Reflection is what this column has been about since its debut in 2011. Here, then, are 7 of my fave highlights from the 46 “Back in the Day” columns I wrote in 2013:
1.Paying tribute to my wonderful former Baskin-Robbins bosses, Mary Minakata and Elsie Nakamura.
2.Learning about the first Mr. Jelly Belly, David Klein.
3. Setting the record straight for Eddie Kim McGee, who cracked a home run when he was in high school only to have a picture of him mislabeled in the yearbook for all time as having missed it.
4. Launching a series of columns that are written snapshots of local residents, called “Ordinary Folk History.” The first two were about Judy Anderson Engell and Abe Bautista. I got the idea for them when I had breakfast with longtime Fairfielder Chuck Apple. Unfortunately, Chuck got sick and died before I could do one on him. They are all now dedicated to his memory.
5. Doing columns on Vicky Valentine Proud, the girl who played high school football, and Judy Emerson Gosselin, whose family lived in the old jail when her father was the Solano County undersheriff.
6. Launching another series called “Local History Resources,” with the first highlighting the Local History section at the Civic Center library branch and the second the Solano County Archives.
7. In April, going from biweekly to every Friday.
One of the things I am most happy about is including remembrances from past and present local residents in “Back in the Day.” To date, not counting some that I have quoted numerous times, that numbers more 200 people. Here are some quotes from this past year:
Jan. 4: “Echoes of the Waterman Park Federal Housing Project”
Al Cacioppo: “My wife’s grandmother, Ruby Bickel, lived there until the late 1960s. I vividly remember the smell of fried chicken on a Sunday afternoon wafting through the summer air – kinda like a Johnny Cash song. Some of us young people thought Waterman Park was a ‘ghetto,’ but Granny Bickel was quite happy with the little community and its largely older inhabitants.”
March 15: “Residents recall “extreme” Solano weather”
Lawana Cager: “In ’82, my brother was a paper boy and an angry customer called saying that he didn’t deliver her paper and demanded he bring her one regardless of the storm. So I took him and we got stuck trying to get home. That evil cow didn’t care that two kids were out in that horrible weather, either.”
May 10: “The family that lived in the Solano County jail”
Judy Emerson Gosselin: “We had a private entrance from the side alley between the courthouse and the jail. The residence was on the second floor and had a kitchen, living room, bathroom and two bedrooms. Our windows were not barred like the others and my bedroom faced the old Armijo (now the courthouse). It was over the drunk tank.”
May 24: “Music festivals are remembered . . . sort of”
Linda Ueki Absher: I was at the Bicentennial Day on the Green, July 1976. I was flyin’ on massive doses of Pixie Stix and Tab. I couldn’t stop staring at Elvin Bishop’s freaky hair and overalls. I waited four hours to use the women’s restroom. Best concert ever.
June 21: “Favorite Songs Send Locals Back in Time”
Tracy Vest: “The Closer I Get to You” by Roberta Flack will always bring back memories of my first slow dance at the eighth-grade graduation celebration at the Civic Center in 1978 with the boy I had a crush on. I rode my bike to Longs Drugs the next day to smell all the soap to figure out what kind he used. It was Lifebuoy.”
April 5: 50th “’Back in the Day’ piece and some news”
Sarah Lytton Rinelli: “These columns transport me back to my roots. It’s that unique wind-swept flavor of growing up in Fairfield; it’s celebrating that Fairfield culture that makes us who we are: echoes of where we lived and the voices of the wonderful people who traveled the same pathway. Fairfield of my childhood was a special place, and the ‘Back in the Day’ columns bring me home again, if only briefly.”
Thanks everyone and Happy New Year!
Reach Fairfield writer Tony Wade at email@example.com.