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When things were different in Manteca
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Sometimes it’s easy to get swept up in the nuances of modern life.
We have machines that sweep our floors and pocket computers that command our lives like tiny pocket assistants.
My car will literally park itself. The camera that’s attached to my phone is far more powerful that the first professional digital cameras that we had at this newspaper. A website that everybody in the world seems to subscribe to brought an entire industry to its knees – all with the power of the Internet, which was a far-flung idea just a decade ago.
So when I sat down on Thursday with Walker Vick and talked to him about how things in Manteca were in 1959 when he arrived to begin a career that would span more than four decades at Manteca High School.
The crux of that story will appear in the paper sometime in the next few days in an in-depth profile, so I don’t want to give too much away, but the conversation was one that shed a unique form of insight not only on the way in which athletics has changed in his community in the second half of the 20th century, but also on how the town itself has transformed during that time.
My parents moved to Manteca in 1983, and have been here ever since – just three years removed from the last time that Vick commanded the sidelines at Guss Schmiedt Field.
But everybody that I have spoken to so far in this Manteca High School coaching endeavor – from Steve Winter to Art Mathis to Mick Founts – all had nothing but amazing things to say about Vick and the kind of motivator that he was to the young men that filtered through the campus in the four decades that he was there.
And it wasn’t just the men that were coaching with him that offered kind words as to the type of person that he is.
A friend and former journalist who went on to take a job with the CIF Sac-Joaquin office told me that in the five years that he worked with Vick after he retired from education, the window between their offices was never closed, and when he left the office full-time several years ago, he put a piece of paper over the door advertising it as “Walker’s Office” – and that piece of paper still hangs there.
Then there are the metal passes that he carries around in his wallet.
When you retire from a career that includes significant contributions to prep athletics, the local section typically gives you a metal pass with your name engraved on it that allows you to access any high school sporting event in the section for the rest of your life free of charge. Not only does he have that, but he also has one from the CIF State Office, metal, with his name engraved, that allows him access to any high school sporting event in the State of California. It’s not something that you see every day.
When I told former contributing columnist Chris Teicheira that I got the chance to interview Vick, he told me that never since he stopped writing his weekly column – that appeared in the same place as the one you’re reading now – has he wished that he stuck with it more than when he found out my assignment for the day.
The full story on Vick, and what he remembers about his time at Manteca High School, will be in the paper.
But he’s a legend in every sense of the word, and it was amazing to get to sit down and talk with him about his early days, how he has seen athletics change during his tenure, and where he sees it going in the future.
Read all about it in the Bulletin.

Drain waits on the jury to decide
As I write this, the jury in the Ashley Drain election fraud case is currently locked into deliberations about the fate of the former Manteca Unified trustee who allegedly lied about her address in order to run for office in a district she had no formal ties to.
And while it’s not supposed to work that way, I think that the way that the mostly-female jury decides will be a good indicator as to what will happen when former trustee Sam Fant stands trial later this year for similar charges.
The story as to what happened has been recapped in the pages of his newspaper countless times since it was discovered that Drain wrote an address down on her application that was ultimately used by Alexander Bronson, who was also charged in the case, despite the fact that it was a completely different area than the one she was running in.
The property owner of the address that Bronson listed indicated that he had never lived at the residence.
While it’s easy to fall into the rhetoric that has come from the accused in these matters – that it’s nothing but targeted prosecution, or an attempt by the powers that be to suppress the up-and-coming rabble-rousers who represent change – I think it’s important to remain focused on the fact that it becomes a law and order issue that appears to have been blatantly disregarded for the sake of political convenience.
But if the jury comes back in the affirmative, it will have been proven that Ashley Drain – even with extenuating circumstances – skirted the law in her quest to bring change to a system she railed against, no matter what the consequence of that decision may have been.
While Drain may have had the best of intentions when she allegedly did what she did, she may very well have broken the law in the process and it’s now up to a jury of mostly women to decide her fate.
It’ll definitely be something to watch.

To contact reporter Jason Campbell, email or call 209.249.3544.