Entertainment no longer a self-service matter
by Ron Swift | Patterson Irrigator
May 16, 2013 | 916 views | 0 0 comments | 181 181 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Ron Swift
Ron Swift
Some of us PEs (Persons of Experience) grew up eons ago in an entirely different environment.

For one thing, we learned how to entertain ourselves. It was a necessity, for we didn’t have a television set blaring in every room, a monitor providing every sort of game imaginable, a cell phone that replaces even walking across the street to talk with a friend, Facebook to inform a vast audience what we ate for lunch, etc.

So what did we do? We had a vast arsenal of games and activities that would eat away the hours.

I recently conducted a survey. I asked 10 young people if they had ever played croquet. Eight had never heard of it, a ninth had but couldn’t describe it correctly, and the 10th knew what it was but had never played. I wasn’t surprised.

I remember as a kid playing croquet by the hour. Sometimes by myself, smacking as many as four balls through the wickets. Needless to say, I always won.

Entertainment seems to be the name-of-the-game these days. Young or old, we simply can’t avoid it.

The latest is something as simple as pumping gas. Over at Fred Frias’ Emporium of Fine Fuel at 226 N. Second St., the gas pumps are now equipped to entertain you while you hold the nozzle. A monitor in color, ads, music, news … it’s all there without you requesting it and at no extra charge, even though your thoughts might be centered on the current price of petroleum.

But I guess that’s progress.

Frankly, it’s difficult for us old timers to find a place of solitude anywhere. Our family recently dined at a new chain restaurant in Modesto. The place was jammed and the food was very good. But the music was turned up so loud that I could have stayed in Patterson and listened to it.

They won’t get me back until my ears stop ringing.


Stories about World War II happenings were common in the Irrigator during those war years about 70 years ago. Here’s another told by Editor R.C. Fleharty.

A sailor was stationed at the Crows Landing Naval Air Station. His young wife was back east, staying with her parents until he could find her living quarters on the West Side. He wasn’t having any success, so she decided to chance it — fly west and trust her luck.

That she did, landing in San Francisco without informing her husband she was coming. Her intention was to look up a friend who might assist her. So she hailed a cab.

Now in wartime, taxis were in short supply. For that reason they often stopped to pick up additional passengers. She caught the eye of one driver who pulled to the curb with one occupant in the back seat. Of course she hopped in, and surprise — there was her husband!



Few are still around who remember Gloria Swanson in her days as a glamorous movie star. One of her film productions was “The Admirable Crichton.”

Back in 1945 the senior class at Patterson High consulted with Paramount Pictures about royalties to be paid when “The Admirable Crichton” was selected as the senior class play.

The oddity here: our own Gloria Halseth, then Gloria Swanson, was a member of the local cast. Ahhhh…


Keeping Fast Talk’s list of those 90 years of age and up requires a certain amount of attention. That’s where you readers can help.

Occasionally, someone is missed. That is the case with Anna Goubert of Westley who died May 4 at age 91.

I didn’t know Mrs. Goubert, although she had lived on the West Side for 45 years. She should have been on our 90-plus list, but wasn’t.

An addition is Elmer Filippini, a longtime West Side resident who for a number of years has made his home in the state of Washington. He was visiting his daughter, Dori Filippini of Patterson, early this week and a number of weeks ago observed his 93rd birthday.

Just missing the list was Dorothy Pace, a longtime Patterson resident who moved to Turlock years ago with husband Tex. He’s on our list, but Dorothy died May 1 just four weeks before her 90th birthday.

So now, good readers, help me out.


Those readers who for the past year have been using this column as an educational tool should now open their textbooks to the appropriate page.

There you will find rules to live by, also known as Murphy’s Other 15 Laws. Let’s start with the easiest to understand.

•He who laughs last thinks slowest.

•If the shoe fits, get another one just like it.

•Definition of a flashlight: a case for holding dead batteries.

•When you go to court, you are putting yourself in the hands of 12 people who weren’t smart enough to get out of jury duty.

•Those who live by the sword get shot by those who don’t.


Some say those 72-foot aerodynamically designed hovercraft that will glide around San Francisco Bay this summer in the chase for the America’s Cup are far too fast to remain safe.

One of those is Peter Rookard, who several months ago moved from Patterson to Newman. He spent years racing boats in major regattas.

Last week, a yachtsman from Britain who was racing for a Swedish team was killed in a practice run when his sailboat flipped.

Rookard pointed out that even in craft considerably smaller and much slower, sailing can be a dangerous sport. Racing conditions vary, as does the locale where major events take place. With the speed of the new huge catamarans, split-second decision making is required.

Millions are spent on the America’s Cup race, and the latest technology is used in designing and construction the yachts. But there must be a limit, and the upcoming Bay Area event may already have exceeded it.

On another note, using video replay still doesn’t always get it right. Just ask any A’s fan.


I like emails. Here’s one I received just the other day.

In California, you can’t take a photo of a man with a wooden leg.

No, you have to use a camera.

But of course you knew that.

Ron Swift is editor/publisher emeritus of the Patterson Irrigator. He can be reached at ronkay@gvni.com.

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