Saturday, March 30, 2013

Honoring Grandpa Van Dyken

Today, the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter, was Grandpa Nick Van Dyken's funeral.  I was so touched at the show of support by the fire department and police department of Ripon.

I was pleased to pull up and see "Engine One" from the fire department there behind the hearse; it just seemed right given all his years as chief -  

 - and when I turned around I saw a squad and a fire engine pull up on the other side with many firemen on board.

And then at least 3 police cars showed up with officers to honor Grandpa as well.

In the picture below the pall bearers are getting their instructions, and the firemen are standing ready to flank them as they walk to the grave site.

Over and over again today I felt so touched at how fire-fighters and police from the City of Ripon turned out to honor Grandpa.

Our last earthly "good-bye" to Grandpa.

After the graveside service Dad talked with some retired firemen who had worked with Grandpa.  I overheard a story about Grandpa extricating a boy from an old milk can!

As well as driving Engine One to the church, they had another old fire engine there as well, "Ol' Gertie"

I remember as a kid ONE TIME getting to crank this siren on Ol' Gertie, which, of course, was at Grandpa's house, since he lived at the fire house!  It's amazing the sound this little siren can produce!

Caleb and I at the church, standing by Engine One.  Unfortunately the rest of my immediate family couldn't be here.  Anthony and Jacob are away at college, and David is in Ethiopia on a spring break missions trip.

Ol' Gerie, Engine One and the squad.

Again, just so good to see this support from his old department.

I took the picture below as the luncheon was finishing and breaking up - really nice to see so many there.  It was a blessing to feel the support of so many friends and family.

A picture of Grandpa and his fire chief hat - 

Next month we gather again to celebrate what would have been his 100th birthday!  The celebration has been in the works for months, and family is coming from across the nation.  It was realized when this was planned that it might be with or without him present.  It did feel a little weird today to say to someone leaving the funeral, "Are you going to be here for his birthday party next month?"  It will be a good reunion :-)

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Fire Truck Grandpa

One of my grandfathers drove a milk truck and picked up milk cans from dairies.  The other was Fire Chief.  As a kid I called one of them "Milk Truck Grandpa" and the other one "Fire Truck Grandpa."  Today there was a wonderful Manteca Bulletin article about my "Fire Truck Grandpa" and his service to the city of Ripon as Fire Chief for 37 years. 

 More than once recently he was Grand Marshal of the Almond Blossom Parade and rode in the fire truck named "Old Gertie."  In honor of Grandpa, this truck will be parked at the church Saturday where his funeral is taking place. 

Here he is in uniform with my two oldest boys in about 1996:

He trained paramedics and others in first aid and CPR.  I don't know who the kids are in this picture, but I remember him teaching me CPR on the "Annie" doll when I was really young.  This picture is in the back room of the old firehouse.

The picture below is taken from a 75th anniversary book of the Ripon Fire Department.  On the left is the house Grandma and Grandpa, my mom and my aunts and uncles lived in.  Grandma was simply expected to be dispatcher for fire and police since she had the privilege of living in this lovely home.  She worked LITERALLY 24/7 with no pay.  Grandma and Grandpa couldn't attend church at the same time because one of them had to be home at all times to take emergency calls.  They had no substitutes.

I remember as a kid knowing to be totally silent when the phone rang at Grandma and Grandpa's house!  In these days they would call the volunteer firemen by sounding an alarm.  It was loud enough to be heard all over town at that time.  One time I remember being caught outside when the alarm was sounded.  It was so loud that it was physically painful - not just in my ears, but all the way down my throat.  I still remember how it felt to hear that sound!  But there were benefits too.  How many kids get to grow up visiting a fire house every week?  Grandpa would take us on a tour of the fire house each week, and at the end we stopped off at the little kitchen in back, and Grandpa gave each of us kids one sugar cube :-)

Above is a picture of the family - mid-1970s - out in front of the fire house house.  I'm the tall kid in the red shirt.

Even in his later years Grandpa would visit the firehouse - sometimes shooting pool with the firemen.  He was always very well-respected by his men and the ones that came after.

Sunday, March 24, 2013


Well, God's timing is different from mine, and we said "good-bye" to Grandpa today on this earth.  He was 27 days short of his 100th birthday.  More pictures to come later this week  .  .  .

Praying for Grandpa

Praying for Grandpa today and embracing good memories - hard to believe this was just a few months ago he was playing harmonica with me while Caleb and Tim played guitar - really hard to see him today for what was probably the final time.  I can't help but pray that he'll yet rally, but I fear that's a selfish prayer.  It's hard to think of losing him, but I had kinda wished he could make it to his 100th birthday, which is less than a month away  .  .  .  only a few weeks ago we were visiting outside here with him again as a family  .  .  .

Friday, March 22, 2013

Preview Tour of MJC's New Science Building and Community Center

Today I had opportunity to tour our new science building - still under construction but set to open for summer session.

This is going to be an awesome addition to our community!

Inside the entrance is a model of the solar system embedded in the ceiling.

Here is a close-up of Earth and her moon.
As part of the Great Valley Museum there is a "Science on a Sphere" on which can be projected current weather patterns, surfaces of other planets, Pangaea, etc. - AMAZING!

I'm envious of my colleagues who get to teach in this classroom!  I want sliding boards!!

I'm also envious of my colleague's who get to teach in this classroom atop the  planetarium!

A view of the observatory

At the base of the observatory swings a Foucault Pendulum - SO COOL!

The spiral staircase carries the letters of a DNA molecule.  In the near future a model of the DNA structure will be installed up the center of the spiral staircase.

Up and down the staircase  .  .  .

Another look at the ATGC
Nice that they have plantings outside the SECOND floor!

A view of the other entrance - next to the observatory.

I love these banners!

Looking down at the planetarium and fountains.

I love what they did for outdoor seating!

Another look at the outside of the planetarium.  At night these constellations light up!