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Tracing Tracy Territory

Tales of Ari and 'Hot Rod'

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Ari Sarmento

One-time Clover School clarinetist Ari Sarmento has spent a career flying commercial aircraft, including transporting former presidents and their spouses. Here he is with passenger Hillary Clinton.

Checking my email not too long ago, I received a response to a recent Remember When “mystery photo” in the Press. It came by email from Atlanta, Georgia, from Ari Sarmento, one of the Clover Middle School superior-rated musicians in the photo. He wrote:

“My parents still reside in Tracy. I, on the other hand, reside in Atlanta and have spent my career in aviation, traveling the world as a pilot. I have spent time in Afghanistan flying for the military and have transported past presidents.”

(He included a photo of himself and former first lady Hillary Clinton.)

Ari spent 14 years with American Airlines and is now with a private corporation, managing and flying a Gulfstream 650.

“Growing up on a dairy farm in Tracy was an education,” he concluded. “My life as a commercial pilot has also been an education.”

‘This little town of mine’

Closer to home, in nearby Roseville, an author with Tracy ties has informed me that G. Forrest Reed has written a second novel.

G. Forrest who? It didn’t take me long to realize that G. Forrest Reed is the pen name of Greg “Hot Rod” Reed, the 1965 Tracy High graduate and basketball standout with the hometown Bulldogs and also with the Sacramento State Hornets.

“Hot Rod” — a name I pinned on him when he was playing basketball at McKinley School — informed me that his new novel, “Days of the Wind,” is being published this month and is available at Amazon.

“I’m not Ernest Hemmingway, but I enjoy writing and hope you enjoy my books,” he wrote.

His first novel, “The Last Train Home,” was filled with passages describing coming of age in Tracy in the 1960s.

Recently, Hot Rod sent me a copy of his new book, and yes, I could see there’s plenty of T-town in days of old in his most recent literary effort.

Here’s a slice of how a teenage boy viewed Tracy in the 1960s: “The one thing this little town was never in need of was bars; we had plenty of those. Something farmers and railroad men could really do well was drink.

“The only thing that outnumbered the amount of bars was the number of churches. This little town of mine needed lots of repentin’ and savin’ back in those days, so we surrounded ourselves with every opportunity in which we could carry out that task. Lots of churches, lots of preachers, lots of God-fearing Christians, and of course, plenty of sinners.”

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

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