Members of the Historical Landmark Committee of the West Side Pioneers are making plans to conduct tours in conjunction with the city incorporation centennial celebration on Saturday, July 24.
Betty Galli, who has succeeded Bill Metz in heading up the historical landmark committee, has reported to organizers of the July 24 centennial event that three tours are planned that Saturday, giving interested Tracyites three time options.
Two tours are scheduled in the morning and one in the afternoon, she said. Each should take about an hour and a half to complete. They will include short walks and also bus rides to trace the history of Tracy municipal government.
Plans call for the tours to begin at the new Tracy Transit Station, where there is more than ample parking for those taking part. At the station, tour-goers will be able to see the full array of art depicting Tracy’s history, beginning with the founding of our town at that very spot in 1878.
From the station, the tour will head for the 1900 Tracy Town Hall and Jail, located a block away on West Seventh Street. The building, now part of the Grand Theatre complex, served as the City Council meeting room and courtroom until the new City Hall and fire station at the corner of Ninth and Central was completed in 1917.
A stop at the 1917 building, now the city’s Roxy Hudson Fire Administration Building, will follow. It served as City Hall until city offices were moved in 1947 to the Old Central School on Central Avenue, where the newest wing of the Tracy Inn is now located.
A visit to Tracy’s first real police station, the 1940 Hall of Justice on West Eighth Street, will precede a drive-by of the Old Central School site. The original building (circa 1912) was demolished in 1961, and city offices were moved to World War II housing units in Wainwright Village, which is now Tracy Civic Center.
Bunched together today in Tracy Civic Center are the City Hall built in 1973 (now the city Support Services Building), the one-time police station and now Parks and Community Services building (1979), the Tracy Community Center (1980), the Lolly Hansen Senior Center (1987), the new police station (1996) and the present City Hall (2007).
Members of the landmark group say the tour will give Tracyites a physical sense of the growth and development of Tracy’s city government over the past century.
The July 24 celebration will climax with an evening gathering in the City Hall plaza, featuring the Taste of Tracy food and wine tasting and a brief “happy 100th birthday” program.
Kim Scarlata of the city parks and community services department is coordinating plans for the celebration and so far is pleased with how elements, including the tour, are falling into place.
Joan Sparks’ legacy
The most recent wrinkle in the Joan Sparks saga is that a 25-year-old last will and testament penned by Joan has surfaced in the past week.
Joan, who died in August 2008 in Modesto, handed the handwritten will in 1985 to Stanford Davis, who succeeded her as director of Good Samaritan Community Services.
Stan, the retired Presbyterian minister long gone from Good Sam, ran across the envelope containing the will in the past week. He and attorney Archie Bakerink, a Good Sam board member, opened the will in Archie’s office Tuesday. I witnessed the opening.
Archie found it in good legal order, but it provided no surprises. Joan willed her possessions — including circus memorabilia from when she was a lion-tamer — to her many children with messages of love and affection. Because the will is 25 years old and there is a great possibility that Joan died nearly two years ago without any property except for some personal items, the will should have no real impact on the survivors. But one never knows.
Someone who doubts the will can have an impact is Joan A. Sparks, who was married to Joan Sparks’ son, Michael, for a time before they divorced.
Now living in Paso Robles, the younger Joan Sparks was mentioned in the will, which reads: “I hereby direct that Michael Sparks and Lila O’Brien serve as co-executors without bond. In the event Lila O’Brien (Joan’s top deputy at Good Sam) cannot serve, I direct Joan A. Sparks, wife of Michael Sparks, to serve as co-executor.”
I talked to Joan A. Sparks on the phone Friday, and she was surprised and intrigued by the will and her role in it, but she doubted it will create any changes in Joan’s estate.
“Even though Michael and I were divorced, I loved Joan Sparks,” she said. “She was a wonderful woman who cared about so many people.”
Those sentiments are Joan’s real legacy — not any worldly possessions.
Sam Matthews, Tracy Press publisher emeritus, can be reached at 830-4234 or by e-mail at email@example.com.