Over The Fence with Greg Brown

Rail To Trail in South Land Park

Brian Ebbert, Sharon Louie, and her daughter hanging out on the Del Rio Trail to discuss the Rail to Trail
Brian Ebbert, Sharon Louie, and her daughter hanging out on the Del Rio Trail to discuss the Rail to Trail

The Del Rio Trail in South Land Park sounds like something John Wayne would have rode a Stagecoach through in one of those old movie Westerns. “Alright, pilgrim. I’ll meet you on the Del Rio trail.”
The natural trail has primarily been used by locals as a 4-mile public walking trail. One spot along the trail is nicknamed the “Secret Glorious Place” by a local Waldorf pre-school teacher.
The sights and sounds of birds and bees are everywhere. California poppies and wildflowers blooming throughout the trail. There’s also a strong scent of springtime in Sacramento along the trail.
There’s a “No Trespassing” sign that everybody ignores and some janky gates that don’t keep anybody out. The trail is lined with backyard fences along the way.
The Del Rio Trail is owned by Regional Transit. They bought it back in the 80s as surplus property thinking one day they’d run the Blue Line through there. These days they have no use for it.
It’s now up for sale. I saw the new For Sale sign staked on the corner of San Mateo and Riverside.
The State Parks and Recreation Commission was proposing an excursion train full of tourists chugging through the four mile stretch of the Del Rio Trail on its way to Pocket Road from Old Sacramento. There would be a stop in between at the Sacramento Zoo. Once the neighborhood learned about it they mobilized and expressed vocal opposition to the train traffic traveling through their quiet neighborhood.
It worked.
State Parks backed down and agreed to remove the four-mile neighborhood section from its general plan and a revised plan was adopted last May. The State Parks and Recreation Commission approved the train stations at the Sacramento Zoo and at Pocket Road.
This raises a question as to how will the trains travel from Old Sacramento to Pocket Road without using the South Land Park tracks?
Could there be a round two battle brewing over the tourist trains?
Hopefully, not. Although, there are still concerns from local residents.
A group of neighbors have joined together with the leadership of the South Land Park Neighborhood Association and the City Of Sacramento. They call themselves the South Land Park Trail and Greenbelt Committee. The committee includes residents from South Land Park Hills, South Land Park Terrace, and local high school students. They are creating a neighborhood action plan for the four miles of abandoned tracks that run from Sutterville Road, behind Sprouts, and extends to Pocket Road near Freeport Boulevard. It would be a multi-use trail. Pedestrians, bicyclists and dog walkers would co-exist in harmony along the urban trail.
In the wider sections of the trail they’d like to create community gardens where a school group or neighborhood could plant organic gardens. Some parts of the Del Rio Trail can get gritty. Wider sections towards the South are brownfields with some trash from Freeport and illegal camping. The goal is to improve and protect the neighborhood.
Give the trail some TLC.
I met with Brian Ebbert and Sharon Louie on the Del Rio Trail one sunny afternoon to learn more about the rail to trail idea. Brian and Sharon are both members of the South Land Park Trail and Greenbelt Committee, also known as the “rail to trail” team.
“The rail to trail proposal is more than just a local amenity, it’s also to prevent the trains from coming through our neighborhood,” Brian told me. They want to be pre-emptive and pro-active.
“There’s a pot of money out there for bike trails,” Brian said.
The project is being considered for future grant funds that have a goal of improving bicycle and pedestrian mobility. The next step for the Rail to Trail team is to reach out to the community and engage with residents.
If you want to be a part of the rail to trail team or have comments or suggestions, contact Committee Chairperson Sharon Louie at SharonL6251@gmail.com

