The students at Little Methodist Preschool love their garbage man. Michelle Wisner reports that Waste Management empties dumpsters at the preschool every Monday morning. Most days the little tykes are on the playground when this happens, and are in awe of the truck and its driver Steve D. “When they hear the truck arrive, they run to the fence to watch that huge green garbage truck lift the dumpster high into the air and dump it,” she says. “Steve always honks and waves to the little faces at the fence!” One day teachers and children made a thank you sign for Steve and hung it on the dumpster. To show his appreciation, when Steve recently pulled up in his truck, he got out, came up to the fence and handed the kids a picture of himself holding the sign, standing in front of his big green garbage truck. It just doesn’t get any better than that when you’re 4 years old.

#THINGSKIDSSAY: Lori Heyd is a classroom aide for Lodi Unified School District. Recently, one of her first grade students commented on her apparently boring lunch bag, saying, “Is that your lunch bag? Just blue and green? Where is your Barbie one?”

BEAR TRACKS: Black Bear Diner is currently in lease negotiations to open a restaurant in Lodi this year, according to the Bear’s home office. No word yet on where it will be. While this is tentative news, claws are crossed that it will happen this time.

COOKING TIP: Mark Wilson says, “If you stir coconut oil into your kale, it makes it easier to scrape into the trash.”

GOD CALLING: Steve Sanguinetti relayed this amusing morsel: A poster seen in a church: “When you enter this church it may be possible that you hear “the call of God.” However, it is unlikely that He will call you on your mobile. Thank you for turning off your phones. If you want to talk to God, enter, choose a quiet place and talk to Him. If you want to see Him, send Him a text while driving.” Click.

OVERLOOKED: The New York Times has begun a new series called, “Overlooked,” featuring obituaries of outstanding women who’ve died but the Times believes were not properly noticed. Earlier this month one such article was about Lodi’s own Laura DeForce Gordon, and Christi Kennedy Weybret caught it. “Gordon, a suffragist, journalist and lawyer, had spent several decades establishing herself in fields that had been historically limited to men, and was frequently met with scorn and opposition,” writes the Times. Hastings School of the Law rejected her application to attend in 1878 because “rustling skirts distracted the male students.” She sued the school and won, going on to become a successful lawyer. She was a leading voice in the push for women’s rights and the right to vote. She and her husband, a doctor, moved to Mokelumne Station (later to become Lodi) in 1870. Gordon was also a newspaper owner. She and sister Gertie DeForce Cluff started Lodi’s first newspaper, The Valley Review, in 1878. Gordon was one of the first two women admitted to the Bar of the Supreme Court of California and the second woman admitted to practice law before the U. S. Supreme Court. She died April 5, 1907, at the age of 68 in her Lodi home on Lockeford Street.

RUN WITH PURPOSE: Pat Lithco’s daughter and son-in-law, Julie and Brad Ellis, are running the Boston Marathon together this year in support of their 14-year old son Jake, who has Usher Syndrome. Julie has run the race before. In fact, when she was 16 years old, Julie promised her father Norman Lithco she would go skydiving, run a marathon and compete in an Ironman Triathlon. She checked off all three long ago, but this time is different. It’s the first time Julie and her husband have run Boston together, and their goal is to raise awareness of Usher Syndrome, which is characterized by partial or total hearing loss and vision loss that worsens over time. Julie is also a former Lodi High and Delta College track and cross country star.

THE POINT: A recent article in one of the national papers reported on how Starbucks’ open door policy regarding use of their restrooms is playing out. According to the article, store employees routinely find hypodermic needles laying around, sometimes even poking them as they clean up the messes. That couldn’t happen here in Lodi, could it? Yes, it does, according to the Starbucks employee we talked to. Finding used needles and other drug equipment in local Starbucks restrooms is commonplace. A couple times a year, we’re told, some of the bathrooms even need to be cordoned off while the company’s hazmat team comes in for a thorough cleaning and decontaminating job. We’re not Mayberry anymore.

STREET CHRONICLES: Lodi Police Department community liaison officer Richard Dunfee recently parked his patrol vehicle at the Victor Road overcrossing at Highway 99, where an outreach team was talking to Vincent and Carlos, both homeless chaps. Vincent bristled at the team’s intrusion until Officer Dunfee arrived on scene. Then his attitude smoothed a bit. The outreach team consists of retired Lodi Police Captain Chris Piombo as well as people from County Mental Health, Veteran Services, and a county social worker. Their mission is to encounter the homeless and to offer assistance. Some decline the help and see it as unwanted meddling. Previously from Guam, Vincent, 49, says he’s been in the Lodi area for three years. He has two sons, but has been living on the streets for about eight years, he says. His friend Carlos speaks no English and couldn’t remember his age, but thinks he’s about 46. All their worldly belongings were stuffed into garbage bags, and other materials were tied to a contraption with wheels. It was all blocking the overpass walkway on Victor Road.

Vincent finally accepted a ride from San Joaquin County personnel to somewhere where he could receive assistance. His friend Carlos stayed behind, but pledged to stand guard over their stuff. Dunfee warned them both that they couldn’t leave their belongings there, blocking the sidewalk. Days later, the pile hadn’t moved and was still blocking the walkway. Carlos was nowhere to be seen. Perhaps another job for the Take Back Lodi cleanup crew.

Steve Mann is a former newspaper publisher and lifelong Lodian whose column appears Tuesdays — or whenever he feels like it — in the News-Sentinel. Write to Steve at

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