Super Parties, Super Stars and Super Deals

THERE’S A SNAP in the air that says autumn is coming. The fall crush has

begun in the wine country and here in the hills, and the maples and ambars

are showing their blush. Neighbors are gathering on streets and circle

drives all over town — sharing salads and casseroles and laughter.

September is for picnics, and we had a blockbuster on Manzanita Drive last

week. The guys from our neighborhood fire station showed up — with two

shiny red engines.

As they unfurled the hose and set up some cones for the kids to squirt, a

flood of memories came back to me. It was the early ’60s on Marilee Drive

in Hopkins, Minn. The long wooden picnic tables were filled with hot

dishes, three-bean salads and Jell-O molds. We kids were catching crawdads

in the little creek, and the men on the block were getting ready to set

the swamp on fire — a summer ritual for weed control.

But one year the wind kicked up, and the swamp became a raging inferno. In

a panic, the men grabbed their garden hoses — but they might as well have

been spitting on the flames. Thankfully, the fire department came and

saved our street. From that day on, I’ve always invited firemen to my

block parties. They’re heroes. And even heroes need to eat.

Raiders on the runway: These guys “clean up pretty good.” Some of the

toughest Oakland Raiders on the field will swap jerseys for sports jackets

at an Oct. 7 dinner and fashion show at the Claremont Resort and Spa. Bill

and Julie Romanowski will be strutting their stuff, along with Tami and

Trace Armstrong and other famous football couples. Bloomingdales is

providing the clothes and the evening’s proceeds go to a favorite Raider

charity — the East Bay Agency for Children. Tickets are $175 with table

sponsorships starting at $2,500. For information, call 888-750-3222.

New at the zoo: Speaking of Raiders and runways, the Oakland Zoo is

“letting the cat out of the bag” about their fashion show this Saturday,

Sept. 20. Apparently, the zoo’s tapped some Raiderettes to model safari

wear to live African music. For a $55 donation ($45 for zoo members), it

should be a wild time. Call 510-632-9525 ext. 132 for tickets.

Improving Montclair: Here is a sampling of the latest survey results taken

by Friends of Montclair Village. The question being asked is: “What do you

like least about the Village and how would you improve it?”

Alison Blessing suggests having a fresh produce market on weekends —

maybe closing off a street early on a Saturday morning. She would also

like to see more stores and activities for young people.

Deborah Bonzell concurs, saying there is no place for young people to hang

out, other than the park. She’d like to see a teen meeting area like the

old Icehouse (the hamburger shop/ice cream parlor on lower La Salle).

Bob Meyers and Sylvia Sykora cite the overflowing Dumpsters and litter as

a problem they’d like to have addressed. They also think there should be

more street trees and a uniform code for business signs.

John Campbell would like to see better bench seating at “coffee corners,”

near Antioch Court. He suggests putting some of the business district

money into a loan program for merchants who want to make improvements on

their property.

The Montclair Village Association is using these survey results to help it

decide what improvements need to be made in our shopping district. If

you’d like to respond, e-mail Robbie Neely at

E-mail bag: No one loves trees more than we do, here in the hills. But

reader Jean Ingram has this warning about the impact of ivy on our pine

trees. “Many of our beautiful Redwood and Monterey Pine trees (and others)

in the hills area are being gobbled up and eventually killed by ivy which

is not native and is an invasive pest in this area,” she writes. Ingram

suggests that people cut ivy where it begins to crawl up the tree, then

gently clear it from the trunk area.

It’s all relative: How’s this for a conversation piece: A typewritten

letter from Albert Einstein to Nathan Leopold explaining the best way to

learn the theories of relativity!

The rare correspondence is up for bidding on Sunday at Oakland’s Harvey

Clar Auction Gallery. About 100 Einstein letters have been auctioned over

the last 15 years — ranging in price from $1,000 to $44,000. You don’t

have to be an Einstein to own one.


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