What I saw were a dozen or so high school students pulling trash out of streetscape shrubs and sweeping sidewalks on West 10th Street between Central Avenue and B Street.
The students were from Millennium High School, and they have promised, as part of their community service commitment, to return twice a month during the remainder of the school year.
As the students continued their cleanup work, Breege Mondragon and Tracy Amador put down their brooms long enough to tell me what it’s all about.
“Tidy Town is a very big deal in my native Ireland,” Breege said. “Towns and cities of all sizes compete annually to be designated a Tidy Town. It’s quite an honor.”
The Irish cities and towns participate through volunteer efforts of their citizens to maintain landscaping, clean up trash and scrub down streets and sidewalks.
Towns that win the competition proudly display signs on their outskirts that they are indeed a Tidy Town, Breege noted.
She and Tracy, both employees of M&M Builders Supply and Landscaping, were talking one day about the Irish program, and how successful it is, when they decided to try to get a similar program going in Tracy.
They contacted Millennium parent Lynette Kamminga, whom they had known through other volunteer projects, and made contact with Jan Couturier, manager of the Tracy City Center Association. The connection between the charter high school and downtown was forged.
Jan said that while the Millennium students will provide the core of volunteers, students from other high schools and youth groups will be asked to take part.
“We’re starting this program in the downtown, but we’d like to spread this all over Tracy,” she said.
Couturier said the downtown association has a contractor that cleans up the area several times a month, but it doesn’t have the manpower to clean as thoroughly as the students can.
“We’ve developed a list of projects for the students, and they went right to work on them,” she said.
After talking to Breege and Jan, two modern-day stalwarts of a cleaner Tracy, my mind wandered back some 30 years — to the late 1970s and early ’80s, when there were two Tracy women who had the same goal of a spruced-up hometown.
I’m talking about Dolores Chadeayene and Dorothy Lorenzen. I’ve attempted, without success, to remember the name under which they worked, but whatever it was, they put their efforts, and several other volunteers, into real work.
I remember Dolores and Dorothy working to provide greenery to the downtown, cleaning up trash and broadcasting poppy seeds on the banks of the elevated section of Interstate 205.
Dorothy especially said she didn’t mind at all being called “a little old lady in tennis shoes.”
“That’s who I am,” she said proudly, wiggling her white Reeboks.
At one point, I suggested to Dolores and Dorothy (both now deceased) that they needed a catchy name for their efforts. I suggested “Tracy Clean and Green,” but they were busy on their projects at the time and never gave it a lot of consideration.
If the name Tidy Town has already been taken by the cleanup program in Ireland, and Tracy wants another name, then Tracy Clean and Green just might be worth a new look.
• Sam Matthews, Tracy Press publisher emeritus, can be reached at 830-4234 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.