Highway 13 – Foliage or Functionality?

THE NUMBER ONE question I get asked these days has nothing to do with my kids or the weather. It’s all about what’s going on with Highway 13.

Despite the coverage in the Montclarion, rumors persist that our beloved little thoroughfare is being widened. Not true! It is, however, being altered in a way that angers a lot of us.

It’s a prime example of bad state-to-local communication, according to one local political source.

Here we’ve been trying to get scenic highway status for the Warren Freeway, and Caltrans comes along and starts taking out foliage. Why? Because the money was earmarked for guardrail replacement, and Caltrans decided it would be most efficient to put a wall into the median section — so it could use street sweeping vehicles instead of hand crews.

First, we got the plan for a sound wall (which was soundly thwarted) — and now this. It’s enough to drive some motorists crazy, when all they see on their daily commute is a concrete jungle.

A public hearing on the matter may take place this month, with the aim of convincing Caltrans to “up its budget” for beautification. But it’s a long, hard road — so to speak. We’ll be following the “progress” every step of the way.

Saying goodbye

After 34 years as the cosmetics lady at Longs Drugs and its predecessor, Guy’s Drugs in Montclair, Joan Gonzales is leaving. It’s the end of an era, really. Joan was around when drugstore cosmetics were all under glass, and there was no self service.

“We showed customers how to apply makeup, and we went to intense schools for Revlon and Elizabeth Arden,” she says. It was a tricky business, applying just the right amounts of pancake and mascara. But Joan thinks makeup is much better these days. “Now they have nice formulas — not the heavy lubricating creams of the past.”

Joan is moving to Healdsburg, where she says she’ll probably help out at the Longs. One thing’s for sure — whatever Joan does, she’ll put on a “happy face.” Good luck, Joan, the Village will miss you.

Shop talk

When it comes to inspirations, this story “takes the cake.”

Glenview mom Jennifer Sandstrom was putting together a basket of kitchen gadgets for an auction item at Joaquin Miller School when she thought to herself, “Hey, this is kind of fun!” Little did she know it would lead to a passion for cookery that would have her opening her own kitchen shop.

Stop by “Someone’s In The Kitchen” on La Salle in Montclair and see what’s cooking. FYI, Jennifer knows her way around the oven, too. She owned La Farine Bakery on College Avenue for ten years.

E-mail bag

I wonder if Oprah knows about this. There’s a local book club that’s been meeting since the early 1950s.

Reader Irene Olson says the group is a spin-off of the Oakland/Piedmont branch of the American Association of University Women. Around 25 women meet from September to May, starting with social time and then diving into their book of the month, with a review and lively discussion.

The women are celebrating their 50th anniversary with a Halloween luncheon at the Bellevue Club in Oakland, and two of the founding members are coming.

Author, author

Speaking of books, the head of the Sophia Center for spiritual studies at Oakland’s Holy Names University hosted a book party of his own this week. Jim Conlon’s new publication is called “At the Edge of Our Longing” and deals with the human need for a sense of purpose and belonging. It’s a poignant book for those who are searching for answers in life.

Going batty

Maggie Hooper would have stumped the panel on “What’s my line.” She’s a bat conservationist, who’s making the rounds at the Oakland public libraries this month. Just in time for Halloween, she even brings her furry fruit-eating friends with her.

Then there’s the annual pilgrimage to the pumpkin patch. Kids from Thornhill Elementary are going out to Joan’s Farm in Livermore today to pick a gourd from the 14-acre spread. This old-fashioned farm has a western town, museum and even a giant corn maze (if you really want to lose yourself).


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