Tracing Tracy Territory: Keep rooting for those Bulldogs
by Sam Matthews / TP publisher emeritus
Apr 03, 2010 | 5010 views | 0 0 comments | 41 41 recommendations | email to a friend | print
When the Butler Bulldogs square off against the Michigan State Spartans later today in the Final Four semifinal game of the NCAA postseason basketball tournament, there’s no doubt who in Tracy will be rooting for Butler.

Tom Brown, the retired Tracy Realtor, attended Butler for several years before transferring to the University of Washington. Butler University, though, in his birthplace of Indianapolis, is where Tom’s heart remains.

And don’t tell Tom, as some sportscasters and sports writers have, that this is the first time Butler has placed in the NCAA tournament.

As he pointed out in an e-mail to San Francisco Chronicle sports columnist Scott Ostler, Butler won national championships in 1924 and 1929 and competed in the NCAA’s March Madness in 2000, 2001 and 2003. It was in 2003 that the Bulldogs reached the Sweet 16.

Tom’s roots with Butler run deep. Facilities on the Indianapolis campus are named for his grandfather and his uncle, and countless relatives have attended Butler, a Disciples of Christ-affiliated college founded in 1855.

I’m certain Tom won’t be alone in rooting for the Bulldogs. Their upsets of favored Syracuse and Kansas State en route to the Final Four caught the attention of basketball fans across the nation. Count me among ’em.

Tom’s affiliation with Butler wasn’t the first time I had heard of the small (enrollment 4,512) liberal arts college in Indianapolis. Bill Hughett was a former Butler football player with whom I served in the Army in Germany in the mid-1950s.

Bill, an Indianapolis native who headed up recreation activities for the 1st Engineer Battalion, talked up Butler a lot — and I mean a lot. I haven’t heard from Bill in years, but if he’s still alive and kicking, he’ll most certainly be cheering on the Bulldogs tonight in Lucas Oil Stadium, only a few short miles from Butler’s 290-acre, park-like campus in Indianapolis.

Go Bulldogs!

Music, music, music

In the past few years, I’ve made it out to the West High gym about this time of year to snap photos of winners of middle-school students receiving Gordon and Anthea Wells Music Scholarships.

The scholarships are awarded at the intermission of Tracy Unified School District’s All-District Music Festival. A week ago Thursday night, I was in the gym snapping photos as usual.

While I waited for intermission, I sat through several selections by combined bands and orchestras and choruses of the district’s middle and high schools. As I have been every year, I was impressed by the quality of the instrumental and vocal music. The relatives and friends of the musicians who packed the gym must have been impressed, too. At a time when the arts are being cut in many school districts, it was great to see music education in Tracy alive and flourishing.

As I have mentioned in the past, it’s unusual for a district to have both bands and orchestras in their high schools. We can thank the late Mel Jacobson for that.

Mel, a local optometrist, accomplished violinist (and concertmaster of the Stockton Symphony) and school trustee, insisted that stringed instruments be part of the music curriculum.

I should also mention that, in addition to the quality of the music, the participation of so many band, orchestra and choir members in a packed gym also was impressive.

But then, when district trustees were forced to approve major budget cuts Tuesday night, the decision to eliminate two music-teacher positions among staff cuts really caught my eye. I have no firm handle on what the loss of two music teachers would mean — if the cuts are implemented — for the district’s music programs, but it doesn’t bode well. And it’s especially distressing after seeing and hearing the fruits of a robust music program at the recent all-district music festival.

And speaking of ...

While on the topic of top-notch musical presentations, I’ll have to say how impressed I was by the performance of “Cabaret” Sunday afternoon at the Grand Theatre.

The “bus and truck” (mode of transportation) touring company, Windwood Theatricals out of New York, was wonderfully talented and well-staged. The key role of the master of ceremonies at the Kit Kat Klub (think Joel Gray) was carried off in grand, mischievous style by a young performer named Zac Mordechai.

More high-quality music is in store at the Grand tonight, when the Soweto Gospel Choir from South Africa comes to town. If the choir’s program comes close to matching its reputation, it should be quite a performance.

I understand last-minute ticket sales are going well, so a larger audience than the one at “Cabaret” can be expected.

A real ‘rail’

Tracyites active in the West Side Pioneer Association are saying prayers for Jean Wilson, one of the association’s past presidents and stalwarts for a number of years.

Jean is now a patient at Good Samaritan Rehabilitation and Care Center in Stockton and is not given much longer to be among us — a week or 10 days at the most.

If you ever asked Jean to identify herself, she would immediately respond, “I’m a ‘rail’ and darn proud of it.”

Her father, Scotty Jardine, was a Southern Pacific locomotive engineer, and Jean worked many years as a clerk for the SP. She loved every minute of it.

• Sam Matthews, Tracy Press publisher emeritus, can be reached at 830-4234 or by e-mail
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