In this crazy, fast-paced world we live in, so many of us run from place to place, never taking the time to enjoy the special moments.
I have to share a story about a stranger coming to the aid of a desperate young man stranded at an airport in Phoenix. Since 9/11, stories of rude behavior have been flying around about airline employees and the way customers can be treated. I have been on the receiving line of some of the bad treatment. Not fun. When the opposite happens we must give thanks to those involved and that is exactly what prompted this piece.
A young, newly discharged Marine was traveling to Southern California from Michigan to attend a court hearing. Several months prior the Marine was issued a DUI citation in San Diego and then he had moved home to Michigan with his bride. The Marine suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, and is an outpatient with the local veterans’ hospital in Michigan where he is trying to put the trauma of several tours in Afghanistan behind him.
Nonetheless, he knew he must pay his debt to society; he was prepared to face the judge and move on in life. The thought of hundreds of strangers accompanying him on a plane for five hours horrified him; he had been living in his father-in-law’s basement in seclusion since his honorable discharge. He mustered up the courage to face his fears and boarded his plane in Detroit, which was scheduled to stop in Phoenix then onto LAX.
Well, the Santa Anna winds had a different agenda that day and the plane was rerouted to Las Vegas for refueling, then back to Phoenix. The Marine had $25 dollars in his pocket and a prepaid hotel waiting for him near the Long Beach courthouse, but he was stranded in Phoenix with no credit cards and no license, as a DUI pretty much strips you of that.
The panicked young man called me as I’m the only person he knows in California. I could hardly recognize his voice as fear had taken over. I asked him to get off the plane in Phoenix and go to the person at the gate to ask for a room voucher so he could calm down, regroup and reschedule his flight. He did. The attendant told him that rooms were not for rerouting a flight and there was nothing that could be done. Then he really lost it as he had been on the plane for nine hours by that time.
I asked him to ask for the attendant’s supervisor and hand the phone to him. I knew we had little time to calm this situation down. This is when an angel landed at our feet – Leroy Laughlin, the customer service manager at Southwest Airlines. Leroy took the phone and before he could speak I warned him of the situation and the possibility of a complete breakdown of this young man in the middle of his airport.
Thank God Leroy understood – he has a nephew dealing with the same problems as our young Marine – and he leaped into action. He had the young man lay down on the airport seats, gave him water, and talked him through the most horrifying moments. Leroy assured the young man that he would be OK. He booked the Marine a room, re-booked his flight, personally drove him to the complementary hotel room, stopped off on the way and bought him dinner, and then handed the Marine $20 from his own pocket, all the while keeping in constant contact with me by phone. I was getting a blow-by-blow recap of the entire exchange. The Marine calmed down as he knew that someone, albeit a complete stranger, had him safely in his wings.
An angel, I’m convinced.
The next day the Marine woke at the hotel, had a complimentary breakfast, a free ride to the airport, and a new flight to LAX.
Our Marine made it to the postponed court hearing, received his sentence, and was ready to start his journey back home to Michigan. Leroy instructed the young man to phone him after court and he would schedule another flight for him back home via Phoenix.
Again, Leroy took control and scheduled the Marine back to Phoenix from the Orange County Airport. Leroy again met the Marine at the gate, drove him to the same hotel – and the same room so he would feel safe – gave him more money, and took him for another dinner, all complementary. And he kept me completely informed. Leroy’s actions were simply the acts of a person reaching out to another human being.
Our Marine is safely back home with his wife and looking forward to starting his life, which includes plans for college. Leroy, you gave him hope. Blatant acts of kindness, a complete stranger going above and beyond the call of duty, you’re my hero. A man with the heart of a lion. When the whole world starts to react to each other as you have displayed, then we will know peace. How could war or hate ever survive in this environment? You’re an example of a loving human being, stepping outside the corporate rules and diving head first into humanity. I will never forget your generosity and the caring you so willing gave Nick, our young U.S. Marine. Thank God for you Leroy, you’re the best. Whenever possible, I’m flying with Southwest Airlines and I hope to meet Leroy Laughlin in person.
We should all treat our servicemen and women with the respect they so greatly deserve. They believe in America and so do I.
Happy Birthday to my husband, Rich Calone! When I asked him what he wanted for his birthday this year, he smiled and said, “Cake and ice cream, good health, happiness, and the opportunity to work another 20 years, because I was blessed to have a job I love.”
I hope your birthday wishes comes true, you deserve it!
God Bless America,
I’m thrilled to say the weather was perfect for the 27th annual Asparagus Festival in downtown Stockton. Here’s a BIG thank you to those volunteers who worked so hard to help this wonderful event generate so many dollars for local nonprofits.
