Dr. Dow Ransom Jr. served on the USS La Vallette, a Fletcher class destroyer, during World War II.
Seventy-five years ago today, more than 150,000 Allied troops charged onto the beaches of Normandy. They stretched out for 50 miles along the heavily-fortified French coastline to begin the fight to take Europe back from Nazi Germany. One month later that number had risen to one million soldiers.
Through it all, Madera was watching, but not everyone followed the action from home. One Maderan heard the news over the radio and recorded the event in his diary from aboard a Navy destroyer in the middle of the Pacific.
Dr. Dow Ransom Jr., graduate of the Madera High class of 1934, was aboard the USS La Vallette on June 6, 1944 when he received word that the invasion of Europe had begun. He recorded the news in his diary:
“Heard a brief flash over the radio that our troops had invaded Europe — hope so.”
Ransom didn’t have time to write much more about the invasion, for he was in the middle of his own fight. While the Allies were fighting the Germans on the beaches of Normandy, he was part of the force that was fighting the Japanese in the Pacific.
The La Vallette had just taken part in the battle over Hollandia, a port on the northern coast of New Guinea. Now their battle group was organizing again to pursue the enemy even further. The day before D-Day, Ransom recorded that La Vallette returned to Hollandia early in the morning. By evening it had new orders to proceed up western New Guinea and rendezvous with a cruiser task force that was operating around Biak in the Schouton Islands. While the Allies were invading Normandy, Ransom were headed for the Battle of Biak, part of the New Guinea campaign of World War II, fought from May 27 to August 17, 1944. It was all part of the plan for the invasion of the Philippines.
The Day before D-Day, Ransom’s ship rendezvoused with 14 other destroyers and 3 cruisers. He wrote, “Might see some Japs this time.” On D-Day, La Vallette refueled, took on more ammunition, and awaited further orders. On D-Day +1, Ransom wrote, “Finally got the dope on the invasion of Europe and it was read with great enthusiasm by all hands. Surely hope they move right ahead over there.
At 4:45, Ransom’s ship got orders to steam to the site of a plane crash about 45 miles at sea to pick up survivors. When they got there, the plane was still afloat. Everybody survived. From there, they steamed back towards the Battle of Biak.
On D-Day+2, June 8, 1944, Ransom continued to steam for Biak. At 3 o:clock p.m. the lookouts spotted a Japanese torpedo bomber (a “Betty”) flying low over the water. Ransom watched the plane through the “long glass” and was struck by the size of the red circle on its fuselage. He wrote that it looked like the enemy plane was “snooping and relaying back our speed and course.” The La Vallette continued on course, and at nine that night they picked up a Japanese night bomber on radar. They were just north of Biak at the time.
As the enemy plane flew over Ransom’s task force, all of the ships opened up on him. The pilot dropped a bright flare over the formation and dropped his bombs. They all missed, but one came within 100 yards.
While the flare was floating down, the La Vallette picked up five enemy ships on radar coming toward them. They were destroyers, carriers and cruisers and got within torpedo range. After firing them, they turned tail at full speed. One torpedo just missed one of the U.S. cruisers.
Ransom’s task force immediately opened their throttles wide open and took after them. He wrote that it was “one of the most exciting nights we have ever spent.” They chased the enemy ships for 140 miles but were finally called off and ordered to return to the formation. Before they did, however, they hit 0ne Japanese ship with a five-inch shell. The sea was rough and water was crashing over the bow, but they could still see the big flash that came from the enemy ship when it was hit.
By June 9, 1944, D-Day+3, the La Vallette rejoined the task force and steamed in circles east of Biak supporting the invasion of that island. The next day it had to return to Hollandia for more fuel and ammunition.
And thus it went. While the Allies were fighting the Germans to set Europe free from the Nazis, American forces were fighting Japan to free the Pacific from its tyranny. Now, 75 years later we remember D-Day, and we also remember Lt. Dow Ransom Jr. who put his life on the line for almost three years to help keep America free.
In 1956, two hundred twenty-three Madera High School seniors marched up to get their diplomas in ceremonies at Memorial Stadium. Among them was Susan Anne Meadows who had compiled a stellar record at Madera High. She then went on to U.C. Berkeley and won a prominent place in Bay Area society and politics, serving 10 years on the Berkeley City Council, most of them as Vice Mayor.
