The late Cat Ring
Ed and Connie
City CM Nora
A Champ Car
Al DeRose in
Wine used to cost less -
Al collects old cars
And makes wine
Cmdr. Matt Faletti
At San Antonio
Let's give everyone
NNV Special Edition for Mary Parker-Eves, ARUMC
|Thank you! - NNV welcomes back Founding Sponsors - And two new sponsors|
|Young Accident Victim Identified - Cat Munson-Ring worked in Alum Rock Village|
|Oh, No, Not Again! Mail Thieves Make Holiday Incursion - Please tell us if YOU got nailed!|
|Notable Neighbor: Al DeRose - Winemaker, Mentor, ... Chivalrous Gentleman|
|NNV Writer Flies South – Trades amoral San Jose for God-fearing Mississippi|
|Nora Campos Supports San Jose Grand Prix - East Foothills connections! by Dan Gentile|
|Barber cum Librarian Takes Over JLHS Library - But how long can Kathy Evans stay?|
|Newsmakers: Cmdr. Matt Faletti and Councilmember Nora Campos|
|Young Writer Pens Timely Poetry - A Winter Poem by Spencer Olsson Nitkey|
|“Even Start” - Mothers Learning English, Parenting Skills, and More – Kids Learn Too!|
|San Jose Delivers – 1942’s San Jose Was a “Can-Do” Place from Carol Schultz|
|Wild and Wooly Weather Marks New Years Walk in the Park - Mother Nature showing off|
|You Dig It?|
|Wild Turkey Tales - Giant Gobblers nest and fly in Alum Rock Park by Dorothy "D.J." Johnson|
|FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)|
A million thanks to our generous NNV readers who made a donation to help us keep New Neighborhood Voice afloat for another year. All of our dear, generous “Founding Sponsors” agreed enthusiastically to sponsor the newsletter again. And, very exciting to us, two new sponsors came forward to join the original supporters. Please check out our list of sponsors below - and look for our occasional pieces about them and their businesses - and make a point of doing business with them. They all are committed to making our neighborhood a better place to live and they go out of their way to be good citizens of our community. Thank you all so much!
Judy and Allan Thompson
Caskey Country Club Properties, Call Larry and Barbara Caskey at (408) 926-5400
E.M.S. LLC, Environmental
Management Systems, (408) 501-4200
Windermere Silicon Valley
Properties, (408) 251-5860
Keith Bush, Artist/Sculptor, (408) 923-6666, www.keithbush.org
The financial planning firm PW
Papier, (408) 747-1222
Finest French Pastries, Country Club Plaza
In mid-December, the Mercury News carried brief stories about a 33-year old mother who had been run over by her own car in Boulder Creek. The short items said that the unidentified young woman was struck by her car as it rolled down her driveway with her six year old son in the back seat. Her condition was described as “critical.” The Mercury News never reported to its readers the sad outcome of the story or revealed that this young woman worked in Alum Rock Village and had done so for more than six years.
On Wednesday, December 8th, the staff at Eastside Planned Parenthood Clinic on Alum Rock Avenue was notified that one of their Clinicians, Certified Nurse-Midwife Cat Munson-Ring, was hospitalized in a coma at Dominican Hospital in Santa Cruz. She had been brought into the hospital as a “Jane Doe,” but, because she had worked earlier at Dominican, she was recognized by staff there who alerted Planned Parenthood.
Most of the details of the tragedy were related by Cat’s little boy, Carter, who turned six just days before. Carter said that he and his mommy were starting their usual day getting ready to leave their hillside home – he for school, she for her workday in San Jose. After starting the car, Cat got out briefly, only to see the Toyota suddenly begin rolling backward uphill toward their garage – with Carter in it. Carter climbed out of the back seat and tried to turn the car off. Unfortunately, it then began rolling rapidly down the steep driveway toward a forty foot ravine and creek below.
Apparently knowing that the car, if not stopped, would flip into the creek and Carter could drown, Cat ran down the hill and, finding no other way to stop it, flung herself in front of it. Carter got out of the stopped car and ran to neighbors for help. Emergency rescuers found Cat unconscious with the still-running vehicle on top of her.
The next day, Dominican’s neurology staff determined that this selfless young woman no longer had brain activity and on Friday she was taken off life support. Cat, a single mother, died soon after with her parents, David and Marcy Munson of Concord at her side.
