As a young boy Wendell “Del” Olson, Jr. would walk the fence line of his Grandpa Albert Olson’s property line, which is now the centerline of Del’s Lane, named after Del.
He is passionate about the correct spelling of Del’s Lane and says that even while he was a City of Turlock employee for 27 years, where he worked as a Tech Services Supervisor and retired less than two years ago, he repeatedly told traffic engineering that it was possessive meaning to the lane he walked as boy.
“I was never taken seriously even though I shared the name that was recorded with Stanislaus County in 1946,” explained Olson. “The early city signs were spelled with an apostrophe but eventually different people at the City stopped using it.”
In July, TurlockCityNews.com noticed that some of the modern street signs were made “Dels Ln” and others were the appropriate “Del’s Lane.”
“It is my understanding that the name was originally approved when the dedication for the road was made and the land owners asked that the road be named after their son Del,” Director of Development Services and City Engineer Mike Pitcock said. “So the intent may have been to have the apostrophe (Del’s Lane). But a master list does not reflect that.”
Now nearly 70 years old, yet sharp as a tack, Olson explained what Del’s Lane means to him.
“Del’s Lane is my path in life, it’s more than just a street. It means a lot to me.”
Olson said that in 1946 he and his mother, Ruth, went to the Stanislaus County office in Modesto and recorded the name of the private property lane as “Del’s Lane.”
“Mom was aware of the lane being a county road in the future and her being proud and progressive, she had the road name recorded as Del’s Lane, possessive as it was her son’s lane,” he said. “She made a sign that was nailed to a post my parents put up on my grandpa’s land and Pedras Road, which I still have.”
In 1946, Del lived on his grandfather Albert’s 17 acres of property, between Tuolumne and Pedras roads and west to just before Divanian Drive. In the mid 1990s, Del’s Lane was expanded to interchange with Golden State Boulevard, but Olson said he used to walk the dirt road starting from what is now 2001 Del’s Lane at the corner of Del’s Land and Pedras Road to Del’s Lane and Tuolumne Road.
“At the time we were out in the boonies,” joked Olson. “It was a different time back then and I could wander all over the property. If you look it up, Wendell mean’s wanderer.”
It wasn’t until the late 1970s when Del’s Lane was paved over.
In the land’s heyday Olson recalls that he and his three brothers, along with seven cousins, would roam the alfalfa fields, climbed trees, rode bikes and played baseball.
In fact his two of his brothers, Mark and Don still live in one of the houses from the property at 2205 Del’s Lane.
Today, Olson and his wife Sue, who for many years lived in the only home remaining on the property, have retired and moved to San Jose. However, Del is still a regular fixture in Turlock and can often be found at the Turlock Municipal Airport where he is completing his restoration of a Piper Arrow 2, four-passenger single engine recessed landing gear airplane.
Olson realizes that the City of Turlock is unlikely to correct their mistake and said he “has a lot he could say about the City of Turlock management.”
“But these are the facts and they need to be out there,” said Olson
Although the street signs are incorrect, at this time the City has no plans to replace the signs.
“To change it now would cost the city money in a change order,” said Pitcock. “I’m not sure this type of additional expense is warranted as the sign functions the same with or without the apostrophe.”
Pitcock estimated the cost to replace the newly installed signs at Del’s Lane and Golden State Boulevard between $3,000 and $5,000, including labor, material, and truck rental.
Should the City of Turlock change Dels Lane to Del's Lane in honor of Del Olson and the originally intended name?