Tony and Anne Muljat celebrate 65 years of marriage

Tony and Anne Muljat sit in the back of a Buick convertible following their wedding at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament. Photo courtesy of Tony and Anne Muljat

Tony and Anne Muljat sit in the back of a Buick convertible following their wedding at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament. Photo courtesy of Tony and Anne Muljat

Today is a very special day for one of the most notable Sacramento Elks Lodge No. 6 members, Anthony M. “Tony” Muljat, and his wife, Anne (Buljan) Muljat. The couple is celebrating their 65th wedding anniversary.
During an interview at the lodge’s building in the Pocket last week, the couple shared details about their lives and their wedding day of June 19, 1949.
The story about Tony and Anne is undoubtedly a very local story, as they were both born in Sacramento.
Tony grew up at 1314 Q St. with his parents, Croatian immigrants Richard “Dick” and Cora (Perich) Muljat, and his sister, Henrietta.
Dick, Tony noted, was a railroad worker in the Southern Pacific yard, north of I Street, for a while before becoming a commercial fisherman.
“When he first started the fishing, he worked on the Sacramento River,” Tony said. “They threw lines across with hooks during the salmon season.”
In about 1951, Dick joined his brother, Nick M. Muljat, in the proprietorship of the Lafayette Grill at 322 K St.
And in remembering his mother, Tony said that she worked at the California Packing Corp. Plant No. 12 at 1600 2nd St.
“She was a floor lady,” Tony said. “It was kind of a bossy job a little bit.”
Like many young Sacramento boys in his generation, Tony enjoyed playing baseball. He recalled playing in league games at William Land Park on Sunday mornings.
But his involvement in organized ball was short lived, as he began working part-time jobs while he was going to school. At separate times, he was employed at the old ballpark at Riverside Boulevard and Broadway, August Affleck’s pharmacy at 1008 10th St. and Julius Style Shop at 1023 K St.
Tony attended William Land Elementary School at 1116 U St., Holy Angels parochial school at 730 S St. and Christian Brothers High School, when it was located at the southeast corner of 21st Street and Broadway.
After graduating from Christian Brothers in 1942, Tony began studying commercial courses such as typing and bookkeeping at Sacramento Junior College (today’s Sacramento City College).
However, those studies were cut short when he was drafted to serve in the U.S. Army Air Forces in World War II.
During his 33 months of service, Tony was stationed in Sacramento, Monterey, Idaho, England, France, Germany, Luxembourg and Japan.
In speaking about that time in his life, Tony said, “I ended up as a senior clerk. I worked in the classified with secret documents. I was a staff officer in the Army (Air Forces). We were sailing from France and we were three days from Panama when the war was over in Japan. I was a clerk and I was doing reports on the ship, going to Japan, and then we got sidetracked into some place in Virginia and then rode the train back to California. I got a 30-day leave and then they sent me a 15-day extension and I went back to Camp Beale (later Beale Air Force Base) at that time and got discharged (then returned to college).”
Tony eventually worked in the Southern Pacific yard for 35 years.
After being asked to describe his employment for the Southern Pacific, Tony said, “I did a variety of things. We rebuilt boxcars and then we built new boxcars.”
Later in his life, Tony worked as a caterer, and he still enjoys preparing food for various gatherings.
In telling her own story, Anne said that she was one of the two children of Croatian immigrants Nick and Lucy (de Polo) Buljan, who were married in 1923.
Nick was working in Sacramento as a barber as early as 1919, when he was co-owner of a shop at 1018 ½ 4th St. He later operated a shop at 411 ½ K St.
Anne said that like Tony, she also attended William Land Elementary School.
She was later a student at California Junior High School (now California Middle School) at Land Park Drive and Vallejo Way, and C.K. McClatchy High School, where she graduated in 1943.
Although she explained that she remembers seeing Tony at William Land Elementary in the 1930s, Anne chuckled before sharing an even earlier story related to herself and Tony.
“My mother knew his mother,” said Anne, who grew up at 1911 18th St. “They came from the old country. She was pregnant with Tony, so she went to see him. She (later) said, ‘Little did I realize, I was seeing my (future) son-in-law for the first time.’ I wasn’t even thought of (at that time).”
Anne recalled that while she was growing up, she was not yet attracted to Tony, but did think of him as a “nice guy.”
She would see Tony at early 1940s gatherings at the Dante Club, which was then located at 1511 P St.
In recalling those times, Anne said, “The families, all the Croatian people, they would go to the Dante Club. They would have a program. My sister (Lucille, who graduated from McClatchy High in 1941) would play the piano and I would sing, ‘God Bless America,’ in Croatian. And everybody would start dancing, and all the parents were sitting around. The kids would go into one corner – the boys and the girls – and (Tony) would ask me to dance. We were just close that way, this whole group.”
While Tony was in the service, he sent Anne several letters, as well as a package.
Anne recalled a humorous story about that package.
“(Tony) sent me a lovely gift, and I was so excited,” Anne said. “I opened it up and it was a bottle of Chanel No. 5 from France. It was all wrapped with toilet paper, and (the bottle) was empty. (Its contents) evaporated. The funny part of it is our friend, Jean Grassi, he wrote to her also, and she said, ‘Tony sent me the most gorgeous gift. It was all wrapped in toilet paper and when I opened it, it was empty. Chanel No. 5. I laughed so hard.”
During the early post war years, young people would also congregate in the basement of the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament for dances of the John Carroll Guild social club.
The dance’s attendees, including Tony and Anne, would often end their evenings at Hart’s restaurant at 919 K St.
Tony and Anne Muljat give a toast to their 65 years of marriage. Photo by Lance Armstrong

