Archive for December, 2010

It’s Fun to Be One

Posted in BUYERS on December 20, 2010 by Julie Nachtwey, the Claremont Hills Real Estate Expert
Aalto and his proud parents Jackie and Alex

Aalto and his proud parents Jackie and Alex

 Once upon a time a lovely couple moved into a house in Berkeley which I had the pleasure of selling to them. Moving into their new home was even more exciting because they were expecting their first child!  It was an honor that my husband and I were invited to their son’s first birthday party. In Korean tradition, a child’s first birthday, called the Doljanchi, is an important milestone meant to bless the child with a prosperous future.

The Birthday Boy

Aalto looked cute in his dapper King’s outfit, a traditional Korean Jacket and hat from his grandparents.   

The Korean Spread

The cake said "first birthday" in Korean

Young Aalto celebrated with adoring parents and friends. The traditional Korean food and birthday cake were from Koreana Plaza in Oakland, a local Korean supermarket.

The highlight of the party was a Korean ritual in which the child is placed in front of a table with foods and six objects, each with a special significance.  He is then urged to pick up an object from the table.  It’s believed that what a child in Korea chooses may reveal his destiny. 


Alex and Jackie prepare the table for Aalto

 Here is the order in which Aalto made his selections:

Rice = Wealth

Yarn = Long Life

Squash Racquet = Athleticism

Red Dates = Fertility

Calligraphy Pen/Books = Scholar

 Paints = Artistic

 Aalto’s mother Jackie disclosed: “I did this when I turned one, and reportedly went straight for the books!”  She is now a successful physician.

It makes you wonder…

What would you choose if you could do it all over again?

Grand Marshall, In Loving Memory

Posted in NEIGHBORHOOD on December 13, 2010 by Julie Nachtwey, the Claremont Hills Real Estate Expert

Hollis Carr as the Grand Marshall of the Zenith New Orleans Jazz Band

“It doesn’t mean a thing if it ain’t got the swing.”

— Duke Ellington

The life of our neighbor, Hollis Taylor Carr, was celebrated over the weekend at a big social gathering with family, friends and neighbors in North Berkeley.  Hollis passed away on Nov 2, election night, with a big smile on his face after learning that Jerry Brown had been elected and not his opponent.  His interest in politics was compelling.  We first got to know each other in 2002 as co-precinct captains. We attended meetings and knocked on doors together in support of Gordon Wozniak for the Berkeley City Council.  He was always moved to action by the right cause.

Hollis joined the US Navy at age 17. He served in both WW II and Korean Wars.  Yet like other servicemen of color, he came home to face discrimination.  His commitment to justice and equal rights propelled Hollis throughout his life.  You can read more about his life in the December 2nd edition of The Berkeley Times, a new community newspaper.

“Hollis and Frankie Carr were among the first to break the ‘color barrier”’ in Bay Area Real Estate.  They purchased and moved their young family to Berkeley, which was the subject of a racial covenant restricting race-based ownership.  The US Supreme Court later ruled that such race-based restrictions on home ownership violated the Constitution.”

– Biography, “In Loving Memory of Hollis T. Carr

Hollis had many interests and talents.  One friend admired how Hollis could weave a web of magic around those he cared about. A granddaughter said he made it clear that his grandchildren could do no wrong in his eyes.  Family was the most important thing in his life. In recent years, Hollis lived with his son Allen Carr and daughter-in-law Kristen Jensen. Hollis enjoyed driving the three children to school and other activities.

Music was also an essential part of Hollis’ life.  He had been a trombone player in the Naval Band.  His favorite kind of music was jazz.  For more than 50 years he attended the Monterrey Jazz Festival, only missing once.  Hollis was selected as the Grand Marshall of the Zenith New Orleans Jazz Band, which plays every year in the Piedmont 4th of July parade.

At the celebration the band played a series of pieces which made it hard to sit in your seat.  Hollis would have enjoyed that.

Holiday Giving

Posted in NEIGHBORHOOD on December 8, 2010 by Julie Nachtwey, the Claremont Hills Real Estate Expert


Isabelle and Angelie donate toys


Two neighborhood girls discovered a good place for giving — in the lobby of The Claremont Hotel.  First, Isabelle and Angelie Cecka donated toys to the Oakland Firefighters  Random Acts Holiday Toy Drive.  Then, they selected a card off the Christmas “Giving Tree” for a gift donation to a child at Saint Vincent’s Day Home.

Each card represents one disadvantaged boy or girl aged three to five years old at St. Vincent’s Day Home.  Unwrapped gifts can be dropped off at the concierge desk at the hotel lobby. “There are still lots of cards on the tree – so people should go get one now! said Jeannie Cecka, mother of the girls.  THE DEADLINE IS FRIDAY, DECEMBER 17.

The “Giving Tree”

It was the make-your-own gingerbread house contest that brought the girls to The Claremont. The Cecka Family has participated for the last few years, so it’s almost become a family tradition. “My favorite part of decorating our gingerbread house was stacking up Willy Wonka chocolates for the fireplace and marshmallows for smoke,” said Angelie.

A giant gingerbread house sits in the lobby, which is beautifully decorated.

The girls with their house

Remember how much it means to kids to receive a toy at Christmas. The unwrapped gifts for young children at St. Vincent’s Day Home are due no later than FRIDAY, DECEMBER 17.