Who was this heroic Cat Munson-Ring? Who was this young woman who could – and did – sacrifice her own life for that of her little boy? Well, in retrospect, if anyone had ever thought to ponder just who among us might have the fortitude to carry out such a feat of bravery, one would probably have singled out Cat. Slender and lithe, Cat was outrageously bigger than life. She was fiercely independent, anti-war and passionate about politics. She said she named her little boy after President Jimmy Carter whose values she revered. A vegetarian and serious about her stewardship of the Earth and all its creatures, she didn’t even drink vodka because it’s filtered through animal bones, she would say. On her own, she earned two masters degrees – one in Nursing and one in Psychology. Earlier she had earned a bachelor’s degree in English Literature from UC Santa Cruz. She was just about to become certified as a counselor. All this by age 33.
Cat was known around Eastside Planned Parenthood Clinic as having a heart big enough to encompass all of the hundreds of patients she saw. She was a steadfast champion of the disenfranchised. If there were a program to be ferreted out to lighten the financial burden of a struggling young mother, Cat would find it. She was gifted and confident and smart, but she didn’t make others feel small. She was never condescending or patronizing.
NNV readers may well have seen Cat in The Village. With her long honey-blond hair pulled back in a prim bun (or occasionally flying loose like a golden mane) she visited Rafiki’s Coffee Hut and Thai White Rock Café regularly. You may have seen her walking hand-in-hand with Carter to the YSI Thrift Shop where she purchased many of his clothes (and often her own) plus occasional toys and books which she thriftily preferred not to buy new.
It still seems impossible that Cat is gone, that she could have had the very life squeezed out of her. Impossible that her magnificent brain could be robbed of its sensibilities as she lay with her face pressed into the earth. It seems like a terrible dream from which one might awaken and gratefully see that Cat is still among us doing good works and teaching us, by example, to be better human beings. Alas, her family, patients, friends and colleagues won’t be seeing Cat again, but she is surely alive in little Carter and in the hearts of everyone she touched.
Click here to see some photos of Cat Ring and Carter.
NNV Note: Your editor is a ten year volunteer at Eastside Planned Parenthood and knew Cat and Carter well. The Mercury News did not respond to our suggestion that Cat’s life had “news value” to San Jose readers. We heartily disagree and suggest that San Jose suffered a huge loss with the death of Cat Ring.
Contributions to benefit Carter Munson-Ring may be made at any branch of Washington Mutual, Account No. 334-6364164 or to Liberty Bank in Boulder Creek, Account No. 02-1672703.
About seventy-five families on Highland Drive and Alta Vista Way awoke on December 24th to find their mailbox doors hanging open and the boxes empty. A crusty thief apparently slipped from box to box, stealing the contents of all of those which hadn’t been emptied the previous afternoon after the mail was delivered. All those open boxes, looking as though their tongues were hanging out, were an extra rude poke-in-the-eye from the low-life thieves who live off other people’s hard work.
Sheriff’s Deputy Solorio came up to have a look later in the morning. He collected evidence found near some of the boxes and attempted to extract fingerprints from several. He picked up what appeared to be a DVD box addressed to a Highland Drive family and carefully put it in a plastic bag saying he hoped to dust it for prints later. As he left, he said that he would tell the evening shift to increase its patrols of the East Highlands.
Well, that being almost a month ago, NNV hoped to learn whether any progress had been made. We wanted to tell our readers just how many families “lost” mail – we know that two of our immediate neighbors did. When we phoned the Investigations number on the “Event” card to ask whether the prints panned out, the woman who answered said that there was no report on the particular event number which was on the card.
After many tries and blank alleys, we did finally reach Deputy Solorio on Saturday, January 22nd – two days short of a month after the thefts. He said that he still had the DVD box in his possession because he couldn’t “find the address.” NNV promised to figure out the address and give it to him if he would call back later that day. He did not call so we assume that the victims don’t yet know their mail is missing. Many neighbors were away on vacation at the time of these thefts and have no way of knowing that they had mail stolen. When the mailman delivered mail on the afternoon of 12-24, he simply stuffed the mail into the open boxes and shut the doors. Thus, people who were away on Christmas Eve morning, would be unaware that their box had been opened. Maybe they’re just now realizing that a holiday check or bills to pay are missing.
Deputy Solorio says that no one else in the neighborhood ever called the Sheriff’s Department to report their mailbox opened or rifled and he had heard nothing from anyone other than us. He was very surprised to hear that some neighbors with locking boxes had had their boxes bashed, jimmied or pried. Apparently the case is at a standstill until the deputy gets permission from the DVD owner to use the box as evidence. Doesn’t sound like a rip-roaring investigation, does it?