Tony and Anne Muljat give a toast to their 65 years of marriage. Photo by Lance Armstrong

Tony eventually began courting Anne and together they went on dates to several places, including dinner at a nice Italian restaurant in San Francisco.
On March 29, 1948, Tony and Anne attended the Easter Monday Ball, which was presented by the Young Men’s Institute at the Memorial Auditorium. That was also the night that they announced their engagement.
Like many young couples, Tony and Anne agreed to be married in the month of June, and they selected the aforementioned date of June 19, 1949.
On that day, Tony and Anne were married at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament. The wedding was attended by about 1,000 people, including Frank M. Jordan, secretary of state, and Charles J. Hagerty, deputy secretary of state.
Following the ceremony, Tony and Anne were driven up and down K Street in a Buick convertible.
Anne said that when she arrived with Tony at their reception at the Sacramento Turn Verein building at 3349 J St., the Buster Peart Orchestra was playing the song, “I Must See Annie Tonight.”
Soon after the reception, which included sliced rump roast and a cake that was made by Channel Bakery at 3110 O St., the newlyweds spent their honeymoon in Los Angeles visiting with family and friends and spending time on Catalina Island.
An oddity of sort occurred while Tony and Anne were visiting a Catalina Island cocktail lounge. On that night, the venue featured music by a trio, which Tony and Anne had then-recently seen play at the Clayton Club at 1126 7th St.
Tony and Anne eventually raised five children – Pamela Anne, Michael Anthony, Nicholas Richard, Daniel Vincent and Jeffrey Mark – in their Tallac Village neighborhood home, where they continue to reside today.
As previously mentioned, Tony is one of the more notable members of Elks Lodge No. 6.
During his interview with this publication, Tony briefly explained his longevity with that organization.
“When I joined (the Elks lodge), it was 1942,” said Tony, who is also a longtime member of the Southside Improvement Club. “I became an active member and became an officer. I liked everybody and everybody liked me. I was an officer probably more than anybody else. I became (the exalted ruler) in 1983. I retired on my birthday in 1984 and I’ve been a continued officer for many, many years. I’m the longest (term) member of the lodge and I’m still the lodge treasurer, which I have a very good bookkeeper that does a lot of work for me. And here we are today after 71 years as a member. My sponsor was a local mortician (Nick Culjis) and we were neighbors at one time and I just continued on and became very active.”
Five years ago, Tony and Anne, who attend Sacred Heart Church in East Sacramento, celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary with about 200 friends at the local Elks lodge.
But after Tony was asked how he and his wife planned on celebrating their 65th wedding anniversary, he responded, “Very quietly.”
Tony and Anne remain active in a variety of local activities, as they continue to enjoy their lives together.
Toward the conclusion of Tony and Anne’s meeting with this publication, Anne demonstrated her good-natured sense of humor.
After being asked to summarize her 65-year marriage to Tony, Anne, who belongs to various organizations, including the Croatian Fraternal Union, referred to Tony as a “good man and a good father.” And then, in referring to their decision to be married, she paused and added, “He thought I could cook and I thought he had money, and we both got fooled.”

Batting cage debacle brings other maintenance issues to light

C.K. McClatchy varsity baseball coach Mike de Necochea sat down for an interview with the Land Park News to discuss maintenance issues on campus, including problems with the sprinkler system, dog waste and litter.

Because the school doesn’t have a gardener on staff and because the Sacramento City Unified School District has had to cut janitorial and maintenance services by nearly 50 percent over the last two years, it recommends coaches and staff fill out and submit a work order form to the maintenance department.

“Just turn in the forms into to Tommy they would always tell me, but no one knew he retired,” de Necochea said.

District spokesman Gabe Ross said the district prioritizes what the work is. “If there is a fire sprinkler that goes out, that may get to the top of the list,” he said, adding that SCUSD Landscape/Labor Supervisor said Tommy Greer has been using vacation up until he retires and there has been a temp in for him. “Given limited resources, it’s an all automated system. Somebody may have called, but it’s all prioritized by need,” he said.

Just in the 2011-12 school year, the district had 209 custodians and plant managers, compared to the 125 on staff today. Meanwhile district-wide maintenance staff (service repairs and gardeners) has seen a 42 percent decrease since the 2010-11 school year, amounting to a cut of about 90 people.

Regardless many of the maintenance problems have gone by the wayside. For instance, problems with the sprinklers have been going since at least before school started at around the same time the previous batting cages were torn down.