Sue Meadows died in her Berkeley home at the age of 80 on April 2, 2019, and we want to thank Joseph Farias for giving us a chance to recognize this outstanding woman who began to make her mark in Madera.
Susan was born in San Francisco but was raised in Madera where she was active in the Rainbow Girls, the Campfire Girls, and the Trinity Episcopal Youth Group. By the time she was a junior at Madera High, Susan was the editor of the school newspaper and on graduation night in 1956, she was one of the four graduation speakers.
After high school Susan enrolled at Cal Berkeley as an English major. Along the way to her degree, she got married to Michael Curran Hone (at Trinity Episcopal in Madera) and spent a lot of time working as the managing editor of the Daily Californian. Then after graduation from Cal., her life took an unusual turn. She became a political activist and wound up on the Berkeley City Council.
Susan first aroused the attention of the local Bay Area politicians with her work as a member of the League of Women Voters. She became so well known that in 1971 the Berkeley City Council voted to appoint her to fill a vacancy in its ranks. Susan acquitted herself so professionally that she easily won her own term on the Council in 1973.
Four seats were open that year, and 22 people were running for them. Susan garnered more votes than any of them. After her election, the Council members voted her to the position of Vice Mayor.
Throughout her ten-year tenure on the Council, Susan continued her work as a member of the moderate Berkeley Democratic Club. She also championed women’s rights and worked tirelessly to improve Berkeley’s libraries, parks, and public transportation.
In 1981, Susan decided not to run for another term on the Council, but that didn’t mean she was through with public service. She was elected to the Bay Area Rapid Transit Board where she served one four-year term. She also served for many years as a California probate referee.
This former Madera High School standout went on to champion dozens of other causes and assisted the careers of other elected women. She was an early president of California Elected Women for Education and Research. In the 1980s, she was a volunteer with the National Women’s Education Fund and helped train women on how to run for elected offices. As a result of these, she became lifelong friends with a large number of elected women, not only from California but from throughout the United States as well.
Although she wasn’t an attorney, Susan was a founder of the California Women Lawyers Association. She also served as a board member of the McCullum Youth Court, Berkeley’s Town and Gown Club, the Claremont Book Club, and even found time for the Berkeley Tennis Club.
Apart from politics, and her two children and four grandsons, Susan’s greatest personal passion in life was music, and she served on the boards of the Berkeley Symphony, Berkeley Opera, Berkeley Piano Club, Merola Opera Young Artist Training Program and as chairman of the Board of San Francisco Classical Voice. She was also a member of New York’s Metropolitan Opera Club.
Susan was also an avid reader, an excellent tennis, ping-pong and bridge player, and a longtime and committed fan of the UC Berkeley women’s basketball team.
A memorial service will be held for Susan at St. Clement’s Episcopal Church in Berkeley on Saturday, June 29 at 11 p.m.
Celebrate National Iced Tea Month with a tall glass of your favorite tea over ice.
I was glad to find out about June being National Iced Tea Month, because I am quite a fan of iced tea. Many years ago in the early ‘70s, I lived in South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia, where I became quite comfortable with sipping iced tea the entire time.
I had enjoyed iced tea before that, of course, but it was part of the culture of the South that was comforting and almost seemed to be a requirement of residency. The only thing that took some getting used to was how sweet most people made their tea.
These days, I don’t even add any sweetener to my iced tea, but I understand that is purely a personal preference and there is no right or wrong way to prepare the beverage. I also found out the hard way that making sun tea was not a very healthful idea, as one time I wondered how all those threads got into my sun tea jar that I had brewing on the deck outside. Well, those threads happened to be strands of yucky bacteria and I never prepared tea that way again.
Works perfectly fine setting the jar in the refrigerator to brew. Or use an automatic iced-tea maker. On to the recipes.
Raspberry iced tea
8 1/4 cups water, to be divided
2/3 cup sugar
5 tea bags
3 to 4 cups unsweetened raspberries
1. In a large saucepan, bring 4 cups water to a boil. Stir in sugar until dissolved. Remove from heat; add tea bags. Steep for to 8 minutes. Discard tea bags. Add 4 cups water.
2. In another saucepan, bring raspberries and remaining water to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 3 minutes. Strain and discard pulp. Add raspberry juice to the tea mixture. Serve in chilled glasses over ice.
Basic iced tea
Many people love to use Orange Pekoe tea and spring, filtered or distilled water when they brew tea. Use your favorites; it’s all good.