Easter came early to our house; my Silkie chicken laid her first egg last week. My niece was so excited!
It was with great sadness that I learned that CSU, Stanislaus President Hamid Shirvani had accepted an appointment as the North Dakota University System chancellor effective July 1.
I’m pleased to announce our 2011 Book of Lists. We have spent many hours researching and updating our information to provide you with the Central Valley’s premier marketing guide.
Our life on the farm, sports – two dogs, two rabbits, three parakeets, one cat, and a ’65 four-on-the-floor American-made Chevy pickup truck, an ocean blue beauty, suited for taking the menagerie on a Sunday drive. A trip to the poultry show at the San Joaquin County Fairgrounds provided two female silkie chickens. They are really beautiful chickens. No roosters, for me, just eggs, making life on the farm complete for at least a while.
Over the weekend we assembled a chicken coop. My son says it looks like a Barbie house. He thinks we’ve gone nuts. Not!
Polish chickens are what I’m looking for. They weigh 4 pounds and sport big feather hats, sort of a ’30s glam look, very chic and a fair amount of eggs.
Talk about a busy life waking up at 7 a.m., making the rounds to each cage, filling everyone’s food and water dishes. It’s quite the undertaking. My grandparents were farmers in Pennsylvania. Now I understand why they had seven children. This stuff takes time and effort.
Honestly, I love every minute of it. The joy of these little creatures warms my heart. My niece from Stockton visits our farm on weekends and she doesn’t stop smiling the entire time. She’s an 11-year-old city girl. Ha, not anymore. Lauren jumps on the golf cart, flies through the vineyard with our 5-pound dog, Sophie, on the seat beside her and our newly acquired 65-pound chocolate Lab, Buddy, sprinting close behind. Lauren handles the job of bathing the bunnies. I’m amazed at the tolerance our furry friends have for water. It doesn’t faze them. We thought we purchased two females bunnies, but from the looks of the recent activity in their cage, we may soon be grandparents.
Our parakeets are another story. We had to separate the birds due to fighting. Greg Fleming, owner of Farmers Feed Co. on East Miner Avenue in Stockton, warned us of this possibility. Luckily, we had an extra cage and put the culprit in a “timeout” all alone.
Things immediately calmed down. I never dreamed I’d be “grounding” a bird. Geez!
I’ve been doing a bit of research on the Internet and also purchased several books from our local Barnes and Noble about heirloom seed gardening. Boy, there’s more to raised bed gardening than I ever dreamed.
This weekend we planted all of our tomatoes, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, onions and eggplants in greenhouse seed starters. If all goes well, transplanting will be done after the full moon and before the new moon. Yep, you heard me. This stuff is a science. Looks like I’ll be in the market for manure – yuk – mulch, peat and top soil for my raised beds. I never knew that so much thought went into planting seeds or transplanting. I can’t wait until we actually get some vegetables.
Have you ever planted heirloom seeds? These are seeds that have been around in some cases for hundreds of years. Heirloom seeds haven’t been altered. They are pure, natural, and can be used for seeds themselves, year after year. Most store-bought seeds have been genetically altered to provide us with one planting and specially engineered not to be used to harvest more planting seeds. Crazy, but true. Seeds a controlled substance. Go figure. If all goes well, we will be canning up a storm again this year.
My mother must be smiling from heaven watching all this domestic activity at our house, especially since as a girl I refused to do anything that resembled tasks done by Beaver Cleaver’s mom. I wanted to hunt and ride mini-bikes, fish, build tree houses, catch and sell my night crawlers, never allowing her to teach me to be domestic. Wow, I guess I am turning into my mother.
Look for your copy of the 2011 Book of Lists publishing March 1. Reserve yours today, call (209) 477-0100.
Remember that Presidents Day is
Feb. 20. Send a prayer out to heaven for our Founding Fathers who fought hard to provide us with the greatest nation on earth. We must work to restore the values they lived by, the Constitution they believed in, and continue the struggle for freedom of the people, by the people, for the people. Make your voice heard, get involved and vote for change. We must change the direction our country is headed and restore America back to her former glory.
Happy Valentine’s Day
and God Bless America,
On your mark, get set … GO! If the momentum continues, retailers will be smiling well past January.
Looking for corporate gifts this season? I was just handed my very own copy of Farmers and Merchants employees’ favorite recipes cookbook,“Recipes you can BANK On". This year, the bank employees offered up their favorite recipes and printed a cookbook filled with mouthwatering recipes. The icing on the cake is that funds raised from their cookbook sales go to United Way! Supporting our local charities is very important to the foundation of every community. The books are available at all F&M locations.