“It’s been since at least August when I noticed (the sprinklers) turned off. I think it was due to the construction,” de Necochea said. More recently, he said after district staff installed the new batting cage, they happened to put in a workable sprinkler system for a small plot of sod around the structure, but failed to fix the sprinklers through out the rest of the baseball field, resulting in very dry grass.

“While the City (of Sacramento) has required residents to reduce water usage by 20 percent, we’ve been conserving since summer,” de Necochea quipped.

As part of the cuts the district has to make to the maintenance department, they’ve eliminated gardeners at individual school sites and have instead consolidated and have created district wide work crews that visit various schools on set days each week. Gardening crews man the lawns and most of the watering is automated.

“We now have a crew that works at several schools and I guess the front yard is a priority,” de Necochea said.

Undoubtedly this has affected the appearance and general cleanliness of the campus – dirtier locker rooms, irrigation problems with the fields and pool maintenance.

While the district does have an employee drive a large mower to cut all the grass on campus each Tuesday, de Necochea said the worker drives over the trash, which exacerbates the garbage clean up problem – one that he said the baseball team has to clean up. On the bright side, de Necochea said this encourages players to take pride in what they have, adding that he’s used trash clean up as a punishment for being late to practice.

“It is important for the boys to help with the upkeep. But at the end of the day, we’re the ones paying for it, using it,” he said.

So, as the new baseball season gets underway, he and his team have taken other gardening and maintenance matters into their own hands. With a hose and a lawn mower, they’ve sometimes done the watering and the trimming themselves, side skirting the bureaucracy of filling the necessary forms, which some have argued can backfire.“I’ve had people tell me, ‘if you don’t do anything, you’re just allowing (the district) to get away with it’, but I just couldn’t let (the grounds) get that bad,” de Necochea said.

The head baseball coach said he has been mowing the grass twice a week, even though staff mows the lawns once a week. Also, to help out with the manual labor, de Necochea said the team twice has solicited help from Sacramento County Sheriff’s Work Project, where certain sentenced inmates can be recommended by the sentencing judge to be assigned to one of more than 25 work sites throughout the county.

De Necochea said they did a great job. “They cut out around the bases. They trimmed and weeded. They picked up trash and helped build a mound. We just filled out a form and got work done twice. The district could be requesting those guys. It’s free. I asked them (the inmates): do you like coming to schools? They said they felt like they were making a difference compared to just raking leaves at a park, which could be pretty tedious.”

But are the team’s Good Samaritan efforts to keep the fields clean taking away from contracted union jobs?

“It’s always hard,” Ross said. “We never want to discourage parents from volunteering at school sites. We also know we have less staff than we need. Have a system in the district where community members fill out ’special projects process’ for the school site and district to participate in. Generally it’s not about violating union contract, it’s about protecting parents and students from harm,” he said.

Prior to the massive budget cuts that have plagued the district for years now, the campus had a gardener Terry Stowers, who de Necochea said worked together with the team to keep the field looking its best. “It was great. They were out there with us, supervising us to make sure it’s right.”

While it may seem like de Necochea is at odds with the district, it’s not the case at all. He wants to work with the district to brainstorm solutions on making the fields and the school, by extension a more inviting place.

To that end, he’s started to connect with alumni who might want to give back to their alma mater. He argues that the Booster program is not his preferred avenue. “We’re putting band aids on a big project. We need to reach out to alumni and get Boosters for life,” he said. De Necochea, who lives near the school, added: “I look at my neighborhood, parents have to have funds available.”

Asked how the community can work with the district to create a better environment, Ross said in a variety of ways. “We want to make the right process. We want parents to find solutions. Hopefully in a few years, we will be back to the funding areas and help supplement what is going on at the schools. For the sports fields and at the school, it’s critical we are all involved.”

He said as a result of new funding from an accountability measure known as LCAP (Local Control and Accountability Plan), the community will have a larger voice in terms of how to spend and allocate resources. There will be a survey on the website for parents to document their priorities.

