Rail recollections
by Sam Matthews
Jul 18, 2014 | 1517 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Vern and Maxine Hanson sat in the front seat of their car to watch the last San Joaquin Daylight travel through Tracy on April 30, 1971. The Daylight had special meaning for them: They met on the Daylight in 1943. Press file photo
Vern and Maxine Hanson sat in the front seat of their car to watch the last San Joaquin Daylight travel through Tracy on April 30, 1971. The Daylight had special meaning for them: They met on the Daylight in 1943. Press file photo
Mention of the San Joaquin Daylight in last week’s column on Tracy’s history as a stop on passenger-rail service between Oakland and San Francisco brought several comments from old-time tank-towners.

Retired librarian Mary Pribyl emailed me that her first view of Tracy “was from the window of the Daylight.”

She recalled being a student at University of Southern California in January 1951 when she came to Tracy to visit her parents, Farren and Lucille Jensen, who had just moved to the Shell Oil pumping plant on Lammers Road.

“As the train approached Tracy, the fields were all under water, looking rather like traveling through a lake,” she wrote. “I came to Tracy three more times by the Daylight before I actually moved here.”

Mary also reported that, later on, she and husband Bob and young son Jeff went to the Tracy Southern Pacific station to see the last steam engine go through in the 1960s.

I can recall being at the Southern Pacific Depot on April 30, 1971, when the last Daylight passed through Tracy, en route from Los Angeles to Oakland. Nearby in the parking lot, I spotted Vern and Maxine Hanson seated in the front seat of their car, holding hands.

Maxine and Vern told me the Daylight had special meaning for them. It was in 1943, during World War II, that Maxine Peterson boarded the Daylight in Tracy to travel to Los Angeles for a dance recital.

Several freshly minted Army Air Corps second lieutenants were also on the train, heading to advanced navigator training in Southern California.

One of the young lieutenants, Verner Hanson from Minnesota, happened to sit next to the dance student from Tracy. Vern and Maxine were married six months later.

During the war, Vern survived anti-aircraft shrapnel wounds as a bomber navigator in Europe. After the war, he settled down in Tracy with Maxine. In 1975, the young lieutenant from Minnesota became Tracy’s mayor.

The Swiss are coming

A lot of people keep wondering what kind of impact the Tesla Motor Car Co. will have on this area as it cranks up assembly of electric cars in Fremont.

Here in Tracy, there is a blip on the Tesla radar screen. A Swiss company, the Bossard Group, is opening a warehouse here to deliver high-tech screws and fasteners to Tesla’s Fremont assembly plant — the onetime New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. factory.

The Swiss operation doesn’t seem to be huge, however. Bossard is hiring three warehouse employees and may, or may not, have supervisors coming from elsewhere.

“Elsewhere” is mostly Cedar Falls, Iowa, were Bossard has its U.S. headquarters.

The parent firm is in Zug, Switzerland, which is well known throughout the financial world as a “safe haven” for taxes. Zug has the lowest tax rate in Switzerland, and any number of firms, including those traditionally based in the U.S., have established headquarters there to take advantage of low tax rates.

Bossard isn’t one of the out-of-country tax-avoiders, though. It’s a hometown Zug company that started out as a hardware store in 1831 and is managed by the seventh generation of the Bossard family.

It focuses on high-tech precision screws and fasteners used in a variety of manufacturing operations. Tesla is one of them.

In March, the two firms announced that Bossard had received a three-year contract to provide production fasteners, engineering and logistical services. The deal will generate $140 million for Bossard.

The Swiss warehouse operation isn’t anywhere near the size of the now-gone Curtis-Maruyasu America operation that was located off Holly Dive at Larch Road. That firm completed and shipped oil lines for the NUMMI plant that produced GM and Toyota vehicles before it was closed in 2010. Tesla later took over the factory.

The Swiss warehouse is a start, and whether Tesla becomes a major factor in this area’s economy is still an unknown.

• Sam Matthews, Tracy Press publisher emeritus, can be reached at 830-4234 or by email at shm@tracypress.com.

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