By Paul Myers @PaulM_SGN
LINDSAY – When Gary Meling won Lindsay Chamber of Commerce’s Man of the Year for 2008, it was a surprise. Particularly because back then they announced the winners at the annual banquet.
Meling said it was up to the winner’s closest friends to make sure they arrived, so he thanked those closest to him for lying to get him there.
But now you could imagine his shock when he learned he won Man of the Year for 2018. Meling joked he’ll bow out in 2028 now that he knows he will win in 10 year intervals.
As the man who makes things work Meling doesn’t like to take the spotlight. Instead he is more of a behind the scenes kind of guy, but at the same time he understands it is hard to go unnoticed when he’s the one driving Lindsay’s historic firetruck through downtown during every Orange Blossom Festival.
When he is not taking his drive through town during the spring, he is caught setting down and picking up tables and chairs, and buying food, utensils and plates for events for the Museum and Mason House.
“That’s what makes things happen. They don’t jut happen by themselves,” Meling said.
As a member of the Cultural Arts Committee in Lindsay Meling has his hands in the thing he loves most: history. Meling says history is what drives him to be a part of the Lindsay Cultural Arts Council because they are in some way, shape or form involved with the Fire Museum, History Museum, Form Committee and Mural Committee.
It is no surprise he is fond of Lindsay history, the Meling family is a large part of it going back to 1912 when his great grandparents located there. Ten years later Meling said his they bought their first orange grove. From then on the Melings’ family business has been in the farming business. But between then and now the Meling’s have also managed to cement their place in Lindsay history, literally.
Some of the first sidewalks ever laid in the city came from his family’s cement company. Just outside the Mason House on Gail Hill, right next to the Lindsay Museum, Meling is reminded of his family’s place in town as “Lindsay Cement Co.” is stamped in the concrete at the end of the walk way.
“Seeing that our family has always been a part of the history in this town has always meant a lot to me,” Meling said. “Which is part of the reason I’ve been so involved in the museum and the fire museum to get the old fire engine back.”
While the Lindsay native may have spread his wings and flew the coop and worked in San Jose for five or six years, he was drawn back to the ranch. The 2018 Man of the Year says his time away gave him some perspective on the comforts of home that just can’t be replaced.
Meling says when he walks through town he remembers when the building were vibrant and hustling with activity. He said he remembers what they were built for and what they once were.
“I remember when the roads were dirt and real wide…you can’t move to another place and have that,” Meling said.