Turlock itself has seemingly been at the center of my priorities these past few weeks.
I recently participated in the 2012 Ode to Turlock Poetry Contest, in which I composed a seven stanza poem praising Turlock as a locus of culture, strength, and agriculture. I was both honored and humbled to be selected as one of the winners of the contest, and was invited to present my poem at a poetry reading night at California State University, Stanislaus.
The next morning, I was one of the volunteers running an Emanuel Medical Center booth at a health and safety fair at the Turlock Covenant Church giving Frisbees to children to promote physical activity and free blood pressure checks to adults.
Towards noon the same day, I helped put the finishing touches on re-painting the rails on classroom ramps at Medeiros Elementary School as just one part of the Love Turlock project that swept up the town.
Thanks to the bright signs that were peppered around the town, most folks recognize that Love Turlock was a large community service project with an array of events — ranging from re-painting the homeless shelter to extracting weeds from the Salvation Army grounds — in an effort to enhance the town. However, tragically enough, when one actually dissects the phrase “Love Turlock,” it can be dismissed as a folly.
I, probably as well as most other residents, am familiar enough with the select individuals whose sentiments for Turlock do not necessarily equate with “love.” For them, Turlock is a town, any town. It is the place of their residence, not a home. Simply put, it is a word in their postal address, not a word etched in their hearts.
And for the most part, I can comprehend the origins. The misgivings generated by the recent economic downturn seem to have echoed across the nation, and no doubt the repercussions have been felt in Turlock as well. Disenchantment with the conditions and the politics has left an increasing amount of people searching for sources to blame, leaving Turlockers to point to Turlock itself.
This isn’t to say that there are no individuals left who appreciate Turlock. But even the degrees of appreciation tend to stem from typical origins: they may appreciate Turlock because it is the town of their job or the town of their childhood. In other words, then, there still may be folks with thimbles of appreciation, but any chance of encountering a unified, irrepressible admiration of Turlock is certainly tapering.
Nevertheless, I still have hope that this trend can be reversed. Those still involved in Turlock affairs have already had a foretaste of the laudable qualities the town has to offer. The Turlock Garden Club takes on the responsibility of making Turlock teem with green by maintaining the large planter pots that dot the Main Street sidewalk. Turlock Shines fixates on polishing up the town with annual community cleanup days. Turlock’s 2012 Relay for Life at Dutcher Middle School yielded $169,017 in an effort to put an end to the long-waged battle against cancer. I am confident more folks will get the message that there are plenty of ways to involve oneself in Turlock affairs, and in doing so gradually replace any apathy with a more admiring outlook.
It is also important to remember that in the 1930s, Ripley’s Believe It or Not noted that Turlock’s per capita of churches was higher than any other place in the U.S. This was during the time period near the outbreak of World War II, when anxiety for the future would have been mushrooming at an alarming rate. For Turlock to still have a plethora of churches to foster hope and ethics at such a time is enough to believe that this town can remain true to its residents regardless of outside tension or uncertainty. It is now our task to not lose sight of that and reciprocate with love and loyalty back to Turlock.
Turlock remains one of our most precious treasures, but our admiration for it has gradually been buried beneath layers of negligence and indifference. No doubt, uncovering our innate love for Turlock is the first step to restoring more hopeful attitudes for renewing our community’s excellence.