I talked to Alvera Shelby on the phone the other day. She told me she plans to be at the Grand Theatre on Sunday afternoon to see the Japanese-produced film on the World War II Byron Hot Springs prisoner-of-war interrogation center.
Alvera, as many old-time tanktowners will recall, has more than a casual interest in the movie. Her late husband, Frank, was a Navy chief petty officer and chief Naval Section clerk at the secret wartime base.
Frank, who had been a court reporter in Missouri before the war, met and married Alvera DeMaria of Tracy while stationed at the Hot Springs. After the war, he stayed here and operated an insurance agency for some 30 years. He died more than a decade ago while living in retirement in Tuolumne County. Alvera has since moved to Stockton.
Also scheduled to be in the audience Sunday is Dollie Steinkamp. Her husband, the late Bill Steinkamp, was fire chief at the hot springs during the war. Bill was a Tracy firefighter for many years before retiring.
A third Byron Hot Springs widow won’t be able to attend Sunday. Sammie LaWanda Burdette, whose late husband, Bill, was first sergeant of the Army guard at "P.O. Box 651," is confined to a convalescent facility in Sonora, according to her son, Dan Burdette.
Among those from out-of-town scheduled to be at Sunday’s showing, sponsored locally by the West Side Pioneer Association, will be a 92-year-old American of Japanese descent who was one of Japanese-language translators at the interrogation center.
It should be an interesting, and informative, afternoon for those interested in one of the most unique chapters of local history.
Woooosh — on two wheels
Yes, I was out there on Linne Road Tuesday to watch the world’s best bicyclists pass by on the third stage of the Amgen Tour of California.
A bit before 2 p.m., I found a parking space on the paved portion of Mike Souza’s driveway where Banta Road dead-ends into Linne. Mike came by later and made room for my car and Don Yerian’s as sprinkles continued. Jim Edwards parked his pickup nearby.
A California Highway Patrol officer stationed at the corner advised us that the updated schedule called for the cyclists to come by around 3 o’clock, so we all knew we had an hour’s wait.
If there were more than 100 bicyclists in the race, there had to be at least half that number of CHP motorcyclists who passed by during that hour.
Finally, a tour marshal parked nearby signaled that four "break-away" riders were approaching. They streaked by before you could say "Amgen Tour of California." I couldn’t tell who they were — everyone looked like Lance Armstrong, it seemed.
Then a few minutes later, the main group approached the intersection, and it was truly amazing to see how closely they were bunched.
Woooosh, and they were through the intersection as hundreds of still photos were taken. Rich Paulson, standing close by, recorded it all on his digital camcorder.
Watching the bicyclists pass may not have been the most thrilling sporting event I have ever witnessed, but I was there, standing on the side of the road: I saw it, and now I can tell folks, "Yes, I saw the Tour of California, way back in February 2009, when it passed near our town. Oh yea, Lance was there, too."
• Sam Matthews, Tracy Press publisher emeritus, can be reached at 830-4234 or by e-mail at email@example.com.