Last summer, someone stole three nice, sturdy tricycles and a wagon from the kindergarten yard at Valley Vista School in Petaluma.
The cost to replace them: More than $1,200.
In December, a parent asked kindergarten teacher Andrea Neufeld what she'd like for Christmas. She replied that if possible, it would nice to replace the wagon and some of the trikes.
Parents pitched in $450. Neufeld added $225 and bought a wagon and a trike. The kids were ecstatic.
A bit later, Neufeld was driving in Petaluma when her 10-year-old son and ex-student, Matthew, spotted in a front yard what he was sure were the stolen wagon and two of the trikes.
Neufeld alerted Petaluma police. An officer investigated but couldn't act because there was no way to prove the toys were the school's.
So, barely a week ago, Neufeld returned to that house. She was scared.
A woman answered the door and Neufeld told her the story of the lost toys. The woman said she'd bought her trikes and wagon at a garage sale and wouldn't let them go.
So Neufeld showed her a photo of Matthew, at 5, in the schoolyard with the toys. Through tears she recounted the joy they'd brought kindergartners for years.
She offered the woman a $100 bill. At last, she relented.
Back at school, many of the 47 kindergartners posed with a sign reading, "Thanks for doing the right thing!" The young woman should have received it by now.
And teacher Neufeld went so wild with an engraving tool that it will never again be possible to claim that those wagons and trikes don't belong at Valley Vista School.
WE'LL SEE THURSDAY how much discomfort folks will endure for a shot to buy a 24-inch TV for 99 cents.
The 99 Cents Only chain just opened a store on Rohnert Park Expressway at Redwood Drive. To lure shoppers, 99-cent flatscreens will go to the first nine people in line when the doors open at 8 a.m. Thursday.
The next 99 shoppers will get a kid's scooter for that price, the 99 after that an iPod speaker and the 99 after that something else.
For some, the hot sale will cap a long, cold night
NOT EVERYBODY was glued to a TV for the finish to the 49ers/Falcons game.
Jake Mackenzie and his wife, Barbara, went to hear music at Santa Rosa's Church of the Incarnation.
Jake confesses he consulted his phone as Fifth Street Brass took the church stage.
He suppressed a cheer to read that the Niners had that moment held on to win, and he nearly wept as the quintet launched into its opening piece: "Rejoice."
Chris Smith is at 521-5211 and firstname.lastname@example.org.