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From the Editor

Bay Crossings Gets a Home

Bobby Winston, editor of Bay Crossings, with landlord Bill Coolidge, aboard the Bele Cher, the new floating home of Bay Crossings.

Readers may recall a spoof ad we ran recently inviting the donation of "a boat with character sufficient to be an office and promotional tool for Bay Crossings." The ad made quite clear that "we can’t afford to pay anything or even offer a tax deduction." Lo and behold, God has provided in a mysterious way. But first, a personal note.

A special pleasure – privilege, indeed – of producing Bay Crossings has been the chance to work with gifted writers like Nancy Salcedo ("Checkin’ out the Bay"), Chris Cordi ("Riders of the Tides") and Steve Geller ("Bus Rider’s Journal"). Marina Gottschalk keeps us up to date on the North Bay, this newspaper simply couldn’t happen without Wes Starratt and Teri Shore keeps us honest on the environmental front. Each of these gifted people sought me out and agreed to write for next to nothing (or absolutely nothing, in some cases) and it’s certainly not my messianic personality that makes them do it. Rather, they share with you, dear reader, a special attraction to San Francisco Bay and the people that live, work and place there. I am unspeakably grateful to these fine people for their hard work and creative gifts.

But one contributor merits special mention. Here’s the story: Bay Crossings gets many unsolicited contributions, and though I try to read them all it’s just not possible. One such contribution came in about a year ago and wended its way through stacks of paper for months until, like a salmon working its way to the headwaters, it somehow popped up in front of me just this January. I didn’t have to finish even the first paragraph before I knew I had happened upon something very special.

This essay — about a canoeist meandering the Oakland Estuary in search of Least Terns — was the voice of an especially gifted writer. Like the work of Wallace Stegner, it spooned out insights about nature with gentle, but inescapable, lessons on the deeper and darker workings of the soul. I found it ineffably sad and beautiful at the same time.

Before I’d even finished the first reading I called the author, Bill Coolidge, and stammered out my apologies for being so tardy in getting back to him. Bill, in his easy North Carolina way, at once set me at ease and agreed to become a regular contributor. Thus began "Bill Coolidge’s Journal."

There aren’t many perks to being Editor of Bay Crossings, but one certainly has been the many an afternoon I have since enjoyed with Bill on his sailboat home, the Bele Cher, sailing the Estuary or simply tied up at dock, having wonderful conversation with this fine, gentle man. It’s the better to understand the diversity of Bill’s writing to learn that he has been, at various times, an Episcopal priest, television personality and real estate entrepreneur. Publishing the work of Bill Coolidge, and getting to know the man, have truly been highlights of my experience putting out Bay Crossings.

And now, moving back to North Carolina, Bill is allowing Bay Crossings use of the Bele Cher as a floating office. This was hardly the response we expected from our joke ad – frankly we didn’t expect a response at all – but it is heartily welcomed nonetheless. Since our humble beginnings just 18 months ago, Bay Crossings has operated out of free space at the Inlandboatmen’s Union in San Francisco or, more often than not, off my dining room table. We’re growing quickly and about to outgrow our welcome at the Union Hall. We’re certainly straining the patience of my all-forgiving wife. So thanks to the kindness of Bill Coolidge, I can avoid abusing the generosity of the longshoremen and return her dining room to my wife.

So that’s how it comes to be that, as of June 1, Bay Crossings has a new home aboard the Bele Cher. She’s docked in the incomparably beautiful Oakland Estuary, at Alameda’s Grand Avenue Marina. It’s an especially fitting coincidence that this very issue celebrates the Estuary and the innumerable wonderful stories that abound in it.

Readers will be reassured to learn that Bill will continue to write "Bill Coolidge’s Journal" from North Carolina and will be a not-infrequent visitor to the Oakland Estuary, which he leaves a better place for the gentle touch of his spirit. Thank you Bill, and bon voyage.

Please note: with our move into our new home, Bay Crossings has a new telephone number. It’s 510-351-3113: please make a note of it.