Wow. How fast a quarter-century can whizz by.
Sophia Valenzuela and her crew at the Tracy Chamber of Commerce are showcasing the quarter-century anniversary as they promote this year’s festival, which runs Sept. 10 and 11 in the downtown.
One iconic throwback to the first bean festival in 1987 is the original poster that features a bean pot and a checkerboard filled with bean varieties — blackeyes, baby limas, pintos and garbanzos.
Over the past 25 years, a host of logos and posters have been produced to celebrate and promote the bean fest, but I’m not alone in believing the first logo was easily the best — and deserves to be the ongoing symbol of Tracy’s annual salute to the bean.
With all this in mind, I dialed up Bill Kobus this week. Bill is the Stockton artist who created the 1987 poster. I knew I would find Bill at home, since he is recovering from Valley Fever, the fungal disease that attacks the lungs and can spread elsewhere in the body.
Bill reported he is feeling better than he did when diagnosed more than a month ago, but he still has to be careful not to become too tired, lest the fungus spread to other parts of his body, and that could be dangerous.
I told Bill his poster will receive renewed interest this year, and that pleased him a lot. When he designed it in 1987 at the behest of Kathy Post Lewis and Bob Carruesco, the bean fest’s first producers, he had no idea the logo would continue to be so popular.
It was indeed fitting that Bill was selected to design the first logo and poster of the bean festival. Although he was raised and has lived most of his life in Stockton, he has long been a Tracy fan.
For a decade or so in the 1970s and 80s, he came to Tracy several times a week for his job representing a title insurance firm. While in town, he would stop by the Tracy Inn and join a group of us for coffee. Those were the days when the person who bought the coffee (it was cheaper then) would be selected by a ritualistic flipping of coins.
Bill enjoyed the coffee-time camaraderie and also the people he met in the local real estate world. His opinion of other towns surrounding Stockton in San Joaquin County was less positive.
Before producing the 1987 bean festival logo, Bill drew some great images of Tracy that we included in the 1978 Tracy Press Centennial Edition marking the 100th birthday of the founding of the town in 1878.
He later created a cartoon, “2 by 4,” featuring a bunch of construction workers, which we carried for a year or so in the Press. The cartoon’s art work was superior, but the story line never attracted the attention needed for syndication.
Anyway, knowing his bean festival logo is gaining some renewed attention a quarter century later is giving Bill a boost when he needs one.
Jacki wins gold
Tracyities may have missed the results of the World University Games women’s basketball tournament that concluded Sunday in Shenzhen, China, but they should be pleased with the outcome.
And there is a hometown angle — of course.
The local interest is centered on Jacki Gemelos, the Stockton product with Tracy roots who played on the USA team that captured the gold medal by trouncing previously undefeated Taiwan, 101-66.
Jacki is the daughter of former Tracyites Steve and Linda Gemelos of Stockton and the granddaughter of the late John and Maxine Gemelos, who had operated the Star Café and later the Tracy Inn Coffee Shop.
Jacki, a St. Mary’s High graduate who is entering her senior year at USC after overcoming a seemingly endless number of knee injuries and operations, played guard on the USA team. She was a steady performer moving the ball, especially getting it to Stanford’s Ogwumike sisters, the USA team’s inside scorers.
Jacki scored 29 points in the tournament, averaging 4.8 points per game. She hit a key 3-pointer early in the title game.
We’ll all experience more of her basketball abilities as she plays for the Trojans in the coming season.
• Sam Matthews, Tracy Press publisher emeritus, can be reached at 830-4234 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.