Home » Eve Pearlman

Eve Pearlman: On Holiday

Submitted by on 1, December 18, 2009 – 6:00 am10 Comments
Photo by Jan Watten

Photo by Jan Watten

Getting into the holiday spirit, here are the top ten reasons I love living in Alameda.

10. If you drive above the speed limit, you can count on being stopped by the police. If you drive without your seat belt, you can count on being stopped by the police. When you are stopped by the police, most of the time – though not 100 percent of the time (just enough to give us fast talkers hope) – you will be ticketed. And while it took me a couple years to get used to this strict scrutiny and adapt my behavior accordingly, I appreciate the constant surveillance that constrains drivers to safe speeds and safe habits. Oh! I almost forgot. If you make a left turn onto Park Street during rush hour you will be ticketed. If you breeze through a stop sign on Fernside Boulevard you will be ticketed.

9. The weather!

8. If your house alarm goes off, the police will come. If you call to report suspicious activity, the police will come. If you leave your bike outside and it gets stolen, they won’t show – but what could they do anyway? Months ago when my brother, visiting from out of town, left his wallet and Blackberry at Littlejohn Park one morning, he did a U-turn and went back to look for it (driving no more than 25 of course). I stayed home and got a call from the police saying someone had turned in his possessions. And an officer had found my info in his Blackberry contacts, and the Blackberry and wallet were delivered to my house before my brother made it back from his search of the park. Maybe this should be reason one?

7. You cannot go anywhere without seeing someone you know.

6. When I travel I love to tell people, “I live on an island in the San Francisco Bay.” Which sounds romantic and lovely and evokes, perhaps, for those who’ve never been to Northern California, Gilliganesque images of palm trees and soft sandy beaches. If I’m aiming for a different effect, I can say, “I live on an island off the coast of Oakland,” a description I like because it juxtaposes ‘coast’ and ‘island’ which have a breezy open-air feel with ‘Oakland,’ which, deserved or not, has a reputation somewhat grittier.

5. Neighbors enjoy each other. They drink wine in the afternoon, grill fish in the evening, swap stories on the street. We help each other. We share childcare and recycling bins. We pick up packages, return packages, pick up mothers-in-law at the airport, lend video cameras and Cuisinarts and coolers and snowsuits. We make meals for sick friends, answer late-night calls for help, take time to listen on the corner, and lend an ear and an arm to those in sorrow. We are a community. Perhaps this should be my number one reason?

4. Alameda is bigger than you think. Despite the feeling that you know everyone and all the stores and every restaurant and all streets – you don’t. There’s more to discover. Twenty-two square miles and 75,000 people is not as small potatoes as you might tend to believe. As with any good relationship, there are mysteries still to be plumbed.

3. In a few months I will have lived here ten years and I will receive an engraved watch in honor of my tenure from City Hall. Or the Chamber of Commerce. Or someone? A girl can dream, anyway. And then I can call myself an Alamedan! Just kidding, I know I can only be an Alamedan when I’ve completed my fiftieth year.

2. On Monday, a neighbor was at Nob Hill when a woman started yelling for help – someone had stolen her purse. Dozens of people, both shoppers and employees, abandoned their carts and work and joined in the chase of the snatcher. My friend, on a tight schedule before picking her kids, stayed in line, but when she went outside the thief’s car was surrounded and multiple police cars were arriving. That’s community.

1. And the top reason – at least for this week – is the yellow of the Ginkgo leaves. And the reds of the liquidambars.

Okay, the real number one reason. You can never start thinking you’re alone because – did I mention this? – you always see someone you know. And we are a community in which generosity and kindness thrive.


  • Mike McMahon says:

    One of my top ten reasons for living in Alameda is the the walk on Shoreline Drive with its varying presentations of San Francisco.

