Doctor’s visit prelude to near-perfect day

#486 in a series of true experiences in real estate
March 2005, Hills Newspapers

I had a near-perfect day recently beginning with a routine visit to my doctor in Orinda. The doctor was cheerful, my health, good.

Anet and I needed to do some shopping for a listing so we went to the Orinda hardware store. At the front window in this store is a model train layout which I had noticed before but I had not realized that anyone can run the trains. A platform raises the scene to eye level and there are a dozen buttons which can be pressed to cause things to move in the scene.

There were not many people in the store in mid-morning so, alone with the trains, we pushed all of the buttons, looked to see what each did. Several different trains run on different tracks, crossing signals flash and wag, a playground whirl-a-gig circles. We enjoyed ourselves.

Near the hardware store is our most favorite restaurant, Serika. Family-owned, serving Japanese food, we go for lunch as often as possible. But it was a little early yet, so we wandered into Sweet Dreams, a toy and candy store.

I bought a couple of Easter gifts for my kids and some gummy candy for ourselves, and got to Serika just at noon. Tempura, sushi and sashimi, plus their very-best-anywhere miso soup and tea left us feeling on top of the world.

After lunch we returned phone calls and e-mails and attended to other business. All was well, everything was going along fine in real estate, everyone happy. Around 5 o’clock Anet said to me, “Tonight is the Sequoia School Dad’s Club Variety Show. Do you want to go?”

Anet is from Granite City, Illinois. I’ve never been there so she hasn’t shown me around her town or schools, whereas I’m from Oakland. I’ve told Anet countless stories about my childhood, taken her to my Sunday School church and to the neighborhoods and houses where I lived when I was growing up.

Sequoia School on Lincoln Avenue in Oakland was my elementary school. That was 50 years ago, and I don’t believe I’ve been back inside the school since. Did Anet want to go back with me and see the Dad’s Club show?

I told her that at least once when I was a student there, my family and I went to a Dad’s Club talent show. It was so much fun. And I was curious to know if the inside of the school would look the same to me. Would the halls look small? What about the auditorium?

We did go. We walked up the several short flights of concrete stairs at the front of the school to the vestibule where the principal’s office is, just as it was years ago.

It was bright and cheery and welcoming inside. Lots of people – families, little kids, probably teachers – were standing near the ticket table talking. The doors in the school room hallway were all closed at this time of night, but I could easily imagine them open, teachers standing at them greeting noisy kids. The floor in the hall is concrete with grooves in it making squares. I had forgotten about the floor, but the hallway length and width, and the stairs to the second story, all looked the same to me.

We gave our money and went through the double swinging doors into the old auditorium. I was practically breathless, I was so excited.

The auditorium is the same, not smaller. There are still circles painted on the shiny maple floor, there for kids to stand on and to walk or skip along during something called, in my day, rhythms.

Probably the circles have been repainted and in other ways the auditorium has been refurbished, it’s been so long, but the paint color, velvet window and stage curtains, folding chairs and radiators all look as I remember them.

It was a good crowd. People were glad to be there, adults standing to talk to friends, kids wiggling in wait for the start of the show. Finally, it began, and it was great. The emcee had just the right deep announcing voice, plus an obvious pride in the performers and the school.

When the curtains opened there on stage were kindergartners, 9 of them all dressed up, the little girls in ankle-length, fancy dresses. The group sang 3 short songs accompanied by a man playing guitar and by one of the kids on a set of drums.

A pretty lady teacher played piano. She wore a long, red velvet dress, and I thought how much I would have loved it when I was a kid that a teacher came in that dress.

The kids knew their material. They stood up straight, looked directly out through the lights into the auditorium, and not one of them missed a lyric.

I can’t possibly tell how delighted we were with this performance – and all of the performers that followed. It felt good and clean and warm and friendly at the Dad’s Club Variety Show. The applause was loud and enthusiastic. It was clear that everyone there was having a very good time.

At intermission, we floated along with the crowd into the cafeteria and Anet bought me a Sequoia Elementary School t-shirt. Cream-colored cotton, dark green lettering in a circle and, pictured in the center, the front of the school and its concrete stairs. So I have a souvenir.

It was a very good day.

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