A half dozen Manteca Noon Rotarians stepped up to help the Manteca Noon Kiwanis have a successful pancake breakfast – a tradition for the community for more than 45 years – that served more than 350 guests this year.
Past Rotary President Charles Halford put out the call two weeks ago that another service club in town needed help because of their smaller membership – and his club members listened with at least six of them showing up early Saturday morning for duty.
Kiwanis also had a dozen Key Wins – high schoolers – who manned the line to serve juice and coffee to their guests. The menu included pancakes, eggs and ham plus the usual coffee, juice and milk.
The breakfast had its usual family flavor where old friends would meet and chat about their year and telling what was to come. Some sat outside and others found more comfort sitting inside the Angelina’s Restaurant.
The Kiwanis Club has used several locations for its breakfasts over the years, from the Raymus Mobile Home Park on Yosemite Avenue to various other venues around town to the more recent North Main Street location. It has always been a place to relax on the morning of the Fourth and quietly unwind with friends.
One first-timer who had recently moved into the Del Web community on Union Road north of Lathrop Road was Rommel Parseh and his wife Birgitta. They said they have been to four different breakfasts in an attempt to meet new friends. Rommel is an accomplished photographer and hopes to be working with Mantecans in the future.
Two couples from the DeGroot family that had emigrated from the Netherlands more than 60 years ago and talked about their large family and their first memories of the Independence Day holiday. Leo said he was little more than a “whippersnapper” when he attended his first picnic on the Fourth of July in America – in Lodi.
“I ate so many olives that I got sick,” he said. “I thought they were grapes!”
All 12 children did not come to the U.S. together on the ship Leerdam out of the Netherlands, Al had to stay behind because he was 18 and had to wait for his upcoming paperwork.
Al finally had to fly to New York, but he had three stopovers en route, he quipped. All the children were successful in their new country and were successful in their own right.
Past Kiwanis President David Soeth and his wife, Elizabeth, had quite an eventful morning getting ready for the pancake breakfast Saturday. At the drop of a hat, everything seemed to go wrong at home including, three boards being knocked out of their back fence by a neighbor’s dogs.
To complicate matters the couple was babysitting two grandchildren Colin, 18 months, Virginia, 5, and “Herby” the four-legged Beagle grandson of their own. The neighbor had a group of young kittens that came through the fence opening hoping to meet “Herby” in their backyard.
“Herby” was a gentleman, they said, and he didn’t bother the cats, only sniffed at them.
Bill Whiteside, a past principal at Nile Garden School, had his own table of friends who enjoyed chatting amongst themselves. In his own right, Bill is quite a story-teller and comes up with some zingers of one-liners.
His connection with the Fourth of July through his family is unique as he relates days of his childhood. “My dad, Robert, was in the firecracker business,” Bill said.
As Bill tells it, his Dad had a contract with the American Legion for fireworks back in his youth. As one ship load of fireworks was arriving in Long Beach Harbor, the state passed a law that fireworks were illegal.
He unloaded enough for his own use during World War II and hosted a Fourth of July celebration near their home. He would host a fireworks extravaganza every year in their neighborhood that would be unsanctioned by the police department, Whiteside said.
But the fire and police and the fire department would stand by just in case, he recalled. His dad’s shows continued until 1947 when he ran out of his store of fireworks from the ship. Thousands of people had enjoyed watching his dad’s fireworks show over the years, Bill said.
As for the cargo ship, it finally sailed through the Panama Canal and unloaded its remaining fireworks cargo in Texas where they were deemed legal.
The elder Whiteside had been a pilot in World War I flying the twin wing Jennys, he noted. At the end of the war he was hired as the head of a machine shop making ball bearings for Bendix Aviation.
Bill Whiteside said his mother was a home visiting registered nurse working for Boeing during the war. The family lived in the Silver Lake area of Los Angeles near the Griffith Park Zoo in a neighborhood of only 10 homes.
A longtime school principal and Rotarian, Whiteside logged some 2,500 hours as a pilot himself in KB-50s and KC-97 aircraft.
Anyone wanting a totally exhilarating experience should visit a Manteca Rotary meeting on any Thursday and sit next to Bill Whiteside – one great guy, wise and a bundle of laughs.