Remembering What’s Important


IT’S 2006. Are we having fun yet? Trees are down, there’s muck all around and as I write this, the power is still out at my son’s school. All this is trivial, though, when compared with the loss of a life.

My neighbor died in the storm last week. Dick Crossen loved to work outdoors and had a soft spot for children and animals. He’d feed my cat when she came by, and bought loads of Scout cookies and nuts from my kids — giving them as gifts to family and friends. Often, I’d see him on my neighborhood walks — clearing brush. He always stopped to chat. I’ll miss those conversations. The street will seem sadly quiet now.

NEIGHBORLY WARMTH: Reader Janet Jolley knows what it’s like to have great neighbors. She says her former street, Woodhaven Way, is one of those rare places where everybody knows your name. The neighbor ladies have a Wednesday hiking group that has been in existence for over 25 years.

“These ladies were all in their 50s, 60s and 70s when I met them and now some of them have died but the hiking group continues — with me as the youngest member at 60 and Barbara Sherman the oldest at 80,” Jolley writes. She says they have a great Christmas Party every year with the tackiest white elephants gifts you can imagine. The closeness the experience is reminiscent of a time when so much revolved around family and neighbors.

It’s time to recapture that tradition.

NEW DIGS: Montclair’s romance with Cuba has come to an end. A raise in the rent has reportedly sent La Taza de Café packing. They went out with a bang on New Year’s Eve and will open Feb. 1 in the old Autumn Moon Café at 3909 Grand Ave. More room and lower overhead were the lures. But their presence will be missed. Once again, the music has been silenced in Montclair.

METER MADNESS: An overzealous meter maid has folks hot under the collar in the Glenview.

It’s one thing to circle the streets like a vulture, waiting for meters to expire. But some people are finding tickets on their cars in the two-hour zones when they’ve been parked there less than two hours. There’s nothing like fighting a parking ticket to make you realize you’ve got virtually no voice at city hall.

FINE WINE: A while back I wrote about a hills family that was crushing grapes in their garage. Apparently there’s more wine production than I realized in Montclair. Reader George Troy says he has a vineyard on his property off Colton.

“I only have 40 vines but it looks like a vineyard, anyway,” he writes. Troy had his first harvest and crush last year and is looking forward to his Montclair appellation. “How cool is that?” he says. “It’s a very limited production — no one can afford it.”

ARMCHAIR TRAVEL: If seeing the world is a goal this year, then you’ll want to know about this: Local photographer Don Lyon is hosting a series of travelogues at Chapel of the Chimes.

Using two projectors and live narration, the Tuesday night shows (in January and February) are lively and the setting is perfect. There’s something about this Julia Morgan structure, Don says, that makes it the “perfect spot to contemplate another time and place.”

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