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SMITH: NOLA welcomes our boys in pink

Published: Saturday, February 2, 2013 at 3:26 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, February 2, 2013 at 3:26 p.m.

By game time today, untold thousands of football fans in New Orleans will have seen, spoken to or shaken their heads at the four California dudes in a pinked-out limo.

“We're a little obvious,” Jack Tolin said Saturday from the French Quarter. Everywhere he and buddies John Dubkoff, Dan Tregaskis and Roger Sprinkle go, they go clad in pink gear from the National Breast Cancer Foundation and they dole brochures seeking donations to it.

“A few bars down here have announced our presence,” said Tolin, a Santa Rosa oral surgeon. Up and down Bourbon Street, he and his pals have snapped photos after plopping a pink cancer-fighting cap onto a mime.

The Sonoma County quartet decided months ago to take a road trip to New Orleans during the Super Bowl, and in the course of the journey to do something socially redeeming. So they established that the central purpose of the run is to raise $10,000 for the breast cancer foundation.

They won't even go to the game today. They'll swap their pink duds for the Red & Gold and find a bar from which to cheer the 49ers.

Tolin said he and the guys have made a few observations. One is that, judging from the colors worn and attitudes displayed, Ravens fans in New Orleans outnumber Niners fans by about 5 to 1.

There are 49ers decals on the limousine, so our guys have drawn fairly prickly remarks from some of the Baltimore fans. Tolin said that even many of the nice Ravens fans are annoying, with their incessant chanting.

He and buddies also are astounded by the enormous presence of police officers, many of them imported from other jurisdictions. “You can't ask them for directions,” Tolin said, “because they aren't from around here.”

The guys happened upon Mark Ibanez, the veteran KTVU sports director, as he and his camera crew sought out the fan who gave the best 49er pep talk. He picked our Dan Tregaskis.

He and the Men in Pink get asked a lot, “Where are you guys from?”

Tolin reported, “Everybody knows now where Santa Rosa is.”

PAUL GULLIXSON, the PD's Editorial Director, found himself pulled back in time upon reading the story of 12-year-old sportswriter Jadon Bosarge of Petaluma scoring an interview with 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh.

The tale reminded Paul of another kid reporter lucky enough to interview Harbaugh. That was Paul himself, at the time a 20-year-old college student.

And Harbaugh was then all of 17.

It was the summer of 1981 and Paul, on a break from his journalism studies at the University of Oregon, was back home on the San Francisco Peninsula.

“I was asked by the Palo Alto Weekly to cover an American Legion playoff baseball game,” Paul recalls. For that story, he conducted a post-game 1-on-1 with the winning pitcher, Harbaugh, then a three-sport senior at Paul's alma mater, Palo Alto High.

Paul was paid 15 bucks for the story he wrote and he still has it, somewhere. Some years back, its presence in his portfolio helped him land his first newspaper job.

Paul has told his kids, and he just might tell them again during the game today, that though he's no longer a sportswriter he's pretty sure he was the first paid journalist ever to interview Jim Harbaugh.

Very cool, dad.

JESSE FLIES AWAY: Rohnert Park just bid farewell to local hero Jesse James, a gentle man of 88 who would come to tears recounting the aerial kills he scored, friends he lost and brushes with death he survived as a P-38 fighter pilot in World War II.

Jesse flew in the Berlin Airlift and with the onset of the Korean Conflict switched to jet aircraft. Herb Caen wrote about him when he flew an F-84 that took off from Hamilton Air Force Base and flew beneath the deck of the Golden Gate Bridge, upside down.

Jesse and his wife, Sally, were favorites of parishioners at St. John's Methodist Church. But they're now in what should be, for them, a better place.

They've moved nearer a daughter in Vegas.(Chris Smith is at 521-5211 and chris.smith@pressdemocrat.com.)

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