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Market Legend Passes Into History
Long a familiar sight for those passing by the Escalon Livestock Market and known by a variety of names, George the steer will no longer greet visitors to the community.

The aged steer had to be put down after falling ill recently, ending some 20 years of standing sentinel in the fields surrounding the market, at the corner of Lone Tree and Escalon-Bellota roads.

"He was a gift, a present from Bob Hodnefield," explained Adeline Machado, wife of market operator Miguel Machado, who received the gift from his associate in the livestock business.

A Watusi-Longhorn cross, Miguel received 'George' while purchasing a load of Texas Longhorns from Hodnefield in Milton Freewater, Oregon.

"He was five years old then and Bob said his name was George," Adeline explained. "We have had him here for about 20 years."

Known for his majestic rack of horns, they measured 43 inches from tip to tip and the circumference at the base of the horns was 20 inches. George would be rotated around at the market, sometimes in the pasture fronting Lone Tree, other times pastured on the Escalon-Bellota Road side. But no matter where he was, said Adeline, George drew attention.

"He was the boss of his field," she said, chuckling. "There were some people that called him "Mr. America" and some kids that called him "Mr. Coat Rack" but he was George, he was just like a mascot."

When people got used to seeing him along Lone Tree, they would often call when he wasn't there, just making sure he was moved to the back pasture and could be seen off Escalon-Bellota. Some people made it a point to stop and see him, often taking photos of the patient steer. Adeline recalled one couple that would always stop by on their way through to a dance class, checking on George regularly.

"He was just a beautiful steer, his coloring, his horns, he was one of a kind," she said.

Escalon Livestock Market has three auctions weekly, on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays, and George was a familiar, friendly sight to those coming in for those events. He would also take on a protective role with any other animals pastured with him, said Adeline, never causing a problem and often acting as a 'mother hen' to younger livestock.

Local resident Jackie Wozniak was one of the first to weigh in on the loss of George.

"The drive home every day is not the same for me and I am sure others. I would always look to see what he was doing on my way to work and on the way home," she said. "People were seen taking photos of George in all his glory. He was a legend and an interesting conversation starter. Everyone had a story about George."

The Machados said they are saddened by the loss of George but can take comfort in knowing that he was a source of pleasure for so many over the years, helping put a smile on people's faces as they drove past the market.