An American story

Until last year, you would find George Jaber at Encinal Hardware Store and Pharmacy, either poking around in the rows of inventory helping a customer or behind the cash register, ringing up a sale.

In the latter part of 2008, he took more breaks, sitting in the chair by the pot belly stove, while his sons remained busy. Philip, a pharmacist and Michael, who learned the hardware business at the hands of his father. And also advising customers was George’s wife Frida. Other relatives, including daughters Kathy and Linda, and some of George and Frida’s 12 grandchildren, as well as the non-family employees always made (and still do) customers feel welcome, as if they were stopping by neighbor’s place to chat a little about what was going on around town. That’s the way it still is, whether you’re buying a 10-cent bolt or a new barbecue or picking up a prescription.

George died last December. Frida followed this month. The family’s store and pharmacy are still busy with customers who have learned to rely on the personal service and advice for those of us who didn’t know a sheetrock screw from a ball-peen hammer

George was born in 1925. In 1947 he emigrated from Ramallah, Palestine to the United States. He attended Tulsa University in Oklahoma, and was one of the first Arabs to receive a degree in Petroleum Oil Engineering. In 1954 he returned to Ramallah, where he met and married Frida, who was born in 1938 in Jerusalem, Palestine. She was the youngest daughter of six children. After George worked for a few years in Oklahoma in the oil industry, and then in Kuwait, the couple and their children moved to Alameda.

Daughter Kathy Adranly says her parents were traditional old world people. Their pleasure during non-working hours was to be with their families. Frida loved cooking what her grandson George calls “big Arabic meals.” When George wasn’t working at the store, he worked in the garden. The couple didn’t watch a lot of TV, but George did enjoy “Sanford and Son” and Frida had recently taken a liking to the celebrity dancing competitions. The family, except for daughter Linda, who moved to San Jose last month, still lives in Alameda.

They left a legacy for everyone in town. A sculpted water fountain bubbles on High Street at Encinal Avenue. The couple had traveled to Italy, and, impressed with the fountains there, donated a three-bowled fountain studded by lion’s heads. In fact, they wanted to give the city one or two more of the watery works of art, but because the city has to pay for the upkeep, the couple stuck to giving one fountain.

Another gift came after the entire family battled with the city to have a stop sign placed at the much-traveled intersection of Encinal and Versailles avenues. From the store windows they saw too many close calls between speeding vehicles and pedestrians. They finally won their request, but only after one of their own employees was knocked down by a car and suffered multiple injuries. Fortunately, she recovered.

In George’s and Frida’s wake is a non-fictional history of an American success story, evidence that hard work and honesty and families really can persevere. It surely wasn’t always easy, but it was right. As headlines focus more on scoundrels and scammers and general sadness, theirs is a refreshing and much-needed true story that, like many supposedly small stories, carries the biggest, and most hope-filled, messages.


Robber hits West End bank

The headline says about everything the police office with the sniffing dog said Thursday afternoon. Several police cars were in the area of Citibank on Webster Street. The officer with the dog said he couldn’t talk because there had been a bank robbery. Sorry, I don’t know if anyone was hurt, although there was no ambulance around, so that’s a good sign. Judging from the sniffing dog, the perpetrator fled the scene.


Eyes of the beholder

The current exhibit at Autobody Fine Art (upstairs at 1517 Park St.) features 14 artists with works that range from thunderously serious to downright funny. Somewhere between is where the work of Tony Hoang, shown here. The first one is titled “I like your eyes.” (Didn’t get the title of the second, but the message I get is “Oh, my dear!”).

The exhibit, “Zeitgeist,” will run through Sept. 6. Not much time to see the arty sights (no admission charge) so drop in before it drops out. (Be prepared: There are two flights of stairs.)


Crepes … to go

Well, it was worth a try. We hope, anyway, for the sake of the company. The little crepe shop on Encinal Avenue, next to Kobe Ya, is now empty. Quick, what would you like to see in that spot? There is plenty of foot traffic in that location. Wouldn’t it be great to smell Lockeford sausage fragrances wafting out of that storefont? People stand in line for them at the antique fair and when the street fairs come downtown. They’d probably do the same if those treats came to town to stay. Thoughts?


Itchin’ to swim? Check the sign

You can’t see it, but it’s there.

