Saturday, February 10, 2018

Mill Valley: ‘We’re a bench town’

Mill Valley: ‘We’re a bench town’

Chris Ford, a Mill Valley writer/ad creator, sits at his beloved bench at Peet’s Coffee in downtown Mill Valley. For a testy two days, the bench went missing. (Photo by Mary Ann Hogan) 2018

By Mary Ann Hogan, Marin Independent Journal


Mark and Gwen Marinozzi, on the bench where they met and fell in love. The bench, originally downtown, has been moved to their Mill Valley home. (Photo by William Newton) 2018

Chris Ford showed up as usual, 8 a.m., Peet’s Coffee, downtown Mill Valley, to sit on the outdoor bench to sip his java in the sun. He’d been going there, same time, same bench, for as long as memory served.

Then, one day last fall, no bench.

Was it being replaced? What now? Café tables and chairs?

“No one likes tables,” Ford says. “We’re a bench town.”


Indeed. Benches: the last bastion of small-town downtowns. A pleasure that’s outlived free parking, a drink at the town water fountain, the first-name chat by the corner mailbox. More than a piece of furniture, a bench is an invitation, a listening post. Witness:

• “On the bench, you look up and out, not across. You make eye contact with people,” says Mill Valley fine woodworker Steve Ward, who crafted the bench in front of downtown’s EO boutique out of three types of Brazilian hardwood. “Here, there’s always room for one more.”

• A few doors down Throckmorton, a weathered black-lacquered bench sits outside of Carolina Boutique. “The early morning regulars around town, they have their own benches,” says shop manager Julia Pfahl. “It’s like going to your local bar — but it’s their local bench.”

• Says Phil Kline, a Marin general contractor taking a lunch break on City Hall’s carved redwood-trunk bench: “It’s a good place to reflect. ... Things can happen at benches.”
Editor's Note: I love this story. It says so much about the people and the way of life in Marin that we wish to preserve and enhance. It is not all about buildings and roadways. It is about community.

 See the full story in the Marin IJ  HERE:

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