The best information we have collected here at the Press over the years is that the coldest day in recent history was Dec. 23, 1990, when the recorded temperature dipped to 12 degrees.
A day earlier, on Dec. 22, 1990, it was 14 degrees, and it remained very cold into January.
In earlier years, 15 degrees was recorded in January 1930 and in December 1913.
When the temperatures headed below 20 degrees, water pipes exposed to the cold began burst, and home owners with citrus trees found that their oranges, lemons and grapefruit had suffered frost damage.
Although it’s been cold in the past week or so, fortunately temperatures haven’t dipped to those levels.
And while the cold weather, especially in the morning, has put a chill into our lifestyles, orchardists in the Tracy area are happy to see so many “chill days” — usually considered below 40 degrees. The almond and walnut trees need the cold weather to go dormant and get ready to spring back to life in the next month or so.
Bud and Beefalo
An obituary in last week’s edition told of the death of D.C. “Bud” Basolo, who died Dec. 7 at the age of 89.
Bud had to be one of the most unusual people to populate our area. He was all energy, excitement and optimism.
After establishing himself as a wholesale meat dealer, especially successful in importing lamb into the U.S. from Australia and New Zealand, he hosted a bus trip to San Francisco each year for Tracy High Future Farmers.
He then began raising buffaloes in Wyoming, and this led to a measure of fame when he successfully crossed buffalo and beef cattle to produce the Basolo Hybrid Beefalo.
Beefalo meat was said to be leaner, and thus a healthy alternative to beef.
I can recall going out to Bud’s ranch on Durham Ferry Road, where he had people from all over the world come to see the Beefalo and to consider buying sperm. There were skeptics who said the cross had been tried before and had failed.
Bud initially proved the skeptics wrong in the first cross-breeding, but the Beefalo cross-breeding project stalled when the second generation of hybrids failed to breed. And that ended the Basolo Beefalo Hybrid project with a number of “I told you so” comments by critics.
Bud and his wife, Georgia, continued bringing people to the Basolo ranch, however. The visitors, like the Basolos, were owners of Newfoundland dogs that were trained to rescue people in the water. They performed countless rescues in the Basolo pool.
Through the ups and downs, the Basolos were always gracious hosts at their ranch.
The death of Stan Davis has prompted some people around Tracy to ask if something, a park or other facility, should be named for him.
After all, they said, and I agree, Stan was so instrumental, in his quiet yet determined way, in establishing basic safety-net programs — including McHenry House and Interfaith Ministries — in our town that he deserves some lasting recognition.
Yokut villages and a lake
Jeff Pribyl, the Tracy native and San Francisco architect who has dug deeply into the history of the Tracy area before there was a town called Tracy, attracted a good-sized crowd to the Lolly Hansen Center on Wednesday night, Jan. 16, for his talk.
A couple of things Jeff said really registered with me.
One was that the string of Yokut native American settlements along the rivers and sloughs north of Tracy was one of the greatest concentrations of indigenous people in North America.
The other bit of information that struck me was that when the Spanish explorers arrived here in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, they found a good-sized lake extending south from what is now Old River.
Jeff estimates the lake, which the Spaniards called Laguna del Blanca, went as far south as where the old Holly Sugar factory was later located.
• Sam Matthews, Tracy Press publisher emeritus, can be reached at 830-4234 or by email at email@example.com.