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Dec. 20 in Merced history: Santa trades sleigh for jet tanker

December 20, 1958: Santa claus abandoned his traditional sleigh for a KC-135 today when he took time to pay a special visit to 65 handicapped children at Castle Air Force Base.

The 93rd Air Refueling Squadron hosted a special Christmas party today for children from several schools in the area including the Whitmore School for the Deaf, the Modesto School for the Blind, and the Fremont School.

The party for the children was held inside the black mammoth tanker whose nose had been painted red. The squadron managed to place an organ within the tanker so that live music could be played.

Santa continued on his merry ways after leaving Castle Air Force base, by touring the children's wings of Mercy and Merced County General hospitals.

December 20, 1983

DOG IS WRONG BANDIT

A missing alert for a dog last seen at a rest stop off Highway 5 on Nees Road led the Los Banos police on a merry chase.

The dog named Bandit was reported missing by a Sacramento area woman and the search was on. A patrolman later found a dog in the Santa Nella area that matched Bandit's description.

After issuing news bulletins on local television the Sacramento woman could not identify the dog as hers. Currently the dog is safe and sound with a Los Banos patrolman.

FAIR SLOGAN PICKED BY NEWCOMER

"There's Much More in '84" is the slogan for the upcoming Merced County Fair.

This year the slogan was decided by contest with the winner receiving $100. The winner is a relative newcomer to the area, Miss Trumm, a sixth-grader, was encouraged to enter by her neighbor.

Her slogan will be on all promotional material. Second and third place winners in the contest received free passes.

TODAY IN HISTORY

On Dec. 20, 1803, the Louisiana Purchase was completed as ownership of the territory was formally transferred from France to the United States during ceremonies in New Orleans.

In 1790, the first successful cotton mill in the United States began operating at Pawtucket, R.I.

In 1860, South Carolina became the first state to secede from the Union.

In 1963, the Berlin Wall was opened for the first time to West Berliners, who were allowed one-day visits to relatives in the Eastern sector for the holidays.

In 1978, former White House chief of staff H.R. Haldeman was released from prison after serving 18 months for his role in the Watergate cover-up.

In 1999, the Vermont Supreme Court ruled that homosexual couples were entitled to the same benefits and protections as wedded couples.

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