Life’s Little Pleasures


THIS IS a column about nothing. Don’t get me wrong, I have plenty to say, but none of it’s really important. For instance, did you know there’s self-checkout at Albertsons in Montclair? When I was a kid, I fantasized about being a grocery store checker. Now, I can do the job any time I like. I can check myself out day and night. And speaking of Albertsons, they’ve got the cheapest lunch in town, now, with their parking lot barbecues. For a buck, you can take two chicken legs to the park and have yourself a picnic. Add a wing and you’re really living.

SPEAKING OF FOOD: KCBS radio did a piece on Grinders in Montclair recently comparing the sandwich shop to that famous eatery in New York featured in Seinfeld’s “Soup Nazi” episode. Anyone who goes to Grinders knows the subs are tasty and the service is no nonsense. In other words, know what you want before you get up to the counter.
Meanwhile, have you noticed the turnover in shops in Montclair lately? Rent is the reason that many store owners say they can’t stay. Finer Things would still be open today if the landlord had agreed to a plan that merchant Toni Murphy had worked out to share her space with Maurine Marie from the Malt Shop. Still, Murphy was lucky. She got an offer on her house just as she was shutting down shop and now she’s off to Pacific Grove.
These are just my observations as I walk around town. They won’t make the headlines, but they’re interesting, nonetheless. A column about nothing. Maybe it will catch on.
TASTY TRIP: One of the most popular field trips for local students is to Semifreddi’s Factory in Emeryville. Two of the owners of the popular bakery, Nancy and Mike Rose, have children at Montclair Elementary School, and offer interesting tours that are capped off with a free bag of bread for each visitor. Happy 20th anniversary to Semifreddi’s — a great local company with wonderful bread.

E-MAIL BAG: Regarding my Feb. 18 column on Oakland police issuing tickets to Montclair motorists, reader Toni Walchek writes: “It’s nice to have a beat officer in Montclair. However, you and your readers should be aware that Felicia Aisthorpe has written up people (me included) for ‘illegal’ U-turns at intersections.”
Walchek says that according to the California Driver Handbook, U-turns in business districts are permitted at intersections. I looked this up and thought the wording was ambiguous. But appealing a ticket or dealing with the DMV can be so frustrating, I think I’d skip the U-turn all together.

THINK SUMMER: Anyone with kids knows it’s already time to think about summer camps. But with all kinds of options, how do you know what’s out there? On March 13, almost 100 summer camps and programs will be set up at Oakland’s Scottish Rite Center for the annual Children’s Summer Programs Information Fair. From preschool to high school, your kids are covered at this one stop shop. It’s free, so get there early — close to 2,000 people are expected to attend. For more information, call 510-287-9855.

HAUNTED OAKLAND: I just love a good ghost tale, don’t you? So I thought I’d share a Web site that tracks spooky stories around the country and here at home that details dozens of haunted places, including Mills College, where a shadowy ghost carriage travels the road behind two dormitories. Oakland’s Holmes Book Co. has a “spirited character” who reportedly throws books around. Our city’s SPCA has a friendly specter who weeds the grounds around the pet crematory. And even Joaquin Miller Park has a resident wraith – the ghost of a woman who was hit by a truck as she crossed the road one foggy night. I get chills just thinking about it.

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