As Years Go By

This season has me thinking about birthdays. Of course, the birthday of Christ comes to mind, but another celebration came up recently – a milestone for a woman who grew up in Montclair and was Oakland’s Mother of the Year in 1965. Gladys Copland turned 90 the other day. A house full of friends and family hid in the hallway as she walked up the steps to her son’s home – and then shouted SURPRISE as she opened the door. A lesser woman might have fainted, but Gladys jumped right into the festivities and was soon telling stories of her life in Montclair.
She was an avid tennis player. She worked as a nurse while raising twin boys and a daughter. And in her spare time, she volunteered at the Montclair Rec Center, as well as Sonoma Hospital. “There were lots of mothers who did more than I did,â€� she said modestly as she looked back on her life. But few in the room would agree. Gladys raised her family, helped her community and inspired everyone who knew her. More than just a Mother of the Year – she’s a mother for all times.

Twinkle Toes: Did you know there are four different dance classes at Montclair Rec Center? Three are free – including ballroom dancing, which the center hasn’t had since Bill Jones used to teach it. The new classes start January 11th from 1-3:30 (Wednesdays) and you don’t have to sign up – just drop in. There’s also German Folk dancing on Thursday nights from 8-10, Greek Dancing on Wednesday mornings from 9:45-11:45 (not free) and Jazz Tap for adults on Tuesday evenings from 6:30-7:30. Now if we just had a dance hall in Montclair…

Email Bag: Reader Jackie Sisich says the mailbox is back at the Thornhill 7-Eleven – back from medical leave, after getting knocked for a loop by a wayward car a few months ago. Apparently that thick metal jacket doesn’t do much to protect the receptacle from injuries. The stay in the mailbox hospital was lengthy, to say the least.

And reader Mary Feinberg is jubilant over the gingerbread house at Montclair Bistro. “We were there at the end of November and it was under construction�, she writes. “By now it should be done and fabulous.�

Santa Paws: Not everyone likes sitting on Santa’s lap. Just ask Marty Martin, the hills guy who filled in for Santa last week at Montclair’s Pet Food Express. “It was wild,â€� he said. “I had a cat on my lap that was hissing and clawing at my beard.â€� Another photo had him posing with a couple of 120 pound St. Bernards. Pit Bulls and Poodles and kittycats too – it was a regular pet parade at the Smiley Dog Rescue photo booth. And if animals could talk, I wonder what they’d ask Santa for…

Humbug Humdinger: It wouldn’t be Christmas without Scrooge and the annual production of The Christmas Carol at Mills College. A lot of hills folks have parts this year, including Jeanne Dupont who plays Mrs Cratchit. “My kids Leo and Lana are in the Cratchit family with her,â€� says local mom Rebecca Faiola, “and Leslie Manning (one of the producers) has her cute boy “Scott” playing the Poulterer – he’s great!â€� Steve Schaeffer, “The ComputerGuy”, plays Scrooge and 21-year-old Danny Buell is the director. “This is a “broadway-style” song and dance production that moves along quickly and holds your attention,â€� says Faiola. Call 531-5801 for tickets.

Got news? You can reach Ginny Prior by phone at 510-273-9418 or on the web at


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