Eleanor Kitto now has observed 94 birthdays, some in peculiar ways.
For her 90th, the San Rafael woman’s daughter and son-in-law, Jean and Rod Stewart, surprised her by taking her to Philadelphia and the old house the couple had found through painstaking research.
Kitto had no recollection of the place. Her folks were boarders there when she was born July 1, 1920. In the toilet.
She grew up hearing how her mom was grieving upon the premature arrival of a stillborn boy, and as she sat in the bathroom she had no idea a twin girl was about to drop in.
And this year: On July 2, Kitto and the Stewarts and kin from all over celebrated both her 94th and Independence Day on the Russian River. It’s a special place because Kitto and her late husband, Charlie, dated there during the war.
All went swimmingly eight days ago until Kitto fell and broke her hip. She was soon at Santa Rosa’s Sutter Medical Center and set for surgery.
Hearing of her fall-spoiled birthday party, Sutter nurses Sarah Fisher and Barbara Wolcott made some calls, ordered goodies and on Wednesday treated Eleanor to a Happy 94th celebration at the hospital.
Note to self: Next July, check on what happens for her 95th.
DAVE MITCHELL, the indefatigable retired editor of the Point Reyes Light, couldn’t be happier if he’d won a second Pulitzer Prize.
He’s back in west Marin from Durango, Colo., where he received one of the world’s highest honors for editing a weekly paper, the Eugene Cervi Award of the International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors.
The prize recognizes all that the 70-year-old Mitchell achieved through his 27 years at The Light, including the reporting on the violent Synanon cult that brought him a Pulitzer.
What do you suppose was the downside of the awards banquet was for guy who’s been retired more than eight years out in the wild part of Marin?
He had to relearn how to tie a tie.
MUSIC YOU FEEL: The hearts of local players and enthusiasts of taiko are beating like drums. One of the top taiko groups in the world is in Sonoma County, preparing for a pair of shows Friday at Sonoma State University.
“They performed before at Carnegie Hall, so they’ve had lots of practice,” said Arnold Shimizu, who plays with the co-hosting Sonoma County Taiko.
It excites Shimizu and his partners that this is the first California tour for seven members of the Australia-based TaikOz. Tickets for an afternoon dress-rehearsal matinee and evening show at SSU’s Person Theater are available online until midnight tonight at Brown Paper Tickets, and at the door.
I asked Shimizu what it is about Japanese taiko drumming that has carried its popularity around the world.
“It’s almost primeval,” he replied. The Santa Rosan is of a mind that as the drumming resonates through the listener’s body, it recalls and duplicates the first sound and sensation that we experienced before our first breaths: the beating of our mothers’ hearts.
So it could be, Shimuzu suggests, that taiko recreates “that feeling of comfort and safety we had in our mother’s womb.”
Or maybe we just naturally like drumming.
Chris Smith is at 707-521-5211 and firstname.lastname@example.org