It's probably time to dial back the flogging of the 24-year-old pals whose foolhardy raft ride in a roiling Santa Rosa Creek set in motion a large-scale rescue by firefighters.

Alex Bowman phoned the Santa Rosa Fire Department and apologized for the trouble and for dissing firefighters in response to an observation that he and friend Patrick Sitzer had needlessly imperiled themselves and their swift-water rescuers.

Bowman made the call to Battalion Chief Mark Basque, who said Bowman was polite and apologetic and keen to make sure "we knew he meant no disrespect."

Sitzer expressed gratitude and regret in an e-mail to Acting Fire Chief Tony Gossner.

The pair's apologies, offered amid a pillorying in online forums, were accepted.

There will be a silver lining to Sunday's incident on Santa Rosa Creek if it prompts discussion of the wisest thing to do when heavy rain swells a creek: Stay back as far as you would were it a great, slithering snake that in an instant could reach out and grab you.

SHIRLEY TEMPLE was 26 and retired from motion pictures when Joyce Passetti O'Connor met her in 1954.

Now an Oakmonter, O'Connor was then a cub reporter with the Palo Alto Times. She got a big assignment when Shirley Temple Black, her husband and three kids settled in Atherton and she agreed to an interview.

"She was really low-key," O'Connor said. Her story recounted that when asked if she'd watched herself on a recent episode of "Ed Sullivan Show," Black replied, "I was washing dishes and forgot what time it was."

O'Connor became Women's Editor at the paper and over 20 years saw and spoke with Black fairly frequently.

"She never called attention to herself," the Santa Rosan said. She found it refreshing that the woman who'd been one of Hollywood's biggest — though littlest — stars felt no need to make people notice that she was Shirley Temple.

AN OLYMPIAN is set to appear in Cloverdale's Citrus Fair Parade on Saturday.

He's Donny Robinson and he won a Bronze medal in BMX — bicycle obstacle-course racing — at the 2008 Games in Beijing.

He'll be in the parade to alert kids that there's a BMX track just up 101 in Ukiah. It's worth checking out just for its name: The Rusty Bowl.

BEER TO WEAR: There's a reason the Punch Clothing boutique has its window mannequins sporting shirts emblazoned "Beer Drinker."

The shop is a neighbor of Russian River Brewing Co. and the connoisseurs waiting hours on the sidewalk for a Pliny the Younger are desperate for something to read.

(Chris Smith is at 521-5211 and