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Summer Sizzles In Central Valley
Margs Mug

Here’s hoping you made it through the July 4 holiday safely and with no animals or small children escaping when the illegal fireworks exploded overhead. It’s crazy to me to think that people in residential neighborhoods still persist in using those aerial fireworks they have no business setting off; especially when the region has endured a string of 100-plus degree days and everywhere you look is tinder box dry. Do they think they are immune to injury or the potential fire hazards? Please, leave it to the professionals.

We may be a couple of days past the actual holiday now but don’t be surprised to still hear the snap crackle and pop of fireworks over the next few days. There was even talk in our office over whether the ‘Safe and Sane’ fireworks should be banned but because they support so many community service organizations and are a good fundraising tool, it’s likely they will stay. And as long as those are used in the manner of their namesake, safe and sane, there shouldn’t be too many issues.

I remember back in the ‘old days,’ when I was growing up, July 4 was our first summer holiday. Schools in upstate New York (then and now) followed a school calendar that saw us begin classes after Labor Day and have late June graduations and the last day of school. Our summer vacations ran all of July, August and in to September so to me, that is summer. California, with its early August school start and late May end makes Memorial Day the official start of summer here on the West Coast.

And even though I have called this area home for more than 20 years … it’s still hard to think of ‘summer vacation’ as starting in May. I chuckle sometimes, too, when I remember that one year when I was younger, my sister was at the beach on Long Island over a Memorial Day weekend when upstate, my parents, brother and I were dealing with snow flurries at the same time. That’s the latest I ever remember snow falling and one of the earliest winter storms came the year my nephew was to have his first birthday party – on Oct. 4 – and there was sleet and freezing rain, making the roads too slick for most people to get to the party.

More than one time, my dad has put the garden in, only to lose some plants to a late spring frost. You can just never tell.

Summer here, however, is in full swing and that requires finding some time to sit poolside or hit local waterways for some welcome, cooling relief. It also means we are already at the halfway point of the Major League Baseball season, with the All-Star Game rapidly approaching. When my last column appeared (June 1) the San Jose Sharks were still in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and the Golden State Warriors were aiming to get back to the NBA finals. Sadly, the Sharks were ousted in the Cup finals by Pittsburgh (four games to two) but they provided plenty of excitement this season and were Western Conference Champions for the first time ever, moving on to their first Stanley Cup Finals. I even bought myself a ‘Conference Champions’ T-shirt to add to my Sharks collection. Maybe next year we can take it one step further and hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup. The Warriors – after a scare from Oklahoma City in the semifinals – got back to the finals but were toppled by the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 7. After watching the breakneck speed of hockey, it was a step down to watch the slower paced basketball. And then to go to baseball? I love America’s pastime but after seeing the Sharks and Penguins race around the ice, Curry and James hustle up and down the court, baseball seemed to move roughly at about the speed of frozen molasses going uphill. I have had to readjust to the pace.

Seeing as how you can do about 10 other things and still keep track of the baseball game, though, at least my productivity should go up for the summer months.



Marg Jackson is editor of The Escalon Times, The Oakdale Leader and The Riverbank News. She may be reached at or by calling 847-3021.