Melvin Pitre was reading the track and field results for Kimball High in the Tracy Press, trying to find results for Jabari Vaughn, his grandson, when another name caught his eye.
He had a hunch that Kimball High track and field athlete Nathan Fountaine could be related to one of Pitre’s old junior high school pals from 1959.
“I said, you know, that’s not a common name, and I ran with a guy named Dave Fountaine, and so I asked my grandson about him, and asked, is his grandfather’s name Dave?” Pitre said.
It took only a few text messages between Jabari Vaughn, a senior at Kimball High, and Nathan Fountaine, a junior, to confirm that their grandfathers had run on the same track and field team in San Francisco two generations ago. Vaughn got back on the phone with his grandfather.
“I called him back and said, his name’s David,” Vaughn said, “And he said, ‘Yeah! It’s the same dude that was running with me!’ They called each other and were talking on the phone and planned to meet at this meet today for the first time in a long time.”
It turns out the two older men were on the track and field team at Luther Burbank Junior High School in San Francisco’s Excelsior District. They were both sprinters, and they both were part of the school’s relay team.
Nathan Fountaine noted that he and Vaughn are both sprinters on the Jaguar team, and they also often team up on the relays.
“It’s pretty crazy,” he said. “Me and Jabari, we’ve known each other since the beginning of high school. Jabari’s a pretty cool guy and his grandfather seems like he was pretty good friends with my grandfather and he’s a great guy. We run the same relay team and our grandfathers ran the same relay team too.”
The grandfathers met up again on Wednesday at Don Nicholson Stadium as the Jaguars held their final home track and field meet of the season against Manteca.
The two have stayed in touch over the years, and Pitre, who still lives in San Francisco, said that about 15 years ago after they retired, they would meet for lunch regularly with their other old friends from their junior high team.
Among the things they would reminisce about was winning the San Francisco city championship in the 440-yard relay in 1959. Though they couldn’t remember their winning time, they did recall that their record for San Francisco junior high competition in that event has stood ever since, and Pitre said it’s not the only one.
“We had city records. I tell them they will never be broken because they run meters now instead of yards,” he said.
David Fountaine said that it’s satisfying to see that athletics are as important to young people today as they were to him and his friends when he was a youth in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
“It goes to show that athletes have a tendency to stem from other athletes. We were all involved in running, and now we find that parts of our family, some of the boys and some of the girls, are also fairly well-suited for track also.”
He added that after meeting his old friend again on Wednesday the two discovered other coincidences they hadn’t known about before.
“Melvin was a year ahead of me in school, and his grandson is a year ahead of my grandson. There were other things we found out today. One of his grandkids graduated from Kimball three years ago, and my granddaughter graduated from Kimball three years ago.”
One of Pitre’s other grandsons is James Vaughn III, a 2018 graduate of Kimball High, and Fountaine’s granddaughter, Keiana Fountaine, graduated from Kimball High in 2018. She was a record-setting swimmer at Kimball High and has since set school records in the 100-yard freestyle and 200-yard freestyle at Washington State University.
David Fountaine, who lives in Oakland, added that one of his favorite activities is traveling to watch his grandchildren compete.
“We try to follow them and see every one of the competitions that we can,” he said. “Just supporting your family is what’s most important. It’s important to both of us.”
• Contact Bob Brownne at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 209-830-4227.