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Tracing Tracy Territory

The last of a generations-old tradition

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The annual Easter pancake breakfast, a major fundraising event of the Tracy Latin Athletic Club, is nearing the end of its multidecade run.

I was at the TLAC crab feed recently when its president, Eva Villalovoz Hernandez, announced that this year’s pancake breakfast on April 21 will be the last.

She explained that dwindling attendance and difficulties in having enough TLAC volunteers take part made it impossible to continue.

“People just have too many activities going on in their lives, and with their families, on Easter,” she said.

I kept thinking, “Where’s Louie Villalovoz Jr. and Danny Palomino when we need them.” Louie was a great promoter and ticket-seller, and Danny was head chef and pancake flipper for many years. Both are now gone from this world.

The crab feed will continue generating funds for college scholarships, however.

In addition to announcing the impending end of the TLAC pancake breakfast, Eva handed me a plaque in thanks for supporting the club’s efforts over the years.

In response, I noted how important Tracy’s Mexican-American community has been in supporting sports, especially baseball and also soccer, over the years.

Starting with the Tracy Azules in the 1930s and the Latin Vets right after World War II, Mexican-American baseball was a big deal in our town. When the Mi Ranchito Saints and Tracy Angels were in action in the 1970s and ’80s, there were plenty of games and a friendly rivalry. How the Saints and Angels almost-suddenly disappeared from the scene a couple of decades ago still puzzles many people, including me.

As a coincidence, I discovered just this week that in the early 1950s, the Tracy Mexican-American team was sponsored by the Tracy Latin Athletic Club.

Jesse Rodriguez came upon several historical photos, among them one showing team members wearing the TLAC emblem. He showed the photo to me, and he agreed to bring it to the April 21 pancake breakfast, and see who can match the names to the faces in the photo. See you there.

A small dog saved

Zena Robbins merited her title as “The Pet Sitter of Tracy” last week when her experience in dealing with pets paid off in leading efforts that saved the life of a small dog.

It all took place Feb. 19 at the corner of Tracy Boulevard and Grant Line Road, where she spotted a tiny beige-colored terrier wearing a sweater as it ran from the convenience store parking lot into Tracy Boulevard and around and under a large pickup whose driver had stopped in a northbound lane after seeing the dog run into the street.

The two women in the pickup climbed out of the vehicle but were having a hard time getting hold of the dog when Zena joined the effort. She made sure the pickup was in park and then crawled under the pickup, which had large tires that gave it a high clearance.

“When I saw the tiny dog heading toward Taco Bell, I just reached out and grabbed it by its sweater and pulled it toward me,” she said. “The scared dog was yipping and making a commotion, and it started biting my right hand, but I didn’t let go as I pulled from beneath the truck.”

Someone arrived with a towel to put over the dog to calm it down, and then they got the dog into a canvas bag. There was blood all over the dog and Zena.

Even though they said the dog wasn’t theirs, the two women in the pickup took it away, and that was the last Zena saw of it. She checked with animal control and local veterinarians, but no sign.

Later that day, Zena wound up in Sutter Tracy Hospital’s emergency room, where she received a tetanus shot for the dog bites and had the half-dozen puncture wounds treated.

“After hearing the story, some people in the emergency room said I was a hero for saving the life of the small dog, but I’m not a hero. I just did the right thing because I know how much animals mean to people.”

Sam Matthews, Tracy Press publisher emeritus, can be reached at 80-4234 or by email at

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