242 Oakland Avenue

Thanks for reading… again. BTW, here is a simple way to understand economics. I find fallacies being repeated so often, I decided somebody might be curious:


242 Oakland Avenue

I thought I’d touch on life in Oakland. Any followers of this column know I loved it there, but was glad to leave. In the first place I lived in Oakland, I had a room in the back of a house with access to the kitchen. I had an outdoor entrance and all the things it took to cook and keep clean. My landlady got a little too friendly to maintain my friendship with her husband so I moved to 242 Oakland Avenue.

My new home had an entry with a gas heater under a grate for the whole house. There were three bedrooms emanating from that entry and the adjoining living room. The woodwork was not painted. I think you could call it “Craftsman style.”

There was a crown molding that ran all the way around the little living room about a foot from the ceiling. Charlie Briggs’ monkey would swing from it to stay out of our reach (as if anyone but Charlie would want to touch it). If anyone ever looked like they should own a monkey, that was Charlie. He was from New England, not like an organ grinder, though. He did pottery with a gargoyle theme. It was kinda scary, like if you drank a beer out of it you might hallucinate. I talked to Charlie a few years ago. He was laying tile but despondent about a divorce. Poor guy.

We had to go through Charlie’s or Richard’s room to get to the bathroom. Richard Farrell’s room came right off the entry. Without your glasses you’d think he was Ginger Baker. He played drums too; still does. Charlie and Richard were still students at Arts and Crafts, the small art college I quit after my first year. It did a good job delaying adulthood, like college tends to do.

Richard was pretty lovable but he wasn’t perfect. He would crank up “War at Sea” on the TV in the middle of the night. Political correctness would not allow such narration these days. Actually, if you think about it, we might have to find a new way to consume food… with all our mouths taped shut. He would also practice drums. It helped get me ready for newborn babies. Most of us pooled our money and made evening meals together. Richard almost, but not quite, made me appreciate canned peas when he made squid and applesauce.

The house was uphill from the street and before the final approach up the front steps was a door into an 8 by 12 foot basement. Tony Bess lived there. His bed was in the crawl-space. He acted like a guru and taught teepee building at Laney College. I taught organic gardening there and Tom Ward, a neighbor from New York taught a wild edible plants class. Wow, it’s amazing to think how valuable those courses will be pretty soon.

The last roommate on the list is Bill Shepard. He was the heroin addict who lived in the attic. Like eminent surgery professor and morphine addict, William Halsted, of Johns Hopkins Hospital, Bill didn’t do all those bad things most junkies do. He came and went and didn’t share in the living expenses. He rebuilt Volkswagen engines for a living. He had a ladder nailed to the kitchen wall that went through a hatch to his attic room as long as the house. There was a little window at each end.

I had a pretty nice garden in the back. There were balconies rising above the garden and we would throw the surplus produce up to our neighbors in those apartments. When school was out Charlie and Richard were moving away. The neighbors in one apartment had us up for a huge farewell breakfast.

Things went downhill from there when the people from Boston moved in. I worked in Sausalito all week and hardly recognized the place when I got home. “But castles made of sand fall in the sea, eventually.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s