Gary Girard

Gary Girard.

A memorial gathering for the late Vern McCorkle, a Delano High School teacher for 42 years, took place July 21 at the Delano High cafeteria.

For family and friends there were memories from pictures on the screen presented by daughter Terri and then several people spoke at the microphone or from the audience to relate their memories of the longtime teacher, later school board member, husband, father and friend.

One of the most inspiring was one from a former student who lived with the family for a period of time and related how Vern and wife Ann and children all made her a part of the family

One of the notes on the screen reported his favorite activity was “talking to ex-students,” and many of his friends/colleagues called him a “living legend.” Ann even suggested that maybe Elmer’s Drive-Inn, one of his favorite stops, could name a hamburger after him.

There were so many people present that I could never remember them all. They include current high school district Superintendent Dr. Terri Nuckols and past Superintendent Sherrill Hufnagel.

Others I noted were former school employees Eloise Carrillo, now a school board member; Dwaine Rose and June Sinner, Doris Teasley, whose husband was a high school teacher and counselor; board member Arnold Morrison; former student Suzanne Villaruz; and personal acquaintances Gail (Escalona) and Max Bacerra.

On an invitation from Bacerra, several dancers from the United Filipino Organization at the three local public high schools, performed a Filipino dance. Bacerra, now a developer out of Bakersfield, remembered how McCorkle stepped up to become adviser of the UFO at Delano High so that the organization could continue. To this day, the UFO is one of the outstanding organizations at all three high schools. When first begun, the club’s annual Homecoming decorated car won something like 16 first places in the annual parade.

After the luncheon, I spoke briefly with the former Becky Vigil who now resides in Porterville, and then a gentleman who introduced himself to me as a brother to Parveen Sra. Parveen and Sandra (Munoz) Rivera were co-editors of the 16th and last yearbook that I advised at Delano High. They were both such excellent editors that I would have stayed on in the post if I had known I could yearly have qualified leaders as they were. Sra’s mom was also a teacher’s aide at Delano High and then at Cesar E. Chavez High before her retirement. I spoke to the McCorkle children whom I all had in class and also with Sandra Evans who lived with her sister, Ann. Sandra Evans was always a delight in journalism class and was student body secretary one year and ASB president her senior year.

Sitting at the table during the presentations were June Sinner, my longtime friends Stu and Joan Collins, and Delano High graduate Antonette Cortez and her husband. Antonette, whom I never had in class, was a daughter of my longtime friend Frank (Bear) Cortez who passed away in the spring.

Antonette said she had thought about me for a period of time, wondering if I could find a picture of her that showed her winning an art award sometime between 1974 and 1976. I have bad news. The following day, a Sunday, I hunted through Delano Record editions from September through December from 1974, 1975 and 1976 and I could not find that picture! I may have skipped over it accidentally, or it may be that the old News of Delano or the one-year newspaper published by the Parsons family had contained that picture and not the Record. My four hours of searching were futile.

I did find lots of reports that were of interest to me. I saw two photos of my daughter when she was a youngster, one of the photos with my son included. There were also numerous sports stories that I believe I had written, and tons of stories over a period of time about Delano’s Harvest Holidays.

I wanted to mention Harvest Holidays because that is an organization which I am now playing a small role with and noticing that hardly any local people wish to take part in keeping the festival’s tradition alive — maybe just a half dozen present at meetings. Almost all are women, and there are key roles that men are needed to fill.

When the festival is mentioned, people almost unanimously suggest a carnival. I do not know all the facts, but I am aware of some of the difficulties of having a carnival.

The festival always follows the Kern County Fair. One year Delano festival leaders contacted nearly 20 carnival groups and only one or two showed interest because they could make much more money elsewhere.

I was told by one past Harvest leader that the festival insurance was $300, but with a carnival it jumped to $1,900. When the carnival was held at Memorial Park, there were numerous fees and licenses that were required by Kern County. And the county and city each took a fee from each ticket sold for carnival rides.

