Crossroads

photo by Leslie Layton

photo by Leslie Layton

Manteca, 148 miles south of Chico on Highway 99, is on the route motorists have traveled for years from the Bay Area to Yosemite National Park.

by Lindajoy Fenley

Dave Gordon’s mural in downtown Manteca harks back to the early 1900s, when trains steamed through fields of bright yellow sunflowers, and watermelon and pumpkin crops made this San Joaquin Valley farm town prosperous. A huge watermelon rides in a small child’s wheelbarrow, tall gray canisters fill the milkman’s truck, a mother with kids in tow holds a couple of sunflowers, and wispy white clouds hover in a clear blue sky. read more

Undocumented Students: Illegal but not Criminal

Gubernatorial candidates Meg Whitman and Jerry Brown
Gubernatorial candidates Meg Whitman and Jerry Brown

by Dave Waddell

Given the nauseating, demoralizing politics that overshadow the complex family issues of illegal immigration, I was heartened to read of the Obama administration’s intentionally laissez-faire treatment of students who were brought to the United States unlawfully as children.

To me, the best way to counter the demonization of all illegal immigrants, including these students, is to put a human face to their plight. So I’d like you to meet “Alicia,” my student.

I put quotation marks around the name because it is an alias. I would prefer to use her real name, but she fears being identified, despite the fact that students like her are increasingly stepping up and speaking out. Alicia was conditioned by her family to not “rock the boat.” That’s understandable when a wrong move could result in detention and deportation. read more

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. 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. read more

What’s In a Name?

AlexaPark_300_250

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.” read more

Cemetery Tells of Culture Crossings

Cemetery_500_375

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