Editor, Manteca Bulletin,
I am writing this letter to thank three very special families for their support during and after my high school days in Manteca. They are Kay and Argie Hardcastle, Joyce and Richard Swift, and Paula and Jack Thomson.
First, I want to thank the Hardcastle family for always providing an excellent example as to what family is all about. I met Todd Hardcastle right after I moved to Manteca from Sacramento. I met Todd while attending Lincoln elementary school mid-way through my eighth grade year. You can only imagine how tough it was for a new kid in town to meet new friends. I was an awkward skinny kid with long hair and a new school to deal with at a critical time in my life. However, the Hardcastle family was always accommodating when I visited their house. I cannot tell you how many times they invited me to eat over at their house. Thirty-six years later is a long time to tell them thanks for all their kindness. I guess better late than never.
Then in 1978, I met Darren Swift when we were trying out for the baseball team. Darren, Todd, and I soon became the best of friends. Our one common bond was baseball. We loved to play baseball and more importantly liked hanging out together. During the baseball season, I met Darren’s parents, Joyce and Richard, (The Toe), Swift. He got this nickname from being the placekicker for the Manteca High football team. Yet again, I am blessed to meet two of the greatest role models a teenage boy could meet during those very formative years.
Finally, during my sophomore year at Manteca High I met Jack Thomson. He is, without a doubt, the best baseball coach a person could ever have the experience playing for at any level. During my sophomore year, I began having some personal issues and actually quit the baseball team. After re-thinking my poor decision, I went and spoke to Jack about what was going on in my life and asked if I could re-join the team. He listened to my problems then he gave me the okay to return to the team. If I had not been able to return to the baseball team, my life would have taken a serious turn for the worse. Having a coach/mentor like Jack Thomson, was one of the best things that ever happened to me during my high school years.
This is not an eloquent letter with all kinds of sage advice from the people mentioned above. However, it is a heart-felt letter from a middle-aged guy thanking those who made a valuable difference in his life some thirty plus years ago.
If you ever have the opportunity to speak with a teenager that is having some difficulty in their life, remember, that you may just be the person that helps turn their situation around for the better.
Thank you, Kay, Argie, Joyce, Dick, Paula, Jack, and your families. My life is much richer for having met all of you.
April 25, 2012