The smell of fresh baked bread follows me home

Waking up a Saturday morning in August and it’s already 70 degrees in East Oakland. It’s 9 in the morning and before it gets hotter, I grab my little Chihuahua, Night, and head east on 103rd Avenue.

Walking up the street, I notice that there are only about five trees in the three-block stretch. No one is out this morning, which is interesting. Maybe it’s the heat. The houses are generally gated and a number of them have signs warning of dogs. Big dogs are what I keep encountering – big dogs that are not particularly fond of my little dog. These blocks feel safe to walk, and the streets are generally clean.

The fence at St. Louis Bertrand Catholic Church

I take a left turn on Birch Street. The corner of Birch Street and 103rd Avenue catches me by surprise. There are usually people hanging about because of the market, Lucky Two. Today, there is no one. Maybe it’s the time of day but then again maybe it’s the heat. The store’s sign boasts that it has groceries, beer, and wine. I can see the sodas, the chips and candies from outside.

As I’m walking by, a man comes out with two tall cans of beer. He sticks one in his back pocket and opens the other, turns to my little dog and says, “Hello, little man, I have a girl for you at home.” He then tells me good morning and that he has a girl Chihuahua. He wishes me a good day, crosses the street, and walks on. I keep walking on Birch Street. The neighborhood still feels safe to walk in although the houses seem to have bigger fences.

I make a left on 100th Avenue. The houses on 100th Avenue somehow seem more closed off. Perhaps it is because the houses tend to have larger fences. Again, a lot of houses have dog warnings. An elderly couple is outside doing Saturday morning chores. We say good morning and their little dog follows us down the block.

I keep walking west on 100th Avenue. On the southwest corner of 100th Avenue and Walnut Street, I come across another market, Q&S Market. This market seems to be a bit more stocked with everyday items. I can see things like toilet paper and cereal boxes.

After the market is the parking lot of St. Louis Bertrand Catholic Church. The fence along the parking lot of the church has beautiful student art.

Finally, I head back south along International Boulevard to 103rd Avenue; it’s almost 10 in the morning. On my way, I pass a food stand that is in the parking lot of EZ Tires, which is busy with early customers. The smell of the cooking food is mouthwatering.

An apartment complex is next to EZ Tires, but it’s quiet. Mina’s Beauty Salon is below the apartments. There are two other business locations below the apartments that are currently unoccupied. There is a gas station on the other side of International that is hustling and bustling with cars and people. The southeast corner of 102nd Avenue and International is occupied by Julio’s Transmission.

Next to Julio’s is In & Out Check Cashing, which is currently closed. Next to that is Sayfee Hardware which has quite the selection of hardware and home needs. Panaderia El Pueblo, on the northeast corner of 103rd Avenue and International, has a large selection of produce, dry goods and a meat counter. El Pueblo has a kitchen in the back.

The smell of fresh baked bread follows me home.

Author Profile

I am an Oakland native and graduated from the California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, with a bachelor's degree in Political Science in 2003. While at Cal Poly, I was a member of Sigma Omega Nu and was the resident advisor for the multicultural tower of Yosemite Hall during the 2000-2001 school year. My passion for education and Oakland inspired me to focus my senior project on the state takeover of the Oakland Unified School District in 2003. After graduation, I returned to Oakland and was an AmeriCorps member in Oakland from 2004-2005, working on community building in Sobrante Park.

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