic below of my screen shot.) I decided to share that with my sisters. We all got a LOL out of it.

In the rough time that our family went through and I was sharing posts on Facebook daily, multiple times a day, we ended up noticing you reacted to a number of posts and even got a comment on a post one time.  After Candi passed, we noticed you liked or commented on something and Carla and I both laughed and said, "oh Candi would have felt honored that he is still following her story."

Like I said, may not mean much to you, but thank you for being that local celebrity, Mr. Manteca that everyone knows. You always keep us laughing at your posts and your Bulletin columns. Just thought I would share that with you. Have a great birthday! Cheers to many more!”

 Teary-eyed? Same here.

 Christy it means more than not much. It means everything.

It is literally and figuratively the reason I write this column and carry on with Facebook antics. It’s tough to make connections from a tractor cab, and besides my deaf dog staring at me, the random contacts I am involved with inspire and make my world go ‘round.

I have only met the Haskins’ women on a few occasions. Such is Manteca though, isn’t it? The various names and faces you are familiar with. People you share a quick pleasantry with at the local watering hole. Or twice a year you see at a shared friend’s dinner party.

We nod and acknowledge each other. Often knowing much more than we should about someone we’ve only shared space with a few times - but that space is Manteca. I see people belly ache and cry for their “Old Manteca” as if sprucing up downtown will appease their nostalgic desires.

Well nostalgia shouldn’t be rooted in buildings and streets, it’s rooted in the people of this town. The Haskins girls were Buffaloes, their mother Judy was a Lancer (Something I’ll give her a pass on.) She was friends with the people my parents hung with, and in turn their grandparents. I love that these connections exist, for that is truly what “Old Manteca” is.

A few years back during my collection of misfit puppies and the sort, I had a deaf and blind pup needing a home. The late Steven Chestine of Manteca had moved to Oregon, and along with his wife Melanie, reached out with interest in adopting this special needs animal.

But I sure wasn’t driving a tractor to Oregon. Maybe we could meet in Ukiah? Then the Haskins girls reached out. They saw the chat between the two parties and took it upon themselves to intervene. A family trip to Oregon was around the corner, and though the pup’s destination was a bit of the beaten path, they stepped up. No favors. No questions. Just people willing to put forward a simple gesture.

Here is something in return dear Haskins girls. It may not mean much to you, but I’ve always noticed when you respond to my posts and columns. In fact, I kept track in my head, and when I could get Judy, Christy, Carla, and Candi to all like something I’d written—  I’d tally a little “Haskins Quad-fecta” in my head. So, you definitely mean more than “not much” to my day.

The loss of Candi brought the weight of this Covid pandemic to many of our doorsteps. There is a prevailing “out of sight — out of mind” rock I see many kicking down the street. As if it isn’t real. Won’t happen to anyone you know. I’ll be fine.

 Manteca just lost a young mother, daughter, wife, and friend. It’s here and it is very real.

 Take the time during the day to be nice to one another. You never know the effect it will have.

 "A simple reminder that it doesn't take much to be kind" — Mark Condit 

 RIP Candi Haskins Marino

 “It’s not Where ya do, It’s What ya do”