Steve Wilson
Steve Wilson

If I were a cleverer wordsmith, I am sure I could come up with the right phrase, or adage, to convey how a bad thing can turn into a good thing; how a misstep may lead to a better path. It is possible I’ll come up with something further along in the column, but by then it won’t have the same impact. Anyhoo, what happened on a short drive just the other day is one of those cases; a lemons-to-lemonade kinda thing.

A fellow KCHS classmate of mine, from the sterling graduation year of 1970, and I set out on a small jaunt up to Clark Colony and thought that a nice leisurely drive up the Valley via Metz Road would be more amenable than dealing with freeway traffic, and so we set off.

Our first order of business was deciding which route to exit the city: via Third Street/Spreckels Avenue to Metz Road or starting at First Street (or, I suppose, San Antonio Drive) and Metz. The fact that we ended up in Soledad I attribute to the lack of notice that access to Elm Avenue was barricaded; there were no signs anywhere on Third or Spreckels, nor at the intersection of Metz and Spreckels; which of course would allow a driver to either turn back to King City and access the freeway or continue on their merry way.

While I cannot verify that no signs informing the public that once at Elm no access to Greenfield existed off Metz at either First or San Antonio, I can draw a conclusion. Once confronted with barricades, the only fuel-efficient move was to continue onward north to Soledad and come back down the Valley to Three Mile Flat (I’m a Greenfield native, so I get to use old names for the town), and so we ventured north.

And that is when a downer morphed into a high. Neither of us had traveled over that section of the roadway for quite some time and it was quite pleasant rolling along at a casual speed taking in the rain greened hills with the smattering of houses found off small roads marked by mail boxes. Somewhere just north of Elm, nestled atop a leveled hillock is where Kelli and Mike built a home out of alfalfa, or hay, straw; something like that anyway. On the river side farther (or is it further?) up the road is where Pauline, the Do Everything Lady in Soledad, had her home for many years.

There are large swaths of land dedicated to grapes, of course, and the long tree rows separating some of the sections are very reminiscent of the eucalyptus rows once found on the other side of the river, in the flatlands. These trees, though, are some sort of cedar, I guess, which apparently are far more conducive to wind control without excessive buildup of fallen leaves.

And then there is the city of Soledad itself; a town quite changed since my youth when I frequented it with my parents. I have mentioned before that as Prison employees, my parents worked with people mostly from Greenfield, Soledad and Gonzales with a few Salinas families tossed in, so we often went to gatherings at housed in all four towns.

Over the years all the Valley towns have grown into cities, but the most striking changes to me are found in Soledad. Homes now stretch far east and northeast away from Front Street and the railroad tracks, with new, to me, middle and elementary schools, a collegiate looking high school and far more parks. The whole south end of the city is a shopping, fueling, dining and entertainment mecca. Our little meander through streets new to both of us was a pleasant little detour from what was 40 minutes before a bummer with barricades. It is nice when that happens; even though I still can’t think of words to exactly define what “that” is. Serendipitous; there, that’ll work.


If you were wondering, and even if you weren’t, about the heading for today’s column, here is a short bit about the source of those words. I got a call the other day from Dave, who heads up the Lion’s Club International District 4-C6 annual speech competition (the theme is today’s title), asking me if I would once again act as judge for the upcoming competition. Oh, yessir, I will!

I look upon involvement with these types of events as both an opportunity and an honor; these are the voices of the future and it doesn’t hurt one little bit to give them a listen. At this time, I don’t know the number of speakers, nor which high school they attend, but based on past experiences I know they will be interesting to listen to.

I mention experiences, plural, as I have judged such competitions both in Greenfield and here in KC in the past, and I was, way back in the misty, distant past, one of those speakers. And I still have a copy of the speech I recited at both the Greenfield Lion’s Hall, where I placed first, and then at Pozzi’s, where I placed third. I pulled the yellowing paper with the double-spaced typing on it, now some 54 years old, and read the title words: “The Hopes and Fears of Today’s Youth.”

Reading it I was sometimes impressed with word choices, but more often than not cringing at the thoughts expressed. As I reflected on that boy of many years ago, I took note of how much he has changed, and how much he has stayed the same; I suppose that is true of all of us when we indulge our memories. I trust the young speakers of today will years from now also look back on their words and take stock.

Take care. Peace.

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King City and Greenfield columnist Steve Wilson may be reached at [email protected].


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