Feeling Blue in Montclair

THE BIG BLUE BOX has finally arrived. Like the birth of a baby, this bundle of joy was a long time coming. Ten years, to be exact, and the proud papa is hills dweller Chuck Harrision.

All right, enough metaphors, we’re talking about a mailbox, here — not the Second Coming.

But when you consider the effort put into getting this drive-by drop box at Colton and Mountain, it’s worth more than a casual mention.

Chuck started his crusade to help curb the crush of traffic outside the Montclair Post Office. “This small Post Office processes daily the greatest volume of mail of any post office of its size in Oakland,” he says, noting that drivers would often double park to mail their letters.

That got him started lobbying the city and Postal Service for a drive-by box — and Mountain at Colton seemed the perfect location.

But a group of parents and teachers at neighboring Montclair Elementary School thought school kids and other pedestrians would encounter too much traffic if the box went in on or near the facility.

Years went by and Harrison got a little older and a little wiser. He started working with other neighbors who were organizing to fight mail theft. He started e-mailing Richard Cowan, City Councilwoman Jean Quan’s “right-hand man.” And at some point, I jumped into the online exchange.

Then last week, I got an e-mail from Cowan that read “Now I don’t want to promise anything, but I am supposed to meet the PO today at 12:30 to look at the new mailbox!”

Quan, Cowan and the USPS’s David Green had come through. Still, it was a senior resident named Chuck who deserves most of the credit. “It is nice to know that each of us can make a difference,” he said, acknowledging that sometimes it takes a little patience and persistence.

So, Chuck. What’s next? “If this were the Superbowl, I suppose you’d say, “I’m going to Disneyland.” But your latest e-mail to Quan and Cowan tells me you’re not ready to rest. It reads: “Once available, an education/publicity program (on the drive-by mailbox) will be essential. Please let me know of plans you have already in place.”


I got a touching card from the late Annie Perfetto’s husband. Annie was one of my favorite checkers at the Montclair Safeway. John thanked me for my column on Annie in November, and said “I loved her so very much and to see how you felt about her made it even better.”

Annie was someone who came into this world and touched a lot of lives. We all get the chance to make a difference. Annie did.

More mailbag

Paula Li, the hip “hot mama” who teaches snow-boarding at Bear Valley reminds me she has some clinics coming up. At 54, this Oakland woman is on a mission to get more gals on boards.

Her two-day clinics are geared for women in their 40s who can’t stand to see kids having all the fun. Not only does Paula snowboard, she has a female friend who rides at the age of 61. And her friend’s brother snow-boards at the age of 70. For details or a pep talk, call Paula at 209-753-2301, ext. 181.

Family value

If basketball is a national pastime, then the Harlem Globetrotters are “America’s team.” No group of hoopers can entertain like these guys, with their hilarious hijinks on and off the court. Even the time-outs are ticklers, with dogs catching Frisbees and players stealing cotton candy from vendors and throwing it into the crowd. To steal a phrase from the Warriors: “It’s a great time out.” For information on the group’s next Oakland date, log on to http://www.harlemglobetrotters.com.

In the wilds

In the wake of all the stories on mountain lions these days, here’s one from former KSFO traffic reporter Hap Harper, who lives near Jackson. He says a mountain lion killed one of his pet pygmy goats and was ready to devour the second one, when his girlfriend, Jan Long, spotted the attack.

“She ran out of the house waving her hands wildly and the cat ran away,” he says. The goat survived and is now under the witness protection program, as Hap and Jan have purchased two Llamas to guard the livestock.


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