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Retired McParland School teachers gather for lunch
Retired McParland School teachers gather for lunch each month. - photo by Photo Contributed

When teachers retire, they say goodbye to their students and to the years-long everyday grind in the classroom, but not to close friends. At least, that holds true to a group of retired teachers and staff from George McParland Elementary School. Once a month, these former coworkers take time out to catch up on post-retirement stories and simply renew close friendships over a scrumptious luncheon.

At their January get-together, the friends headed up to Midgley’s Public House in Stockton. As a rule, they take turns facilitating the monthly luncheon gathering. LaDean Talcott did the honors at the last luncheon with 17 signing up for the winter gastronomical happening.

Their dining destination turned out to be another story all together, which spawned another story that turned out to be a special one for their personal memory books.

The first segment of the story is about the restaurant. Talcott said the chef and the owner, Michael Midgley, used to be the chef at Ernie’s Restaurant on North Main Street in Manteca.

“We were excited to support him in his new endeavor,” Talcott posted in her Facebook page.

But the real excitement happened after the enjoyable repast accompanied by “lots of talk.” As the luncheon facilitator, Talcott “carefully arranged” to have the tabs made separately. It came as a big shock, therefore, when “our very competent waitress came out to us and announced that someone had already paid for our meals!”

No amount of cajoling moved the restaurant manager to reveal the identity of the generous mystery donor. “The most we could get from him was that it was someone linked to a person in our group…, not a spouse or significant other,” Talcott noted. “We have some suspicions, with possible revealing in February!”

But like any Agatha Christie or Sherlock Holmes mystery, the story ended with the eventual revelation of the mystery donor. Talcott picks up the story from there. “One of our group (members) has a grandson who works at the restaurant where we ate today. As it turns out, there was a huge misunderstanding between the grandson and the restaurant. Her grandson made arrangements to pay for his grandma’s lunch and that of her best friend. He had written those two names on a tag for the restaurant. Somehow, that communication didn’t work, and the grandson was charged for all of us on his credit card.”

The grandson happens to be a college student and obviously could not afford the group’s entire tab. But all’s well that ends well, and that’s how the mystery-donor story ended – on a generously happy note. The thoughtful grandson’s grandmother came to the rescue and simply got reimbursed by everyone in the group.