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1961 photo sends editor on research project
• Woman photographed as a 3-year-old child in Ceres never knew about 1961 UPI image
Ceres antenna
This old United Press International photo shot in Ceres in August 1961 was offered on eBay. The Courier editor purchased it and tracked down the girl in the photo and learned the story. The description on the back read as follows: “Grounded. CERES, CALIFORNIA: Though a local TV repairman said that the ‘grounded’ antenna wouldn’t work, TV reception in the Ceres California home of Wyman Sanders is excellent these days. Tired of having the TV antenna fall off the roof all the time, Sanders jammed the well-bent antenna into the ground in his backyard. His daughter Carolyn, 3, is still puzzled by the sudden relocation of the antenna.”

I saw the photo on eBay and smelled a story – what kind of story I wasn’t sure but I was game for a challenge.

Always on the hunt for historical photos relating to Ceres’ past – if you have any please let me know – I often check out possible sources for them.

I typed “Ceres” in the search bar on eBay and noticed a photo which I saw years ago which hadn’t sold. The eBay item was titled, “1961 Child Carolyn Antenna Ceres Ca Grounded TV Repairman 7x9 Vintage Photo.” Yeah, an odd description for sure but one that makes sense once you learn more about the photo.

Not one to shell out $17.99 for an old black and white photo, I offered $10 to the seller in Germantown, Tennessee and won the auction. Shipping brought the entire cost to $14.99, but no matter, I wanted it to research for a yet-to-defined story in the Courier.

The photo was taken in the side yard of a Ceres house with a small girl perched on a short wall at the end of a covered front porch. A large ponytail fell from a band in the back of her head. She’s wearing a V-neck shirt, shorts and Vans.

Who was this Carolyn and why is she pensively looking at the ground? A somewhat mangled TV antenna is planted into the ground feet away from her. Across the street is an open field with a subdivision beyond that.

The back of the 1961 photo had a label containing the details of the photo, which was issued by UPI (United Press International). UPI was and still is an American international news agency whose newswires, photo, news film, and audio services provided news material to thousands of newspapers, magazines, radio and TV stations for most of the 20th century. At its peak, UPI had more than 6,000 media subscribers.

The narrative on the photo reads as follows: “Grounded. CERES, CALIFORNIA: Though a local TV repairman said that the ‘grounded’ antenna wouldn’t work, TV reception in the Ceres California home of Wyman Sanders is excellent these days. Tired of having the TV antenna fall off the roof all the time, Sanders jammed the well-bent antenna into the ground in his backyard. His daughter Carolyn, 3, is still puzzled by the sudden relocation of the antenna.”

Carolyn doesn’t look puzzled at all; she’s not even looking at the antenna or the photographer, whoever he was. 

The photo was dated 8/29/61, which ironically was 12 days after my birth in Japan. So if Carolyn was three in 1961, today she’d be about 65 – retirement age.

Curiosity has been one of my hallmarks. So now I have a lot of questions without answers. While most people could care less some things, I wonder about details.

Probably most puzzling is why did the photographer take this photo in the first place? I fully understand the meaning of a “slow news day” but why was this image put out on the wire? And if Carolyn was living, had she ever seen or known about this photo? Secondly, who was Carolyn and is she still living? Thirdly, where is this house and is it still standing? Are homes filling the once vacant field across the street?

Where do you start on an investigation like this? The internet, of course, where I found the photo. After all, the name of Wyman Sanders is not exactly a common name so it wouldn’t be that difficult.

Googling “Wyman Sanders Ceres” led me to an obituary of his wife, Doris Lorraine Sanders, who passed away Feb. 7, 2019. I hit a bonanza of family information but lacking much about Wyman himself, who had died years before Doris. Since Doris is buried in Lakewood Memorial Park, I decided to hunt to see if I could pinpoint Wyman’s date of death. In seconds I would learn that Wyman Sanders died Feb. 14, 1989 at age 67.

Doris’ obituary opened my eyes to her whole life experience that wove a picture of education and music and travel:

“Doris Lorraine Mosier Sanders, the eldest daughter of Frank and Marie Mosier, was born on November 14, 1918, at the old Mosier Ranch on Wellsford Road situated east of Empire. She celebrated her 100th birthday in November 2018 with a family party. Doris attended Empire Union schools, graduated from Modesto High, spent two years at Modesto Junior College, then graduated in 1941 with a teaching credential from San Jose State. She began her teaching career in Hickman.

“Doris’ love of music began in the fourth grade with private violin lessons. Professor Mancini was her mentor. When she was a high school sophomore she joined the Modesto Symphony and in 1937 was a student soloist. She also gave private violin lessons as soon as she could drive and continued to provide lessons after classes while she attended San Jose State.

“In 1942, during WWII, the 47th General Hospital arrived in Modesto to train at the Hammond General Hospital before going overseas as a Field Hospital. Doris met her future husband, Wyman Sanders, Sr. at a USO dance while he was training there. They married in July, 1943. He shipped out overseas with the Field Hospital and served in New Guinea for two years. 

“At the end of the war, Doris and Wyman moved to his home state of Mississippi. Four of their five children were born there; the fifth child was born in Texas. While in Mississippi, Doris joined the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra, and when they moved to Texas, she joined the Austin Symphony Orchestra. She reveled in the Texas group with concerts every two weeks once the season began and the children’s concert once a month.

“When Doris returned from Texas, she renewed her teaching career. She taught instrumental music and chorus, in addition to other subjects at Empire and Ceres schools, then in Modesto at El Vista and Rose Avenue. She retired from teaching in 1979.