  • Frances says:

    Great list, Eve. I agree with them all except maybe quibbling about the relative order.
    re #10: Once when Helen was a toddler and in the back seat I was pulled over for speeding on Lincoln. The officer gave me a ticket, not a warning, but he made it clear that if I chose to fight it that he wouldn’t appear at court and it would be dismissed. Which, sure enough, turned out to be true. So it ended up being something between a “warning” and a “ticket.” “Enhanced Warning” maybe?
    re #9: Except for the wind!
    re #8: When Lily was a toddler she accidentally pushed 911 on the phone. We didn’t know if the call had gone through or not since we hung up so quickly, but a moment later our phone rang and it was the 911 operator. Charley assured her that all was fine, just our child accidentally calling. Less than 5 min. later there was a knock on our door and a uniformed police officer was standing there making sure that all was in fact well. Now that is service!
    re #7: I am occasionally surprised when I don’t actually see someone I know on Park St. and think “How strange!”
    re #6: Did you know that we have the only beach in the Bay? (And did you get the “island off the coast of Oakland” thing from Charley?)
    re #5: This is actually my #1 reason. I have never experienced the kind of neighborliness that I have here.
    re #3: I have about 6 months on you, and have yet to receive bubkes from the City! But I disagree that you can’t call yourself an Alamedan. I’ve been calling myself an Alamedan for about 9 years now!

    I would also add another reason: the Alamedia. Not that it is the height of journalistic excellence necessarily, but this town is small enough that I myself or members of my family have appeared in the various publications on several occasions. And I personally know a columnist! How cool is that?

  • Jim Quilici says:

    11. Volunteerism, especially among the many youth sports leagues.

    12. Tradition (also see #11)

    13. Thompson Ave. on any major holiday (also see #12)

    14. Miles of safe walking and biking trails

    15. The 4th of July Parade

    16. Mommies’ groups that stay together forever

    17. Clean parks

    18. The street fair on Mothers Day

    19. Ferry service

    20. Every type of food within a block of Park Street

  • Allan Mann says:

    Agree on all 10, but would add the exceptional collection of vintage homes, most of which are lovingly preserved. And of course the bloggers like you, Lauren Do, Susan Davis and John Knox White who help us understand the issues behind the news. Happy New Year!

  • Sue T. says:

    Re: #3, I have lived here for just over 2 years and realize that I can never call myself a “true Alamedan” because I didn’t grow up & go to school here. Our next door neighbor, a man in his 60s or 70s, was BORN in the house he still lives in — and I’ve learned that it’s not uncommon for people to spend their lives in the same house. It’s also heartwarming to see how many young people leave the island and then move back here after a few years because they realize that it’s the best place to live. I feel like I was born an Alamedan, it just took me a while to find my way here!

  • Mark Hersman says:

    Great list Eve! I say the same thing when I travel, but a usually get this response “You live on Alcatraz?” ….kinda’ kills the palm trees and beach motif.

  • Eve says:

    What good additions! Mike, I couldn’t agree with you more about the Shoreline view, and Frances I love your list (others have been claiming credit for ‘island off the coast of Oakland”..I don’t know where it originated.

  • agnes rettie says:

    I got stopped one morning very early by the police who asked if I knew I had no tailights. I did not know. He told me to be careful and go get them fixed.
    And it only takes 25 years to be an Alamedan, not 50. At least I’m calling myself one.

  • Gail says:

    I moved to Alameda in 1951 0r 1952. I went to Mastick, Washington and Encinal. In 1971 I moved across the bay and in 2006 I am back in the house I grew up in.
    I remember Alameda before South Shore when you just went down the stairs at Washington Park and there was the beach. I remember Bay Farm Island when there was farms there and not cemented over. I remember when the Posey Tube had 2 way traffic. I remember rush traffic when the Naval Air Station let out. I even toured and had Skippy Peanut Butter from the factory.
    I love being back in Alameda and thanks to facebook etc I am reconnecting with old friends. I still know people I started kindergarden with.

    I am an Alamedan.

  • Jane P. says:

    Ahh – Eve -ahh you’re making miss the other island life. I agree w/ all of your reasons – there is no place that has the community spirit like Alameda Island.

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