Fast Talk High school's boosters face a centennial dilemma
by Ron Swift for the Patterson Irrigator
Feb 22, 2012 | 481 views | 0 0 comments | 1 1 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Ron Swift
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When Patterson celebrated its centennial in 2009 (has it been three years already?), most of us failed to recognize that another 100-year anniversary was just around the corner.

That would be the centennial birthday of Patterson High School.

I, for one, was a little fuzzy about early school history until running across some paperwork in our downtown museum. Here’s a summary.

A grammar school district was approved in early 1911, a little more than a year after the community of Patterson was founded. A $25,000 building was erected the same year.

Then, in early 1913, a high school district was approved 129-16 by the voters, and a board of trustees was elected. By May of that year, a principal was hired, and it was decided to open the school in September with three grade levels taught by two teachers. (Until then, several local students attended high school in Newman.) Three years of math, English and Latin were to be offered, along with two each of Spanish, history, stenography, commercial work and bookkeeping. A fourth year would be added when needed.

Because of Patterson’s rapid early growth, the grammar school built an addition in 1913, and that’s where high school classes first met. Enrollment that fall was 45.

But before the year was over, plans had been drawn for a two-story high school building “of classic design.” A bond issue was approved in 1914, and a contract was let for $46,950. Students moved into the first building in March 1915, and the first graduating class of seven received their diplomas that June.

Now comes the question: When do we commemorate Patterson High’s centennial: In 2013, looking back on when the district was formed? In 2014, based on when construction of its first building began? Or in 2015, 100 years after the first class graduated?

I, for one, truly believe that holding an all-school centennial reunion would be a blast, an opportunity that shouldn’t be missed. I can hear the groans of those near my age who have worked hard on past community celebrations, but let me strongly suggest that the next generation step forward to plan, organize and promote “100 years under the pillars,” despite those pillars coming down in 1975.

After all, memories are better enjoyed being shared.

A good show

A gathering one morning last week at City Hall that was sponsored by the local Chamber of Commerce turned out to be highly informative.

Discussed were Patterson’s future — and more specifically, its economic growth.

Leading off the program were representatives from the Stanislaus Economic Development and Workforce Alliance, commonly referred to as the Alliance. This agency has been around for a few years but appears to have beefed up its efforts in getting out the word about its job creation and employment training in Stanislaus County.

The three Alliance speakers presented a guarded but optimistic picture of what they believe lies ahead for Patterson. The Alliance has lent several local businesses a hand and encourages others large and small, as well as job seekers, to check out its offerings by going online at

Then, Patterson City Manager Rod Butler briefed the Valentine’s Day audience on where he feels the city is heading. He mentioned new businesses already committed to opening here and answered questions ranging from Project X (still moving along) to Patterson Vegetable Co. (no word yet on closure plans).

It was exactly a year to the day after Butler started with the city, and his comments were very pertinent. He’s a good speaker and one who would make a good program for local organizations.

By the way, kudos to those few who have worked hard this past year to reorganize our Chamber of Commerce. Even without a paid secretary or manager, they’ve pulled off several good projects and deserve far greater support from our business community than they have received to date. We need a viable chamber, and their effort is to be commended.

About those 90-plusers

Another Patterson resident goes onto our list of 90-plusers. Josefa Esquivel Ochoa completed her ninth decade Feb. 8. She has lived in Patterson since 1972 after residing in Crows Landing for about 10 years. She nudges the list back up to 62.

But we lost a 90-year-old lifetime resident of Patterson, Miles Ghisletta, who died last week. He turned 90 last June 9 but wasn’t on our list, an indication that our informants must be more vigilant.

We did learn that Dora (Gustafson) Hauert turned 93 early this month, a birthday noted in style at Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church, where she is the oldest member.

From the mailbag

Mr. Swift: You used to brag about having more than 70 credit cards. What’s your present count? — Just Askin’

Dear JA: I wasn’t bragging, just pointing out the ridiculous lengths to which credit card companies go to sign up customers. I was turned down only once, that being by Bank of America. They rightly pointed out I already had enough of their cards — nine.

I’m now down to 24 Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover cards, plus three or four chain-store cards that I never use. The major card companies have stopped most of their giveaways, except one that arrived the other day offering a no-fee card with a $50 refund on the first $500 charged, and 2 percent thereafter. Hard to beat those interest rates.

To avoid the postage charge, I applied online.

More questions

Readers continue to forward questions, apparently expecting Fast Talk to supply answers. Here’s the latest:

If a parsley farmer is sued, can they garnish his wages?

Would a fly without wings be called a walk?

Can vegetarians eat animal crackers?

What do you do when you see an endangered animal eating an endangered plant?

If a deaf child signs swear words, does his mother wash his hands with soap?

I’m working on the answers.

Tidbits of info

Travelers throughout our country should be advised of the following:

n Montpelier, Vt., is the only state capital without a McDonald’s. (However, other dining accommodations are available.)

n Arizona is the only state in the continental U.S. that doesn’t go on Daylight Savings Time. (Maybe Arizonians are smarter than the rest of us.)

n More triplets are born in Nebraska than in any other state. (Well, Nebraska has to be known for something.)

For the sports fan

Manny Ramirez to the Oakland A’s? The way the A’s have handled personnel in recent years, they deserve each other.

And finally …

Let’s give the late Will Rogers one more say. After all, he almost always hit the nail squarely on the head.

“If we got one-tenth of what was promised to us in these acceptance speeches, there wouldn’t be any inducement to go to heaven.”

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

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