1. In a small saucepan, bring the 2 1/4 cups water to a gentle boil. Add the tea bags, remove the saucepan from the heat, and cover. Steep for 15 minutes.
2. Remove the tea bags without squeezing them (which would add bitterness) and pour the steeped tea into a 2 1/2-quart heatproof container (like a large Pyrex liquid measure). Add the 6 cups cold water and mix. Let cool at room temperature and then refrigerate until cold. Serve over ice, garnished with sugar, lemon wedges, and mint sprigs.
Mango iced tea
1 quart water
4 tea bags (or however many your package directs you to use for 1 gallon of tea)
3 tablespoons Truvia-type sweetener or 1 cup sugar
3 quarts water
1. Heat first quart of water in a saucepan. Peel and chop mango, and add to hot water. Bring to a simmer, and let simmer for five minutes.
2. Add tea bags and let steep for five minutes or more. Strain into a pitcher or jar. Stir in Truvia or sugar. Add remaining three quarts of water. Refrigerate and serve over ice.
Watermelon iced tea
1 small watermelon, about 2 pounds
5 black tea bags
4 cups water
1 cup sugar
2 to 3 drops of red food coloring, optional
Fresh mint leaves, optional
1. Bring the 4 cups of water to a boil, then remove from heat. Toss in tea bags, and let sit for 20 minutes.
2. Cut the top of the watermelon off, and save for later. Scoop out the red part from the bottom. Place the red part of the watermelon into a blender or food processor, and puree.
3. Pour the watermelon puree into a pan, and sprinkle in the sugar. Mix until well combined, then bring to a boil, and cook for 2 minutes.
4. Turn the heat off, then remove pan from heat, and let sit for 5 minutes. Pour the watermelon puree into a pitcher, along with the now concentrated tea. Add in a few drops of red food coloring ( optional). Stir, then let it sit until it cools.
5. Cut the leftover watermelon into cubes. Place the mint leaves, watermelon cubes and ice into a pitcher. Pour the watermelon tea over the ice. Let sit for 5 minutes and serve.
Lavender peach iced tea
8 cups water, to be divided
3 tablespoons dried lavender blossoms
3 large peaches
1/2 cup honey, optional
1. In a large pan, bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Add lavender flowers and steep for 5 minutes or until desired strength, then strain.
2. Dice the peaches and put them in the bottom of a half-gallon jar or pitcher. Drizzle the honey on top of the peaches, if using.
3. Pour strained lavender tea over the peaches. Muddle slightly. Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature, about one hour.
4. Add the remaining 4 cups of water to the peaches and tea and refrigerate until cold. Serve over ice.
A Madera High School student was arrested Tuesday after he allegedly wrote a threat on the wall of the high school bathroom. Police are not releasing his name. The 16-year-old will remain in custody in juvenile hall until he sees a judge.
Lt. Dan Foss of The Madera Police Department said the threat was apparently written on the wall on Monday. The wording is not being released but he characterized it as one of generic violence.
“Many times our students do not understand the ramifications simple comments can cause, or the danger and fear they create in a community,” said Foss. “The Madera Police Department will treat every threat, implied or otherwise, as serious and will seek prosecution against the perpetrator. If you are aware of anyone thinking of making threats or comments that can be perceived as a threat, please notify us immediately so we can get in front of this, prior to it becoming a major issue. And parents, please speak with your kids and inform them of the weight and consequences their words or actions can carry.” he said.
Foss said these comments would now have serious consequences for the boy, whom officers identified the next day after working with school resource officers and staff. The student reportedly claimed the threat was written only as a prank or joke, and he intended no actual violence.
In a separate statement The Madera Police Department said the number of threats of violence at local schools was rising and any threats would not be taken lightly.
Anyone with information on implied, verbal or written threats at schools should contact the Madera Police Department immediately at 675-4220. The police dispatch line is answered 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
President Theodore Roosevelt’s son, Theodore Jr., was the only general who joined the landing troops on D-Day during World War II.
On June 6, 1944, Allied troops hit the beaches of Normandy to begin a drive across France and into Germany. While some American troops left their landing crafts at Omaha Beach and fought their way across the sand to put a stop to the withering German machine gun fire, those soldiers who had been assigned to Utah Beach encountered a different kind of problem. Due to a navigational error, they landed on the wrong inlet on Utah Beach. Thankfully, they had a battle-hardened brigadier general to lead them in correcting the mistake.
