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Pondering 30 years at Courier, life
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Traci Farris with the city of Ceres Recreation Division asked me to contribute some photographs to adorn the walls of the Ceres Community Center for January. I picked through some of my best work in recent years.

I could have chosen landscapes. Instead, I chose meaningful shots of Ceres residents during several functions. Seven 11" x 14" photos will be up on the walls for a month. One of the photos depicts World War II veteran Tom Dimperio at the Memorial Day celebration in 2015. He's being embraced by a woman and Tom looks overcome with emotion. Behind him is World War II veteran Jack Marshall, who died this last year.

Tom Dimperio is the only World War II veteran I know of today still living in Ceres. Because I knew many over the years, I find that very sad. Now the Korean War veterans are the old men, and some of the Vietnam War veterans are right behind them.

It was a remarkable generation, fast disappearing from the earth.

Let us not forget.

* * * * *

Cambria Pollinger of the city Rec also asked me to write a biography to go with my photos. It was at that moment that it dawned on me that 2017 will be my 30th anniversary with the Ceres Courier. Unbelievable. When I stopped to think how many editions of the Courier I produced, the estimation of the number came to 1,563. However, that number could be underestimated a great deal because for a while in the 1990s we produced two issues a week.

Again, unbelievable.

* * * * *

I was having lunch with my mother in Atwater last week when one of the officers who were dining in the Almond Tree Restaurant was standing at the counter to pay.

I couldn't help but study the bulky bulletproof vest and gun and other equipment and stare, wondering what it must be like to be the one who rushes into situations where a life could be lost in an instant. Our world is a crazy one where anyone wearing a badge is the target of misguided lunatics. He could be pulling over a dirt-bag in a stolen car in one instant, dead on the ground in the next. Then the officer whose name we are not familiar with suddenly becomes a celebrated area hero, a martyr.

We know the names all too well.

Howie Stevenson.

Earl Scott.

Dennis Wallace.

Most police officers are good, decent people who just want to do their job and go home at night to their families. Stevenson, Scott and Wallace were all good, decent people and unfortunately two of the three assassins are still breathing.

I'm thankful there are men and women who still want to do the job after we lost 138 of them in our country last year alone.

* * * * *

My grandmother died a year ago, leaving behind a rich legacy of 96 years. She also left an entire house of accumulated items that my uncle - the only sibling left who has the strength - has to go through.

Recently I entered the house after not visiting for a year. I was told to get what I wanted as everything in the house is going with the house to the next owner. My grandparents were products of the Depression and threw away nothing. The house is filled with clothing and other assorted items that really have no value. The house is a mess. Granddaddy's bedroom was left as it as the day he entered a rest home in 2006 never to return. In the room are ties and musty smelling clothes and dusty old books. Nana left the house in November 2016 and never returned. The stove still has grease on it.

I went to the cupboard and found four metal cups that I want to keep. A flood of memories came with them as I remembered drinking ice cold sodas from them in the 1960s. Dinged and flawed, they survived their glass counterparts of a half century ago. They survive like my memories survive.

Odd, isn't it, how people and things disappear but memories outlast them all. Someday there will be a reunion, I am convinced, for they passed onto me a great faith that promises a restoration and salvation.

* * * * *

I received the sweetest letter tucked away inside of a Christmas card. She is probably my biggest fan and I was blushing from her praises by the end of it. You know who you are, W.S.! I just haven't got around to answering you yet but you made my day!

She wrote that she can't wait to see my latest excursion to Pawn Stars.

I have no idea when my episode will air again but the one featuring the JFK letter took six months to air. I was told that some of the shows are backed up a full year.

I love watching the History Channel but I now have an insider's understanding of reality shows. Reality shows are not as real as one might think. Here's an example. Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz of American Pickers came to Oakdale in March and the episode, "Scrappy Go Lucky" ran for the first time on June 8. I was watching the scene where Mike and Frank are driving their van down the road to the Oakdale gig and noticed the background switched all over the place. It was supposed to be one continuous conversation yet they're going westbound on F Street near the H-B Saloon, then eastbound in front of the hat shop, then I spot Atchison Veterinary in Riverbank, then they're cruising around in the foothills out of Oakdale. It was obvious that it was a heavily diced up edit.

If you think Mike and Frank travel the highways and bi-ways of the USA in that Antique Archeology van, think again. I know because Mike posted a photo on his Facebook page showing him asleep in the back of an RV as it was traveling down Highway 99 near Pixley. An RV!

Back to Pawn Stars. I took another autographed treasure to the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop. My scene was with the same two who did my 2014 scene - Rick Harrison and autograph expert Steve Grad. In a slow moment I turned to Grad and asked if he remembered me. He did. "You had the JFK letter, didn't you?" Absolutely, I told him. I then looked at Harrison and asked if he remembered me and in a somewhat disregarding manner he said, "Naw, I don't remember you. I've done 400 of these shows so I can't remember everyone." I appeared in Season 10, in the "Break Room Brawl" episode. I was embarrassed to see the way they edited my responses. After Grad says my letter was worth about $10,000, I seem to give Harrison a long death stare, like it was on and I was out of blood. That's not the way it went down.

My episode was number 328. Harrison had shot 75 episodes since then. I couldn't believe he didn't remember me but then again he's a big bad TV star.

Wondering if I should give Survivor a shot?

Do you have any feedback about this column? Let Jeff know by emailing him at He will read it, promise.