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Smith: Good news for old suitcases

  • Chris Smith

You'd never guess it, just passing by. But something historic is afoot at a luggage shop in Santa Rosa.

Proprieter Bernie Schwartz is as incredulous as anyone that suddenly his store shelters two chances for folks to do something meaningful with their old suitcases.

Bernie learned from Rob Burt, the chairman of drama and visual arts at Elsie Allen High, that maybe 40 vintage, hardcase suitcases are needed for a special theatrical production to coincide with the school's 20th anniversary.

The play, “Home/Land,” was first staged by Chicago's Goodman Theatre in 2012. As it speaks to the journeys of immigrants, Burt found it the ideal piece to celebrate the birthday of Elsie Allen, a school community quite familiar with how current immigration laws affect families.

Suitcases will be a backdrop to to the journeys portrayed on stage. Bernie Schwartz told Burt he'd be happy for anyone interested in loaning or donating a suitcase to drop it at California Luggage by the end of March.

And Bernie told Rob something else: It just so happens that right now he's also collecting used but more modern, wheeled luggage for women served by The Living Room drop-in center.

Often, the women are homeless and need serviceable bags to carry all the clothing and other possessions that they and their children own.

Just imagine, in most of the world retired suitcases have no place to go.

THE CHP TRAGEDY Monday on Highway 99 is especially painful to Cazadero's Terry Sheets and his family.

One of the two officers who died in the crash, Brian Law, is Sheets' nephew, and as a child, he lived for a time in Sonoma County.

Brian's mom. Judy Sheets Law, spent part of her childhood in Guerneville and she's an El Molino High alum.

Terry Sheets said Brian was a great guy, “always smiling, a real calm demeanor.”

Memorial services for Brian and his patrol partner Juan Gonzalez will be Monday in Fresno. His Sonoma County family will be there.

IN 1942, FRIENDSHIP was an act of courage and honor when those befriended were Japanese-Americans rounded up following Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor.

Old tales of friendship will be retold Saturday in Sebastopol at a free “Day of Rememberance” workshop hosted by the Sonoma County Japanese American Citizens League.

Some interned Japanese-Americans returned home to find that neighbors had watched over their land, rented it, collected rent and made their mortgage payments so they didn't lose the property.

The program starts at 1 p.m. in the hall at Enmanji Buddhist Temple. Reserve a seat by e-mailing phyllistajii@gmail.com by the end of today.

Chris Smith is at 521-5211 and chris.smith@pressdemocrat.com.

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