No one else at the Sheriff’s department has a, well, clue about the event. Phoning the non-911 department phone numbers is difficult at best and demoralizing at worst. It is understandable that, in these lean times of understaffing, people can’t just have the deputies at their beck and call. However, when the neighborhood had a spate of mail thefts in the summer of 2001 (before the economy got so tanked) the Sheriff response was just as uncoordinated and lackluster!
Did you lose mail? NNV is willing to compile information about mail thefts if readers will share details. It doesn’t feel good to not do anything. Please share your experiences with us and ask your neighbors to call or e-mail us too. Someone should be getting a handle on this. NNV: (408) 272-7008 or JudyET@NNVESJ.org.
Click here to see our mailboxes with their tongues hanging out. Check our Letters to the Editor page for letters related to this article.
Al DeRose probably would prefer not to be labeled an “old-timer,” but, truth be told, he has been on this planet for 89 years – though he could easily pass for a man decades younger. He has enormous sweet charm - perhaps derived from his Italian roots. Those roots conferred his livelihood upon him and shaped the character of his life.
Alphonse (as his parents named him) was born in Calabria in Southern Italy and moved to San Francisco with his family as a five-year-old. The DeRoses brought a longtime fruit-growing heritage with them and, after earning a little stake in America, acquired sixty acres of land in the Willow Glen area where they grew prunes, apricots and cherries from 1928 until 1970. If you look carefully as you drive along Southwest Expressway, you’ll see a sign marking a street called “DeRose Way” – the DeRoses left their family name on that orchard land. But grape growing and wine-making were in their blood as well.
In 1967, after many years of gazing at the east foothills from their home on Eleventh Street and vowing to live “up there” some day, fruit-grower Al and his charming Italian-American wife Lee (nee Valenti) bought a piece of property in the East Highlands. It had a small house on it which was moved and they had a new and better one built. To carry-on his ancestors’ wine-making tradition, Al had a wine cellar dug under the new house. In 1974 he began making small lots of wine in that cellar.
The next year, Al’s two nephews Pat and Nick (brother Gene DeRose’s sons) and two family friends joined Al’s fledgling wine operation. They hand-made wine in that tiny cellar until 1988 when they bought an old vineyard in the Cienega Valley near Hollister. The vineyard had excellent lineage having been planted in 1854 by a French immigrant and nurtured later by a German immigrant until it was purchased by Almaden Vineyards in 1953 and produced red wines. In the late 1980’s the DeRose consortium bought the vineyard and cellars and began producing wine under the Cienega Valley label.
The family’s first year of production turned out only 600 gallons of zinfandel, cabernet franc and pinot St. George. By 1990, annual production was up to 9,700 gallons and nowadays is about 5,000 cases. According to the DeRose Vineyards brochure, “The ultra-premium DeRose Vineyards label was introduced with the release of the 1993 wines.” The focus now is on “big, bold, rustic wines with native yeasts and little-to-no filtration.” Their nationally respected wines now include zinfandel, cabernet franc, negrette (the wine formerly known as pinot St. George), viognier, cabernet sauvignon, Hollywood Red (a zinfandel-based proprietary blend), chardonnay and a cabernet franc port. Their 2002 Zinfandel was the perfectly delicious wine your editor served to Ed and Connie Allegretti at our farewell dinner.
The winery founders, including father-son winemaking team nephew Pat and his son Al (named for beloved Uncle Alphonse, of course), give credit to Al DeRose as “the inspiration for everything,” as founder Dr. Tony Cedolini, told NNV. There is an antique car museum associated with the vineyard and, it, too, has grown from a hobby of Al’s. The nucleus of the collection comes from Al’s collector cars. One, it turns out, was previously owned by Debbie Reynolds. If you like, you can arrange a visit to the car museum when you go for a wine tasting session. “Museum first; wine-tasting afterwards,” says the family hoping to prevent an overly enthusiastic hands-on response to these decidedly “hands-off” beauties.
Al and Lee enjoy a tree-house view of the Country Club area from their living room window and the land around their house makes visitors feel as though they just stepped into a rustic Italian garden. Al is a gifted wood carver who took his first inspiration from a piece of knobby walnut wood which looked a bit as though a gnarled grape stem was attached to it. He followed the lead of that “stem” and carved leaves and fruit growing from it. Since that first piece, Al has carved more elegant fruit motifs, many whimsical bunnies and human figures.
