The Grove

photo by Mike Donnelly

by Mike Donnelly and Leslie Layton

The nine-unit Grove Motel north of Willows on the old Highway 99 has been in the family of Gene Del Pape since 1957. Its sign is a rusting relic with peeling, powder-blue paint and unlit neon.

“They don’t make signs like that anymore,” says Del Pape, noting that it was featured in a historical book. When his father bought the motel on what is now called County Road 99W, it was a four-unit building, a motor court where cars parked between units on a well-traveled highway.

Remnants of these classic American icons from the ’20s, ’30s and ’40s can be seen up and down the old motoring routes. “No Vacancy.” “Eat.” “Cocktails”, they call out — if you can still read them as they decay in the crumbling ruins of road stops. Weary travelers now stop at fast-food restaurants and corporate hotel chains on the Interstate. read more

Charter Movement Deepens Segregation

Chapman missions

photo by Tania Flores

Chapman Elementary fourth-graders build California missions

by Leslie Layton

Chico Country Day School’s classroom No. 22 was hopping on a spring morning with 29 fourth-graders on the cusp of greatness. Regan had opened the world’s largest orphanage, Morgen had found a cure for malaria and Alex was a “record-breaking lawyer.”

The charter-school students were completing an assignment that required they imagine themselves 30 years in the future as Time magazine’s Person of the Year. Each student was putting together an issue of the magazine honoring his or her future self.

One mile to the east, at Chico’s most diverse public school, fourth-graders at Chapman Elementary were also tackling a hands-on project, but theirs was a fourth-grade ritual, one performed for decades. Each student was building a cardboard model of a California mission he or she had selected and researched. read more

What’s In a Name?

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Chico writer Alexa Valavanis wrote the following column in response to the Aug. 4, 2010 ruling by a federal judge overturning California’s gay-marriage ban.

by Alexa Valavanis

Judge Vaughn Walker doesn’t know my name. I’ve never written him a letter or rang his smart phone. We’re not colleagues or acquaintances or even Facebook “friends.” In fact, there’s a strong possibility the judge and I would defy the theory of “six degrees of separation.”

Which is a long way of saying the chief judge of the U.S. District Court in California, nominated by George H.W. Bush, doesn’t know anything about me. He doesn’t know I value my family and faith above all else. He doesn’t know how deeply I cherish being an American and the individual rights and freedoms both of my grandfathers fought for. read more

Cemetery Tells of Culture Crossings

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photo by Denise Minor

by Denise Minor

South of the town of Knight’s Landing off Road 113 sits Mary’s Chapel and Cemetery. The white church is stoic and plain with a narrow steeple that punctures the sky. The graveyard behind it has thick grass and ancient tombstones clustered by families.

Names on the stones are decidedly German and English. The Longs, Kennedys and Glascocks all boast “Native of England.” Interspersed among them are families with names such as Shneegas, Zimmerman and Clausen. Some read “Native of Germany” and others “Native of Bavaria.” In a clearly demarcated plot rests Henry Clausen 1826-1901 on one side and Catherine Clausen 1840-1922 on the other. Between them are the gravestones for Charlie 1870-1888, Julia 1869-1871, and Minnie 1875-1895. Did this man and woman suffer three times what many of us would consider the worst experience possible — the death of a child? Were there other offspring who survived? read more

Familia dividida por la migra

por Leslie Layton

Un lunes en marzo a las 6:30 de la mañana, un señor salió de su casa en Chico con un amigo rumbo a la tienda, para comprar leche antes de ir a trabajar. Al arrancar su carro, se dio cuenta que una camioneta Durango, que anteriormente vio estacionada frente a su casa, le seguía. Paró su carro y la camioneta paró también.

Oficiales de Inmigración (ICE por sus siglas en inglés) se le acercaron, diciendo que querían hacerles unas preguntas. Querían verificar sus nombres y ver sus identificaciones. Preguntaron si ellos tenían “papeles” para comprobar residencia legal. Él y su amigo eran inmigrantes sin documentos y por eso los oficiales les pusieron esposas y los metieron en la parte trasera de la camioneta. read more

Chico Attorney’s Water Project Quenches Thirst, Ambition

Ron Reed Loading Drill

photo by Erik Aguilar

by Ron Reed

When Besta Mlowe was born 18 years ago in the town of Ifunda in Tanzania, it seemed this would be her future: she would marry young, have many children, be dominated by her husband and live in a mud hut.

Mlowe was the second born in a family of four children. When she was 2, her father abandoned the family. When she was 14, her mother died. She and her siblings had been working in the fields to get money for food, and Besta had been to primary school and had learned to read in Swahili.

After her mother’s death, the four Mlowe children went to live with their grandparents in a village in the Kilolo District of Iringa. Now, her grandfather is 85 and unable to work. The children cultivate maize and beans, living in a small hut with a dirt floor. read more