Oakland Tribune Outtakes

Notes from Oakland, Berkeley and in between

Farewells and reunions

By awoodall
Wednesday, August 20th, 2008 at 3:18 pm in Night Owl, Uptown.

Uptown district impresario Peter Van Kleef left me a message the other day about a reunion involving his sister and his sister’s closest childhood chum. So I went by Cafe Van Kleef’s last night thinking it would be a good blog and, anyway, I was nearby doing research for a story.
I found there Van Kleef and several of his regulars mystified and saddened by the sudden suicide of the cafe’s first bartender, Vincent, who they described as a tall, lanky 31-year old.
Van Kleef speculated it might be money troubles that drove him to take his own life. Another guy thought it might be money and women worries.  I never met him but thought I would mention him here, since he, a bartender, was nearly by definition a night owl.
On the flip side, Van Kleef told me about the chance reunion after 47 years of his sister Gerda with her childhood friend, named Shirley Tankini or something.  I said it sounds like a alcohol-based Shirley Temple. The friends were separated when the Van Kleef clan moved from the area to the suburbs and met up for the first recently time in nearly five decades at the cafe, which to quote a quote, is like a mix of Friends and Cheers on acid.

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