Instead of allowing panic to set in, the troops followed their leader without hesitation, for they knew that he was the first Allied general to wade ashore on the entire Normandy beachhead. Once they became organized after missing their assigned landing point, the general became a veritable lightning rod of leadership. What soldier would not follow such a man?
Quickly assessing the situation, the fighting general directed the remainder of the division into the “new sector” by yelling, “We’ll start the war from here.” He and his troops overwhelmed the German defenses and rapidly drove inland with fewer casualties than any of the divisions of the other four beachheads. Armed with only a pistol and walking with a cane due to arthritis, the general led several assaults along the beachhead.
So highly esteemed were his exploits on the beach that five weeks later word came that he had been promoted to Major General and reassigned to command another division. Unfortunately, he would never be able to assume his new assignment, for on the day the message came, the fighting general died of a heart attack.
They buried him on the battlefield at Normandy, and back in the States his widow accepted his Medal of Honor from her husband’s distant cousin, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who said simply, “His father would have been proudest,” and indeed he would have been. Gen. Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., had more than matched his father’s charge up San Juan Hill by choosing to lead his men himself through the horrors of the invasion of Normandy.
It’s been almost 41 years since Proposition 13 passed in 1978, lowering property taxes for every home, apartment building, commercial structure, farm and parking lot in California.
Through almost all that time, the initiative sponsored by longtime anti-tax gadflies Howard Jarvis and Paul Gann remained a sacred cow, a third rail that election officials and candidates of every stripe feared to touch for fear of political electrocution.
But now it’s suddenly open season on Prop. 13, often vilified these days for taking money from schools and other public services and for some of the obvious inequities it brought. Because Jarvis-Gann limits property taxes to 1 percent of the latest purchase price, plus a 2 percent annual increase, neighbors in identical-seeming homes can pay vastly different tax bills each year.
The landmark measure passed largely because property values rose rapidly through the 1970s, with property taxes also skyrocketing even if homeowners had no intention of selling. Conditions threatened to drive tens of thousands out of their longtime homes.
Prop. 13 quickly changed that. Together with insurance price limits imposed by the 1988 Proposition 103, it’s a key factor keeping life in California affordable for longtime residents who pay income and sales taxes higher than the national averages.
But should Prop. 13’s benefits extend to commercial property as they long have? That’s a question often asked by liberal politicians who like the measure’s tax limits on housing, but resent the fact that business also benefits. Many object most strongly to rules passed in 1979 which embellish Prop. 13 and forbid taxes from rising at the time of sale unless a single new owner holds more than a 50 percent interest in a property.
That’s how, for example, the parking lots surrounding Dodger Stadium, still 50 percent owned by former team owner Frank McCourt, have evaded tens of millions of dollars in property taxes since he sold the team and the ballpark itself.
Within a few years of Prop. 13’s passage by a margin of almost 2-1, the late Democratic Assemblyman Tom Hannigan of Fairfield began pushing to split off commercial properties from the measure’s tax limits. Unlike homes, Hannigan said, business property should be taxed based on current values.
Other legislators wouldn’t go near Hannigan’s idea, even though he was for years the state Assembly’s majority leader. But voters will have a chance next year to carry out his plan – best known as the “split roll.” Bet on it being a controversial subject right up until that election.
The state’s League of Women Voters has qualified a split roll initiative for that ballot, gathering more than 585,000 voter signatures for its planned constitutional amendment, which leads in very early polling.
Already the heirs of Jarvis and Gann are working to beat this back. Jon Coupal, the longtime head of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, sees split roll as a first thrust against the entire Prop. 13. He’s right that it has opened the door to other ideas. For example, some state legislators are toying with eliminating Prop. 13 tax limits when properties of any kind are inherited, instead taxing them based on current values rather than the amount paid for them by parents or others who pass ownership down.
But the often-ambivalent former Gov. Jerry Brown, in one of his last interviews while in office, opined that changing Prop. 13 “isn’t as easy as you think.” Brown, who first opposed the initiative before it passed, but later became a big supporter, noted that “The business community will fight it … we’ll be in a recession by the time (of the 2020 election), so it’s anybody’s guess.”
Meanwhile, new Gov. Gavin Newsom has said Prop. 13 is “on the table” as he considers ways to make the state tax system more fair.
