Call it a two-topic Tuesday:
FIRST, THE FORD — Diana Jones can't find any upside to this.
Last week, I wrote about a Los Angeles area man who regained the 1956 Ford F-100 pickup stolen from him in 1972.
The column left Jones frustrated and numb.
Because the Modesto woman's father, former valley resident Jack Pate, now of Texas, bought the truck for $4,100 from a collector in Delhi in 1999 and spent nearly $8,000 more turning it into a classic pickup. That doesn't include sweat equity.
Pate recently gave the truck to Jones and her husband, Dan Jones. They flew to Texas in May, rented a truck and trailer and hauled it back to Modesto at a cost of roughly $3,000.
But when Dan Jones took the truck to the Department of Motor Vehicles in Modesto to license and register it, he was sent to the California Highway Patrol because the vehicle identification number looked fishy.
When the CHP inspector determined that the pickup's VIN matched that of the stolen Ford, the CHP seized the pickup and returned it to original owner Harold Voelker, who had kept the pink slip all of these 38 years. Voelker drove it home to LA last week.
The events left Diana Jones heartbroken and wondering how such a thing could happen. After all, her dad bought the truck legally -- or at least thought so -- 11 years ago, registering it at the DMV office in Turlock. He registered it in Texas without problems when he moved there a decade ago.
The VIN discrepancy went undetected both times.
Not this time, though.
When the CHP kept the pickup, the Joneses retained an attorney. He wrote letters to the agency asking it not to immediately release the truck to Voelker. But Voelker has the truck, and Jones is left with a box full of receipts showing the work her dad did on it, along with anger and sadness.
"Dad would have never bought something if he'd have known it was stolen," Jones said. "He put so much blood and sweat into it. It's a piece of my dad. He knew we'd take care of it and love it."
Now her only hope could be in court. Her attorney, James Struck of Modesto, said Sections 1407 and 1408 of the California Penal Code required the CHP to hold the truck until the Joneses get their day in court to plead their case of ownership or at least seek some amount of recompense based upon the work and money her father had put into it.
But officer Greg Bennett, who identified the pickup as Voelker's, said he had no option but to return the truck to its rightful owner. He said he acted upon advice from the CHP's legal counsel in Sacramento.
Friday, after other news agencies picked up my column, Jack Pate saw a newscast in Texas about the return of the stolen pickup after 38 years. When Jones spoke with him that day, he mentioned the story. She had to tell him it was his truck they were talking about.
The Joneses would like to talk to Voelker to find out if he would be willing to part with the pickup that had been gone so long.
"He's getting a big windfall," Jones said, referring to the amount of time, money and effort her father put into restoring it. "I want the truck back. I want my dad's dream. I've got to fight for my dad. It's only fair. Daddy worked so hard. I think he deserves it for me to exhaust every avenue I have."
Any other time, such a story would truly be heartwarming. Not this time, Diana Jones said.
"We're both victims," she said.
BOSS LIFT — Every couple of months, Robert L. Van Tuinen takes time off from his job managing the office of Modesto's Apollo Drain & Rooter for owner John G. Boer to become Staff Sgt. Van Tuinen in the U.S. Army Reserve.
Last weekend, it was take-your-boss-to-your-other-job day in an event the Army calls "Boss Lift."
They drove from Modesto to Silicon Valley's Moffett Field, boarded a C-130 transport and flew to Fort Hunter Liggett near San Luis Obispo. There, Boer got a firsthand look at how reservists such as Van Tuinen spend their time.
They sat through a briefing from Brigadier Gen. James T. Cook and then toured the 91st Training Brigade's headquarters.
The 91st Brigade is one of three such units nationally that trains reservists for deployment, said Van Tuinen, who returned to the Army reserves in 2006 after an 18-year break. He rejoined a day after his son, Spc. Robert A. Van Tuinen, took his oath to join the Army. The younger Van Tuinen is in Kuwait.
At Fort Hunter Liggett, Boer was able to watch a training exercise from a Humvee while wearing a Kevlar helmet.
The military creates a training atmosphere that accurately mimics what soldiers will experience in Iraq or Afghanistan, including that self-contained city called a forward operating base. They even had people dressed as Iraqis and Afghans.
The exercise was videotaped by soldiers in the field. Later, the soldiers reviewed the video, not unlike the way the 49ers review films after each practice.
"It lets everybody talk about what happened step by step," Boer said. "I was impressed how realistic they were with the terrain, how (the soldiers) reacted to the situation and who they'd encounter, the people."
It was the first Boss Lift at Fort Hunter Liggett, said Van Tuinen, the public affairs officer who arranged it.
But it won't be the last.
"We'll be doing this again," he said.
Jeff Jardine's column appears Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays in Local News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2383.