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My Kind Of Town, Ukiah Is

Support for a traffic roundabout at Bush and Low Gap seems confined to those who work in government, which is sufficient cause for skepticism among the rest of us.

City officials recently resurrected plans for the roundabout, a novelty at any intersection but funny and/or dangerous at Bush and Low Gap Roads. Among the perils: 

1) Little tots with big backpacks, none traffic savvy, staggering toward Frank Zeek Elementary School from numerous directions blindly following herds of other children in whatever direction the kid directly in front is going. All the while cars, buses, motorcycles and RVs spin circles around them. 

2) Teenagers who got their driver’s license two weeks ago revving 450 horsepower 4WD truck engines.

3) Harried parents with kids yammering in back, already late for work, cars lining up and converging on the roundabout from four directions at once with no one obligated to stop.

4) Cop cars zipping up and down Low Gap Road, sometimes fast.

Why not a crossing guard? Was there a problem with the nice lady with the dark bangs who directed traffic smoothly and efficiently for a decade or more? I recall zero accidents during her tenure at the job, and by golly I wish I knew her name. She deserves a bronze memorial plaque embedded in her honor on that corner.

Free Shipping?

My first visit to Costco since it opened and I was stunned both by the size of the place (you could tuck Anton Stadium into a corner) and by the absurd $12.99 price tag on a set of men’s blue jeans. 

I assume these trousers get imported from a land so far distant that mailing a postcard from there to Ukiah would cost $12.98 in stamps.

Satellite Banks Redux

A long time ago, unless you’re my age and it seems like a couple summers back, the Savings Bank of Mendocino County launched a bold expansion plan.

It was the early or mid-‘80s and all of a sudden SBMC was installing little satellite branches all over town. You’d drive to work one morning and when you drove home a shiny new Savings Bank branch had sprouted at the corner of, say, North State Street and Low Gap Road. Or down on East Perkins just this side of Pear Tree Plaza.

Or else you’d go over to Janway Ford, and by the time it took to buy an Escort or Tempo, the Savings Bank would have built and opened a cool new circular-shaped office right across the street.

You had to wonder, and I often did: How was life made easier for Savings Bank customers with the addition of these new offices, all about a 90-second drive from the downtown headquarters? How much were profits increased for the bank when it spent many millions to surround itself with branches so close together you could walk from one to the others over your lunch break, including stopping for a sandwich at the Model Bakery? A branch in Redwood Valley was smart; a branch on South State Street was redundant

Once built the mini-banks all required tellers, bosses, cleaning crews and someone to count the money, arrange the loans and lock the doors at night. 

It seemed doomed at the time, and as events unfolded even people at the Savings Bank arrived at the same conclusion. The office at State and Low Gap is now Lefty’s Used Car Sales, the one on East Perkins morphed into a Sizzler Restaurant and now is part of the Adventist Hospital octopus, and over near Redwood Ford stands the home of Be Bop Hamburgers. 

It must have been a colossal failure. And yet, lo and behold, it appears one of those If-you-don’t-learn-from-history-you-will-build-a-bank-near-Walmart syndromes. And another bank across from somewhere else. Here they go again.

Why not a branch in Boonville, where there hasn’t been a bank in 30 or 40 years and where there’s more money per capita than anywhere in the county?

Spending Spree

Now is the time to spend wildly, tip lavishly, and send Letters to the Editor carefully printed on $50 bills. The tourniquet’s loosened, the spigots are On and the economy our leaders have worked so tirelessly to destroy is semi-free to recover.

No one “earned” those stimulus checks anyway, so have a contest to see who can spend their money fastest on your block.

(Just as Tom Hine announced his undying love for the Oakland A’s after a lifetime devoted to the (newly Woke) Cleveland Indians, the A’s opened the season with their worst in Oakland history. It’s his magic touch, and for $10, TWK promises he’ll not declare allegiance to your favorite team.)

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