The Cerebral Becomes Too Visceral at San Jose Library : Snapshots of life in the Golden State


Here’s a great magic trick from the San Jose main library: Make a roomful of people disappear using only a single piece of paper.

Ta-daaa: With one brief memo, the library evicted the rowdy folks who had turned a fantasy card game and even the august rituals of chess into virtual contact sports.

In this Silicon Valley capital, where even games are taken seriously, the chess players were usually well-behaved, says Anne Proudfoot, senior librarian in charge of adult services, but the fantasy card players had recently gotten out of hand. Money sometimes changed hands. Boisterous spectators and participants of the role-playing game sometimes gathered four or five deep at the tables on the library’s second floor, annoying staff and patrons, blocking the copier and the women’s bathroom.


Librarian JoAnn Crowther was trying to make her way to the bathroom when she heard one player gloat: “ ‘Ha! Your force-field cannot stop me, for I have the magic sword!’ And these are the adults.”

Interim solutions proved unworkable; staffers still found themselves acting more like pit bosses than librarians. Security guards, Proudfoot says, were sometimes summoned, and once, when a chess match turned into a shoving match, “we had to call the cops.”


House Keepers: Although the number of women in the world’s legislative bodies is on the decline, two still hold high positions--and may have more than that in common. Were Betty Boothroyd, first woman Speaker of Britain’s House of Commons, and Doris Allen, first woman Speaker of the California Assembly, which has been acting very common of late . . . separated at birth?

Boothroyd presides from a green leather chair; Allen presides in a green-carpeted chamber.

Boothroyd earns about $100,000 a year; Allen earns $86,400 plus $109 for each day the Assembly meets.

Boothroyd refused to wear the Speaker’s traditional full wig; Allen’s colleagues suggested acidly that she get a new hairstyle.

Boothroyd is the first minority party Speaker in nearly 100 years; Allen is the first Republican Speaker in a quarter of a century.


Ah, but Boothroyd is a liberal, and Allen a conservative. And Boothroyd is a favorite on both sides of the parliamentary benches; Allen’s own party is trying to boot her out of office.


Summertime Relief

These sweltering days beg for a dip in the back-yard pool. California has more private in-ground pools than any other state, the National Spa and Pool Institute says. We also are home to three times more hot tubs than anyone else.


STATE POOLS STATE HOT TUBS California 816,000 California 1.1 million Florida 640,000 Florida 293,000 Texas 228,000 Texas 270,000 Arizona 183,000 Washington 150,000 New York 170,000 Oregon 91,000


Sources: 1993 survey, National Spa and Pool Institute, Alexandria, Va.

Researched by TRACY THOMAS / Los Angeles Times


Xers Mark the Spot: SWING magazine, the new high-gloss journal of record for the post baby boomers, reminds us that one in every three twentysomethings will move this year (although it was left unsaid that many will move back home with their parents). And in its summer issue, the magazine’s “exhaustive search” for the 10 best places to live nets some usual burgs such as San Francisco, and at least one surprise . . . Sacramento.

Among the attractions are coffeehouses, high-tech paychecks and the state capital--”some of the best young political minds--plus a steady stream of civic-minded celebrities championing a bevy of causes” have made the capital a capital place, it says.

For anyone considering launching a Pete Wilson trading card series: Chief among the local heroes is Sacto State grad Tom Hanks.



When Hibernian Eyes Are Smiling: Now that Steven J. Casey has ended his 17 years as special assistant and spokesman for the San Diego County district attorney, heretofore hush-hush tales of his widespread influence are surfacing.

Among them, he nudged the San Diego Police Academy to a higher level of multicultural sensitivity.

Near the end of his tenure with the D.A., Casey decided to become a reserve police officer. At the police academy, he, like other recruits, was marked down whenever his uniform showed any tatters, strings or snags. In Marine lexicon used by academy sergeants, such imperfections had for decades been called “Irish pennants.”

Casey, in a written protest, objected to the term; it could be seen as derogatory to those of Irish descent. The protest set off a round of meetings and memos. Finally came the ruling: The term “Irish pennant” is forever banished from the police academy.

Says Casey: “I always wanted to make a contribution to San Diego law enforcement during my career. But I never realized it was going to be in the realm of fashion.”


“This is Riverbank, you know, the city of action. This is about the only thing that happens around here.”


--Riverbank resident Paula Magee, among the crowd who gathered near the Stanislaus River to watch an extremely large crane remove a damaged 334-ton railway trestle.

California Dateline appears every other Friday.