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Valley People (Dec. 24, 1997)

NORM CLOW and family have endured the strongest winds ever to sweep the deep Pacific. The Clows, who maintained phone contact with the senior Clows, Bub and Elinor, here in perfectly pacific Philo while gusts clocked at upwards of 250 miles per hour buffeted their home on Guam, said last week’s winds blew over them with a velocity sufficient to flatten a number of the island’s concrete buildings, causing millions of dollars in damage. When the winds began to whistle the Clows’ two boys, Casey and Justin, grabbed a couple of mattresses and barricaded themselves behind a stout table while Mom Ruth sheltered herself in a broom closet. Pop’s precautions remain unknown but were sufficiently prudent to permit him to reappear when the worst of it was over. The island’s phone lines are buried but power lines aren’t, translating as fairly onerous hardships for Guam’s population who are presently struggling without power, a functioning water system or sewage disposal. The Clows are catching rain water and flushing their toilets out of the supply stored in their water bed. Miraculously, nobody on the island was killed in the storm. 

THE PERSIMMON is one of the world’s most wonderful fruits, and every year at this time they fall from The Valley’s many trees, unsampled. Meanwhile, over at Safeway in Ukiah, persimmons are going for 69 cents each! Asking around, I’m told that not very many people know when or how to bite into these delicious winter gifts which miraculously appear long after all other fruit trees are deep into cold weather sleep. Eat them when they’re just a little brown in spots from the frost. Persimmons are also terrific dried, so sweet one would think they’d been sugar coated.

BILL FAIT, former AV school bus driver  presently on a Christian mission to the Ukraine, stopped by the other day. Bill is thin but as always ebullient even though he came home for surgery to avoid the risks of the struggling Russkies’ ill-equipped operating rooms. Bill says he and the missus have made the adjustment and keep in touch with their many Valley friends via Kay Jablonski and her internet link.

REMEMBER MIKE ERVIN? He began his football coaching career right here in Anderson Valley back in 1971. Ervin, after leaving Boonville, amassed a winning record at several Sonoma County high schools over the past couple of decades before he landed the prestigious head job at Cardinal Newman, the perennial Santa Rosa prep power. 

HAS ANYONE in Philo seen an orange and white striped cat about six months old who was left in a truck towed to Starr Automotive after an accident last week? The truck’s owner was packed off to Ukiah for repairs and wants to get his cat back. Bob Kraft at Starr, who goes way out of his way to do nice things for people, calmed and fed the traumatized feline only to have it disappear. Call 895-2425 if you’ve seen this four-footed ingrate.

HER HATE IS PURE! Encountered Elizabeth Ashiku senior last Wednesday in front of Lemons’ Market where, blithely alighting from the AVA’s delivery van, the intensity of the old girl’s death stare beamed deep into my bones took the chill right out of the frigid noon. Ill will seems to work for lots of Valley old timers; Liz is holding up well.

I’D SAY Bobbie Hiatt and Shorty Adams are running neck and neck for the annual best-of-show Boonville Christmas display. I’ve found myself doubling back two and three times just to enjoy their marvelous displays of holiday color.

OVER IN LAKEPORT the other day I paid $1.65 for a cup of coffee to go, and is this any way to treat a traveller?

THAT WAS QUITE an interesting fight a couple of weeks ago down in Navarro between the logger and the plumber. The plumber — not Brian Blumberg — is an unhappy guy who emits a sort of psychic gas as noxious as the clogged pipes he clears for a living. He started things off for no reason other than pure busybody-ism when he strolled out on his porch to order, in obscene phrases, the logger to move his pick-up. Not that the logger’s truck was on Mr. Plumber’s property. The logger rightly told the plumber to mind his own business, thereby inspiring the plumber to torque up the violent rhetoric a couple of notches before he came down off his porch to follow up his directive with a couple of shoves to the logger’s chest. The logger, who ordinarily needs no more than a single shove to put himself in full attack mode, was unnaturally patient with the plumber, waiting until after the second shove to commence thumping the errant Mr. Good Wrench with a few instructive punches, only retreating to a neutral corner out of consideration for the feelings of Mr. Plumber’s long-suffering wife who was watching her husband get his pipes cleaned from her porch. As the logger turned to leave, Mr. P pulled a pistol, warning the logger that he might pay the  ultimate price for the altercation. The logger, undeterred by the firearm, brandished his axe, the ensuing mismatch ending without further violence when Mr. P retreated to the bosom of his missus, who truth to be told, seemed not entirely unhappy with the war’s outcome. Deputy Squires investigated, deciding no crime had been committed since Mr. P had not only started the whole thing but had pulled a gun as well.

THE HEALTH POLICE are really going way too far with the law that kicks in January 1st making smoking a cigarette in a bar or even the bar of a fraternal clubhouse like the Elk’s worth a $500 fine.  As a state assemblyman named Granlund reasonably put it, “These are not health clubs. The whole point of bars is that you go there to ingest toxins.” The ostensible reason for the smoking ban is that it supposedly will protect employees of bars from second hand smoke. Please. And as if this isn’t intrusive enough, Arcata’s new Green city council is considering an outdoors smoking ban aimed at keeping smokers from lighting up in the town square!

