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DELANO RAMBLINGS: Annual Thanksgiving Day luncheon aiming to serve 1,500 plates of food

The third annual Delano Community Luncheon on Thanksgiving Day is planned Nov. 25 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. — or until the food runs out.

Anthony Martinez of Tony’s Firehouse Grill will continue the tradition started by his late father and former Delano car dealer Dalip Singh.

Martinez said that this year he is “shooting” to serve 1,500 plates after last year when he cooked for 1,000 but ended up serving 1,200 plates.

Vehicles must enter from the south on Glenwood Street, with most vehicles exiting Cecil Avenue and turning north. Entrance from County Line Road to Firehouse Grill at 502 County Line Road will not be allowed and police will help in directing traffic.

A limit of four meals per vehicle will be in effect.

Last year about 200 people volunteered for the event. This year only those 18 or older are allowed to volunteer. Those wishing to volunteer or to provide an item or cash to assist in the dinner may call Art Armendariz, the event coordinator, at 661-586-2001, or Claribel Gutierrez at 661-778-3265.

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On Oct. 16 there were three Delano High School reunions taking place in Bakersfield. I had confirmed in about March that I would attend the 1970-71 reunion, so I attended that one.

Not sure that I was at the right location, I was relieved when I noticed Ramon and Sylvia Figueroa exiting their vehicle as I parked.

I tried to look through my bifocals to see the name tags of those attending, but it was difficult to see the names, so I was asking most people their names.

One of the first I spoke to turned out to be the emcee for the event — Rolando Gadiano — who was on the Rotary Little League team that the late Monte Marshall and I coached in the 1960s.

Then Vincent Zaragoza and John Atwood, two other team members, came up to say hello. Another member of that team — Lou Perez-Leon — made a video of class members who had passed away, but he was not able to be present.

Later I was introduced by Shay DeWeese, who used to be business manager for the school newspaper that I advised, and I told how the classes had left their mark at DHS and how homecoming and the type of student lunches had changed. Another former newspaper class member, Patrice Audap, came over to talk before dinner was served.

I did not recognize Mary Galvan Diaz across the table from me until she gave the name of daughter Erin Diaz, who I recalled well. The cheer coach and I had both asked her to be head cheerleader, but she declined because she was to be student body president and did not think she could handle both jobs at the same time. I also had substituted often in classes taken by Lisa Diaz, another daughter.

Junior Flores also came over. In recent years I spoke to him often as he was a football official at some of Delano’s games. He said he had been begged to come back to officiate because of shortage of officials but said it would be hard to go back because he has a pin in his side after surgery.

I recognized one of the organizers, Mary Ellen Flores Rodriguez, because she used to work at the bank where I did business and was the mother of Toni, a young lady who was a cheerleader when I was active in the program.

Seated on one side of me was Richard Bacus, whose sister, the late Violet Rabaya, had been a leader on the Live Wire student paper and in Press Club, which I advised. Richard reported that at Delano High he had set a type of “record” as the first male cheerleader for DHS in 1969. However, I recall that a Harry Goodell in the 1930s and some other fellows in the 1940s were also cheerleaders.

People who still live in Delano and who were easy for me to recognize were Roger Gadiano and John and Toni Rafal. I also had the chance to talk to Bobby Meza, Esther Middleworth, Paul Adams and David Pinuelas. Mrs. Hoyt also came over to visit. I knew of her daughters who all participated in sports and some of whom I had in the classroom — Christina, Kimberly, Julie and Angela.

For the Class of 1970 the planning committee included Cynthia Alipio, Tony Armendariz, Judy Becerra Graviss, Leonard Gabriel and Mary Galvan Diaz.

For the Class of 1971 planners were Jimmy Aguilar, Melba Alipio Spooner, John Atwood, Renee Bangi, Esther Dominguez Castillo, Juana Dulay Castaneda, Elaine Ellebracht Covington, Mary Ellen Flores Rodriquez, Rita Miranda Agcaoili, Perez-Leon, Vickie Sarceda, Mary Ann Torrez Rosario and Nickie Tuthilll-Delute.

Like any reunion, it’s just impossible to get around to see everyone who you might know. All in all, it was a great event to attend, even though I was not a member of the classes assembled.

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For weeks I paid little attention to a sign in front of the office of Hocking Denton Palmquist on High Street across the street from the Delano Chamber of Commerce office.

A sign outside said the property was for sale, and one day I finally stopped in front of the office that faces to the north and read the sign, which said, “Relocated to Bakersfield main office, 4885 Truxtun Avenue, Suite A, Bakersfield, CA 93309, call 661-325-5971.”

I checked the Delano history book and found that in 1958 Hocking Tullsen and Company had started its business in Delano.

Richard Tullsen I knew of but am unsure if I ever met him. I did have his daughter, Karen, in school, and she was not only smart but very outgoing and pleasant. Son Dean may be the last Delano High boy to ever win a league tennis singles title. I believe there was another son, Mark, who also was successful in school.

Tom Hocking was just a great man from any perspective. His first wife before her death was Diane, who had been a classmate of mine at Delano High and the big force behind our class reunions. Daughter Cynthia was yearbook editor and a great one when I was advisor. I also had his son in a class.

Once I mentioned in this column that Delano High was seeking to raise $30,000 for a new scoreboard in the gym. Tom saw the notice and called me and said he could raise the money from his “customers” but said it might take two weeks. He was good to his word and the school gained a new scoreboard. When it was learned another $10,000 was needed, he also read that “call for help” and quickly raised that as well.

Tom was a hard worker who could be spotted by his vehicle parked behind the office at all late hours of the night. He also liked sports and played city league basketball after his arrival in Delano and also sponsored the Delano Merchants County league baseball team and was its best pitcher. When I was in my 50s he called me to invite me to play on his Hocking’s Heroes slow pitch softball team. I think team members were all in their 40s and UP. One day at a local tournament a friend approached me and remarked, “You guys are not a great team, but you sure seem to have a lot of fun.” He was right on target!!

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On Sunday, Nov. 7, we can all change our clocks to FALL BACK one hour — and gain an hour’s sleep.

It will be the end of Daylight Savings Time, which goes back into effect next spring.

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