Movie Making At Awesome Video

Awesome Video, the iconic Land Park video store on the corner that has outlasted them all, recently became a movie set for some aspiring student filmmakers from San Francisco State University.
For several days a cast and crew took over Awesome Video and shot a short film entitled “I Hate The Color Red.” It’s a story about a brother and sister who inherit their parents’ video store. They try to keep the video store alive, and in part, their parents alive, too.
The title idea, “I Hate The Color Red”, comes from the fact that the video store is in the red. Another reason for the title is Redbox, as well as the red envelopes Netflix uses to deliver their movies.
The film’s producer Laura Chenault quipped, “Redbox is the bane of the video store owner’s existence.”
The director of the short film, Jazmin Jamias, told me it was hard to find a video store big enough to film in.
When she first stepped foot in Awesome Video she was impressed with the size, the look, and all the cool posters on the wall. She thought the store had a nostalgic sense to it.
Jazmin was also excited about finding an old school video store jewel like Awesome Video. “When I saw the ‘Criterion Collection’ I knew this was my video store.”
The owner of Awesome Video, Maithu Bui, agreed to the filming because she has a passion for movies. “This is just like a love affair, that’s why I am here. The store is for the neighborhood and this is a neighborhood picture. I hope neighbors see us that way.”
Where did the idea of the short film come from? Jazmin was thinking about the things she liked to do when she was younger. “When I was in high school I was going to the video store almost every day,” he said.
Jazmin mentioned she had a Blockbuster Video and a Hollywood Video in her hometown of Vallejo. Going to the video store, sifting through the movie titles and talking to other movie lovers is “Something I miss doing,” Jazmine said.
When Netflix came out and Redbox followed, the local video stores started disappearing. Hollywood Video, Blockbuster…gone. Now it’s all about streaming movies on demand from the convenience of your couch.
Awesome Video has outlasted them all!
“The movie is really about human connection, Jazmin said. That was one of the biggest things I wanted to convey”. She added, “Sometimes technology takes that away.”
Producer Laura Chenault, told me “I devour movies and film and I love Awesome Video, I wish we had one in my neighborhood, I really do.”
Once the film is completed I’ll let readers know when and where they can see it. I even make a cameo in the film with my five year old son, Freddy. Perhaps a special exclusive red carpet showing at Awesome Video. Wouldn’t that be, awesome?
Got an item for Over The Fence?


Danny Collins

The MPAA has rated this R

From Bleeker Street Media comes “Danny Collins”, a fictional story about a successful singer, in the vein of Neil Diamond, played by Al Pacino. In a short period prologue, we see that the young singer Danny Collins is interviewed for a “Rolling Stone”-type newspaper, where he reveals that he is inspired by John Lennon.
Flash forward to the present, where his manager, played by Christopher Plummer, brings him a life changing gift: a letter that had been written to Collins in 1971 from John Lennon that he never received in that era. It becomes a life changing catalyst for Collins for the contents of the letter from Lennon offer encouragement and advice to remain himself, even to call him on his private telephone for a visit.
This affects Collins deeply, and he looks to make a change in his life by heading to New Jersey where he holes up in an small hotel managed by Annette Bening, who is fantastic on screen.
Mr. Collins has an estranged son played by Bobby Cannavale who lives near the hotel. His wife, played by Jennifer Garner, is the mother of a little girl and has one more on the way. Danny tries hard to right past wrongs.
The cast alone is fantastic and there are some very fine performances from them. The dialogue is very well written and the idea of the movie is itself intriguing. This is terrific work from a first time director, Dan Fogelman, and is the best movie released this year to the present.

Janey Way Memories #131

The Picture on Aunt Margaret’s Wall

Janey Way
Janey Way

When I was growing up on Janey Way, we spent lots of time at my Aunt Margaret’s house on Hillsborough Lane in South Land Park.
By the time I hit teen age, Grandma Petta had grown too old to host our extended family gatherings at Thanksgiving and Christmas, so Aunt Margaret took on that responsibility. She had a big house with a game room in the back. That made it a perfect place for all the children in our expanding extended family.
Besides the game room with its full sized pool table, the thing I remember most about Aunt Margaret’s house is a painting which hung on her living room wall. It featured towering rocks in colors of red, pink, brown and tan, contrast against a brilliant blue sky. The horizon lay covered with cactus and small evergreens. You could see a smattering of snow in the distance.
I pondered what I saw in this picture. It seemed surreal. How could snow be found in such a parched looking landscape? A few weeks ago I found the answer to this question.
My wife Barbara and I had seen an ad on television touting the national parks in Utah. We were taken by the beauty of these sites, so we decided to go and see them.
The wonders I saw there, brought back memories of Aunt Margaret’s picture.
We visited three national parks and one state park: Zion, Bryce Canyon, and Canyon Reef national parks and Petrified Forest state park.
Bryce Canyon Park brought back long-forgotten memories of the painting on Aunt Margaret’s wall. Towering, shear-faced rocks spread out across the horizon. Interspersed among them, were smaller rocks with human shapes, forged by weather over millions of years. Small pines and cactus filled the spaces between the rocks, and nestled underneath it all, were patches of white snow. Yes, in the mountainous dessert, eight thousand feet above sea level, they still have snow in April.
It is true, reality is stranger than fiction. There is a place where rocks are pink and red, the sky is bluer than one could ever imagine and snow covers the parched ground. I don’t know where the picture on Aunt Margaret’s wall is today, but I do know where it was most likely painted. It is real, not the figment on some artist’s imagination.
Now, the painting that so impressed me in my youth, is yet another unforgettable, Janey Way memory.

