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July 6, 2022

Funny Papers Again Column | A King City ‘Hello’ and a Greenfield ‘Goodbye’

Unless you have been living in a cave, you are probably aware that there is a rather large event looming on the horizon in the form of a class reunion; and not just a small one either. On Aug. 27 the King City Joint Union High School Classes of 1970 through 1979 will gather down in the Orradre Building at the Salinas Valley Fairgrounds. In order to give the organizers of this monumental task a helping hand, I thought I would use this column to reach out to all those alumni who plan to attend, or not attend, with plea for some information.

Firstly, “Hello” fellow alumni; greetings from the Home of the Mustangs. Those of us who will gather on that evening would like a little information, a little nod to the culture in each year you graduated, and two of those submissions would be an answer to two questions: “What song do YOU most remember from your senior year?” and “What movie?” And in a personal vein: “What event in your senior year left the most lasting impression?” “How far will you travel to attend the reunion?” “How long have you been married?” and “How many children; grandchildren; great-grandchildren?”

Of course your responses, should you choose to submit any, should include your name, then and now, the year you graduated, and where you lived (“joint union,” remember?). You may send your responses to both Julie Digges and I to [email protected]; password [email protected] Please keep in mind that the committee members will need responses soon, so please if you choose to respond, do so as quickly as possible; like today. Thanks.

If you are interested in reuniting with many, many alumni from the ’70s decade, then make your plans and please join us come August; you won’t regret the decision.

***

A few days ago news came that Greenfield and Arroyo Seco said “Goodbye” to a vibrant member of society. Dee Heckman passed on after years of battling an illness, which ultimately took her life. Her passing brought about a flood of condolences from hundreds whose lives were touched by this caring and innovative educator. I want to take a few words to say to those who knew Dee, or remember her with fondness, that I am sorry for your loss. Also, to add a memory of my own.

I first met Dee Heckman on Open Schools Night at Greenfield Elementary School in the fall of 1990; I believe at that time she was in her second year of teaching and I was just starting at the Greenfield News as editor, photographer, advertising salesperson and chief bottle washer. It was a busy position with a lot of ground to cover, but stories from the school seemed to be a hit with readers so I spent a fair amount of time on the, at the time, three Greenfield campuses.

Dee was, if memory serves, teaching at the second-grade level that year, but it seemed most of the students in all classes knew her. I knew Dee as one of many teachers who had projects in their classrooms for which they wanted some coverage, then a few months into the school year a local theater group called for auditions for a production planned for just before the Christmas Break, and Dee and I became part of the cast and crew.

It was one of those fun little shows to do, produced by The Down Home Players, aka “The Art and Dean Show,” called “Exit the Body,” and Dee was in production; don’t ask me to recall what tech position she held, but with a small show usually one wears many hats, so she was very much a part of that production. We took the show on the road, performing not only in the Lion’s Hall in Greenfield, but on the KCHS Auditorium Stage, at Pozzi’s in King City and the Lockwood Community Hall. It was a good time.

After that early association, I was at Dee’s place in Fred’s Camp, or Arroyo Seco Resort if you are a youngster and only know that name, for a few small gatherings of mostly school district employees. She was a lively person, was Dee, a gracious host and good conversationalist. Those times are good memories for me, so I know there are many, many others who have memories just as fond of times spent with Dee.

And those who knew Ms. Heckman the teacher number in the hundreds, or thousands, and many of them have let their feelings for her known on social media. Not all educators are able to leave their students with fond remembrances of their primary school years, but Dee Heckman was not among them; the flood of responses to news of her passing was a catalogue of names ranging over two decades or more.

I want to add one little note here regarding those early years at GES. A new superintendent took over in 1991, his name isn’t worth mentioning but we called him “The Brezz,” and Dee became a target of his because of her outspokenness. I remember one day in the Teacher’s Lounge when Dee was sitting at a table when The Brezz walked in (administration didn’t often use that room, it was for teachers) and sat across from Dee and said, “I understand you are concerned with my salary.”

That was a straight confrontational remark and Dee handled it well, answering that it was her right to question anything she wished to question. The Brezz got up and left, but from that day forward, although she was targeted, she continued to serve her students well; and that was all that really mattered. Rest easy, Dee, rest easy.

Take care. Peace.

Steve Wilson
King City and Greenfield Columnist
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