Food industry ‘old-timers’ converge for annual holiday luncheon

The luncheon was attended by 60 people. Photo by Lance Armstrong

The luncheon was attended by 60 people. Photo by Lance Armstrong

As has been the case for the past 21 years, food industry history was recently celebrated with a special event held at the Dante Club at 2330 Fair Oaks Blvd.
This year’s edition of this social function, which is known as the Old-timers Holiday Luncheon, drew about 60 people, who either were or continue to be connected to some part of the food industry such as employment with a national company or a grocery chain, or working as food brokers.
The Friday, Nov. 8 event began with a mingling hour, in which former food industry professionals, some of whom were once competitors, shared memories about their careers.
One such person was 86-year-old Roseville resident Jim Williamson, who was one of the founders of the luncheon. The other founders were Dave Butters, who worked for the Zellerbach Paper Co.; Gene McGee, the head buyer for United Grocers; Don Cronin, a self-employed food broker, Vince Calaci, a food broker for the Mel-Williams Co.; and Al Wong, one of the owners of Bel Air Markets.
In speaking about the establishment of the event, Williamson said, “There was a group of guys called the Wednesday Club (which was founded by Butters, McGee, Cronin and Calaci in the 1980s) and they used to take all the buyers in the valley to lunch every year. (The club) was organized and they met every Wednesday. When I retired (in March 1993), the Bel Air (grocery chain) people had just sold out to Raley’s. So, these guys (of the club) wanted to put on a joint retirement party for the Bel Air people and me. They invited about 300 or 400 people, old guys that were either working or retired in the industry to come to this joint retirement of me and the Bel Air guys, and we had 200 people show up. I looked around and I saw what was happening. There was so much camaraderie and reunion type things going on. To the guys, I said, ‘Why don’t we do this for a Christmas party every year – a holiday party?’ And they said, ‘Well, that’s fine.’ So, I volunteered myself, and Al Wong became part of the committee and we called it the Old-Timers’ Club. It turned out so successful we did it for 19 years. I then got too tired. I was carrying a lot of the load, so I just decided it was too much for us.”
Louise Menzer, secretary and past president of Sacramento Quality Travelers, a service organization for the grocery industry, said that SQT has since sponsored the event.
“Jim Williamson of the original committee sent out a letter to all the old-timers inviting some other group to assume the task of planning the event,” said Menzer, who spent 20 years working for the California Independent Grocers Association. “I went to one of our club meetings and presented a motion that we should take over the sponsoring of the event. This (year) was our third time sponsoring the event.”
Dante Club server Lisa Moore serves guest Mike Maravich during the 21st annual Old-timers Holiday Luncheon. Photo by Lance Armstrong

Dante Club server Lisa Moore serves guest Mike Maravich during the 21st annual Old-timers Holiday Luncheon. Photo by Lance Armstrong

Menzer, 82, added that the event was originally an all-male function, but about five years ago the group voted to invite women to their annual luncheon. Among the current female members of the organization is its outgoing president, Annette Arnall. She will be replaced in that position by Larry Wright, a former Maxwell House coffee worker, on Dec. 13.
In addition to SQT’s sponsorship of the old-timers luncheon, the organization hosts a crab feed at the Dante Club in February or March, an Easter egg hunt on the Saturday before Easter, free lunches for members on the first Friday in May, a trip to a River Cats game in June, weekly golf get-togethers, an annual golf tournament and a Christmas installation luncheon, which benefits the Crisis Nursery Program of the Sacramento Children’s Home.
Guest speakers have been a part of the annual program since after its 15th year. Other speakers have included the first Dallas Cowboys quarterback, Eddie LeBaron, an All-Star San Francisco 49ers player, Save Mart CEO and majority owner Bob Piccinini, and Chico State University President Paul J. Zingg, who spoke about sports, mainly baseball.
This year’s edition of the event featured a speech about Raley’s and the challenges that and other stores face due to an evolving industry and culture, by Alhambra, Calif. resident Kevin Curry, who has spent more than 35 years working in the retail food business.
Curry, who has held positions with Alpha Beta, Lucky’s, Albertson’s and Safeway, is presently Raley’s senior vice president of sales, marketing, advertising and merchandising.
Also speaking at the event was the luncheon’s emcee Marlin Larson, who formerly worked for Mayfair Markets in Northern and Southern California and handled the total grocery operations for Albertson’s in Northern California.
Larson, who moved to the area from Southern California in the 1970s, recalled the 1950s as a time when a customer went to a local grocery store, not for price, but for various other reasons ranging from convenience to a desire to visit with a favorite butcher.
“The pricing was pretty much the same,” said Larson, who attended the event with his wife, Gloria, who he married 58 years ago. “It didn’t matter too much where you shopped. In about 1963, in Southern California, a chain called Lucky’s started the discount operation, and then eventually it moved in 1971 up here into Northern California. All of a sudden pricing became important.”
Larson also brought humor to the event. For instance, when referring to Calaci, he said, “Vince really goes back. I was talking to Vince the other day, and I said, ‘When did you start the industry?’ He said, ‘Well, at the time, I called on the Indians at Sutter’s Fort.’”
Menzer also spoke at the event, as she paid tribute to former industry workers who had passed away since the last luncheon. These members were: Jerry Arthur (Safeway), Chuck Collings (Raley’s), Dan Delise (Bradshaw, Inc. North), Henry Fong, Don Ingoglia (Tony’s Fine Foods), Tony Kunis, Rich LaBryer (Bromor North), Irene Lunardi, Joe Mar, Clarkson “Bud” Mogford (Hills Bros. Coffee), Owen O’Donell (Raddar Dallas Co.) and Earl Wainscott (Safeway).
While observing the attendees of last Friday’s gathering as they socialized with one another, Williamson, an Arkansas native who moved to California in February 1947, said, “This is what it’s all about.”
Floyd L. Levick, left, and Steve Homentowski worked together at a Raley’s store in Sacramento more than a half-century ago. Photo by Lance Armstrong

Floyd L. Levick, left, and Steve Homentowski worked together at a Raley’s store in Sacramento more than a half-century ago. Photo by Lance Armstrong

