Amblin’ Alameda: Civilized Pursuits

Amblin’ Alameda: Civilized Pursuits

Morton Chalfy

On Friday afternoon my sweetie and I attended a performance of “Love Stinks” at the Altarena Playhouse. This was the one and only performance of this work, done by the students of the two-week drama camp the Playhouse conducts several times a summer. Natasha, my sweetie’s granddaughter, was in the production and did us proud as did all the kids.

The show, I believe, was a pastiche of scenes and lines and skits drawn from a variety of sources and stitched together by the camp’s staff.

Surprisingly the material was quite good, the actors really into it and the entire production a fairly rollicking good time. The parents laughed and pointed, the grandparents clutched their bosoms in delight and the group of littler kids sitting behind us laughed at the appropriate times (though often in the dark about meaning). Perhaps a star was born but that is beside the point of how much was learned, how much fun was had and how many of the youthful thespians signed up for another two-week stint.

On Saturday we met friends of ours at Franklin Park for “a string concert” to which we brought a picnic. We really didn’t know what to expect and when we arrived, we were a little surprised but very pleased to find the park grounds covered with blankets full of young families with very young children. A tent was set up in one corner staffed by the faculty of the Alameda String Institution. They were explaining their program to prospective players and their parents, handing out musical favors and generally entertaining the youngsters. At noon three of the staff took up their instruments, two violins and a cello, and proceeded to delight the crowd with truly professional playing.

The strains of classical music floated through the park, kids played on the blankets, picnics were consumed, the sun shone and the breezes blew. My guess is that three dozen families, more or less, comprising about a hundred people and two dogs, were there enjoying the day and the music. It was like an Impressionist’s painting of a summer afternoon in Paris.

I had a strong reaction of satisfaction at the number of very little children running around, always a good antidote for the aging point of view, and of delight at the very civilized nature of the gathering. Peace and plenty were in good supply and Alameda seemed even more like a great place to live.

A city that contains so much focus on its children, so many opportunities for them to learn and do positive things like drama and music and has spots like Franklin Park where beauty, friendliness, peace and diversity is openly on display is a good city. A civilized city and a model for the rest of the world.