EDITOR’S NOTE: Manteca to a T columnist Chris Teicheira is in Costa Rica. In his absence, he’s asked Mark Condit to share his thoughts about growing up in The Family City. Worth noting, Condit has purposely misspelled Mick Founts’ name wrong throughout this piece for reasons only he knows.
I don’t have Chris’ pedigree — I wasn’t born into a generationally established Manteca family that set down roots in the late 1910s or early 20s. I’m more of a stray, born in 1963 in Seward, the nearest hospital to our home in Moose Pass, Alaska. But I hope to narrate how and why Manteca has become my home, through a collection of good times and great friends. So while our beloved narrator is on assignment in Costa Rica, I endeavor to share with you why this week’s column has been changed to “Manteca to a C.”
I arrived in Manteca as a shy fourth grader in 1971 when my step-father at the time, Joe Atilano, wanted to reduce his daily commute time from Modesto to the Libbey Owens Ford float glass plant in Lathrop, which is how I ended up living at 1228 Yvonne Avenue, just off of Louise. I walked to Golden West Elementary (Lloyd Wofford, Cedric Benjamin, Lindsay Munoz, Doug Smith, Mr. Myers, Mr. Michaels, Scott Eckerle, Ann Owen) through a dirt field that is now home to Little Caesars Pizza, Orchard Supply Hardware and a fire station.
I remember riding my skateboard to the field to watch the Traywick brothers, Rocky and Dusty, perform maneuvers on their dirt bikes off of some home-made jumps that would make Evel Knievel flinch. I still see their cousin Chris around town doing work on trees. My best friend Allen Calderwood lived on Sharon Court, and it was his older brother Kevin who changed my life and turned me on to my first record album – KISS ALIVE! A few years later my teenage passion for the band would find me on stage as a freshman at Manteca High School with my friends Ron Dahlseid, Jeff Morris and Tom Meredith dressed up as KISS in full makeup, rocking the $1.98 Talent Contest to the tune of “Rock & Roll All Nite.”
My years at Golden West were typically middle school — save for the one moment in Don Halseth’s 7th grade English class when he introduced something called a Student Teacher. We all nodded a polite hello to Mike Founts and went back to reading The Outsiders. Little did I know that I had just met my own personal Yoda, later famous as lead guitarist of The Dalton Gang. Mick would resurface at numerous pivot points in my later years, the king of the practical joke, our own local Cesar Romero (look it up folks).
I still remember arriving at MHS as a freshman in the fall of 1977 and being in awe of the great athletes of the day. My locker was next to Valley Oak League MVP and senior running back Brad Steele – BRAD FREAKING STEELE – and I was this close to him every day ! Years later I would still get nervous when ordering iced tea at The Grad in Stockton, where he was tending bar.
I remember watching Randy “Mucho Macho” Ross play basketball with that full rack of facial hair, eons before Movember became fashionable. I mean, good god, I was walking with legends: Pete Duenes, Bob O’Rourke, Will Reeder, Bob Allsup, Tony Cotta, Jeff Tilton, Jeff Watson, Ron Yee, Alex Sullivan on drums for the Pep Band, and four-sport athlete Keith Jackson (football, baseball, basketball and track, driving that funky little ’76 Ford Courier pickup with the fog lights and roll bar around town). I still see Alex instructing Cosmetology in Stockton or Keith coaching the Shasta girls basketball squad.
My high school years were pretty quiet. They had to be as my mom Barbara Henry came to work in the attendance office, and later on came to be the center of the “Save The Barbs” movement ! Ed Brasmer, Bill Jones, Bob Lee, Telka Walser, Steve Winter, Doug McCreath, Frank Gonzales. And even though my physical education instruction occurred under some of the greats in the world of P.E. – Pat Douglas, Joe Jacobs, Butch Linn – it wasn’t until my daughter Makenna made it to junior high school at Shasta that I became aware of the greatest P.E. teacher in the history of all P.E. teachers, “Mr. D.,” David Dadasovich.
Nick Founts would resurface again in 1982 when he convinced a friend of ours to run for MHS Student Body President with a tan grocery bag over his head with a big black Sharpie marker “Z” on the face, a la the Unknown Comedian. “Z” ran as an outsider, to give voice to those who felt they had no representation at the school. The stunt stirred people up. Mr. Founts got a couple of varsity football players to act as body guards for “Z” whenever he made appearances so no one could pull the bag off and spoil the gig. “Z” eventually won the election, pulled the bag off his head and revealed his true identity as people still had no idea who he was. To this day, I still call Ron Cassidy as “Z,” who parlayed his status into one of the greatest attendance office notes of all time. And yes, it was then logged in as an excused absence; the note stood.
I was ejected from a Manteca/Sonora hoops game in 2010 — as an adult, with my 7- and 9-year-old children in attendance, with a good, clean heckle. I was standing along the baseline with Bulletin photographer Hime Romero, who would have the professional chops to capture the incident on film, and the greatest sports writer in Bulletin history. No, not Hank Froshaug, or Bill Poindexter, not Darryl Phillips or Ike Dodson, not even Dave Campbell, Jonamar Jacinto or James Burns. Yes, it was Jagada Chambers by my side as I reached out to offer referee Al B. Sure my glasses after he had blown yet another call. “Do we need to trade glasses?” Time stopped in Robert C. Winter Memorial Gymnasium as the referee stared me down. Jagada looked at his shoes and leaned away from me. Players on the end of the Buffs’ bench snickered, but leaned away as well, trying to put as much distance between themselves and I as they could. Principal Doug McCreath came walking over across the gym floor as the rabbit-eared ref pointed in our direction. I told the kids it was probably time for us to go and began walking out. Doug, standing tall, pumping himself up to handle this vulgar, unruly, disrespectful fan, saw the kids and I walking towards him but was looking past me in preparation for the confrontation that was sure to unfold. I looked at him and said, “It’s me, Doug. I’m the one he’s kicking out. I’ll go quietly.” We had a good chuckle over it as we walked out, and as I waved our oversized green GO BUFFS foam finger to the crowd I heard one of the groomsman from my wedding, Dan Eavenson, holler out from the top row of the bleachers, “You’re kicking out the Father of the Year!”
And that folks, is my word count limit. I still have numerous Brooks Gale and Tim Beattie tales to tell — how I ended up living next door to Chris’ second grade teacher Mrs. Wentworth, Mike Henry’s epic retelling of tales from a Sac-Joaquin Section championship team in 1987, how I met my queen, etc.
It’s been an honor to hold the mic for the best comic in the county while he gets some much deserved rest and relaxation. Hell, I’ve got AT LEAST five Chris Teicheira stories to tell ! Fawnie & Dodo, my brothers and all their friends from T.O.H.S. (That Other High School — East Union High)? Shaking hands with Ole Tolkheim at church on his 99th birthday this past Sunday. Seventeen years of PPK.
Chris, if the hate mail isn’t too voluminous, I’d love to write in this space again. You’ve been a great audience, thanks for not throwing anything – send all you comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. On my way out the door let me make this offer — if you can name the two countries that border Costa Rica to the East and West, I’ll buy you a drink on Teicheira’s tab at The Pub this Friday at 4:45.
I wonder what is more likely Chris will return from Costa Rica with; a tattoo or a wife?
And remember, camaraderie is crucial.