Closet cleaning an occasion for reminiscence
by Ron Swift | Patterson Irrigator
Mar 21, 2013 | 935 views | 0 0 comments | 46 46 recommendations | email to a friend | print
When many of us get to a certain age, we circle the wagons, contemplate the past and begin to clean out the closets.

The time has come, we tell ourselves, to take inventory and plan for the dwindling future.

Our efforts bring about considerable reminiscing. What we find in the closets, in the back of drawers or boxed up in the garage brings back many memories, as it should.

At our house, HM (Housemate) asked me to assist in cleaning out one hall closet. Just one. It required about half a day.

There were the stuffed animals dating back more than 40 years. Their owners were contacted and given notice that their stuffed ones could be reclaimed within a reasonable period or donated to Bertolotti Disposal.

Then there were our phonograph record collections that predated our wedding 50 years ago. We certainly couldn’t part with those, especially after finding the ancient turntable (no, it wasn’t a wind-up) on which they could be played. (Those 78 rpms are so cool!)

We certainly won’t have to purchase Christmas wrapping paper for at least the next 15 years.

And the closet gained considerable “open space” with the disposal of no small pile of clothing items that should have gone bye-bye years ago. That left a large box of hangers what went to the local cleaners for recycling.

Three kitchen chairs that surely have antique value also came into view as we worked our way into the closet.

Out the door went a variety of long-unused curtain rods, plus other odds and ends that shouldn’t have been saved way back then.

That was just one closet. We have four more, plus numerous drawers, and of course the garage. And many, many shelves of books, knickknacks and family heirlooms.

Plus an ancient cedar chest, and — well.

Somewhere in one of the above locations is my nearly 70-year-old cap pistol. It has the distinction of never losing at Cops and Robbers, and for that reason alone has historic value.

Unfortunately, at one time in my younger years I painted the barrel silver (original color lost in memory), and therefore its value as an antique is much reduced.

When the pistol is found, I'll have the tough decision of what to do with it.

But I’m not telling you anything you don’t already realize. Many of you may face the same decisions.

Leaving these piles of the past to the next generation would be cruel and inhuman punishment. If we can only get rid of 10 percent of it now —

Time to remember

Remember the student craze of eating goldfish? How about young people competing at stuffing themselves into telephone booths and VW bugs? Or riding miles on bed frames?

Fifty years ago this spring, it was 50-mile walkathons that spread across the nation. And the first in the Central Valley was organized by the Block P Club at Patterson High.

Shop teacher Jack Kolln was the club’s adviser, and he didn’t shirk from the challenge. Kolln, along with 10 club members, one Saturday started at the circle at 5:30 a.m. They headed east on Las Palmas Avenue, hoofing it on Crows Landing Road all the way into Modesto, and then turned around and came home.

Did all 11 of these stalwarts complete the full 54 miles? No, but Bob Callahan, Eloy Ramirez and John Kinnear did. Callahan finished in an excellent time of 14 and a half hours, about 60 minutes ahead of the other two. To show off, Callahan reportedly sprinted the last couple of blocks.

Finishing the required 50 miles were Kolln and Bob Mears, who accepted a 4-mile ride. Steve Hall and Rick Zarcone logged 47 miles; Jerry Howell and Mike Germolus made it 44 miles; and Steve Adams and Tom Jepson finished 34.

Not to be outdone by the boys, eight high school seniors hoofed their way to Newman and back, recording about 30 miles. They all finished: Cheryl Pedroni, Kathy Hector, Betti Reis, Carolyn Abbey, Linda Manetti, Diana Leon, AFS student Bea Meyerhans and Carol Deri.

And I can’t leave out six other Pattersonites who made the trip on foot to Crows Landing and back. They were Bea English, Nancy Parros, Geri Pedroni, Bonnie Nordell, Kathy Nordell and Darnell Parros.

And then there were pole-sitting and dance marathons. Any others?

A recommendation

I hate to add to our already overburdened school system, but I know of no other solution.

A subject needs to be taught on gum chewing, starting in the first grade and continuing through high school. The final exam would be to demonstrate the proper disposal of said gum.

If not, in a few generations, our sidewalks may be higher than our storefronts.

She turned 90

We have it from a reliable source that longtime Patterson resident and retired teacher Phyllis Stephens recently turned 90, upping our list to 66. Let’s break into song.

Class called to order

These weekly educational sessions are designed to greatly increase the knowledge of our readers, especially in areas where their education may be lacking. To wit:

•The dime has 118 ridges around its edge.

•A crocodile cannot stick out its tongue.

•Butterflies taste with their feet.

•Maine is the only state with one syllable.

•There are 293 ways to make change from a dollar.

You’re welcome. No charge.

For the sports fan

Explain to me, if you can: How can a team representing the Netherlands make the semifinals of the World Baseball Classic and the United States, with its high-salaried professionals, not do so?


And finally…

Don’t know how it looks to you, but my eyes tell me those walls out at Amazon are one inch out of line bottom to top.

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

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