Among those who were enjoying the company of other guests of the event was Calaci.
In reminiscing about his career, Calaci said, “It was a fun business. Typically a broker was as good as his word.”
And in lamenting the changes that have occurred since his retirement, Calaci said, “It’s all computers now. I know how to turn one off, because I’ve got a 3-pound sledgehammer.”
Don Luttrell, who worked for Minute Maid, a division of the Coca-Cola Bottling Co., from 1964 to 1989, described the annual luncheon as “wonderful.”
“It’s nice to get everybody together,” Luttrell said. “I’ve been here (at the luncheon) almost every time.”
Lee Glaves, 84, had a long career in the industry that included working for a food broker and Mezzetta brand foods. He said that although it is nice to see so many people attend the event, “it is a little bit hard to remember everybody.”
Ninety-two-year-old Floyd L. Levick, a Bayard, Neb. native who began residing in California following World War II, also shared details about his career.
“I got out of the service on the first of August (1945) and on the second of August, I went to work for Tom Raley,” Levick said. “I was there at (the Raley’s store at 4408 Freeport Blvd.). I was the manager (of the store). I was with Raley’s until 1963.”
And while motioning to a man named Steve Homentowski, who was sitting to the left of him, Levick said, “He worked for me.”
Homentowski responded by saying, “There was a little subdivision called Tallac Village and there was a shopping center there (which still exists today), and Mr. Levick (was managing Raley’s) Store (No. 12) there (at 6000 14th Ave. in about 1955). There used to be a Stop-N-Shop (Market) across the street (at 6001 14th Ave.) years and years ago. I worked for (Levick) and I became assistant manager and I worked at several stores and I became manager (in about 1959). I worked (in Store No. 16 at 940 Sacramento Ave.) in Elkhorn Village (in today’s West Sacramento) and I had (Store) No. 10, which was (at 525 W. El Camino Ave.) in North Sacramento. I wound up in (Store) No. 5 (at 4408 Freeport Blvd.) after (Raley’s) built a new store. That was the last store that I managed before I left the company (in about 1965).”
Beyond those who attended the event, there were those who were unable to attend the event due to various reasons.
Williamson, whose work history includes his employment at small grocery stores in the late 1940s and working for Raley’s from 1958 to 1993, said that among those who he missed seeing at the event was Steve Nettleton, who unfortunately suffers from Parkinson’s disease.
Nettleton, who was the luncheon’s emcee from 1993 to 2007, is also recognized for contributing more than $2 million to improvements to Chico State University’s former Roy Bohler (baseball) Field – now Nettleton Stadium.
In commenting about this year’s luncheon, in general, Arnall said, “It was a wonderful get-together for everybody and hopefully we can get more people interested and more people to come next year.”

Batting cage update: District fields questions from angry McClatchy baseball community

The C.K. McClatchy library was packed with angry parents on Tuesday, Oct 15. Photo by Monica Stark

The C.K. McClatchy library was packed with angry parents on Tuesday, Oct 15. Photo by Monica Stark

The C.K. McClatchy baseball community filled the school’s library on Tuesday, Oct. 15 to get answers from the district as to why the team’s batting cage was torn down on Aug. 21, when it would be rebuilt, how much that would cost and whether its removal was a mistake to begin with. Parents also questioned the district’s accountability if the timeline is not adhered to and what to do to better foster open lines of communication between the community and the district office.

At an estimated cost of $150,000, which will be paid for by funds from voter-approved Measure R, the new structure is slated to cost more than seven times that of the one the community built. Upsetting people at the meeting, the district said the new cage should be in place by February.

While the district apologized profusely for its failure to notify parents of the destruction, parents were still angry, especially since it was known back in March that it might be torn down.

“I apologize that we had to remove the batting cages and especially from the beginning – not giving proper instructions on how to build a batting cage. We could have done a much better job,” Principal Peter Lambert said in his opening remarks at the meeting.

After all of the apologies, one parent recommended that the district write a letter to the editor in the Sacramento Bee relaying those sentiments. Another parent suggested they apologize to the students and athletes face to face, which staff committed to doing.

The district said repeatedly and again on Wednesday that it had to be removed because it was a liability and not ADA (American with Disabilities Act) compliant.

Associate Superintendent, Facility Support Services Cathy Allen gave a timeline of events which transpired that led to the structure’s demolition. Back in March district employees visited McClatchy to investigate the school’s facilities and during one of the walk-a-rounds on campus, they first noticed the batting cage and by early May the district began to question if it was built under standards set forth by the Division of the State Architect. “It was not constructed according to our standards, which are DSA. We had risk management come out and everyone recommended it couldn’t be repaired,” Allen said.

The structure’s poles were buried six feet in the ground, which complicated “components to make it accessible,” she said. “That is the path of travel to make it accessible. Sounds like overkill but that’s the world we live in today. It’s not just pulling one out and putting another in. In July it was in the district’s best interest to pull it out. And now we’re spending our first round of bond money. The goal was to do it before school started,” she said.

