We’re small town people. We come from a town about the size of Marysville. We’ve lived in a couple towns less than half that population. We’ve seen how towns – especially small towns, we think – can develop more than just traits and customs. 

They can actually develop personalities, the same as people and good dogs ... personalities like a town or a bar in a Saroyan novel or play, or a Brian Doyle book, or a TV series like Northern Exposure. Or like the Appeal-Democrat front pages of the pre-WWII years when everyone was loved by the editor/publisher, miscreants and saints alike.

Recognizing that your community has a personality, you realize that you shouldn’t discount anything; you should give everything that isn’t evil a chance; that things that seem out of place could be right at home; that things you never thought were completely foreign come in handy to bust apart parochialism.

Well ... we don’t know much about opera (actually we know nothing of it), but we love the idea that it’s going to be woven into our small-town life. Justin France, owner and head chef of Justin’s Kitchen in downtown Yuba City is featuring Italian Opera Night next Saturday, Jan. 25, from 5 to 9 p.m.

Our intrepid Yuba Sutter Arts director, David Read, provided us with some history: there used to be regular operatic performances around our community. Joaquina Calvo Johnson, a vocal arts teacher at Yuba College, created “Borgamaria Lyric Opera Co.” and staged full operas here. 

France was among the local singers she trained. 

Read also reminded us that there used to be a restaurant – Salute Italian Ristorante (formerly in the same building as Justin’s Kitchen) – which hosted opera performances.

Opera night at Justin’s Kitchen ... we have a feeling it’s going to fit right in.

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Thumbs Down: What on earth is wrong with the brains of the knuckleheads who stole a trailer from the American Red Cross in Yuba City. The utility trailer was filled with supplies used for setting up shelters in emergency situations, it was reported. It was stolen last weekend from a warehouse in Yuba City. It was found Sunday morning half submerged in the Feather River.

When people need emergency aid, trailers like this are used to deliver it. The persons who stole that trailer weren’t just stealing something of value to an organization; they were stealing emergency capability from all of us.

Here’s hoping law enforcement figures out some way to tag the guilty parties.

It took some help from volunteers, two truck winches and a boat to get the trailer out of the water. Thanks to those good Sams.

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Thumbs Up: We’re not acquainted with the Untz Festival phenomenon (and we’re guessing we’re a generation or so removed), but it’s coming to Yuba County’s Sycamore Ranch at the end of May.

What we really like at this juncture is the attitude taken by county personnel about leasing out the county-owned campgrounds to groups such as that:

“We see it as mutually beneficial,” said Nic Clavel, parks and landscape coordinator for the county. “They want a partnership going forward, and for us, this is year one and trial. If it turns out to be as beneficial as we see it to be, we will be happy to keep it going.

“We have hidden gems in our county that are underutilized, and there are even members of our own community who haven’t been exposed to what we have up there.”

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Ugh: Don’t thank me; thank (or blame, rather) Dwayne at the bowling alley:

– If corn oil is made from corn, and vegetable oil is made from vegetables, what is baby oil made from?

– Why does someone believe you when you say there are four billion stars, but checks when you say the paint is wet?

– Why is it no plastic bag will open from the end you first try?

– Do the Alphabet Song and Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star have the same tune?

– Did you just try singing the two songs mentioned above?

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