Over the Fence


Freddy happily enjoys his Batman popsicle from the Ice Cream Man. / Photo by Greg Brown

Freddy happily enjoys his Batman popsicle from the Ice Cream Man. / Photo by Greg Brown

The Ice Cream Man brings back memories of childhood, like running after the ice cream truck and waving a quarter I shook from my piggy bank on a hot summer day.

The Ice Cream Man was trucking through our neighborhood the other day. I could hear the familiar ice cream truck jingle.

I yelled to my 5-year-old-son, “Ice Cream Man!”

My wife and I looked at each other and thought, “Why not? It’s good times.”

So we all went out front and waited for the ice cream man to stop at our house. My 5-year-old-son got a Batman ice cream on a stick. He was very excited about picking out an ice cream treat from a passing vehicle. Now every time he hears the Ice Cream Man he thinks it’s carte blanche to “get more ice cream.” We now have weekly limits on fudgsicle bar consumption.

Whenever I think “Ice Cream Man” I think Van Halen. “Oh my my, I’m your ice cream man,stop me when I’m passin’ by. They say all my flavors are guaranteed to satisfy.”

Ah yes, more childhood memories.

Unfortunately, Over The Fence has learned that a Hollywood Park resident has officially complained to the city of Sacramento about the ice cream truck weaving through the neighborhood and selling frozen treats.

A woman is actually trying to campaign against the ice cream truck, and believes that it turns the neighborhood into “ghetto city.” Her biggest complaint is that the ice cream truck music is “too loud.”

I assume she’s never been to a Van Halen concert.

Now granted, ice cream trucks aren’t what they used to be. But what is these days? Most of the ice cream trucks driving through the neighborhood are beat up old vans. But, c’mon. Trying to shut down a childhood tradition seems NIMBY 3.0.

It’s a war against Eskimo Pies!

Perhaps a gated community would be a better location for folks who hate ice cream trucks and the loud tinny music they bring. Over The Fence will keep you posted on the ice cream truck controversy.

Steve Stewart serves up another taco plate on Taco Tuesday. / Photo by Greg Brown

Steve Stewart serves up another taco plate on Taco Tuesday. / Photo by Greg Brown


It’s Taco Tuesdays at Leonardo da Vinci School during the Land Park Pacific Little League games. Every Tuesday afternoon, League Umpire and Chief Steve Stewart, and his partner and cook, Steve Ysias, offer street-style chicken or beef tacos with beans, rice and chips, too.

Steve Ysias told me he’s the cook and Steve Stewart is the mouth. “Works out perfect,” he said.

It’s only five bucks a plate. That’s a cheap meal. Part of the proceeds go to LPPLL.

I had a one of the chicken tacos…delicious! Steve told me he marinades the meat for days. The smell of Mexican street tacos wafted through the crowd of parents watching their kiddos play ball at the LDV baseball field. It seemed to entice them into ordering the taco plate because Steve got cleaned out. No more beans and rice. He had a post game taco rush.

Kenny Romeo was scraping the plate with his fork when I asked him, “How’s the food?” He said, “I think the empty plate speaks for itself.”

Steve and his crew will be back every Tuesday at LdV in Hollywood Park for more Taco Tuesdays. Drop on by and dinner’s done.


Now it’s time for some rumor patrol about the Curtis Park Village project. I was told by a Curtis Park activist that developer Paul Petrovich was interested in buying the two properties across from the development on Sutterville Road. One building houses the Sacramento Art Glass and the other is American River Finishing.

Some residents were theorizing that Petrovich wants to use it as a spot for a gas station across the street from the CPV if his gas station permit is denied.

On Nextdoor, Neelie Joyce, who owns Sacramento Art Glass said, “Petrovich is trying to buy the property my business is on at 2500 Sutterville Road. He’s attempting to bypass the CPV problem and tear down our business to place the gas station there, across the street from the current development. I know there have been talks; the property is not necessarily available for sale (at this moment – ask again next week) – but we’re pretty scared!! If the property owners decide to sell, there’s not much anyone can do!!”

I tried to contact the owner of the two buildings, Paulette Erfert, but she never returned my phone calls.

I reached out to Petrovich via e-mail about this rumor and he wrote, “I looked at Paulette’s property a while ago and it didn’t make sense due to the enormous amount of infrastructure to develop it.”

So there you have it. Rumor squashed.