“Doris also rejoined the Modesto Symphony and after about a year, she was promoted to Assistant Concert Master, a position she held for 10 years during the 1960s. Eventually, Doris resigned due to health, later returning to play again with the Modesto group. Then she joined the Stanislaus State Symphony for about 15 years, even touring Japan with them. After retiring, Doris organized and played in two string quartets with other women from the symphony. Additionally, for seven summers she also played in conductor training orchestras in Asilomar, California and Colorado. These summer programs were designed to improve the orchestra conductors’ skills. Music is in the family as Doris’ children all studied music when in college and many of her also play instruments.

“Doris loved to travel with her husband, oftentimes in their motor home. In the United States, they traveled to all 50 states and her world travels included Europe, Scandinavia, Australia, Morocco, Spain, Italy, Greece, Panama Canal, Japan, Canada and Russia.”

The final paragraph of the extensive obituary contained a listing of survivors and confirmation that yes, that little girl in the photo, Carolyn, was still living as of 2019. Her name was now Carolyn Sanders McGuire. Her siblings were Wyman Sanders, Jr., Linda Sanders McCarver, Nancy Sanders Ayala and Richard Craig Sanders.

Finding her contact information would prove more challenging. One website I use would confirm her home address – in Ceres.

I decided to wait to receive the photo in the mail before seeking her out, maybe knock on her door to see if I could first surprise her and secondly, if I could fill out the “rest of the story” as legendary radio personality Paul Harvey used to say.

While the photo was in the mail, I struck out in an effort to obtain the address of the home in the photo. A trip to the Modesto Library to check out the 1960 and 1961 city directories was futile since it showed a W. Sanders in Ceres with a P.O. Box and no physical address.

I received the photo. On Thursday I decided to drop by the house off of Morgan Road and hopefully somebody would answer.

I could hear the front door opening and it was Ronald McGuire. I explained who I was and why I wanted to know if Carolyn was living there. He told me Carolyn was his wife.


I quickly went into the details of the photo as I pulled it of the envelope to show him. I’m sure he was relieved that I wasn’t a salesman, in fact I wanted to give Carolyn the photo.

He fetched Carolyn who came to the door.

She had never seen the photo before and laughed to see her sitting on the porch. She told me the house was gone and exactly where it once sat – on the southwest corner of Lawrence and Tenth streets. 

Now things were making sense. The vacant lot that was across the street in 1961 is now filled by duplexes and the Ceres Villas Apartments.

Wait a second!

Carolyn’s mention of a chicken ranch being to the east triggered a thought that, holy smokes, I have an aerial photo that Don Cool gave me that showed that area in the 1950s or 1960s. When I pulled it up on my computer, sure enough, the old Sanders farm house is plainly visible at the corner with chicken houses across the road.

The photographer was obviously shooting toward the northwest. The homes in the background of the “Carolyn photo,” beyond the vacant ground, must be the homes on Kay Street and Standford Avenue. Later I rolled by there and every house in the photo are still standing. The windows and fireplaces all match up.

Mystery solved.

Carolyn told me that her father was a real estate agent who had an office on McHenry Avenue in Modesto and she attended Ceres Grammar School down Lawrence Street.  

Carolyn remembers the time that a drunken driver ended up driving through the yard in a circular fashion. The aerial photo shows Tenth Street did not exist north of Lawrence Street.

In the 1960s, the Sanders’s moved from Ceres to Skylane Way in Modesto when she was in the fourth grade. In a strange coincidence, I learned that in the 1960s Carolyn grew up in a house about 1,000 feet as the crow flies from where I lived from 1966 to 1971.

Carolyn explained that her mother drove her to Ceres so she could finish her fourth grade in the same school. Carolyn graduated from Davis High School in 1976. 

Forty-five years ago she married Ron and they raised three kids. She also worked at Kmart for a bit as well as the McHenry Mervyn’s store (now Hobby Lobby) and at other odd jobs.

Carolyn and Ronald moved to Ceres in 2008 from Patterson after concluding it had grown too big for their liking.

As we stood on their porch, she recounted how her mother was a talented violinist. All in the family – including her mom, her and her two brothers and two sisters – played a musical instrument and “used to play every Christmas.” Doris was 100 when she passed away.

As far as the antenna is concerned, Carolyn remembers being told to go out and turn the antenna while the parent monitored inside for the clearest TV signal from Sacramento. Kids these days don’t know about that – nor about the black and white sets that had the crappiest picture compared to the 4K flat screens of today. Nor about having to go down to test the tubes that would fail and render the TV dead.

I thanked Carolyn for chatting and went on my way, realizing how much time has passed and changed everything – some things for the better and some things not.

No doubt a three-year-old might be sitting on the porch these days holding a cell phone and lacking the imagination to play like my generation did.

This could be probably the most unusual piece I’ve written in my 35 years at the Courier but I think Paul Harvey would be proud of me for finding the “rest of the story” that all came from a find on eBay.

UPI arrow
This aerial photo shows the farmhouse where the Sanders family lived in 1961 and the chicken ranch on the east side of Tenth and Lawrence Streets. It has been leveled and replaced. The homes along Standford and Kay streets (at left) are the same ones in the background of the 1961 UPI photo. - photo by Photo contributed by Don Cool
Carolyn Sanders McGuire
Carolyn Sanders McGuire was tracked down last week and given the 1961 photo of herself on the family porch.