The festival also was required to have — I’m not sure if it was a policeman or security person — or both - for each 50 or 100 people who attended. That could mean a dozen or more security people to pay for an extended period of time when often the festival crowd was “large” only for an hour or two, but the cost factor remained constant — high! Weather is also a concern because if attendance is poor, there is no way to have a crowd that will cover certain built-in expenses.

I know that the local Cinco de Mayo ran into problems when for several successive years famed boxer Julio “Cesar” Chavez slated boxing matches the Saturday night of that weekend, and that pulled a large crowd away. Another Saturday of Cinco de Mayo, the crowd was small because a private outside organization was throwing a free concert that Saturday night at the Cesar Chavez High's stadium and giving away something like $1,000 every hour.

When certain events conflict with the Harvest festival and Cinco de Mayo weekend, that just “kills” the activities that have been planned for — and also paid for — over a long period of planning time.

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In the Bakersfield newspaper, I noticed a recent Sunday item about Tlo Wines, grown since 2008 and founded by Andy Zaninovich whose family runs Delano’s Jasmine Vineyards. The article mentioned that wife Kathleen, son Adam and daughter Avery were all associated with the business.

I knew of Andy in high school and had his late brother Vincent on a Rotary Little League team that I coached with Monte Marshall back in the 60s.

Kathleen was always one of my favorite yearbook editors because she was always on top of everything and willing to put in lots of hours without being forced to do so.

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Another article in The Californian by sportswriter Trevor Horn suggests that only varsity football games be played on Friday nights and that JV and freshman (or frosh-sophs in some schools) be played on Thursday nights and/or Wednesday night to allow later game starts to avoid the heat — though sometimes it’s hot even until late hours!

That was an interesting suggestion and one that the article said was supported by officiating crews.

I have a couple of other ideas that probably are more controversial.

The article claimed that the early start of fall sports by the state CIF was “in line with the earlier start of school.” It was agreed that in the Central Valley it is a more troublesome idea because of the August and September and even October heat in the San Joaquin Valley.

As it is now, Delano High, for example, has three of its 10 games scheduled for Thursday. The only home game of the bunch was set for Thursday to avoid conflict with the other two schools in Delano having home games the same Friday night. There is one Thursday night game in Porterville and one in Tulare, due to the fact that Tulare and Porterville have only one stadium shared by three high schools.

The article suggested that JV games be played on Thursday and freshman games on Wednesday. In the case of Delano’s varsity games having to be on Thursday, that would be JV games Wednesday and freshman games Tuesday. That would be a really confusing situation for practices and coaches and players moving their game days around.

I suggest that games start one week later in the fall and that instead of 16-team fields in the playoffs, that there be eight-team fields in each division — a savings of one week of competition.

Some of the divisions do not have 16 teams in them and thus there are numerous byes the first playoff Friday. Besides, maybe eliminating the teams ranked ninth or lower would mean more competitive games.

Yes, there would be great concern about which team is eighth and in the playoffs and which is ninth and not in the playoffs. But that exists now in some of the 16-team fields.

Placement in divisions for the playoffs are decided one year and are in effect for two or more years. I’m not sure which it is, but how about allowing teams to play their first five or six games, then having CIF meet to move schools around in divisions to make things more equitable. The fact that a team is a powerhouse one season or weak one season does not mean that the same team two years later will be in the same position as to strength.

The early start to winter sports — basketball and soccer plus wrestling — and the one week earlier end to the season will create other problems. Most leagues will have to begin league play in December, then take a winter break and return to league in early January.

I feel especially for soccer since in the past, many Delano athletes have gone with their families to Mexico for a long winter break and then returned in January — but not specifically in time for the resumption of league play. These “split” seasons of winter sports will definitely be a headache for schools, coaches, players, and fans.

This fall, the first for the early start of athletic seasons, could be a disaster. We will have to see.

Gary Girard is a longtime resident of Delano. He can be reached at 661-725-8803.

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