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Summer social in the fall
First time in 19 years for historical museum fund-raiser
Shirley Smith, center, talks with friends during Sundays 19th annual Old-fashioned Barbecue Social held in a Victorian setting at the back-yard gardens of Mick and Kristen Founts on Union Road in Manteca. - photo by HIME ROMERO

The third day of fall this year was a first for the Manteca Historical Society.

The 19th annual Old-fashioned Barbecue Social held al fresco in a garden setting on Sunday was the first time the touted summer social fund-raiser for the museum was held in September under autumn skies.

“It’s always been held in August, but people thought it’s too hot to have it during that time,” said historical museum board of director and longtime volunteer Jeanette Farley.

“Last year, it was 102 degrees” when they had the outdoor barbecue at the same site, recalled historical museum executive director Evelyn Prouty.

“But today is perfect. It’s a beautiful weather,” she added as she happily surveyed the mass of smiling and laughing people enjoying the wide variety of hors d’oeuvres and drinks while catching up with old friends and family members before the sit-down barbecue dinner was served.

There was a bit of gray skies, but the mildly cloudy atmosphere provided a much welcomed cool ambience in the spacious grassy courtyard between the two Victorian homes on the Founts property in north Manteca.

The pleasant weather was not the only thing that turned Sunday’s barbecue into a perfect summer social.

“The food is good; the music is good,” and the attendance showed a “good turn-out,” noted Prouty.

More than 300 tickets were sold.

Adding to the gastronomical offering and upbeat musical backdrop courtesy of the Park Ave. Jam Band’s encore performance were the more than three-dozen gift baskets that were offered in the opportunity drawing. The baskets were the creations of museum volunteer Jeannie Marsden.

“She did all the baskets,” Prouty said.

Among the artistically decorated colorful containers was a basket filled with fresh vegetables donated by museum volunteer Anita Columbus. Two varieties of eggplants, cucumbers, cantaloupes, potatoes, bell peppers and other vegetables were picked from one of Columbus’ two plots at the community garden behind the Crossroads Grace Community Church on Moffat Avenue just the day before. Another prize was an original oil painting of a Maine lighthouse by Manteca artist Tom Olson whose romantic and rustic creations of bucolic countrysides throughout California, and a few from out of state, have been sought after by many art collectors through the years.

Proceeds from the old-fashioned barbecue summer social help support the museum’s operating expenses. This is one of only two fund-raisers during the year benefiting the museum. The other one is the Gourmet Sampler held in the spring. The combined funds generated by these two events, plus money from the membership, make up the museum’s annual budget. General membership currently stands at 420, and they are always looking for more members.

While the spring gourmet sampler, which features the variety of tasty concoctions available from various restaurants and other food businesses in the area, is designed to “bring in new members” and targets newcomers to The Family City, “this event is more like a reunion of families and classmates,” Farley said of the summer social.

Indeed, several of the covered long tables carried signs that directed people to their designated reunion groups. Among the signs were “MHS Class of 1945,” and the “Marion Street Gang.” The latter was having a reunion for the first time at the social this year. Some 16 people who all grew up together as children in that neighborhood located just a skip-and-a-hop away from the Manteca Golf Course showed up, with several of them coming from out of town.

For more information about the Manteca Historical Society Museum, call (209) 825-3021 or log on to

The museum is located at 600 W. Yosemite Ave. in Manteca. Business hours are Tuesday and Wednesday from 1 to 3 p., and Thursday and Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. Donations are always welcome. Send donations to: P.O. Box 907, Manteca, CA 95336.