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A Bittersweet Anniversary

Bear’s-Eye View of Alameda for March 24, 2024

Alameda Post - Park Street, deserted at 10 p.m. during the COVID-19 pandemic

This week marks the fourth anniversary of the publishing of the first report of the Bear’s-Eye View of Alameda, on March 22, 2020. It’s hard to believe that every Sunday for the past four years there has been a report on the sights that Bear—and now I—have seen on our walks and delivered to Alameda readers.

It has been an honor to continue the B-EV tradition that started as a way to document the impact of COVID-19 on the community and to let folks that couldn’t get out a way to see the curiosities and beauty in their community.

While COVID has become a part of regular life here in Alameda, I want to remind readers of what everyone went through and sacrificed as the result of the virus. For some people, it is still altering their normal life to varying degrees. This week’s anniversary report contains images of the impacts our community experienced during that first year.

The proper starting point would be March 16, 2020, when the “shut down” order basically closed everything on the island. The street picture is of Park Street taken on that first Saturday night around 9 p.m., when normally there would have been hundreds of people out enjoying Alameda restaurants. My human companion remembers it like it was yesterday. He described it as “eerie.”

Alameda Post - sealed off trash cans and closed coffee shop
For those Peet’s and Starbucks fans, there were no caffeine-charged drinks available, and all the Sunday morning coffee gatherings were cancelled. Heck, everyone was so paranoid, you couldn’t even throw garbage away.

Alameda Post - A widely-spaced line of people wait to enter the Alameda Marketplace during the COVID-19 pandemic
Not everything was shut down—grocery stores were deemed essential and remained open, but with a bunch of restrictions, including staying six feet apart from each other and wearing some kind of a face covering. Masks were the covering of choice, but some folks wore bandanas reminiscent of a wild west bank robber.

Alameda Post - outdoor seating and takeout dining options
Fortunately for my human companion, restaurants were allowed to offer food to go, and he remembers getting great food from restaurants like Pappo on Central Avenue. He justified the expense as “supporting” Alameda restaurants to keep them from closing permanently. Eventually, outdoor dining was allowed, and Alamedans, who had been confined for months flocked to the newly erected parklets and filled the sidewalk seating areas that popped up. Even barbers started setting up shop on the sidewalk.

Alameda Post - Human companion Jeff enjoys a walking happy hour, and original B-EV correspondent, Bear, finds some inspirational sidewalk poetry
As the shutdown continued, Alameda residents took to the streets for exercise and more human connection. Others used it as the opportunity to have a walking happy hour. A mysterious poet started writing phrases on sidewalks for inspiration.

Alameda Post - small paintings posted as public art during the COVID-19 pandemic by Deidre Freeman
The streets became an open-air exhibition space for the work of Deidre Freeman who created beautiful masterpieces and hung them on poles all over Alameda.

Alameda Post - Sidewalk chalk art
Others chose chalk as their medium and used sidewalks as a canvas.

Alameda Post - bears (and an impostor) in the window Alameda Post - a vintage, well-loved Raggedy Ann doll
Does anyone remember the call to put a bear in your window so that kids could find them as they walked the newly created Slow Streets? Apparently, a bear imposter showed up at one residence! Other window sayings were popular too.

Alameda Post - a photo of a discarded mask and a poem by Adam Chalem Wallach
Over time, masks became an issue, both wearing them and as litter on the street.

Alameda Post - celebratory sign for a senior who graduated in 2020
Perhaps the most significant impact COVID had on our community that first year was when high school seniors could not have a formal graduation ceremony. To try to commemorate this major life accomplishment, graduation signs started popping up in front yards.

While COVID was a devastating experience for the community, it also provided us with several serendipitous events. The phrase, “I am not a cat!” will go down in Zoom meeting history as one the funniest situations ever. I was able to find a news clip that explains what happened. Keep your eye on the attorney in the upper right corner of the Zoom screen. Right at 0:30 he looks up and cracks a smile.

Alameda Post - a satirical flyer on a telephone pole offering to rent children to aid in home schooling Alameda Post - a flyer on a telephone pole with a photo of Lionel Richie saying "Hello? Is it me you're looking for?"
Here in Alameda, a parent offered to rent out their children so that anyone interested in home schooling could get some practice, and Lionel Richie sent us a greeting.

Alameda Post - A group of people socially distancing themselves outside Alameda Post - A chart showing the numbers of deaths worldwide from COVID-19As we start the fifth year of the B-EV, I just want to remind everyone that COVID is still with us, and folks everywhere can still get very sick and die, especially our older residents and those with comorbidities.

Please be careful and stay safe Alameda!

Bear's paws

Mouf, Roving Reporter
Bear’s-Eye View of Alameda

Mouf and his human companion can be reached via [email protected]. Their stories are collected at All photos by Jeff Cambra.

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