From the e-mails and voice mails:
ROYALTY, MODESTO STYLE -- Last week I wrote about how King Abdullah II of Jordan and a sizable security force pretty much took over Gold Rush-era Jamestown for a couple of hours July 10 while lunching at the National Hotel.
While they were there, hotel owner Steve Willey said some folks from Modesto who recently toured Jordan struck up a conversation with a couple of the king's men. He didn't get the Modestan's names, though.
After the column appeared, I got a call from Modesto's Joyce Townsend. She and her husband, Don, had taken friend Caroline Steinbeck to the foothills that day to celebrate Steinbeck's 87th birthday. They rode the steam train at Railtown 1897 and then went to the National for lunch.
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As they waited to be seated, Joyce Townsend noticed two men ahead in line who were talking on their cell phones.
"I wanted to tell them to please go outside and talk on your cell," she said. "I'm glad I didn't stick my foot in my mouth."
The Townsend party's table was near one of the tables occupied by the king's group, and the two men were seated nearest them. The king was at another table.
"We did not talk to him," Joyce said.
These two men engaged the Modestans in conversation. They told them the royal party began the day's trip -- the king and nine others rode Harley-
Davidsons, about 50 more were in cars -- by crossing the Golden Gate Bridge into San Francisco and were headed on to Yosemite National Park after lunch.
When Joyce told them she'd recently been in Jordan, the security guys wanted to know if they had been treated well, if they liked it there, etc.
"They were so polite and friendly," Joyce said.
As for Steinbeck, the birthday girl, Don Townsend teased her that the "Queen of Modesto" had dined with the king of Jordan.
Steinbeck's late husband Alden, by the way, was a second cousin of famed novelist John Steinbeck ("The Grapes of Wrath," "Of Mice and Men," "Cannery Row" and others).
ANGELS AMONG US -- In December 1999, 9-year-old Timothy Arles Jr. was hit by a car on Hatch Road at Parkdale Drive in south Modesto's Riverdale Tract area. Taken to Children's Hospital Oakland, he was diagnosed with head trauma and other injuries. He never recovered.
His mother was unable to care for him in Modesto, so he became a ward of the state and spent seven or so years in a group home in Fresno.
Arles died at 19 on June 5 in Madera, nearly 11 years after the accident. His death brought an outpouring of support and effort to give him a proper memorial service. Renée Johnson of the Wildrose Chapel and Funeral Home in Fresno tried for nearly a month to locate his family. The word finally reached Arles' mother, Mary Jean Arles of Modesto.
Johnson said Arles' caregivers at the group home pitched in $300 to pay for his cremation, and Pastor Tom Sims of the Fresno Baptist Temple volunteered to officiate at Arles' memorial service, held on what would have been his 20th birthday. His mother and an aunt were among the nearly 40 mourners. They shared stories about his life before the accident and learned from his caregivers about his life after it.
"This young man was well thought of," Sims said. "Well loved. He meant a lot to a lot of people."
RELATIVELY SPEAKING -- Harold Crumpley taught history at Beyer High School for 28 years before retiring in 2000. Among the techniques he used to make history relevant to his students was having them research their family histories.
They collected photos -- "every picture your family owns," he told them -- "thus dealing with original source materials. It was incredible what many students found in their collections."
One student brought an early 1900s photo of his great-great-grandfather in a group of men around a campfire. Among the men was the legendary Apache warrior Geronimo.
When another student talked about several relatives who had been high-ranking U.S. Navy officers during World War II, Crumpley admittedly was skeptical.
"No way," he told the student. "You just know what I want and you are trying to give it to me."
So the student brought in the proof -- books and photos of family members who served in the Pacific, including one who was Adm. William F. "Bull" Halsey's personal pilot.
Yet another, Crumpley said, told of a relative who was a mortician. This ancestor, the student said, prepared Wild West gunfighter and gambler Doc Holliday for burial. Holliday died in Colorado in 1887, six years after he and the Earp brothers faced off against the Clanton-McLaury gang at the OK Corral in Tombstone, Ariz.
"Again, I was skeptical and verified its accuracy," Crumpley said.
Now, at the urging of others, Crumpley intends to write a resource book for doing such family history projects.
"I would like to find some of these students, who produced such incredible resources, to ask if they would lend their support by allowing me to copy their photos for inclusion in my book," he said.
Any former students who have kept their project over the years and want to participate can contact him at 529-7738 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
Jeff Jardine's column appears Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays in Local News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2383.