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The Madera Tribune

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Saying farewell to two legends

February 24, 2018

Thus far 2018 has been a traumatic year for Madera and the year is just 55 days long.


In January Paula DeCesari Baraldi died at age 88. Her children are about my age with her son Allen the sibling to which I am closest. The Baraldi kids all went to St. Joachim’s and San Joaquin Memorial.


I met Allen while we were freshmen in high school at summer school.  We were taking a public speaking class.


In the 1970s Madera was a small town. DeCesari Stationary was one of the nicest stores in town. Prospective brides had three places they could register for wedding gifts. In addition to DeCesari there were Paul Jones Gift Shop and Price’s Gifts. They all carried beautiful wedding china and silverware.


I can still hear my mother’s voice saying, “Look with your eyes, not with your fingers!”


Mothers today don’t exercise this type of control over their children. One of these days I am going to need someone to peel one of these mothers off me for giving her unsolicited parenting advice. If the mothers are not visible I tell the rowdy kids, “Hey, inside voices!”


What really aggravates me is the way the parents allow their rug rats to handle all the merchandise they can reach. This has been a horrific flu season. If I start to think about all the germs there are on the over-the-counter cold and flu items at the drug store it makes me afraid to touch anything. Thank goodness I’m tall and can reach the items on the back of the top shelf.


I have a fairly vivid imagination. I have often thought of whom among the women in Madera I would recruit for an all-female army to take over the world.


Paula Baraldi always ranked very high on that list. The late Ida Benda, who with her children ran the local Singer sewing machine franchise, was another strong woman for the team. My third grade teacher, Lois Romine, was a woman who would definitely qualify for the list. And of course the strongest woman I ever knew, Lois Worthington. Not only would these women win my imaginary conflict they would do it with style and grace.


Madera also lost a great educator this month with the death of Grady Billington. He had literally known me all my life. My grandfather was one of the men who built the old Church of Christ at Central and B streets. The Billington family has worshiped at the Church of Christ for as long as I can remember.


During the summer there was a week the Madera congregation populated a camp in Coarsegold known as Yosemite Bible Camp.


There were strict rules to keep the teenagers from temptation. The camp had a great swimming pool but the boys and girls could not swim co-ed. Sometimes after evening services the minister would use the pool to baptize, usually a young person in that same pool. I was baptized in that pool when I was about 14 years old. It was recreation water by day and holy water by night.


When I was in junior high school Billington served as vice principal under Benny Barsotti as principal. As vice principal he was in charge of discipline. Boys and girls both were eligible for swats from his infamous paddle. The girls had a female member of the staff as a witness. Had I ever gone home and whined to my parents that a teacher had spanked me I could count on a second spanking at home.


The last time my father smacked me with his belt I was about 10 or 12. I told him I hoped he was enjoying hitting me because it wasn’t doing me a dang bit of good. Yeah, immovable object meets irresistible force. The score on that one was Daddy 1, Tami Jo, 0.


I can count on one hand the number of times my father hit me when I was growing up. Three times with his belt and twice he slapped me across the face. Once for drinking his beer and once for falling prey to peer pressure. That second time I was a sophomore standing on the steps of the boys’ gym after a basketball game. The slap was no big deal, the fact that it was in front of all my friends hurt more than being hit. I promise you that was the last time I was caught defying my father. I continued to defy him of course, I just didn’t get caught.


Hitting your kids won’t scar them for life. Knowing you will smack them if they need it has served generations of parents and children well.


• • •


Have a great weekend.


• • •


Readers may contact Tami Jo Nix by emailing tamijonix@gmail.com or following @TamiJoNix on Twitter.

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