Beast Dwells in Murky Waters of Lake Merritt

I’ve always suspected something was lurking, just below the murky green surface. Now it’s been confirmed — Oakland’s Lake Merritt has a monster. Like Scotland’s Loch Ness and Lake Champlain’s Champ, this creature eludes all but the most vigilant observers.

Richard Bailey, the resident expert, has seen the great head of the beast — with its glowing red eyes and spiked horns.

“It’s got six or seven humps like you’d see on the Loch Ness,” he proclaims, adding that the creature measures more than 10 feet in length. Frightening? You bet! But Bailey says it’s also a tourist attraction, if you don’t get too close. He’s sent out a letter to the City Council asking that the creature be protected as an endangered species. Perhaps the company would like to buy the naming rights.

TENNESSEE BOUND: Michelle Slonecker has closed her popular About Face salon (inside Dina’s) and moved to Tennessee. No, it had nothing to do with my column on Nashville last week. She has a good friend in Springhill (about 40 minutes from Nashville) and the timing was right.

“It was God’s move,” she says, “because my house sold in two days.”

And you can probably guess what she paid for a brand-new 2,000 square-foot home on a big wooded lot in Springhill — $214,000. Still, it’s tough to leave your customers and friends after 33 years in business and Slonecker admits she’s had a couple of “good cries.” Good luck, Michelle — we’ll all miss you.

MAIL BAG: Last month’s column item on the upcoming changes at Albertson’s prompted reader Leona Narita to add her support for the switch to Save Mart.

“It’s like a regular supermarket,” she says, adding there’s one in Turlock where her mother lives. “It’s much nicer than the Albertson’s here in Oakland — newer and in better condition.”

HORSE TALK: Oakland was a horse town, back in its “hay day.” The hills were dotted with livestock and barns, and folks galloped along the ridgeline on lightning-fast steeds. A couple of local horsewomen are writing a book about Oakland’s equestrian heritage, to be published next spring during the Grand National Rodeo.

Co-authors Amelia Marshall and Terry L. Tobey are looking for old photographs for their book. If your family has a horse history in the hills, call Marshall at 510-482-9718.

ANIMAL TALES: It’s not unusual to have visitors on New Year’s Eve, but John Broadus was pretty surprised when he walked out on his deck and saw a coyote.

“As first I thought it was a dog,” he writes, “but then I realized that it was not.”

The man and the coyote locked eyes in frozen silence before the animal broke his stare and disappeared into the darkness. Wiley and spry, he no doubt rang in the New Year by howling at the moon.


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