The district said while they are hopeful to get a permanent structure up as soon as possible, a temporary structure might go in place first.

One of the parents questioned the district’s interpretation of the DSA standards since there are exceptions that are not considered to be “school buildings.” Some of the excluded structures according to the DSA include: equipment storage units, snack bars, bleachers, grandstands, playground equipment, open-mesh fences and baseball backstops. While a batting cage wasn’t listed in the examples of exceptions, one parent brought it up at the meeting because he felt it could be argued that it shouldn’t have been taken down in the first place.

“There’s a series of actions that are available that I believe the baseball batting cages could have fallen under. You mentioned your willingness to communicate. I appreciate your willingness, but where were you to communicate with the families, the guardians, the supporters of our baseball players? Where was the communication when this was being proposed and citing DSA jurisdiction. It appears to me that an argument could be made that there’s no jurisdiction to take down those batting cages.”

Allen said that was her first question to the DSA and provided two reasons why it wasn’t exempt — one, was accessibility review because of the dollar amount and secondly, structural review because of the cage’s steel frame.

It was argued from the parent’s point of view that because the structure wasn’t made from public funds, but from private donations, that the DSA argument doesn’t hold any water.

Wrestling coach Shawn Smith agreed. A local architect who does a lot of work for the state and is also a certified access compliance specialist, Smith called “hogwash” on the whole thing. “There is not one facility at McClatchy that complies (to the DSA). We are not tearing down the tennis courts. We’re not tearing down the baseball fields, We’re not tearing down the shed out there by the football field. Why is this being torn down?

“I don’t want to belabor the point because it’s spilled milk but nobody is buying this argument. The only thing that needed to comply was an accessible route. It’s basically equipment for training and could have been easily accomplished. And the safety concept – there are no safety concerns. I watched that thing being constructed. That thing was stout.

“There’s no reason … the columns, those posts to be embedded 6 feet into the ground. It doesn’t have that kind of lateral load. It’s hogwash. I’m ready to move on, but I’m ticked off because Measure R money is going to be spent rebuilding this thing. It’s taxpayer (money) and that really upsets me.”

“McClatchy is starting to feel like the bad step-child of the school district. You see new facilities being built and we’re being neglected, but as you can see here, we have very supportive parents who have put in a lot of money and who have funded a lot of the athletic programs at the school, so I am irritated. Also, I am a coach here and I’m trying to raise money for my program and I’ve got parents questioning me about what is going to happen now. We have goals that were are fundraising for but I have parents who are a little bit concerned about this. So I don’t think Measure R funds should go to this … I think if we could have pressed it with some knowledgeable people, we could have probably pushed that,” Smith said. “I don’t think we were represented very well to DSA.”

Parents who have contributed funds in the past are questioning about giving more. “We want to be involved in the process and we will be holding you accountable … We hope you embrace our contribution. Be open with us and do the right thing,” Marc Jang said.

That lack of communication from the district really came to light at the meeting and staff committed to making amends and working towards keeping phone lines open.
“I am just a phone call or email ( away,” Allen said.

Bernie Church, former baseball coach at C.K. McClatchy High School for 20 years and who the baseball field is named after, said to the district they have no facts to try to justify taking that batting cage down. “This is just garbage you are giving out. This just fries me to no end,” he said.

Historically, the first batting cages were erected in 1982 by Church, who was also responsible for building the dugouts, fences and bleachers with no district money. In fact, the baseball program has relied very little on district money. In 2006, there was an attempt to renovate the cages, which was not a welcomed improvement by any of the union labor. The union won and the coaches and parents continued to cobble together a pair of batting tunnels, while ugly, continued to help produce quality athletes. In 2009, the boosters raised enough money to replace old worn equipment and begin consideration of an overhaul of the decrepit cages. The recent fundraiser “A Taste of McClatchy” was attended by more than 250 people and resulted in the purchase of baseball equipment. Materials were accrued over the years in anticipation of new, safer batting cages. In 2011 an interim principal provided the green light for construction. In 2012 the field was dedicated to Church and the cages were memorialized with a plaque dedicated to Raymond Jang, longtime financial and emotional support of CKM baseball. The 2012 baseball season resulted in a Sac-Joaquin Section Championship and seven seniors moving onto college ball.

Janey Way Memories No. 88: Remembering My Father

With Father’s Day approaching, I want to take the time to share some memories of my father, Martin Relles Sr., who inspired me in ways I can’t overestimate.

Dad was born in 1915 in Chicago, but soon moved to Sacramento with his family.  He lost his dad at the age of five in the great Spanish flu epidemic.  His mother re-married soon after that.  Being a stepchild is never easy, but it proved particularly hard on dad.  His stepfather often disciplined him.  One day while he played in his front yard on 14th Avenue, his step-father became so angry, he hit dad on the back with a piece of wire.

When that happened, a doctor who lived across the street came over and said this to his stepfather, “If I see you do that again, I will have you put in jail.”  Thankfully, dad never suffered that kind of treatment again.

