Creative neighbors make best of scary time

From a shopping collective to a sidewalk scavenger hunt and long-delayed home repair projects, Curtis Park neighbors have been finding ways to turn the statewide shelter-in-place order into positive activities.

Neighbors have been making the best of the bad situation brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, which, as of March 25, had afflicted more than 468,000 people worldwide, about 14% of them in the United States. Nearly half of U.S. cases were in New York; California, although third nationally, accounted for less than 5% of the U.S. cases.

Some neighbors have pushed the limits, getting together to socialize, drink a bit, dance and sing while staying the designated six feet apart. Such gatherings, while a simple symbol of our neighborhood’s cherished tradition of socializing and caring for each other, apparently violate the current statewide stay-at-home order.

West Sacramento Mayor Christopher Cabaldon, after seeing such gatherings in his city, posted a caution on Facebook:

“We are required to stay home, with only the members of our own household. The order permits outdoor activity – but only individual activity, not team sports and definitely not sitting around in a group.”

West Sacramento Mayor Christopher Cabaldon

Many neighbors have been extending acceptable kinds of assistance to those in need, offering virtual hugs and checking to make sure everyone has food and necessities.

Residents in the 2200 and 2300 blocks of Portola Way implemented a shopping collective. “Whenever one of us heads to a store for essentials, we let others know and pick up what’s needed,” Judy Harper said.

“This saves a trip and potential exposure. Of course, the shopping, etc. is done with all precautions in place.”

Jemine Keely posted on the idea for a Curtis Park neighborhood scavenger hunt to get out-of-school children outside for some fresh air. She tied her suggestion to St. Patrick’s Day and asked neighbors to hang a shamrock in their windows so children could try to spot them while walking outside.

Charon Jenner of Curtis Way mused, “Who would have thought that being elderly could have perks? My neighbors have gone shopping for me, and we’re checking in regularly with each other. Yesterday we went for a walk, keeping a safe distance from each other. The ‘birders’ on my street discovered a nest high up in a sycamore and (started) speculating on what kind of bird had built it. Another neighbor set out oranges, lemons and limes from her trees to share. Life is good!”

Geno Delyon of Rochon Way keeps a safe distance while checking in on two neighbors and greeting people on walks. “I rode my bike down to the Pocket area with a pal along the river, which was really good.”

With a chair and a beverage in hand, Nina Bookbinder of Highland Avenue has a date to chat across her driveway with her nextdoor neighbor, who sits on her own front porch. Nina said she’s trying to walk around the neighborhood and look at all the beautiful spring flowers and greenery. “During these stay-at-home days, I plan on cleaning out my home office and tackling the garage.”

Sharon and Mark Helmar of Rochon Way are making the most of this down time by working in their yard, talking to friends, cleaning closets, watching PBS, reading, FaceTiming with grandchildren and ironing. Sharon said, “We may eventually sort all those papers in the office, learn how to use our phones and try to laugh a little. We’ll be putting away St. Patrick’s Day decorations and putting out Easter decorations. But mostly, we’re being thankful for friends, relatives and living in Curtis Park.”

Paul Barth of Fourth Avenue said, “I am using the time to work on my kitchen. I put off removing the wallpaper for years and now have 90% of it gone. The holes are patched, low spots floated and high areas sanded. With just a coat of primer it looks nice. With new paint it will be a pleasant change.”

Madeleine Lohman of Portola Way, one of the owners of Delta Mind & Body Center, has a new YouTube channel, MadYoga, on which she streams yoga classes.

For St. Patrick’s Day one Curtis Park neighbor organized a shamrock hunt. Neighbors were asked to put a Shamrock in their window on March 17. Any kind of shamrock, colored, painted, paper cut in the shape, printed from a computer. Then neighbors walked around the neighborhood to find shamrocks.

No human contact. Just fresh air.

Wayne Anderson of 25th Street is baking different kinds of bread and listening to operas.

Bret Harte Elementary School will continue to serve breakfast and lunch meals to any child age 18 and younger during the Sacramento City Unified School District-wide closure. Regardless of free and reduced eligibility or school attendance, families can pick up meals at the Bret Harte campus to take home Monday through Friday from 4:30PM – 6:00PM 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

There will be a drive-through service in the front of the school. District staff in a white vehicle with an apple logo will deliver meals to cars. Walk-up students will be given meals but cannot eat them oncampus and must leave school grounds.

For a complete list of all the Sacramento schools providing meal pick-up as well as any potential extension of the school closure period, go to the Sac City Unified website at

Gunthers Ice Cream is still open for curbside pick up. For fastest service, call ahead: 916 457-6646.

They’re opting for curbside order only from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. They have a system to get your ice cream, keeping the six-foot social separation enforced. Menu items are at For more information, go to Curtis Park News on Facebook.

Rob Archie of Fifth Avenue said his Pangaea Bier Cafe at Franklin Boulevard and Third Avenue remains open for takeout orders. Pangaea’s website says it is only accepting online orders for curbside pickup: “Call us at 916 454-4942 when you arrive to pick up your order and we’ll bring it out to you.”

Taylor’s Market opened its doors from 8 to 9 a.m. for shoppers over 65. “The seniors are gracious and grateful,” said owner Danny Johnson. Johnson does not anticipate any supply problems during the pandemic because his local suppliers are loyal. “Our long term relationships are paying off.”

Taylor’s Kitchen is also preparing takeout meals that can be ordered by phone or email. The limited menu is online. Payment is in advance by credit card.

Judy Brush, Carol Blackman, Dennis Cusick, Patti Roberts and Judy Green Scheible contributed to this report.

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