Steve Cotler

Steve Cotler

Category Archives: Anecdotes

Road Trip 2015: Sonoma County to Trinity Center

In 1982, I read Blue Highways, a bestseller written by William Least Heat-Moon. It chronicled a journey by car taken entirely on the small roads—the mapmakers’ blue highways. An English instructor as a small Missouri college, Least Heat-Moon, disoriented by a fracturing marriage, chose to look for himself by choosing, as Paul Simon put it, […]

Prof. Joshua Whatmough — Linguistics 120

This morning, rising with formless, benignant wonderings about my future and vague remembrances of my long-ago youth, I surprised myself with an abrupt focus on Prof. Joshua Whatmough (“WUTT-moe”). I googled and found a perfect description of his terrifying and exhilarating classroom (in 1947) put up on a webpage by one of Whatmough’s former students, […]

On Balance

There is very little to recommend California’s Interstate 5 except straightness and speed. In a midsummer’s sunset somewhere south of Buttonwillow, I am rolling at 80, glazed by oncoming lights and nearly listening to bad luck and worse love on a Country FM out of Visalia. I lift, drink, and am down to an inch in […]

Gas(p) Prices!

After a terrific cioppino lunch at Duarte’s Tavern in Pescadero (the huge quantity of crab paired extremely well with the wallet-slimming price), my wife and I motivated south on California’s Highway 1.  She was driving. I was marveling at guano-encrusted rocks jumping up from the seabed. It was a bright blue day, and we were in our Prius, […]

In Praise of Children’s Librarians

When I was a boy, elementary schools did not have libraries. We didn’t know what we were missing because our town had a Carnegie Library. Beginning in 1889, steel magnate Andrew Carnegie built homes for books. Eventually his philanthropy erected 2,509 public libraries, two-thirds of which were in the United States. The one in my […]

Mac Crash

My 3.5-year-old Macbook Pro went on the disabled list Wednesday. Symptoms: Normal start up, but then, as the blue screen and desktop icons appeared, so did the spinning beach ball of death…and a queasy stomach. Interior sirens wailing, I rushed to my not-too-far-away Apple Store where, amid dozens of milling i-enthusiasts, the patient was taken […]

A Teenager Selling Shoes

Marty Stein and Benny Silverstein operated shoe stores in Oxnard, my California childhood’s small town. Marty’s store (Kirby’s Shoes) was on A Street’s east side, right next to my father’s men’s & boys’ clothing store. Benny’s store (GallenKamp’s Shoes) was directly across the street. Marty carried a marginally higher-priced line, but in a town that […]

Shoe Polish and History…Repeating

A guest post by my oldest child, Emily. *     *     *     *     * I had this memory of my father. I was very young, and he was shining shoes. I well-remembered the smell, and the mess, and how careful he was with the polish in the little tubs. Everything was kept in a shoebox, and […]

A Bully Story

Every once in a while I come across a blog post that deserves wider reading. Hollye Dexter wrote one today. I reprint it unchanged below. The original is here. *     *     *     *     * When I started the seventh grade all the other kids seemed to tower over me in the halls. The girls had […]

No Sunglasses, No Service

I know a woman (she shall remain nameless) who loses her sunglasses repeatedly. A retired attorney, she is neither careless nor insouciant. It just happens. And each time her cheaters go AWOL, she reacts with dismay and a bit of self-directed anger. Then, after a mourning period shortened imperatively by the next glary day, her […]