A long time ago at a place not too far away, my boyfriend and I searched for a bigger home. We’d been living elbow to elbow in Land Park. I stumbled onto a large, unloved home on Fourth Avenue in a neighborhood we didn’t know – Curtis Park. We knew no one. It was 1977. Relatively new in Sacramento, we worked a lot and traveled overseas for vacation.
Then we got married and had two sons. That changed life inside and out.
Through my work colleague at The Sacramento Bee, Dennis Renault, I got roped into working on our neighborhood newspaper, Viewpoint. There’s nothing like asking questions as a reporter and editing a newspaper to find out what’s happening. And through my neighbors we got involved in a babysitting co-op and in the newly formed Sierra School Neighborhood Association. My husband, Mike, served on the board.
Many details of those days remain a happy blur of fundraisers, huge flea markets on the Sierra 2 Green, renovating and converting the Sierra School building into Sierra 2 – fixing windows, painting, cleaning, hauling rubbish, etc. – and working with the school district and the city over various school and neighborhood issues.
What initially sparked the neighbors to join forces was the rumor the school and yard were going to become a parking lot for the Department of Motor Vehicles. At the time, DMV employees were parking everywhere in the neighborhood.
As the neighborhood association was developing, there were some fun, creative fundraisers to help pay for the playground and the salaries of the small staff. One of the most memorable efforts was the Pickle Family Circus. The colorful, circular tents were set up on the Sierra 2 Green. There were no animals, but lots of acrobats and clowns. Neighbors living near the park helped with housing, food and other amenities for the performers. All the shows were sold out.
During those early years, neighbors worked together to design and build the first playground. There were many nights when volunteers showed up with shovels and wheelbarrows to push donated cement from Teichert trucks into the forms built for the perimeter, and later to distribute huge piles of sand around the swings and slide. The playground that exists today is the third generation of equipment.
Through all the volunteer teamwork for the wine tasting, home tours and campaigns to persuade the city to help us make our neighborhood a good place to live and play, we all thrived. Our sons joined their friends in summer night street hockey matches on rollerblades, on baseball and soccer teams, skateboarding and picnicking in treehouses and at concerts in the park.
To this day, those early friendships and our commitment to the neighborhood remain solid. We were lucky a long time ago to land in a place not so far away.
Judy Scheible is a retired Sacramento Bee reporter and editor. She has had several tours as editor of Viewpoint over its four decades.