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Tracing Tracy Territory

A birthday celebration with a twist

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Birthday party

Gathered at Perko’s last Friday morning to help Stan Morri celebrate his 92nd birthday were Mike Maciel (from left), Paul Ritter, Frank Cameron, Bob Mehlhaff, Byron Alvarez, Monty Montgomery, Morri and Frank Grande.

I heard there was a special birthday party scheduled last Friday morning at Perko’s. And while I usually don’t respond to invitations to attend birthday parties, I was told it was for Stan Morri, and it would be special. I was intrigued and decided to go.

The party, of course, was held by the “Eight O’Clock Perko’s Coffee Group,” a bunch of guys who gather weekday mornings in Perko’s back room for coffee, talk about everything and coin-flipping. It is one of the longest-running coffee groups in town, and I hadn’t visited it for quite a while.

Sam Matthews

Sam Matthews

Just about the time I arrived, two birthday cakes, one small and round and the other large and square, were placed in front of Stan, the retired Tracy Ford dealer. As the comments were tossed around about a 92-year-old still having birthdays, Stan blew off the lone candle on the round cake, and a chorus of “Happy Birthday” was blurted out.

But then came the crowning moment of each coffee session: the flipping of coins to see who would buy the coffee for everyone. After a series of odd-man-out flips, it got down to the two-man finals, and Stan turned out to be “a finalist” along with Frank Cameron.

Well, you guessed it. After two out of three flips, Stan lost. His birthday cost him $30 for the coffee and tip. The howls of glee were heard all over Perko’s.

I’m glad I showed up to see how the coffee group was doing. Its “membership” continues approaching eight to 10 each morning. The membership evolves over the years, and the coffee guys will tell you they greatly miss members who passed away in recent years, people like Pete Ritter, John Edwards, Ralph Ruiz and Al Navarra. Frank Grande turned out to be one of the newest, and youngest, members to join at least once a month.

Several other coffee groups like this one are now history, although the Four Corners gathering still hangs in there. Coffee gatherings, even small groups like those at Barista’s and elsewhere, are important social anchors in any town, including ours. And, oh, happy 92nd birthday, Stan. That will be $30, please.

’60s September

Tracyites will have a chance to take a backward glance at the 1960s during the month of September at Lolly Hansen Senior Center.

At least that’s what Tracy resident John Giehl, a retired school psychologist, promises as he reports that his plans to celebrate the decade filled with historic events have taken shape in the form of a series of talks, films, and even trivia and music events.

“2019 is the 50th anniversary of the end of the ’60s,” he wrote in announcing programs centered over September at the Lolly Hansen Senior Center. “Relive world events that make up the chemistry and discover the essence of the Boomer Era — from the Civil Rights movement to the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the Vietnam War, the first man on the moon.”

And we can’t forget Tracy. That’s where I come in. John asked me if I could talk about Tracy in the 1960s as one of four lectures scheduled during the month.

Other talks will touch on the impact of President John F. Kennedy early in the decade, the Hippie movement and folk music of the 1960s.

Films will include “The Graduate,” “RPM” college campus unrest, “In the Heat of the Night” civil rights and “Easy Rider” counterculture.

A schedule is available at Lolly Hansen Senior Center. If there are any questions about the extensive lineup of events, you can call John at 608-2298. His email address is

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

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