Got an item for Over The Fence? Greg@valcomnews.com

OVER THE FENCE Irish Eyes Were Smilin’ At Brownie’s Lounge

PHOTO BY Greg Brown
PHOTO BY Greg Brown

They really know how to throw a St. Patrick’s Day party at Brownie’s Lounge. Bagpipers playing traditional Irish tunes, patrons decked out in green were tipping back pints, and over 800 pounds of corned beef were cooked and ready to be served to the hungry St. Patrick’s Day revelers.
Clair Brownie, the colorful longtime owner of Brownie’s Lounge, was all decked out in a St. Patrick’s Day outfit…kilt and all. I asked Brownie, “Are you Irish?” He said, “well, hell yeah I am.”
Tim Taormina came to Brownie’s with his wife because Marie Calendars on Freeport sold out of corned beef. “That’s why we’re here,” he said. He just had to have corned beef on St. Patrick’s Day! There was some question whether or not Tim would actually get to fulfill his mission of corned beef on St. Patrick’s Day. At first Brownie’s told him they were sold out. Tim said, “I’m Italian/Sicilian, I forcefully demanded I get the last two dinners.” It worked because they relented and Mr. Taormina got his corned beef and cabbage dinner.
Tony Soprano would have been proud.
The City Of Sacramento pipe band, led by music director Liz Tubbs, was playing Garyowen while weaving through the packed house with the other bagpipers at Brownie’s Lounge.
Garyowen is known to have been used by Irish regiments as a drinking song, which is really what most folks were doing:
“Instead of spa we drink brown ale
And pay the reckoning on the nail
For debt no man should go to jail
From Garyowen to glory”
Liz and her husband Bill were wearing “his and her” kilts while Brownie’s grand-daughter, Jessica Bach, was following behind with the big tip jar full of cash.
Jessica told me, “I grew up here at Brownie’s Lounge. I actually see more of my family on St. Patrick’s Day than I do at Christmas.”
Just then the bagpipers started another traditional Irish tune, “Wearin’ Of The Green,” and Jessica was on her way to get more tips from the crowd inside the bar.
The bagpipes weren’t the only music at Brownie’s Lounge on St. Patrick’s Day.
As soon as the bagpipers left, Doug Meredith and his one man band started up on the tiny Brownie’s Lounge stage. Doug strummed the guitar and played a wide variety of music from country, R&B, rock, and of course some good ole’ traditional Irish tunes. The bar was definitely heating up with a packed house and the corned beef cooking. Doug Meredith was feeling the heat as he sang “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling” with a trickle of sweat pouring down from his brow. The backdrop was a giant cardboard cut-out of Clair Brownie in a kilt surrounded by flashing green lights. The evening had a surreal feel to it.
The crowd loved it: Corned beef, cabbage, kilts and a little bit of kitsch at Brownie’s Lounge.

Shopping Cart Retrieval Service

Sometimes I drive down the road and notice an abandoned shopping cart. What happens to it once somebody removes it from the store?
Who you gonna call? David Fisher’s Cart Retrieval Service, of course.
I actually stumbled upon David while he was returning abandoned shopping carts to Vic’s IGA from parts unknown.
It all started back in the 90s when David worked for a grocery store in north Sacramento. He picked up the carts for the store. One day he was running some errands out in North Highlands and he saw a recycling center that had numerous abandoned shopping carts. He stopped by to see if any of them belonged to the store he worked at.
There were quite a few that belonged to the 98 Cent Store. Then a light went off in his head.
David decided to talk to Gary Cino, the owner of the 98 Cent Clearance Centers, and asked if he was interested in having him pick them up and return them to the stores.
Cino agreed and offered a dollar a cart.
April 1 of 1998 David got his business license and made it legal. He’s been returning shopping carts to their original owners ever since.
David, who is a South Land Park resident, usually gets between 50 to 100 carts a day. He also covers the Woodland and Davis area, too.
“I just put ‘em in there and strap ‘em down,” he said.
He’s also helping out the community. He gets calls and texts about shopping carts abandoned on the side of the road, down an embankment, or abandoned in an apartment complex. Several neighborhood associations have put his contact information in their newsletters.

