Town Crier: Thoughts turn to dads on Father’s Day

MONTCLARION: June 17, 2016

It’s Father’s Day weekend, and thoughts turn to dads, past and present. My own father was a tall, slender man with hazel eyes that seemed to dance when he laughed. A traveling salesman from Chicago who loved a good steak smothered in button mushrooms, he was more than just the breadwinner in our house. He was my pal.

We spent Saturdays doing yard work together on the half-acre of gently sloping lawn that framed our handsome colonial home. Midway through the chores, we’d drive to Burger King for Whoppers and shakes. Or to the Dairy Queen for Brazier burgers and chocolate malts. I still dream of days with my dad and the lessons I learned about landscaping — and life.

Speaking of dads, Oakland hills author Will Courtenay (aka the Men’s Doc at reminds us that studies consistently show that kids do better socially, behaviorally, psychologically and cognitively when fathers are involved in their lives growing up.

“It’s the simple things,” he says, “like a conversation on a walk, reading a book or throwing a ball that really make a difference for their children.”

And moms — we play a part in dads’ success too. According to Courtenay, a mother’s encouragement is one of the biggest factors contributing to a father being involved with his kids. So pull up a lawn chair and pop the top on a cold one, pop. This weekend’s for you.

Gift idea: Longtime Montclair resident Robert Field knows what to get senior dads, moms or anyone in their golden years … a North Oakland Village gift membership. North Oakland Village is a virtual community that offers seniors support like social events, seminars, classes and other activities. Begun by six women in 2009, the nonprofit now has 52 members and 36 volunteers. For more information, go to

Email bag: More suggestions are coming in for Montclair’s little storybook firehouse. Reader Sandra Turnbull thinks the city should work with a nonprofit. “In Edinburgh, Scotland, the city requires landlords to allow nonprofit groups to lease space very reasonably for charity shops,” she says. Turnbull says the idea is to prevent vacant spaces from becoming “dead zones.”

Meanwhile, the city’s real estate manager, James Golde, says the firehouse is on a list of properties Oakland will put on the market soon. “We are doing the best we can with the staff size we have,” he says. “The buyer would be responsible for any renovation.”

Across town, another historic firehouse on Champion Street in the Dimond District is finally coming before the Oakland City Council again. It’s been 18 months since Jack Stewart, owner of Aunt Mary’s cafe in the Temescal District, reached an agreement to buy the property. That agreement fell through, so the city is considering other restaurant proposals. This firehouse needs only a fraction of the work that the Montclair firehouse needs to reopen.

Animal tales: You’ve heard of “The Three Little Pigs?” The Oakland Zoo has seven little piggies, aka baby warthogs … all sired by a warthog stud named Simon. Senior zookeeper Lovesong Cahill says the two litters, born to sows Frankie and Alice, are just starting to nose around. And by the way, these piglets live high on the hog. Their homes are dens with closed-circuit cameras, central heating and security gates.

Got news? You can reach Ginny Prior by email at or on the web at http://www.”



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