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Sonoma County Gazette
Camp Meeker Beat

Time for Some Serious Business

Feb 5, 2018
by Tom Austin


Did you know there is an open spot on the Camp Meeker Parks and Recreation Board? I want you to think about volunteering for that position. You might be wondering what the responsibilities are. Think of your house, and all the tasks that you have to stay on top of. Water. Heat. Repairs. Bills. That’s sort of what the Board does with respect to Camp Meeker. Keep the water flowing. Keep the lights on. Keep us safe from fire and wastewater backups. Keep track of the paperwork and the legalities. Of course, there are experts in those subjects who do the work, but it’s the board that decides what work will be done and how it will be paid for. It’s not glamourous, but it’s for darn sure important.

I’m sure you want Camp Meeker to be a good place to live, and maybe you have some skills and energy looking for a place to be put to use. If you are a registered voter that lives in Camp Meeker, type up a short statement of why you would be a valuable member of the team and mail it along with a letter of application to PO Box 461, or email it to by March 1. That’s just a few weeks away, so get cracking!

That’s for your left brain skills.

For the right side of your brain, here’s an opportunity:longtime Occidental/Camp Meeker resident Dotty Joos alerted me to a cool new class offered through the Older Adults program at Santa Rosa Junior College: I don’t know the exact name of the class, but it will involve “playing with art in a non-judgmental atmosphere and finding new depths of concentration, self-expression, and camaraderie.” Sounds good, right? I took a similar class at SRJC almost twenty years ago and it was a life-changer. This class will be at the Occidental Community Center on Tuesdays from 10 am to 12:30 pm. It actually started on January 23rd, but participants will come and go to the class as it fits their busy schedule. There is no enrollment fee! All you need to do is fill out a registration form at any time during the class. You’re not an artist, you say? Maybe, maybe not – but that’s also true of your classmates. It’s not the final product that really matters. What matters is what goes on inside you when you’re making that art. Come explore.

Okay, business is out of the way.

Now I’m going to take a little space for something more personal. Yesterday, ten days short of his 84th birthday, my father-in-law John “X-Ray” Law passed from this world after a long struggle. Yes, my father-in-law was Johnny Law, so you best believe I knew I better treat his first-born daughter right. I know I can’t sum up a man’s life in a few words, but maybe I can try. John Law was that man of few words, so I’ll follow his example.

John Law was a black man from Donora, Pennsylvania. His father ran a junkyard, and he grew up in a tight-knit working class community. Even though he was the shortest guy on the team, he played defensive end and used his speed to beat guys bigger than him. After some misadventures in college, the Dean told him to go home and “cool off.” Rather than confess his failure to his family, he enlisted in the Air Force. There he went to Korea and met and married his wife. His first daughter (my wife) was born in Korea and lived there, in the Philippines (she remembers seeing a water buffalo in the street), in a segregated trailer park in New Jersey, and eventually to Travis Air Force base in Fairfield. A second daughter came into the world, followed by two grandchildren.

John Law won’t have any cathedrals or libraries named after him, but he raised a loving family he was very proud of. He called it his “United Nations” family, and he made sure I felt part of that family from day one. He was also proud of his roots in Donora. I talked with him hundreds of times over those twelve years, and in at least half of those conversations he reminded me that baseball legends Stan “the Man” Musial, Ken Griffey, and Ken Griffey Jr. also came from “the Home of Champions.” I had the honor of attending his 62nd High School Reunion with him, and I saw why he was proud – over half of the class was there, and you know that’s not easy for octogenarians.

So long, Dad. I’m going to miss you.


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