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Spring has sprung
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Spring is for lovers, or in a recent case I encountered, spring is for high school kids to park in orchards, and spend a little quality time with their sweetheart. Is there a more time honored Manteca tradition than a good old “spring orchard fling” when you are 17?

I was walking my dog Charlie in the orchard behind my house Saturday night, when I came across a pick-up truck, and a young couple “getting to know each other”. I’m a veteran of that old game, and promised myself long ago, that when it came my time to be the old farmer catching the kids red handed, I’d quietly move along. I’ve been there, and nothing is worse than an evening spoiled by some old timer asking “What are you kids doing out here?” Seriously? What am I doing out here? Not collecting leaf samples for Botany class that’s for sure. I moved along and was reminded of the time I was caught – and by a farmer I actually knew all too well. 


(cue Flashback music)


It was the Spring of 1990, and I was hanging out with my buddy Brian. (not his real name, or is it?!) We were on our way to pick up a couple young lasses we’d recently taken a shine to. Brian had a cherried out Chevy Nova, rims, tire, paint – it was the bee’s knees. No lady could resist his car, and I made sure to play wingman as often as possible. We stopped at a nearby gas station to pick up necessities in the form of a Bartles and James sponsored beverage. It helped in those days to be best friends with the station owner’s son, and we were on our way. Like any 17- year-old boy, getting to the orchard with sweetheart in tow is really the only goal in life but like any professional Manteca Valentino, we knew that a little country cruising had to happen first. Listen to the music of the day, which unfortunately at that time was hair band owner ballads or Paula Abdul, it’s a miracle that any of us ever reached the orchard with the musical selections we had. We watched the sun set at the end of McMullen Road, and decided to head to a more comfortable setting – The Orchard of Love. Orchards provide that blanket of intimacy that an open country road just doesn’t provide. We were driving past my family’s dairy on Perrin Road, when Brian made an abrupt change of plans, and pulled on to the ditch bank road. “Dude this is an awful spot, we’re just sitting here 25 feet off the road,” I complained. “I just had ‘The Nova’ painted, I ain’t pulling into no orchard,” he responded. He added that it was Sunday night, “Who is going to drive by and find us?”  Looking back now, I wish I could shove those words back down his throat. I hopped in the back seat and made my move – I think in the 50s they called it “necking”, at least that’s what I remember Richie Cunningham asking his girlfriend Mary Beth to participate in after leaving Arnold’s. Things were progressing smoothly, but being right next to the corner of Perrin and Manteca roads made for awkward comfort. Every 5 minutes a car would drive by, breaking both my mood, and my concentration but as a professional, I pressed on and 20 minutes into the session it happened – my dad’s pick-up slowly drove by, spotted the Nova, and pulled in right behind us. His headlights lit the car up like something out of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, but this was no Alien, this was a Portuguese father. I however quickly realized that the Nova’s rear window was tinted pitch black, and that I was safe from view in the back seat. “Dude, just get out and tell him you are here with a chick. I don’t want my dad catching me like this.”  Brian made it clear this wasn’t happening. He also made it clear that the front seat had been caught in various stages of undress, and that him exiting the car, would’ve given my father quite the show. Moments like these feel like suspended animation, as if time is standing still – I persisted “Brian get out!” He didn’t budge, as the girls squirmed and slinked slowly towards the floorboards. Then true panic hit me. There was no way my old man thought I was in the car with gals, he thinks he’s caught us drinking, (guilty as charged), or even worse, he thinks he caught us smoking the hippy lettuce, (I’ll plead no contest to this charge). I made my move, and leaped from back seat to passenger door, and in one fell swoop I was standing outside – and blinded by headlights...and with the timing of Martin and Lewis, I had made one fatal mistake – Brian had decided to step out the driver’s door at the same time. Yup, there we were — a couple of seventeen year old boys, in various stages of undress, standing on a ditch bank. Slowly the headlights began to disappear, as my dad put his truck in reverse. I yelled across the top of the Nova, “Why’d you get out!!” Brian has always been slow to the party, and didn’t quite catch on yet. “What’s the big deal he left?” At that point I would’ve rather it had been Mick Jagger himself with a 5 foot long peace pipe that had stepped out the car with me. “We look gay!” I screamed. Panic and shame washed over both our bodies and faces. I’m certain we stood there for at least 10 minutes lamenting what had just happened. “You don’t think he’s going to call my parents do you?” Brian tossed in for good measure. We pulled it together long enough to take the girls home. Brian dropped me off about an hour later, and I made my walk of shame into the house. I knocked on my dad’s bedroom door, and popped my head in, “Hey dad what did you think was going on ou....”, before I could finish the sentence he gave an awkward “just shut the door.” I knew the next words out my mouth needed to be perfect. “We had naked girls in the car with us.” Never had a father been more relieved to know his 17 year old son, was just your every day, run of the mill, hormone fueled idiot.

“That’s great, let’s don’t ever talk about this again,” he said. And I never have, and technically still haven’t but I did just write about it in today’s paper. Happy Spring everyone!


July 4th Celebration...We are a few months out from our nation’s birthday, but the planning for an old style Manteca celebration is under way. Brandy Clark of Manteca Parks and Rec is spearheading a committee, (that includes several town movers and shakers), in an attempt to put together a day of July 4th fun at Big League Dreams. I remember as a kid heading to Guss Schmiedt Field and watching the local fire departments compete in muster competitions, the farmers vs. the construction workers in tug-of-war, sack races, watermelon eating contests etc. We are lucky enough to have a world class facility like BLD in town, so let’s utilize it. We are looking for ideas from the people of Manteca, suggestions that will include the young and the old, but most importantly we need community involvement. Reinvigorating old traditions such as this one is a fantastic way for The Family City, to firmly reestablish those Family City roots. Those interested in being part of the committee, please contact Brandy Clark ( or Chris Teicheira (   

“It’s not Where ya do, It’s What ya do.”