Lee is an artist as well and showed NNV her creations of enchanting, small faux purses made from sumptuous old silk and damask fabrics and antique trims. Each little handbag has many unique features and all look as though they could accessorize the most fabulous ballgowns. Lee also shared her collection of Christmas tree ornaments which she also made from rich old dress materials, braids and trims.
Al DeRose is a handsome gentleman “of the old school.” He is gallant and chivalrous and charming. “You must have been a child bride!” he exclaimed when your NNV editor mentioned being married for almost 43 years. Now, is that sweet – or what? He and Lee also plied your editor with a glass of scrumptious DeRose Port. Just think: the precursor of that little glass of wine was made in a rustic barrel in the DeRose’s cellar on Highland Drive!
You can arrange for a visit to the DeRose’s vineyard by calling (831) 636-9143 or click here for their Web site. DeRose wines are available at Antipastos on McKee Road at Kirk.
Click here for photos of Al and his car collection.
Edward Allegretti, NNV’s most prolific-but-controversial writer, won’t be writing for the newsletter anymore. At least not with the regularity NNV readers have come to expect. And, yes, there’s a story involved.
When NNV was just a pipedream (is it kosher to say that in these anti-tobacco times?), Edward Allegretti came forward offering to support our newsletter effort “because I really want to see it succeed,” he said. Not only was he enthusiastic, he offered to write stories about the history of our area and growing up in the neighborhood. And, boy, could he ever write up a storm! Ed could take an idea and turn it into prose in less time than it takes your editor to get her computer warmed up.
It’s not exactly that Ed came with strings attached, but he did come to us with rather unusual biases for a forty-year-old Bay Area native. Perhaps during our second meeting, totally out of the blue, he solemnly announced, “I think you should know that I am politically very conservative. You might even say that I’m an arch-conservative.” I remember thinking, well, okay then … so what?
“I am anti-gay-marriage and anti-abortion,” he said gravely.
“I’m a volunteer at Planned Parenthood,” I told him, wondering if he’d instantly loathe me and change his mind about contributing stories. He didn’t look at me witheringly – or with any particular emotion on his face, in fact. However, it was as if, from then on, we had an unspoken agreement not to get into each other’s ethos.
Sometimes, in some of his stories, little anti-liberal allusions crept in which made a few NNV readers uncomfortable. We edited out some more flagrant challenges to Silicon Valley sensibilities, but we pretty much “let Ed be Ed.” One reader “un-subscribed” when he felt that some assumptions were made about our reader base (and about this particular reader by extension) simply by our publishing Ed’s tiny pointed digs at our Bay Area moral turpitude. One reader e-mailed wondering if NNV’s Ed Allegretti was the same Edward Allegretti who wrote homophobic diatribes complete with biblical allusions to The Metro, downtown San Jose’s wicked weekly newspaper.
“Well, yes, actually Ed and Edward are one and the same,” we admitted, “but he doesn’t write that sort of stuff for NNV!” In order to demonstrate that Ed’s philosophies were not NNV philosophies, we printed a good pro-gay-marriage essay written by Mary Parker-Eves, the pastor at Alum Rock United Methodist Church. Ed objected immediately, but was quite contrite when we explained that we were trying to counter flak we were getting about his biases. He was willing to back down – “for the good of the newsletter,” he said – and he continued to write mostly in an apolitical way.
Ed and his wife, Connie, and sons Chris and Andrew, moved to Mississippi late in January. To Ed, Mississippi represents the world as it should be – or at least as close to perfection as he can find. He believes that the people there are friendlier, better Christians who share his Bible-inspired convictions. Perhaps he decided to go to Mississippi after his detractors told him that his against-the-current views would be right at home there?
Probably not everyone would agree that Mississippi’s gain is San Jose’s loss, but NNV sees the loss to San Jose as very real. Ed Allegretti leads a life of service to community. He takes on responsibilities and leadership which most of us shun. We watched him stand up to his fellow commissioners on the County’s Historical Heritage Commission. He cares about homeowners’ rights and tried very hard to get an ordinance written which wouldn’t dictate arbitrary restrictions and penalties on homeowners in our county. His grasp of the commission’s work was extraordinary. He clearly did his homework and didn’t allow himself to be buffaloed by County staff. If all of our commissions could be peopled with conscientious folks like Ed Allegretti, much more good work would get done – better and sooner.
Ed and Connie joined us for dinner on one of their last evenings in San Jose. He was philosophical about leaving his birthplace – somewhat sad that he and Connie were leaving many friends behind, but buoyed by the prospect of finding his new niche after this one no longer fit. We wished them well as Ed gave your editor a last hug. They will truly be missed.
