Tragic shooting spawns hope

TRAGEDY SPAWNS HOPE. I’ve always believed this, and looked for examples to reinforce this philosophy. The aftermath of last month’s shooting of 10-year-old Christopher Rodriguez shows that goodness trumps evil and that we have a community with tremendous heart.

In one of dozens of fund-raisers, the kids and parents at Oakland’s St. Theresa School have raised almost $10,000 with a bake sale. Reader Joanne Gayton says the ingredients were donated by Trader Joe’s on College Avenue, Lucky’s in Montclair, Village Market, the Safeway stores in Rockridge and Montclair, and Colonial Donuts. Piedmont Copy kicked in for the advertising flyers.

What happened to Christopher — who was struck by random gunfire during his piano lesson and left paralyzed — could have happened to any one of our children. It is a community’s worst nightmare. But tragedy spawns hope, and reminds us of how much we need each other.

If you would like to help the Rodriguez family or get an update on Christopher, see their Web site at

OAKLAND GEM: Speaking of the goodness of Oakland, I’ve become a huge fan of Aroma Café and Bakery at 19th and Franklin. Next to my office downtown, I start to salivate the minute the scent of their fresh-baked bread wafts from the kitchen and into the street. The owners, Emil and Abe Wahbeh, know hundreds of customers by name after 17 years at this popular eatery and their prices for specialty coffees and pastry are refreshingly low. But the real draw for me is Sammi’s sandwiches. Sammi Semaan washes his hands like a surgeon before he carefully crafts each masterpiece. “Hello, baby!” he smiles, greeting a steady line of customers as they place their order. Sammi knows just how I like my tuna on rye – a succulent sandwich so full of fresh pickles and peppers that I’m tempted to weigh it – just to see if qualifies as one of my favorite “deadly sins”. A gluttonous feast and a “hello baby.” It just doesn’t get any better than that!

E-MAIL BAG: The constant din of airplane noise over the Oakland hills has reader Susan Wilder lamenting the days when Oakland International Airport was such a sweet little airport.

“Now it might as well be San Francisco,” she writes, adding she’s going to call the airport complaint line. “The airport needs to know they are affecting our quality of life when they run loud planes over our homes late at night and early in the morning.”

AIR WAVES: I’ve heard of surprise showers, but reader Joanne Sandstrom had a surprise in the shower the other day. In the middle of her scrub down (and listening with half an ear to an old portable radio on the window ledge) she heard KGO announce her name as the winner of a trip to Cabo San Lucas. She had just minutes to claim her prize.

“Trouble is, the water was too loud and I wasn’t paying attention soon enough to hear the phone number,” she says. Soaking wet with suds sliding down her body, she ran to the computer and then to the phone book to look up the number. The clock was ticking and each call seemed to produce a dead end. Finally she got a hold of someone in the radio news bureau who tracked down the contest line number just in time.

“What a way to end January,” she laughs, wondering what the tax will be on her surprise vacation.

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


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