The blissful bay water is tempting, particularly on those red-hot, we’re having a heat wave days, but before dipping that first toe into the water, go back to the wooden walkway entrances and watch for the signs that report whether or not it’s a good idea to wade in.

Swimmer’s itch is caused by microorganisms that sometimes throw large micro-organism parties and many are the times that children and even literate grownups have missed the sign, and played in the water. Not everyone comes out with a nagging leg itch, but some do, and while it’s not fatal or even a good excuse to miss school, it does itch. It really does.

Read the signs, then decide if it’s still a good plan to play in the bay.


Oh, poop

Who doesn’t love Robert W. Crown Beach and Park? The grass and trees, the picnic tables, the beach and the bay. It’s all so idyllic.

Except for one thing – the unpleasant downwind breeze along the shoreline path near the duck pond. This small pond is where waterfowl celebrate diversity, where Canada geese, gulls, ducks and coots all leave their doots – and the breeze blows softly beyond the pond to the shoreline path.

It’s not there all the time. It’s just there a lot. Enough to see strollers clamp their hands over their mouths and noses until they’ve passed through the reek.

Park Supervisor Michael Avalos said the pond is actually a storm drain let-off for the city. If a storm hits, the floodgates open. Well, we do need that. Avalos mentioned that the smell is seasonal, but the season just seems to last longer lately. Too bad there’s no way to pond-train our feathered friends.


Parents file lawsuit against school district

This announcement about a lawsuit against the school district regarding an opt-out option for parents who don’t want their children to take the anti-bullying curriculum for LGBT families’ students was released today. A full story will appear in next week’s edition of the Alameda Journal.

Alameda Parents File Suit Over Denial of Opt-out Requests

Alameda, CA – A group of parents filed a lawsuit today against Alameda Unified School District after the District denied their requests to excuse their young children from controversial lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) instruction.

In late May, despite strong opposition by parents at school board meetings, AUSD approved a supplemental curriculum that will promote LGBT alternative families to kindergarten and elementary-age students.  Since AUSD adopted the curriculum, numerous parents have sent letters to Superintendent Kristen Vital, requesting that their young students be opted out of the controversial instruction.  The District recently sent form letters denying all of the parents’ requests.

While the District has claimed that a LGBT curriculum was necessary to address bullying and harassment in elementary schools, documentation from the District obtained by Pacific Justice Institute through a public records request shows that the vast majority of reported incidents on AUSD campuses involve racial tension and opposite-sex sexual harassment, not sexual orientation. In fact, school incident reports show that there were no complaints of harassment due to sexual orientation in AUSD elementary grades.

Today, staff attorneys for Pacific Justice Institute filed suit in Alameda Superior Court, seeking enforcement of opt-out provisions in the California Education Code.  Kevin Snider, PJI Chief Counsel, commented, “Alameda parents believe all children deserve safe schools.  Parents do not support LGBT indoctrination that fails to address the main causes of bullying and harassment in the District and intentionally omits children belonging to the other five protected classes,” Snider stated, referring to race and ethnicity, gender, disability, nationality and religion.  “It is their right to remove their children from this highly controversial program, and we intend to vigorously defend that right,” he continued.

For information on the Pacific Justice Institute go to www.PacificJustice.Org.


When one bridge closes …

It won’t be much longer before the High Street Bridge reopens — the schedule calls for it to be fully operational in early September. Until then, this is what the Fruitvale Bridge looks like around quittin’ time. Imagine what could happen if more than one bridge closes. This time it’s for repair work, but next time it could be because of the economy, with the county uable to fund the around-the-clock bridge tenders. It nearly happened recently, but city officials say the proposal could go back to the table as long as the state keeps dipping into local governments’ funds to pay its deficit.


Burglaries at Harbor Bay Isle

Alerts about burglaries are posted at mailboxes at Harbor Bay Isle.

Alerts about burglaries are posted at mailboxes at Harbor Bay Isle.

Police and security staffers are advising residents of Harbor Bay Isle to take extra precautions following a number of burglaries and attempted burglaries in the neighborhood. Homes on Kofman Parkway, Miranda Way and Oyster Pond were burglarized and an attempted, but unsuccessful, break-in occured on Killarney Place.

All of the incidents happened between July 20 through July 22. Among the items stolen are cameras, jewelry and televisions. Witnesses have reported seeing suspects and a police investigation is under way.