Alamedan Blogs

Station 1, mid-1970s, 1 a.m.

The crew was catching some ‘zs. I awakened to the voice of Archie Bowels and the often-heard phrase, “Alameda Fire Department.” The plea of a female voice on the other end was alarming.

“There’s fire coming out the windows of a house across the street and people are trapped!” she said.

Before the lights turned on and before we were dispatched, the beds were emptied and everyone was moving down the stairs and across the apparatus room to the rigs. I was driving Truck 1; Otis Clifton was driving Engine 1.

“What’s the address?” we asked.

“Otis Drive at Park Avenue,” came the reply.

My ambivalence about hair cutters began long ago and far away, in the wilds of the East Bronx at the end of the 1940s. I was about 10 when my mother sent me to get my haircut at the regular place (the local barbershop - they were barbers before they became hair cutters) trusting that I would come home looking as I always did after one of these visits.

This year, there is another noteworthy event starting on July 4 besides the Alameda R.A.C.E.: the Tour de France.

Four years had passed, and I was on duty at our “new” Station 1 at the corner of Encinal and Park streets. My probation was completed, and I had quite a few fires under my belt; I was beginning to feel truly accepted and pretty comfortable in the fire department.

It's a week and a day early, but the first farmer's market of the summer happened Saturday. The stalls were all bursting with produce, the stone fruits are in abundance, Asian vegetables abound and the air is warm and soft and inviting. Even without the evidence of the fruits, veggies and flowers, the appearance of bare legs and arms would give it away.

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Broad Brush, your weekly, two-sentence local news review. Here’s what happened on the Island this week.

In the mid-1950s, Alameda was home to the great comedienne Phyllis Diller. Fast forward to present day and meet Alameda gal, stand up comic, activist and motivational speaker Nina G.

I just registered for the Alameda Mayor's July 4th Parade R.A.C.E. (Ralph Appezzato Charity Event). This is a terrific event for everyone. If you don't know about it, here's the scoop.

The race is a 5k (3.1 mile) course that must be one of the flattest and fastest 5k courses in the country. It starts on Park Street next to the Bank of Marin, which is halfway between Central and Santa Clara avenues. The course then follows the route of the Fourth of July parade, which begins shortly after the race is over.

If you have ever walked across the Golden Gate Bridge, flown a kite along the waterfront in Tiburon, rollerbladed along the Foster City levee, hiked through the San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge or built sandcastles on Robert W. Crown Beach on Alameda’s main Island, you have experienced part of the San Francisco Bay Trail.

Adrenaline is the most descriptive word I can think of to explain this job.

Parking is tight in Alameda, but I didn't have to tell you that. Parking is tight in the commercial corridors, but even tighter in the neighborhoods.

On my block of Walnut Street, there are a maximum of 13 on-street parking spots at any given time; that would be approximately one spot for every unit in addition to a good deal of off-street parking. It's clearly not enough for all the cars owned by the block's residents.