Steve Wilson

I ventured up to Greenfield the other day with the intent of doing a quick scan of Oak Avenue and El Camino Real where sits, on the northwest corner, the old Ioppini Building, or the Beyer Building, or The Economy Market — old-timers take your pick — to see if any changes could be detected. None. Not for months, maybe years.

I don’t know how much influence the city leaders have over such issues, but it would seem to me some pressure could be put upon landlords to do something about what amounts to an abandoned eyesore where a once fine-looking building stood. And still stands, but devoid of any life or purpose. Whatever needs to be done to make that building once again usable and profitable and attractive, do. Barring that, then raze it for new construction. ‘Nuff said.

Across the street, however, it is a different story. On the northeast corner, where my boyhood friend’s step-dad had a full-service Chevron gas station, there is now, after one year and one month of construction, a Chevron Extra Mile (EM) store with dual pump islands and even a Godfather’s Pizza shop snuggled in a corner of the nicely stocked mart. The Uppal family, who that day were dad, mom, two brothers and a sister-in-law, are the franchise owners and one brother, a fellow I suppose in his early 20s, told me he was a native Californian, but since his parents arrived from India, they had operated businesses in Texas and Oklahoma and Southern California, so they come with plenty of experience. Nice addition to the downtown area.

Venturing northward and across the street in the vacant lot between the old Greenfield Dep’t Store (Corda’s) and Rains’ Greenfield Liquor Store — don’t ask me what those buildings house today — there is another family affair, this one two brothers putting in a two-business commercial building where an abandoned car wash was for years. Santiago Valentin is the contractor; his Chameleon Construction company is well on the way to another addition to the main street corridor. The offices are situated on the north side of the lot, abutting the small market building that has been there since before my memory. Of course, offices need electricity and the man on the job is Javier Valentin, owner of JV Electric and brother of Santiago, so you see it’s another family business venture.

My last stop in Greenfield was to catch the bus at the northern stop, across the street from the Mary Chapa Literacy and Technology Academy (more on this at the end); my old stomping grounds from K-8 grades. But no stomping takes place there now, at least not on grass. Literally the whole playground area, which was real, live grass, that once existed, is now under cement and asphalt. I suppose there is still some grass and maybe even some dirt on the campus today, but it surely can’t be very much. Time stands still for no man … nor either apparently for Mother Earth. I trust the other schools in the city have ample stomping grounds.

Now, regarding the present-day name of the school. I don’t know what the sign on the building reads exactly, but the name I used above I got off a wall at the Monterey Airport earlier this month. There is found an exhibit of influential Women in Monterey County history and one of those honored is Mary Cruz Lerma de Chapa; the Mary Chapa whom many of us knew back in the 1960s and ’70s. It is accompanied with a photo, which reminds one that the world lost her way too young, but her legacy is intact in the thousands of students who pass through her namesake school.

Sunday morn I made my way up Reliz Canyon a short ways to Flora’s Farms, where the grounds displayed tractors of bygone eras festooned with red, white and blue bunting and displaying Old Glory banners that fluttered in breezes perfumed by the flora of the grounds. (That’s flora as in Latin for flower, not Flora as in Mrs. Ripley, who with daughter Celestina and Jeff operate Flora’s Farms. Good, I’m glad we got that straightened out.)

Joining hands with the Monterey County Agr … oh, MCARLM (look it up) who came with three tractors from the extensive collection at their San Lorenzo Park Museum and also with Roy’s Swiss Sausage and buns and beans and drinks and such fixin’s as one would find appropriate at an event honoring the heritage of tractors and their long history in the Salinas Valley. The three tractors from MCARLM were by no means the whole or even a sizable portion of the display. Flora’s Farms has a variety of antique tractors on the property, a couple unique in their applications to early ag work.

Another Sunday event beckoned and so, with the sounds of Reliz Creek gurgling in the background, I bade farewell to MCARLM board members and staff and crew (and Suzi, of course) and made my way southward to the Pavilion at SVF.

Of the many annual KC events, there is one gathering I find wonderfully uplifting and greatly entertaining. And that is the Monterey County Dance Theatre’s Summer Showcase; this year celebrating 63 years of dance in King City. As one who enjoys entertainment and to entertain, I found some years ago what a tight group Jan has maintained over the years.

When asked to guest perform with this talented troupe, I always hesitate because I never feel adequate, but always accept because I know I’ll be in disciplined and professional company; and what actor doesn’t want that? But the dancers, all of them, and the parents and supporters are all just nice people. And, again, who doesn’t love that?

This summer two senior butterflies, Kelly and Daisy, flew away, but fresh from the cocoon new butterflies made their debut; and the dance continues.

Take care. Peace.

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


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