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Stroll down memory lane on Union Road
Historical Societys 18th annual BBQ Social Sunday
Manteca Historical Society member Ron Howe stands in front of the Victorian that Nick and Kristen Founts are restoring behind their “new” Victorian on North Union Road where Sunday’s 18th annual BBQ Social takes place.
Sunday’s Manteca Historical Society shindig - the 18th annual Barbecue Social - is taking place beneath the trees in the spacious country backyard of Nick and Kristen Founts.

The setting is sandwiched between two Victorians - one new that they built 20 years ago as a replicate and one old that they had moved in and are restoring.

It’s an appropriate setting for a Manteca gathering that brings people together with a common love for the community’s history. Just a mile or two up the way along French Camp Road was “The Grove.” It was a popular gathering place in the 1870s and 1880s. Mantecans would catch a ride on the Tidewater Railroad to a point about a half mile from where Cutler Salmon built his home at Dutch Point in 1866. They’d then trek the short distance to The Grove that even had its own wooden dance floor.

The trek this Sunday will be by automobile up Union Road about a half mile or so past Del Webb at Woodbridge. The mode of transportation will be by car and not train. They’ll be music, but probably not much dancing unless someone can persuade society President Leon Sucht to cut the rug.

There will be, though, plenty of socializing and food. It’s what brought Mantecans together 140 years ago. And it is what will bring them together Sunday for what has become one of the biggest traditional gatherings of the 21st century.

The BBQ social starts at 2 p.m. with dinner served at 4 p.m. It consists of tri-tip, turkey, spaghetti, watermelon, ice cream, and a bar that will offer iced tea, wine, sodas, and coffee. There will also be a raffle.

Tickets are $15 for adults and $7 for children. They are available at the Manteca Historical Society Museum, 600 W. Yosemite Ave., German Glas Werks, Guido’s Pizza, ticket chairperson Phyllis Abram (239-9744) or any board member.

The BBQ Social is one of two major fundraisers the society counts on each year. They accept no funding from government sources for operation of the museum. The other big event is the Gourmet Sampler.

This marks the 20th year the museum has been located in the former Methodist/Episcopalian Church at 600 W. Yosemite Ave. The society itself, which is now 412 members strong, was started in 1989.

Society Executive Director Evelyn Prouty recalls a remark that Dale Johnson, one of the founding members, made in relation to the museum building.

Johnson said he recalled saying “I doubt we will ever be able to fill” the museum when they bought the building.

The society’s collection today is so big it fills two buildings and then some.

Prouty said the most recent addition was the donation of pack saddles used by the Reynolds family in 1883.

She noted the museum gets inquiries every day it is open from people wanting to know things ranging from when their child’s school was built to why streets have certain names. And the folks who come in to browse the collection are just going down memory lane. It is common for those who have just recently moved to Manteca to stop in so they can get a feel for the community’s history and beginnings.

The annual membership drive starts in October. Membership is $15 a year for individuals.

Ron Howe is chairing the BBQ Social. This year PL Fry has helped underwrite the rental of chairs and tables for the event.