As with many children, sports provided a healthy outlet for dad and his older brothers, George and Ross. They preceded him at Sacramento High and excelled at football and baseball. So when dad entered high school, he had high expectations to live up to.  He took that to heart.

When he arrived at school on the first day, he wore a sweater emblazoned with the following slogan:  “Another great Relles comes to Sacramento High.”  Fortunately, he lived up to that hoopla.  We still have clippings from the Sacramento Bee describing dad’s football triumphs.

Another memory of my dad dates back to 1990.  I had just married for the second time and bought a home in College Glen.  That winter, rain came pouring through the roof. I was pretty broke, but obviously had to fix the problem, so I told mom I was coming over to Janey Way to borrow some money.

When I got there, I parked the car and came, head down, up to the house.  Mom let me in.  Dad was sitting at the table with his checkbook in hand.  As he wrote the check, he looked up with a smile and said, “I was hoping you would ask.”  My father was nothing if not generous.

My final memory is from 1999, the year my father died.  On the night of his passing, my sister and I called all of the family to let them know what happened.  Soon the aunts, uncles and cousins came over to give their condolences.  As I stood on the front porch, my aunt Leone came up, gave me a hug and said sincerely and lovingly, “he was a wonderful man.”  He was that and I am fortunate that he was my father.

A few days later, at the funeral, I stood on the altar of St. Mary’s church and eulogized my father. At the end of my speech, I looked up to the heavens and said softly, “uncle George and uncle Ross, you had better make some room up there in heaven, because there is another great Relles coming to join you.” That was 14 years ago, and not a day goes by that I don’t think about dad.  It’s another heart rending Janey Way memory.

Remembering Tackle Football without Pads

In 1959, the East Sacramento Little League constructed a baseball field at the intersection of 60th Street and M Street.  It was a beautiful field with forest green fences, built-in dugouts and a lush green outfield.  We all signed up for little league baseball that year.  But, after the baseball season ended, we discovered another great use for the field:  tackle football without pads.  Up until then, we had no grass field to play on, so we usually just played touch football in the street on Janey Way.  This field offered a whole new option for us.
At first we just played among ourselves, usually in four on four games.  However, subsequently we began to play games against other neighborhood gangs:  the O Street boys, the T Street gang and a group of kids from around East Portal Park.  The games were typically friendly rivalries and no one suffered anything more than a cut, bruise, or bloody nose, despite the lack of padding.
I recall one game, however, that turned out to be pretty rough.
One day, a group of us showed up at the field to toss the ball around and maybe play a little game.  We found another group of boys on the field.  No one recognized these boys.  A couple of them were large Neanderthal looking characters calling themselves “big hand” and “big foot.”  I think they were brothers.  They looked pretty ominous.
Eventually, one of the boys came over to challenge us to a game.  Naturally, we had to accept the challenge.
The two groups agreed to a game of four 10-minute quarters; one of the spectators agreed to time the game. Out to the field, sans pads, we went.  They got the ball, and scored first, pretty easily. We followed with a score of our own.  But, the first half ended in a 7 to 7 tie.
At half time, we worked up a strategy for tacking the big guys—gang tackling.  It worked.  They scored the first touchdown of the second half, but we followed with a score of our own making it a 14 to 14 tie.  Then we kept them from scoring again
We got the ball back with about 5 minutes left in the game.  I handed the ball to Al Wilson on first down for a 10-yard gain.  Then, I threw the ball to Lou Viani for a 20-yard gain. On third down, I ran a quarterback draw play up the middle.  When I hit the 10-yard line, one of their players grabbed me.  I kept running.  At the 5-yard line another defender latched on to me.  Finally at the one, the big guy hit the pile and knocked us all into the end zone.  We took a lead, which we never relinquished.
They got the ball back in the end, but failed to score. 
After the game, the strangers gathered on the side of the field, picked up their gear and left with heads hung down. We all stood in the center of the field and congratulated ourselves on a great victory. To celebrate our victory, we walked over the A and W drive-in on 65th Street and Elvas Avenue for a celebratory root beer.
The strangers never came back to our field again.  We must have made a lasting impression on them.  Now our days of tackle football without pads are just another bone-crushing Janey Way memory.

Faces and Places: East Sacramento Little League parade

The East Sacramento Little League held opening day festivities on Sunday, March 10. According to their website, the day was marked by beautiful weather, great attendance, and lots of excitement for the upcoming season. Scores of families turned out for the celebration, which included team introductions, an appearance by Dinger from the River Cats, and a series of exhibition games.

Pocket Girls Softball gearing up for upcoming season

The Board has been working hard to get ready for our upcoming season and we are all really excited to see the girls hit the field!

Official rosters are in the works so your coach should be contacting you within the next couple of days and practices can start as early as February 24.  Your coach will let you know your specific practice schedule.

The Second Annual Season Kick-Off Dinner is Sunday, Feb 24.  Pocket Girls Softball secured a couple of exciting motivational speakers and have lots of fun planned.  Buy tickets in advance so the group can plan for the appropriate amount of food.  Visit the store to purchase your tickets.

Pocket Girls Softball needs you.

