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DELANO RAMBLINGS: Youth Foundation serves hundreds of meals at fundraiser

Nearly 400 take-out meals were served April 9 in a Delano Youth Foundation fundraiser prepared by members of the Delano Elks Lodge and served from the club’s parking lot.

Proceeds from the fundraiser combined with funds from sponsors of the take-out meal and memberships in the Youth Foundation for 2021 will fund the foundation’s programs, including two scholarships each to be presented at the three public high schools of Delano.

Major sponsors of the take-out event were Sevier’s Auto Supply and Don Hiett.

Other sponsors were Lionel Beyer, Central Valley Almond Association, Delano City Employees Association, Delano Tiger basketball, Delano Kiwanis Club, Matt Pandol, Jr., Tony’s Pizza, BHK Accountancy Corp., Chris Caratan, Joan and Stu Collins, Delano Farms Co., Fastrip #35-797, JR Regan Farms, Juan and Elvia Mendez, Styrotek, Inc., Trophies Etc., in memorium of Janice M. Zaninovich, C&H Fence and Patio, Cartnal family, Cadena family, Serna family, Saunders family, DADD, Delano Golf Management Group, Greg’s Petroleum Service, Greg and Maria Hirokawa, Kern Ag Labor Management, Andrew Pandol, Tony’s Firehouse, Twiford Farms, and American Ag Inc.

There are currently 113 members of the Youth Foundation, above last year’s number of 77 but below the hoped-for goal of 200. Others wishing to join for 2021 may mail $25 checks to Delano Youth Foundation, PO Box 135, Delano, CA 93216.

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Delano Elks Lodge has resumed its Wednesday takeout lunches. Days in advance persons may call Tonky Zaninovich, 725-1761, to reserve a meal.

Zaninovich also reports that he will be furnishing information on the local Elks scholarship that will be available to seniors locally who apply before the deadline.

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In future Ramblings columns prior to the summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan, I will recall memories of Lon Spurrier and Leamon King, both of who graduated from Delano High School and were among 51 track and field athletes from the USA who took part in the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne, Australia.

Spurrier was one of six children of John Spurrier, a bus driver for the high school, and mom Golda, who ran a laundromat.

Oldest sibling Louis Spurrier starred in athletics at DHS and then was football center and captain at then Visalia Junior College and later at San Jose State.

Brother Norman, who also took part in prep sports, went on to become the first big home subdivision developer in Visalia.

Sister Frances Spurrier married former McFarland High and Cal Davis football star Duane Damron, who later coached Bakersfield College linemen for more than 30 years.

Sister Vivian, who was Delano’s 1953 Harvest Holidays queen, married Robert Hiett, and they lived together on a farm before she died at a young married age from illness.

Youngest of the Spurriers was John, who I taught in seventh grade at Cecil Avenue School and who took part in track before his 1965 graduation from Delano High.

Lon Spurrier and fellow three-sport athlete Nolan Shaffer (retired from administrative position in the admissions department at Cal State Bakersfield and living in Bakersfield) shared student body leadership, Spurrier as first-semester president and second-semester vice-president, switching off with Shaffer.

Spurrier was a star running back on the football team and center on the basketball team. He played three years as a baseball outfielder, but as his senior baseball season approached, he noted that the starting outfield all returned, and so he switched to track to help him prepare for football at Cal Berkeley.

When Spurrier reported to track coach Dan Della, he elected to run the sprints. But when eighth grader Leamon King crossed Cecil Avenue to run against Spurrier in practice, King won the race, and Della suggested to Spurrier that he run longer distances like the 440 and 880. Spurrier placed sixth in the state meet 440, a solid performance for a first-year trackster.

When Spurrier arrived at Cal and planned to take part in football, he was snatched up by track coach Brutus Hamilton, who had seen him in the state meet, and the rest was history for Spurrier. He ran outstanding 880 distances and 440 and in relays while at Cal. In 1955 he was on summer vacation relaxing on the Baja beaches in Mexico when Hamilton called him and begged him to run in a Berkeley meet to give the meet some stardom.

Spurrier with little training did return to the Cal track and ran a then-world record 1:47.5 for the half-mile run.

Spurrier running for Cal and King running for Delano High represented their schools four years at the Fresno West Coast Relays among other meets, and I was fortunate to see them both over those four years as I was a 1954 graduating classmate of King’s.

February of 2001 the Almond Tree Middle School in Delano dedicated its athletic facilities in the name of King, who was a teacher there.

At the dedication and writing a column about King was Robert Price, still a weekly columnist for The Californian.

Price told of an incident when King and friends on the track team ran into a racist situation at a Bakersfield malt shop, but Price noted that at Cecil Avenue School King was voted by classmates as student body president.

I remember well that election because I ran against King for the presidency. I recall not being too upset that I lost because I knew that King was not only the best athlete in the class in football, basketball and track but was also an accomplished saxophonist with the school band and well-liked because of his personality.

I read this past summer an old Delano Record article quoting his mother in a July article after his high school graduation that Leamon (by the way, it is pronounced Leamon as in DEMON) had not yet chosen a college to attend.

I always wondered if he chose Cal Berkeley because that’s where his friend Spurrier had gone or if there was another reason.

I also spotted an article from that summer’s (1954) Delano Record stating that a famous four-sport UCLA alumnus had called King, trying to convince him to attend UCLA. That 15-minute phone call was from Jackie Robinson!!

I wrote articles about King for the Delano Record and for the school paper and gained much information about the two Olympians from my mom’s boss, dentist Dr. Clifford Loader. Every time I went for a tooth checkup or teeth cleaning, Dr. Loader would tell me all sorts of information about both track stars.

Dr. Loader was Delano’s mayor for 16 years, was first president when National Bank of Agriculture opened in Delano in about 1963, and served as a bank director in Daley City and also was president for a term of the California League of Cities.

Loader told me (as I had cotton stuffed in my mouth) that at the Olympics in Australia that he and Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley were introduced to the mayor of Melbourne, who asked Bradley how many Olympic track athletes were from LA and he responded ONE, and then he asked Loader who, beaming, responded TWO from Delano.