Another West Side Centenarian
by Ron Swift ] Patterson Irrigator
May 09, 2012 | 582 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Ron Swift
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I had the pleasure as well as the honor early this week of talking on the phone with Dorothy Wiesendanger.

Few here, including me, are acquainted with Dorothy, who turned 102 on Monday, the day I called her. She lives far up Del Puerto Canyon over into Santa Clara County, actually residing on Mines Road toward Livermore with her son Bert.

Bert makes the trip down to Patterson — a 30-plus-mile drive — several times a month. My spies tell me Dorothy comes along about once a month, making the trip to see her doctor.

She was born in Twin Falls, Idaho; moved with her family to Stockton when only 3 months old; and grew up in San Jose. Over the years, she made frequent trips to visit Bert in San Antonio Valley. She has made the hill country her home the past six years (“and loves the peace and quiet”) after residing for a time in Oregon until the death of another son.

I’m told she’s spry, makes breakfast every morning for Bert and specializes in waffles, does the laundry and light housework, and avidly watches game shows. She uses a cane to steady herself only when going outside, and, lastly, she regularly reads this column in the Patterson Irrigator.

Dorothy brings to seven the number of centenarians on our 90-plus list. The others are Evelyn Rusk, Aileen Cabral, Bertha Criswell, Helen Maring, Lawrence Harrison and Florence Perry Cogswell.

My spies also forwarded two more additions to our 90-plus list, both of whom now live in Modesto but were longtime West Siders. Nelda Schut Mitchell is now 92, while former Grayson resident Geraldine Parker is more than 90.

That brings our list to 66, a truly amazing total. We’ll reprint the full list in the weeks ahead.

And we know it can’t be the water. In fact, most Pattersonites would agree that these people have lived long lives here despite the water.

Another sign

Here’s a sign in a veterinarian’s waiting room: “Back in five minutes. Sit! Stay!”

The annual award

A couple of years ago this column gave recognition to a business whose employees are thought to be exceptionally friendly and helpful.

The honor the first year went to the staff at Patterson Family Pharmacy. Last year, the crew at the Sutter-Gould Medical Clinic received the bouquet.

Now remember, I don’t get into every business in town, and some I visit just once or twice a year. So this is a subjective selection.

This year, we have a tie.

The front office staff at Schut Insurance always have a smile, except maybe when those grumpy Schut guys in the back are coming in the door. Can’t blame them for that.

And the employees out at Walgreens are always helpful and cheerful, even when I’m not.

Back to the books

Surprisingly I haven’t heard from a single reader (you are reading, are you not?) objecting to the recent educational offerings in this column. Apparently you approve of getting smarter, so here’s your lesson for another week.

A jiffy is a measurement of time, actually one-hundredth of a second. So when you say you’ll “be there in a jiffy,” you’re fibbing, now aren’t you?

Questions, questions

Readers do send me questions they want answered, and some of them are tough. Such as:

• How is it possible to have a civil war?

• Why is there an expiration date on sour cream?

• Would a fly without wings be called a walk?

Yes, tough.

Sight for sore eyes

Check out the blaze of color in the downtown roundabout in front of Pizza Plus.

Quite a sight.

For the sports fan

Big Albert finally smacked his first homer for the Angels, after more than 130 at-bats and a contract signed for $240 mil.

Oh, yes, did I mention I’ve been a Cardinal fan for more than 50 years?

And finally … Whoever composed the following is a philosophizing genius:

“Life isn’t about waiting for a storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain.”

So dance!

• Ron Swift is editor/publisher emeritus of the Patterson Irrigator. He can be reached at

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