I asked David if he feels bad about taking a shopping cart from a homeless person. He said, “I used to, but you have to remember they’re in possession of stolen property.”
And the shopping carts aren’t cheap. According to David, the smaller ones that Rite-Aid or Walgreens have are about $80 each. The carts Winco, Food Co and Raley’s use can run as high as $200-$250 a piece.
That’s why stores want to hire somebody like David to go pick them up. Dollars and cents. “If a store loses 20 carts a month, that could be $5,000 a month they’ve lost in revenue,” David said.
At the Wal-Mart in Woodland, David told me he “picks up at least 40 carts a week. These carts run about $150, so if I didn’t bring these back and Wal-Mart had to replace them they’re looking at $6,000 a week to replace shopping carts.”
David told me Wal-Mart has the most shopping cart theft of any other store in Sacramento.
So if you see a lonely shopping cart on the side of the road give David Fisher a call or text. He’ll be glad to pick it up and return it to its rightful store owner. Call 916-812-3885 for David’s cart retrieval service.
The spots the abandoned shopping carts end up are recycling centers, apartment complexes, and certain neighborhoods. “You learn the hot spots”.
He also gets calls from the City of Sacramento, Sac PD, ‘They all have my phone number.
He’s the go-to-guy for abandoned shopping carts.
I find carts for Raley’s Bel-air, Winco, all those stores.
He rarely gets into confrontations with the people who are stealing the shopping carts. Although, one time a guy was throwing stuff at David because he didn’t want to give up the cart. The guy tried to sick his dog on him. “I played it smart, I had some of my lunch left so I took part of my hamburger and gave it to his dog. The dog and I became friends.”

The Divergent Series: Insurgent

The MPAA has rated this PG-13

From Lionsgate comes the second in the Divergent series, “Insugent” in 3-D and IMAX and standard presentations in other theatres. In the first movie , set in the ruins of Chicago, the action thriller of an oppressive future divided the population into four districts based on the resident’s virtues. We pick up where the last one left off as Tris Prior, who is played by Shailene Woodley, is the one “Divergent”, a person in possession of all virtues not merely one. Thus, she must be captured by the power hungry Jeanine played by Kate Winslet, who wishes to control all factions. This movie is louder, bigger and faster than the first, and the chase for Tris is on! Theo James is Four, her love interest. Kate Winslet as Jeanine is always fun to watch, and Ashley Judd returns in the role of Tris’ mother. Also returning are Miles Teller, Ansel Elgort, and a lady that seem not to be able to give anything less than a good performance no matter what the script: Octavia Spencer. As impressive as this was, I was not consumed by it personally. I thought that the first movie was much better. This movie seemed more action packed, and violent for that matter, than the first. If you are going to see it at all, see it at the Esquire IMAX, where the sheer size and 3-D of the experience will be a thrill you can’t find with home viewing.

The Divergent Series: Insurgent

The MPAA has rated this PG-13

From Lionsgate comes the second in the Divergent series, “Insugent” in 3-D and IMAX and standard presentations in other theatres. In the first movie , set in the ruins of Chicago, the action thriller of an oppressive future divided the population into four districts based on the resident’s virtues. We pick up where the last one left off as Tris Prior, who is played by Shailene Woodley, is the one “Divergent”, a person in possession of all virtues not merely one. Thus, she must be captured by the power hungry Jeanine played by Kate Winslet, who wishes to control all factions. This movie is louder, bigger and faster than the first, and the chase for Tris is on! Theo James is Four, her love interest. Kate Winslet as Jeanine is always fun to watch, and Ashley Judd returns in the role of Tris’ mother. Also returning are Miles Teller, Ansel Elgort, and a lady that seem not to be able to give anything less than a good performance no matter what the script: Octavia Spencer. As impressive as this was, I was not consumed by it personally. I thought that the first movie was much better. This movie seemed more action packed, and violent for that matter, than the first. If you are going to see it at all, see it at the Esquire IMAX, where the sheer size and 3-D of the experience will be a thrill you can’t find with home viewing.

