The Spirit of a Man

LIFE IS SO FRAGILE. One minute you’re here on this wild ride — the next minute you’re gone, often without warning. I don’t mean to be somber, I’ve just been thinking about the death of Bob Gattis, the owner of Crogan’s.

I didn’t know Bob, but I sure knew his place. I brought my wedding party to Crogan’s and had some wonderful anniversary dinners there. One night in particular, my husband and I had a window table during a rare September thunderstorm. We toasted to our good health that night as we watched a spectacular light show.

Bob Gattis is gone, and the bar and restaurant seem quiet this week. But slowly, the laughter will return. The conversation, the slaps on the back and the clinking of glasses in a place where “everybody knows your name.”

Crogan’s isn’t just a Montclair institution — it’s a tribute to a man who knew how to live.

Stealing mail

The Bay Area is a lot of things to a lot of people. But to mail thieves, it’s easy pickings.

“The only place in the nation where mail theft occurs more frequently than here is Phoenix, Arizona,” says hills Postal Inspector Ryan McAlhaney, who has been keeping an eye on the growing mail theft problem in our own neighborhoods.

Luckily, it’s a crime that’s easily prevented — with a simple device called a locked mailbox. Not the cheap ones you see in some chain stores, but a good, sturdy lock box with a deep well to hold the mail.

Thanks to the Montclair Safety and Improvement Council, specially discounted models are on display in front of California Savings Bank at 1998 Mountain Blvd. Additional signs with photos of the boxes, order forms and literature are at J&J Hardware at 1962 Mountain; Montclair Hardware at 2011 Mountain, Keyosk/Golden State Locksmith at 6206 La Salle Ave., and at both the Montclair and Piedmont Avenue post offices.

You can also order a box online at

Speaking of mailboxes

Lorraine Adams, a 50-year resident of Montclair, says she’s so excited about the new drive-by mailbox on Mountain at Colton. But like others, she’s worried that there hasn’t been enough notice to potential customers.

That may change soon. Word has it the Postal Service may help pay for a flier with tips on preventing mail theft and a map to the new drop box site.

Chicken riddle

Why did the chicken cross the road? Probably because it didn’t have a choice — after being dumped on Paso Robles Drive in Montclair.

Hills neighbors report that somebody in a white pickup truck dropped a Road Island Red in the road a couple of weeks ago, then took off. If you see this “free range chicken,” give me a call so we can find it a good home.

Speaking of animals

An Oakland policeman helped out a hills native the other day. It was a disoriented deer, obviously in shock from some kind of trauma.

The officer had a makeshift leash on the animal’s neck and was standing alongside Shepherd Canyon Road, patiently waiting for help.

Meanwhile, reader Steve Harris says he’s been seeing an animal of a different kind on his hikes in Marin County. On at least two occasions, he has spotted bobcats.


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