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Gwin Paden Flowers bring hints of spring as I reflect on friends now gone

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Gwin Paden

Posted: Thursday, February 24, 2011 12:00 am

The daffodils in a small vase on the shelf above the kitchen sink remind me that, yes, we had a taste of spring last week. The hail and rain that followed remind me that February always has a week or two of false spring, reverting back to its old self all too soon. But the garden will not be denied; it’s on its way to blooming. So are some spring flowering trees.


As usual, crab feeds are bustin’ out all over, but there are some other food events on the calendar, too.

The Japanese American Citizens league is having one of its great spaghetti dinners from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 26 at the JACL Hall. You can see just about everybody in town there, sooner or later. The same goes for the dinners put on by the Buddhist Church.

Also, the American Legion has begun to serve a soup and sandwich supper from 4 to 7 p.m. on every fourth Wednesday. Only $8 for the dinner; $5 for the supper.

And Gary DeGrande is doing so well with his once-a-month Italian dinners that he is starting Saturday morning brunches once a month, with servings at 9 and 11 a.m. Of course, reservations are required for both these special meals.


People who hang out at the House of Coffees at Ham Lane and Lockeford Street already know this, but for those who don’t, this bit of news. After 20 years, owner Debbie Goni has sold the business to employee Jennifer Lorentzen, and will herself become an employee on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. She loves being at the shop and meeting people old and new, but says she is ready to turn the helm over to someone else, and Jennifer is the right person at the right time.

Debbie’s husband, Marty, says he is glad that he doesn’t have to truck all the garbage cans to the Dumpsters any more!


Events past and future: This year’s Chamber of Commerce annual dinner was a very nice occasion. We don’t usually go out at night much any more, but I’m glad we went to this event to see friends Phil and Daphne Felde and Ron Buck and his daughter Ashley get their well-deserved awards.

As Citizens of the Year, the Feldes will now be on the committee to choose next year’s winner. I’ve been on that committee since 1989, and every time I tell Pat Patrick that I think I ought to step down, he just says, “Oh, hang around,” so as long as I’m able I probably will.


That’s a past event. Coming up: the American Legion is planning an open house from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, March 26, for all veterans of all the wars and their families. I urge all veterans, both men and women, to come; the Legion wants to provide services for them and will make them aware of what can be done locally to meet their needs. Those who have fought in Iraq and Afghanistan or have served recently in other places abroad and at home are particularly welcome. 


Moving ahead to June: St. John’s Episcopal Church is planning a motorcycle run on June 4. It will be a family affair, with events for children and a tasty lunch. Those who like such runs are welcome. Ray Crow at the Chamber of Commerce is already enthusiastically rounding up riders. There will be more details out soon. For advance info, call chairman Tina Newsome at 368-9047. Needless to say, this will be a non-alcoholic event.


A word: just because I rattle on about gardens, animals and local events doesn’t mean I am not aware of and deeply concerned about the problems facing our city, county, state and nation, as well as the world as a whole. Conflict seems to be the rule of the day.

As just regular citizens, we can cope best by keeping our neighborhoods and city neat, friendly, and helpful. Every one of us is going to have to move beyond personal boundaries of action and comfort, and we must keep aware of what is going on everywhere. It will affect all of us.

Tidal waves begin a long way out in the ocean.


As a former teacher, I am particularly concerned about our schools, and I went up in flames when I read that the school district is considering laying off 11 high school English teachers.

Of all courses, English should be the last subject cut out of the curriculum, together with American history and government. The ignorance out there in these areas is appalling; newly sworn-in citizens know more of our history that does the average American native, and don’t get me started on reading, spelling and writing abilities! It’s bad enough that high school English classes do not get complete novels or plays to study — only anthologies, which give no idea of character and plot development, etc. It’s not only incorrect spelling that’s the problem; it’s also using completely incorrect words and phrases.


While we’re here, spelling lesson for this time: A chorale is a singing group; a corral is a pen for horses or cattle. Both have the accent on the last syllable. A choral work is a composition meant to be sung, and there are coral reefs in the ocean. Both of these words have the accent on the first syllable.


When I saw the name Monte Dayton in the obituary columns the other day, it seemed familiar, and when I read further, I realized why. It was Monte who was the editor of the Daly City paper back in the early 1950s; he opened the door to my newspaper career.

I wrote a regular weekly column of news about doings in Broadmoor Village, a part of unincorporated Colma, south of San Francisco, developed for WWII veterans. I also wrote publicity for every organization Broadmoorites were engaged in. I never dreamed Monte would come here; wish I could have met him before he died so we could have renewed our friendship.

Another friend, from my days at the (Stockton) Record in the early 1960s, has also left us. He was Bob Whittington, who was busy overseeing the newsroom at that time before moving up (and away from California) into the paper’s parent organizations. His name triggered all kinds of memories of the Record newsroom and the writers, editors and photographers I knew. Just about all of them are gone now.


And on a lighter note to end with: Never anger someone who knows how to handle knitting needles.

Gwin Paden has lived in Lodi since 1957 and in the same house since 1959. She has been involved in numerous community activities and has had careers in advertising, the WAC, news reporting, public relations, and teaching at Lodi High School and San Joaquin Delta College.

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