Janey Way Memories #130 The Blue Bayou

When my daughter Vanessa turned 10 years of age, I took her to Disneyland. Nothing extravagant, we drove down to southern California on a Thursday morning. By late afternoon, we reached our accommodation, my brother’s house in Bellflower, about 10 miles away from Anaheim.
That night, we visited with my brother Terry and his wife Elayne. Then, next morning, we got up early and drove to “the happiest place on earth.”
It was great. We drove into the park about 9 a.m, found a spot, and parked. Then we got out and walked to the stop for the tram going to the front gate. On the way, the monorail went over us, taking the patrons of the Disneyland Hotel into the park.
Soon, we caught our tram and motored off to the front gate. There, we bought our tickets and passed through the gate into the park.
What a thrill. First, we walked up Main Street to buy Vanessa her Mickey Mouse ears. Then we strode off to start our adventure. We went on all of the rides: the Matterhorn, the Autopia, the Star Wars ride, the Monorail, the African Jungle Ride, Big Thunder Railroad, and the Pirates of the Caribbean. We had a wonderful time together, but by early evening we were quite hungry.
So, we set off in search of a place to eat. We looked everywhere. All the usual places were full. Then we came upon an upscale little place near the Pirates of the Caribbean ride in Adventure Land called the Blue Bayou. It looked a little pricey, but the line was small. So, I put our name on the waiting list.
Soon, the hostess escorted us to our table. It was exquisite: white table cloth, nice china, silverware, and crystal. What was even more impressive, it was located right by the start of the Pirates of the Caribbean Ride. You could hear the laughter and chatter of the people getting onto the ride. You could feel the mist of the canal that carried the patrons into the ride. It felt like a Caribbean cruise. And the meal was wonderful.
After dinner, we went out to see the Disneyland parade and the end of day fireworks. It was a wonderful and memorable day, one I have never forgotten.
Last week, Vanessa and her husband Ryan took her oldest daughters Gabrielle and Madeline to Disneyland. They drove like we did. However, they stayed at a hotel near Disneyland. On the first morning, they shuttled to the park, bought their passes and went in the front gate.
Just like we had done, they took the girls on all the rides. And, by the end of the day, every one was famished, so they set out in search of a place to eat. What did they find? Eventually, they found the Blue Bayou. Vanessa remembered it, so in they went in.
They had a wonderful time. Vanessa even posted a picture of the girls on Facebook. She noted, “We ate at the Blue Bayou Restaurant where my dad and I ate almost 30 years ago. It was a great memory.”
Now, Vanessa, her husband and daughters have a Janey Way memory of their own.


What’s in a name: How East Sac church leaders name their own children

Brad and Olivia Carpenter’s children Flannery (right), Asher (left), and Story (bottom). /  Photo credit: Sarah Dawson
Brad and Olivia Carpenter’s children Flannery (right), Asher (left), and Story (bottom). / Photo credit: Sarah Dawson