First, one of our most important Board positions is still empty – Sponsorship/Fundraising Coordinator.  Second, help is needed for the kick-off dinner. There are volunteer openings for tasks such as coordinating the dessert auction, raffle, drink sales, etc. as well as jobs such as set up, food service, etc.  Please let the group know ASAP if you can help with this event. Finally, we will be collecting raffle items for our Kick-Off Dinner.

Contact: for more information.

Land Park Pacific Little League Line-up

REMINDER:  Online registration ends on Tuesday, January 8th, 2013.  Register now for the coming 2013 season at

2013 Tryouts will be held at Dooley Field and are scheduled for Jan. 12 and Jan. 19, weather permitting.  Check prior to tryouts for information on any last minute changes due to weather conditions.

Reminder that all players league age 8 or older (who will be 8 years old by April 30, 2013) MUST attend at least one tryout.

Tryout times: Please arrive 20 minutes prior to your tryout time to sign in.

12 year olds – 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Dooley 1

11 year olds – 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Dooley 1

10 year olds – 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. Dooley 1

9 year olds – 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Dooley 2

8 year olds – 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Dooley 2

13 and 14 year olds – To Be Announced.

Softball times may change depending on need. Please check website prior to Jan. 12 for more information.

Rio Americano football saga: Star member kicked off team, team quits in solidarity, coach fired, team comes back with a new coach, beating rival Cordova

Rio Americano senior Guillermo Salazar is a gifted athlete with dreams of playing college baseball on scholarship. And while baseball is his first love, Salazar is also talented enough to play varsity football and basketball for the Raiders.
With Rio at the time already four games deep into the football season, Salazar asked head football coach Christian Mahaffey for permission to miss the Raiders’ Oct. 13 home game against league opponent Whitney in order to attend a baseball showcase in front of college scouts in Peoria, Ariz.
Mahaffey gave Salazar a choice – either play in the Oct. 13 game or quit the team. Salazar chose the latter. As far as both sides were concerned, this was the end of the matter. Salazar, a wide receiver/defensive end was set to turn in his pads and prepare for the baseball showcase.
That’s when 11 of Salazar’s teammates stepped up and quit the team in solidarity with their comrade. When news of this spread through the school, Rio Principal Brian Ginter intervened. Ginter decided that instead of releasing the 12 players from the team, he intended to reinstate them and make them serve a one-game suspension for insubordination.
Mahaffey, who had been on the football coaching staff at Rio for 17 years and head coach for the last four, did not agree with the decision. So much so that after a meeting between parents and administrators, Mahaffey was fired as head coach along with long-time assistant coaches Jason Wallace and Kendell Hutchings.
While initially some believed that Mahaffey forbade his players from playing other sports, he actually encouraged them to play other sports. He felt baseball, a spring sport, should not interfere with football, a fall sport, in the middle of its season.
“I think Guillermo is a fantastic kid and I hope to watch him play baseball at Sac State in the future,” Mahaffey said in an email. “(But) Brian Ginter was wrong and he taught our kids a horrible lesson. That I am sure of.”
Mahaffey likened the reinstatement to the students bullying their way back onto the team. Ginter said that his decision was based on the fact that “there are no written guidelines for the kids” that forbid them from participating in off-season sports activities.
Despite the dismissal, both Ginter and Mahaffey said there is no animosity between them.
“It was unfortunate how it unfolded,” said Rio’s Athletic Director Karen Hanks. “We’re moving forward.” The particulars of a meeting between parents, coaches and administrators are being kept private, according to Hanks.
After the decision to let Mahaffey and his two assistants go, Ginter said the school started to receive emails from interested parties concerning the now vacant head coach position. The emails totaled a dozen or so in all, according to Ginter, but it was one from the son of long-time area football coach Max Miller that really got his attention.
Miller, whose grandson John is a member of the current Rio varsity team, agreed to coach the Raiders for the remainder of the season. Most recently Miller led the Folsom Bulldogs to a state championship in 2010.
“It didn’t turn out exactly as I wanted it to, but I’m really happy to be back,” said Salazar.
Despite being short 12 players on Oct. 5, Rio came out and obliterated league foe Cordova by a score of 30-6 in the league opener. Rio currently stands at 3-3 on the year with a 1-0 record in league play. They face Whitney on Oct. 13, where they will once again be without Salazar, who will be in Arizona for the weekend showing off his skills for college baseball scouts.
With a depleted team against Cordova, Salazar believes that the Raiders showed that they are a team to be reckoned with. “They showed that our team can be great even with low numbers. Our junior athletes are really good and they stepped up.”
“This was the only team in the United States of America who had only two days to prepare for a football game,” coach Miller said. “On offense we only ran four different plays and our fullback ran for three touchdowns,” he said.
The victory over Cordova was big for the depleted Raiders, but Whitney poses a different set of problems. The Wildcats sit with a record of 5-1 and are coming off a 63-14 win over league opponent Mira Loma. Whitney has outscored opponents 238-48 in its six games.
Miller was the head football coach and athletic director at Rio from 1972-80. He called those eight years “some of the best of my life.”