Voters will decide if Prop. 13 is no longer the sacred cow it was for decades, but rather open for discussion like any other concept or policy. If they say yes to split roll, it will be open season on one of the longtime basic underpinnings of California lifestyles.
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Email Thomas Elias at email@example.com. His book, “The Burzynski Breakthrough: The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government’s Campaign to Squelch It,” is now available in a soft cover fourth edition. For more Elias columns, visit www.californiafocus.net.
My mom, Quo Vada, said she knew she was getting old when the policeman and doctors began looking like kids. Recently I saw a young man doing something very foolish and I swear he couldn’t have been much older than 15.
So I’m sitting on my porch, taking a break, and a Fed-Ex van drives by. The kid behind the wheel is holding a smart phone with both hands at the top of his steering wheel as he is rolling down the street doing about 30 mph. It would seem the young man wasn’t as smart as his phone. People who drive for a living need to do a better job. Distracted driving, like driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, is a very good way to get killed or to kill someone else.
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This Saturday night, 9 p.m. to midnight at The Vineyard Restaurant, 605 South I Street, a band once known as The Skydogs or Quadrasound, are reuniting. Locals David Boyle on the keyboard, Gary Roseen on guitar, Joey Arriola on drums and Debi Montanari Valorosi on bass guitar will play a wide variety of music from Duke Ellington to Bob Seager, Valorosi said. Theirs was a popular garage band that played at clubs, weddings and dances in the valley in the 1970s and 1980s. Should be a good show. Go for dinner and stay for the music.
I saw the first illegal firework of the season last night, which means July 4th can’t be too far away. Bottle rockets, firecrackers and the like are brought into California from Mexico or Nevada. While I admit to enjoying the guilty pleasure of watching, they are dangerous.
The year we lived in Tennessee my older brother Rocky gave me a package of half firecrackers, called Ladyfingers, for Christmas. They sell fireworks year-round in Tennessee. He also taught me how to light those firecrackers. In California, only fireworks deemed safe and sane can be sold legally. In the City of Madera, only non-profit organizations are allowed to sell fireworks. The window of time to sell them is about a week, and usually ends on July 5.
I usually designate a $20 or $30 donation to fireworks and buy the biggest single-banger I can get for that money. On Independence Day, I watch my neighbors set off their fireworks and once they are finished I ask if they would please light my mega-boomer. It is a great way to meet my neighbors and I enjoy watching them set fire to hundreds of dollars.
Local graduations and promotions are finished and “School’s Out for Summer,” as Alice Cooper sang in his summer anthem. Bicycles, scooters and other modes of junior transportation just increased probably 10 fold. Slow it down and give yourself the extra time needed to allow for kids in the road. Think of it as the pedestrians always have the right-of-way.
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As you go about your day, perform random acts of kindness to make your world a better place. Tip your server, return your shopping cart and hold the door for the person behind you. Let a car into your lane. And if you have a basket of groceries and the person behind you has only a few items, let them go ahead of you. You could be the only nice thing that happens to them today.
Long days and pleasant nights, have a great weekend.
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Readers may contact Tami Jo Nix by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or following @TamiJoNix on Twitter.
Cooling centers are open to the public and meant to provide relief for those who otherwise do not have access to an air-conditioned environment.
The City of Madera urges residents to take steps to protect against heat-related illnesses. These illnesses, such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke, occur when the body's temperature control system is overloaded. Children, senior adults and people with chronic illness are at highest risk.
Madera Dial-A-Ride is offering free bus rides to accommodate those in need of transportation to local cooling centers between 8 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. Riders must advise dispatch when scheduling pick-up that they desire to be taken to a cooling center. Residents may contact Dial-A-Ride at 661-7433.
For more information on staying cool during times of extreme heat, please see Pacific Gas & Electric’s Summer Safety Tips page (https://bit.ly/2rajPuC).
City officials monitor weather conditions and may call for activation of cooling centers at any time that temperatures are forecast to meet or exceed 105°F, or if temperatures are expected to meet or exceed 100°F for two or more consecutive days. The public can refer to the city’s website, www.madera.gov, to confirm cooling center activation.
Additionally, residents with questions regarding cooling centers may contact the centers directly at the telephone numbers provided or by calling the City of Madera’s Department of Parks and Community Services at 661-5495. The City’s cooling centers are made possible through grant funds from Pacific Gas & Electric Company.