Brad Carpenter is a church leader who resides in East Sacramento. He initially contacted me after reading one of the past On the Curbs articles about Requested a smart phone app idea developed by his neighbor Sonny Mayugba. Brad explained that he was starting a new church in East Sacramento, City of Grace Presbyterian. He considered it to be a start up venture and in that respect possibly worthy of a write up.
After some thought and discussion we agreed that the article not so much focus on the startup of a new church in our community, but instead be published as part of a series of articles based on meetings with different spiritual leaders throughout our community focusing on them as neighbors, regular people just like the rest of us. After all, these people are familiar faces in our community, we may run into them at the local coffee shop, the local school, the market, the baseball and soccer games etc. My job then as a reporter would be to not so much focus on comparing or contrasting their religions, or their congregations, or the phase of their development, but instead introduce them to our community through some other commonality, something more personal.
After continued meetings, I discovered that one interesting commonality they shared was the importance that the act of naming plays in both their personal and spiritual lives. One of the spiritual leaders I met with is Native American. Sage’s spiritual beliefs and the beliefs of her ancestors obviously stand in contrast to Brad’s. But, their beliefs as well as their personal stories both value the process of naming. They both spent considerable time on the subject without my prompting; and, indeed, the importance the act of naming plays for all of them provides an excellent starting point in getting to know them as neighbors, as well as our community’s spiritual leaders.
Let’s begin then with Brad. When I mention that the process of naming, in this case his children, seems to be a recurrent theme in his particular story, he reminds me that in the Bible one of the first things God does is to name. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.  God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness.  God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” (NIV Gen 1:3). And soon after, “Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. 20 So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals.” (NIV Gen 2:19)
Because Brad was raised Christian his entire life one might expect that his children be named traditional Christian names such as John, or Sarah, or Isaac. But, Brad has three children and their names are Flannery (age 7), Asher (age 4), and Story (age 10 months). Now Asher is biblical in that it is the name Jacob gave to his eighth son. But, Brad did not name his child because of this. Brad and his wife Olivia both love literature and story telling and because of this this all of their children are based on literature, or the entirety of story telling itself rather than on the Bible, though their are Christian overtones.
For example, Flannery is a name the Carpenter’s decided upon after having both admired the works of Flannery O’Connor considered by many to be one of the best short story authors of the 20th century and one of the strongest Christian apologetics. An apologetic is a Christian field of theology that tries to present a rational basis for faith. O’Connor was a devout believer whose writing presents the soul’s struggle with what she called the “stinking mad shadow of Jesus.” Surprisingly, Brad, a pastor, tells me that one of his favorite Flannery O’Connor stories, “A Good Man is Hard to Find”, about the gruesome murder of a family on a road trip. Brad’s aware that naming a child after an author who in one story uses the scene of a murder to provide a rationale for the faith of Christianity is pretty unusual. But, he also explains that he and Olivia liked the bold provocations of Flannery’s style and wanted their first born son to have the freedom of expression associated with the flare and impact of the author.
Asher is a name the Carpenter’s came upon while reading a jewish author, Chiam Potak, an author who wrote “My Name is Asher Lev”. In short, the character of Asher is torn between leading a life based largely on the power of art, free expression, and imagination vs. the life of his parents who are Hasidic, entrenched in ritualist behaviors, but whom Asher truly adores. It’s very true that Brad and Olivia obviously wanted their second child, a daughter, to also feel the freedom to express themselves true to their calling, even if that calling be different in ways from others close to them.
But, less obvious, yet still important when understanding who Brad is, is that Brad himself struggled while growing up Christian in his own household. Like the character of Asher, Brad’s beliefs did not conform to all the belief of his family, particularly his father. As Brad became more in tune with his faith he realized in his teens that his faith differed from the faith of his father, a man whom Brad shares an intense love and loyalty. The realization of the distinction between his father’s type of Christianity and his own, was grief ridden but in the end acceptable to both.
Perhaps most compelling is the naming of their youngest child Story. While in seminary studies Brad again felt the torque of a spiritual clash forming within himself. At the time he was being taught to preach using an outline with a particular form and function almost a cookie cutter type of approach. But as you may discern by now Brad loves narrative, and the powers of spontaneous story telling and Brad clarifies to me that the way he has come to view his life is that he is not the author of his own story and his destiny is not in his hands. being Christian Brad believes Jesus is the ultimate author, and Brad’s destiny as an individual lies in His hands. Furthermore, to understand this is to understand why our lives take dramatic turns, and take us to places we would not chose. And, in the case of Brad, Olivia and Story, their story would indeed take an unexpected twist.
When Story was developing Olivia and Brad found out that she had complications, complications that are still to a large degree not understood. Story’s skeletal system is not developing in the same way as ours do. And, the outcome of this is still a mystery. The doctors we able to discover the developmental issues even before Story was born, but after Brad and Olivia had landed upon her name. In fact, with Story the name had come to Brad in the middle of the night while asleep. Suddenly he awoke and the name Story was in his head loud and clear so much so that he immediately woke Olivia and told her that he had been awoken with a name for their child. And, as Brad tells it, the exact moment the doctors informed them of Story’s unexpected condition, they both simultaneously realized the significance of her naming.
Story was indeed a grace that had come into their lives as part of a tale far deeper and more complex than they could ever comprehend. A story that continues to unwind itself in a very beautiful and loving way. For when Brad speaks of Story, one can sense the importance of faith in his life, his compelling feelings, and the path he and his family are on together right here in our community and on the curbs of East Sacramento.


Over the Fence:

Vic’s goes belly up

Shown here is the front of the Vic's market. Still hanging on the front of the store was an “Under New Management” sign. The sign has been up for over a year and just this week the store filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Neighbors are asking, what next? Some have started petitions to bring Trader Joe's to fill the spot.  / Photo by Monica Stark, editor@valcomnews.com

Shown here is the front of the Vic's market. Still hanging on the front of the store was an “Under New Management” sign. The sign has been up for over a year and just this week the store filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Neighbors are asking, what next? Some have started petitions to bring Trader Joe's to fill the spot. / Photo by Monica Stark, editor@valcomnews.com


Vic’s IGA, the supermarket with the zig zag roofline that anchors the South Hills Shopping Center, has filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy and closed its doors.

Vic’s Market, which was originally a Jumbo Market designed by architect Sooky Lee back in 1968, has seen better days.

When I went by the tattered old market, the parking lot was empty, the trash cans were overfilled with garbage, and the two trees in the big blue pots were dead.

The big red and worn Vic’s sign had some damage that was being held together with duct tape. The “Under New Management” banner was still up, too. It was a sad scene.

Potential shoppers were trickling by asking, “Is Vic’s closed?”

Folks stopping by told me things like, “I knew something was up when the shelves were nearly empty.”

Another patron said, “the store used to be fully stocked. You go in there now, and you don’t know what you’re gonna get.”

Meat shouldn’t be green and lettuce shouldn’t be brown.

Sometimes that is what customers would get. A lot of the items were past the “best if sold by” date.

Vic’s ICK.

Vendors were stopping by the shuttered market, too. Donald Miller, who boasted he had 51 years in the grocery business, said, “I saw it coming. Bottom line. They didn’t know how to run a grocery store.”

