Town Crier: Sweet Surprises in your Mail


The ongoing economic challenge (do we still call it a recession?) has me thinking of new ways to entertain. So when a coupon appeared in the mail last week for a free bowling party (shoe rental extra) I went straight to my hotmail address book. GIRL’S NIGHT OUT. MEET IN THE LOUNGE AT SOUTHSHORE LANES AT 6 PM.

Eight intrepid moms met in Alameda that night. The lounge was a room in need of a remodel, but no one seemed to mind. The heralding of happy hour had buckets of beer at a discount, and $3 “minis” of Sutter Home wine. You could feel the excitement starting to build.

After some animated chatter and two group photos, we fanned out to find our balls. I opted for a garish orange model with medium holes and an eight pound weight. There were five others just like it on our turnstile. Someone started a pot and we put in a buck – which would go to the high score. We started to roll.

Not long after our first balls bounced merrily down the lanes, the lights lowered. The white’s in our bowling shoes were popping – and strobe lights were throwing iridescent colors across the room. Pop music was pumping and the bowling alley took on a party pulse. I grabbed the 12 year old next to me and started dancing.

A giant pizza, more wine “minis” and a container of rich chocolate brownies made for a night of reckless abandon. I felt young and alive – like a giddy teenager. Bowling with my girlfriends was liberating.

Sometimes things come in the mail and you toss them. But a coupon that almost went unnoticed – was like winning the lottery. I’ll never look at bulk mail the same way again.

Crime note: Nothing is safe from the sticky hands of thieves, these days. Reader Mark Magers says he had $1000 worth of specialty chocolate stolen from a van in his hills driveway the other night. “What makes it so low,” he writes, is that the bars were from a company called Divine Chocolate “owned by a small family of cocoa farmers in Ghana who produce the cocoa for the bars.” It was slated to be samples at the upcoming Fancy Food Show at Moscone Center, which would have ultimately led to more sales and desperately-needed money for the farmers. If you run across anyone selling Divine Chocolate “on the street” – you may want to notify police.

Untimely death: Thanks to reader Gary Haberberger for letting me know about the unexpected death of a popular Oakland businessman. Al Bauer used to own Bauer Porsche Garage in Oakland, and was part of a group of friends that frequented Peets in Montclair. “Al was originally from Germany and has family there, which he visited,” says Gary.  “He was an avid skier and was going to buy property in Hawaii which he visited regularly,” Friends say Bauer will be sorely missed.

E-mail bag: And on the subject of book clubs, (which I vented about last week) reader Rebecca Robins Sodikoff has these thoughts. Rather than a book assignment, her group meets to discuss whatever subject the moderator chooses by e-mail ahead of time. Poetry, art, life-changing vacations – it’s all fair game. What can’t be discussed, in accordance with the rules, are kids, health or politics – and that’s probably a good thing. If you’d like to join Rebecca’s group, send her an e-mail at

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


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