If you haven’t been to the Lodi Grape Trail recently, go! Now that I live in Lodi and grow grapes, I’ve had the opportunity to talk to several winery owners. Boy, what I didn’t know about grapes and the wine making process! This month’s issue features the Berghold Family Winery, my new neighbor. The tasting room is amazing and I have to agree with owner Joe Berghold, it’s not just a winery, it’s a destination. If you’re a wine connoisseur, like fine antiques and friendly down home hospitality go wine tasting! See page A10.
With holiday shopping right around the corner, I urge you to keep your shopping dollars local and get out and visit your neighborhood merchants. It’s quite a simple concept that keeps your favorite stores thriving in tough times. I love shopping, going from store to store, so for me, this is my favorite time of year. Turn off your computer and get out and SHOP! It is, you know, a source of exercise. There it is, killing two birds with one stone, shop to exercise! HA! See you in the stores.
The annual Lodi “Parade of Lights” is December 1. This is truly a one of a kind fun evening. I remember when my boys were in school, yes, I can still remember things from long ago, the kids all bundled up from the Lodi schools and marching for hours, what great family entertainment, a must see event. Miss those days!
Recently, I started designing women’s overalls, seemed like the natural thing to do, with living on a farm and all. Who says overalls have to be ugly or made of jean material? Why not feminine and fitting, comfortable too? After working out the design flaws with my tireless partner June, fiercely sewing the corrected versions, I went shopping for a manufacturer in the United States, what a surprise I got! Trying to locate anyone “IN” the United States still manufacturing is proving difficult. Luckily, I found a manufacturer in Pennsylvania, employing 100 American seamstresses, but the newest challenge is finding fabric made in America. I won’t budge on this, my company is named “Sophie’s Sweet Peas (named after my favorite aunt and new puppy) Made in America, Or Not At All,” and we’re sticking to it!
I feel as though I’m living in a Ripley’s Believe It Or Not story. Can we really think it’s acceptable to open our southern borders to Mexican registered trucks that will haul cargo throughout our country, all without the regulations that are strangling the United States trucking industry? This is more insanity handed down by our federal government. When will we understand as Americans, that we would never be allowed to go into other countries and run roughshod over their commerce structure? Makes one wonder that after all the generations of American’s paying taxes for their families and businesses, just how long can we sustain this assault on our nation? More jobs leaving America…Lunacy, I tell you!
This just in... a new report by Headlight, LLC, ranked Stockton as 3rd and Modesto as 6th of 71 “Best Performing” medium metropolitan areas for the highest job growth this summer. Headlight, LLC provides data and software systems to economic and workforce development organizations.
Smoke that Forbes! Way to go Stockton and Modesto! It’s about time we get recognized for positive business news. To see more of the survey go to go to http://www.HeadlightLLC.com.
It saddens me to report that Stockton native Jerry Long, a very dear friend and outdoor sports enthusiast, passed away October 24. Jerry was a hell of a hunter, a superb fishing guide, a loving husband, father and grandfather. I’ll miss the times we spent with Jerry, Judy and Rob as we often visited their home and drank wine together, while we enjoyed listening to his colorful life adventures. Godspeed to heaven, Jerry.
On behalf of all of us at the CVBJ, we would like to extend a heartfelt thanks to all of our local businesses, advertisers and loyal supporters for helping make this November edition, another banner month. As a community, we have all remained positive and resolute in these tough times and through the power of positive thinking, our local economy is looking brighter every day.
God Bless America!
After residing 17 years in the same house, we moved. What an undertaking! I have completely lost the desire to purchase another thing, why would I want to buy more stuff? After the grueling task of packing up more crap than any one person could possibly need, I have decided to stop buying stuff. Dr. Wayne Dyer puts it pretty clearly when he says; why would you want more of what you really don’t want???? Well, ponder that statement and try to explain why. Maybe I’m just exhausted, I can’t say for sure, but for now, enough is enough and less is definitely more. It took us nine days to move out of our house and squeeze into our new farm house. We are blessed to have found the perfect little place located on Lodi’s grape trail, and we love the country lifestyle. I spent last Sunday canning pickles, 30 jars to be exact! I never canned anything in my life. I guess it comes with the territory. It just felt right. After discovering the “root cellar” in our 1917 home, I had the desire to fill it! How perfectly content I was standing there packing tiny little green spears into scorching hot jars. My husband sat watching and grinning as this was a shocker to him after 17 years of marriage. My mother must have been smiling from heaven, she tried many a time to entice me to can or cook for that matter, to no avail. I loved it! I might even try making jam, wine or perhaps a pie someday soon, who knows, you may see me at the farmers market peddling my goods next year. Ha, or not… Happy Halloween!
God Bless America,