MORE SORDIDNESS for Boonville. Daniel Harris, 37, an employee of the Quest School while it operated on Mountainview Road at Bear Wallow, has been arrested on charges he molested a Ukiah man, now 20, during the four years the alleged victim was a resident of Quest during its Boonville incarnation. Quest moved to Upper Lake two years ago. Harris was employed at the residential school until his arrest.

IN THE CITY last Saturday to do some Christmas shopping, I was standing at the corner of Post and Stockton at Union Square drinking in the the frantic spectacle of it all when, not three feet from me Senator Feinstein stepped from a nondescript BMW. And me without my gun. Feinstein leaned back into the car and fairly screamed at the driver — who I recognized from newspaper photos as her husband, Richard Blum — “Where am I going to meet you?” Blum, a kind of odd panic in his voice, screamed back, “Right here!” as traffic backed up and a meter maid told the senator and her husband to move along. From this candid glimpse at the life of a person who’s being touted as our next vice-President, I’d say there was no love in the Feinstein-Blum household. 

COMPOUNDING the day’s serendipity, a minute after the Feinstein encounter I ran straight into two thirds of the AVA’s reporting staff, Sara Jacobelli and Mark Heimann. Frisco’s a small place, for sure.

PARKING TIP for outlanders: There are always empty and unpatrolled metered spaces at the foot of Golden Gate where it runs into Taylor because lots of people are scared off by the legions of walking wounded who make that and nearby blocks their headquarters. From there, Joe’s is just around the corner and The City’s main bazarre is an easy walk away.

IT’S NOT EASY to park in the Castro where I like to visit a book store called Books Etc. whose proprietor is the main man in all of the USofA for Modern Library editions, which I collect. The proprietor is also something of a collector’s item himself, being a cranky old Englishman who looks and talks like the late Alfred Hitchcock. I was delighted one day when he gave me change for a ten when I had given him a twenty, the first time I’d been shortchanged in years. I felt young again! On another occasion he whispered conspiratorially to me to join him at the locked cabinet behind the counter where he kept the pristine Modern Librarys. “Only $38 for this one,” Alfred said, holding a mint condition copy of Man’s Fate in front of my face. “A little steep for me,” I demurred. “Man’s Fate is a pretty common M.L.,” I said, trying to let Al know I wasn’t the complete fish he knew me to be. A week later I was in the store but a young guy was at the cash register. Haunted by the prospect of the book getting away from me, I asked the clerk to open the magic cabinet for me; he pulled out the same verbally-priced $38 book which was actually pencil-priced $16 on its inside jacket. This place had real personality. Anyway. Last Saturday, after a fifteen-minute hunt I found a parking space a couple of blocks off Castro and footed it on down the block between 18th and 19th where Books Etc. has been for years and years and had been exactly three weeks prior right to the day. I couldn’t find it. I walked up and down the block about five times looking for the store, perhaps arousing the suspicions of several trim young men lounging in doorways that I was shopping for one of them. I finally went so far as to cross the street for a panoramic search of the block and its vanished stock of precious books. Finally, it occurred to me that Books Etc. was no more. In a mere three weeks its thousands of books had been moved out and its premises transformed into some kind of chi-chi kitchen appliances outlet. I went inside the blasphemous new store’s operating room brightness, gleaming carrot juice machines where quite an intriguing array of my beloved MLs once rested in their original jackets. I asked the clerk, a middleaged man with several ear rings and green hair,  “What happened to the book store?” Looking over my shoulder, and in the voice of a death camp guard, he replied, “Book store? What book store?” 


Dear Mr. Anderson

On occasion my brother, a resident of Willits, shares his copy of your newspaper with me. It occurs to me that you have not been given proper instruction as to the role and responsibilities of an Editor, since there is so much extraneous drivel filling your pages. Here is a definition of edit which you might find enlightening.

ed-it (èd'it) verb, transitive, ed•it•ed, ed•it•ing, ed•its

1. a. To prepare (written material) for publication or presentation, as by correcting, revising, or adapting. b. To prepare an edition of [something] for publication: edit a collection of short stories. c. To modify or adapt so as to make suitable or acceptable: edited her remarks for presentation to a younger audience.

2. To supervise the publication of (a newspaper or magazine, for example).

3. To assemble the components of (a film or soundtrack, for example), as by cutting and splicing.

4. To eliminate; delete, edited the best scene out.

noun: An act or instance of editing; made several last-minute edits for reasons of space.

— The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. Third Edition is licensed from Houghton Mifflin Company. Copyright © 1992 by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

If I can be of further assistance, please let me know.

Very truly yours,

George Steele

Tucson, Arizona

Ed reply: Why thank you, George. As a resident of the Athens of the Southwest, Tucson, I’m sure you have no difficulty discerning drivel from, say, the wit and wisdom of Barry Goldwater, the only intellectual the state has produced since ol’ D.H. shacked up out in the desert with ample Mabel. Yes, you can be of further assistance: Provide me an example of offending prose drool (undoubtedly a political opinion at variance with those prevalent in the gated communities of the sunbelt) and we’ll talk specifics. My condolences to your brother.

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