Sacramento Bee: Alameda a nice step back in time, March 17, 2013


ALAMEDA – People migrate here the first Sunday of each month, tote bags and shopping carts in tow, reveling in a nostalgia for times they are too young to have experienced in the first place.

Ah, halcyon days: yours for a price; haggling encouraged.

A 1950s metal Standard Oil sign, blue and red and pockmarked with rust, sits in the cart of a 40-year-old man. The arm of a 1915 mahogany Victrola "talking machine" touches down on a peppy fox-trot record as a man in a "Vietnam Veteran" cap nods to the rhythm. A tattooed teen vamps in a midnight-blue Jackie Kennedy pillbox hat, then discards it in favor of a white-felt flapper cloche.

Alameda seems the perfect locale for dealing in antiquities – and not just because the decommissioned naval air station affords vast swaths of paved land on which thousands can forage at the monthly Alameda Point Antiques and Collectibles Faire.

No, this whole island, a short bridge or tunnel ride from the urban harshness of Oakland, is something of a throwback to earlier, simpler times. It's as if the place were preserved in amber and put on display, perhaps proof of William Faulkner's dicta that "The past is never dead. It's not even past."