Fast Talk Another ceremony apporoaches
by Ron Swift for the Patterson Irrigator
May 03, 2012 | 481 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Ron Swift
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Twenty-five years ago this month, San Francisco celebrated the 50th anniversary of the opening of its famed Golden Gate Bridge. It was a major blowout.

And right here at home the same year, Patterson had the opportunity to celebrate the 50th birthday of the Las Palmas bridge over the San Joaquin River east of town. We blew it.

I wrote about our local bridge anniversary 25 years ago, back in May 1987:

“The bridge was of major importance to Pattersonites (when constructed back in 1937). It meant they no longer had to zip to either Crows Landing or Grayson to get across the river. It meant that a trip to Modesto no longer took the better part of the day.”

I suggested a 50th-birthday ceremony in which the bridge would be closed for a few minutes, allowing locals to amble across on foot after the ribbon was cut. There surely would be no shortage of politicos to expound on the glory of the structure and how it allowed West Siders to be a part of Stanislaus County. And with Chamber of Commerce involvement (both Patterson and Turlock), bands, flags, pretty girls —

I even came up with a name for the celebration: Fiftieth Anniversary Celebration of the Bridge Across the River — FAC BAR, for short. Because the bridge in 1937 wasn’t completed until fall, we had a few months to plan the big event.

All celebrations of this type demand a committee, and I suggested that volunteer FAC BAR doers-and-shakers meet on a certain Friday at 5 p.m. at the boat ramp just north of the bridge to plan the big event. As I recall, I was the only one to show up and thus became chairman of the event.

Then the following fall came the big day. It was a Thursday, if memory serves me correctly. So, with ribbon and scissors in hand, at the appropriate time, I headed out East Las Palmas Avenue to the bridge.

To shorten the story, let me say that parking wasn’t a problem. Mine was the only vehicle. On the bridge’s west end, I looked both ways, tied the ribbon to each side, stepped to the middle and snipped it in half.

Mine was the only hand clap, and I proclaimed the ceremony to be a whopping success, if not a trifle solemn.

That said, we’ve now moved forward 25 years, and our Las Palmas bridge is about to turn 75. So let me proclaim here and now that next fall, SFAC BAR will add further glory to our favorite river crossing. I’ll keep you posted on the date.

A good program

From all reports, presentation of PREP projects and accompanying interviews at Patterson High School last week was a rousing success. The dozens of volunteer members from the community who served on the boards during the interviewing were in general very much impressed.

This was the 13th year of the Patterson Required Exit Program, and it obviously continues to improve.

Smoking salaries

You might have read these figures in the Chron and possibly were as astounded as I was.

More than a third of the city of San Francisco’s 26,182 employees earned more than $100,000 this past year. In fact, the average wage was $93,229.

The list was topped by the Muni chief whose contract was bought out. That cost $567,000 in round figures.

Next came a retiring police captain at $539,000 in salary, back overtime and unused sick, vacation and comp time. His annual pension will come to $140,000.

Six others in the police department, the deputy director of investing for the retirement system, and the fire chief all had to put down in excess of $300,000 on their tax returns. Although the fire department is understaffed, 108 firefighters earned more than $200,000, as did 44 in the police department.

In all, 254 of San Francisco’s city employees were each paid more than 200 grand in 2011.

No wonder balancing the budget is a tough go in San Fran.

Time for a test

The recent educational offerings in this column have reached the point where it’s now time for a test, so get out your pencil and paper and answer the following questions.

1. What was the best thing before sliced bread?

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

3. Can an atheist get insurance against act of God?

This is a self-grading test, assuming that all Fast Talk readers are honest. Well, aren’t you?

From the mail bag

Mr. Swift: You regularly rant against cellphones . Under what circumstances would you ever consider getting a cell? — Technically Astute

Dear TA: When I recently turned 75, I threw vanity to the wind and acquired hearing aids. At age 150, I might consider a cellphone, but no promises.

Wise suggestion

An Amish carriage being pulled by a team of horses had this sign on the back:

“Energy Efficient Vehicle: Runs on oats and grass. Caution: Do not step in exhaust.”

,b>For the sports fan

To be an ardent baseball fan in Kansas City these days, you have to show great patience.

The Royals are 0-10 at home so far this season, while 6-5 on the road going into Tuesday’s game at Detroit.

Three straight sweeps at home is enough to challenge the ardor of any fan.

And finally…

Sign in the front yard of a funeral home:

“Drive carefully. We’ll wait.”

And you do the same. Have a great weekend.

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

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