Miller, who works for Acosta Sales and Marketing added, “If the right person comes along, they could make a go of this store.”

Shoppers were trickling into the vast parking lot and peeking in the door that had the “Hometown Pride” sticker on it when they found out about the store closure.

One patron asked, “Is it closed for good?”

Another person added, “I’m not surprised.”

Vic’s customers thought something was up and would ask the owner, who’s first name is Kumar, “What’s going on?” Kumar would tell people they were “remodeling and waiting for new equipment to come in.”

Bob Montenegro was peeking in the store window when he said, “I’ve been coming here for years, all the old employees are gone.” He added, “the last couple of months I stopped coming here because they had no bread or milk”.

The closing of the Vic’s also effects the two businesses that were sub leasing space from the owner; Beijing Wok and Good Eats Southern BBQ. An employee at the Beijing Wok was busy packing up bags of rice, peas and carrots and didn’t want to talk about the store closing. They were in a hurry moving their products out before the creditors came.

Eric McFadden, the owner of Good Eats Southern Bar-B-B-Q said, “On Monday, the doors were locked and foamed; I couldn’t get into my own business.”

Eric said, “I knew something was going on.” The owner had told him and everybody else they were planning a remodel of the store and that was the reason for the half-empty shelves.

While I spoke to Eric, his business partner Dawn Sirstad was running out to rent a U-Haul truck. They were in a hurry to move out all their restaurant equipment before the doors were locked and foamed again.

McFadden was annoyed at the situation but was already making calls to move Good Eats BBQ to a nearby location.

Good Eats BBQ, which gets rave reviews on Yelp for their old fashioned comfort food, may move into the empty Brick Oven Pizza building located on the right side of the shopping center.

His goal is to open very soon and have “The Big Mama Grill,” BBQ-ing ribs outside the joint. He is currently in negotiations with the property management company which also manages Vic’s and the entire right side of the shopping center.

Good Eats would give some life to that side of the shopping center which recently lost Erawan Thai Restaurant. Erawan moved over to Freeport Boulevard.

Vic’s Market closing leaves a big hole in the historic South Hills shopping center. Hopefully, a higher quality market can move in while keeping the original architecture of the building intact.

Camellia Waldorf plans move to CP Huntington campus

Camellia Waldorf School, a private Waldorf elementary on Freeport Boulevard, is currently looking to move on over to the closed down CP Huntington public school campus in the Brentwood neighborhood.

Camellia Waldorf has been at the current site on Freeport Boulevard for 25 years. They started out by renting one room from the storefront and that was their kindergarten. They have grown over the years to include a toddler program through eighth grade.

According to school administrator Ardyth Sokolor, “It was never intended to be a long term site, but it has worked nicely. At this point, it’s just not large enough.”

They are very interested in moving to the former CP Huntington campus and are working with the Sacramento City Unified School District to get it finalized. “(It’s) just a matter of process,” Sokolor said.

They are very interested in increasing their enrollment, but the space they are currently in is just not big enough.

The classrooms are small and they need more space for things like a woodworking studio, art space, and a strings room for an instrumental music program.

“We do more space sharing than we really would like,” Sokolar said.

“Our teachers want larger classrooms because one of the things that is unique about a Waldorf education is the children aren’t just sitting at their desks doing worksheets. They integrate a lot of movement and games and outdoor space and it would be wonderful to have more room.”

The grounds at the current site are all about the outdoors and nature. The children help to take care of the animals and they also have chores. The development of a strong will and work ethic is very important to a Waldorf education.

They use different types of play structures which means they’ll have to transform the CP Huntington school grounds from a mainstream public school to a Waldorf private school.

That’s where the permits and red tape come into play.

Camellia Waldorf has made efforts to inform parents of their proposed site relocation. They’ve had quite a few parent education offerings to let the parents know why they are interested in moving and why they think CP Hunnington works well for them.

They have also reached out to the Brentwood Neighborhood by canvassing the neighborhood and have had members of the Brentwood Neighborhood Association tour the campus and learn what a Waldorf education is all about.

“We also like the idea of being in a neighborhood instead of a shopping center. Community is an important part of who we are and what our parents are looking for and what we instill in our children. It’s very attractive to us to be in more of a community setting like that,” Sokolor said.

What will happen to the building and area Camellia Waldorf will be vacating?

Over the Fence has learned there have been some preliminary discussions to house a Safe Ground type facility on the 4.6-acre Sacramento City nursery once Camellia Waldorf relocates to the CP Huntington site. Stay tuned.

Got a local neighborhood news story? Email Greg@valcomnews.com