Jardine: Season is of snow and holiday names

From the e-mails, voice mails and headlines:

SNOWBALL'S CHANCE — Wow, for a few fleeting hours Monday morning, it seemed as if all those folks driving SUVs around Modesto actually might need four-wheel-drive.

I BEG TO DISAGREE — Some records might suggest it hadn't snowed in Modesto since 1976, but they're wrong. It snowed here briefly Dec. 20, 1998, a day on which temperatures in parts of the city fell as low as 28 degrees. After dropping off my wife, daughter and father-in-law at Modesto High to watch "The Nutcracker" that day, I went to do some Christmas shopping. When I came out of the old Montgomery Ward store on McHenry Avenue, it was snowing -- enough to stick to windshields of the cars in the parking lot, though not enough to cause any problems on the streets.

NAME-DROPPING — Call Modesto's Dr. James O. Woodbury a dentist for all seasons. One of his assistants is named Holliday, and his office manager is named Hanneke. Those are their first names. Holliday Calistro's maiden name is Leitz. Yes, she used to be known as Holliday Leitz. Hanneke (pronounced Hanukkah) Vanderlinden is of Dutch ancestry.

Sorry, no Eves on staff --— yet, anyway.

SPURRING INTEREST — Author and former Bee columnist Ty Phillips said he has reached an agreement with Warner Horizon Television, giving the company an option on the TV/film rights to his first book, "Blacktop Cowboys: Riders on the Run for Rodeo Gold." Phillips wrote the book after traveling with a group of rodeo cowboys during parts of the 2004 Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association season. He said longtime Hollywood producer/writer/actor James Sadwith has written a script for a pilot and storyboarded six other episodes, and that Warner Horizon is shopping the series to various cable networks. Phillips' second book, "Glitter Jaw," is a collection of his Modesto Bee columns from 2004 to 2008. It debuts on and in Modesto bookstores next week.

IN MEMORIAM — The legal community lost one of its own Nov. 29 when former Stanislaus County District Attorney Alexander Wolfe died at 79. Wolfe was one of three consecutive county DAs who was appointed to office before being elected. In fact, until Birgit Fladager was elected DA in 2006, you had to go back to 1955 to find a nonappointed DA, Frank Pierson. When Pierson resigned to go into private practice five years later, the county supervisors appointed Wolfe to replace him. Wolfe finished Pierson's term and then won elections in 1962, 1966 and 1970.

Wolfe unsuccessfully challenged Pierson for a judgeship in 1968. Wolfe resigned from the DA's post in 1973, just two days after testifying before a grand jury in an investigation into an aide's pay. When he left, Wolfe was the county's highest-paid department head. His salary? $27,750 a year. He returned to private practice and went on to enjoy a long and successful career.

The supervisors, meanwhile, appointed Don Stahl to replace Wolfe. Twenty-three years later, Stahl retired in mid-term and the supes named Jim Brazelton to replace him.

When Brazelton retired with 17 months left on his term in June 2005, the supervisors broke the trend by refusing to name a replacement. Assistant DA Carol Shipley ran the department for a year until Fladager won the election. Only then, after the voters had spoken, did the supervisors bump up her starting date to finish Brazelton's term.

Jeff Jardine's column appears Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays in Local News. He can be reached at 578-2383 or