Click here for photos of Ed and Connie on their last night in San Jose and here for another NNV article on Ed. Click here for a list of the stories Ed has written for NNV.
NNV Note: In December, Ed interviewed his second cousin, Dom Cortese, for NNV. That story should appear in the March edition. And, intriguingly, Ed told us that a woman they had met in Mississippi has invited him to write an article answering his new community’s burning question, “Why would a successful young man like Ed Allegretti want to chuck his Bay Area ties and bring his wife to tiny Ellisville, Mississippi?” Ed assured us that he would copy us on the story. It should be a good one!
On July 31, 2005, the streets of downtown San Jose will be transformed into a high speed race course, where open wheel racing cars (Champ car series) will come roaring down Santa Clara St at over 200 miles an hour. The inaugural Grand Prix race will be held on the streets of San Jose in and around the HP Pavilion.
On January 6th, a press conference and official preview of the race was held at the HP Pavilion. Bob Singleton, Vice President and General Manager of the San Jose Grand Prix introduced Mayor Ron Gonzales who expressed his support and excitement about the first ever event to be held in San Jose.
The Grand Prix is being held in San Jose Vice Mayor Cindy Chavez’s District 3. On hand at the meeting was only one other city council member, none other than our own District 5 Councilmember, Nora Campos. In addition to both Councilwomen developing an immediate rapport with a certain young and handsome Latin driver, Nora expressed great enthusiasm for the race. She sees this event as a great boost to the local San Jose economy as well as to help put San Jose on the map for international auto racing events.
Also on hand for the event were two returning Champ car race drivers, Jimmy Vasser and Rodolfo Lavin of Mexico. Jimmy Vasser is our local celebrity driver. Jimmy was born and raised in Morgan Hill and started his racing career right here in the Bay Area. Both drivers expressed excitement for the upcoming race and acknowledge their appreciation for Mayor Gonzales and the city council’s support to approve such an event for the city of San Jose. Champ car driver, Rodolfo acknowledged the large Mexican population living in the San Jose area and he encouraged all to attend the race this July.
The race has two purposes, first, to bring professional auto racing to the streets of San Jose. Second, to raise the awareness for the need of research into early cancer detection. The Canary Fund is a non-profit organization dedicated to help find ways to improve early detection. The fund was created by a past technology executive of Cisco Systems, Don Listwin. Don recently lost his mother to cancer as well as other family members. The Canary Fund is the official social cause of the Champ car series.
What else does our neighborhood have to do with auto racing and the SJGP? Plenty. First, we have two past Indy car drivers living right here in the ‘hood who drove open wheel cars in the past. Joe Leonard (1965 –1973) and Willy T. Ribbs (1991 – 1994), both now retired. Battalion Chief Jim Carter of Alum Rock Station 2 is on the committee to help organize the San Jose Fire Department’s support team that will be on hand for the race weekend. Local Model T speedster owner, Ray Fontaine, will bring his bright red vintage racecar and a couple of other club cars to the weekend event. And yours truly is working with the San Jose Grand Prix to help promote the event. You may have seen me working at the SJGP booth at the San Jose Auto Show. I will also help to coordinate the already 450 volunteers who want to help put on this inaugural weeklong event. I’ll report on the progress of this event in the coming months and we’ll take a look at the careers of these two past Indy drivers living in our neighborhood.
I encourage all to attend this unique event being held in downtown San Jose. Come and experience world-class auto racing during a weeklong non-stop festival both on and off the track. There will be something for everyone there. www.sanjosegrandprix.com. If you would like to volunteer for this event, look for the Volunteer link at the bottom of the Home page.
Click here for photos of Councilwomen Campos and Chavez with the cars and drivers.
(This newsletter is in two sections to reduce the download time for this page)
--------------------------- Contact and Subscription Information
Copyright© 2005 by Judy Thompson, 16174 Highland Drive, San Jose, CA 95127
Phone: (408) 272-7008, E-mail: JudyET@NNVESJ.org Fax: (408) 272-4040
E-mail subscriptions are free. Your ideas and comments are always welcome.
To Subscribe: E-mail JudyET@NNVESJ.org with "Subscribe" in the Subject line.
To Unsubscribe: E-mail JudyET@NNVESJ.org with "Unsubscribe" in the Subject line.
Opinions expressed by other writers and contributors are not necessarily shared by NNV.
Copyright© 2005 by Judy Thompson. All rights reserved. Updated 2/14/05.